The rack and pinion drive for the carriage gets the job done but it is coarse when you want a fine finish.
So, I Tapped the end of my 16 tpi lead screw, made a shaft to fit, made a bracket to hold the shaft, bought a 16 tpi graduated dial from LMS, found an old handle from my junk box, put it all together and presto a nice fine carriage feed. The added benefit is that it keeps the hot chips away from me since I run it from the tail stock end of the lathe.
I noticed the lead screw handle and graduated collar in one of your photos from one of your other tool postings. I had meant to ask about it and now presto, you have answered my questions. Like you, I am more of a "systems integrator" than building everything totally from scratch so I can spend more time on making "stuff" with the tools.
If I can buy a part ready made and it's cost is reasonable I will usually just buy it. The collar for the lead screw is a great example in my time saved so I can make more stuff. In this hobby there is always more "stuff" to make and that is why I like it.
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