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[4]

K.O. Lee Surface Grinder.

January Project of the Month [3]
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benmychree

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#2
Looks good; from school shop, I wonder, all the goofy paint colors --- I definitely like a machine with hydraulic feeds and the wet capability; one would get quite tired in a hurry with a manual machine cranking manually, except possibly on short stroke jobs, like punch and die sharpening.
 

ddickey

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#3
I missed that. Where does it say school shop?
Is that not an original color?
 

Ray C

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#4
There are no shades of grey when it comes to surface grinders. Once you have one, you'll soon learn that 0.0001" (one ten-thousandth) seems like a mountain. If the bearings are not perfect, if the drive gears are worn, if the bed ways are worn, if the head tracks are worn, if the motor is out of balance or if the motor coupling is shot, or if the spindle is dinged, or if the bed is warped... "It ain't worth a hill of beans". Surface grinders are heavy -very heavy. Before you invest in the hassle of moving it, make sure it's fully operational. Oh, make sure you can still get grinding wheel hubs for it. They are ultra-precision devices and can be very costly. Most brands had their unique styles that were not interchangeable.

KO Lee was around for a long time and they are now supported by LeBlond. If it's in good shape and you have the means to haul it, sure, it's just as good as any other.

Ray
 

benmychree

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#6
For that asking price, it should be a runner; I agree that it should be able to be tried out, and perform satisfactorily.
 

4gsr

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#8
Rather it came from a school or industry, it's only worth about half that amount. And only if it has been taken care of. Looks to me, it has a lot of run time on it.
 

Holescreek

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#9
I have a KO Lee 618 manual surface grinder, well made and the spindle bearings are easy to replace. I think I paid $450 for mine, but it doesn't have an automatic table.
 

benmychree

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#10
It ain't no spring chicken, to be sure, but I've had mechanical drive surface grinders a good bit older than this one with lots of wear evident, and they still can do good work; the main thing is the spindle bearings need to run quietly, if ball bearing, as these are. I agree with 4gsr, the price is high by nearly double. Some years ago I bought a Thompson 12X36 hydraulic surface grinder for not a lot more than that.
 

Bob Korves

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#11
Is the hydraulic pump in the base? Usually I see them sitting separately on the floor. Coolant tank, too. DO NOT buy it without running it and inspecting it to your satisfaction. The spindle should turn very smoothly by hand, no gritty feel at all. The handles should traverse the table smoothly, no grit and not a lot of backlash. Lift off the table, they are usually only held on by gravity. Inspect the ways/rollers/balls closely. Surface grinders should never be transported with the table on them. If they have been, the bouncing on the road can ding the bearings and the ways, making the nice looking grinder essentially scrap metal. Also look at the areas below the table while the table is off. Look for grit, lack of lubrication, galling of the ways, visible wear, and other issues. It needs to be better than how you want a lathe or mill to look. Remember that we are often talking tenths with grinders, when we are not talking millionths.

I got my 1946 Brown & Sharpe 2L surface grinder from benmychree, the poster right above me in this thread. It is working out quite well... Thanks, John!
 

benmychree

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#12
Is the hydraulic pump in the base? Usually I see them sitting separately on the floor. Coolant tank, too. DO NOT buy it without running it and inspecting it to your satisfaction. The spindle should turn very smoothly by hand, no gritty feel at all. The handles should traverse the table smoothly, no grit and not a lot of backlash. Lift off the table, they are usually only held on by gravity. Inspect the ways/rollers/balls closely. Surface grinders should never be transported with the table on them. If they have been, the bouncing on the road can ding the bearings and the ways, making the nice looking grinder essentially scrap metal. Also look at the areas below the table while the table is off. Look for grit, lack of lubrication, galling of the ways, visible wear, and other issues. It needs to be better than how you want a lathe or mill to look. Remember that we are often talking tenths with grinders, when we are not talking millionths.

I got my 1946 Brown & Sharpe 2L surface grinder from benmychree, the poster right above me in this thread. It is working out quite well... Thanks, John!
BTW, I was not talking about the one that I sold you, but the nearly identical one that I had before that one.
 

Dabbler

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#13
No matter which used SG you buy, you will have to do a deep under the covers examination of everything, especially the lubrication system. I've been slow and lazy on repairing mine, but it required a complete replacement of all the bijurs and tubing. That being said, I'd take the older machines that weigh close to #2000 than any of the new Taiwanese ones wieghing closer to #600... (as long as the spindle is tight and quiet)
 

benmychree

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#14
I was luck enough to be given a 6X18 Brown & Sharpe hydraulic Micromaster, and yes about half of the Bijur metering fittings were plugged up, and also not a inconsiderable expense was the replacement of the hydraulic/way oil
 

Bob Korves

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#15
BTW, I was not talking about the one that I sold you, but the nearly identical one that I had before that one.
Yes, I understood that, John. I know you had at least one other B&S #2.
 

Bob Korves

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#16
No matter which used SG you buy, you will have to do a deep under the covers examination of everything, especially the lubrication system. I've been slow and lazy on repairing mine, but it required a complete replacement of all the bijurs and tubing. That being said, I'd take the older machines that weigh close to #2000 than any of the new Taiwanese ones wieghing closer to #600... (as long as the spindle is tight and quiet)
At least you have the Bijur. Mine has dozens of Gits oil hole covers (literally), several grease fittings, and a constant level spindle oiler. But at least all the lube points actually get oiled, for every day of use.
 

Dabbler

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#17
Given the trouble the lube system has given me, I'd have preferred 13 lube points. really. I've spent in excess of 60 hours on this, and it isn't done yet! I'm not complaining, acutally, I bought it as a project, a form of entertainment so to speak...

I think I'd rather be grinding, however!!
 

EmilioG

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#18
Are there any guides or .pdf files on SG's, what to look for when buying used? You can repair a lot of tools and finish parts accurately.
Vises, parallels, 123 blocks....I would love to own one. Maybe one day. I still have to find a lathe. Keep us updated on the outcome.
 

rgray

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#19
I have one like that. Mine has power crossfeed also. All hydraulic and the hyd unit is in the base.
paid $600.00 for mine.
I also have a Jones-shippman 540 hyd.
If it wasn't for that I might think the KO lee was alright. But it is a clunky clumsy miserable thing in comparison... It will grind something but not great to run and maybe there is something wrong with my hyd system but it is a horrible system compared to the J-S 540.
I also have a KO lee tool cutter grinder. Same kind of handwheels etc (low quality). I feel they are more acceptable on the tool grinder, and that they should have put nicer ones on a surface grinder.
 

7milesup

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#20
DDickey...

I don't know much about buying used machines but that price seems to be plenty high.
There is a surface grinder at Machines Used in Minneapolis that I was looking at. It is Harvel, manual run, not hydraulic. They were asking $1100 for it and were willing to take an offer. They have had it quite some time. Came out of a school in LaCrosse, WI.

Machines Used.com Harvel Surface Grinder
 

Bob Korves

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#21
Machines Used.com Harvel Surface Grinder
A friend of mine on this site has the same machine less the coolant system. Moderator Jim Dawson also has/had? one. They are nice machines, but use 12" grinding wheels, which are not as common as 7 or 8" wheels, and are expensive. The one my friend got was $350 and only needed cosmetic cleanup to get operational, looks and works great. He also got at least a couple thou$and worth of tooling and a very nice Walker Ceremax chuck as part of the purchase price. Those same machines were also sold with Bridgeport and other labels on them. Some of them have the X axis and Z (cross feed!) axis handles swapped from left to right. I would not buy one unless in very good condition, reasonably cheap, and also with an assortment of wheels with hubs that fit it.

Edit: It is important to note that most of these machines have 8x16" capacity, which might be a reason to buy one over a 6x12 or 6x18 for some users.
 
Last edited:

Bob Korves

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#22
Are there any guides or .pdf files on SG's, what to look for when buying used? You can repair a lot of tools and finish parts accurately.
Vises, parallels, 123 blocks....I would love to own one. Maybe one day. I still have to find a lathe. Keep us updated on the outcome.
Emilio, I am not aware of any good information out there other than what you can find by looking at the archives of forums like H-M. The thing to look for is condition, condition, and condition. The condition is largely based on care of the machine, and maintenance as needed. If you see a few problems, there are probably worse ones, hidden. The mechanical stuff can be fixed, but fixing wear and abuse so it is back to factory condition can be a big project. Try to find one that is ready to use if possible, and try to get it from the person who was using it, so you can see from the rest of the shop how it might have been maintained and cared for.
 

EmilioG

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#23
A SG should hold tenths, so the machine should be in a superb condition. Not much room for wear and tear.
Not easy finding a good, old SG with one owner.
 

Doubleeboy

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#24
having spent a year looking at new and used machines I think I have a pretty fair idea of what stuff goes for..... if that machine is not a leaker, pumps oil to all the lube points, has a quiet , tight spindle I would give it serious consideration. If you are not a experienced grinder hand I would find one to go with you to check it out under power. In my opinion a machine that can not be run and used under power is scrap price only especially on SG. If you just want to sharpen lathe tools and touch up end mills, a perfect SG is not necessary, but if you want to surface grind large flat surfaces and hold tight tolerance and get good surface finish you need good ways, good bearings, excellent spindle, and operator skill. That price is a bargain if the machine is excellent condition, if machine is in fair condition its overpriced.
 

SSage

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#25
Thats pricey to me, but its all about whats available. I would want a test run and at that price it shouldn't have any issues IMO. My little surface grinder ended up being free as a bonus on another machine deal. It is just a simple beat up bare bones Harig 612 manual that needed lots of TLC. I didn't even know I wanted one till I started using it, handy little sucker.
 

Chuck K

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#26
I used to have a KO Lee like that one. As others have said, it should have a hyd. tank and pump sitting beside it. It's a decent model, but I wouldn't pay 2100 for one regardless condition. They just don't bring that kind of money. It does look clean. If it performs as well as it looks and I had a need for a grinder I would go as high as 1K, but I've never needed one that bad. I have a big Norton hyd now that I gave 100 for. Haven't used it yet but I don't think I'll get hurt on it if I don't like it. I do agree that hydraulic is the way to go. I have a 618 Reid manual machine with a Pope spindle that I would sell in a heartbeat for 500 bucks.
 
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