Feeler FTL-618, AML618 & HC Lathes
Hardinge Copies - made in Taiwan
Suitable handbooks and manuals for this lathe are available
It would be interesting to know how such an exact copy of the Hardinge HLV (and other Hardinge Models) came to be built - were they sanctioned in some way by Hardinge--or just cribbed ? The maker, "Fair Friend Company Limited", was based at 11/F No. 665, Tun-Hwa South Road, Taipei, Taiwan with a factory at No. 805, Chung-Shan Road, Shen-Kang Shiang, Taichung-Hsien, Taiwan. Also manufactured in Taiwan, by the Sharp company, was another beautifully-made copy sold as standard with a hardened bed and 5 h.p. Japanese Yaskawa drive. Sharp also made the "Acra", a lees well finished model with a soft bed and minor changes to cut production costs. Another HLV-H copy was made or marketed by a company called ProMach, who labelled their version the "Prolathe" with sales continuing until at least 1995 - and possibly later.
Whatever the reasons for the Feeler's manufacture it was certainly a very well executed machine - with certain specification improvements over the Hardinge including the fitting, as standard, of dual metric and English micrometer dials and a combined metric and English screwcutting gearbox. One satisfied owner reports faultless performance and perfect accuracy - so, this might be one Taiwanese lathe well worth considering - if you can live without the cachet of the Hardinge name, that is.
Accepting standard 5C collets, the headstock spindle had an infinitely-variable speed range of 135 to 2955 r.p.m., ran in precision, preloaded ball bearings with a TIR (total indicated run-out) at the nose guaranteed to be better than one hundred millionths of an inch (0.0001"). A lever-operated collet closer was fitted as standard and the spindle nose fitting replicated the well-designed "twist-on" bayonet type used by Hardinge for many years.
Fitted as standard, the crewcutting and feeds' gearbox was able to generate English threads of: 11, 11.5, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17.5, 18, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 32, 35, 36, 40, 44, 46, 48, 50, 52, 54, 56, 60, 64, 70, 72, 80, 100 and 108 t.p.i. And metric of: 0.275, 0.2875, 0.3, 0.325, 0.35, 0.375, 0.4, 0.4375, 0.45, ..5, 0.55, 0.575, 0.6, 0.625, 0.65, 0.675, 0.7, 0.75, 0.8, 0.875, 0.9, 1.0, 1.1, 1.15, 1,2, 1.25, 1.3, 1.35, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.75, 1.8, 2.0, 2.5 and 2.7 mm pitch. Additional changewheels were available to extend the threading range.
Like the Hardinge, the carriage was powered by a separate variable-speed motor, so allowing the spindle speed and tool-feed rate (both along and across the bed) to be independently controlled. If the text-book setting for the particular combination of workpiece diameter, material and tool angles in use at the time did not produce perfect results then, by experimentation, adjustments could be instantly made to one or both of the controls until things improved. (Another important advantage of independent drives is that it reduces the number of gears involved in the transmission of power - gear drives are bad news for surface finish, they induce vibrations which, while often hidden in the "roughness" of ordinary turning, become much more evident in the finer finishes that high-quality machines are able to produce.) A most useful feature was the fitting of an automatic disengage to the carriage feed (the operating rod can be seen running parallel with the bed) that could be set to stop the cut at any predetermined point.
In order to reduce friction, and allow a more sensitive adjustment to be made to the gib strip, the underside of the saddle was lined with Turcite B plastic; on the FTL-618E and 618-EM models pressure lubrication to all three slideways could be ordered as an optional extra.
Heavily constructed, the double-walled, oil-bath apron held power sliding and surfacing feed engagement and overload clutches - of a spring-loaded design first used long ago on top-class English CVA and American Monarch and some Rivett toolroom lathes. The clutches were a friction type, operated by a positive lever action and designed so that, should they slip, it would be an indication to the operator that the machine was being worked beyond its capacity. For more details, compare this lathe with the Hardinge original.
With a travel of 3.75", the tailstock spindle was fitted with a No. 2 Morse taper and graduated in 1/8" divisions. The micrometer dial inboard of the handwheel was of the same dual metric/English type fitted to the compound slide rest..