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Workshop Project: Small Lathe Rebuild

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  • Workshop Project: Small Lathe Rebuild

    Yeah, it's not really a Miata project but it is Miata adjacent, as some of the first parts turned on it will be for my car. Figured some of y'all might be interested.

    I've been shopping for a small lathe for the shop for some time now, but kinda had a deal fall in my lap for a used, neglected, Emco 8x20 lathe. A buddy had bought it at a "used tool" auction at his work many years ago, then had a kid (and inherited his grandfather's lathe that also needs work), so this one was just collecting dust.




    Moderate sketch factor, but I stopped a couple times in the first few miles to cinch the straps down as it settled in place (and secure the rear door that had swung open), and it was fine the rest of the way back home.




    And just for fun, I turned Baby's First Chip just to say I had before the teardown started. Because boy did it need to be gone through.

    ~Andrew
    Atlanta Region SCCA
    D Prepared Miata

  • #2
    With a little help from a couple friends, we got it down to my workshop. If you've ever seen where my shop is, you know how sketchy THAT was. Backed the trailer down the hill, used the winch to slowly slide it off, etc.

    One of the first things I noticed (and was pretty worried by) was the runout on the chuck. Hopefully the entire headstock won't need to be rebuilt, because I found the most likely culprit. A bunch of swarf built up between the back of the chuck and the lathe's face plate. Hopefully tidying this up will improve that situation, or else I'm going to have to figure out what's crooked in the system. The nice thing is that the lathe can be used to true itself up if need be lol




    Next up was the sticky lever in the quick-change gear box for the power feed for the compound. Apparently they've been using grease in this thing instead of machine oil. This...will become a running theme. I let it soak in simple green then oiled it while the machine ran for a few minutes and that freed the lever up to move freely side to side. The lead screw will need to be taken off and THOROUGHLY cleaned, however, as it is caked in fine chips. This too will become a running theme.




    My next biggest problem is both the free play and stiction in the cross slide. The free play can be tuned out by adjusting the gibs and the tension on the nut that the adjustment screw rides in, but a lot of the stiction is from old, crusty grease. So, the entire compound / cross slide / top slide and apron are going to come apart to be thoroughly cleaned up. I'm not going for "car show" levels of cleanliness, but I want it to run well even if it's not the most beautiful belle at the ball :D
    Once again, a ton of crud under the tool post. I actually couldn't find the witness mark for setting the tool post angle because it was caked in dirt and oil. It should turn much more freely now.



    Got the cross slide wheel & screw out. Again, CAKED on grease everywhere I turn (unintentional lathe joke!). To be clear, this isn't grease as you think of it, just heavily applied. This is stuff that's been on there for 20 years, dried up and left a thick coating of dry crap that has to be scraped off by a fine pick in many instances.




    And finally, the compound comes off the ways. This is the bottom of the compound, where it would slide on the lathe bed. As you can see, some surface rust (not anywhere it actually touches the lathe ways, thankfully), and a lot of old oil & dust and grit that will need to be cleaned off.

    Last edited by amaff; 12-06-2017, 07:56 PM.
    ~Andrew
    Atlanta Region SCCA
    D Prepared Miata

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    • #3
      Nice. Quite ironic how grease goes from a lubricant to a glue. A lathe is high on my list. You have significantly increased your machining capability with this tool. I often myself thinking, "If I had a lathe..."
      | 90 Miata | Turbocharged Stock Mazda FE-dohc 2.0L engine swap | 302whp 281ftlbs |

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      • #4
        With the compound, apron and lead screw off, she's now pretty stark naked.



        Up next was to work on the apron (ie: the gearset that uses the lead screw to run the power feed for the compound, and rides under the compound).

        This is what greeted me when I took it off:



        With the cover off, it's even worse. Take a moment to click the picture and zoom in on just how bad it is. The amount of crud caked in the threading half-nuts, the caked on grease (more...). After I'd run it for a while, the handle for the power feed was jammed on and couldn't be disengaged because of what ended up being a chunk of dried grease getting caught in its working. It was bad.





        A bath in the parts washer made almost no difference in the grease on the gear train there. I ended up to have to disassemble the power feed engagement lever and gear assembly and then go through the entire gear train and the lead screw, tooth by tooth, thread by thread, with a pick to actually get the hardened gunk out of the system.

        It was a ton of work, but MAN everything turns smoothly now. It's such a huge difference. I put the barest whiff of white lithium grease on it per the factory service recommendations, and then it's maintained afterwards with 140W gear oil.




        I'm waiting on some finer cleaning supplies (0000 Steel Wool, for example, that I was utterly unsuccessful in sourcing locally) to be delivered in the next day or 2 to really tackle the lathe bed and the compound components, and then it can start going back together.
        ~Andrew
        Atlanta Region SCCA
        D Prepared Miata

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        • #5
          Originally posted by FE3tMX5 View Post
          Nice. Quite ironic how grease goes from a lubricant to a glue. A lathe is high on my list. You have significantly increased your machining capability with this tool. I often myself thinking, "If I had a lathe..."
          Me, every day, for the last several months:

          ~Andrew
          Atlanta Region SCCA
          D Prepared Miata

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          • #6
            i will follow this with interest.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by portabull View Post
              i will follow this with interest.
              If this ends up like any of my other projects, it will turn into a fantastic manual for the myriad ways you too can do it incorrectly :lol:
              ~Andrew
              Atlanta Region SCCA
              D Prepared Miata

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              • #8
                Originally posted by amaff View Post
                Me, every day, for the last several months:


                Sounds like me, only add in Lift, Tig and a mill. All while me and my wallet cry in the corner and have a drink :D
                1988 323 GTX--- The toy now :D
                2008 Mazdaspeed 3::SOLD ----- 1991 BRG NA8 Swap, Turbo::SOLD

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by wildfire0310 View Post
                  Sounds like me, only add in Lift, Tig and a mill. All while me and my wallet cry in the corner and have a drink :D
                  Those too, for sure. MaxJax went on sale after thanksgiving. I want a set so bad, but it's just not in the cards quite yet.
                  And a tig. And a Mill. And a 2x72 belt sander. And a big sheet metal bender. And a tubing bender. And and and.

                  He who dies with the most tools, wins :lol:
                  ~Andrew
                  Atlanta Region SCCA
                  D Prepared Miata

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                  • #10
                    Its like a nice boat. It's better to have a friend with all that stuff that will let you use it. Says the guy who never had a lift, sold his mill, but has all the rest that hardly get used these days :-(.
                    David Luney - Suwanee GA
                    [email protected]
                    04 RX-8, 10 Black MS3, 08 Red MS3, 06 550i, 05 325i 92 Spec Miata and a parts car or two.

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                    • #11
                      Got the first pass with mineral spirits and soft brushes done to knock the big dirt and clumps of crud & crust off. Next I'll be cleaning all of the mating surfaces with 0000 steel wool soaked in WD40 to get the ways and gibs properly cleaned up, then apply oil where necessary and reassemble.

                      The compound angle was really tough to set earlier. This is what I found between the angle dial that's pressed onto that arbor, and the tool post.




                      Still needs work, but it's getting close :)



                      Originally posted by miatastuff View Post
                      Its like a nice boat. It's better to have a friend with all that stuff that will let you use it. Says the guy who never had a lift, sold his mill, but has all the rest that hardly get used these days :-(.
                      Yes and no. Boats generally aren't capable of generating income. I dont imagine I'll be doing that with a lathe, but I also shouldn't need to be dumping a bunch of money into it just to keep it running. Also I don't have easy access to a lathe locally (though I could farm it out), but being able to make small parts and fasteners myself will be useful.

                      And honestly? I'm finding that one of my favorite things to do is collect skills, and man a racecar is a great tool for enabling that. It'll be one more thing (...several more things) I get to learn to do.
                      Last edited by amaff; 12-06-2017, 07:45 PM.
                      ~Andrew
                      Atlanta Region SCCA
                      D Prepared Miata

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                      • #12
                        It still needs several things (solid footing, the power switch needs to be replaced, lead-screw shear pin, I need some tooling) and wants a few more (might need to replace a feed screw on the cross slide, I want to add an E-Stop), but it cleaned up real nice, and everything runs and turns SO much more smoothly now.

                        Before and After (in the same shot) on the ways. 0000 Steel Wool and WD40 (and some elbow grease) did the business on that crud :D




                        The spindle face got similar treatment:




                        All back together. It may not LOOK too much different in pictures, but man it feels like a completely different machine.

                        ~Andrew
                        Atlanta Region SCCA
                        D Prepared Miata

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                        • #13
                          turned out nice.

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                          • #14
                            I turned up my first useful part today (*cough* after several tries *cough*)

                            The tapered shear-pin that connects the lead-screw to the quick-change gearbox was in pretty bad shape. I had to pound it out when I disassembled the lathe, and I'm pretty sure it was a replacement and not really sized correctly.

                            So I made one :D



                            ~Andrew
                            Atlanta Region SCCA
                            D Prepared Miata

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                            • #15
                              lathe - the only tool that rebuilds itself.
                              Last edited by portabull; 12-09-2017, 11:24 AM.

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