Redwing Lathe - Definitions
If you’ve been following along, we have covered how to open and close a
hearing aid properly, as well as how to buff the seam. After our last
article on buffing, we got quite a few questions about the Redwing Lathe
and accessories, and what the accessories are used for. So we’ve decided
to pull all of that information together in definition format.
You can read any og our past articles by
Model 26A Redwing Lathe
The Model 26A Redwing Lathe is a 2
shaft, 2-speed lathe primarily used to grind and buff. It used extensively
in the hearing aid industry, as well as the dental and jewelry industries
to modify and polish a myriad of different components. The 2 shafts make
it easy and efficient to perform 2 operations without changing tools, and
the 2 speeds offer a variety of applications, from modifying a hearing aid
shell, to polishing after modifications.
The Redwing is only supplied with a bare shaft – nothing on the end.
The chuck is a device, which will push on to the end of the shaft and hold
the actual tool for modification. Now, we are going to take some time here
with chuck installation because if you’ve never installed one, you could
end up with a loose or poorly fitting chuck, and you will be disappointed
with the performance. The chuck is typically press fit onto the end of the
shaft, which means it is pushed onto the shaft and is held in place by
friction. It is only installed on the RIGHT side when facing the lathe
from the front. Typically, to install you would want to drive the chuck on
with a rubber mallet. If you don’t have a rubber mallet you can also use a
metal hammer and block of wood. Place the wood against the end of the
chuck and hit the opposite side of the wood with a hammer. You don’t need
to hit it very hard, just enough to drive it on. Do not strike the chuck
directly with the hammer or you will cause damage to the chuck. If the
chuck comes loose after use, strike it a little firmer on reinstallation.
What if you want to take the chuck off? The Redwing has a nice feature
for that. You will notice where the shaft exits the motor there is a
chrome piece with a handle that extends outward from the motor. This is a
chuck removal device. Simply grab the handle and unscrew the device until
it pushes against the chuck. Keep turning and it will push the chuck right
off the shaft.
Using the Chuck:
Once the chuck has been installed you’re going to want to insert a tool.
The chuck has a threaded piece on the end, which opens a set of jaws.
Simply unscrew this piece to open the jaws, insert the tool you want to
use, and then screw the jaws closed.
You have a couple of options when it comes to types of chucks. The
8T chuck is usually offered
as a standard chuck, and it works well for most conditions.
If you need high precision, and a guarantee that the tool will run
true, there is the #18 precision
chuck. Quite a bit more expensive, but worth every penny if you need
the tool to run true.
Spindles are what hold the buffing wheels. They are made for either
the Right or Left sides, so you need to pay attention to which spindle
goes on which side. The typical size tapered spindle for the hearing aid
industry is #7.
The #7 tapered spindle is a
threaded cone shaped spindle which is press fit onto the end of the shaft.
Just like the chuck you will need to strike the end of the spindle to
drive it onto the shaft, and just like the chuck do not hit it directly
with a metal hammer or you will damage it. Where this type of spindle is
threaded, all you need to do is thread the buffing wheel onto the end of
the spindle until tight. If you have the spindle installed correctly, and
on the correct side, using the buff will tighten the buff even more on the
spindle. If you do not have it installed correctly it will spin off the
shaft during use.
Arbor and Flange Spindle:
The arbor and flange spindle uses a nut with washer to hold the buff in
place. Just slide the buffing wheel onto the shaft, and tighten the nut.
You can also get these with a tapered spindle.
Model 16 Quick Chuck Changer
This is one of the most useful devices ever created for the lathe. The
Quick Chuck Changer replaces the standard chuck and allows the user to
change tools without stopping the motor. With a traditional chuck, every
time you need to change a tool, the motor needs to be stopped, you need to
loosen the jaws, take out the tool, put in the new tool, tighten the jaws,
and turn the motor back on. The Quick Chuck Changer uses a lever, which
engages an internal clutch. This stops the chuck from spinning and opens
the jaws without stopping the lathe. Then, simply install the new tool and
push the lever – back in business. It is lightning fast to change tools,
and a must have accessory if you do a lot of modifying. Also, the Model 16
Quick Chuck Changer includes a precision chuck.
You can get the Model 16
Quick Chuck Changer as an add on accessory if you already have a Model 26A
lathe, or you can order it installed from the factory which is the Model
16B. The Model 16B is simply the standard Model 26A lathe with the Model
16 Quick Chuck Changer attached.
This is probably the most misunderstood accessory for the 26A Redwing,
but it can also turn the lathe into a high performance versatile machine.
The accellerotor does several
things, but mainly it increases the speed of the shafts from 1725/3450 RPM
to 12,000/24,000 RPM. Increasing the speed allows the operator the ability
to grind the faceplate from the shell. If you do any kind of faceplate
replacement, or manufacturing where there is a large amount of faceplate
to grind, this is one very efficient way to do it. It will also allow the
user to buff the hearing aid shell to a high degree.
The accellerotor also includes a quick chuck changer, and includes a
There are two companies which make an accellerotor device. The
manufacturer of the Redwing makes one called the Model 16D and can be
installed from the factory. Another company has one called the U011 Gold
Chrome Bracket Assembly which is a very nice unit that also includes an
overhead light – very handy.
As you can imagine, when you start grinding and buffing you will
likely make a mess. You will have plastic debris and buffing compound
flying around and you will want to contain that. A splash hood is a device
that partially encloses the spindles of the lathe, and catches much of the
debris. They are available in several sizes, the most common being the
Model 86D, which includes a light and
safety shield (a must in my opinion).
If you need to completely contain the dust and debris from grinding
and polishing, you may consider a dust
collector. Some dust collectors are bench-top units and include a
splash hood. Some bigger units connect to the splash hood by a hose and
will typically require the splash hood to have an option flange cutout for
connection the hose.
The Model 26A Redwing Lathe is a
must-have tool for any office or lab that performs modifications on
hearing aids. Using the lathe does require some practice, but you cam get
plenty of experience just by playing around with a junk unit or two. The
biggest piece of advice for a beginner? Take it slow. Just grind or buff a
little at a time to avoid taking too much. But even if you do make a
mistake, this type of work is very forgiving. You can always add more
material, or regrind or buff again. It is just a matter of practice and
About the Author
Chris Perkins is the owner of Lightning Enterprises, and facilitates
the Lightning Enterprises newsletter. He has worked in the hearing aid
industry since 1991 in hearing aid manufacturing and product development,
as well as equipment and process consulting.