View Full Version : Introduction and request

02-12-2008, 03:41 PM
My name is Rick. Retired from the electric utility industry (engineering) and have done woodworking (custom furniture, carvings, demonstrations, etc.) for most of my adult life.

A couple of years ago the metalworking bug hit partially because of necessity and the balance because of a long time interest in the art.

I do a bit of welding and am pretty well setup for it (o/a, Tig, Mig, Stick). Been fun making things for my own use as well as helping out family and friends.

Question - I just picked up and old Atlas 12X36 in fairly decent condition and would like to restore it and put it to use. Without flooding the forum with questions that have probably been answered hundreds of times, what would be my best approach to getting information and help. BTW, I have used the search function but haven't gotten a lot of answers using it. There are a lot of references to Atlas, but not the specifics I'm looking for. Perhaps someone could direct me to a thread specifically about restoring an old lathe.

Is there a site guru that specializes in Atlas restorations?

I have two major problems right now with freeing up everything and cleaning the lathe. There is a large cone live center in the tailstock. How can I remove it without hurting the lathe or the tailstock? It's pretty well stuck.

Also, I need information on the quick change gear box. The left hand gear changer doesn't move side to side. It won't get past the leftmost hole.

Any instruction would be most appreciated.

Thanks - Rick

02-12-2008, 03:50 PM
Welcome, You came to the right place.

you may be able to get the live center out of the tailstock by drenching it in PB blaster, let it soak then screwing the tailstock back all the way. In not sure if the tailstock quill has a slot for a drift key but its a tapered peice of metal that aids in removing taper shanks from quills.

As far as the gear box spin the chuck by hand as you try to pull it out and move it around. if it rusty douche everything with oil , any oil and let it soak too.

just go easy and dont use a hammer.

how about a picture?

02-12-2008, 04:11 PM
Can you remove the tailstock barrel completely from the tailstock, and thereby get at the back end of the center with a brass punch or similar?

There should be nothing magic about the gearbox. As Mike suggests, the gears may need a slight turn before they'll engage to allow the lever to slide.

02-12-2008, 04:59 PM
I would agree with what Mike said. I am no expert on Atlas lathes but for what I have seen in person and read here. They are famous for containing at least a few zamak (zinc alloy) parts that may be fragile, so do be gentle.

I don't know if that tailstock has an automatic knock-out function, but if so, retracting the barrel all the way would normally result in the tailstock center being knocked loose.

Most of the qc changers of that type that I am familiar with involve pulling a spring loaded stem, allowing the adjuster arm to drop down. This then allows it to move laterally and you come back up in the appropriate gear. Think of moving the selector in a U shaped pattern.

Edit-- if you don't get the adjuster all the way to the bottom of the "U", you cannot move it laterally.


Steve Steven
02-12-2008, 09:31 PM
Try going to the Atlas_Craftsman Yahoo group and joining, there is a wealth of imfo there

02-12-2008, 09:38 PM
OK, I have an almost 70 yr. old little sister to your lathe. When you wind the tailstock quill back, it ejects any taper arbor, if the arbor is long enough.
As discussed by others (weirdscience etc....) on another thread, many older American made machines don't have a slot in the quill to allow using a drift to eject tooling....I never did figure that one out.
My 20 yr. old chinky drill press and 30 yr. old english lathe have slots in the quills, my ancient Atlas 618 and SouthBend 13 " don't. Illogical, yes, but it seems to be at the whim of the makers.

02-12-2008, 10:00 PM

02-12-2008, 10:18 PM
If there is no drift hole in the side of the quill then remove the tailstock quill and put the quill horizonally in a vise with a piece of plywood on each side of the quill and tighten it. Use a brass drift through the back of the quill against the end of the live center and hit it hard while someone with gloves on catches it as it pops out. It takes two people to do this so don't try it alone.

Join the Atlas site and visit it and this one to learn all you can.

02-13-2008, 08:34 AM
Thanks to all for the suggestions.

The tailstock seems to be an ongoing issue. Last evening I ran the quill all the way out and now it won't retract. Guess I'll have to try and completely disassemble it and see what gives. In looking closer also, I might have to try to find a new quill. It looks like someone has banged the very tip next to the center and it is a tad out of shape. There are a couple of dings at the end. Could be my problem. I noticed this after cleaning the quill.

I've tried all your suggestions on the gearbox with no success. Guess I'll have to remove it also and give it a thorough going over and cleaning. From what I can see, all the gears look fine. Probably needs some TLC. I think the previous owner let it sit for a long time.

As for the Yahoo group, I can't get on there because of a cookie problem. I might have my security settings set to refuse one of their tracking cookies. Too bad. However, I won't change my security levels to satisfy them. Been dealing with computers and the net too long to compromise my system.

Also Bguns, I've spent a good deal of time on the lathes.co.uk site. Some good info, but not specific. Just mainly gives a good overview of the machinery.

I took some shots of the lathe still on my trailer when I brought it home. When I get a little time, I'll post them.

Now I'm just waiting for my books to come in. With the parts breakdown I'll be in better shape to start the teardown.

Some of my handles are pretty rough. Any suggestions other than Ebay where I might find them?

Thanks again - Rick

02-13-2008, 10:01 AM
Rick, what ever you do be carefull as parts may be hard to find. You can make a new tailstock quill if needed but that's a big project for a person just learning lathe work.

You may have to remove the tailstock feed screw and clamp the quill in the tailstock with the quill lock and use a punch to drive the live center out.

What ever you do with your new toy have fun and try to not get in a hurry.

The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.

02-13-2008, 10:44 AM
"The tailstock seems to be an ongoing issue. Last evening I ran the quill all the way out and now it won't retract. "
It might have run off the end of the screw. Push with your hand on the quill as you spin the wheel to get it to start.

02-13-2008, 12:26 PM
My take is that you are probably well advised to pull the QC box apart anyway. A non-sealed, non-oil bathed unit is likely to be full of other chips and stuff that need to come out of there. Keep it lubed and even those that are not fully oil bathed will last, but they are not sealed and may get swarf in there you don't want wearing things out.

I don't know that a drift hole is necessary if you have an ejecting type tailstock which others seemed to suggest. If you have an ejecting tailstock and can't get it loose by retracting the quill, I think the center is getting driven home too hard which may well have been the case here. As others mentioned, if its been sitting that way, corrosion is also possible. Lathehand had a good point about perhaps having run the quill off the tailstock lead screw. If thats the case, use a marker and put a "stop point" on the barrel for future reference.


02-13-2008, 01:12 PM
You would find it unbelievably worth your while to be able to join the Atlas Craftsman group, as every single question you have will be answered by someone who knows, as they have your exact lathe, and have had it apart and have been using it for a long time -there's normally no reason to re-invent the wheel :-), unless you like the challenge of an extra level of difficulty...
Since you have so much computer experience, surely you can find a work around, or borrow somebody else's computer? The mother-lode beckons...

I have a 12x36, 101.07403, made around 1942. If the tailstock quill is extended all the way, the mechanism that moves it becomes disconnected. If you push it back in by hand, only about fifty thou, you will feel/hear the first thread engage and you can wind it back in. If the centre has been frozen in place for a long time, you probably won't get it out the normal way by retracting the quill, you don't have sufficient power on the threads involved, and if you use excessive force, you will strip the threads. The previous suggestion about removing the quill completely is the way to go -remove the handwheel and you should be able to wind it out. Once out side the tailstock, you can use heat/dry ice/PB Blaster etc to free the centre.

The end of the quill is not really important, as nothing registers against it, and normally you can't retract the quill past 1/2" extension without the centre/drill chuck/whatever #2 Morse fitting is in there being ejected out by the automatic mechanism.
So if it's banged up, it's fine as long as your inner Morse taper is in good shape, which will depend on how effectively you remove the stuck centre :-)

A new one from Clausing was $120 in 2002, so you can expect around $180-200 today, so your careful efforts are at least worth that much!
Good luck - Richard in Los Angeles

02-13-2008, 03:27 PM
Rick, what ever you do be carefull as parts may be hard to find. You can make a new tailstock quill if needed but that's a big project for a person just learning lathe work.

You may have to remove the tailstock feed screw and clamp the quill in the tailstock with the quill lock and use a punch to drive the live center out.

What ever you do with your new toy have fun and try to not get in a hurry.

The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.

Carld - Thanks for the caution. Don't worry, I know about the zamax and don't intend to get heavy handed with the old girl.

Took your advice on the tailstock feed screw. Worked out fine. I locked the tailstock down and gently tapped the cone center without any luck. Removed the quill ("ram" Clausing calls it) and opened my vise jaws enough to support the cone. By operating this like a slide hammer (gently) I ended up knocking the cone off its' spindle. Thought I had really screwed up, however, this was a blessing in disguise. I inserted a 3/8" rod in the handle end of the ram and after a few sound taps (again slide hammer technique) the spindle popped right out.

While I was at this stage I went ahead and thoroughly cleaned the tailstock screw and the inside where the ram goes. Fairly cruddy. All is working well now.

Next step is to find out why my left gear lever isn't working. It goes right almost to the second hole and then binds up. Oh well, project for another day. Probably wait until my manuals get here next week to do much more.

This is going to be much fun. Already got "machinist's hands" and probably won't be able to get them clean for months.

02-13-2008, 04:06 PM
RPM - I'm sure you're right about the Yahoo group, but I have a problem with Yahoo's privacy policies. Don't like their cookies nor them accessing my machine without my express consent. When you get a chance, read their entire privacy policy. Some are not as picky about the net as I am. Too many years of involvement and a bit gunshy you might say.

I'll do the best I can by asking questions from other sources and reading my manuals. I'm not too concerned about the level of difficulty. Actually enjoy a challenge. I fully expect this to be a long term process, so I'm not in a big hurry.

Thanks - Rick