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LeBlond Round Head 19" Lathe

lathenewbie

Plastic
Joined
Aug 5, 2020
Hey All, Just picked up a Series 1 Bridgeport with the 2J head and the guy threw in a LeBlond Regal Lathe for free! Seems to be a huge upgrade to my Rockford Economy line shaft lathe. I have a few questions regarding the lathe.

Here is what I know about it:

19" Swing, L0 spindle mount, Internal gears are intact and in great shape, roller bearing spindle bears, HEAVY!!!!!

Questions/Thoughts:

1. What size motor was supplied/recommended for this size lathe? The existing motor lacks a nameplate, but based on the mounting plate, shaft size, and RPM, it appears to be a 5HP. it is single phase 220VAC. I would like to replace with a three-phase motor and power with a VFD to ease the starting current/impact on the gear train.

2. What oil should I use in the headstock? I would like something off the shelf, it looks (and smells) like gear oil.

3. What oil should I use in the carriage? it appears to have a reservoir and plunger to push oil through the carriage. pretty neat!

4. What oil in remaining misc. ports (gearbox, feed handles, tail stock, etc)?

5. I am looking for a steady rest, follower rest, timing dial, and dare i say, a taper attachment. Anyone know where i can get these, outside of Ebay? I realize finding these accessories will be difficult, hoping one of you guys have an extra!

6. Any extra recommendations/comments with the lathe? I am relatively new to hobby machining and have zero experience with gear-head lathes (have experience with Babbitt/bronze bearing line shaft lathes I.E. low RPM). I have heard that the gears in the headstock are built on the skimpier size, so no shifting while it's still moving.

Thanks!!!
 

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I own and use a LeBlond 13" Roundhead Regal Lathe. In answer to your questions regarding lubrication: use an ISO 46 oil in the headstock and all oil holes/oil ports. Do NOT use a gear oil in the headstock. LeBlond's original spec for these lathes was to use a 30 weight auto engine oil, back when oils were 'straight weights' (no multi-viscosity oils) and had very few additives. The headstock design is such that a heavy bodied oil will be slung out around the headstock spindle and input shaft. There are no oil seals, just plates with 'labyrinth' grooves and small oil return drillings. Even the 30 wt oil proved to be a bit heavy, so LeBlond revised the spec to 20 weight oil. ISO 46 is the equivalent of SAE 20. I use "Tractor Hydraulic Oil" in the headstock and all other oiling points. Tractor Hydraulic Oil is available in ISO 46 weight. Tractor Hydraulic Oil is what is known as a "DTE" oil, DTE = 'dynamo, turbine, engine'. This was aq designation predating automobiles and is still in use for industrial and powerplant oils. Tractor Hydraulic Oil is a mineral oil, with additives for anti foam and anti corrosion. Gear lubes, aside from being too heavy, have additives which can attack 'yellow metal' (brass or bronze) parts.

LeBlond made no differentiation as to oil to use in the apron. They recommended the same oil as used in the headstock. I'd suggest you flush the apron with something like kerosene (there is a drain plug on the bottom of the apron), then fill with ISO 46 oil. You could get a Vactra way lube, but get the lightest grade available.

If the headstock smells of gear lube, flush it with kerosene or diesel fuel. There are two (2) drain plugs on the bottom of the headstock. After flushing, fill with ISO 46 oil so it at the bottom of the oil filler cup on the side of the headstock. The oil level has to be well below the spindle bearings or it will just run out of them.

Give the headstock spindle bearings and input shaft bearing a shot of oil from a pump oil can when you first start the lathe each day. Once the lathe is up and running, oil is slung around inside the headstock to lube those bearings. When you go to lube the quick change gearbox, take note of the position the sliding lever (aka "Tumbler lever") must be in for lubrication. The thread/feet chart on the quick change box will indicate the position of this lever for lubrication.

I keep an old pump oil can with a shop-made 'spout' for lubing my Regal lathe and 'camelback' drill press. This is a pump oil can of 1 pint capacity. The flex spout was broken and I fished the can out of a scrap bin over 50 years ago. I made a 'spout' out of 1/4" outer diameter stainless steel tube, bent 90 degrees. I machined a pointed tip for this spout and filed about half the point off. This lets me lift "Gits" oil filler lids and push-ball type oil hole closures. I made the spout long enough to allow me to reach oil holes and Gits covers in odd places.

I was fortunate in that my 13" Regal lathe came fully tooled, even to having metric transposing gears to allow cutting metric thread pitches. I also got the taper attachment and steady and follower rests as well as threading stop with my lathe. Lost Creek Machinery may have some used parts. If you are in need of a steady rest, these can be made using welded fabrication to make the base and body of the steady rest, followed by machining. Since you now own a Bridgeport, you are in a better position to make parts and tooling. I got a factory made steady rest with my Regal lathe as well as a shop made larger-diameter steady rest. This latter is made of aluminum and has ball bearing rollers rather than solid bearing pads on the ends of the jaws.

A 5 HP motor sounds about right for the size of your lathe. 5 HP 1725 rpm would be the motor spec.

LeBlond put a handwheel on the driveshaft into the headstock. It is there for good reason. The headstock gears are light. When you change headstock speeds, turn the handwheel to bring the gear teeth into mesh. Make sure the detents in the speed selector levers are 'in' (these are spring loaded balls in each lever). It is also good practice, particularly if you have a job on a faceplate, or are turning between centers with a lathe dog on your work, to turn the lathe over by hand. This is done to check that everything clears, i.e., nothing like a lathe dog, chuck jaws, work on a faceplate, etc is going to crash into the cutting tool or compound. Look at the corners of the top-slide or compound on your lathe. I'd be surprised if there were no gouges or 'battle scars' from people running it into chuck jaws or the work itself.
 
I own and use a LeBlond 13" Roundhead Regal Lathe. In answer to your questions regarding lubrication: use an ISO 46 oil in the headstock and all oil holes/oil ports. Do NOT use a gear oil in the headstock. LeBlond's original spec for these lathes was to use a 30 weight auto engine oil, back when oils were 'straight weights' (no multi-viscosity oils) and had very few additives. The headstock design is such that a heavy bodied oil will be slung out around the headstock spindle and input shaft. There are no oil seals, just plates with 'labyrinth' grooves and small oil return drillings. Even the 30 wt oil proved to be a bit heavy, so LeBlond revised the spec to 20 weight oil. ISO 46 is the equivalent of SAE 20. I use "Tractor Hydraulic Oil" in the headstock and all other oiling points. Tractor Hydraulic Oil is available in ISO 46 weight. Tractor Hydraulic Oil is what is known as a "DTE" oil, DTE = 'dynamo, turbine, engine'. This was aq designation predating automobiles and is still in use for industrial and powerplant oils. Tractor Hydraulic Oil is a mineral oil, with additives for anti foam and anti corrosion. Gear lubes, aside from being too heavy, have additives which can attack 'yellow metal' (brass or bronze) parts.

LeBlond made no differentiation as to oil to use in the apron. They recommended the same oil as used in the headstock. I'd suggest you flush the apron with something like kerosene (there is a drain plug on the bottom of the apron), then fill with ISO 46 oil. You could get a Vactra way lube, but get the lightest grade available.

If the headstock smells of gear lube, flush it with kerosene or diesel fuel. There are two (2) drain plugs on the bottom of the headstock. After flushing, fill with ISO 46 oil so it at the bottom of the oil filler cup on the side of the headstock. The oil level has to be well below the spindle bearings or it will just run out of them.

Give the headstock spindle bearings and input shaft bearing a shot of oil from a pump oil can when you first start the lathe each day. Once the lathe is up and running, oil is slung around inside the headstock to lube those bearings. When you go to lube the quick change gearbox, take note of the position the sliding lever (aka "Tumbler lever") must be in for lubrication. The thread/feet chart on the quick change box will indicate the position of this lever for lubrication.

I keep an old pump oil can with a shop-made 'spout' for lubing my Regal lathe and 'camelback' drill press. This is a pump oil can of 1 pint capacity. The flex spout was broken and I fished the can out of a scrap bin over 50 years ago. I made a 'spout' out of 1/4" outer diameter stainless steel tube, bent 90 degrees. I machined a pointed tip for this spout and filed about half the point off. This lets me lift "Gits" oil filler lids and push-ball type oil hole closures. I made the spout long enough to allow me to reach oil holes and Gits covers in odd places.

I was fortunate in that my 13" Regal lathe came fully tooled, even to having metric transposing gears to allow cutting metric thread pitches. I also got the taper attachment and steady and follower rests as well as threading stop with my lathe. Lost Creek Machinery may have some used parts. If you are in need of a steady rest, these can be made using welded fabrication to make the base and body of the steady rest, followed by machining. Since you now own a Bridgeport, you are in a better position to make parts and tooling. I got a factory made steady rest with my Regal lathe as well as a shop made larger-diameter steady rest. This latter is made of aluminum and has ball bearing rollers rather than solid bearing pads on the ends of the jaws.

A 5 HP motor sounds about right for the size of your lathe. 5 HP 1725 rpm would be the motor spec.

LeBlond put a handwheel on the driveshaft into the headstock. It is there for good reason. The headstock gears are light. When you change headstock speeds, turn the handwheel to bring the gear teeth into mesh. Make sure the detents in the speed selector levers are 'in' (these are spring loaded balls in each lever). It is also good practice, particularly if you have a job on a faceplate, or are turning between centers with a lathe dog on your work, to turn the lathe over by hand. This is done to check that everything clears, i.e., nothing like a lathe dog, chuck jaws, work on a faceplate, etc is going to crash into the cutting tool or compound. Look at the corners of the top-slide or compound on your lathe. I'd be surprised if there were no gouges or 'battle scars' from people running it into chuck jaws or the work itself.
Thanks Joe! very helpful information.
 
Another VERY important point: NEVER, EVER, work the headstock speed change lever while the lathe is under power. This design of lathe headstock is NOT an automotive transmission. It was never designed to be shifted with gearing turning under power. To attempt to shift under power is to have a very good chance of doing some heavy damage to the gearing & dog clutch teeth. As I wrote in my first post on this thread, LeBlond put the handwheel on the headstock driveshaft for good reason. To change speeds on a Roundhead Regal Lathe headstock (and most geared head engine lathes):

1. Let the spindle come to a full stop if it were running under power.

2. With one hand, move the speed change lever as required. If the detent on the lever does not 'go in' , turn the handwheel with your other hand. You should feel
the gears go into mesh and the lever's detent pop into its seat.

3. Roll the headstock over by hand using the handwheel. The spindle should turn, albeit slower than your turning of the handwheel.

Note: follow the above when shifting the fine/coarse feed selector lever and when shifting the feed/leadscrew direction lever on the headstock.

You can shift the quick change gears (feeds and threads) under power if you feel your way and let the gears come into mesh. The apron of the lathe has a lever for clutching in the longitudinal carriage feed and cross feed. LeBlond did not use a friction clutch for this, and used a tooth-type of clutch. Ease the feed lever in and out as the small teeth on the clutch mechanism have to mesh up. In short, no getting 'rammy-jammy', and there is no reason to ever have to shift the headstock 'on the fly' with power turning the gearing.
 
I have a crazy (probably dumb) idea I'd like to run by you. Since the bearings are roller bearing, and I'm assuming are much more resilient as compared to bronze or Babbitt bearings, What are your thoughts on installing a motor that is rated at 3600 RPM and double the max RPM of the spindle (1000 RPM max)? This would be better suited for carbide tooling, which i have a lot of. I have the opportunity to purchase a 5HP 3600 RPM for cheap. I know the lathe wasn't designed for that, so the short answer is probably NO, but figured I'd pick your brain. Thanks again.
 
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In answer to your question about going to a 3600 rpm motor, my advice is to stick with 1750-1800 rpm motors. A number of factors come into play when doubling rpm. Bearings, even 'antifriction bearings' (roller bearings, ball bearings, needle bearings) are selected for a design based on a number of parameters. Speed and load and service factors as well as type of lubrication all figure into this. The bearings in the lathe were designed with generous allowances and were likely somewhat over-designed, but a 2X jump in rpm is likely not within that design envelope. Then, there is the matter of dynamic balancing of the spindle and other rotating parts. At 2X original speed, dynamic balancing would have to be checked. The spur gears are also another whole other topic. Gear design also takes speed as well as torque into account. The roundhead headstock is splash lubricated. At 2X design speed, I would not be surprised if oil was slung out the end shield plates on the driveshaft and headstock spindle bearings. I would also not be surprised if there was a foaming of the oil and oil being slung off the gearing with possible localized loss of lubrication.
Lathe headstocks designed for higher speed operation often used a circulating oil system with a pump, filter, and nozzles to spray oil onto the gearing, or perforated pipes to drop it onto the gearing.

I know LeBlond did run some of the Roundhead Regal headstocks at higher rpm, but I doubt it was 2X original design rpm. Regarding your wanting to use carbide cutting tools: this lathe was designed for High Speed Steel (HSS) tools. Carbide tools require not only faster cutting speeds but rigidity and put heavier loads into the lathe if used to anywhere near their full potential. You have an older lathe, and with wear in the dovetails and bedways, it may not be up to the kinds of loads that carbide tools can put into it. I 'came up' in the era of HSS tools. Grinding a lathe tool bit from a HSS blank is something we learned to do as a first machine shop lesson when I was in HS. A HSS toolbit blank is cheap at the price and you can grind cutting tools at both ends. It can be ground freehand on a bench grinder. The angles on the toolbit, unless you are grinding a threading tool or some form tool, are not that critical. I find that with a little hand oil-stoning of a HSS toolbit, I can get a finish like it was precision ground and no further polishing with emery cloth needed. What I do use on my own Roundhead Regal are 'cemented carbide" toolbits. These are the ones which have a carbide tip brazed to a steel shank. I used this type tool if I am roughing down an iron casting or taking a first cut on a part I may have built up with welding (worn shaft repairs). I have no problem using this type toolbit and also use it when cutting harder steels or welds run with a harder alloy. HSS tools give you a lot of advantages, including being able to easily grind them on a bench grinder with aluminum oxide wheels. You can also easily freehand grind a HSS tool to make a form tool for something like an "O" ring or piston ring groove, finishing the tool with oil stones. The other benefit to grinding your own HSS tools is it lets you learn about cutting principals and cutting tool geometry. Carbide inserts for indexable carbide cutting tools can be expensive, and you really can't do much in the way of regrinding to change geometry appreciably on smaller inserts. You need a grinder with a 'green grit' (silicon carbide) wheel to rough grind and a diamond wheel to dress carbide tools.

My own opinion here is to stick with LeBlond's design rpm and use HSS tools as your primary cutting tools. These are great little lathes if used as they were designed to be used. I've been around LeBlond lathes up to a wide-bed LeBlond which would swing 60" diameter work over the cross slide. I call my 13" x 42" roundhead Regal my "baby LeBlond". LeBlond built a basic headstock without the refinements of Monarch or Sidney. We jokingly called the gearing in the heavier LeBlonds "Rock Crusher Gearing" as it was all heavy spur gearing. Work within your lathe's design envelope and you and your lathe will be fine for many years to come.
 
In answer to your question about going to a 3600 rpm motor, my advice is to stick with 1750-1800 rpm motors. A number of factors come into play when doubling rpm. Bearings, even 'antifriction bearings' (roller bearings, ball bearings, needle bearings) are selected for a design based on a number of parameters. Speed and load and service factors as well as type of lubrication all figure into this. The bearings in the lathe were designed with generous allowances and were likely somewhat over-designed, but a 2X jump in rpm is likely not within that design envelope. Then, there is the matter of dynamic balancing of the spindle and other rotating parts. At 2X original speed, dynamic balancing would have to be checked. The spur gears are also another whole other topic. Gear design also takes speed as well as torque into account. The roundhead headstock is splash lubricated. At 2X design speed, I would not be surprised if oil was slung out the end shield plates on the driveshaft and headstock spindle bearings. I would also not be surprised if there was a foaming of the oil and oil being slung off the gearing with possible localized loss of lubrication.
Lathe headstocks designed for higher speed operation often used a circulating oil system with a pump, filter, and nozzles to spray oil onto the gearing, or perforated pipes to drop it onto the gearing.

I know LeBlond did run some of the Roundhead Regal headstocks at higher rpm, but I doubt it was 2X original design rpm. Regarding your wanting to use carbide cutting tools: this lathe was designed for High Speed Steel (HSS) tools. Carbide tools require not only faster cutting speeds but rigidity and put heavier loads into the lathe if used to anywhere near their full potential. You have an older lathe, and with wear in the dovetails and bedways, it may not be up to the kinds of loads that carbide tools can put into it. I 'came up' in the era of HSS tools. Grinding a lathe tool bit from a HSS blank is something we learned to do as a first machine shop lesson when I was in HS. A HSS toolbit blank is cheap at the price and you can grind cutting tools at both ends. It can be ground freehand on a bench grinder. The angles on the toolbit, unless you are grinding a threading tool or some form tool, are not that critical. I find that with a little hand oil-stoning of a HSS toolbit, I can get a finish like it was precision ground and no further polishing with emery cloth needed. What I do use on my own Roundhead Regal are 'cemented carbide" toolbits. These are the ones which have a carbide tip brazed to a steel shank. I used this type tool if I am roughing down an iron casting or taking a first cut on a part I may have built up with welding (worn shaft repairs). I have no problem using this type toolbit and also use it when cutting harder steels or welds run with a harder alloy. HSS tools give you a lot of advantages, including being able to easily grind them on a bench grinder with aluminum oxide wheels. You can also easily freehand grind a HSS tool to make a form tool for something like an "O" ring or piston ring groove, finishing the tool with oil stones. The other benefit to grinding your own HSS tools is it lets you learn about cutting principals and cutting tool geometry. Carbide inserts for indexable carbide cutting tools can be expensive, and you really can't do much in the way of regrinding to change geometry appreciably on smaller inserts. You need a grinder with a 'green grit' (silicon carbide) wheel to rough grind and a diamond wheel to dress carbide tools.

My own opinion here is to stick with LeBlond's design rpm and use HSS tools as your primary cutting tools. These are great little lathes if used as they were designed to be used. I've been around LeBlond lathes up to a wide-bed LeBlond which would swing 60" diameter work over the cross slide. I call my 13" x 42" roundhead Regal my "baby LeBlond". LeBlond built a basic headstock without the refinements of Monarch or Sidney. We jokingly called the gearing in the heavier LeBlonds "Rock Crusher Gearing" as it was all heavy spur gearing. Work within your lathe's design envelope and you and your lathe will be fine for many years to come.
Excellent information and I appreciate the response. I do have some experience with HSS, I started out on a craftsman 109 and formed 1/4" HSS blanks because that's all I could afford a the time. After that, I had two other lineshaft lathes and was unaware of the Carbide tooling requirements (from the machines' perspective) and they cut fairly well. I am exciting to get this lathe up and going and will take your advice with going back to HSS. Thankfully, i have several larger blanks i can start playing with. Thanks again Joe for your vast knowledge on the subject and being willing to share it with me!
 
I have a 15" roundhead Regal like yours. I run my carbide insert tooling at the max RPM (500+/-) with no problem. I get a good finish. I use Way Oil in the apron, as the oil holes lub the ways. I use 20w non-detergent oil in head stock. I usually just turn the chuck by hand when changing gears, as I do on my other lathes, just easier for me, since the others don't have the handle on the drive. I never change any gears on any lathe under power.
Ben
 








 
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