Emco Unimat - Home-made Copy
- photographic essay - page 2
Emco Home Page
An astounding achievement - a home-built copy of the Emco Unimat. Built using only modest facilities this perfectly functional machine was constructed in South Africa during the 1970s.
The builder, "Brian Suter who lives in Cape Town, South Africa" writes:
Around thirty years ago I was studying Electrical Engineering at UCT (Cape Town) and had to get in some practical work after my 2nd. year. My dad had a Myford lathe and I rather liked the idea of a project to make a lathe for myself. Seeing a Unimat displayed in a local shop, I measured it carefully using a vernier caliper and annotated the dimensions onto a set of photographs.
As I had managed to secure some vacation work at a general engineering workshop in Zimbabwe (Gweru) - and since they had a foundry - I asked permission of the owner if I could start the project there. Accordingly, I made the wooden patterns for the bed plate, tailstock, cross-slide assembly, etc., and one of the chaps there helped me by making the moulds using "carbon dioxide sand". The castings were then poured using cast iron for the main parts and aluminium for the large pulley.
With the castings to hand I then used a shaper to make the parallel "V"s to hold the (silver-steel) bed rods accurately. Following this, the remainder of the work was completed on dad's Myford - including all the necessary drilling, turning and milling.
Finally, back in Cape Town, I bought a 4-jaw independent chuck and a milling table.
Unfortunately a suitable motor proved difficult to source: first I tried one from a sewing machine - which promptly burned out! Then I "borrowed" an old "Wolf" drill from my dad and, after reversing the direction of rotation, converted the pulley assembly to clamp it in place. One disadvantage of these early Wolf drills is the noise - they make a dreadfully loud and annoying screeching sound and are in complete contrast to the normal quiet hum of a genuine Unimat motor.
Of all the parts the tailstock proved to be the most difficult and, in hindsight, I wish I had never bothered to copy its curvaceous lines - flat sides would have made it so much easier to jig and machine the three critically parallel holes - plus a 3rd. for the barrel-advance screw. As a result the job was slightly out, and I had to make a small adjustment to the height using two grub screws to bear against the bed bars.