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Best way to clean up an old lathe?

Tenn_blue59

Plastic
Joined
Jan 20, 2011
Location
Tennessee
Got the Hendey off the trailer and into the garage, and have started to clean it up. Lets just say that it has a "fine patina" of old oil/grease, chips, and dirt on it. Seems to run ok, but not the cleanest thing around! Which brings me to my question; Whats the best way to clean up a dirty lathe?

Guessing a pressure washer would not be a good idea... I started off with some mineral spirits and an old brush. Was gonna use a rag, but all those chips make that seem like a bad idea on the hands. My "plan" is to do a couple mineral spirit wipedowns, then use a degreaser on the painted surfaces, sand and repaint as needed to get a decent finish - not gonna be a show piece, but I want it to look good and protect the metal...

As for the machined surfaces, was going to use scotchbrite to clean them up, then add a light coat of oil to protect them.

Once its clean, I'll flush and refill all the fluids, replace felts, etc.

Anybody have a better method?
 

Rex TX

Titanium
Joined
Sep 20, 2004
Location
Fort Worth, Texas
If you are going to tear it down, then a pressure washer is what I use.
My recent South Bend purchase went to the quarter car wash before I unloaded it out of the pickup. I blew it down with air a few minutes later, then lots of WD40. It did not need much more than that.
 

Joe Michaels

Diamond
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Location
Shandaken, NY, USA
IMO, solvents or aerosols are either hazardous to one's health and/or apt to run into money for cleaning a lathe the size of a Hendey.

My own method of cleaning old machinery is to:

1. Scrape off the gross accumulations of old oil, grease and ships using a "putty knife" or anything else that works as a scraper. A piece of sheet metal, old hacksaw blades ground to shape to get along side ways or dovetails, will work. Do not dig into the underlying metal. It's like scraping burnt food out of the bottom of a pot.

2. get a weed sprayer and some diesel fuel or kerosene and spray the lathe. Using rags, clean off as much of the remaining accumulated old oil and chips or "grunge as possible. Move to using "Scotchbrite" fine pads, wet with diesel fuel to clean the machined surfaces.

3. Wipe with clean rags and more fuel oil.

4. Try using "Citrisolve" or a similar citrus-peel based detergent and hot water on the overall lathe to remove the reaming old oil and remaining diesel fuel. Try to avoid getting the citrisolve and hot water into the sliding surfaces or the machined surfaces. This is mainly for washing down the painted areas, the chip pan, and similar.

The "Citrisolve" will need some time to soak into and emulsify the old oil and grunge. The hot water will then "activate" it and is needed to rinse things clean. Citrus based products used in full concentration are pretty amazing degreasers and cleaners.

5. Wear proper personal protective gear such as neoprene or nitrile gloves, a face shield and possibly a respirator when using solvents, fuel oil, or citrisolve. A splash of any of these in the eyes, or prolonged beathing of the fumes, or simply having it enter one's body via the skin are all things to be avoided.

6. Machined surfaces can be cleaned using steel wool and more fuel oil. A pricey solvent that works well on "varnished" old oil and grunge is "Hoppes Number 9" gun cleaning solvent. Nice aroma to it, does well at cleaning, but pricey. I'd get some brass wire brushes, some putty knives and some old hack blades (to grind into shaped scrapers), along with Scotchbrite pads and some kerosene or diesel fuel and go to work cleaning that Hendey lathe. Using aerosol cans of solvents is going to do the jobm, but the number of individual cans and the associated costs (and hazrads due to the noxious stuff in them) is going to make a case for using diesel fuel, kerosene and Citrisolve.

7.Note: Citrisolve, used in full strength of nearly so, can bleach or discolor paint. If the lathe is to be repainted, this is not an issue. Citrisolve is kind of the last stop in the cleaning process as it removes old oil and leaves surfaces and painted surfaces ready for new paint or priming.

I would NOT use a pressure washer nor would I hose the lathe down with a water hose. I would also try not to use compressed air as this "drives" dirt and grunge in between sliding surfaces.

Joe Michaels
 

siuslaw2

Aluminum
Joined
Sep 1, 2009
Location
california usa
I use the liquid WD40 in the gallon can now instead of the spray. Every time I cleaned my machines with the spray it gave me a cough for a few days. I was inhaling the aerosol and making myself sick. Something to consider.
 

Dave D

Hot Rolled
Joined
Oct 7, 2006
Location
Vancouver, B.C.
Similar to other posts I use regular (non bleach) laundry soap maybe mixed with a little hot water applied with an old paint brush to soften the layers of grime and then use a scraper (a wooden paint stir stick works well) to carefully to remove it. After I get near the orignial finish I use a garden hose carefully to wash the soap away and then use regular scrapers. I can now see how to take it apart and I repeat the process with manageable parts in the laudry tub (think hot water). Note do this step when your wife is out of the house :). I then finish cleaning/drying parts and lubricate them and spray surfaces with WD-40.

Sacrilege I know (sorry Joe) but on some of my larger lathes I did (very carefully, covering/avoiding bearings) use a pressure washer first, saved hours and allowed me the time to take it apart and properly dry/lubricate it the same day.

Laundry soap is hard on your hands (wear gloves) but diry water is a lot easier to dispose of than solvents. I now rarely use solvent to clean.

You probably already know this but you will also discover than some machines use "filler" on the castings. Solvent will soften it so you can scrap it off if desired. On my Rhodes shaper it looked like a mix of tar/clay (asbestos?) and I would clean it down to what looked like a shiny black paint finish only to discover that it was yet another layer of the filler. The shiny black finish dried to an ugly appearance and I was concerned that paint wouldn't stick to it. I did get most of it off the shaper but gave up on the stand after I removed several pounds of it and it looked like it was never going to end.

Dave
 

sicero

Stainless
Joined
Feb 13, 2005
Location
Medway, Ohio
I put my 14.5" X 7' South Bend and My #1 Cincy mill thru a electrolysis tank including the main castings and hit them with a high pressure washer soon after I take them out. Practically no hand work but you do need to get some primer on soon, so you can go ahead with some oil on precision surfaces. You need a way to get the big pieces up in the air over the tank. A mullberry tree and a pulley, heavy rope, Farmall tractor. My tank is 4' X 6'. I did have to turn the lathe bed to get it all. It is time consuming as some pieces are in the tank a day or more. Kenny
 
You can go to Northern Machinery, or some cheap tool outlet like that, and get yourself a air gun with a hose attached to mix a degreasing solvent into the airstream. Drop the hose into a gallon container of Mineral Spirits (which is really Stoddard solvent, according to the MSDS). Mineral spirits is probably the cheapest and least offensive of solvents to use.

You can get it in any hardware store in the paint department for around 8 dollars a gallon, and you can get a lot of mileage out of a gallon if you spray it with the air gun. If you can have the machine outside on a concrete pad, you can spray to your hearts content. Washes the chips out of crannies, and dilutes the oil and grease with mineral spirits.

You can clean up your mess with disposable shop towels and oil dry compound, and dispose of the mess as hazardous materials. I am out in the country, so I burn the towels. The resultant oil and grease that has been mixed with mineral spirits after the excess has been cleaned up will evaporate in the atmosphere, and will not stain the concrete.

Stoddard solvent is really one of the safest of the solvents to use for machinery cleaning. I did not find it offensive to breathe. It is used in parts washers and does not have explosive vapors. It will burn, so use caution using it around flames. Rags that are soaked with it are definitely fire hazard. The claim that compressed air will drive chips into areas is sort of an "old wives tale" that has been exaggerated. Just use ordinary caution when using it.

Lord Byron
 

Tenn_blue59

Plastic
Joined
Jan 20, 2011
Location
Tennessee
Thanks guys!!! Lots of great ideas. Never thought of the wd40, even though I have used it before to remove decals and sticky stuff from motorcycles and car finishes.

Kinda surprised at how many people use water and a pressure washer. I was concerned about getting the water into places that would rust, or where it would pool and sit instead of evaporate (and rust). Have used water on smaller things that I could heat dry (warmed many a thing in the wifes oven when she wasn't around until I got an old oven in the shop...), but this is a little big for that.....

I have a bunch of old bondo spatulas (like a big credit card, but thicker) that I have been using for scraping crud off - they work pretty good and don't scratch the finish. The hacksaw blade is a good idea as well - just recycled several old broken bandsaw blades - I could have used some sections of those - oh well....

One more question, once I get it all cleaned up, what do y'all suggest for paint? It's gonna stay grey - from what I understand, there were several Hendey grays used, so the exact shade doesn't matter. Two part epoxy or just out of a can? On tractors and such, I usually spray a 2 part industrial paint, and have had good luck with it...

Anyway, just wanted to say thanks for the help!
 

JasonZ in MO

Aluminum
Joined
Feb 26, 2011
Location
Missouri - USA
I was cleaning my Southbend lathe with WD-40 but the cans are expensive. Went to Autozone and bought a gallon can for $17 and using my own squirt bottle.

Being oil based the WD-40 did cut the dried oil but found Windex did a much faster job without hurting the existing paint. I assume the ammonia is doing the work.
 

George Andreasen

Stainless
Joined
Feb 11, 2007
Location
Alturas, California
You'll probably get a hundred suggestions on paint but here's what I did on my Hendey....

The whole lathe was disassembled, cleaned, then the legs/chip pan primed and painted with enamel (black). At that point I discovered Krylon's Fusion paint. Although developed for plastics it can also be used on wood or metal WITHOUT PRIMER. The rest of the lathe was painted with it and it's remarkable stuff. Dries almost immediately to a nice finish, seems to resist oils and is tough to boot. Took about six cans altogether.

The final proof is in the pudding as the legs and chip pan are already showing some paint loss from oils and wiping down. The Krylon painted parts are still lookin' good. It's a good product.
 

Shuttle Guy

Plastic
Joined
Jul 4, 2010
Location
Florida, USA
I'm working on a Hardinge HLV-H built in 1969. Several local buddies have refinished a few machines and have had very good results using readily accessible supplies. For the initial degreasing we use Simple Green straight from the gallon jug and a green Scotchbrite pad. I can't believe how well this stuff works on 45 year old graze and grime. We generally avoid a water hose and simply rinse off using a bug sponge and a bucket of water. For paint removal, if you choose to get that involved, "Aircraft" type paint stripper in spray cans works well. Follow directions on the cans but essentially it's shake well and apply a nice heavy coat. The stuff doesn't run and is very effective. It should be noted there are certain areas on the machine where toy don't want this stuff to go, so the trick there is masking those areas and components with real duct tape. Now we're talking about the stuff HVAC guys use on ducts, not the stuff chicks use for trendy wallets. this tape has a peel away paper and it provides superior protection, just the way aviation refinishers protect the plastic windows when they strip an airplane. After a 30 minute or so soak time the paint is easily removed with a putty knife or equivalent. Multiple applications may be required so be prepared. As reported elsewhere in the thread this process will soften any casting filler so that has to come off as well. Then we spray on mineral spirits and wipe the entire machine down. Clean as a whistle. We found a great PPG product line of direct to metal polyurethane paint called AUE-370. This is a commercial grade paint but we get it locally through an automotive paint supplier. This paint system has yielded tremendous results. We spray with an HVLP gun with a 1.8 MM tip. This stuff can be applied directly to the metal and if you want to do filler work, they recommend the high fill primer that is part of the system known as CRE-X21 which is tintable. For more info go to the PPG Commercial Coatings website or do web search for the data sheets. What's interesting about the 370 is we can't seem to get a run in the stuff no matter how thick the application. It dries to a beautiful luster and is very tough. Here's a picture of the latest resto.
image.jpg
 

xtv

Plastic
Joined
Apr 1, 2014
Location
Ephrata, Wa.
That's a nice resto Shuttle. I might look into those coatings. I just wanted to mention we made some scrapers out of some lexan we had laying around doesn't scratch anything/
 

Shuttle Guy

Plastic
Joined
Jul 4, 2010
Location
Florida, USA
Thanks xtv. We just picked up 4 DSM-59s from a local shop that closed up due to retirement. I'm in the middle of disassembly now of a 1967 model and I'm looking forward to the resto process again. this one will be significantly easier since there is no saddle to rebuild. The owner never used water based coolants so that's a big plus along with the fact it cut plastic for the past 25 years. We also were able to get approximately 30 various types of tool holders for the turret, all Hardinge. I will post a photo of this one when complete too.

Good Luck,

charlie
 

raven007

Aluminum
Joined
Dec 7, 2010
Location
georgia, usa
i like using a razor blade lying almost flat on machined surfaces to remove oil rust and gunk. One pass takes everything off and due to the very shallow angle the risk of removing metal or gouging things is extremely low. Clean with a nylon brush and wd-40, then wipe and oil.
 

woodfarmer

Plastic
Joined
Nov 11, 2014
I used diesel and wire wool to bring my old Holbrook back to being good. teh tailstock slide now like acurling stone on ice.
 

Smoothbore

Cast Iron
Joined
Jul 17, 2011
Location
PA, USA
One more vote for Kerosene, ... applied with a Paint Brush.

Cheap, effective ..... and a match disposes of all the residue.


Surfaces to be Painted, should be wiped down with a liberal application of Denatured Alcohol, ... to remove any oily residue from the Kerosene.

Alcohol soaked rags and waste, also "dispose" with the flick of a Bic.



.
 
Joined
Aug 10, 2007
Location
West Coast
If you are going to tear it down, then a pressure washer is what I use.
My recent South Bend purchase went to the quarter car wash before I unloaded it out of the pickup. I blew it down with air a few minutes later, then lots of WD40. It did not need much more than that.

That makes sense, I have a couple machines I wish I had done that with. :scratchchin:
 

Mgrder1

Aluminum
Joined
Jan 4, 2015
Location
Salisbury, NC
I recently restored an old south bend lathe and I used ZEP 505 (home depot). The stuff works great. I used that and a wire brush for the non-caked on stuff. For the tougher gunk buildup, acetone and a wire brush. Acetone is pretty harsh, it'll take paint off but I was reprinting anyway so I didn't care. Once all the hardcore stuff was gone, I put a wire wheel in my drill press and went to town on every little piece (and big piece).image.jpgimage.jpg
 








 
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