As most of you already know, I have inherited a lathe from a grumpy uncle. And so, now I learn to use said lathe. Being as how my grumpy uncle is a forum, and still alive and well, I will have to be prodigious in the use of this inheritance.
So, in an effort to goad the other machine built competitors into finishing their projects, I bring you the very first DB Custom Lathe Build Ever! And as this was a last minute dive into the world of mechanization, I will be doing this thread ad lib from comments made in the past 2 weeks and pictures taken along the way. I’m sorry, but I do not have pictures of the lathe in action. Keeping fingers and toes intact seemed the higher priority while learning about the spinning of metals.
Sept. 02 19:26 hour: I’m building a flashlight from scratch. Top to bottom, except for the reflector of course.
I have sketched plans, the napkin is wearing thin but it’s still a plan. Tomorrow I go for the gold, the head.
Sept. 02 21:31 hour: Preparation is being made, dawning realization of the work entailed creeps in as I take apart a light. Look at it, then look closer. Every step, every o-ring groove, every thread that fits another thread and the entire thing is integrated, many many steps to bring all of it together into one functional machine. We’re used to flashlights, don’t think much about what goes into them… until you start trying to MAKE one! Complicated business they are! From facing and bar stock truing to stock removal, time goes by, great gobs of time, manning the machine. And the pile of shavings at your feet turns into a mountain. It’s crazy! (the chips made early on from a first experience making a battery tube on Sep 1, threading both ends, well it’s really remarkable the mess to be made here!)
A look at the humble beginnings, brand new, no parts churned from it’s mechanical genious, no mess made reducing bar stock to chip termite fodder, I present the BLF Forum Grizzly G0602…
Literally, the very first thing ever turned on a lathe by me. Aug 30, the dawning of a new age of destruction! Now, expensive bars of exotic alloy can be ground to fill large 55 gal drums of waste, needlessly and aimlessly forevermore!
Not pretty, I know, but a 60º dead center as prescribed by the manual for noobs.
Sept. 03 09:56 hour: In setting up the change gears for threading yesterday I found that when I first attempted threads I did NOT change out the 27 up top to a 36. That might be part of why I was having trouble, at the very least the 20 tpi I was looking for wasn’t there.
At this point, I’ll just be cutting a thread and matching male to female, standardization does’t mean anything here as I’m creating a single matching set that won’t be replicated. I may step up to a finer thread like the 24 or even as high as 36 so that all the marked dial positions will work for that pitch. Bezel threads can certainly be finer as the thickness of material at that point will be a dictator, tail cap threads probably need to stay beefier for the number of times they’re engaged changing cells and it’ll be easier to maintain thicker stock in that location.
Am I thinking right there?
Sept. 04 22:12 hour: Been a long day, spent a few hours in the shop this morning, about 4 hours in the ER this afternoon, and back in the shop this evening.
The lathe DID draw blood, but that’s not why we went to the ER, my wife had an allergic reaction to a new med and her asthma was shutting her down with it, got a bit scary. The lathe only cut my knuckle on the screw in the cross slide handle. Tongue
I managed to do a few things. Much more difficult than I would have thought. Like parting an 11” long 3 1/2” dia bar of 6061. I couldn’t get it mounted in such a way that it would spin true, but I managed to cut a guide hole in the off end and use a live center to stabilize it so I could true it then part it off. Parting it was like , brutal!
I got the shorter piece hollowed out with a driver bay, 17mm with a step, threaded for the brass retaining ring I made and mated to the battery tube. So now I have this massive solid chunk of aluminum threaded onto a short battery tube with a tail cap, which itself is hollowed out for the switch and beveled for the rubber clicky button.
Man this is excrutiating! I came in looking like, once again, I got caught in a major storm or something. Soaked through and through, with large puddles where I was standing left in the shop to dry.
I’ve drank a gallon of tea and a quart of water this afternoon/evening. Smile
Feel like I’ve been run over by one of those bulls in the streets of Mexico…
It might be worthy to note here that I spent the day so enthralled with the lathe and this flashlight attempt that I forgot it was my parent’s 64th wedding anniversary. Oh well, I wasn’t there for the wedding so…
Here’s the start with a crude battery tube and a threaded block of a tail cap.
Um, the nasty looking marks are from improperly mounting a cutting triangle. Ooops! My bad! (Did I mention that when parting off this big 3” piece I had the D-2 parting tool mounted upside down in the Shars quick change tool holder? :bigsmile:)
Sept. 05 09:13 hour: I worked in the heat for 20+ years. Usually carrying something. So just standing there in front of a machine is quite a break. lol Maybe I can get the neighbor to feed off the big round hay bales he stacked in front of the windows to our shop, give me some cross draft with those out of the way. (there’s also mosquitoes, wasps, and rats to deal with, most a non issue when focused but I did have a wasp investigating my ear while I was parting.)
The bar I cut was 3”, not 47” like it felt like. And it was solid, with maybe some hard spots in it? It cut differently in area’s, some areas it fed off an 1/8” wide sheet of aluminum foil, others it gave me tiny little segments of 1/8” wide “logs” that stacked up on top of each other. Not rolls, it did that too, but tiny little single pieces the width of the parting blade. It was weird. This is the gift that comes back to bite ya…. I initially bought this 3” piece months and months ago and found I couldn’t work it. I sent it to Justin when this deal came down, he ended up giving it back. hahahahaha
My holder would only go so low initially so I found I wasn’t cutting true to center. Had to reverse the holder and raise it to get true center once I got in so far, that helped a lot. I thought about the hack saw but was leery of the side pressures and possible binding, with a 1HP motor I could see things going bad wrong with me in front of it so I dismissed that idea. I did sharpen the M2 parting tool once, which also helped.
I’m thinking I’ll cut the opening for the bezel a bit deep, save parting depth. My design has me removing a LOT of material, probably a very aggressive first attempt but… in for a dime, in for a dollar.
Looking to use most of the bits and pieces that came to me with the lathe. I think I have a couple of areas where I can use almost everything that came with it, the centering supports were too small for the 3” bar, but I’ll figure it all out… sooner or later.
Sept. 05 17:51 hour: I got the bezel made…. bored out, threaded and parted off. Still needs some finishing work. Got a healthy start on boring out the head, it’s already got the driver pocket and retaining ring threads, along with the battery tube threads, so it’s all about shaping it.
Man, the big stuff takes an act of congress!
I’m almost assuredly doing things wrong, if not wrong, not as right as it could be done. Almost for certain I’m not spinning the Al fast enough, but 560 seems rockin! So far that’s as fast as I’ve gone, middle ground. I’ve got the outside chuck jaws on, to take the 3” bar, and it’s clamped in those short 2 tooth jobs. I don’t like it. But it’s what I’ve got for the moment. I need to flip the part, cut the more narrow diameter at the pill and then it’ll chuck in the inside jaws (hopefully). If I can get it in the wider tooth portion of the jaws I’ll switch gears and spin it up faster for the remaining mega stock removal necessary for shaping the head, inside and out. 5 1/2 hours on it today. I’m down to 203 lbs, (seems ludicrous to say, being as how I was 135-140 for 30 yrs.)
It came a good shower a few times today, and of course the shed roof leaks. Not where I originally wanted to put the lathe (dry as a bone over there), but I got veto’d and the lathe is getting dripped on so it’s now covered in plastic. About 3/4” of rain, sorely needed. But holy cow, a good 1/2” shower the first time, in about 20 minutes, then the sun came out and you could feel yourself boiling in your clothes standing in front of the lathe. No moving air at all, or none that can be felt. Gotta get a fan…
This bezel got scrapped, by the way. More on that later…
Sept. 06 13:54 hour: Ok, so, I got some more work done this morning. The hard stuff. Stock removal. I got the big Courui D01 reflector fitted in beautifully, then realized I had cut the bezel off the same piece as what I’m working on. Oops! It’s not large enough around, the two pieces wont fit. The big reflector just barely fit’s into the 3” bar, so the bezel had to be an outside mount like a BTU Shocker. So now I get to make a new bezel from the original unturned piece. Yay! (not so much)
So moving on, I got the pill section where the battery tube screws in turned down, ready to start shaping the head. Me, being an equal opportunity machinist, decided to learn some bad stuff to go with all the good things that have been happening. I decided to knurl the newly cut down pill section. With thoughts of the live center in my head I mounted the knurling tool and danged if I didn’t spin it up with no live center! Bang! Crash! Oooops! Looks like I get to do some more work on the head now…
Ok, so, I get to recut the inside of the head after trimming off the damage. I get to cut a new battery tube for an 18650, and I get to go back to knurling 101 where they teach the use of a live center. All the threads already cut are practically useless, I’ll cut new threads in the pill section for a larger battery tube, both ends of a new battery tube, and redo the tail cap. Goody goody, I always loved doing hard work twice! (wait, what am I forgetting? Sex twice is good, double work, um, ok yeah NOW I remember!)
Sept. 06. 20:00 hour: I chose to simply repair it and keep going. So I cut off the 5.4mm that was machined to allow the reflector to sit inside, then moved all the other cuts down likewise.
Then I bevel cut the head on the outside (shouldn’t have stopped where I did but dangit the dogs were barkin!) and then threaded the head for the bezel. Now, this is the really weird part. The Courui head with it’s reflector was sitting on top of the lathe motor/housing. I didn’t look at it whatsoever, but decided due to the thin nature of that end on the head to change thread pitch from 20 tpi to 24 tpi. When I got done, lo and behold the dang Courui bezel threaded right onto it, perfectly! Dumb luck, I suppose. lol
Cut me some slack on these pics, too flippin tired to hold the camera steady! After 860+ days of wearing my Texas Poker around my neck 24/7/365, I got in the shower with it still on for the very first time. lol
I’ll probably continue the angle cut from the pill section to up by the bezel to lighten it, want to cut fins so I’ll have to make sure continuing the bevel cut wouldn’t make fins too shallow. Then I’ll see about doing some knurling and clean up sharp corners and such. And of course, make a new bezel. Probably knurl that as well. Will have to see how the knurling goes…
Sept. 07 22:47 hour: Getting there…
Really just touch up work from here, beveling some edges, sinking the switch deeper into the tail cap. Then I get to build it. The plan is a de-domed XP-G2 in the big Courui D01 reflector with a 14500 from Efest (purple) in the tube. I’ll probably build it according to plan, then see if I want to upgrade it later to the big Luminus CBT-140.
Sept. 09, 09:37 hour: XP-G2 focused by cutting down the emitter shelf until the yellow phosphor filled the big reflector as best as possible. This required a 7mm inset from the bottom of the reflector, which itself has been cut back to clear wires in times past. I also widened the initial flat at the bottom of the head to meet the reflector edges in order to minimize picked up reflections. I didn’t get this area perfect, we’ll see how that affects beam profile later on.
I’ve bored a new battery tube and have plans to shape it and thread it today. This is to tighten the threads of pill to head and also for a design parameter I thought of. At the same time, it will let me fine tune the tail cap for an improved thread fit there as well.
The big 2.25mm thick UCLp lens is in place in the bezel with the o-ring from the Courui bezel fitting sweetly. So that end is done and fitted and sealed. Smile I’ll still need to bore wire holes of course, but the end is in sight and the embellisments planned for finalization. Wink This week? We shall see…
Edit: Oh, I also re-learned that there are certain protocols that MUST be met! Using a live center in the tail stock to place the parting tool perfectly in center alignment is an absolute necessity. The difference is huge when this is done properly and parting off a planned part is much much MUCH easier if this is done correctly. So now I feel much better about fins. Again, confidence is nice to have but cockiness can be a killer, will proceed with caution. Wink
Sept. 10, 22:38 hour: I’m still working on the light. I decided to make the new battery tube for 18650 and in the process I also decided to put a copper pill in it. So I opened up the end of the head and threaded it, bored it for a straight through light engine style copper pill. The pill is threaded to go in from the tube side and be snug going up to the inside of the head. I managed to get it snug all right. It’s in there, and won’t come back out!
So the head is essentially ready to be wired and have a driver and emitter put in it. AFTER spending about 2 hours fixing a mistake.
It has been rainy on and off all day. I got called in for supper and there was stuff to do with the light inside, so I was bringing the head with the semi fitted copper pill and had to close up the shop in case it started storming while I was eating. The head fell on the concrete and smashed that dang lip in again! This time, with much frustration, I was able to bend it back out and trim it up on the lathe so all fits again. It was touch and go there for a while and I was not pleased with myself for letting it hit the floor.
I’ve got a tail cap started, will finish that and get the light together then do clean up.
Sept. 11, 17:21 hour: I believe it’s time to do some assembly. :bigsmile:
Yes, I know, there’s more work. But it’s at a point that I can put guts in it and see how it works. Then I’ll know what I need to do up top for focus and such. After every little detail is done, I’ll polish the snot out of it.
The copper beauty ring on the battery tube is to show that it’s Cu enhanced on the inside, where it matters.
Sept. 11, 21:31 hour: Got the switch fixed up, refined the bore in the tail cap and made a narrow brass retaining ring. Works like a factory light. Also made a very thin brass plate to cover the driver. The A17DD-L08 driver sits snugly in the copper light engine and the brass plate is pressed onto the ground ring by the battery tube. This allows me to not solder the driver in for easy changes later.
The beam is very nice, need to get a pic, will do that directly.
I sent tech support at Luminus a description and question about cutting the rectangular copper mcpcb of the CBT-140 into a circle with the emitter centered. Either they didn’t care for my idea or are too busy to respond. Still undecided as to whether or not I’ll use this emitter in this light.
Edit: I might not have mentioned, the Courui D01 reflector has the emitter hole/flat area cut out, and I hand polished it.
Sept. 11, 21:49 hour: Pics, so y’all know it DID happen!
The Canon G1X at ISO1600, f/5.6, 1/2 second exposure. Manual focus, 2 second timer on a tripod. Red oil drum at 97 yds. 1st shot at 28mm, second at 112mm, third at 16X digital zoom.
Above the oil drum is a hay loft. The plywood “wall” you see is a divider, partially the support wall for the hayloft and a divider for the 3 stalls that are beyond the plywood. To the left of the red truck is the part of the shed the lathe is in, literally on the other side of the corrugated tin wall from the red Chevy Luv.
Sept. 11, 21:55 hour: An explanation of sorts, it is true that I’ve never operated a lathe before. Of any kind. And yes it was over 15 years ago that I hung out at a gun shop with my buddy and watched him do all sorts of things on his big $40K lathe and also the independent massive mill.
Ironically, Justin got me started with the challenge. I used my drill and a rotary tool to make that .50 BMG light, then progressed to some use of a bench top drill press with an old HSS planer blade clamped in the drill press vice. So using the lathe is the professional version of what I’ve been doing the hard way. Sure, there’s some learning curve, but the concept is not new… the equipment is a heckuva lot better!
While it’s fun doing it the right way, it’s also still a lot of work. I am exhausted. Sore. Probably dehydrated. And proud as the dickens of this beauty I’ve created.
Thank you Justin for considering me in this situation, and I have to say THANK YOU to BLF, what a phenomenol forum with the bestest bunch of nuts in the world!
Sept. 12, 15:16 hour: Mother’s Polish
Sept. 13, 23:30 hour: I got to messing around this PM and de-domed the XP-G2 in the new light. While it improved the tightness of the beam, it was showing some purple spots in it… lost some phosphor in the process. So, not messing around with it, I pulled it, measured it out and got an estimated focus, cut a copper spacer on the lathe and put an 20mm Noctigon with XP-L V3 2B HI on it. Also trimmed the reflector in a couple of spots on the lathe and got a better fit, the bezel is better seated on the head now as well.
So I went from 903 lumens to 1311 with 261.25Kcd and 1022.25M throw. Works for me!
We went out to eat this evening at our fav Mexican food restaurant, Corona’s de Oro. The waiter we’ve known for years was impressed, tapped on the lens to see if there was really one there. lol (UCLp is so clear it’s really difficult to tell) I carried it on my belt in a SupBeam D40 holster. The holster was big for it, but it worked.
So now, after boring out the shelf a little and finding I can use a 1” OD copper spacer on top if/as necessary, I’m thinking the CBT-140 is much more doable. The big PhlatLight has a 26×28mm mcpcb, so I should be able to hit that 25mm mark and still have pads to put the wires on. We’ll see, I expect it to come in tomorrow and I’ll know more then.
Sure was nice to be able to slice off a .77mm thick copper spacer, would have been time consuming and probably blood letting to sand down a 1.5mm thick Noctigon which is how I would have done it in the past.
For those that wonder, here’s how I got the estimate of distance needed for proper focus of the HI emitter. I placed stacks of 20mm Noctigons on either side of the mounted HI and then sat the big Courui reflector on top, looked down on it from various distances to find the yellow phosphor filling the reflector as optimally as possible. When 3 weren’t sufficient, I cut small strips of paper and stacked them til I had what I was looking for, then measured the stack at 8.3mm total depth. After measuring the depth I’d given the light, I subracted and got the 0.77mm necessary to add under the star for proper focus.
I decided to drill and tap holes so I could bolt the star down. This went well on one side, bit broke off inside on the other side. Sad I will probably get it out later and finish the tapping of the hole, but was out of time tonight. Always freaking something! lol (this is in the copper pill, always a challenge drilling small holes in deep copper)
Sept. 14, 16:04 hour: Fixed the screws at the mcpcb, couldn’t get the broken bit out so I rotated the mcpcb and drilled/tapped 2 new holes. This time I used the small Grizzly drill press that Justin also gave me, worked perfectly and was so easy I have no idea why I didn’t think of it before.
The HI emitter being a pita to focus, I’m still a touch too high with the reflector. I know if I pull out the spacer I made it’ll be too much. Just need to pull it and sand it down a couple of hundredths of a mm and it’ll be fine, pretty sure.
Sept. 14, 20:08 hour: Finally got the focus I was looking for! Whoooooohoooo!
I trimmed reflector, did everything I could think of, and in the end a slight rib on a parallel surface was keeping the reflector from seating properly. Now the beam is right where I planned it, I’m getting 286.75Kcd from the HI using the factory A6 driver (the FET+1 driver from a sample light) So now if I build a new driver with premium components…
In the process of fine tuning focus, the bezel now sits snug on the trim shelf of the head, beautiful fit, not sure how I ever pulled that off. The copper beauty ring at the tail switch, it’s like a solid piece that’s just colored differently, man I love how that looks!
VOB, I met my goal… getting the lathe from Justin and taking a week to get it in the shop I decided I wanted to churn out a light and make you guys look bad. Y’all have the equipment, the knowledge, and you’ve been sitting on your duff waiting for the deadline. Woohoo! This is soo freaking cool! That last little niggling pita of getting perfect focus was bothering the snot outta me, but now that it’s all done and working like a charm I’m really stoked about it.
I will get beam shots of the new emitter and it’s focus, will add them later tonight as I get the shots.
And so there you have it! The quick progression of a noob and his first experience with a Grizzly. :bigsmile:
Now, get off your rear Steve and get that light finished!
Again, Thank You BLF for this fantastic opportunity. Deeply honored and appreciated. Deeply…