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Lubrication Tip-spindle/back Gear Damage Warning For New Atlas Or Atlas/craftsman Owners.

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Dec 25, 2011
There have been numerous reports both here and elsewhere where the spindle pulley oil plug had been turned into a set screw by a a PO (previous owner). damaging the spindle. One can pretty much figure out without the manual where (if not when and what) to squirt oil on an Atlas by just looking for all of the oilers. But there is one that isn't obvious. The headstock pulley has what looks like an Allen (6" may be slotted) set screw at the bottom of one of the belt grooves or in the case of the two-belt underdrive or cabinet models, in the solid area to the right of the right groove. This is an oil hole plug, NOT a set screw. New Atlas owners should remove this screw and inspect it. In 10" or 12" machines it should have a ball nose, not a cup or point. 6" will (should) have a cup nose, so that's no clue. Pull out the lock pin in the bull gear, and while looking down into the hole, rotate the spindle. You shouldn't see anything but a smooth shiny spot.

If you see marks on the spindle go past the hole as you rotate the spindle, the only thing that you need to do immediately is to replace the plug with a nylon patch Allen set screw and don't run the screw down farther than the bottom of the belt groove or the surface of the solid area. But if you ever need to remove the spindle, you can probably expect damage to the right pulley bushing and difficulty in getting the bull gear past the damage on the spindle. After disassembly, dress the area smooth with a fine file. Fortunately, where it is when re-assembled it won't bother anything.

The Lubrication Chart says that the oil plug should be removed Weekly for the injection of SAE 20 (early charts say SAE 10 but Atlas changed the recommendation retroactive around 1958. However, in typical hobby usage, you can change that to remove the plug and inject a little SAE 20 whenever you are going to use the back gears or semi-annually just to insure that the pulley doesn't stick to the spindle. At a semiannual oiling, after replacing the plug pull the backgear pin and spin the spindle a few times to distribute the oil. You may have to repeat this several times the first time you do it on a new to you machine or semiannually. .

Except on the late 12: where the back gears are under the spindle, the back gears also have an oil plug screw approximately in the center of the back gear or back gear sleeve. On the 6", this is a round head machine screw, so no issue. On the 10" and early 12", it is a socket set screw (headless) and cases have been reported where it has been run in too far and locked against the shaft, which doesn't turn. If this has happened, one of the two sleeve bushings will usually be damaged during disassembly. It is suggested that this screw be replaced by a short round-head machine screw to prevent shaft damage.

Robert D.
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