Lathe Longevity

Tips on Taking Care of Your Lathe

There «ire «1 number of little habits you can get into that will make a lathe last just about forever.

First of all, take good care of the machine itself. This means clean it up when you are done turning, especially when you're working green wood. Cast iron rusts in what seems like seconds, and each time you sand off that rust, you're removing part of the lathe bed. Do it enough times, and you'll lower the bed level, affecting the alignment of headstock to tailstock. Spray some light oil on the lathe bed after cleaning up, and wipe it down. This will also help lubricate the movement of the tailstock on the ways the next time you use it.

It your lathe has bearings that require lubrication, keep to an appropriate schedule. Running a bearing dry means a trip to the machine shop (and the bank).

When removing centers, use a wooden or brass-tipped knockout bar; a steel knockout bar can damage the taper. Also, keep your morse-tapered centers clean and undamaged, and never place a damaged center in the lathe. I like to wipe my centers with a slightly oily rag before and after use, which helps prevent sticking. I also blow out the spindle taper with my compressor before putting in a taper. Resist the temptation to blow it out with your mouth; your breath carries too much moisture. And keep the threads on the headstock clean and free of finish and dirt. Never allow abrasives to run against these threads when sanding.

When mounting or removing faceplates, don't use the indexing pin to lock the lathe spindle. It you don't have a separate spindle lock, use two wrenches. The indexing pin was not made to withstand that sort of abuse, and it will break.

Finally, listen to your lathe. New, recurring sounds can indicate trouble. If you suspect a problem, track it down and correct it immediately. Most problems only get worse with time and will often increase geometrically in expense if you procrastinate. —S.H.

which is usually locatcd in the head-stock. This system controls some of the lathe's more intricate processes. Usually it consists of a pin which fits one or several sets of holes, and the whole thing allows you to lay out your turning in quadrants for options like spirals or flutes, stacked lamination, or even clock faces. The indexing pin is a fragile item, and it's often broken on older machines. The holes in the system may be worn or plugged, or missing alrogcthcr if pulley sheaves have been replaced. Some of the better indexing systems—like the one on Delta's DL-40 lathe—work on a gear-and-cog assembly. Check your indexing system for positive fit and good lock-up in the indexed positions.

Checking the Tailstock

Now let's go to the tailstock. Start by taking it off the lathe bed and looking at the bottom. Check for excessive wear on the locking assembly, and for any visible cracks and repair spots. After you've done this, put the tailstock back on the lathe bed, and without locking it down, check to sec that it rests flat without rocking. T hen lock it in place slowly, while watching to sec if it tilts or moves.

Now move the tailstock up to the headstock and place centers in both spindles, making sure the centers arc properly seated. Lock the tailstock down, move its quill forward until the centers touch, and lock the quill. With luck, the centers meet point-to-point.

(Sec photo, page 38.) If not, try to determine the problem. Poor alignment will mean limited accuracy in operations such as boring.

If alignment is off, it's possible to shim the headstock on many lathes, as they are attached by bolts to the bed. but it's not fun or easy. But more often the alignment problem is caused by excessive wear on the tailstock or bed. Sometimes, careful filing on the tail-

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