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Star brake drum and rotor lathe

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  • Star brake drum and rotor lathe

    About 3 weeks ago a friend/customer delivered an early 70's Star brake lathe to me. It is about 90% complete according to the parts list. It was part payment for a job I did for him. I saw it in a corner of his shop and asked about it. Later he offered it as final payment and I accepted it.

    Over the past few years I have had trouble getting rotors turned because they were undersize according to the parts store but actually were well above the minumum on the rotor. They like to sell rotors. I am sure I can find other uses for this tool than drums and rotors. I have no intention of turning drums or rotors for others because of the liability.

    It has not been used since about 1990 and shows it. I bought a technical manual for it and they still supply all the parts. I will make any adapters I need but some of the machine parts may be easier to buy but that depends on the price.

    I started tearing it down today and I will completely disassemble it and clean and assemble it and repair/replace parts as needed. It has a brake shoe grinder that I will not use but I will leave it on the cabinet for the time being.

    I am real happy to get this machine as I have wanted one for some time. Actually it was free because the first payment was more than enough for what I did. I think he just wanted to get rid of it and knew I wanted it.
    It's only ink and paper

  • #2
    That sounds like a good deal! Yeah if the adaptors are anything like the adapters for my wheel balancer, expect to "buy" them for about $300-$1800 EACH! The sets run anywhere from $400 to $5000 for brake lathes. You'd be better off making your own.

    Does it cut both sides of the rotor at the same time?

    If it ever gets in your way, I'll come take it off your hands.


    • #3
      wow, that's to much to pay. I didnt ask prices yet but they are very helpfull. I don't have two cones and a spring I may need and a few other pieces that won't need so I may email for a price.

      Yes, it cuts both sides of the rotor at the same time. I was going to make cones and an arbor and do them in my lathe untill this deal came along. Amazingly the ways are perfect even though running in metal dust and never having been cleaned. It don't look like it was oiled much so that kept it from making a grinding compound and wearing the ways. It sure needs some tender loving care. When I get it running I will cut the two sets of rotors and then store it in the shop for future use.

      I appreciate the offer to take it off my hands but I will hang on to it for now .
      It's only ink and paper


      • #4
        I parted the center out of a 12" brake rotor recently and then attempted to turn it flat attached to a face plate in an attempt to make a simple ring for use in tramming a mill. I ended up turning a warp into it, perhaps a clamping error or something....I have yet to troubleshoot it and try again.

        I write all this because its clear to me from this experience and from watching rotors turned that there is a good reason to let someone with a brake lathe turn them :-) Yech.....what a mess. Turning cast iron in general is messy, but turing something out at the outside of 12" is a great way to end up with cast iron granules all over your good lathe. I tried to cover things up as much as possible, but its not all that easy when you fling particles around that much. That was a new, but scrapped rotor with no rust whastoever. An old rusty piece of junk would be *much* messier. The very-new brake lathe at our just-opened local OReilly auto parts has an enclosure that is a downdraft cabinet with a vaccuum. Pretty slick really....but I couldn't convince the (also brand new) employees that they could take more than about .003 per cut until they got close :-) Its hard to communicate that you can wear out carbide faster by taking a lot of light cuts than by using it to get the job done. It took them 1.5 hours to do two sides of two rotors.

        Even when taking my last set in to be turned, I hit them with a wire cup brush to take off the majority of the rust after washing them with Castrol purple cleaner to remove the asbestos dust. Its nice to not have rust flaking off all over the place on your newly turned rotors.

        Paul Carpenter
        Mapleton, IL


        • #5
          Hey there Paul,

          I built a tool to simultaneously cut both sides of a brake rotor on my Sheldon lathe, and it works perfectly. I've turned 12.5" rotors and the cast chips pretty much fall within a couple of inches from the rotor. A rag over the ways between the headstock and the carriage catches the large majority, and lots of oil before and after make wiping up the rest a snap.

          True, most shops will do a rotor for $10 around here, but the closest one is still a 40 minute drive and then I have to wait while they work me in.



          • #6
            It won't take the boys at the parts store long to find out how to take to much off the rotor or refuse to machine it because "it's already near undersize and we can't machine it for you" and sell you new ones.
            It's only ink and paper