Hand Wheel Modification to United States Machine Tool #1 Horizontal Milling Machine

I was feeling a little depressed today about my lack of real “work” in the shop lately. Its not that I’m not doing anything, but that I’m always sidetracked by some essential task. This week it was getting the brakes on my truck to pass inspection, tomorrow it will be something else. Between my “real job”, and keeping up with all the site orders and the associated Emails; it gets a little overwhelming sometimes. The blog has been inactive lately, and its getting me down. I decided to dig out some pics I had taken of some old jobs and get them up, just to feel like I’ve been doing something.

I had to do a run of some lathe T slot nuts a while back, and found that the lever on my USMT mill just didn’t have enough travel to get the job in one pass, so I decided to make a hand wheel attachment for the mill. It needed to be large enough to have adequate torque to make a tandem 1/2′ deep cut in one pass (I’m lazy). I had a pretty good size hand wheel off some piece of equipment I pulled out of the dumpster at work that looked like a good candidate.


old stuff & new lathe 967



This is a blank I cut off some  surplus stock from work. I left it long so I could trim it once I had it sized to fit the rack spindle later. I wasn’t working off a drawing, as I tend to just wing it when I build stuff.



old stuff & new lathe 969



I’m just truing the end so that I can drill the mounting hole on the inboard end (towards the table).


old stuff & new lathe 974



This is the rack spindle that the adapter will mount to. Right now there is a 2 foot handle that makes the table move. It gives about 6 inches of travel.


old stuff & new lathe 979



I drilled the hole out in stages, and didn’t need to bore as the last drill was a perfect fit. The angle of the drill was close enough to the taper on the spindle shaft for Gov’t work.


old stuff & new lathe 982


This is a shot of the front side (hand wheel end) that was taken after the rear hole was bored and the piece was trimmed.


old stuff & new lathe 987


This is the big old ugly wheel getting a trial fit to the mount.


old stuff & new lathe 988


Heres the final lathe work done on the blank. Now its off to the Bridgeport.


old stuff & new lathe 989


This is how the pinch bolt will squeeze the sleeve, once its split. The end bolt will give it a little more grab on the shaft.


old stuff & new lathe 990


Now its just cut a recess for the head, drill and tap.


old stuff & new lathe 991


Off to the USMT mill to split the sleeve. This stuff cuts really nicely.


old stuff & new lathe 994


Back to the Bridgeport for some more drilling and tapping. If you look close you can see the overbore on the inside of the sleeve up near the top. This is the taper that will compress onto the taper end of the spindle shaft when the end nut is tightened.


old stuff & new lathe 995


Heres the trial fit. it was about this point where I realized that I had mad the sleeve about a quarter inch too short, as it hit the vise. I had been looking for an excuse to replace the vise that was way too big for the mill, and bought a 5 inch vise from a friend that fits the machine right nice. I don’t have any shots of that after the overhaul  yet, but its a much better fit for the machine. These shots are of the old setup, before I fitted new hand wheels to the Y and Z screws. I still need to do another relief cut to make it easier for the pinch bolt to squeeze the sleeve (that 3 1/2″ round is pretty stiff), and clean the wheel up, but its essentially done, and makes longer cuts on the X axis much easier than with the original lever. The lever is great for cuts less than say 5 inches, but this one makes long cuts (like keyways) a breeze. I’m glad I did it, and am thinking about making the mod to the knee on my Bridgeport………once I get caught up.


7/14/2014  UPDATE:

After using the hand wheel for a while, I found a slight problem with it; it slipped on the shaft when I really leaned on the wheel. Time to fix that……….


USMT shaper 001


The problem was that I made the adapter too thick; it wouldn’t squeeze together and pinch the shaft enough. I needed to put in a relief cut to “weaken” it. Off to the cold saw to make a quick cut.


USMT shaper 002



OK…….Maybe I cut it just a little too close (kind of took a little of the countersink with the cut).


USMT shaper 004



A quick spin in the lathe to smooth it up a bit and get rid of some rust, and on the mill. The relief cut pinches much tighter now with no slip at all.


USMT shaper 2 005



While I had the hand wheel off I finally got around to painting over that ugly green that was on it. That had been bugging me for a while. I guess I can finally call this modification DONE.

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