My Atlas QC 54

cbrasher

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Admins, I am not sure if this belongs here or in the projects side, but I thought I would start here.

I introduced myself in the new members forum a while back but never got a chance to post an actual thread for my lathe. This lathe was originally owned by the father of a family friend. When his dad passed away, it became his. Recently he bought a newer tool room lathe and asked Dad if I might be interested in the old one. I wasn't really interested at the time because I don't have room in my shop for such a big unit; I was trying to find a much smaller one and contemplating a new Grizzly. But then Dad went to look at it and said it was an Atlas, and I could not resist bring it home to Kalamazoo.

It sat at my Dad's for a over a year covered in grease and bird poop while I tried to clean and reorganize my place. We built a new storage barn to move the tractor out of the shop and I brought it home in 2017. I looked at the table top and immediately knew I had to change it. I am hoping there is nothing wrong with the ways and they are not twisted. I am including pictures of it so you can see what I mean. When you tightened the belt the table would bow, so it never locked over center well. It is QC 54 serial number 356.

Dad and I built a new base for the top to try to anchor it but it didn't seem strong enough, so it sat some more.
 

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cbrasher

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SO this winter I have decided to do SOMETHING to help this lathe out and try to make it usable for my needs. It has quite a bit of wear in the feed screw closer to the chuck, but I don't know whether that will affect anything I need to do with it. Right away I took it off that wood base to assess the situation and clean the lathe. I did not know that WD-40 would dissolve grease! That has made the job easier than I had planned. I started with the bed and it seems really flat across the ways and they look to have been well lubed while in use. I did take apart the cross slide (I think that's the term....?) to try to fix the slop and discovered a missing screw and nut. Does anyone know if people sell these screws anywhere? I checked my local store that has everything under the sun and they don't have any screws that are tall like this. This means I would have to convert them to hex key and I would like to keep it as original as possible.

The gears in the pic here are the only ones I can see that look really suspect but I haven't had the guts to get into the transmission piece.
 

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cbrasher

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I bought some steel a while back to make a new lathe table. Another friend of my dad's is in a tool and die shop and they were throwing out an old bench. Turns out it was a laminate maple top! He offered it to my dad, who called me and told me to come and get it. I took the steel drops and started on a welding table to use so I could try to make a fairly flat table top for the lathe. Then the trouble really started.......

My barn power has been suspect for quite some time. We discovered that the original builder had run smaller cable to the barn, there was no neutral (even though there was a neutral in the house box that looks like it would be to the barn), and there was never any grounding rods. We installed two grounding rods when we replaced the box to update the electrical in the building and discovered the missing neutral.

I had purchased a new welder in 2018 because the free Century one I had received needed a wire feed control and it wasn't available anywhere. It had always welded funny when in a range that would feed smoothly, and now I understood why when the new one wasn't welding well and it was actually kicking the UPS in the barn on! So I now have the ability to say I laid cable in a trench in Michigan in January! New 1/0 with proper neutral and ground links to main panel have thankfully fixed my situation! We figured out the original owner had buried overhead cable with bare aluminum ground not once but twice (!) and it had rotted the bare ground in half. Pretty amazing that we didn't burn the barn down or ruin any motors before it got so bad.

That about catches me up. Since I have no experience with machining or lathe work, I am doing what I can until I get it running and can read the manual (now that I am a subscriber!) to better acquaint myself with the use and tooling. My plan was always to have my Uncle Dave school me on lathe work and tooling but he passed away this fall, so I figured I better start to read and understand on my own! And yes, the barn is a mess. I keep acquiring things, the latest being an old bandsaw my father in law had sitting in storage and half buried in dirt. Currently trying to figure that out and make it cut square, but that's another thread in another part of the forum........
 

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wa5cab

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The screws in your photo look like Fillister head screws. Any fastener supplier worthy of the name will carry them. Or McMaster probably has them but you will probably have to buy a box of 25 or more. If there were anything special about them, Clausing Industrial would probably still carry them. But if they are garden variety screws, they would tell you to go to a threaded fastener supplier.

From the serial number and model number, the machine was probably made in late 1947 or early 1948.

And this is the proper place for a thread on working on the machine rather than working with it.
 

cbrasher

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Thank you. Yes, the plan for the new bench is to have the legs rest on some type of adjustable foot for leveling.
 

cbrasher

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The screws in your photo look like Fillister head screws. Any fastener supplier worthy of the name will carry them. Or McMaster probably has them but you will probably have to buy a box of 25 or more. If there were anything special about them, Clausing Industrial would probably still carry them. But if they are garden variety screws, they would tell you to go to a threaded fastener supplier.

From the serial number and model number, the machine was probably made in late 1947 or early 1948.

And this is the proper place for a thread on working on the machine rather than working with it.
Thank you for that information. I know my local everything store has the square nuts, so now I can look for a replacement screw as well!
 

cbrasher

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Well, I have been working on the new project bench and not the lathe as much, but I did get some stuff done in the meantime. I finished the welding now that I can rely on the power, so that's nice! In the one pic, you can see what I started with and what I used to replace it.

First thing I did on the lathe was dig into the bucket of accessories for the lathe and I struck paydirt! I found my missing Fillister head screw! I used it with a new square head nut to finish the apron and then screwed the apron back together. Still quite a bit of play in the feed wheel, but better than it was with a loose mechanism!

After that I started to clean and organize the mess. I have a bunch of stuff there including some extra chuck jaws, a clamp of some type, and a material rest. I also had to look up the black pieces and see they are called lathe dogs. Learn something new every day!

So now comes my dilemma: to build the lathe base or buy? I am still questioning my welding skills and worry about building the lathe table base too far out of square. The plan is to build the lathe table top by putting the steel on top of the wood to dampen the machine and bolt it all through to a base; that wooden top is not nailed together in any form and I was able to saw it apart pretty easily. I saw an ebay listing for what look to be the correct Atlas legs but they are $450 plus $200 shipping from Connecticut, so that's a no go. I can buy pretty heavy duty legs from Grizzly but still would have to build a support structure. OR I have enough steel to do the job minus the leveling feet that I need to buy...... And spring is coming. Anyone else had to try to build a lathe stand before? Might have to jump in with both feet and hope for the best!
 

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cbrasher

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I was able to get back out to the shop yesterday and actually do more cleaning. I found red paint under the grease on the end of the old Century motor! Things are starting to look cleaner on the drive side of the equation, so now it's figure out the bench time. Here are some more pictures of the progress. I removed the old duct tape from the motor and only thing that makes sense is that someone was trying to prevent debris from entering the hole on the top of the motor. I will scratch my head on that one for a bit to decide if I need to plug it off or allow it to breathe. Another issue is that the oilers on the motor all have broken lids and no wicks; they were blocked by old grease when I was cleaning it. I have a local motor repair shop so I may give them a call and ask if these are still parts that can be sourced for this old motor.
 

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WCraig

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Another issue is that the oilers on the motor all have broken lids and no wicks; they were blocked by old grease when I was cleaning it.
Those appear to be standard Gits oilers. Replacements should be available from an online supply company like McMaster Carr. I may be wrong, but I don't think wicks are necessary. Sintered bronze bearings (aka "Oillite") 'fill up' with oil and provide a very thin film between the bearing and the rotating shaft. Trash can't get through the bearing; only oil.

Since you are going this far, you may want to pull the motor apart and check the bronze bearings. If they are worn, it should not be difficult to find and install replacements. Otherwise, the only other maintenance item is the start capacitor. If you take it to an electric motor shop, they can check to see if it is still in tolerance. If not, they are inexpensive to replace.

Craig
 
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