View Full Version : Old Lathe

J. Tranter
07-12-2006, 10:36 PM
I just purchased an old lathe. It has been sitting for 23 yrs.. I am not sure what kind it is yet ,but I have seen it. Everything looks to be in real good condition no rust just allot of dust. When I get it home I am going to take it apart and clean everything.

My question is what should I use to relube everything. Like what type of oil, grease, ect. I am new to this and want to learn as much as I can.

Thank you all in advance.


07-12-2006, 10:42 PM
Just use a good 30 weigty machine oil something like Mobil dte 24 0n bearings and gears and a way oil on sliding surfaces.

07-12-2006, 11:29 PM
I just purchased an old lathe. ... I am not sure what kind it is yet ,but I have seen it.

Now that's scary! :D

Welcome to the forum. More specific lube requirements can be made if we knew the make of the lathe. Some get specific but Lane's recomendations will work.

07-12-2006, 11:32 PM
Just read this and was wondering - what is way oil and/or where do you get it? My machine recommended using non-detergent 30 weight for gearbox and ways...

J. Tranter - good luck! Sounds a little scary but also alot of fun! When you get the chance i'd like to see pictures.

07-12-2006, 11:45 PM
Way oil is basically non-detergent mineral oil with some STP added to make stickier.

07-13-2006, 12:53 AM
Always ready with an answer! Thanks Evan!

07-13-2006, 01:21 AM
There was a thread on this recently so I looked up just what is Mobil Vactra made from. It is about the same additive package as compressor oil with some extra viscosity index improvers, same as the product STP.

07-13-2006, 01:23 AM
I don't think my way oil is even close to being as sticky as STP oil additive.

07-13-2006, 10:56 AM
For the OP, clean it up with whatever you'd use to clean car parts. I use a parts washer filled with kerosene. Take subassemblies off clean, paint as desired, asssemble & lubricate, set aside. Start with the tailstock, then leadscrew & drive gears, carriage assembly, headstock, bed. When done you will know that machine beter than your wife (now THAT is a safe statement ;)

If you are a professional working expensive machine tools at production feeds and speeds, buy the specific oils recommended by the manufacturer. I'm a hobbyist, using my machine tools no more than a few hours a month. My machines tools cost much less than $1000 each. I use motor oil and ATF for the most part, and it works fine. I probably should buy some way oil, but I haven't.

Enjoy your new toy

So if you blend your own lubricant, what keeps the STP from settling out like is sometimes does in a car engine?

07-13-2006, 11:37 AM
I don't think my way oil is even close to being as sticky as STP oil additive
That's because it isn't 100% STP. STP is a viscosity index modifier. It is composed of long chain polymers that keep the viscosity index of the oil controlled within a smaller range with variation in temperature. Vactra has a high viscosity index in the range of 90 to 100. This isn't the same as the measured viscosity. It indicates the use of a significant amount of viscosity index improvers/modifiers.

Engine oil and non-detergent mineral oil have entirely different additive packages. I personally have not heard of STP "settling out" and the viscosity index improvers included in multi-weight oils certainly don't.

07-13-2006, 12:33 PM
It is a bit naive to think that by reading the manufacturer's list of ingredients that a given product can be duplicated at home anymore than thinking that you can make an omelette by simply dumping some eggs and other stuff in a pan and heating. Missing are proprietary compounds, and more importantly the steps taken in manufacturing and blending.

This is one of the best references I have seen for lubricants for the HSM. It was originally posted by thistle, and I think it should be made a sticky to be referred to when this question is raised:

What kind of oil should I use on my lathe/mill?

This is certainly a frequently asked question! The first answer is to
use whatever the manufacturer's manual suggests, presuming you have
a manual for your machine.

Feed-screw threads, half nuts, back gears and similar are usually
lubricated with a heavy oil such as Vactra 2 or 3, or grease if
protected from chips and swarf. Some suggest a mixture of oil and
STP oil treatment. (South Bend recommends the same oil as used on
the ways).

Beds and "ways" are often treated with special oils, called "way oils".
ISO 68 (medium weight). Examples: Exxon Febis K 68, Shell Tona T-68,
Sun way lube 1180, Mobil Vactra No 2, Texaco Way lube 68, Gulf Gulfway
68, Chevron Vistac 68X.

Spindle bearings call for "spindle oil" such as Exxon Nutto H32,
Shell Tellus V32, BP HLP32, Castrol Hyspin AWS32, and Mobil DTE 32
(in this case the 32 is the ISO VG32 spec, about the same as SAE
10-weight, and is what Myford recommends for their lathes). ISO
grade 22 is also used (it's what South Bend recommends, for example).

All three types are available from the better supply outfits,
such as MSC. Remember that the money you spend on proper oils will
be a lot less than the cost of replacing the machine!

That's a lot of names, but how do you choose? Probably the first
thing to do is follow the manufacturer's recommendations, if you
can find them.

South Bend, for example, recommends four different lubricants for
their 9" and 10" lathes: CE1671 bed way lube, CE1603 medium machine
oil, CE-1600 light machine oil, and CE1625 teflon grease. These are
available from South Bend, and the discussion and tables below
should allow you to choose an equivalent oil available from an
industrial supply house.

Failing a manufacturer's recommendation, a key issue is typically
the viscosity. There are a number of ways of describing viscosity,
most of them confusing. We will now make a quick attempt to remove
some of this confusion.

Machinery's Handbook has a nice section that goes into the different
kinds of oil performance for lubrication and how viscosity changes
with temperature. But it's not really detailed enough to make
a practical choice.

Most people are familiar with the SAE viscosity scale, because most
people have bought oil for their cars. What isn't immediately apparent
is that there are two SAE scales, both in common use: one for crankcase
oils, and one for gear oils! There is an ISO scale (VG numbers) and there
is the Saybolt scale. Let's start with the Saybolt scale, which is
measured with something called the "Saybolt Universal Viscometer":

In said viscometer, the oil flows through a tube 0.1765 cm in
diameter, 1.225 cm long, under an average head of 7.36 cm, from
a vessel 2.975 cm diameter. The time in seconds required for 60 cc of
oil to flow through the tube is the viscosity in seconds Saybolt.
The specification is typically given at a particular temperature,
such as 100 degF or 210 degF. (Something tells me that the numbers
in the description above were originally English units, not metric.)

With that description of Saybolt Universal Seconds (SUS) in mind,
let's look at the SAE scales. First, for the crankcase scale:

SAE SUS @ 100F SUS @ 210 F
5 92 38.5
10 165 44
20 340 54
30 550 64
40 850 77
50 1200 93

In addition, "Mark's Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers",
Eighth Edition, lists the following for Crankcase Oils:

SAE SUS @ 210 F
20 45 min - 58 max
30 58 min - 70 max
40 70 min - 85 max
50 85 min - 110 max

But it goes on to show the following for gear and transmission oils:

SAE SUS at 210 F
75 40 min
90 49 min
85 63 min
90 74 min - 120 max
140 120 min - 200 max
350 200 min

So you can see that the viscosity at 210 F for SAE 80W gear oil is
about the same as SAE 20W crankcase oil.

Finally, there's the ISO VG scale. From perusing a number of Mobil
oil data sheets, it appears that the ISO VG value of an oil is
exactly its viscosity in centiStokes at 40 degC. Unfortunately,
the relationship between cSt at 40 deg C and SUS at 100 degF is
not a linear one. But you can find a fairly complete table
of tradeoffs at http://www.bconnex.net/~noco/nocovisc.htm.
Here's an abbreviated version that relates cSt and SUS @ 100 degF:

cSt SUS at 100 degrees F

10 58.91
15 77.39
20 97.77
25 119.3
30 141.3
35 163.7
40 186.3
45 209.1
50 232.1
55 255.2
60 278.3
65 301.4
70 324.4
75 347.6
80 370.8
85 393.9
90 417.1
95 440.3
100 463.5

(Taken from ASTM Table 1, D2161-63T)

Also, SUS at any temperature is SUS at 100F multiplied by
1 + (t-100)0.000064

ie 58.91 SUS at 100F is 58.91x(1.007)= 59.32 at 212 F

To pull this all together, let's look at some specific examples.
Above, we mentioned the South Bend recommended oils. Not only does
SBL give part numbers, but they give viscosities in SUS at 100 degF:

Usage SBL p/n SUS @ 100 F ISO VG SAE (crankcase)
light spindle CE1600 100 21 5
medium machine CE1602 150-240 30-55 10-20
way lube CE1603 250-500 57-100 20-30

Thus, a good substitute for SBL CE1600 would be Mobil Velocite No. 10,
which is an ISO VG 22 spindle oil. Mobil Vactra No. 2, ISO VG 68, is
probably a good substitute for SBL CE1603 - it matches the viscosity
and is formulated as a way lube (has appropriate coolant separability
and corrosion resistance).

Now, multigrade motor lubricants are not recommended as machine oils.
This is for two reasons: 1. Motor oils have additive packages that are
designed to avoid corrosion and condensation problems that are unique
to the heat cycle and high-temp operation of an engine, problems
that are not found in machine tools. 2. Modern motor oils have detergents
that keep the contaminants in suspension (so they can be removed by
the oil filter) - most machine tools do not have a filter system,
so the contaminants will be circulated around to the bearing surfaces
rather than falling out of suspension to the bottom of the gear case.

That being said, there are several people on the list who are
very happy using Mobil 1 motor oil as spindle and countershaft
lubricants. The 5W-30 oil is approximately the right viscosity for
spindle bearings, and the 15W-50 is heavy enough for countershafts
and gearboxes. (Remember that Mobil 1 is a detergent oil, and it has
been recommended that it should be changed a couple of times a year
to flush suspended particles). The final choice is up to you, of
course. Machine oils have their own special additive packages geared
towards the requirements of machining.

Now that you've made a decision about what oil to use, how do
you oil it? Most lubrication charts assume production use,
and give oiling intervals accordingly. I prefer to spend five
minutes oiling the machine every time I use it, just to make sure
everything is wet and topped off.

A suggestion I've read is to oil lathe ways before using, to clean off
dust/grunge that may have accumulated since you last used it. After
work is finished, wipe off but leave a film for rust prevention.

Elsewhere we mentioned the book "A Brief treatise on Oiling Machine
Tools" (Guy Lautard) but nobody's posted a review yet.


07-13-2006, 12:47 PM
I'm too lazy to go back and find the post where I quoted Mobil's specs on Vactra. It's nothing special and is promoted as a cheap alternative to high quality lubricants for use in total loss applications. Oils are not that mysterious although the various manufacturers would sure like you to think that. Some of the best oils are straight natural oils with no added ingredients such as whale oil and castor bean oil.

07-13-2006, 01:00 PM
Wow! I think I'll just keep using the cheap stuff like way oil and machine oil. :D Have you priced castor bean oil lately? Over $20 a quart!!! I was going to use it to control gophers. :rolleyes: :D

07-13-2006, 03:07 PM
There is no "best" oil. There are many different oils for different applications. One may be best for one application, and totally inferior for another.

Animal, vegetable or mineral only defines the source of the oil. Within each group, there are many different types, whale, mink, baby, olive, corn, soy among the organic, each is best for certain uses. Among the mineral, the differences may be more subtle, and can depend upon the oilfield they came from as well as how they are processed.

The modifying agents for tack, viscosity and other attributes may be natural or manufactured. Most of the newer additives are polymers of one sort or another, and will have very different properties depending on how they are manufactured.

The addition of an additive with newtonian characteristics versus one with non-newtonian characteristics for instance will produce widely different lubricants. One will be the best for a given gearbox, while the other may destroy it in a short time. They may both be described as viscosity improvers.

Vactra is used as a way oil, it is also used in the printing industry, on open gearing and in other applications it is the oil specified for certain types of gearboxes. While it may be less expensive than some oils, it is not necessarily a cheap, throw away oil.

http://www.mobil.com/Canada-English/Lubes/PDS/IOCAENINDMOMobil_Vactra_Numbered.asp#TypicalProper tyTitle

It pays to follow the advice of the experts in the field. For most HSM applications, two or three oils and a good grease will suffice. The proper material is not expensive, and in the long run will be among the best investments made.

07-13-2006, 03:39 PM
I think it is interesting how the descriptions of the same product from the same company differ depending on which web site you visit, Canadian vs American.

Quote the Canadian site:

Product Description
The Mobil Vactra Oil Numbered Series are premium-quality lubricants specifically designed to fully meet the requirements for accuracy and parts finish of today's high production machine tools. They are formulated from high-quality base stocks and performance balanced with a progressive additive system that provides low frictional properties, excellent corrosion protection and foam resistance. A unique advanced additive package helps reduce stick-slip and chatter under thin film, boundary lubrication conditions. This allows smooth, uniform motion at design travel speeds. The Mobil Vactra Oil Numbered Series have been optimised to provide excellent separability from aqueous coolants in coolant systems while minimising the corrosive effects of high pH coolants on lubricated surfaces.

Quote the American site for the same product:

Product Description

Mobil Vactra Named and Double Lettered Series Oils are high performance general purpose lubricants intended for non-critical industrial applications where lubricant is supplied intermittently such as in all-loss systems, or where contamination and leakage are unavoidable. In such service, they offer an economic advantage over premium quality lubricants for plain and rolling element bearings in both reservoir and all loss systems, in gear applications and in hydraulic systems that do not require high quality anti-wear products.
Oils are formulated from high quality base stocks and additives, which provide resistance to oxidation and thermal degradation, and protection against rust and corrosion. Mobil Vactra Named and Double Lettered Series are the oils of choice for many operators world-wide requiring economical lubricants, which can meet a wide range of industrial applications.

J Tiers
07-13-2006, 04:56 PM
All I need to know about way oil and Vactra specifically, is that the stick-slip properties are far better than any straight oil. And, the oil stays on the ways.....

That is an in-use observation, not website hype or whatever.

I haven't tried all the essence of batwing and STP mixtures, so I can't comment on them.

07-13-2006, 09:41 PM
What about bar and chain oil or Lucas oil stabilizer (appears to be good bar and chain oil with a higher price tag?)

Go ahead, flame me.

Al Messer
07-13-2006, 09:45 PM
One thing about it, Jaymo, the bar and chain of a chainsaw get a heck of a lot more friction than the average lathe, so I see no reason why it won't be adequate.

J Tiers
07-13-2006, 10:08 PM
One thing about it, Jaymo, the bar and chain of a chainsaw get a heck of a lot more friction than the average lathe, so I see no reason why it won't be adequate.

On the other hand, you don't get quite so grumpy when the bar wears down..... not as you do when the bed has 10 thou wear...... which you'd never notice on the bar until the chain comes off...... ;)