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Hardinge HLV-H Lathe
HLV-H Accessories  Hardinge DV-59, DSM-59, TFB-H, HC-AT, HSL-59 & HC   Hardinge History   Hardinge Millers   Model HLV   
Early Hardinge Cataract Toolroom Lathe   
Late "split-bed" Model TL Toolroom Lathe  Plain Lathes 1930/40s
HLV-H Copies: Barer, Cyclematic & Sharp
Early Hardinge Lathes" were marketed under the "CATARACT" brand
The author would like to acquire a catalogue (or a good copy) for the TL lathe--the pre-HLV "split-bed" screwcutting Hardinge lathe.
Handbooks & Parts Lists are available for a wide variety of Hardinge Lathes
Wanted: Operator's Manual for the DV59 -- do you have one ?

With origins going back to 1890, the American Hardinge Company have long enjoyed a reputation for high-class engineering and have always been associated with the production of finely-built machine tools. The steady development and improvement of the fabulous Cataract bench and screwcutting lathes of pre-World War Two set the scene for a post-war range that included several special-purpose production lathes (a number of them based on the beautiful DV-59 plain-turning precision bench lathe) and, one in particular, the  superb Model HLV made from the late 1940s until around 1959 when it was replaced by the improved HLV-H.  Built in both the United Kingdom (where it appears to have also been badged as the Type KL-1) and the U.S.A., the HLV was an immediate success - and purchased in considerable numbers for use in toolrooms, experimental departments of universities, government research facilities as well as precision engineering companies.  Easily outselling its British competitor, the Cromwell, this carefully designed and wonderfully executed lathe has proved to be a true classic. Today, (2011) it still in production as the popular and sought-after HLV-H - at a cost of around US$60,000 (as are many copies, made in Taiwan). Although the original model closely resembled the later and had an almost identical carriage assembly and tailstock, its bed was appreciable narrower and the spindle speeds varied by a hand-turned dial instead of by a push-button controlled electric motor. However, both were built to the same very exacting specification and standards and not down to a price. As such, each is capable of rewarding the operator (lucky enough to be allowed near one) with not only superb accuracy, the ability to produce exceptionally fine surface finishes (together with consistent mechanical reliability) but an ease of use that is envy of turners restricted to more mundane machines.
Made from carefully chosen and treated materials - the removable bedway from hardened and ground steel and the saddle with Teflon bearing surfaces for example - but also constructed with immense care and attention to detail the HLV-H is massive in relation to its capacity. Hence, so smoothly does it run, that a coin, resting on the headstock, will stay motionless as the motor switched on and a decent cut take taken into stainless steel. Though now superseded by more modern methods, in the past a test was used to ensure that all headstocks met the rigorous standards laid down by the factory: a batch of completed units - fitted with expensive class 9 roller races - was arranged on a rig with each carrying a flat aluminium pulley fastened to the end of its spindle. A single flat belt was looped around the pulleys and the whole assembly driven by an electric motor for 30 hours at 3000 r.p.m. Temperature sensors were mounted on the bearings and the readings monitored for consistency. Only when this test was successfully passed would a headstock be mated with its bed and the final "in-situ" grinding of the chuck-mounting and internal collet tapers be complete by a special bed-mounted rig. Experienced, professional users of Hardinge HLV lathes report to the writer that they are capable of running for ten of thousands of hours without any attention being required to the headstock - with one engineer, having over 40-years' daily experience of the model, never needing to replace the bearings.

Typical Hardinge HLV-H precision toolroom lathe

A continuously-variable ratio transmission system - with electrically-operated expanding and contracting pulleys  -  provides forward and reverse speeds from 125 to 3000 rpm and incorporates an ultra-reliable, switchable, automatic, solenoid-operated brake. The master electrical controls are mounted on the cabinet stand and consist of a push button starter, forward and reverse switch and a "power on" indicator light. The speed controls, set in a conveniently positioned binnacle atop the headstock, comprise one push-button for "faster", one for "slower", a brake on/off switch and the coolant controls. A vertical window provides an indication of the spindle speed. The lathe is normally supplied ready to accept 5C collets, with a maximum capacity of 1.0625", operated by a quick-action collet closer mounted at the left hand end of the spindle. It is important to know that the this unit (which should be removed weekly for cleaning and lubrication) can be damaged if allowed to run without a collet in place.
Although the early UK-made version of the lathe had an ordinary threaded nose, that from the USA had one of tapered form - with types both properly hardened and ground. While the taper type allows the rapid mounting and dismounting of spindle tooling, care must be taken to use it correctly: a fine line engraved on the vertical surface of the spindle nose indicates the location of a T-shaped shallow keyway that must register correctly with the chuck or backplate being fitted; original spindle fitments are marked with a line, circle or dimple to assist in this task. The item is then pushed on to the nose and twisted either left or right to lock it. An ordinary pin type spanner can be used to make the final tightening - do not use a punch and hammer but seek out the correct Williams or Armstrong spanner No. 460 (or a similar quality item). Chucks supplied by Hardinge have an integral  fitting to match the spindle nose, so reducing overhang and making the most of the machine's between-centres' capacity.
Fitted with easily-read black and white feed dials both top and cross slides move with a silky smoothness whilst the power sliding and surfacing feeds are both fitted with finger-tip operated, flick-up engagement clutches - of a design identical to that found on the top-class English CVA and American Monarch toolroom lathes. The clutches are a friction type and spring loaded; they are not adjustable and any sign of slippage is an indication that the cutting tool is blunt - or the machine being overworked. For normal, non-screwcutting turning, the saddle is advanced by a variable-speed electric motor built into the apron and controlled by switchgear mounted at the tailstock end of the bed. The fact that the headstock spindle speed and tool-advance rate can be individually controlled means that, whilst the initial setting can be at the text-book approved  level, it can (if necessary) be changed by experimentation until the perfect setting is arrived at for the job in hand. Another important advantage of the drive 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 that, whilst usually hidden in the "roughness" of ordinary turning, become much more evident in the finer finishes that high-quality lathes are able to produce.
Screwcutting on the HLV-H is by one of three types of gearbox: English, metric or, more rarely, a dual English-metric unit (when the lathe was known as the HLV-EM). It is possible, as with most lathes, to convert the English and metric boxes to cut the "other" threads as well; however, in the case of the Hardinge, this means the purchase not only of the necessary changewheels but another banjo as well, special ones being manufactured for each of the two conversions. The 22DP Hardinge changewheels that drive the gearbox are very expensive, but the writer has a low-cost solution in hand: email for details. To turners used to the difficulties of screwcutting on conventional lathes - for example, cutting to within a few thou of a shoulder or into a deep recess -  the arrangements on the HLV appear as nothing short of magic. The machine can be set to automatically disengage the screwcutting at any pre-determined point - and the drive will drop out flawlessly and accurately every time. Whilst this is happening the leadscrew and clasp nut stay engaged (so there is no need to use a thread-dial Indicator) and all the operator has to do is to return the tool to its start point, apply more cut, and re-engage the drive. Not only does this does work with all pitches of thread and at modest speeds, but also at high r.p.m. - and returning to an "ordinary" lathe after experiencing secure, 500 r.p.m. screwcutting on an HLV is always going to be a disappointment. Another interesting feature of the HLV design is that both cross and longitudinal feeds can be operated simultaneously--which action generates a perfect 60-degree cone. The standard toolpost incorporates a screw-operated wedging arrangement designed to facilitate quick setting of the cutting-tool height--whilst maintaining that all-important ingredient of successful turning, tool rigidity. Also available, in addition to the standard single-tool holder, are various types of special toolpost and individual toolholders.
A positive lubrication system is fitted to the carriage operated by a plunger fitted to the top rear of the saddle and to the right of the cross slide. Lifting and releasing the plunger several times during the working day should be sufficient to keep the cross-slide and bed ways wet with oil. The apron and clutches have a separate oil supply the level of which should be maintained at the half-way line on the sight-glass window fitted in the vertical surface of the saddle at the end nearer to the headstock.
Even the tailstock on the HLV is carefully though out and, with the barrel extended 6 inches, a further 6 inches are retained within the casting. Not all HLV-H lathes were created equal and some - due to the unavoidable vagaries of the manufacturing process - were found to be even more accurate than standard. In the past these special lathes were marketed by the factory as "Super Accurate" and offered at a premium of several thousand dollars above the regular price.
Whilst general maintenance on HLV-H lathes is straightforward (and the various handbooks very helpful) when it comes to any problem with  the headstock spindle bearings (see above) these are best left to either the factory or expert re-builders. Obtaining the genuine bearings and fitting them correctly (mishandling will ruin them) is money well spent.
The HLV-H has been copied by several Taiwan firms including Feeler, Sharp, ProMach, Barer (model CTL-618EVS and others) and Cyclematic. In addition some of these makers have supplied machines with "alternate" branding for distribution by dealers world-wide. Feeler was the brand name used by the "
Fair Friend Company Limited", originally of 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. Sharp's copy was beautifully-made and sold as standard with a hardened bed and a 5 h.p. Japanese Yaskawa drive; however, they also offered the "Acra", a less well finished model with a soft bed and minor changes to cut production costs.  ProMach, of whom few details are known, referred to their version as the "ProLathe" and sold it until at least the mid 1990s, and possible later. The "Victor", made as the standard CTL-618, the Cyclematic CTL-618EM and CTL-618EVS with electronic variable-speed drive, was by an unknown manufacturer but distributed through the Taiwan Machinery Trade Centre in California. If any reader has further details of these, or other clones, the writer would be pleased to hear from them.
Hardinge also made other machines of interest to the model and experimental engineer: the "Five-Nine Super-Precision Model Shop Lathe" (DV59) and a range of very high quality vertical and horizontal
milling machines - some of which were badged, during the 1930s, using the Cataract name.
Surviving Serial Number records
HLV-H (US production):
1969 to 1971 ……?
HLV (UK production)

Headstock and screwcutting gearbox controls

The Screwcutting gearbox is able to cut 27 different threads in ex-factory trim and numerous additional ones when fitted with the "Outside Change Gears", and banjo unit, which is supplied as standard with every machine. To extend the threading range further, a wide range of supplementary gears are also available.
The lathe incorporates a most useful "threading stop" and, because there is no danger of running the thread too far or too deep, Hardinge modestly request that screwcutting speeds be limited to 1000 rpm…...
A metric conversion set is also available and supplied with an extra-large changewheel cover.

Apron Power Feeds Control Box. The design of this unit changed over the years.

Spindle Nose Markings
The engraved line on the inner flange of the spindle nose, and  silver stud on the backplate, are in correct alignment for the two to be pulled apart.

British-built Hardinge HLV-H type badged as the Model KL-1  (pictures from Nico Hugo in South Africa)

Hardinge KL-1

E-MAIL   Tony@lathes.co.uk
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Hardinge HLV-H Lathe
HLV Accessories  Other Hardinge Lathes   Hardinge History   Hardinge Millers   
Model HLV   Early Hardinge Cataract Toolroom Lathe   
Late "split-bed" Model TL Toolroom Lathe