What's new
What's new

Felt Seal for Lathe Input Shaft


Nov 17, 2021
Question for the group who have worked on more old iron than I. So I have a old Carroll Jamieson lathe. 40's era ballpark, and the input shaft ends up leaking quite a bit of oil during normal operation. Upon investigation and disassembly the main shaft bushing was rotated 180 degrees. Pictures shown show the bushing in the correct orientation. Bushing being rotated wasn't helping my case on oil retention but I'm wondering if the small groove that has the hole coming out the bottom in these pictures is meant for a felt cord to seal in some of the oil? Not enough depth for a washer like felt seal like I have seen on other machines, more like an O ring groove which leads me to wonder if it originally had a felt rope. Other grooves in there are like your typical lube oil grooves going in a helical like pattern. Others have been in the headstock prior to myself, which explains the bushing rotation among other things, so I'm not sure if it was discarded at some point in the past. Seems like it would be logical to have something in it, shaft looks slightly polished in that specific area where the groove is it also leads me to think there was a felt seal at one point. Based upon the limited literature I have found, the speed of this shaft is about 250 rpm during operation.


  • Bushing in Hand.jpg
    Bushing in Hand.jpg
    1.5 MB · Views: 12
  • Bushing in Headstock.jpg
    Bushing in Headstock.jpg
    1.2 MB · Views: 11
My guess is the groove at the end is the seal- and the hole at the bottom is and oil drain to return the oil before it goes out the end of the bushing.
But the hole at the bottom has me stumped. There is no oil return for anything, there is a plate that fits over the outside of the bushing to retain the bushing but that is all. The hole lines up so it seeps out between the headstock casting and the plate, which is fine so long as it's not the constant puddle of oil that occurs from me running it.
Some older machines just had weep holes for “used” oil to drain out (and hopefully carry away any contaminants) all over the machine…but oil is good for steel so no harm. But they also had oil jars that would drip oil very very slowly. So you would open the oilers when working and don’t forget to close when done. And many used felt wicks to hold and retain oil in bearing housings etc.
The small hole at the bottom of the first groove in the bushing:

If it was rotated 180 degrees back to the way it was. Then the Allen screw on top would be a oil fill hole.
The screw would be doing double duty. If the hole would be stuffed with felt it would probably be better (my idea).
I wouldn't think it's a bad idea. But oil has to drain out somewhere.

Your thought about the rope is going to act as a reservoir too.
You can buy a bulk piece of felt and trim it.
Last edited: