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Old 07-04-2012, 04:28 PM   #1
utzelu
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Can I turn a wheel rim on a Sherline lathe?

Hi all,
I am interested in buying a small lathe for the hobby and I have thought to get either a Sherline or a Taig. My only concern is if they are ok for turning motorcycle wheel rims in scale 1/12 (aprox 60 mm in diameter) in aluminum.

Did someone ever tried to make such a large piece?
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Old 07-06-2012, 02:05 PM   #2
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Re: Can I turn a wheel rim on a Sherline lathe?

Yes...sort of.

Turning the inside of a 60 mm rim can be done on a standard Sherline lathe but turning the outside can be difficult. This is because in a normal outside turning operation the cross slide must be directly underneath the part and this only allows for a clearance of 47 mm. This can easily be fixed using "cranked" lathe tools like the ones shown on this link:

http://www.harborfreight.com/6-piece-lathe-tool-set-90742.html

So, you should be able to turn 60 mm but you'll need special lathe
turning tools to do it.

Here's a link to the Sherline page concerning their standard lathes:

http://www.sherline.com/4000pg.htm

They have metric versions of their lathes and mills. To convert inches to mm multiply the inches by 25,4.

They also have riser blocks which can allow you to turn much larger parts, but I wouldn't recommend these only because you'll rarely have a need for them, except for turning wheels larger than 1/12th.

Turning on a lathe can give you the rims and the hubs, but you can't use it to make the spokes. These are best done on a mill and a rotary table or by hand.

I have a Sherline lathe and mill and I highly recommend them. Their products are compact, high quality, easy to use and store away, and their technical support is excellent. They also provide a complete line of accessories and every part of their tools is replaceable (though I've never broken or even worn out any of their products).

As well, their products are scalable. You could start out with their smallest lathe, turn it into one of their larger ones by simply replacing the bed. Turn it into a simple combination lathe and mill. Then buy a mill bed and make a proper mill, but share the same headstock. Then upgrade the whole lot to CNC. Their only tool that
can't be upgraded is their rotary table as their manual one can't be upgraded to a CNC one, but they do have a buy-back program. In other words you may never outgrow the Sherline systems and may never have to throw away anything when deciding to upgrade.

I have no experience with Taig but I hear very good things about them. You should be satisfied with the quality of your work on both systems, but I'd check to see if Taig can upgrade like Sherline can and have as many accessories. Also check to see which is easier to buy and ship where your are.

Also, if you are making 60 mm rims it is not whether the lathe can handle that size but the size of the stock material being turned. In other words, if the rim is being turned from a stock aluminum rod or tube that is 70 mm then it is the 70 mm that you need to worry about. Incidently, checking my lathe and using my 2-1/2 inch (64 mm) three-jaw chuck you can safely turn up to 70 mm rod and 85 mm tube. I don't know what the standard aluminum rod or tube sizes are in your area, but realize that you will need the size of rod or tube that is the next highest size above 60 mm and see if that is not too big for the sizes I mention above. If so then you'll need those riser blocks.

Finally, don't be afraid to call or e-mail Sherline about your question. They've always been easy to talk to and respond quickly to both phone calls and e-mails. And, if any of the machining terms I've used are not familiar to you let me know and I'll explain them.

Check out this forum:
http://www.scalemotorcars.com/forum/...le-motorcycle/
These guys might give you better advice than me. When making such a large purchase and commitment to the hobby, it always prudent to get second opinions.

Hope this helps.
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Old 07-24-2012, 06:58 AM   #3
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Re: Can I turn a wheel rim on a Sherline lathe?

Thanks for the comprehensive details. I have studied both Sherline and Taig web sites and I am inclined to get the Sherline, because it comes in metric, has a DC motor OOB so I can use it right out of the box without doing any modification.

About the biggest size I would turn, it looks like the wheels are more in the range of 35 - 50 mm in diameter (outer) so it should not be a problem. Now, if only I can find some tips & tricks about how to turn wheel rims and how to drill the nipple holes accurately.
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