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Chapter: Mechanical - Manufacturing Technology - Turning Machines

Capstan versus turret

Capstan versus turret
The term "capstan lathe" overlaps in sense with the term "turret lathe" to a large extent. In many times and places, it has been understood to be synonymous with "turret lathe".


Capstan versus turret



 

Capstan Lathe                   Turret Lathe

 

The term "capstan lathe" overlaps in sense with the term "turret lathe" to a large extent. In many times and places, it has been understood to be synonymous with "turret lathe". In other times and places it has been held in technical contradistinction to "turret lathe", with the difference being in whether the turret's slide is fixed to the bed (ram-type turret) or slides on the bed's ways (saddle-type turret). The difference in terminology is mostly a matter of United Kingdom and Common wealth usage versus United States usage. American usage tends to call them all "turret lathes".

 

The word "capstan" could logically seem to refer to the turret itself, and to have been inspired by the nautical capstan. A lathe turret with tools mounted in it can very much resemble a nautical capstan full of handspikes. This interpretation would lead Americans to treat "capstan" as a synonym of "turret" and "capstan lathe" as a synonym of "turret lathe". However, the multi-spoked handles that the operator uses to advance the slide are also called capstans, and they themselves also resemble the nautical capstan.

 

No distinction between "turret lathe" and "capstan lathe" persists upon translation from English into other languages. Most translations involve the term "revolver", and serve to translate either of the English terms.

 

The words "turret" and "tower", the former being a diminutive of the latter, come ultimately from the Latin "turris", which means "tower", and the use of "turret" both to refer to lathe turrets and to refer to gun turrets seems certainly to have been inspired by its earlier connection to the turrets of fortified buildings and to siege towers. The history of the rook in chess is connected to the same history, with the French word for rook, tour, meaning "tower".

 

It is an interesting coincidence that the word "tour" in French can mean both "lathe" and "tower", with the first sense coming ultimately from Latin "tornus", "lathe", and the second sense coming ultimately from Latin "turris", "tower". "Tour revolver", "tour tourelle", and "tour tourelle revolver" are various ways to say "turret lathe" in French.

 

 


Semi-automatic

 

Sometimes machines similar to those above, but with power feeds and automatic turret-indexing at the end of the return stroke, are called "semi-automatic turret lathes". This nomenclature distinction is blurry and not consistently observed. The term "turret lathe" encompasses them all. During the 1860s, when semi-automatic turret lathes were developed, they were sometimes called "automatic". What we today would call "automatics", that is, fully automatic machines, had not been developed yet. During that era both manual and semi-automatic turret lathes were sometimes called "screw machines", although we today reserve that term for fully automatic machines.

 

 

 

Automatic

 

During the 1870s through 1890s, the mechanically automated "automatic" turret lathe was developed and disseminated. These machines can execute many part-cutting cycles without human intervention. Thus the duties of the operator, which were already greatly reduced by the manual turret lathe, were even further reduced, and productivity increased. These machines use cams to automate the sliding and indexing of the turret and the opening and closing of the chuck. Thus, they execute the part-cutting cycle somewhat analogously to the way in which an elaborate cuckoo clock performs an automated theater show. Small- to medium-sized automatic turret lathes are usually called "screw machines" or "automatic screw machines", while larger ones are usually called "automatic chucking lathes", "automatic chuckers", or "chuckers".



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