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Level your lathe!

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  • Level your lathe!

    We got a Nebel lathe a few years ago and moved it to its final resting position a few months ago. We kinda leveled it. (read - didn't really try)

    I had a project where I needed to bore a 6 inch long cylinder. Made the first cut - measured from one end to the other. WTF - .006" bigger at the chuck! The lathe is not new - see picture below. The ways look pretty good compared to the lathe we replaced it with. (turn of the century flat belt converted lathe...) This one is like a cadillac... Gear head, Quick change gear box, clutch..

    Anyway - after trying to figure out what the heck was going on - Measuring and re-measuring everything.. (thinking the headstock would need to be shimmed or something... - which would not be easy because it is keyed on the ways...)

    we leveled it. Took about an hour. Just to a test cut - now over 8" it is < .0005"

    Level your lathes...


  • #2
    I blew all my chances of levelling the Smart & Brown model A at the museum, when I got it lifted up with the forklift for a wooden frame a couple of inches high to go under it. I feel my poor old back is more important. If this thread is still active on Wednesday (and I remember) I will turn a test piece to find out what it's error is at the moment. It did very well a couple of years ago when I last tested it.
    Last edited by old mart; 01-20-2019, 05:57 PM.

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    • #3
      I think we call it "leveling" because a lot of the books on setting up machines recommend using a machinist's sensitive level. But really it's all about truing up the bed to remove any twist it may have.

      The usual test for cutting true is to use a test bar. But if you're getting parallel and true to within less than 5 tenths over 8 inches then I'd say you're good to go. Your cylinder IS your test bar.
      Chilliwack BC, Canada

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      • #4
        we used our trusty .0005/10" level..

        sam

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        • #5
          I had to level a CNC lathe some years ago that had 6 feet. Drove me crazy because the FLOOR was moving more than the lathe it was so heavy. It should have been on a real foundation a couple feet thick for real precision.

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          • #6
            How many of you, also bolt them down ?

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            • #7
              None of the machinery in my shop is bolted down. Over the last 30 years I've added a number of pieces and rearranged the shop each time. In the last 10 years I've rearranged it at least half a dozen times. The floor would be like swiss cheese if I bolted everything down, then moved it 6 months later. I've never had problems with leveling or machines shifting.

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              • #8
                Nothing bolted at home, 100% bolted at work.

                Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using Tapatalk

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                • #9
                  The only thing in the shop that is bolted down is the K&T and that is sitting on 24 inches of concrete.

                  We think the nebel should be though.. There is a bunch of cast iron that over-hangs the back of the lathe. (motor, gearbox and things) So the front jacks don't seem to have much weight on them.

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                  • #10
                    In earthquake country, so I have 1/2" floor anchors for my mill and the lathe is bolted to the wall.

                    Mike

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Brett Hurt View Post
                      How many of you, also bolt them down ?
                      The mill isn't but the lathe certainly is. After seeing the improvements bolting my lathe to a good solid and heavy mount produced I'm of the opinion that all lathes should be bolted down unless they weigh the same as a large size car or medium truck and have heavy cast iron pedestals. The "tin boxes" that came with my 12x36 originally were not in the least way suitable for good performance.

                      As an alternative to bolting them down a rather massive and heavy stand which is made from good structural steel should work well too. Something heavy enough to let gravity replace the bolts and rigid enough to extend the structure of the lathe bed. Basically some sort of stand that mimics the weight and stiffness of the heavy cast iron stands found on the big floor lathes but in scale to the lathe in question.

                      A buddy is setting up a South Bend 9A which comes with the power setup in the cabinet. He'll be using adjustable feet on the base of the cabinet to equalize the load of the feet but not bolting it down. We'll see how that works out.
                      Chilliwack BC, Canada

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MikeL46 View Post
                        In earthquake country, so I have 1/2" floor anchors for my mill and the lathe is bolted to the wall.

                        Mike
                        I tried bolting my Bridgeport to the wall but I can't stand having a useless horizontal milling machine.

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                        • #13
                          Well, there's your problem. You need to rotate that vise 90 degrees so the parts dont fall out.
                          At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

                          Location: SF East Bay.

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                          • #14
                            3PL, you have too much time on your hands.... made me laugh though...
                            Chilliwack BC, Canada

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                            • #15
                              Omg! Reminded me of the whiteboard cartoon with the Bridgeport on the ceiling after New Years :-)
                              Thanks for the smile!

                              Btw, one reason nothing is bolted down in my shop is that the floor is wood; I have a 40' container! You can see down it past my son...

                              Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using Tapatalk

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