In today’s Internet connected world where practically every bit of information seems to be at our fingertips, it’s hard to believe that some old and very unique know-how sometimes slips away. Lucien Yeomans, way back in 1915, invented a method to construct the beds of metalworking lathes from concrete instead of cast iron. Pat Delaney, who was trying to come up with a method to build machine tools in developing countries, rediscovered the process and adapted it so it could be used to build The Multimachine, a 12″ Swing, Metal Lathe/Mill/Drill for about $150.
Pat, is a lot like Dave Gingery who we told you about about when we wrote the Build Your Own Foundry post a few months ago. Pat uses scrap metal and cheap parts to build some incredible tools and this one is his latest.
It is well known that concrete shrinks as it sets up. This is not important when you pour your sidewalk but this shrinkage would force a concrete machine tool out of alignment as the concrete casting dried. Yeomans solved this problem by casting a concrete frame or “bed” with oversize cavities where the parts would normally go and then let the concrete season and shrink. He would then align the metal parts and hold them in place by pouring a non-shrinking, low temperature metal alloy over them.
Yeomans developed the process to build a lot of precision metal lathes for producing large artillery shells in WWI, when they needed a lot of lathes to be built quickly and inexpensively. Those lathes were very large, but the process can be used for machine tools of any size as you can see with this one developed by Pat Delaney.
This is definitely a superb example of creative thinking and problem solving, very impressive!