Cameron Micro Drill Press Model 164
Founded in Sonara, California, during 1962, the Cameron Company have been producing miniature, high-precision drill presses ever since. Interestingly, the range today, (2018), is much the same as it was in the early days, though now with the addition of a number of up-to-date CNC machines
Difficult to categorise - although not in the same group as specialised, ultra-accurate machines such as the Derbyshire and Servo from America and Swiss Aciera and Schaublin types - the traditional, hand-operated Cameron might fall half way between those and the very much heavier, more expensive industrial-class miniature high-speed drills intended for heavy daily use such as the Sigourney, Hamilton, Meddings MB10 and Pollard 9FX. Other drill presses of a similar type to the Cameron (light, easily handled and reasonably priced) might include the now-obsolete English Oldak and Wa-Co (this even shared the same type of transparent belt guard), the Italian Micromessanica and American Dumore.
A world away from the type of light drill made for amateur use in the UK like the Champion, the original Cameron 164 (designed by Bob Cameron) was discontinued in 2016, to be replaced by the very similar but improved-in-detail 214.
Intended for the drilling of holes from 0.002" to 5/32" and of tiny proportions - the table was just 4 inches square - the 164 was of straightforward design and construction but of obvious quality. Made in aluminium, the head contained a spindle that, instead of rotating inside a quill that emerged from the main casting, was fixed within the housing, the whole head being moved up and down the column by rack and pinion gearing. While aluminium sliding on steel might not sound a good idea so far as longevity is concerned, an oil cup was provided for lubrication and the loads involved in drilling tiny holes are very low, To give just the right amount of "balance" required. A "head balance" spring of the clock type was fitted, the tension of which could be adjusted a ring on the left-hand face of the head. The pinion was mounted on the end of a cross-shaft fitted with a 3-spoke capstan handwheel while the rack was machined into a rectangular block of steel bolted to the front face of the round column.
Made by Cameron, the motor fitted was a special, single-speed, 30,000 r.p.m. type, able to run on either AC or DC and mounted on a neat, hinged-equipped bracket that allowed it to be lifted and the V-belt slackened for changes of speed. With the motor in the belt-tensioned position, a knurled-headed pin was used to lock the assembly. Using a 3-step V-pulley the spindle speeds obtained were 9500 r.p.m., 17,000 r.p.m. and 30,000 r.p.m. Although as an option a 2-speed motor was offered, the slower speed was obtained by fitting a ceramic resistor in the switch box that reduced the voltage causing the resistor to heat up; a better idea is reported to be the use of an SCR speed controller. At the very high speeds that all Cameron drill run at, perfect balance of the rotating components is, of course, necessary and so all - spindle, motor and pulleys - are dynamically balanced.
Running in bearing lubricated through an oil cup, the spindle had a run out at the chuck taper claimed by the makers to be within 0.0002". Although believed to have been initially fitted as standard with a 1/8" capacity. high-precision Albrecht chuck on a J0 taper, over the years various options were listed including a J1 spindle taper and key and keyless chucks by Jacobs and Yukiwa in capacities of 1/16", 1/8" and 5/32". A number of other accessories were also listed: an attachment for mounting a dial indicator (the holding casting appearing to be in ZAMAX and the tip of the indicator arranged to meet the top of the column as the head descended); a hollow spindle for special applications; a table column stop; a variable-speed controller and a foot switch.
Replacing the Model 162 was the 214, a drill currently in production that, while looking largely unchanged and of the same dimensions, incorporated a number of important changes including a cartridge-like spindle assembly, with sealed-for-life bearings, designed so that an owner could change it himself without the need to send the drill head back to the factory. A sealed 1/7th h.p. DC motor was fitted, this having infinitely variable speeds (using a Bodline controller) from 1000 to 3000 r.p.m. and the belt changed to a smooth-running, flat type. As before, a number of options were available including Yukiwa keyed and keyless chucks either 0--1/8" or 0--5/32" capacity, a collet-holding spindle with collets available from 0.5 mm to 1/4" in 0.1 mm increments (a very expensive option), dial indicator, table column stop and a foot switch. Another model, the Model 704 is also available, this having a slightly greater capacity and the ability to mount a compound table for light milling use. The Company's website is at: www.cameronmicrodrillpress.com where full details of the present range can be found..
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