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Good Old-Fashioned High Tech

What’s this 1930’s lathe built by Moody in Quebec, Canada doing in Heidenhain’s IMTS booth?

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What’s this 1930’s lathe built by Moody in Quebec, Canada doing in Heidenhain’s IMTS booth?

This antique machine tool is making a statement about today’s high-end programmable readouts. They can make an older manual machine like new in accuracy and better-than-new in capability.

Few shops don’t have at least one or two manually operated mills, drills, boring machines or lathes in their toolroom or production area for small-batch jobs. Chances are, these manual machines are older models that have been around for a while. Many of them are also likely to be showing their age. Excessive backlash and other signs of wear may keep these machines from being the handy and highly effective machining resources they could be for these applications.

The solution Heidenhain would suggest is installing an up-to-date programmable readout such as its Positip 880, with advanced features that can detect and eliminate errors resulting from backlash and similar problems. “We wanted an eye-catching display that wouldn’t take up too much space in our booth, so we brought this refurbished antique lathe,” Chris Weber told me, after the machine caught my eye during a visit to the Heidenhain booth (E-5131). Chris, who is the North American sales manager, machine tool division, was giving me a tour of the displays there.

The machine, he told me, was built in Quebec, Canada, by a local builder named Moody, sometime in the 1930s. The machine has been cosmetically refurbished in a gleaming white finish. The stepped cones for the belt drive (missing, of course) have been chromed and the tool post is brightly polished. So it looks great.

But this is no museum piece. Chris could turn the lathe’s hand wheels to show how much backlash was present. He used this to demonstrate that the Positip 880 programmable readout installed on the lathe kept backlash from affecting the positional accuracy of the readout. This and other advanced features of the Positip 880 on an operational machine would make it a reliable resource for small-batch production or toolroom applications.

The Positip 880 is a classy-looking device with a large, easy-to-read flat screen display that complements the classic looks of the lathe.