View Full Version : Parts cleaner for cleaning out head stock?

07-17-2006, 05:45 PM
I had this question buried in my cabinet cleaning post, but it seems to have gotten lost, and is really a separate topic, so here it goes again. :D

I'm thinking of putting my head stock and apron parts along with drive line and gear train components directly into a parts washer, probably with mineral spirits (odorless kerosene, etc.) to try to clean it out really well. It's not gunked up at all like the cabinet, but it could sure use a cleaning before I start applying fresh oils/grease. My concern is in 2 areas.

1) Is there likely to be a problem with the petro solvent damaging bushings, bronze bearings, etc? I don't think so, and for most automotive stuff I wouldn't think twice about it, but I don't want to create problems with a lathe that currently runs wonderfully smooth.

2) I'm not sure how well sealed the bearings and such are inside this thing. Is there a significant danger of washing junk into the bearings and other close tolerance areas to do more damage rather than just leave it alone? This is the one I'm worried about.

It is not horrible in there, but has that sort of dusty looking accumulation rather than looking like tar or undercoating. I really don't want to tear it down, I want to get to using it and it runs VERY well as it sits, so maybe I should just wipe it down and put the cover plates back in place? :D

Peter N
07-17-2006, 06:07 PM
Is it the head pictured here?

I don't think I'd fancy setting that up again perfectly after a stripdown. If its running nicely I'd be tempted to leave it as it is, and maybe just wipe off as much muck as I can.

Whats the lubrication system on it? If it's total loss then the chances are that you could wash junk into it at the points where the oil comes out. If it's splash lubrication then it may fare better.

I've never seen one being across this side of the Pond, so ultimately my advice may be completely useless.


07-17-2006, 06:14 PM

Kerosene will be fine, but I wouldn't use anything stronger -- there should be a sealant sprayed inside the headstock, and lacquer thinner, MEK, acetone, etc will eat the sealant right off the cast iron.

Also, if you have an oil sight glass with a plastic lens, even plain isopropyl alcohol will cloud it so badly that it's unreadable.

Ask me how I know this :)


07-17-2006, 06:14 PM
Have to agree with Peter, Total cleaning could cause more problems.

07-17-2006, 06:23 PM
In my opinion, if is running just fine, and there hasn't been some sort of contamination in the headstock (water, solvent, dust, etc.), then I think that I would leave it alone; maybe change the oil, but no more than that.

I lean toward the "If it ain't broke; don't fix it" angle.

Good luck!

07-17-2006, 06:33 PM
A sign I once saw.. "ANYTHING can be broken if screwed around with long enough!"

07-17-2006, 07:02 PM
That's the one. And here it is in my shop.


Sounds like you guys agree with my hesitation to muck around with it. :D

The head stock is a combination. It’s total loss on the gear train and most of the stuff you can see in that pic on the UK web site. But the spindle/back gear bearings run in grease, several bushing/bearings have oil pot feeders, and the apron is an oil bath.

I think I’ll just wipe it down what I can and put it into use. One of the main “features” that caused me to buy this lathe is that it ran smooth and quiet like a Monarch. Way, WAY better than anything else I’ve looked at in these months, and makes most of them, including newish imports, sound like a rock tumbler by comparison. This thing just had that big machine hum that is so plesant as you see the spindle rolling along...

07-17-2006, 07:11 PM
When I was fixing screw machines I used a solvent gun on everything. It was just a pipe with a tube dropped down into a clean bucket of new solvent and air would pick up the sovent by venturi blasting it on the parts in place. I would take care not to blast dirt into a bearing or slide.

I would not tear down just over a little dirt. flush it down, wipe up with paper towels till the towels come out clean, fill with oil and run it.

Fishing around with a magnet before a flush is a good idea you may try to get any metal dust out.

good luck.

07-17-2006, 08:44 PM
Just realized I might as well show you what I'm talking about. It's always better with pics eh? :D As I said, the head stock is not too bad, but there are places that will be all but impossible to wipe out. In any case, I'll be wiping it out best I can, and I'll still run the external gear train (tumbler and QC drive) through the parts washer.

07-17-2006, 09:33 PM
That looks really cruddy BadDog. If it were me, I'd brush it with a brass brush and kerosene -- you don't need to take anything apart.

If you just refill the headstock with oil, you'll be pre-contaminating the oil, and grinding that mix of dried oil, grit, and swarf it into the gears.

07-17-2006, 11:41 PM
Sorry, guess I wasn't clear, but it's not an oil bath, so there is no "fill the head stock". That part of the mechanism is "total loss" with other parts oil bath, and others grease...

07-18-2006, 04:01 AM

Only problem so far, while cleaning the jack shaft between the varispeed and the v-belt spindle drive, I realized the bushings are GONE! Didn't have time to pull it down tonight, but I hope it's not too bad. This potential is why I kept my Griz till the Rockwell is up and running.


07-18-2006, 04:55 AM
[ I realized the bushings are GONE!] BD, looks alot cleaner, but if they're gone; you may be looking at some shaft repair also. Can't tell for sure, but be prepared. One good thing...you'll know that headstock inside and out! Good luck.

07-18-2006, 06:09 AM
Actually, the jack shaft assembly is in the left foreground of the first pic, and the left side of the head stock of the second. It's normally mounted in the cabinet, but has to be removed to release the belts for the head stock to come out. The haft on that has the shot bushings.

And yes, I'm expecting shaft damage at this point that I will probably turn down and sleeve (turning sleeve OD in situ), or just make over sized bushings depending on what I find and relative sizes. Should be no big deal, I hope...

While there is no unexpected slop in the head stock, I'm surprised I didn't hear that intermediate shaft making noise. The only thing I can see to explain it is that it's in tension between the double v-belts on top, and the varispeed belt on the bottom, and that must have stabilized it preventing audible noise. I did quickly check the varispeed intermediate shaft and it seems ok, so maybe that one bushing is the extent of the damage...

I also have a feeling that's where a lot of the mess in the cabinet came from. It was by far the most messy thing in the cabinet, and with the bushings gone, any oil going in went right on through. The worst mess was also all in line with that pully (well all pullies and belts, but you get the point I guess). ;)

07-18-2006, 07:01 AM
Going to be nice! I have found pieces of bushings and bearings down in the bottom sludge, in some of the old dinosaurs. Doin' a hell of a job.

07-18-2006, 12:34 PM
Great job BadDog!

07-18-2006, 12:48 PM
< deleted, missed the last few posts which changed everything ;) >

07-18-2006, 09:35 PM
Well, I checked the jack shaft today and looks like I got lucky. While I don't happen to have bearing bronze of a usable size, it does not appear to have damaged the shaft. I may even just order some bushings...

07-19-2006, 12:16 AM
BadDog, that's going to be a very nice machine when you are done!

Looking great!

07-19-2006, 12:41 AM

THat is a fine looking lathe! You can get oilite bearing stock in small

07-19-2006, 12:49 AM

You can get oilite bearing stock from Small Parts Inc., in Miami Lakes Florida, in small quantities. Their web site is:


parts@smallparts.com (their e mail)

Over the years I have bought many items from them and they have good service and fair prices. The price is a little high but where can you buy just a couple of screws or nuts?

Best of luck with your lathe,
Jim (KB4IVH)