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Lathe lubrication not mentioned

billybme

Plastic
Joined
Feb 22, 2023
Just bought a second hand hobby shop lathe. Took it apart cleaned it noticed it had what appeared to be dried up grease on a bunch or parts. After looking around the only thing I see mentioned in the manual is oil. But it doesn't specify on all the components that need lubricated.

On the back of the apron where is a gear that spins the worm gear for the feed rod, does this gear get oil or grease? On my machine it's an exposed gear with a small trough that seems like it would leak any fluid.

On disassmbly of the lead screw and power feed rods there is an oiler at the tailstock end for the end of the shafts. When I removed the shafts I had a set screwed metal cover over a thrust ball bearing that appeared to be unlubricated. This cover also pushes the bearing toward the mounting block. Curious if this gets oil or grease as well? I'm thinking the oiler on the mounting block drips onto the rods and somehow lightly oils the bearing but upon disassembly it didn't seem to have been doing much of anything.

Appreciate the help in advance
 
Seeing as there is little information, I can tell you that the engine lathes I've been on have had Mobile Vactra 10 or equivalent in their gear boxes and aprons.
Seeing as this is a hobby machine, it's more likely sat rather than been used, so I would THOROUGHLY clean out the gear box(s) and then fill with Vactra 10 or equivalent. Your local supply house or catalog house can get you some.
 
So the back of the apron in the photo of the brass gear is the lubrication point I was referring to. I had removed the worm gear to clean. The thrust bearing are in the next photo with the block they rotate about. You can still see the thrust washer on the mount in the photo.
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I thought about it but the worm gear doesn't extend beyond the opening so given any amount of time it would more than likely leak out. It would be better if the worm gear would rest in a bath that it rotates in but I don't see that happening. I haven't heard of anyone mentioning daily or annual lubrication of this area so my mind wonders
 
Old south bend lathes had little open holes through the apron front. You were supposed to squirt a shot of oil in each hole each day. It shot far enough some would land on the gear teeth below. Shoot too hard and it would not fall soon enough to land on the gear. A slow dribble would also miss the mark.
Bill D
 
A lot of these kinds of machines used oil, applied daily, to wash dirt and metal dust out, slowing the rate of wear. This kind of system is called something like total loss - all the oil applied flows through and is lost, versus being circulated and maybe filtered.
 
Old south bend lathes had little open holes through the apron front. You were supposed to squirt a shot of oil in each hole each day. It shot far enough some would land on the gear teeth below. Shoot too hard and it would not fall soon enough to land on the gear. A slow dribble would also miss the mark.
Bill D
Typically I see 1/4" copper tubes that are positioned to drip oil
right on the gears. That way, the size of the pump is not tied
to the size of the chump.

-D
 
When you reassemble it oil the moving parts and when in operation regularly oil the oil points.
In general the only part of a lathe that should get grease will be the motor bearings and they only need a little bit every year or so.
 
Nice thank you guys. I had an assumption recommendations would be just oil and routinely lube. The machine wasn't maintained very well and it seemed like grease was used but it was probably just old oil that caked up.

I started to put stuff back together but I popped out the oilers to figure out the size. Now I am just waiting for the new ones and felt to come in. I spend several hours looking and thinking of adapting the Metric ball oilers to imperial flip top since they seem readily available. But I figured I'll do a 1 for 1 swap at this point and get a better oil can setup.

I recall hearing something like Total loss in the past but never looked into it. It makes sense now how lubrication works better knowing that.

The owners manual also had mentioned greasing the change gears but it seems like if I did routine oiling it would suffice as well.
 
I have a SB-9 with manual change gears. As far as I know, it does not have any ball bearings.

I purchased two types of oil from McMaster when I got the lathe: way oil and spindle oil. I already had some gear oil. Here is how I use them.

The way oil is used on the ways. It has good stiction so it stays between the flat, slow, sliding surfaces better. Another place where I use it is on the scroll in the three jaw chuck. It also has a slow, sliding motion much like the ways.

The spindle oil is used on the spindle bearing. Someone above mentioned two holes in the headstock. They lead to internal chambers below the two ends of the spindle. A pool of oil in each of these chambers has a felt oilier that passes up through a hole and wipes against the spindle bearing. This provides a continuous supply of oil to that bearing. That oil is supposed to recycle but over a day's use there is some loss. So these chambers should be refilled daily. On my lathe there are oil cups which I fill with spindle oil until the level rises up in them.

I also use spindle oil on the other journal bearings on the lathe. This is basically any place where something rotates in a hole or around a shaft. And I use it on the screws. Everything that moves or rotates needs oil and if there is any question as to which of the two oils to use, I use the spindle oil.

I use gear case oil on the gear teeth. I apply it whenever I use the gear train. When the gear train is not needed, I disengage it by placing the tumbler reverse lever in a mid position. It would be a good choice for the gears in a quick change gear box if you have that.

The biggest rule here is ANY oil is better than running dry with no oil. Some of the gears that I got with my lathe had been run without oiling, probably for extended periods of time, and their center holes were worn larger while the hubs they ran on were worn smaller. They wobbled. Not good. If it moves, OIL IT often: daily or before each use.

A warning about those spindle oiliers in SB lathes. The felt in them is contained in a spring for most of their length. The felt is supposed to stick out that spring about 3/8" on the end that rubs against the spindle bearing. But the felt wears over time. When I disassembled the headstock of my SB to install new flat belts I discovered that the felt had worn all the way down to the spring which was rubbing on the spindle bearing. This is not good and I replaced the felt oiliers before reassembling the headstock. In hobby use the new felts should last a long time.

It is possible that other brands of lathes with journal bearings also use felt oiliers. If you have a lathe with journal bearings, I suggest tearing the headstock down and inspecting them.
 
The lathe I ended up getting is a grizzly g0554. It's an older version they made and discontinued. I printed out the manual and looked for parts but they ended up stopping production for a few things. I did a little research and it looks like it is the exact same thing as one of the older jet lathes that jet still makes parts for. Looking at the parts diagram and structure all seems the same.

I've had this for a few months and still haven't used it yet since I wanted to freshen it up. I figured if I end up really getting into it I'll try and upgrade to a better machine later down the road if money and space permits.

There has been probably a couple dozen times having a lathe would have helped out tremendously.
 
Billybme: In reference to using oil on the change gears, if using oil instead of grease, be careful to use oil that has some "tackiness" . Maybe some heavy way oil.
JC
 
"Seeing as there is little information, I can tell you that the engine lathes I've been on have had Mobile Vactra 10 or equivalent in their gear boxes and aprons."

i've never heard of mobil vactra #10 ....?...

i know of #1- #4, but 10?

#4 is like molasses , so 10 must be like toothpaste.
 
You may be thinking of Mobil Velocite 10 which is like water
and like 1.0 in relative made up viscosity model numbers.

-D
 
Another hint, don't use compressed air, it blows chips up and into those open gears

The Sheldon was supposed to have an oiler,
but it went missing in the last 75yrs
(cavity for worm is direct below)
used a brass tube, but doesn't seem to be working, so I blast with an oiler from both ends
 

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