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Machinist's Workshop

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CNC Workshop 2016

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Almost a Travel Dial

By Tom Berry

Having a dial indicator able to read lathe carriage travel is a pretty common accessory, but not everyone has heard of it, so I thought I would share a few photos of mine. Although you can’t see it well in the photos, a simple clamp attaches the indicator to the ways. It should be easy enough to make up a basic clamp out of aluminum to fit your lathe and indicator.

PhotoIn use, the indicator is clamped in contact with the carriage and carriage movement can be read directly from the dial. It’s handy for locating shoulders and other features. Be sure the indicator is mounted so it contacts a flat, smooth portion of the carriage and that the indicator stem is parallel to the ways.

PhotoAs I said, a mounted indicator may not be news; the main reason I wanted to share my photos is the indicator itself. This “new to me” Starrett indicator is a big one – the indicator’s face is 3-1/2" in diameter and it has a 2" travel on the rod. If you can find a similar indicator I suggest getting it. The large face and numbers make it easy on old eyes and it’s easy to split a thousandth, should you need to.

It’s not quite like having a lathe equipped with a Travel Dial, but it’s pretty close!

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