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Lathe Spindle bearing lubrication

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A Fresh Lad

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Hi, I got my first lathe and am just getting into the hobby. The thing is my lathe doesn't have any oil ports for the spindle bearings and i'm not sure how it gets lubricated. I opened the top up to find grease on the bearing that look dried up. I'm not sure if these are sealed angular contact bearing or normal taper bearing, if they are sealed angular bearings then I would expect it to be greased. The lathe I have i'm not exactly sure what it is, I only found out by asking you guys on this site (which is amazing) and it seems to be close to this lathe just without the milling attachment: https://smithy.com/sites/default/files/media/pdf/MI-1220 Manual 2010.pdf
This manual doesn't talk about lubricating the spindle bearings in anyway so that's why I'm here.
If you guys need a picture to help I can get some of the bearings, or at least what I can see from taking the top of. I don't want to have to take apart the spindle to re grease the bearings or anything like that because I don't know how. Thanks a lot.
 

Bob Korves

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Not positive, the manual is too vague, but it is probably done with the instructions on page 5-5, number 2, of the manual. If the oil level is about level with the lower portion of the bearings, so the oil can get to them, and if there is a hole going to that area of the head stock casting (or other access), then I think you will have found it. It is not good to have the bearings fully immersed in oil at high speeds, so the oil level would only cover the lower bearings when at rest. That would be a commonly used oiling system for head stock spindle bearings. The left side spindle bearing would be oiled in the same manner as the right side bearing -- "IF" I am understanding the manual correctly...
 

A Fresh Lad

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Thanks for the advice. I looked at the oil level but at the centre of of the sight it is not close enough to touch the bearings.
 

Bob Korves

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On my 13x40 Chinese lathe, the headstock oil level is lower than the bearings. The gears, however, sling oil up to the top cover, and it runs off into channels along the perimeter of the top of the headstock. The channels go to various vertical holes, including ones next to the spindle bearings. I assume that is where the spindle bearings get their lubrication from, but have no direct knowledge that it is true. All I really know is that I keep the oil to the proper level in the headstock, and the bearings keep running fine. There are no separate instructions for lubricating the bearings. But, considerably different lathe than yours.
 

tweinke

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I think it works by splash for lack of a better term. On my Shoptask 17-20XMTC the oil is just high enough to touch the countershaft gears. When I had the cover off on the backside while changing oil I had the wild idea to start the spindle and learned the hard way that a lot of oil is flung around in there! ( HUGE mess to clean up and a change of cloths) The headstock on mine looks to be laid out very similar to yours. I also learned to not over fill the oil because it will leak at both ends of the spindle after it has run for awhile.
 

A Fresh Lad

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I'm not sure because the bearing at the back of the spindle (furthest from the chuck) is kind of 'enclosed' while, from the top anyway, i don't even have access to front bearing (closest to the chuck). Here's some pics of what i can see from the top. The oil you see is not the oil level, its just some oil that got stuck there while i was putting in the oil from the top, just because i wasn't bothered to pour it in through the little hole on the side where you should actually oil it.
 

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A Fresh Lad

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I'm not sure because the bearing at the back of the spindle (furthest from the chuck) is kind of 'enclosed' while, from the top anyway, i don't even have access to front bearing (closest to the chuck). Here's some pics of what i can see from the top. The oil you see is not the oil level, its just some oil that got stuck there while i was putting in the oil from the top, just because i wasn't bothered to pour it in through the little hole on the side where you should actually oil it.
Never mind sorry you can't see the oil i was talking about in these images
 

tweinke

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I think I can see the bearing rollers or balls in your photos, the bearings don't need a lot of oil to be happy in my opinion and I think the oil flung and carried around by the gear train will supply enough oil to keep them lubed. On my machine with tapered roller bearings, which looks very similar to yours the smaller diameter of the outer races faces the inside of the headstock which would trap some of the oil for the rollers to run through. If you think that no oil can reach the bearings you could remove the spindle and pack them with grease just don't fill them absolutely full. Hope this is helpful to you and remember it is only my opinion and I am trying to help and not be critical in any way. :encourage:
 

A Fresh Lad

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OK thanks @tweinke, I think i'll leave it for now, I don't think the rear spindle bearing gets any oil slash, so i put some grease on it using a syringe because i don't want to take the lathe apart. The front spindle bearing i can see is getting oil slash so i'm not worried. It also looks like the front bearing doesn't have the brown grease the rear did maybe because only the rear needed grease. Either way are there any signs i should look out for to see if my bearings are wearing out/getting loose faster than normal. Thanks
 

tweinke

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I would think that if you watch for play in the spindle up and down or in and out you should be able to monitor for wear. if you Check for play remember that as the machine warms up it will get tighter. I have a tendency to over think some of the things you are concerned about but always try to come at it with input from others and make a judgement call from there. Your lathe is a bit of an oddball here in the US and I have not ran across one like it for sale here. It sure looks to be like the Smithy you linked the manual to though. I found that Shoptask in there manuals depending on the year did pack the bearings with grease or not grease them at all. I know on my machine if the oil is too full it will leak out both ends of the spindle. Mine has felt packing around the spindle and not a rubber seal like the newest machines had. I have had my machine about 5 years and have adjusted the spindle bearings once. Get it cleaned up and lubed make some chips and see how it goes! Keep us posted on your machine and by all means ask questions about anything. :encourage:
 
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