open source lathe

A page from a pictorial construction manual for the Yeomans concrete lathe. Image by Tyler Disney

The construction manual for an open source screw-cutting lathe is nearly complete, and the team behind it would like feedback on the finishing touches. This lathe, made from concrete and scrap metal, has the potential to transform machine shops in developing countries. In experienced hands, it is a precision tool for making the things that increase productivity and help people earn money—things like farming equipment, car parts and much more.

The Yeomans lathe, named for its World War II-era inventor Lucien Yeomans, is the baby of E4C member Pat Delany. Other members of our community have gone on board, and now Delany and Tyler Disney are collaborating to create a picture-book construction manual that is mostly—or entirely—free of words.

Feedback wanted

“It would be good to get feedback, opinions, and ideas on what the manual itself should look like,” Disney says.

The latest draft of the manual is online here. The Sketchup model is freely available to download, and Disney encourages anyone with an idea to play around with it and improve it.

While the manual is underway, other E4C members have volunteered to test it and build a lathe. Thanks to your generosity, Delany and Disney are in talks now with a student group at a US technology institute that may take on the challenge. We’ll share more on that as the plans develop.

With its manual unfinished, the lathe’s design is still malleable (and in good open source spirit, it may remain that way). With that in mind, Delany is still fielding feedback. “We want your suggestions for improvement before we finish the final design,” Delany says. He sent us a list of parameters for the design, which we posted in the lathe’s workspace. The lathe discussion also has a home in a Yahoo group here. In sum, Delany says, “A good mechanic must be able to build the lathe using only a drill, regular mechanic’s tools, a cheap dial test indicator, concrete mix and a good junk pile.”

With your continued work and good ideas, we should soon see a working version of the manual, and of the lathe itself. We’ll keep you updated.

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