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Hardinge "Cataract" Millers - USA
Cataract Lathes   Hardinge Lathes

Manufactured by the American Hardinge precision lathe and collet company the first Cataract horizontal and vertical millers, constructed before World War 1, were small machines standing just 161/2" high. They made use of several already-existing parts - the main body casting was topped with a replica of the precision bench-lathe bed, to which a slightly modified No. 3 or No. 4 lathe headstock was bolted, while the knee and compound table were identical to those offered as conversion kits to turn the company's lathes into horizontal millers. As a further economy the table power-feed arrangement was provided by the same drive used on the lathes as a screwcutting attachment - and also retained the very useful adjustable automatic knock off control (though later versions were given a custom-made fitting). There was no overarm support for the cutter and the machine would have been limited to work of a lighter duty only. The knee and compound table of the vertical miller were identical to those used for the horizontal and, while the head casting was completely different, it also used the same spindle and bearings found in the Cataract No. 3 lathe headstock.
A precise dating for the introduction of the bench miller is difficult: the Company's 1903 catalogue shows a No. 3 bench lathe but no milling machine - even through the headstock of that lathe (with its 3C collet fitting) was to be used on the miller. It is therefore reasonable to assume that the first examples would have been made circa late 1903 or 1904. Although the start date is uncertain, it is possible to identify the very first examples by their rather different construction, the main column being a solid casting with an I-section. By 1915, and probably earlier, this had become a very much more robust rectangular hollow box type with other identification features including spindle locking (like the early lathes) by a pin that could be inserted into one of four holed drilled into the outer flange of the smallest pulley. At the other end an indexing pin was provided that fitted into a circle of 60 holes drilled into the end flange of the largest pulley.
With a  maximum clearance of 6
1/2" from the spindle, the table was 12" long by 33/16" wide; it carried one central T-slot (which had bevelled edges to locate fittings such as the dividing unit), and two plain outer T-slots for clamping work. The table had a cross travel of 4" and could be moved longitudinally through 51/2" by a screw feed or by 5" using a rack-operated lever mechanism that bolted to the same location used for the power-feed attachment. Before the lever feed could be engaged, the main slide nut had to be removed but, as this was exposed on the side of the knee casting, the job took only a moment. All of the indexing type, the micrometer dials were 17/16" in diameter and graduated to read in thousandths of an inch.
Another much larger and stronger miller, the No. 5, was also produced from around 1912 and continued to be manufactured, in a modified form with neat, enclosed drive systems and 2-speed motors,  into the 1930s and 1940s.
Improved Cataract millers, first produced during the 1930s, followed, to some extent, the development of the company's bench lathes - having completely enclosed V-belt drive systems with the two-speed motors operated by neat, external levers. Later still, Hardinge dropped the Cataract label and advertised the machines, with further modifications and additions to the range, under their own name. All Hardinge Cataract millers were available with a range of high-quality accessories, some of which are shown lower down the page.
Continued below:

The original Cataract lathe-to bench-miller conversion the knee and table assembly of which were used on the company's first self-contained horizontal and vertical millers.

Earliest form of the Cataract bench miller with a solid I-section column.

A very rare survivor - the very first type of cataract bench miller complete with power feed to the table and a dividing attachment

Above and immediately below: after the original I-section column, the second version of the Cataract miller had a proper box-section support.

While the head casting of the vertical miller was completely different, it used the same spindle and bearings of the No. 3 lathe headstock.

The heavier of the two Plain Dividing Heads had a 6" diameter indexing plate, a "half-automatic" indexing mechanism, adjustable bearings and a hardened and ground spindle with a taper to accept either No. 3 or No. 4 Hardinge collets. A sixty-notch indexing plate was supplied as standard but plates could be obtained with any number of notches up to and including three hundred and sixty six.

The standard 21/8" centre height Plain Dividing Head had a 4" diameter indexing plate and a spindle to accept Hardinge No. 3 collets.

The tailstock for the dividing heads had a 11/2"-travel spindle fitted with a Hardinge No. 3 taper. To the end of its production, in the 1930s, it continued to use that hallmark of early precision machine tools - a handwheel with the centre section turned away and two resulting raised rims each delicately knurled.

Cataract No. 5 bench horizontal miller (complete with the maker's standard-fit 6" dividing attachment) as first manufactured during the early years of the 20th century.
This was a very much more substantial and massive machine than the company's first bench millers with a 24" x 6" (working surface 20" x 6") table that carried three ordinary 7/16" T slots; the longitudinal travel was 12" and the cross and vertical both 6". The spindle, of "crucible steel" - a quality endorsement still popular in the early 1900s - ran in 3 degree taper bearings of phosphor bronze that were adjustable for wear and was fitted with a "Hardinge" 5C collet nose with a maximum capacity of 1 inch. In hardened steel, the overarm was ground and lapped to a perfect fit within the casting; the cutter arbor was 7" long and 7/8" in diameter and the distance between arbor and overarm 4 inches.  The largest of the 4-step spindle pulleys was 6
1/2" in diameter and took a 13/8"-wide belt.
For bench mounting the miller's base was 26" deep and 12" wide and the machine weighed, in basic form, 300 lbs.  By the 1930s the No. 5 miller had been considerably modified and, in line with the company's bench lathes, had acquired an enclosed headstock and a drive system with a 2-speed electric motor controlled by a pair of concentrically-mounted external levers (see below)..

Hardinge Cataract MD5 horizontal milling machine

A direct descendent of the original No. 5, the MD5 was a much heavier and more robust machine than the MD3 and MD4. In the early 1930s it was the only Hardinge miller able to be fitted to a compact cast-iron stand, the other machines requiring much larger lathe-like cabinets - though, as an option, that type of stand was available as well. The 24" x 6" (working surface 20" x 6") table carried three ordinary 7/16" T slots; the longitudinal travel; was 133/4" and the traverse 6" and the vertical 7". The 5C-collet fitting 7/8"-diameter spindle was made from ball-bearing grade steel and hardened and ground; it ran in 3 degree taper bearings of phosphor bronze that were adjustable for wear.
Manufactured in hardened steel, the overarm was  ground and lapped to a perfect fit with in the casting. The cutter arbor was 7 inches long and 7/8" in diameter and the distance between arbor and overarm 4 inches.  The largest of the 4-step spindle pulleys was 6.5 inches in diameter and took a 1
3/8"-wide belt.
With the cast stand the machine weighed 825 lbs and occupied, allowing for the table's longitudinal travel, a floor space of 45" x 43"..

Hardinge BB4
Appearing to have been advertised with just the Hardinge, as distinct from the Cataract name, were the small BB4, a developed version of the light-duty horizontal MD4 (and available with a pre-loaded ball-bearing spindle only) and a tool-room horizontal miller that could be supplied in either "TM" form as an ordinary universal plain (with an optional vertical head) or as the "UM" when fitted with a swivelling table designed to mount a universal spiral-dividing head for cutting spirals.

Like all small Hardinge millers the BB4 was superbly made from top-quality materials and finished to a high standard. Although a relatively small machine, with a table having a working surface just 12" long by 3
3/16" wide and without an overarm support for its cutters, the hardened and ground pre-loaded ball-bearing 4C collet spindle was driven by 3 V belts - an arrangement that must have provided a more-than-adequate surplus of grip over metal-removing ability. The maximum collet size was 3/4" and the 8 spindle speeds, driven from a 2-speed motor under-slung within the standard sheet-metal cabinet stand, ranged from 180 to 3000 rpm.
With hand-scraped ways - and positive locks - the table was almost identical to that fitted to the earlier MD3/MD4 being the same 12 inches long but, at 3
3/16", just 1/16" narrower. Unfortunately the table travel was slightly reduced on all three axes with a longitudinal movement of 5", traverse of 31/8" and vertical of 5".
A generous 24" x 29", the chip tray sat on a stand with a 39" x 38" plan foot - a measurement that included an allowance for the opening of the cabinet's collet and tool-storage doors. By the time this machine became available, the Hardinge habit of supplying an indexing dividing head and tailstock with each miller as standard had stopped and these useful items were confined to the expensive Accessory List.
Continued below:

Hardinge TM/UM Miller - and copy by Richard Haighton of Burnley, England
Made from the mid 1930s until 1977 (an astoundingly long run) the best known and most common of the Hardinge miller range, the TM/UM, was a carefully-designed, heavily-constructed machine intended to be strong and accurate enough for both production and toolroom work. Interestingly, because nothing similar was being built in the United Kingdom, Richard Haighton Ltd. of Canning Street, Burnley (makers of the Haighton Cadet lathe) produced a short run of close copies, probably in either the late 1950s or early 1960s Branded as the Haighton Major HSU1 it is a very rare machine - and few can survive. Fitted with an ordinary table the TM was the standard machine while the UM, with a swing table, was the "Universal" model. With a working area of 203/4" x 61/2", the table had a longitudinal travel of 14" (11 =1/2" with power feed) a traverse feed of 51/2" and a vertical movement of 131/4". The optional table power-drive attachment gave rates of travel from 1/8" to 13" per minute and was unusual in providing a total of 32 different feeds. All the gibs strips were of the proper tapered type, giving better support and allowing more precise adjustment. A thoughtful touch was the ability to disengage the transverse handwheel engagement; once released, by sliding a collar towards the micrometer dial, the operator could walk around the machine without fear of nudging the handle and upsetting the position of the table. The double nuts for longitudinal and traverse feed screws were adjustable for backlash and the 3"-diameter micrometer dials were larger than other Hardinge millers with, for the first time, parallel engraved surfaces instead of the bevelled ones used previously.
Carrying a 5C collet nose - hardened and ground like all those fitted to Hardinge machine tools - the spindle ran in pre-loaded, grease-packed-for life ball bearings and had 8 speeds from 110 to 1850 rpm. The two speed motor was held on a pivoting plate within the sheet metal cabinet stand and used a 4-step V-belt pulley to transmit power to a 2-step V belt countershaft with the drive then taken vertically upwards, via 2 V belts, to the spindle. Motor-speed switching was controlled by the usual Hardinge method of two concentrically mounted levers, one selecting high and low speeds and stop, the other forward and reverse with a second, separate, stop function.
Available as a 7/8" or 1" diameter, the cutter arbor was ground on its end in the form of a 5C collet and held into the spindle by a draw bar equipped with a ball-thrust bearing; it was supported by a drop bracket containing a precision ball race while the solid steel 2"-diameter overarm was ground and lapped to be a perfect fit within the main casting.
Although not supplied as standard, provision was made to retro-fit a coolant system with all the necessary holes drilled and then sealed with plugs to stop dirt entering. Oil cups were provided to lubricate the longitudinal and traverse feed nuts and the table and carriage slides - in the latter case lines scribed on the table and carriage had to be lined up before oiling to allow the lubricant to reach its correct destination..

Headstock from the BB4 vertical miller with grease-packed, pre-loaded precision ball bearings and 3 V-belt drive

Headstock as used on the plain bearing millers with 2 V-belt drive and wick-supplied lubrication

Swivel Base.
Designed to allow the indexing head or "Universal Adaptor" (below) to be mounted at an angle on the table and work machined at an angle or taper.

Right-angle accessory base

Rack-operated table lever feed

Universal Adaptor. This device could be fitted either directly to the milling  machine table (so that the swivel table was aligned at 90 to the headstock) or mounted on the swivelling base above - so allowing work to be machined at any angle. The 10-inch long T-slotted table could accept any of the usual table-mount accessories including indexing heads and tailstocks.

A range of table power feeds, with adjustable automatic knock off and incorporating a right-angle worm-and-wheel gearbox, was provided by the drive normally used as a lathe screwcutting attachment. Later power-feed units were altered and designed specifically for the miller. Another power feed attachment has also been located (so rare that it never made the known catalogues) that used a stepped pulley from the No. 3 headstock, a round leather belt and a second stepped pulley on a bracket off the mill base to drive the usual right angle drive gear box and universal drive shaft. 

Millers dual-badged as Hardinge  and Cataract during the 1930s & 1940s
While still recognisably based on the earlier Hardinge/Cataract models, the superb-quality millers produced by Hardinge during the 1930 were considerable improved. The range consisted of the MD5, a modified and refined version of the original No. 5 with an enclosed drive system inside a compact cast-iron stand; the MD3 and MD4 horizontals with plain or ball-race headstocks (and an unsupported cutter arbor); the BB4, a developed version of the MD4 available with a pre-loaded ball-bearing spindle only; a quite beautiful high-speed miniature vertical, the BB2V, and a tool-room horizontal that could be supplied in either "TM" form as an ordinary universal plain miller (with an optional vertical head) or as the "UM" when fitted with a swivelling table designed to mount a universal spiral dividing head for cutting spirals; both the TM and UM appear to have been sold only as a Hardinge-badged machines and were the only ones to survive in production after World War 2.
Apart from their collet capacity, the MD3 and MD4 Horizontal bench Milling Machines were identical: the MD3 accepted 3C collets with a maximum capacity of 1/2" while the MD4 was able to take 4C collets with a through bore of up to 3/4". The miller consisted, in effect, of the base section and enclosed headstock from the company's precision bench lathe and, like those machines, could be had with either a plain or ball bearing supported spindle The 6-speed drive system and its controls were identical to the lathe with twin V belts driving the spindle from an under-slung 2-speed electric motor and countershaft unit. The outer of two concentrically-mounted electrical-control levers on the left-hand side of the body selected  forwards, stop or reverse with the inner giving the high or low speed range and stop; other speeds were selected by rearranging the belts on the countershaft; the stands offered for the miller were very similar to those for the lathes with a choice of both enclosed and open versions.
Manufactured from the: "
finest grade, heat-treated and seasoned alloy iron" the head and base had hand-scraped surfaces to ensure perfect mating; the spindle was made from the best quality ball-bearing steel and hardened and ground both internally and externally; the spilt and adjustable plain bearings were of close-grained grey iron with a high graphite content, tapered on their outside and lapped to a mirror finish on the inside. The makers claimed that this construction was superior to the usual 3- 45 steel bearing as: "it is mechanically impossible for a 3- 45 bearing to wear equally - practice has proven this". The speed range of the plain bearing spindle was 180 to 2000 rpm while the optional ball-bearing spindle ran from 230 to 3900 rpm. The twin V pulley was balanced and the spindle end thrust adjustable against a ball race; each bearing was lubricated through an external oil cup fitted with a wick feed to ensure that only oil, not dirt, was drawn up.
The spindle could be prevented from turning by a convenient spring-loaded (lockable) plunger mounted on top of the headstock and (most usefully for a miller) carried in addition to draw-in collets a standard external Hardinge-style tapered nose with quick-release fitting for mounting chucks, faceplates and other attachments.
With hand-scraped ways and positive locks, the table,  had a working surface of 12" x 3
1/4" and carried a central T slot that could both locate accessories and be used, together with the two outer standard T slots, for clamping work. The longitudinal travel was 57/8", the traverse 33/8" and the vertical 53/4"; zeroing micrometer dials with tapered faces were fitted to all three axes of movement and the 1/4" square handles for all table controls were interchangeable. In its originally-advertised form the miller was supplied complete with a dividing head carrying a 60-notch index plate (others were available to order), a tailstock and centre to match the dividing head, a draw-in sleeve tube to hold collets, a swivel-base vise and the necessary handles and wrenches. As an option, but not illustrated in the company's sales literature, was an overarm support for the spindle, presumably like that used on the later No. 5 machines.
Continued below:

Early Cataract branded version of the BB2V milling machine.
Note, on the version, the concentrically-mounted electrical control levers

Using the same base, table and knee from the MD3/MD4 machines, the BB2V miller had a pre-loaded, ball-bearing spindle vertical head that mounted directly in place of the horizontal unit. The spindle accepted the Hardinge 2VD collet with a maximum capacity of 1/2". In that the components were interchangeable, and restricted only by the difficulty of changing over the endless V belts, it would have been possible to convert one machine (MD3/MD4 and BB2V) to the other.
Originally advertised as a "Cataract" the machine was supplied complete on a 6-speed, 40" x 30" underdrive stand with a speed range of either 300 to 3250 rpm or 300 to 5000 rpm. A 2-speed general Electric motor appears to have been the favoured installation with (one early versions) the electrical control levers mounted concentrically on a single shaft and marked
Reverse, Stop, Forward and Low Stop High. Later versions, labelled "Hardinge", were of an almost identical specification but with the two switch levers on separate shafts and, strangely, the table's longitudinal travel reduced by 7/8"..

A superb example of the wonderful little Hardinge BB2V

Drive on this version of the BB2V was provided by a 2-speed forward/reverse General Electric motor and a simple 3-speed countershaft.

The handy, lever-operated electrical controls  (Reverse, Stop, Forward and Low Stop High) were connected to the switchgear by a system of link rods.

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