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Spindle oil

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  • Spindle oil

    Thinking about replaceing the spindle oil in my Warner Swasey lathe. When I purchased the lathe I was told to use ND 10 weight motor oil in the headstock for lubercation. I have been doing some reading and not to sure this oil is the right one for the machine. It most likely has been used in the machine for years, but I have started to inquire from other WS owners what their oil pressure gauges are showing. My machine's oil pressure is always lower which concerns me. Is ND 10 weight oil heavier than normal spindle oil. If so, what is recommended for a 1956 Warner Swasey #3 lathe. Any help in this would be greatfully accepted....Gear

  • #2
    Unless its pressure lubricated *and filtered* I would be surprised if motor oil is what is prescribed. Motor oil has detergents designed to keep small metallic wear particles in suspension so it can be filtered out. Most gear head lathes without such filtering need those same abraisive particles to settle out. Typically hydraulic oils are what is used in gear heads, for just this reason. They are inexpensive and sold in gallons/ 5gallon pails at most farm supply places or you can order the Mobil DTE series from many of the mail order places.

    Now you just need to find the correct viscosity. I would look for a manual. If your lathe is some sort of hydraulic shift unit, then indeed that could be correct I suppose. Otherwise, it does sound a bit in the light side. Many gear head (non hydro) lathes use ISO 68 viscosity grade oil. ISO VG 68 is pretty close to 20W in SAE grading.
    Paul Carpenter
    Mapleton, IL


    • #3
      The manual states "The headstock reservior located in the head end of the pan, should be filled with turbine oil having 180 to 220 viscosity or engine oil having same viscosity, neutrallity number .05 maximum; steam emulsion rate 60 maximum." Ok that pretty much made my head spin.

      Anyone care to expain that.......gear

      Does the ISO VG 68 fall within the above information....


      • #4
        You still didn't answer the the oil filtered? Is this a hydraulic shifting lathe?

        If those are Kinematic viscosity measures, then it needs to specify the temperature at which they are measured.

        You may want to do a search here as the lubrication thing is often discussed. At least once, a chart equating viscosities as measured on the various scales was posted.

        Paul Carpenter
        Mapleton, IL


        • #5
          Is this a hydraulic shifting lathe?
          Looks like clutch shifting lathe, nothing mentioned about hydraulic.

          Is the oil filtered?
          Yes, disc type oil fliter.


          • #6
            On the low pressure thing, oil, any oil, is not compressable. So the type of oil should have little or nothing to do with the pressure. You may have a problem with the gauge or the oil pump.
            Paul A.
            SE Texas

            Make it fit.
            You can't win and there is a penalty for trying!


            • #7
              There's a chart in the McMaster-Carr catalogue equating some of the vis scales.

              Pete in NJ
              Pete in NJ


              • #8
                If the oil is thinner, the system may not pump it up to as high a pressure. It may be passing through the system too quickly or passing seals too quickly to come up to what's specified for pressure. This is a guessing game- maybe 20 wt would raise the pressure to the right range, and maybe it's the correct weight, but maybe also the bearings are worn, etc, and the oil pressure can't stay up. I'm not a chemist, but I think that you'd be ok with any of several oils, as long as it's non detergent and between 10 and 20 weight. I'd be more concerned about compatibility with seals, and whether any kind of wet clutch that might be in there would be affected by the additive package that could be present in the oil.

                This question has been asked many times. Sometimes the manufacturer recommends a certain oil which is not made today, but could be cross referenced to any of a number of oils that are available. You could probably find five different lathes with five different oil recommendations, and probably one oil of the correct type would be fine in all of them. I'm more leery of the seal damage issue. What comes to mind is the brake fluid thing- ford vs gm. I don't recall which , but one fluid will eat the seals in the other system, and the other won't lube properly in the other system.
                I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-