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Cleaning Lead Screw

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  • Cleaning Lead Screw

    Any good ways to clean hardened, like powder coating, gunk from a milling machine table feed screw with out damaging the feed screw.

  • #2
    Wrap the leadscrew or shaft with a lacquer thinner soaked rag and cover it with a tightly lapped layer of aluminum foil. Leave it in place for a couple hours or a day or two.

    The gunk will soften so you can remove it with a wire brush. Don't let the thinner evaporate from strongly adherant stuff like paint overspray. Keep it moist. If allowed to dry the stuff may toughen up and be harder to remove.

    There's a neat trick for cleaning the threads right down to the roots. Find a soft cotton cord that more or less fills the thread space. Take a full wrap around the thread. Moisten with solvent and see-saw the ends of the cord. Want to move to the next thread? Lead one end at an angle and catch it. The wraped cord will follow with the next see-saw but it takes a little practice.

    I've cleaned miles of lead screw with this trick and after a couple of passes it takes the gunk and goo off right to bright steel. It goes quick. Trust me.
    Last edited by Forrest Addy; 08-17-2011, 01:19 AM.


    • #3
      I would say a half a dozen stiff brass "toothbrush" type brushes and an appropriate solvent. Don't underestimate Walmart spray carb cleaner for removing such gunk, including dried on water soluble oil.


      • #4
        I use what called a platers wire wheel. It is a wire wheel made from .003" stainless wires. Very soft. I can stick my finger in it and it won't hurt but it still removes rust and paint very well. Kind of expensive. The one I had was about $40-50.


        • #5
          Originally posted by macona
          I can stick my finger in it and it won't hurt...
          Unless it's spinning
          Peter - novice home machinist, modern motorcycle enthusiast.

          Denford Viceroy 280 Synchro (11 x 24)
          Herbert 0V adapted to R8 by 'Sir John'.
          Monarch 10EE 1942


          • #6
            I use the cord trick, Except I soaked mine with way oil (Dissolved the shiping grease gunk well enough), and I just turned my lathe on, had it spining at a few rpms on the leadscrew, and used 1/2 turn while letting it feed out from the spool (While restricting how fast it would feed out beween two fingers) and pulling the excess away with the same hand.. Having one hand free on the controls/estop.

            (do NOT wrap the string around you in any way)

            Basicly, power cleaning

            I continiously applyed fresh cord too, and basicly just poured way oil over the leadscrew to soak the rope as I fed fresh rope in.
            Play Brutal Nature, Black Moons free to play highly realistic voxel sandbox game.


            • #7
              Thanks, for all the information I have used the cord trick and have gotten most of it off but some of it is tough. I will also use Forrest's lacquer thinner soak to see if that will get the remainder.

              Bob Williams


              • #8
                The cord trick works quite well and is relatively quick, but I still prefer to disassemble and use the bench grinder with a nylon or soft metal wheel to get all of the crap out. Usually I disassemble the machine and find other areas needing attention that I wouldnt have noticed otherwise. On a mill, you should also consider spraying out the grit and crap that worked its way into the lead screw nuts as well while its disassembled. Ive seen several instances of chips becoming lodged between split nuts somehow with no way out.
                Last edited by justanengineer; 08-17-2011, 03:44 PM.
                "I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer -- born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow."


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Peter.
                  Unless it's spinning
                  Nope, even then. I suppose if I left it in there long enough. But for quick slips which you would loose some skin on a normal wheel you dont loose anything with one of those.