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Take Lathe Chuck Apart After Threading Cast Iron?

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  • Take Lathe Chuck Apart After Threading Cast Iron?

    I haven't used my 3-jaw lathe chuck in a while. I used it to do some threading in cast iron hand wheels. Now I'm learning about the perils of cast iron dust.

    The lathe was doing 20 RPM when I did the threading, so dust wasn't flying all over the ways of the lathe, but there is quite a bit of dust in the chuck. Should I take it apart and clean it before I use it again?
    Don't trigger me, bro!

  • #2
    It would be a good idea. Normally all you need to do is take off the jaws, clean them good and clean the scroll, put the jaws back in.
    Kansas City area

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    • #3
      Cleaning out the chuck should be a routine part of cleaning the lathe....

      It gets dirty, clean it!

      Pete
      1973 SB 10K .
      BenchMaster mill.

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      • #4
        i would take it apart, it should be clean, but don't go through life too worried about cast iron dust (some seem to). afaik the issue is sand castings can sand on the outer crust which is abrasive and the outer scale of the casting or hunk of durabar is slightly abrasive (same as hot rolled steel)....but once past that and into clean cast iron I don't think its to be worried about more than other chips
        in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by stevehgraham View Post
          Now I'm learning about the perils of cast iron dust.
          Ok I'll take the dunce cap.
          Used to turn rotors and drums at a repair shop. Very messy and we had a dedicated shop vac for the machine.

          From a home shop perspective, what are some of the perils of cast iron dust we should be aware of?

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          • #6
            What I have seen and read is that people consider cast iron dust to be an abrasive which is similar to lapping paste.

            It would be very nice to hear that this isn't true, since I got quite a bit of it on my chuck and the front of the carriage.
            Don't trigger me, bro!

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            • #7
              Hi,

              It kind of, sort of, maybe could cause some accelerated wear. Unless you constantly are turning cast iron, there isn't much to be worried about. Wipe exposed surfaces when done and blow it off it it seems really dirty. I certainly wouldn't strip a chuck down just because I turn a bit of iron.

              But, it's your shop and your machine. You must do what you are comfortable with.

              Dalee
              If you think you understand what is going on, you haven't been paying attention.

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              • #8
                More important with machining cast iron is protecting your lungs. A vacuum extractor at the source really helps you and the machine! I've blown enough black snot out to know....

                Pete
                1973 SB 10K .
                BenchMaster mill.

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                • #9
                  I machine cast iron often, and use an 8" 6 jaw chuck. It is a pain in the ass to take apart and clean, but it needs to happen. I made up an adapter for my electric drill so I can take the jaws out quickly. I also have an adapter on my shop vac that goes really small, to get into the jaw slots. It's one of the small jobs I hate doing lol.

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                  • #10
                    Easier than cleaning (at least when grinding or sanding) is to keep stuff from getting in there in the first place. I often stuff a piece of foam in the chuck behind the part to keep crap out, and on occasion, have even put masking tape over the open slots.
                    Location: North Central Texas

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DS_park View Post
                      Ok I'll take the dunce cap.
                      Used to turn rotors and drums at a repair shop. Very messy and we had a dedicated shop vac for the machine.

                      From a home shop perspective, what are some of the perils of cast iron dust we should be aware of?
                      The dust from brake rotors/drums is nasty. The last time i used the lathe without a mask I had a sinus/bronchitus infection that was hard to overcome.
                      Joe

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by stevehgraham View Post
                        What I have seen and read is that people consider cast iron dust to be an abrasive which is similar to lapping paste.

                        It would be very nice to hear that this isn't true, since I got quite a bit of it on my chuck and the front of the carriage.
                        post #4
                        in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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                        • #13
                          If you use your lathe any amount,
                          take out the jaws weekly and clean the slots.
                          Maybe once a year, split it and clean the scroll annulus.

                          -Doozer
                          DZER

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                          • #14
                            Yep - definitely clean your chuck. It should be a routine thing and CI dust mixed with some oil or, worse yet, a little bit of moisture, will quickly become a thick goopy (or downright hard, cement-like) mass that makes your chuck nasty to use.

                            That said, I'm with Mcgyver. Brake rotors are a special case, as is chilled cast iron and the skin on sand castings, etc. but once you get through the skin on a machinable cast iron, I'm not sure I believe that it is more abrasive than anything else commonly machined. Maybe the issue is just that the dust is much finer and tends to get places where a big chip couldn't get. But the dust from ductile cast iron is really just iron and carbon (aka graphite as in the stuff you use as a dry lubricant).

                            I've done a fair amount of work with CI fixing up old machines and I try to be reasonable about the cleanup. From my perspective, the biggest danger is the dust mixing with oil or moisture and setting up like concrete!

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                            • #15
                              I'm taking it apart. Unfortunately, I ran out of brake part cleaner, so I'm stuck waiting until the infernal traffic dies down and permits me to go get more.

                              Surprisingly, almost no cast iron got on the screws or scroll.

                              I'm reading up on lube. It looks like I put grease in it last time, and that was a bad idea, because it caught swarf and tried to jam up. I've read that Vactra and moly gear oil are two good choices. I have both. I am leaning toward the moly stuff because it's made for high pressure. Someone holler if there is a good reason to use something else.
                              Don't trigger me, bro!

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