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Lathe Evaluation

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  • Lathe Evaluation

    Well, now that I have this thing home, how can I tell whether I have a good machine or a pig in disguise? I'll have it installed and ready to run in a few weeks, but thought I'd ask for some expert advice ahead of time. 1957 Clausing 1619, 12 X 36, great cosmetic appearance, runs smoothly and came from a shop where all was neat and clean and the craftsman (gunsmith) appeared to take pride in his work. The only wear I can see is near the headstock (no surprise) in that the ways have a small ridge from wear. If one grabs the carriage and lifts, there is some movement. Crank the wheel and the carriage moves smoothly about half way down and then begins to bind but still cranks on down the ways. How does one evaluate the degree of wear? Turn a piece the length of the ways and measure it along the piece for variation? I've been told there's no quick or cheap fix for worn ways, but everything I've read about imports (at least for absolute novices)and 3-in-1 machines steered me away and toward an old American made lathe both for availability and parts if needed. Where are the other parts that one needs to evaluate for wear and how is this done? I apologize for so many novice questions, but so far I haven't been able to figure these things out and the texts I have don't address these items. Thanking you in advance for any information.


  • #2
    This is one of the older clausings with the longer carriage, not chopped off on left side. As long as the carriage wings aren't worn too bad, the carriage doesn't flop it's way down the ways, this bit of wear in the ways probably won't hurt a thing.

    Since it is worn a bit towards headstock just watch center heights and it should do a fine job. I've got one old machine that the beds worn like an old horses back, it will still turn with the best of them if I watch my center height. But I did have to do some scraping on carriage.

    Good luck, fire up the old girl and take her for a drive and see how she cuts.


    • #3
      Sounds like your lathe came with good credentials. Heck, just use it and don't worry about wear or accuracy. I have a Clausing Colchester 13X36. I first used it in a lab then had chance to buy it and brought it home. The lab floor was wooden and the carriage, just like yours, would get snug half way down the ways. Brought it home, stored it on a good level concrete floor and after a year or two I found one day that it now traveled smoothly the whole length of the ways. The bed had evidently warped a bit on the lab's wooden floor, then straightened itself.

      About accuracy. I started out with a 1920's 16"Lodge and Shipley. After a couple of years of use thought I'd check the spindle for wear and found that it had 0.008" of slop (spindle was so heavy it just nestled down in its bronze bearings). This was after I had used it to turn everything from rusty cargo winch brake drums to the manufacture of microscope accessories. Ways were so worn in the middle that I had to raise the rack in order to crank the apron all the way down. Sometimes I wish I still had it.