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Bringing weathered tooling/machinery back to life. Any advice?

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  • Bringing weathered tooling/machinery back to life. Any advice?

    First and foremost: I am not interested in a full machine restorations, but simply briniging some old iron back to serviceable life. Being a notable pack rat, over the years I've "saved" many freebie machines and tooling from being otherwise scrapped so to speak."Saved" being a relative term here.
    I'd rather it sat and got a little rusty than sent immediately to scrappy. After all, at least I'd know is was here. I mean I can always change my mind and scrap it if I want to.
    My freebies; and please don't laugh here.

    In 1987 or so I was given a Hendey-Norton Universal miller of very early 1900's vintage due to non OSHA compliance issues, in 1988, I got the 13" Southbend because the company "upgraded" to a new 9x20 JET lathe that the engineers "could actually use" as they put it.

    Then Sometime around 1995 a guy asks if I wanted an old bench-top lathe he found at an old boat yard. Said I could have it for his gas money to go out of his way to go get it, (it was $5 for the gas.) Lathe turned out to be my beloved little Dalton 6.

    Finally, in 1997 I got the 1950's? Rock solid cast iron Delta drill press they were getting rid of to buy a new Delta because the spindle had "gotten bent" when one of our "engineers" snagged a drill while drilling a shoe box sized casting and in it "got away" because it was not secured. I think he had a 7/8 deming in the chuck at the time.

    Now in that time frame I have moved from a tiny house to a house with a one car garage, back to an apartment while building new house, living in new house without garage for ten years while saving cash build said garage etc etc.

    During that time the two biggest freebies and their tooling lived out in an old school bus and in the case of the larger castings,wrapped up and "sort of" out of the weather.

    Only the Dalton has been restored because it was easily carried about. I wacked the running Delta in the chuck with a 2x4 while it was spinning and on the 5-6th attempt it sent it home true again, and I've been using it ever since. I now have the space to bring these others back to working condition and I have decided to start with my SB13. Many of the pieces out in the bus have been sweating out the weather for years and i find the stuff outside actually faired better, go figure.

    I know sand blasting is no-no. I have been glass beading some of the previously shiney parts back to a pleasant satin finish of which I like better than original as the eyes can read 'em better.

    Now using my big lathe chuck as an example, I've dis-assembled it and cleaned the gook out of it, I used scotch-brite and light oil to clean the main body of it only to find although I cleaned it back to it's best finish and lapped it with wet & dry out the surface plate , it still had the blackened dark rust stains right below the surface. Think lots of very minor pitting. I realize these are indeed minor pits just below the surface as glass beading reveals this. However, if I were to use walnut shells would the appearance be more "oringinal steel" versus the matte finish left by glass beading? Some pictures of some of our members attempts with various cleaning media and resulting finishes is sort of what I'm fishing for here as well as some tried and true methods and results. Remember, I'm just trying to go to the "servicability" level here, not resoration.

    I've reserved trying the electrolysis method for the Hendy's table and knee mechanism as they are the worst parts a far as nasty pitting goes. beside the lathe faired pretty well and I need it to make parts to fix the Hendy.

    But a quicky question regarding electrolysis; After the rust is gone, the photos I see of parts seem to show a darkened apperarance even though the parts lack rust. Like an etched surface, which I imagine it probably is. Does it clean up further with some elbow grease?
    Bricolage anyone? of lifes fun games.

  • #2
    Oddball Racing: I'm only going to address the electrolysis question. The electrolysis process will indeed remove rust from rusted objects, but as mentioned it does leave behind a blackened, scaley deposit. This scale is easier to remove than the rust, but it is still work to get it off. Some types of metal seem to respond better than others. In general, the easier the rust forms, the easier it is to remove. I have had things that I thought were pasr restoration clean up beautifully, and I've been disappointed with others. One thing to remember is that once the electrolysis process has removed the rust, it seems as though the item will rust much more aggresively than before the process was performed. My experience has only been with relatively small items such as wrenches, saws etc. Some of mine had been painted, and they were still cleaned, but the process did take longer, and was not as thorough. After de-rusting, I spray each piece liberally with WD-40, before storing it in my toolbox. If I use it, as soon as I'm finished with it, it gets a new WD-40 treatment, and this has worked well for me. Good luck with your "return to serviceability".
    There is no shortage of experts, the trick is knowing which one to listen to!


    • #3
      Hah! you must've lost you coffee cu like Russ did and was still brain dead.... I cant function very well with out that cuppa--So, this is quite a bit better on information

      I LOVE my bead blaster, but like you say, that "patina?" finish a lotta times just aint what I want.

      While I was rebuilding the Katrina SB I was doing a LOT of bead blasting and most of those pieces just didnt look good with a patina finish. I dont even remember why I did it, but at some point I stuck a piece under the wire wheel and well, well, well lookie here, it brought back most of the appearance of an original finish! It was an aggresive wheel and It seems to "flatten?" out those little teeny "craters?" left from the media? Whatever, to my thinking, it was a definate improvement over the other. Course theres drawbacks to everything, and the wheel leaves swirls, but I still thought it was a better compromise.

      I didnt have any of the 'blackened' areas you describe, the blasting - if held long enough- would eventually bring it back to a pretty uniform color.

      The only pitting I had was on the lathe ways but they were very slight. Not having any way to get 4-500lbs of lathe ways in the blast cabinet, I did all of it with a knotted cup wire brush
      If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something........


      • #4
        I just have a funny image of you smackin the DP to re-align the chuck (5-6x while running.) Somewhere there is a redneck joke in there and if i knew you could do that I would have tried it too!
        "Good judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment" R.M.Brown

        My shop tour


        • #5
          Yes, whacking the running DP spindle with a 2x4 caught my attention also. Of all the methods to straighten a bent spindle, that one would never, ever have occurred to me. Obviously, it worked, but why?

          Second, with the concern about dark spots remaining after rust removal, you are way beyond
          simply briniging some old iron back to serviceable life.
          and getting dangerously close to
          full machine restorations
          It's a slippery slope and even from here, we can tell you are past the point of no return.

          thnx, jack vines


          • #6
            Originally posted by PackardV8
            Obviously, it worked, but why?

            thnx, jack vines
            Because it was an arbor mounted chuck, bent on the very end.

            I actually saw the guy have his "accident" and I saw the extent of the "runout" as they called it. While noting the chuck wobbling around in it's arc I noted that the spindle, by eyeball looked pretty true. This told me only the arbor was bent. While listening to their conversation, I could tell they weren't even aware the chuck was mounted on an arbor as all around they were saying the spindle is now junk. So.......I just kept quiet until they started talking of running out and getting a new drill press right away at the local home center. NICE a real machinis's DP to throw out and a new aluminum "woodworking" grade DP to take it's place! (The bean counter must've got involved) Of couse I volunteered to go pick-up the new one if I could have the old one.

            I was actually trying to wack the taper free when I had noticed it was already straighter than when I started after 2 wacks. 3-4 more and it was fixed before it left the building. Ya should have seen how fast I put it in my truck after that.
            Bricolage anyone? of lifes fun games.


            • #7
              I had some Van Norman collets that were lightly rusty. Light rust, nothing horrible and pitted. I did the electrolysis thing. Afterward, I took the stuff to work where we had high rpm buffers and light buffing rouge. They turned out fantastic. No indication of the black "stain" afterward. But, they were a harder metal and that might make a difference.

              Civil engineers build targets, Mechanical engineers build weapons.


              • #8
                Good Snag!

                Originally posted by oddball racing
                I was actually trying to wack the taper free when I had noticed it was already straighter than when I started after 2 wacks. 3-4 more and it was fixed before it left the building. Ya should have seen how fast I put it in my truck after that.
                Oddball racing....You are a man after my own heart. I have watched professors send their students down to empty shopping carts full of lab stuff that they no longer cared about. Of course, I offered to take it out to the dumpster for them.
                Jim (KB4IVH)

                Only fools abuse their tools.


                • #9
                  If your going to get serious about restorations, and and I mean proper restorations that restore the machine back to its as new accuracy, not just pretty paint, you're going to have to learn to scrape. Do some forum searches to get you on the right path.