Stepper motor control for English Wheel

Hello, trying to work out feasibility for controlling the raise and lower function of an English Wheel with a servo motor. An English Wheel is a machine used to roll sheet metal and create compound curves, examples of use would be motorcycle fuel tanks, compound curved car panels etc. It works by running the sheet metal between heavy, hard steel wheels. One of the wheels can be raised and lowered, usually via a handle you reach up to or alternatively kick a wheel with one foot, the greater the tension the more pressure on the moving wheel and the more squeeze on the metal resulting in greater deformation. The handle drives an acme thread, my concept is that the stepper motor could replace the handle. The controls to operate would consist of foot operated buttons to inch up and inch down and a memory function to remember a position so that the wheel could be raised the sheet metal removed and checked then replaced and the wheel lowered to the memorised position. Permanent PC connection would not be ideal, far better to have a simple controller that can be run with buttons. No display is required but maybe would be a help to give an idea of how low or high the wheel is. Any thoughts, suggestions/criticisms very welcome. Thanks, Jonathan

Well never come across the term English Wheel before. Sounds a nice project, you will have to get a big stepping motor, perhaps even have some gearing on it but it should be possible. Good luck.

You could have a rotary encoder to adjust the position when the wheel is 'down' and then a separate control to raise the wheel, or lower it to the current set position.

Thanks for the comments Peter and Mike. Peter, I have some electonics experience but nothing relating to arduino, if you could relate your suggestion to specific hardware I could buy and start experimenting with that would be fantastic. I have full machining workshop facilities for mounting on shafts, making foot controls etc so none of that is a problem.

Adjusting the wheel when it is down on the metal is very much a "feel" 'thing relating to the pressure of the wheels on the metal and how hard it is to push and pull through the forming wheels. I was thinking it could be done by multiple hits on the down button, each hit causing a specific rotation of the stepper motor. Could even be done by having a course and a fine step for both directions.

The big issue is that when working with the wheel you are very limited in terms of free hands! That is why I was thinking the foot actuated controls would be best.

Could someone please suggest a suitable Arduino controller, I'd like to buy one and start learning!

Designing controls is very subjective, but I'd consider designing it so the wheel was normally parked at an 'up' position with a foot operated button to move it to a 'down' position, with a rotary control to define exactly where the 'down' position was.