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  • Stoping condensation on lathe

    Hi all, have been reading the post for a few weeks, Ford tech by trade for the last 20 years, getting into metal work as a hobby. Anyway my problem, Was not able to finish the insulation and heating of my shop before winter so for now I'm using one of the torpedo type heaters, heats the shop up nice but I'm sure by now you can see my problem. Going from below freezing to approx 70*F causes some condensation problems on some of my bigger tools, particularly the lathe, it's a smithy granite 1340 series (I know, whish I would have found this forum when I was looking for a machine but for a newbie just learning, ti seems to serve its purpose). I've been thinking of ways to reduce or eliminate the condensation on the lathe, I have one of those magnetic block heaters and was wondering if I went out and attached it to the lathe bed a few hrs before I was going to use the shop, would that work? Or would the localized temp on the bed cause a problem, I know the machine would warm slowly but the heater itself reaches 300*F. Would that maybe cause twisting or warpage of the bed? Sory for the long post.

  • #2
    The problem is that you going from freezing to 70 deg F. Perhaps if you heat up your shop in a much slower pace. Anyhow, your lathe should be covered in way oil anyhow. Perhaps set the heat to 40 something when your not in there.

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    • #3
      Tim, You might want to google for "dew point chart". These show the temperature and humidity at which humidity will condense on a surface.

      I think you have two solutions, one being to pump some watts into heating the machine. The second is to spray it with a water displacing product that ALSO protects (WD-40 does not). Starrett M1 is one and LPS#2 is another. The Starrett is nice because is leaves a film behind that is so fine you can just go to work without doing anything. LPS#2 is a bit heavier and LPS#3 leaves a waxy film for heavy duty protection.

      To prevent the condensation with a block or other heater in/on the lathe bed, you need to bring up the lathe temperature BEFORE bringing up the air temp. Back to the dew chart Den

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      • #4
        That was my idea, to bring up the tempurature of the lathe before I heated the shop. I was just wondering if the localized temp at the block heater(300*F) would cause any harm to the lathe. I wish I could keep the temp up a bit but don't really like letting the torpedo type heater run for long periods of time unattended and with kerosene at almost 3.00 a gal. it's not feasible.
        I do keep everyhting well oiled (3-in-1) but it doesn't make much of a difference.

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        • #5
          Another possible solution is to get some evestrough heater/de-icer cable.

          A friend did this on his Harrison lathe that is in his garage workshop. He attached the cable to the bed at the back of the lathe just below the the ways.

          The other bonus, he says, is that his hands don't freeze up when he adjusts the settings!

          Geoff

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          • #6
            I'm in the Buffalo New York area and never had the problem you describe. I did have a severe condensation problem when we hit a few days of warm moist Southern airflow get into the barn and hit the unprotected cast iron wood working and metal tools. It looked like someone hit it all with a hose. I fixed the problem by not allowing the free flow of air in the shop area. The barn had large voids near the wall/roof lines and of course the big barn doors themselves. I partitioned off a section and put another door and that door to the equipment is never left open. I can go out there at 0 degrees, fire up the wood stove and get it up to 75 degrees and absolutly no condensation. This is no exageration. It think part of your problem might be the type of heater you are using. If you don't vent outside you introduce moisture to the air while you're heating it. My suggestion would be to dump the torpedo type heater and get one that needs a chimney. My friend has a propane ventless type heater in his great room and I find it very moist, to the point of being uncomfortable.
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            • #7
              The real problem is not how to prevent that, but how to most appropriately heat the machine. You don't want local hot spots, so some means of spreading the heat evenly would be close to ideal. A couple light bulbs somewhere below the machine, in a housing of some kind which will let heated air rise and envelope the machine might be a decent answer. You could pick the size of bulb to set the temperature which the machine comes to and settles at.

              Heat tape for water pipes is something that could work, though it's not meant to be 'free air'. It must be in contact with the surface to be kept warm so it doesn't burn out or get too hot. Wrapping it on a pipe is easy, but keeping it in contact with a lathe bed for instance might pose a challenge. You might be able to take that heat tape and coil it, then let the coil expand inside a section of pipe- the pipe then becomes your heat source and is placed under the machine.

              If the lathe sits on a stand that has drawers for tooling, it might be a good idea to heat the entire thing from below.
              I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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              • #8
                Don`t forget to keep the air moving in your shop; it has a bigger effect on preventing condensation than you might imagine.

                Ken ( from where it hardly ever gets below 4 c or above 30 c, but the humidity can strangle ya at times )

                [This message has been edited by speedy (edited 12-26-2005).]
                Ken.

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                • #9
                  If it bothers you, I would just wipe it off with a towel.. I have much more fun with my tools by just using them and not worrying about stuff like that.. Hey, if it starts to rust, or actually cause a problem then address it..

                  -Adrian

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                  • #10
                    Hi. It does rust, this last time I spent about 3hrs cleaning it up. Since no one has said using a block heater will cause a problem, I think I'll give it a try this week. I figure that if I plug it in a few hours before I need to use the shop it should be warm enough that alot of moisture won't collect on it when I heat the air. Thanks for all your suggestions. I meant to mention that I'll use the heater on the stand so there's no localized heat on the lathe itself and I have started to keep it covered after this last time.

                    [This message has been edited by Tim125 (edited 12-26-2005).]

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                    • #11
                      I've got about the same probelm you have with the heated, or should I say, lack of heat, in my shop. I hardly go in there in the winter months and when I do heat it up. Everything gets soaked.
                      Two years ago I bought a new Shoptask 3in1 Bridgemill and had the same thing happen. I decided to hose it down with a product called fluid film and it keeps all the bare parts protected. But the most important and what seems to be the biggest factor in keeping it from collecting condensation, was get a heavy duty BBQ grill cover that fit right over the whole machine and I have a 60 watt bulb burning under it. It maintains a somewhat controlled enviroment for the unit.
                      I haven't had any rust form on it since I covered it.

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                      • #12
                        I had that problem with a propane torpedo heater. That was the worst; things would rust immediately. I spent more time cleaning rust off than using the machines. I finally solved the problem by putting in a direct vent wall heater and keep the shop about 40 or so until I want to use it. Haven't had to clean any rust off since.

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                        • #13
                          whats the byproducts of burning propane? co2, h20?

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                          • #14
                            Tim, You should probably ditch the 3-in-1 oil. A water displacing product is needed to get below any moisture. Also, way oil has rust inhibitors to assist with controlling rust as it lies on machined surfaces.

                            BillH brings up another good point, the by-products of combustion. I was going to install a ventless natural gas heater a few years back until I discovered this and went with a vented, closed combustion system heater. It also gives a little more piece of mind when using flammable solvents ... although the hot water tank and furnace are nearby

                            Den

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                            • #15
                              Heat the shop.

                              ------------------
                              The tame Wolf !

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