Sunday, July 12, 2015

The saga of the lantern pinions

In a clock, the gears that convert the movement of the pendulum to the movement of the hands are of two types. If the gear  has 12 teeth or less it is called a pinion. If it has more than that, it is called a wheel. The Isaacs clock has 8 toothed gears for the pinions and other numbers for the wheels. Pinions are small fiddly things, about 6mm diameter. That's about 1/4" for the metrically challenged. Now there are several ways of doing pinions. First is to buy a commercial pinion cutter. Messrs. Thornton in England will sell you one, at what I consider an exorbitant price, 40 quid or about $80. Second, make tour own pinion cutter. I am really challenged here, because my mill is a real micro. The largest collet it will take is 3.2 mm (1/8") so the  7mm diameter of the hole in Messrs. Thornton's cutters is far too big for my tiny Proxxon mill. Second, make your own cutter. I looked a lot into this and they are quite a complex problem -- again because I have such a tiny mill. I will deal with this some other day. I can do it, I think, but I will have to rescale a lot of things.

The third way is to make lantern pinions and this is what I did. Essentially a lantern pinion is a very small hamster cage. It is two circles for the side of the cage, and 8 bars to the cage. Eight bars work out conveniently to 45 degrees at a side.

So I made up a wheel divided into 45 degree increments. A production,  but possible. I then used my aformentioned Dremel tool holder to drill the 8 holes. Simple, eh? Not really. First I had to make a mandrel, a shaft that fits into my "crocodile," the ER-16 collet on my Taig. I threaded it US 4-40 because that is the smallest tap and die set I own, about 2.4 mm. Then I had to make a special nut to fit the 4-40 thread and not interfere with the boring of the holes. A standard 4-40 nut is too big. The diameter of the hamster cage is 6.1 mm at module 0.6.

So now we turn up a bunch of hamster cage circles to the proper diameter, which is about 12mm. This can be done en masse, four sides at once. Then I laboriously cut up some music wire into cage bars. Regardless of its name, music wire has nothing to do with music, and worse, it is often called piano wire, although it has little or nothing to do with pianos.

The first result is shown above. It is a valid lantern pinion. It is sitting on top of a ski wax container. I use the ski wax on bandsaw blades and it really helps.

Now I made up an index stop out of an old saw blade and a broken Dremel mini-drill. I have lots of those, they are are very easy to break. The ones I am using are about 0.7 mm but unfortunately the wire is 0,77 mm.
The index stop is saw blade attached to a magnet., super-glued to the saw blade. I works.

And fortunately, looking through my supplies, I found a wire (from Michael's) same gauge as the music wire, slightly less stiff, and far less expensive. And much more obtainable. I have bought out Lowe's supply.

So here is the final mise en scene (forgive the lack of a grave accent). These are the tools I used to make 9 lantern pinions. I should only need 7, but better safe than sorry. There are pliers, of course. Then is my Archimedes drill. This has a piece of music wire in it, which is used as a drill/reamer to bring the holes in the cages to final size. It was quite a feat to grind that thing properly so that it would actually drill.

 There is an 8mm wrench that belongs to the mill. I use it to cinch up the pin vise, the invaluable object on the right, which holds the wire while you get it through the holes. Sitting in the pin vise is the last of the hamster cages.

When it was all over I measured the diameter of the pins in the cage. It was supposed to be 6.11 mm and came out to 7.7mm. Ouch! This is a major blunder. A real Bozo, as Tom Lipton would say. However I think it is a blessing disguised as a blunder. I worked out what the module actually is, and is 0.9 instead of 0.6. I think this module will be much easier to work with. Of course I will be into a redesign of the clock because the spacings will be different from the plans. But since I can calculate all of this, the redesign will not be too bad a deal. I can still swing the biggest wheel on the Taig. Stay tuned.

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