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South Bend G-26-T Lathe
An Operation & Maintenance Manual is available for this lathe
Manufactured in Taiwan during the 1990s (when South Bend were struggling as a company) the 13.4" x 36" G-26-T is not to be confused with the G26, a version of the quite different and venerable 10-inch belt-drive South Bend made for then in Australia by the Hercus Machine Tool Company.
Breaking with the South Bend tradition of using mainly flat-belt-drive headstocks (though the first geared model was actually manufactured in 1912) that on the G-26-T was all-geared - although the box-section bed, induction hardened and ground did reflect the usual South Bend practice of employing three V and two flat ways.
In other respects the lathe followed typical Taiwanese designs for the era and offered a very complete specification, neat detailing and outstanding value for money. Like many contemporary competitors the G-26-T could be had from the manufacturer in a variety of specifications, the buying agent specifying exactly what he wanted. Thus, very similar models have been found badged as "Andes" and "Acer" and equipped with gap beds, higher grade electrical equipment with foot brakes, T-slotted cross slides, different speed ranges and a variety of stands, chip trays and coolant units. It was not unknown for such lathes to arrive with a variety of nameplates in their packing crate leading to much subsequent confusion.
Splash lubricated (with a sight-level glass) the headstock of the G-26-T held a D1-4" spindle running in a pair of taper roller bearings and bored to clear 38 mm - other shafts being supported in ball races. Changes between the 12 spindle speeds that ranged (nominally) from 54 to 2000 r.p.m. were made by the simple means of a lever dial mounted concentrically with the only other headstock control (apart from electrical push-buttons) being a second dial used to select the direction of carriage travel.
A full dual metric/inch screwcutting and feeds gearbox was provided as standard, as was power sliding and surfacing feeds, the latter by a separate power shaft with selection and engagement by a single lever on the face of the apron - the design of this mechanism (up for sliding and down for surfacing) thought to have first been used on Kerry lathes of the 1950s. A feed overload safety clutch was incorporated in the apron, this being adjustable (at least on some models) by a control immediately below the feed-selector box. Well geared down for a smooth, fine feed, the hand-driven apron gearing was turned by a full-circle handwheel equipped with a zeroing micrometer dial.
Of the full-enclosed, oil-bath type and without a sliding tumbler, the gearbox had all-dial control - three set across the front face and a fourth on the inner face of the headstock - though the group of three were, unfortunately, of relatively small diameter and with a smooth finish that made operation by greasy hands difficult; however, they are easy enough to change. Fitted as standard was a thread-dial indicator, though on the inch machines (as usually supplied to the American market), this could, of course, only be used for inch and not metric screwcutting. All-metric models were equipped with a three-gear indicator (20t, 24t and 28t), a fitting that enabled most common metric pitches to be cut (should any reader be able to provide a clear photograph of the screwcutting and feeds chart from either an inch or metric machine, the writer would be grateful.
Once started by a push-button on the front face of the headstock, spindle stop, start and reverse was by the well-established and easy-to-use third-rod system - with the control lever pivoting from a bracket fastened to the right-hand face of the (double-walled, oil-bath) apron and so moving with it as the carriage travelled along the bed. Lifting the lever from its central stop position engaged the forward motion while moving it down engaged reverse - though the spindle had to be brought to a complete stop before a change of direction could be made.
With all exterior and sliding surfaced ground finished, the compound rest had a cross slide with a travel of 63/8" (162 mm) and a top slide with 35/8" (92 mm) - the latter able to be swivelled though 360° and fitted as standard with a rather tall, wide-gap 4-way toolpost. One complete turn of their feed screws advanced both slides 0.200" - that for the cross slide being fitted with an a ball-bearing thrust race and a bronze nut adjustable to remove backlash. On the top slide the tapered gib strip had a single adjusting screw at the front, but that on the cross slide had one at each end - an excellent system by which means a perfect sliding fit can be obtained, though one that needs care when adjusting if snapped-off ends are to be avoided. As part of the regular specification it appears that dual inch/metric zeroing micrometer dials were fitted, these being given a pleasing, non-glare satin-chrome finish.
Of robust constriction the No. 2 Morse taper tailstock could be set over for the turning of slight tapers and was fitted with a proper compression lock to the spindle. A useful addition was the provision of a large micrometer dial, this being combined with ruler engravings that have been found in inch, metric and dual inch/metric versions..