Newb's first lathe, educate me
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  1. #1
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    Newb's first lathe, educate me

    Hi everyone,
    I picked up this watchmaker's lathe, an old English IME. It's my first lathe of any description, and I could use some basic pointers regarding cleaning, and whether the spindle play in the clip below is normal, or whether I should tighten it up, or whathaveyou.

    Anyhoo, here's the IME:



    Here's the spindle moving in and out of the headstock slightly:
    http://vid773.photobucket.com/albums...he/Spindle.mp4

    There is a lot of thick oily dust on the bed, and in the nooks and crannies of the compound slide. What ought I use to clean it?


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    Re: Newb's first lathe, educate me

    IME made seriously good little lathes, you have a nice machine there. Did you get a decent set of collets with it?

    I havent been into an IME headstock but most lathes of this style have a nut at the rear on the spindle to tighten and take up play. You have too much, should be around .01mm. Ideally you should take it apart and clean it but try to adust it and use it a bit first.

    For cleaning you can use almost anything, no abrasives though. Here we use what translates to deodorized diesel, but mineral spirits work fine. Actually cleaning things like this is one of the few good uses of WD40.

    You'll want to oil the headstock bearings regularly as they are what's called constant loss. Mobile Velocite 10 is the standard for such a spindle but in all honesty sewing machine oil will be fine.

    The slide needs a thicker oil, but not grease. Mobile Vactra 2 is great, and not many equivalents in the hardware store variety. If you don't want to source and sping for a gallon use a gear oil like for automotive rear ends.

    You'll need hand gravers and cutting tools for the slide. I suggest starting with hss (high speed steel) for both. Hand gravers are available from any watch material supplier, the slide tools from an industrial supplier. 3/16" is probably right for the slide. 1/4" too big. You'll need a basic bench grinder to shape them and an india and arkansas stones (big ones) to finish the hand gravers and some slip stones to finish the slide tools.

    I run a watchmakers lathe between 5 and 40 hours a week and that's for the last 16-18 years, post any questions you may have.
    Justaminute and jisham like this.

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    Re: Newb's first lathe, educate me

    Hi Mailchort, it came with over 50 collets, what I think are a few slightly rusty wax chucks, and a few weird thingumjigs I can't identify, so I'm quite happy. I tested the motor & controlelr (with the belt off the lathe in case the headstock bearings are dry/dirty), and it works, if a little sparky at higher revs (!)

    Encouragingly, the tiny securing imperial allen head grub screw type things all turn easily - that compound slide is really filthy.

    Well! Off to give it a jolly good clean with WD40. I'm sure questions will pop up, so thanks for your offer - it's very reassuring to be listening to the voice of experience, this is the first time I've seen a lathe for realsies.

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    Re: Newb's first lathe, educate me

    Quote Originally Posted by bounder View Post
    Hi Mailchort, it came with over 50 collets, what I think are a few slightly rusty wax chucks, and a few weird thingumjigs I can't identify, so I'm quite happy. I tested the motor & controlelr (with the belt off the lathe in case the headstock bearings are dry/dirty), and it works, if a little sparky at higher revs (!)

    Encouragingly, the tiny securing imperial allen head grub screw type things all turn easily - that compound slide is really filthy.

    Well! Off to give it a jolly good clean with WD40. I'm sure questions will pop up, so thanks for your offer - it's very reassuring to be listening to the voice of experience, this is the first time I've seen a lathe for realsies.
    Just a note- use WD40 where you can wipe it off. It's a poor lubricant but good solvent and has a knack for drying into nastiness. The upside it seems is WD40 is great at disolving WD40 (clockmaker I know figured that one out ).

    50 collets is great! Very complete set. You'll be making stems and staffs in no time.

    Post some more pics of the odds and ends please!

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    Re: Newb's first lathe, educate me

    Thanks for the headsup with the WD40, I'll try to be careful. Here are the odds and ends:

    The collets & such, in a handy holey board.



    Thing A:



    Thing B:



    Thing C [edit, my BHI notes have a photo of this thing, a pivot drum, inside Thing A] front and back:



    Thing D:



    Things E have a thick spindle that doesnot fit in the jacob's chuck or headstock. It looks like they should fit in Thing B. Are these wax chucks?



    There are other things that look like runners with centres on either end, I will photograph them too after cleaning things up a bit.

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    Re: Newb's first lathe, educate me

    Helpfull thread i have boolmarked for later when I get a lathe. Thanks all

    Sent from my SM-G925P using Tapatalk

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    Re: Newb's first lathe, educate me

    Hmm. I think things E fit into thing A and function like the pivot drums for larger diameters. Thing A goes in tailstock and the offset hole takes things E so the center of their troughs line up with the lathe centerline.

    Thing B is sometimes called a spider chuck. You can center up oddball workpieces with one.

    Thing D truly no idea.

    The pivot drums C should have a holder for the tailstock that brings their notches to the lathe centerline. They act like a Jacot tool for larger clockish size pivots.

    Wax chucks are usually flat on the face and brass. Some are hollow but either way most people make them up out of brass scraps as they go along and leave the fancy factory ones pristine in the rack.

    The beauty of a brass wax chuck is you face it and maybe turn a little pivot on it to center a part and everything is true and perfect since it is undisturbed between turning it and the subsequent part. Hollow brass wax chucks the same, drill a true hole and use it to center a long awkward shaft for turning. Factory wax chucks would quickly disappear from all the truing up.

    The 'wax' is shellac by the way.
    Last edited by maillchort; November 10th, 2016 at 00:01.

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    Re: Newb's first lathe, educate me

    I managed to get the headstock apart today! It's very simiilar to this one disassembled at Lathe Maintenance - Adventures in WatchmakingÂ.Â., expect this IME's bearings don't look like phosphor bronze. Could you give your opinion of the state of the bearings from these photos (sorry about the quality - I'm not great a photographing shiny metal)? The one facing the lI'm not actually sure which is considered the 'front' and which the 'back' bearing, so let me know if I've labelled them incorrectly.

    Back bearing:


    Front bearing & wear detail:




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    Re: Newb's first lathe, educate me

    There's some wear in there but nothing extreme. Many small lathes (watchmaker especially) were made with hard steel bearings. Levin had a 'budget' model with bronze bearings and their high end stuff was hard steel until they went to ball bearings. Levin was sort of the Cadillac of US watchmaker lathes.

    Bronze is a really fine bearing material though- and can be hand scraped to match a spindle. I like it and cast iron too. I've had several larger lathes with bronze bearings and the were great.

    So anyway it looks like you have steel bearings. And they have another 30 years of constant daily use in them. Clean them and oil them and enjoy.

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    Re: Newb's first lathe, educate me

    That's so reassuring to hear Maillchort, thanks a million.

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