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Old 01-30-2016, 11:02 PM
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Restoring old machine tools

I acquired an older Jet BD920 (9x20) metal lathe with a bunch of tooling. It's not too used up or anything but it was stored in a covered building where it stayed dry but has some surface rust and plenty of sludge from what I am guessing is packing grease and cutting oils, moisture, dust, etc.. The Gibs aren't rusty but the chuck has some rust that has likely pitted the outside but the inside looks pretty good over all and everything moves. It murders metal and everything but you can tell the feel isn't there and it's never been adjusted properly. I think if I cleaned it up and with some TLC it would be a nice addition to my other stuff. Any one restore stuff like this and have any insight on where to start? What products work well to clean and polish the ways?

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Old 01-31-2016, 03:13 AM
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Actually gun cleaning techniques work well.. lots of wd40 will melt away the grease and grime along with lots of rags and elbow grease. on the ways I use some fine paper like a 2400 grit and then wax them with paraffin from mom's canning supplies. As you use the machine you will find it has some idiosyncrasies of its own. Not to sweat as they all do.

Other ways of removing rust can be used as all the different ways of cleaning are just tools in the tool box..

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Old 01-31-2016, 08:41 AM
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Packing grease....the manufacturer uses heavy grease to prevent rust and this never was cleaned off and now after 20 years its dried and real crusty. Another problem is it was used for a buffing machine I think so there is plenty of buffing compounds dried on it too. Lacquer thinner is working ok but it's doing nothing to break down the rust or remove the staining. The odor is pretty strong too. I have lots of Hobbs gun cleaning oil and Ill try that out.
This is cheap lathe and nothing on it is tool steel aside from the aftermarket chucks. The ways are hardened however. Most of it is high density cast iron which is a plus. I'm considering soaking the smallish hard parts in the WD40 rust removal and chucking up the parts to be polished in my other lathe. It's about $25 a gallon locally so it's not real cheap but if effective it's worth the cost. An one use it?
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Old 01-31-2016, 09:06 AM
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I buy WD40 by the gallon and got their small spray bottle with one purchase. The Bridgeport gets wet down often enough to keep the rust at bay. Any surface rust, dust and chips wipes off easily. I'll use scotch brite pads on it too. I have a Bijur one-shot oiler on it, once a week I pull the handle, even if I'm not using it.

I used to close up my shop area from the rest of the garage and my rust issues were way worse. Now I leave the door open so the air circulation is better.
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Old 01-31-2016, 09:19 AM
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I have soaked parts in diesel as well.. We are not trying to get it shiny we are trying to get it usable..

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Old 01-31-2016, 09:49 AM
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I used to buy WD40 by the pallet because we used it for clean up of our race cars. It's great for keeping mud to minimum. It will collect dust though but it was easy to wash off with a power washer or car wash.

Yes, usable is all I want. Most things I find on the net are complete show quality restorations. That's awesome and everything but I just want it usable.
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Old 01-31-2016, 09:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnsongrass1 View Post
I used to buy WD40 by the pallet because we used it for clean up of our race cars. It's great for keeping mud to minimum. It will collect dust though but it was easy to wash off with a power washer or car wash.

Yes, usable is all I want. Most things I find on the net are complete show quality restorations. That's awesome and everything but I just want it usable.
I ran pavement stock cars for years. Touched up with spray cans week to week. Take a rag with WD on it, wipe the car down before the feature, looked like a million bucks under the lights, dents and all.
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Old 02-03-2016, 10:42 PM
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I've always used scotchbrite soaked in paint thinner or varsol to get rid of surface rust, heavy rust I scrape with a file ground on the end into a slight crescent shape...this is similar to the same tool used to create the marks you see on machine tool ways. I have two tools like this, a flat one and a crescent one, both made from an old file and honed to sharpness on the end...wrap the body of the file with electrical tape for safe handling.

The idea is to remove as little material from way areas that are corroded by only removing areas that are proud of the surface, the rust below is only cosmetic. You can actually convert that rust with CLR or any other rust conversion phosphoric acid type product but for machine tools that stay coated in oil its not necessary.

Finishing tool ways are done with a fine file first to remove dents and nicks and then a fine hone to plateau the surface. This can be labor intensive as it can require disassembly, I would disassemble a lathe chuck but not a cross slide for example unless it was really bad.

Final prep would be with non abrasive scotchbrite soaked in mineral oil to get the powder out of the pits, squirt with a pump can to float that stuff off.

Paint can get really involved with epoxies etc but plain old tractor paint is quite durable, don't bother painting chip pans...it will just flake off and plug drain screens etc...an orbital sander makes those look like new.

I've restored a number of lathes and mills over the years including a shaper or two, scraping ways to bring back accuracy is very labor intensive but easily done with parting tool blanks used as scrapers if you really want to get into it. They do make carbide scraper holders for speeding up this kind of thing but costs are exponential and honestly an old file works really well properly prepped and honed on the end and who doesn't have a dull file laying around...the longer the better btw...leverage is your friend.

Just be careful trying to remove all the rust, its usually a collection of pits with material thats still useful in between...scrape first to get a flat surface and keep as much material as you can. Look at those pits as oil reservoirs, actually beneficial in many cases.

Adjusting taper keys to remove play is trial and error, I usually remove them first and clean them well. Many times tight spots are just varnish accumulations or cast iron chips jammed into soft brass etc. Varsol injected into lubrication spots will help float out dirt and crud, remove all slide scrapers that are intended to keep dirt out..some times they can be renewed by cleaning but don't bother with trying to save them if they are torn or cracked. You can make new ones from old bicycle tire tubes for rubber versions or make new wicks from piano felts available at musical instrument stores.

People are always amazed at how well you can restore an old machine tool when its done, they work like new afterward and those old machines had better quality ways than most new equipment unless you have laser hardened ways which are superior to everything.

If you run into issues like not knowing how to get something apart or need new babbit spindle bearings etc just post in this forum, I know a few tricks that can save you time and money there too.
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Old 02-10-2016, 06:56 PM
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Scraping ways? Color me impressed.
Got a suggestion for worn ways? My old Atlas was used for high production of small pieces and so the sides of the bed are quite worn close to the chuck. So the crossslide has to be too loose there to not bind further out. I've been able to work around that so far but sooner or later I'm going to want to turn something longish and my tricks will no longer be enough. Not a priority, just something that bugs me a bit. Bits and pieces of this lathe I've restored/rebuilt as needed or as something caught my attention. Inherited it from my father-in-law.
STILL kicking myself for not buying that new old stock bare bed I found on Ebay some years back. Shipping would have sucked on it though.
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Old 02-10-2016, 07:01 PM
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Sorry, no actual picture of it handy but you can see it behind these heads. 12x48 Atlas/Craftsman.
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Old 02-11-2016, 11:28 AM
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They are typically packed in "cosmoline" as my ShopMaster was.

Brake cleaner will remove the cosmoline without damaging the paint (too badly).
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Old 02-12-2016, 06:51 PM
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12" x 48". Also at some point somebody HAD to turn something that was 12.5" in diameter. Apparently. So they ground hunks out of the bed until they could chuck the part. Doesn't affect operation but does make me slightly ill every time I look at it.
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Old 02-12-2016, 07:04 PM
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12"x "48". Bed was also "modified" at some point by someone who wanted to chuck up something 12.5". Apparently. Accomplished by grinding hunks out of the ways. Doesn't affect operation, just makes me a bit ill when I look at it.
Here's another old picture from before I found a primo change gear cover on ebay. (And cleaned it up some more.)
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Old 02-13-2016, 09:36 PM
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I had that exact same lathe, sold it on e-bay to a guy in hawaii for a pretty penny too. Shipping from Canada almost cost as much as the lathe and took a month.

You can easily refinish the ways on that lathe by stripping it down and have the ways ground on a surface grinder, they are flat and have brass wear strips so its an easy resto. Use aluminum bronze for the wear strips and it will last forever.

Need to find a shop with a large surface grinder though but very easy compared to a vee type. I would just do the top of the ways since thats where most of the wear will be but doing the sides is just one more setup. The machined relieved area near the chuck is pretty common actually. Seen a few where a bed section was made removable too.

The best mod you can make to these lathes is mounting to a ground 1/2" steel plate and swap a 2HP motor with a VFD so you have infinite speed control. Great shop lathe even though they have small spindle bores.
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