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help keeping a lathe alive


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anybody know much about really old lathes, the type with plain bearings. mines in really good condition with those old tapered bronze bearings. i love all things old, espesially when theyre this usefull. its like my left arm. its a IXL brand machine, model AKT from between the early twenties and the late thirties. its the lathe thats on the IXL home page, 6 inch by 40 inch except mines got two different drive shafts along the front of the bed. what i need to know is firstly how much RPM is too much for the old bearings since i really dont want to wear them out. secondly how often is it nessessary to oil them and what type of oil. im using 80,90 gear oil and i oil them every couple of minutes. im guessing i have it geared for 200 to 400 rpm.

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  • 3 weeks later...

A spindle requires spindle oil. Not that the gear oil you're using is hurting the bearings but there is a better product. Spindle oils are generally about a 5 WT non detergent oil for no foaming and easy penetration into tight clearance areas. Are there bearing oil cups? Does the spindle have any play? If the bearings,well if the lathe is healthy the speeds the machine is designed for are fine. Machine tools are rarely fragile regardless of age. Treat it well and it'll probably last another 75 years. I would try and find the recommended lubes as insurance it will remain in the shape it's in. Abusing the machine is a sure way to shorten it's life. Keep it clean,lubed and avoid beating it up and it'll serve you well. Don't use it when it needs repair as this will kill it for sure. There are old guys out tthere (not for long) who can rebuild machine tools and make parts to keep your lathe going but they don't work cheap nor should they. If you hire one watch him carefully and learn as they're retiring and dying so the knowledge is going with them. I don't know everything but if I can help you lemme know.

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there are no oil cups, just little steel caps over the holes but hole itself holds a little amount of oil. there isint any free play in the spindle bearings which have done many hours work without loosening. theyre adjustable by a c spanner type nut which pull the bronse shell into a tapered housing. simple and brilliant. i try to take care of it so il look into getting spindle oil but in ireland there isint any demand for something like that. the oil im using does make its way through the journals allright. should i avoid turning harder steel or is that a silly question? ive made a tool holder to use those modern tungsten triangle tips which you can reshape with a diamond cutting disc on a 4 inch grinder. i turned down a driveshaft from a landrover latley. thanks for your information and time.

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The biggest problem with modern tooling and older equipment is the carbide loves a load. If you take a lighter cut with it the finish tends to suffer because the geometry of the tooling needs a load for the chip breaker to perform as designed. I'd work up to a heavier cut slowly on a scrap piece to find the sweet spot for the particular tooling you use.

As for the oil you could substitute the heavy gear oil with a 30 WT non detergent motor oil if you can find it. Generally a agricultural supplier would be the best bet for such an item. With the age of the machine I bet the bearings are actually poured babbitt which are tough. Do a little online research on pouring babbitt as it is something you can do yourself. These guys sell the alloys for pouring your own. Do it once and learn a lot.......................................about treating burns if you're not careful. ­čśĆ

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im no engineer so my ability is pretty limited but i can do anything i need for my fooling around with bikes, spacers and pins. il get that oil and look out for better tool holder and go back to HSS . thanks again for your help and that research on pouring babbitt definatly will be interesting and usefull.

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