Proper method for changing/flushing headstock lube/oil?
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  1. #1
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    Default Proper method for changing/flushing headstock lube/oil?

    Maybe I'm over thinking this, but just wondering if there's a "proper" method for flushing the headstock of our LeBlond Regal 15x30 while changing the lubricant. I started this thread:
    Lubing my lathe: 20 weight engine oil, or Mobil Vactra?
    For clarification on the right kind of oil.

    Now that I know and have the right lube, I can't find the oil drain on the headstock or apron, though there's one on the quick change box (separate from headstock.) I guess I have to stuck it out with a tube? I'll probably use a vacuum pump and trap if so.

    Second, and more importantly, I feel like a simple drain and refill isn't the best idea on the headstock, as after I ran it just a bit, the oil that was in it became cloudy, indicating some water got in, probably through the missing name plate hole. Just draining will leave a lot of wet oil (emulsion) still sticking to the gears and such.

    I got enough oil for a full fill, drain, and refill, but my chemistry background has me wanting to break down my "flush" portion into smaller portions to put in, run for a bit, then drain multiple times. That'll remove more water than a single larger flush. Am I over thinking this? Is there some common practice?

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    Quote Originally Posted by maxh View Post
    Maybe I'm over thinking this, but just wondering if there's a "proper" method for flushing the headstock of our LeBlond Regal 15x30 while changing the lubricant. I started this thread:
    Lubing my lathe: 20 weight engine oil, or Mobil Vactra?
    For clarification on the right kind of oil.

    Now that I know and have the right lube, I can't find the oil drain on the headstock or apron, though there's one on the quick change box (separate from headstock.) I guess I have to stuck it out with a tube? I'll probably use a vacuum pump and trap if so.

    Second, and more importantly, I feel like a simple drain and refill isn't the best idea on the headstock, as after I ran it just a bit, the oil that was in it became cloudy, indicating some water got in, probably through the missing name plate hole. Just draining will leave a lot of wet oil (emulsion) still sticking to the gears and such.

    I got enough oil for a full fill, drain, and refill, but my chemistry background has me wanting to break down my "flush" portion into smaller portions to put in, run for a bit, then drain multiple times. That'll remove more water than a single larger flush. Am I over thinking this? Is there some common practice?
    Depending on how suspended the water is in the headstock, there *should* be more water in the bottom of the gearbox, which is usually where the drain is. I've little experience with LeBlonde but on my cincinnati the drain was hiding under the electrical box fastened to the backside of the headstock.

    When I found it I found it was a standard 1/2" MPT plug, and since I didn't want to re-clean the tray again I added a short pipe nipple and coupler, so that I could put a 5 gal bucket on the corner of the coolant tray and drain the oil.

    Cincinnati recommended - and follow this at your own risk - after draining the headstock to mix 4 parts kerosene to 1 part headstock oil in order to flush it out, but didn't specify how long/if to run the lathe in order to make sure you get everything in the pressure lubed system. I did run mine for about 10 mins on that mixture and it did get a lot of gunk and flakes out when I drained it.

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    Thanks for the response. I've searched everywhere, and can not find a drain for the headstock or apron. It seems a little weird, considering they did put a drain on the quick change box.

    The thought of a solvent flush did cross my mind, but I don't know the materials of any of the many seals and hydraulic shifter pump parts, and probably shouldn't risk it. The headstock has a 9 qt. capacity, so I'll probably drain it, put in 4 or so quarts, run at a medium speed for a few minutes, shift a few times, drain, and possibly repeat depending on how the flush looks.

    Before running it with the 4 qts. of flush, I'll ensure there's enough to reach the top. Oil is picked up by the large gear at the front of the spindle and scraped off at the top by a close fitting piece of metal, where it drains along channels leading to the bearings and other places of need.

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    IMO, you're over-thinking. Run the lathe first and then change the oil. Do again in 6 months.
    JR

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    [QUOTE=maxh;2017983]... I can't find the oil drain on the headstock or apron, though there's one on the quick change box (separate from headstock.) I guess I have to stuck it out with a tube? I'll probably use a vacuum pump and trap if so.

    Hello. No idea if you are still looking for this info, but I just found my drain plug behind a metal plate directly under the headstock spindle. One screw held mine in place and I felt the drain plug underneath the gearbox directly undeath and centered on the spindle. A 3/8" Allen key fits the socket and it had little torque on it.

    Enjoy...

    Jeff Sturm
    Grand Junction, Co.

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    probably not a good location for a extend drain tube as recommended earlier. But a street elbow may work?
    Bill D

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    Quote Originally Posted by sturminator View Post
    Hello. No idea if you are still looking for this info, but I just found my drain plug behind a metal plate directly under the headstock spindle. One screw held mine in place and I felt the drain plug underneath the gearbox directly undeath and centered on the spindle. A 3/8" Allen key fits the socket and it had little torque on it.
    I have a late 50's round head 17" Regal, is the drain plug in a similar place?

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    Quote Originally Posted by greenbuggy View Post
    Cincinnati recommended - and follow this at your own risk - after draining the headstock to mix 4 parts kerosene to 1 part headstock oil in order to flush it out, but didn't specify how long/if to run the lathe in order to make sure you get everything in the pressure lubed system. I did run mine for about 10 mins on that mixture and it did get a lot of gunk and flakes out when I drained it.
    This trick was widely done with automobile engines. I learned it from an old machinist in the late 1960s or so.

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    Car oil flush method I heard was when it was getting low add done quart of automatic transmission fluid and drive it around the block before draining. theory was the fluid was almost all additives and would clean out any gunk when you drained the warm oil. As they say your milage may vary
    Bill D.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill D View Post
    Car oil flush method I heard was when it was getting low add done quart of automatic transmission fluid and drive it around the block before draining. theory was the fluid was almost all additives and would clean out any gunk when you drained the warm oil. As they say your milage may vary
    Bill D.

    I wish I had invented the magic red dye that makes people believe shit like that.

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    Le Blond seems to have some conflict about the correct oil. You say you have the engine oil rated "SC" in it. but also mentioned is U.S. Milspec "MIL-L-17672". The engine oil will carry water in it. Get rid of it. Use the U.S. Milspec "MIL-L-17672" oil which will be a DTE of some grade. These oils are intended to shed water and let it settle to the bottom of the sump. NO automotive engine oil should ever be in a machine tool gearbox.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tdmidget View Post
    NO automotive engine oil should ever be in a machine tool gearbox.
    Agree on that. Get rid of all water in there by
    • emptying the entire gearbox,
    • drying the sump completely,
    • rinsing with petroleum for a two minutes run.

    Dump the petroleum-dirt mixture, flush again with petroleum, dump, and fill in correct oil

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    i drained my lathe and took the top off, sprayed cleaner in it and refilled, nothing special, if worried, do again soon and it will be fine.

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    I usually change oil in 3 months


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