I bought a Feeler FSM-59 Hardinge clone today, and I think that I will want to repaint it. My machine tool experience consists of Sherline and Taig equipment, where the steel is bare and the aluminum anodized--no paint involved.
Do I do a "Pimp My Lathe" or an "Overhauling"? I.e. do I basically keep it assembled (headstock, bed, etc. intact) and mask off as necessary, or would sanding dust endanger the nice spindle bearings? Or do I strip it way down and sand, fill, primer and paint individual parts and then reassemble?
I guess my question is--where is the balance? I know that on bicycles it is gauche to paint the frame without removing the components, but I know how to strip down and properly reassemble bicycles. The good news is that the lathe is not in horrible condition--no rust, covered with gunked-on oxidized oil, just the way I'd like to find a vintage bicycle.
And if/when painting, do I sand the whole thing down to "bare metal" (I know that it would not truly be bare since the surface grain structure is still filled...) or just scuff the surface and spot-fill dings and scratches?
I've read several threads here where guys have refinished lathes, but all seem to assume some familiarity of how deep to strip down the beast...
I'll suggest that you start by giving your lathe a thorough cleaning. After you get through the dirt you might find the original paint looks just fine.
It all comes down to how much time you want to invest in it, and therefore how much value the machine has to you personally. The only rational reason to restore an antique machine is because you actually enjoy the process of restoring it. Are you eager to get it running quickly, or are you willing to spend months or years making it perfect? That's what you'll have to decide.
As John suggested, start by cleaning it up and getting it running. See what condition the finish is in, and find out what other mechanical problems it may have. That'll help you decide how much to tear down and repaint.
How well the old paint is bonded will tell you whether to strip it down to the metal. If it flakes and chips off easily, take it all off. If it's tough to chip off, leave it on and paint over it.
You can do a nice repainting job without tearing the whole machine down. But you'll have to spend extra time in the preparation, cleaning grease out of crevices, and detailing the masking. For some parts, it's less trouble to disassemble it than to mask it.
Don't be intimidated by the fact that you've never taken apart a Feeler lathe before. Most of the machines that we work on don't come with repair manuals. That's part of the fun! Take your time, document when necessary, and you'll figure it out.
If you get stuck, just ask. That's why we're here...
Unless you plan to tear it down anyway, AND the paint is in bad shape, I'd not bother.
Paint doesn't improve performance (except on ebay) and the oil that will get on it will protect it in general if there are some chips and bare places.
Plus, the original paint usually holds up better than any new stuff you can get easily.
Thanks for the replies! I don't have the lathe at home yet, but was thinking that the time to paint would be before I get it adjusted and CNC-converted and full of coolant etc., but I will not jump the gun. I'll be giving it a good cleaning and relubing and adjusting in any case, and I'll evaluate the paint more carefully at that time. It does look kind of rough from my initial overview, but I might be pleasantly surprised.
I read on another thread that Rustoleum 7400 paint with added urethane hardener was pretty durable, but have never used it myself.
Unless you are going to take it all apart, the paint job will be inferior. To do it right, the headstock is going to have to come off, the apron and carriage need to come totally apart, all placards should be removed (not just taped off), and the bed separated from the cabinet.
Think about a cheap auto paint job... no paint in the door jambs, tape over the emblems and trim, overspray on the tires... you get the picture.
"Think about a cheap auto paint job..."
Thus my "Pimp My Lathe" question. I was basically wondering if every restored/refurbished lathe and mill and hit-n-miss engine and steam tractor has literally been torn down to the base components, individually stripped and refinished and then reassembled.
I have a book on restoring antique bicycles, but the only two pieces painted are the frame and fork, and even then you usually don't remove the fixed bearing races for fear of damaging them. But I have yet to find a comprehensive book on refurbishing (from the cosmetic/protective aspect) old equipment.
The lathe would be brush-painted because I have neither an air compressor nor the space to construct a spray booth...
Another newbie refurbishing question is how to remove drive rivets without harming either the data plate or the rivet hole in the casting (or do folks assume they will drill it out and install a larger drive rivet when reassembling?)
edit: The lathe at this point is only the headstock, bed and cabinet. I do anticipate removing all the drive components from the cabinet, but will definitely stop short of disassembling the spindle, after reading Gunner's treatise on replacing Hardinge spindle bearings. As it is, I will probably be anxious enough to get the lathe in service that I will just clean the existing paint...
A couple of suggestions: First be care about "sanding" the old paint ...could be a lead based paint. Next think about disassembling your lathe and taking the parts to an auto machine shop and having them "hot tanked"! It'll remove all dirt and grease plus probably about 80% of the old paint! I'll save you alot of elbow grease and time! My $0.02 anyway, Good Luck!
From the responses, it sounds like some folks are not familiar with this 1970's or so Taiwan copy of a Hardinge DV/DSM59. There is no carriage. The spindle and two control levers are the only exposed moving parts that are hard to remove. The nameplates are fastened with drive screws, so it is likely the plates will be more or less damaged if removed.
This is not an antique (yet). I would just scrub it clean and leave the paint alone. If they used Hardinge-style paint, there may be chipped and cracked areas that are a pain to repair and paint over.
Hey, it's a 1980. That's 27 years, and if it was a car it would qualify for antique plates (at least, in Virginia)! But I asked in this forum since it's where I figured the expertise would be. And I do appreciate all the replies because they have gotten me to think deeper.
I did find a page of collected postings on lathe refinishing at http://www.armurerieduroi.com/pages/...the_paint.html but the forum from which they came doesn't seem to be identified.
Larry, you are right. I thought this was the HLV clone. Still needs to come apart as much as possible for a good paint job. I'm with the clean it up and see crowd, though. Unless it's really peeling all over, I'd just give it a good cleaning and let it ride.
As for removing drive screws... I have a custom ground long punch just for this job. The last 1/4" of the tip is sharpened to look like the claw on a clawhammer, but without the split (you can certainly add it if you feel froggy, but it works fine solid). The edge is razor sharp. Put the edge against the seam between the head of the drive screw and the plate. Bump gently with a light hammer until it starts to raise the screw, working around if required. I usually pad the heel of this tool with a piece of heavy paper and then just lever the screw out like you would a nail.
I've had good luck removing drive screws three different ways:
1) knocking them out from behind when they're accessible that way.
2) prying them out like Mike C. suggests
3) using a cutoff wheel in a dremel to slot the head and then twisting them out with a screwdriver.
Not any new ideas on my part. All three ways were suggested either here or in the South Bend forum at one time or another. I've just used them...
Mike, I will make one tonight out of a spare punch. Thanks!
I have decided to just clean the existing (nondescript green) paint and go with it for now. But I keep looking at Dave Neufell's Rathbone on this post and thinking how similar the color scheme is to my Tormach mill...
Steve, thanks for your reply also. Once I found they are called "drive screws" rather than "drive rivets" I did find some posts about removing them.