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Thread: Is it ok to use scotchbrite on lathe ways?

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    clomb's Avatar
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    Default Is it ok to use scotchbrite on lathe ways?

    I am cleaning up a lathe I just got and boy does it need it. There is gummed up cutting fluid covered with 4 years of barn gook. I can get most of it of with WD-40 and a brass brush but to get the ways to really shine I would like to use scotchbrite. I know this sounds funny to ask but is scotchbrite too agressive to pollish the ways?

    Thanks,
    Chuck

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    ken moss is offline Hot Rolled
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    try steel wool and lite oil frist you will have to play with the grade start with 4 0 the finest it will take lite rust off Ken

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    Forrest Addy is offline Diamond
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    Diassemble easy to remove components if need be. Start with a plastic putty knife and water based kitchen cleaner starting with small areas and being careful around crevices and way wipers.

    Move on to mineral spirit paint thinner and a non abrasive scouring pad. This will take off 90% of the crud and film. Use steel wool and mineral spirits or WD40 (a great cleaner) and elbow frease to remove rust. Clean up stained paint with cloth shop towels damp with paint thinner.

    I've been a machinist all my working life starting as a machinist apprentice 49 years and 6 month ago. I've cleaned hundreds of machne tools and know how to do it without causing damage and later trouble.

    Regardless of what idiot shade tree yokels or the tragically misinformed tell you, do not steam clean, drench in caustics like oven cleaner, media blast, or witlessly apply powerful cleaners like Simple Green or the purple stuff ro any machine tool or subassembly thereof.

    There is no shortcut to cleaning heavily encrusted machine tools but savvy selection of methods and materials with careful work and attenton to detail.

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    bigskinsfan is offline Aluminum
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    There are different Scotchbrite types. I believe if you use the blue (non-scratching) type, you should be OK. Plastic scrapers will do wonders to eliminate the bulk of the gunk.

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    S_W_Bausch is offline Diamond
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    I would go with Forrest Addy's advice, so don't understand my input as contravening his statements.

    The trick is to make sure whatever you do doesn't do harm in its initial application, and to make sure its residual and continual effect is zero.

    For example:

    There are such things as toolpost grinders, for working an item held in the chuck, but if you don't do a perfect cleanup afterwards, the grit will continue to grind whenever two contaminated surfaces move against each other.
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    RC99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forrest Addy View Post
    Regardless of what idiot shade tree yokels or the tragically misinformed tell you, do not steam clean, drench in caustics like oven cleaner, media blast, or witlessly apply powerful cleaners like Simple Green or the purple stuff ro any machine tool or subassembly thereof.
    I am curious as to why not?

    I am in the process of cleaning up my slotter and I have stripped it bare... All the castings are as machined with nothing attached..

    I am not sure how any of the described above can hurt them...

    I am actually using a 3000psi pressure cleaner to get the gunk off....

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    Phil Burman's Avatar
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    Flat ways work, shiny ways look pretty. Depending on their condition you may not be able to have both. To make them shiny you have to remove material, the more material you remove the less flat they will be.

    The question is not so much: is the process too aggressive? But: how aggressively will you apply the process?

    Phil

    Quote Originally Posted by clomb View Post
    but to get the ways to really shine I would like to use scotchbrite. I know this sounds funny to ask but is scotchbrite too agressive to pollish the ways?

    Thanks,
    Chuck
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    Quote Originally Posted by .RC. View Post
    I am curious as to why not?

    I am in the process of cleaning up my slotter and I have stripped it bare... All the castings are as machined with nothing attached..

    I am not sure how any of the described above can hurt them...

    I am actually using a 3000psi pressure cleaner to get the gunk off....
    I am curious about this as well. I know the lathe I have was cleaned with oven cleaner and paint remover. Not by me but I know the guy I bought it from did. There does not appear to be any adverse effect.

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    GregSY is online now Diamond
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    What I suspect Forrest is saying is 'don't take apart more than you need to just to clean it, and don't use cleaners that will obligate you to disassemble the machine morte than it really needs.'

    There are plenty of machines, I'll bet, sitting disassembled outside behind barns becauase they were 'stripped downnto give 'er a good cleaning' then never got put back together.

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    DMF_TomB is offline Titanium
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    Default Scotchbrite use

    Scotchbrite or Nonwoven Nylon Abrasive has abrasive grit in most types

    i use blue or blueish green "non abrasive" types for scrubbing or scouring precision see your self mirror finished printing cylinders. i believe this pad has soft plastic grit mixed in it. the softer the abrasive the less material types it can scratch

    when that is not enough, i use Bonami Polishing cleanser, non scratch feldspar mineral abrasive. feldspar is softer than metal but can scratch paint or plastics.

    next up is a liberty polish type cleaner which is basically ammonia water (for cleaning) with micron grade silica grit in it. after applying it if fumes from ammonia are too strong come back after a few minutes. Then wipe and polish with clean dry rags. it polished best when drier. basically it is an abrasive in that will eventually put a mirror finish on most metals

    i use scrubbing bubbles tub and tile cleaner only on parts i am taking apart. it will clean the goo off but it will leave caustic rusting wet residue between parts.

    non woven nylon abrasive fine and medium grit is basically like using 600 and 320 grit to clean items. use with items you plan on scratching.

    next up is wire brushes. Steel twisted knot rotary brushes are extremely aggressive and will leave fairly heavy scratch marks. Steel crimp (straight wire) rotary brushes in thinner diameter wires are medium aggressive and will leave medium scratch marks. Brass wire(not brass steel plated) rotary brushes are even less aggressive and only horse hair brushes are more gentler.

    Grit and destroying precision surfaces. Of course clean up the grit off the ways. Even just polished clean looking surfaces may need wiping 10 times before coming back white glove test clean

    me myself coming to a dirty gooey rusty lathe. first thing i spray on it is Starrett or Wd-40 type oil and try wiping the crud off. may take letting it soak in and a lot of wiping. Some parts like chucks i use spray zero residue electrical contact cleaner. some others might use a carburator type cleaner. warning some of this cleaner may damage rubber and plastic seals so use with caution.

    i only use scotchbrite and Starrett oil for cleaning if it is really bad. The type of rust that long ago destroyed any precision 0.0002" type surface.

    Basically any lathe that looks like it was WW2 era surplus with rust (roof leaks / humidity etc) and dried crud on it
    that leaked out it's oil months ago and may have been run dry (low oil level) often i would long ago gave it up for high precision work, cleaned up or dirty.

    myself i prefer lathes and mills clean as i use rubber gloves working and want to be able to machine plastics without getting them dirty, need a clean machine for that. also if anybody got my shop computer keyboard dirty / oily i would be upset if i had to do CadCam work with sticky keyboard and mouse.

    i grind / sand / polish on shop equipment all the time. of course you need to blow and wipe it off when done.

    you out to try cleaning ink, dried chemicals, varnishes, etc off of precision (tons heavy ) printing equipment. basically i use 4" rotary wire brush 4000 rpm , then 5" coarse rotary scotchbrite pad 2000 rpm then 3" and 2" medium and fine nylon abrasive scotchbrite type pads 10,000 rpm. then work my way up to buffing compound when i want a mirror finish (i do this weekly)...... got to warn you, you will be throwing grit and crude at least 5 feet in all directions an i wear a dust mask as i do not want in in my lungs either. if you are careful, on surfaces that were milled you can clean them and still see the mill marks. you should be able to clean lathe ways without removing precision scraping marks. if a lathe had heavy rust on it, i would figure it long ago lost it's high precision. i have worked in many shops with roof leaks. don't expect to be doing much 0.0001" work on old rusty equipment even if rust was cleaned off.
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    wippin' boy is offline Diamond
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    my thought on the "overly caustic" remedies would be leaving residual corrosives behind could have very damaging long term affects, however, properly applied and removed such products are one possibility.
    but
    steel wool and WD-40 will work mostly as good, as described, and leaves no damaging residue.

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    mark thomas is offline Titanium
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    Quote Originally Posted by .RC. View Post
    I am curious as to why not?

    I am in the process of cleaning up my slotter and I have stripped it bare... All the castings are as machined with nothing attached..

    I am not sure how any of the described above can hurt them...

    I am actually using a 3000psi pressure cleaner to get the gunk off....
    I believe he meant on assembled machines. Cleaning a bare casting and cleaning an assembled machine tolerate very different techniques.

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    Peter. is offline Hot Rolled
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    I cleaned mine with green scotchbrite and WD40. The only 'abrasive' action I could tell was from the rust that was dis-lodged by the scotchbrite. I think that in itself is a pretty potent abrasive.

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    The "caustic" cleraners have little in them that has not been recommended as a component of coolant...... which has long been suggested to have some strong base content in it (like lye) to inhibit corrosion of iron and steel.

    if you are GOING TO disassemble for some good reason, purple or it's relatives are a really good item to use on PIECES. I would NOT advise spraying them over an assembled machine, you don't know where they go.

    I'm pretty sure that's Forrest's point.

    Most alternatives, like solvents, kerosine, stoddard, etc are flammable, which water-based cleaners are not. That can be an issue.

    But the stuff got ON the machine via petroleum-based stuff, so it may be able to be removed by the same type, with less problem than if you introduce water-based things.

    My experience is that even good-appearing machines that work harbor unseen botched repairs, "bubba" fixes, etc. So for anything which is doubtful, I may take apart enough to verify condition. But, as noted, you can get in trouble that way, and if you want to make money, clean it up and use it until matters are such that it becomes obvious repair work is *required*, not just nice.

    As for scotch-brite, yes, you can, but closed coat fine sandpaper and oil will do anything scotchbrite will do, and drop less grit. You can work for days with either one and not take off enough material to measure.

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    swarf_rat is offline Titanium
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    I have tried (as an experiment) to remove .0001 in dia from a soft steel round with red Scotchbrite/WD40 spinning in a lathe. It takes a *lot* of time and work to remove 0.00005 on just a couple of square inches. From that experiment I think you would have tennis elbow from scrubbing long before you removed much metal from lathe ways.

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    clomb's Avatar
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    Pretty interesting swarf-rat.

    I have also used a degreaser that I get from Costco called Oiler or something like that. I have used it with brushes, steel wool and scotchbrite. It's a great combo to cut through thick gunk. The Oiler product will take off paint though so it must be mixed with that in mind. It comes in concentrate by the gal.

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    I have had very good results from "Beaver foaming degreaser" from beaver reasearch in Michigan. it cleans grease, grime,old dried up coolant, etc. from all surfaces and even removes most stains from the painted surfaces with minimal elbow grease. But you do have to wipe it all off and coat bare surfces with oil or WD40 afterward or it will rust. That is all we will use to clean old crusty machines before repairs. I have carefully used scotch brite on the ways only after cleaning them with the beaver and wd 40 first. I am very carefull to go with the grain so to speak in a long even sweeping motion. Only enough to shine them up a bit, like others have said you are removing metal from a precision ground surface.

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    To summarize for Forrest, if you use plastic putty knives, mineral spirits, and WD40, then you're 'savvy'

    Anything else makes you an 'idiot shade tree yokel' or 'tragically misinformed'.

    Because 50 years of experience says so. There. is. no. other. way.

    Got that?

    QB

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    Quote Originally Posted by Question Boy View Post
    To summarize for Forrest, if you use plastic putty knives, mineral spirits, and WD40, then you're 'savvy'

    Anything else makes you an 'idiot shade tree yokel' or 'tragically misinformed'.

    Because 50 years of experience says so. There. is. no. other. way.

    Got that?

    QB
    Thanks for sugar coating it

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    I like using the plastic putty knives, wooden stirring sticks, etc.

    WD40 is great for a cleaning solvent.

    The scotch-brite always did well for me. After using steel wool I found metal hairs later.

    Just never use a scotch-brite pad in a drill or grinder.

    JAckal
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