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Lathe Live Tool Rebuild Grease Quantity


Jun 30, 2015
Saint Paul, MN
I just finished rebuilding a couple KSC branded Z axis two side live tools for my Mori. After running them in, I took the cover off an identical unit that I have to see what a guy could see, and found the spiral bevel gear cavity completely topped off with grease. (This one I had bought off eBay.) I must have pulled a pint or more out of there. Looked like an off white lithium number or something. I had used small-ish quantities of an EP marine grease on the gears and Kluber on the bearings.

My question... is this how the gears in these live tools are supposed to be greased? I've always been more inclined to less-is-best. There is very little if any info out there on rebuilding these tools, so I'm asking. One face of the largest main bearing is exposed to the cavity. There's no way I'm going to put a pint or more of Kluber in there. ($$$$) Filling that cavity full with a different grease then the bearings would leave me with a much great possibility of cross contamination with the two greases. The little I put in there sprayed the walls a little and that's about it.

On the two I rebuilt, one was full of coolant, and the other was full of rusty, near frozen bearings. No remnants of a pint of grease in either of them.

UPDATE: I just took the cover off another unbranded Z live tool I have and it was also full of grease. Another off white grease with more of an NLGI 1 thickness to it. I think this one had also been rebuilt by someone as it had a silicon type gasket sealer on the cover leaving a small ting around the cap that didn't strike me as being factory.

Can anyone give me a definitive fill or don't fill? Help........


Apr 4, 2010
Don’t know if this is of much help. I have several styles of driven holders. The Hardinge holders actually have grease zerks on them to grease the bearings, and what appears to be a low pressure seal at the opening of the spindle where the old grease pushes out. And a riveted tag on the holders, “grease daily”. The main ring gear I have to manually grease through the hole where the holder mounts on the turret. I use a good quality moly, as sticky as possible grease for the transmission gears. If too much is applied, the gear just slings it off from centrifugal force. The Doosan machines use a BMT 55 style live head, and there is a round cover plate that I take off occasionally, and use a syringe with a fine needle to put a little grease in the bearings that I can access. But these all seem to be more a permanent lube setup. I’m of the belief that any grease is better then none, but I try to use the best I can. I have thought about buying some K05 grease that SMW Autoblok uses in their chucks. And using that for the gears. It’s a white grease, and even stickier then what I’m used to. Some common sense and periodic checking on them has always kept them running well for me. I’ve only had one head rebuilt before, and that was a holder that was completely wore out before I got it. I have noticed that if you run the heads without coolant running through them, they all run hot. With coolant, never been an issue. The fact that you rebuilt a head yourself, and used Kluber for the bearings, means you have a pretty good idea what is reasonable with lubricant.

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Nov 28, 2014
I made the mistake once of packing it full of grease, at least half to 2/3 full. It destroyed those expensive precision angular bearings i had just changed in no time because the seals failed prematurely from the heat. Now I just lightly coat the gears teeth and use a pick to dab a tiny bit of high speed grease in few places of the bearings. Haven't changed the bearings and seals in 2 years. Less is more.