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TH54 Atlas lathe rebuild/refurb project (pic heavy)

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GoMopar440

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#1
This will be a SLOW going project as I have a couple other projects ahead of this one. I got this lathe from a motorcycle shop I worked part-time at in MS when I was stationed over there around 2002. They let me have it for free with all the tooling in the bench under it. They just wanted it out of there to free up that space in the shop. I toted it around with me till I retired from the Navy 2009, and then finally settled down in MT in 2011. I now have a permanent space I can set it up and work on it and built a sturdy bench for it. After that I got around to breaking it down to asses the overall condition. The bed is pretty worn but I'm going to address that issue after I get it back to being functional again. For now I just removed the worst dings on the edges of the ways so they wouldn't bump the saddle around as it travels on the ways.

When I disassembled it I found a few issues that needed attention:
- The upper side gear door had the lower hinge broken off (I had a local shop weld it back together recently)
- The QCGB (added sometime long before I got it) had a broken arm under it (this was fixed at the same time by the same shop that fixed the side door)
- The lead screw support bearing at the far end of the bed fell apart during disassembly (bought a beefy aluminum one with a bronze bushing from Ebay already)
- The electric motor pulley was banged around and will need to be replaced (I'm waiting till I verify that the motor is still good before getting a new pulley)
- The belts are pretty ratty and are long overdue to be replaced (I'm not sure if I want to use those twist belts or not. It depends if I need to take the head pulleys out or not)

I'm sure I'll find more things that need attention as I give the parts a thorough cleaning before repainting.

Today I cleaned up the bed and pedestals to get the years of swarf and congealed lubricants out of all the nooks and crannies. I also pulled the gear rack from the front of the bed and got the teeth and mating surfaces back to spotless condition. The teeth look great on the rack and the bed had zero rust on it. I had given it a thorough initial cleaning after I got it and had been keeping it oiled the entire time I had it, so that seems to have paid off. While the pedestals and rack were off I fixed up all the screw slots by tapping them with a small hammer and then cleaning them up with a file. Only one screw looked like it might give me a problem (it did). After degreasing and then wiping down the bed and pedestals I taped off the areas I didn't want painted. For the paint I picked up some Rust Stop paint from Ace in Medium Grey. So far I have a single coat on the bed and pedestals and let it dry enough for me to put the pedestals back on the bed. After I pulled the tape I then reinstalled the rack. This is where one of the screws that looked iffy gave me a slight problem. As I tightened it down the screw slot peeled away from both sides as it was brought to full torque. The screw is tight, but can't be made any tighter. Luckily the sides of the slot needed to remove the screw are still intact so I should be able to pull it out easily enough when I get a replacement screw. Since it's tight, I'll let it stay in place for now.

Here's the progress so far:

2013-06-06222258.jpg
2013-06-06223848.jpg
2013-06-06223906.jpg

I found a bunch of photos from before the teardown that show what I had to start with, as well as a bunch of the accessories that came with it.

Atlas10inchswinglathewith54inchbed.jpg
AtlasHeadstockandQCGB.jpg
Atlassaddleworkingend.jpg
Atlaspulleysandbullgear.jpg
AtlasQCGB.jpg
AtlasOn-Offswitch.jpg
Atlasmotorandhorizontalpulleys.jpg
Atlasheadstockgearend.jpg
Atlasbrokenmotorpulley.jpg
Atlasmillingattachment.jpg
Atlas4jawchuckandfaceplate.jpg
AtlasTailstockandcompound.jpg
AtlasTailstockandsteadyrest.jpg
Atlastooling.jpg



I'll update this thread whenever I make progress on this project. The goal is to try to get it up and running this summer before I have to go back to school in August. I'm taking classes to get an AAS in Drafting Technology (mostly for the AutoCAD training).
 

GoMopar440

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#2
The milling attachment is missing a little wedge pin and the gib IIRC, but it's otherwise complete. I was kind of surprised at how much they go for on Ebay when I finally saw one on there while looking around for Atlas parts. The attachment will get cleaned up, painted and the missing parts replaced or remade as needed. Other than that it'll probably just end up on the wall as a conversation piece since I have the Bridgeport and the X2 to use for my milling jobs.

This lathe will primarily be used for stuff I can't fit on my 7x14 mini-lathe. The small spindle bore is the main limiting factor, but the long bed helps to make up for it. I plan to put an AXA type QCTP on it when I can swing the funds to buy one and some extra tool holders for it.
 

robert1352

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#3
This is going to be a great project!! I cant wait for more pictures.
 

ML_Woy

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The milling attachment is missing a little wedge pin and the gib IIRC, but it's otherwise complete. I was kind of surprised at how much they go for on Ebay when I finally saw one on there while looking around for Atlas parts. The attachment will get cleaned up, painted and the missing parts replaced or remade as needed. Other than that it'll probably just end up on the wall as a conversation piece since I have the Bridgeport and the X2 to use for my milling jobs.

This lathe will primarily be used for stuff I can't fit on my 7x14 mini-lathe. The small spindle bore is the main limiting factor, but the long bed helps to make up for it. I plan to put an AXA type QCTP on it when I can swing the funds to buy one and some extra tool holders for it.
Looks like a great project and the price was right! I think the best thing about the lathe is the gearbox that was added to it. I upgraded my Craftsman 12" a year ago with a gearbox and it has made a big difference in its' functionality. I also bought a tangential tool holder for use with my quickchange toolpost. A great addition. Did the lathe come with the proper gear cover. I had to change my gear cover when I added my gearbox. I found it on E-Bay. Looking forward to seeing the finished product.

M.L.Woy
 

GoMopar440

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Yes, the upper and lower gear side covers for the QCGB came with it. Looks like it was a well done and thorough conversion as all the right factory parts appear to be there.

The upper side cover got the lower hinge broken off in one of the many moves I dragged this lathe through, but it's been welded back together already.
 

GoMopar440

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Didn't get much of a chance to work on the lathe today. I was fixing the carriage door on the barn to get it where it can swing freely again. All I did get done was to clean up the threading dial and get it spinning again. Whatever was inside of it had hardened up and locked the shaft to the body of the part. I finally got it freed up with a combination of purple power degreaser and brake parts spray by working it back and forth and tapping it up and down. It cleaned up nice but I didn't have my phone with me to get any pics today.
 

GoMopar440

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I got a few more parts cleaned up and painted today. Both upper and lower gear train side covers, side cover mount bracket, lead screw end support bushing, faceplate, thread dial and the Atlas lantern wrench. I also gave the bed and feet a second coat of paint while the brush was still wet. The lead screw was also cleaned up and it looks almost like new now. BTW: The cover that was repaired was the lower one, not the upper. The shop did a good job of fixing it and you'll never be able to tell it was ever repaired unless you open the cover since the weld is only visible from the inside.

2013-06-09013959.jpg

The hinge pin for the side doors was bent pretty bad at the beginning of the threaded part so I tried to straighten it out. Unfortunately the bend was in the threaded area and it snapped in two before it ever got close to being straight again. I'll just make a new pin on the 7x14 lathe to replace it since it's a very simple part to make. The two broken pieces are all the way to the right in this pic.

2013-06-09014014.jpg
 

GoMopar440

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Yesterday I made a new hinge pin out of some 3/8" CRS I had in the shop. I used a die for the threads and it came out fine. I did have to move the shaft to the bench vise to keep it from spinning while I was tapping it though. Here it is assembled with the doors on after polishing it up a bit.

2013-06-12000926.jpg

Today I worked on the tailstock, getting it all torn down and inspecting for wear as I cleaned up the parts. So far everything in the tailstock assembly looks to be in good shape and perfectly serviceable. After cleaning the main body I took a file to the top surface to remove some hammer marks where someone had been using it as a small anvil.:angry: Once again everything got a coat of paint after all the parts were taped off and hung up for painting.

2013-06-12000756.jpg

Tomorrow I'll start on the saddle, apron and cross slide assemblies. I got a little bit of a head start by pulling a couple of handles off the saddle and cleaning them up tonight before calling it a night.
 

schor

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#9
Great job so far. I didn't notice it in the post, what type of paint are you using?

I've got a th54 also. But no QC. Mine is in use and is going to be restored over time piece by piece.
 

GoMopar440

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How is the Ace Rust Stop working for you? :thinking:
I didn't notice it in the post, what type of paint are you using?
It's Ace brand (hardware store here in the USA) Rust Stop paint and it's ok for what it is. It would probably go on better with a primer coat under it. The paint color (Medium Grey) on the label looks like an exact match for the original Atlas Grey, but it actually came out more of a light grey, even after a LOT of shaking to get it mixed up well. Without primer it looks like most pieces will need two coats to get even and complete coverage of the parts. If I wait a little while (1/2 hour or so) after applying the first coat I can add the second coat while the first is still tacky. The second coat sticks better and tends to self level that way. I've been using regular bristle brushes to apply the paint.

looks really nice, how did you clean the chrome up so well?
I start by using Purple Power to degrease the parts first and then address any flaws with files, 3M scrubby pads and sand paper as needed. After that it depends on the part what I do with it next. Usually I will hit it with the wire wheel (usually not on chrome parts though) on my bench grinder and if I really need it to shine up I'll swap over to the buffing wheel on the other side of the grinder. I have been using a grey polishing compound (got it from HF but it's also available at Home Depot/Lowes) on the cotton wheel for all of these parts so far.

Today was I only working on cleaning up and inspecting the saddle and apron parts. It's a bit more involved than the other parts I've done so far so it's taking a bit longer for this assembly. I've got it about 3/4 cleaned up before calling it a night. Some of the internal apron parts were a bit rougher than I liked and some of the parts were hanging up on each other (half nuts, slide and scroll mostly). Those pieces got a full debur job after the normal cleanup. The half nut threads look about 50% washed out so I'll need to get a new set of half nuts for it soon. The miter gear has the internal spline broken off and someone made an interesting field repair for it. It looks sturdy enough to hold up so I'll put that back together as I found it for now. I'll order a new mitre gear when I get the half nuts.

2013-06-12193131.jpg
2013-06-13005718.jpg

Close up example of the polishing. These parts slide like butter now.:))
2013-06-12225049.jpg

Here's the mitre gear fix I found. They brazed a key to the collar on the end opposite the teeth.
2013-06-13005741.jpg

I may be going just a little bit overboard with the polishing...:whistle:
 
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GoMopar440

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I'm trying out some Rustoleum brand Self-Etching Primer on the saddle and apron to see if it helps the top coat lay down any better. I'll let you all know how it works out, but so far it seems to be working fairly well. I forgot to get some pics of the parts after I painted over the primer. I also dismantled the cross slide and painted it today as well.

2013-06-18224510.jpg
 

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GoMopar440

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Ok you got me there. :LOL: But if I did put mirrors under there, I wouldn't get anything done as I'd always be wiping it down. Probably best not to go there... :rofl:

Got an early start on it today, but my back pain keeps my time in the shop limited, so I came back in the house after a couple of hours working out there. At least I had a helper with me today. He made sure the shop rags didn't jump out of the box and get underfoot.
2013-06-21144543.jpg

I started peeling all the tape off the newly painted parts and putting the small parts back onto the bigger ones.
2013-06-21142130.jpg

I used some red waterproof grease on the sliding surfaces during reassembly.
2013-06-21144435.jpg

Since I plan on mounting an AXA type QCTP to the slide, I went ahead and face milled the top of the compound rest on the Bridgeport. I only took a cleanup cut of .003-.005 more once I hit original narrow flat area around the slot so I wouldn't weaken the slide too much.
2013-06-21141947.jpg

Got the compound rest screw reassembled, but still need to get the gib and adjuster screws reinstalled.
2013-06-21150505.jpg

This is where I had to call it quits for a while. If I feel up to it I may try to get back out to the shop later on today or tonight.
 

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#14
Wow, glad I found this one. Your doing a great job and she looks better than new, it will be fun to watch.
 

ddushane

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#15
Looking good MoparMan! You doing a great job!

Dwayne
 

Old Iron

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#16
Great job on the Lathe its looking like a better than new one kepp up the good work.

Paul
 

GoMopar440

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Glad you are liking the thread so far. I'm hoping that documenting this project will help out others with similar lathes.

Today I got the saddle, apron and cross slide reassembled and adjusted to fit the gibs and ways. I put in a little resistance on the gibs to take up slack from previous wear, but not enough to make it difficult to move. The fit is about as close as I'm willing to make it since the gibs are all steel and not brass or bronze.
2013-06-22174130.jpg

After the saddle assembly was set I started cleaning up a few small loose parts like the lantern tool post and some tool holders. I also cleaned up the spare set jaws for the 3-Jaw chuck which led to me starting on the chuck itself. It's a bit stiff so I cleaned up the outside and pulled the jaws off it to get those cleaned up as well. I need to find my impact driver to get the screws off the back plate before I can get it apart to clean the scroll. One nice thing I found while cleaning it was under the crud I found the Atlas name (in cursive script) with the number "67" above it. There was also the part number and "Made in USA" stamped on the face.
2013-06-22185754.jpg

I went ahead and grabbed the 4-jaw to begin cleaning it up next. Three of the four jaws were locked up almost solid so I got some PB Blaster on it to start soaking into the threads. The jaw that was able to move gave me a little bit of an issue with the chuck key. The key was made for the 3-Jaw, but was a little too fat to fit the 4-Jaw without binding against the underside of the jaw. I took the key over to my 7x14 lathe and turned a 1/2" long shoulder just above the tip that was about .050 smaller than the original diameter, When I tested it with the jaw and screw, it now just barely clears without binding. The tip is a little smaller than needed for the 4-jaw, but it works for now. I'll make a couple of new keys for both chucks before I start using them on any parts. After the PB Blaster had some time to work it's magic, I was able to remove the other jaws one at a time. The jaws and adjuster screws all got the wire wheel treatment and came out looking fairly decent. The body of the chuck wasn't too bad under the shallow surface rust and grime and looks to be in good condition overall. The face was marked similar to the other chuck with "Atlas - Kalamazoo Mich", "Made in USA" and an Atlas part number. There was also another number stamped on it, "8-47", but I'm not sure what that one is for.
2013-06-22204102.jpg
 

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wa5cab

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#18
GOMOPAR,

I hope, when you finish the overhaul, that it doesn't look so good that you are afraid to use it. :thumbsup:

One comment I'll make, though, has nothing to do with the work you have been doing. Although they could if both sets were fitted to the chuck, chucks don't normally come with spare jaws. If you have two sets of jaws that look alike, one set likely came with your chuck and at least when new was accurate WRT centering. The other set, although if made for the same model chuck will fit fine, can be expected to have much more runout even if they have no wear. At the factory (at least a decent factory) the jaws that ship with a 3-jaw chuck are fitted to the chuck by grinding (same process you can use to restore accuracy to worn jaws).

If the two sets of jaws don't look alike, then probably one is the "normal" set, good for parts OD or ID up to about two-thirds the chuck diameter. The other is for larger parts with diameters up to about the chuck diameter. Or to put it another way, good 3-jaw chucks with one piece jaws come with two sets of jaws, one for smaller and one for larger diameter work pieces. They are often erroneously called OD and ID jaws.

Independant jaw chucks, like most 4-jaw ones, only come with one set of jaws which can be turned around so as to handle the same diameter range.

Robert D.

***I also cleaned up the spare set jaws for the 3-Jaw chuck***
 

GoMopar440

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The jaws are only different in that one set steps down to the inside and the other steps down towards the outside. Both sets of jaws are number stamped (1, 2 or 3) so the jaws are only aligned when placed in the matching numbered slot on the chuck body. The stamps all match perfectly in both size and font, so I wouldn't be surprised to find that both sets are probably original to this chuck. The 3-jaw chuck I got for my 7x14 lathe is similar in that it also came with two sets of jaws. One set for ID work and the other for OD work. BTW: I understand what you mean about the jaw nomenclature, but it's hard to break the habit of calling them ID and OD jaws. That's what my instructors always called them in Machinery Repairman (MR) "A" school where I first learned machining many years ago.

Don't worry about it being a garage queen. It's only going to look this good until the first chips start to fly. It will be used regularly as a working machine like it was intended. Granted I'll be more inclined to keep it cleaned up after using it because of all the effort that's going into now. All in all that's a good thing. :thumbzup:
 

woodtickgreg

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#20
Don't worry about it being a garage queen. It's only going to look this good until the first chips start to fly. It will be used regularly as a working machine like it was intended. Granted I'll be more inclined to keep it cleaned up after using it because of all the effort that's going into now. All in all that's a good thing. :thumbzup:
I feel the same way about the restore I did on my south bend heavy ten, I made it nice but I did also intend to use it. And like you said, keeping it clean will be easier too. She's looking really good and I am enjoying watching your progress and following along.
 

wa5cab

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#21
OK. Funny thing is that although I've heard the two sets of jaws referred to as ID and OD for years, I never knew which set was called which. :)

Robert D. AKA Gunner
 

GoMopar440

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Got a little more done with both of the chucks today. The 4-Jaw got another round of cleaning to get the rest of the deep crud off the back side and rinsed off with carb cleaner before getting a coat of paint (back side only).
2013-06-23130233.jpg

As far as the two sets of jaws for the 3-Jaw, here's a few close up pics to show the details better. Each set is lined up in order, #1, #2, #3 and I tried to get them aligned so you can see the way the teeth are staggered for the scroll. The pointy ends of the jaws are meant to point to the center on both sets. The flatter outside ends (opposite the points) are where the numbers are stamped.
2013-06-23132024.jpg
2013-06-23132045.jpg
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2013-06-23132145.jpg

I was able to get the chuck screws out fairly easily by using a cordless hammer drill and a correctly fitting screwdriver bit. The front and back came apart in halves easily enough, but the scroll needed a bit of persuasion (hammer and a punch) to finally come out of the chuck body. The inside was fairly clean, but the scroll plate was a little buggered up on the gear teeth side. A little time with a fine file knocked the rough edges down. The tops of the scroll had a few burrs that were also smoothed over with the file as well. The wire wheel smoothed everything out on both sides of the scroll ring afterwards. I polished the key gear surfaces that ride in the chuck body and cleaned up a few teeth on it as well. The body was then cleaned and degreased with carb cleaner and I used some red waterproof grease on the sliding contact points between the scroll and the chuck body as well as on the gear teeth. The scroll ring went back on easier than it came off, but it was still a close fit.
2013-06-23150443.jpg

When I put the six screws back in and tightened it down the chuck was smoother, with minimal backlash in the key gear to the scroll ring teeth. The chuck body got a little fine tuning with a file just on the outer edges of the openings for the jaws where there were a couple of small dents that were hindering the jaws. I tried each set of jaws on the chuck and they appear to be timed well. All three jaws meet in the center of the chuck simultaneously on both sets of jaws. Along with my initial observations of the parts, this leads me to believe that both sets of jaws are most likely original to this chuck. I can't get a way to measure for runout until the lathe is back together and I can mount the chuck up to check it.
2013-06-23154555.jpg
2013-06-23152052.jpg
 

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Mach2009

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#23
I joined this forum because I ran across this thread. I bought one of these lathes, and started taring it down for a full restoration. I'm just enough behind your progress that I can use it as a guide. Thanks for all the information you are offering. The motor on mine was seized up. I took it apart, and after cleaning the rust out of it I can't remember how to put it back together. Staying tuned here, to see if you will have to take yours apart too. Maybe then I can put mine back together the right way. Thanks again
 

GoMopar440

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#24
I'm glad this project is helping others with their own lathes. I'll try to keep it going with notes and pictures of the process as best as I can. If there's anything anyone needs any details on just throw the question out there and I'll answer it as best as I can.

The motor on this lathe was disconnected sometime before I got it. I was told that the old machinist that was using it wanted to use the motor for a project of some kind. However it never got further than him disconnecting it from the lathe before he passed away. I'm not sure if the pulley was broken before or after I got it, but either way it will have to be replaced before I can get this lathe up and running. The power cord is very old and the outer insulation is cracked through to the wires every couple of inches. I'll need to replace the power cord as well as the pulley before using it.
 

Stephen Tegner

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#25
Your rebuild looks fantastic! Its great inspiration for when I finally get mine and start the restoration.:))
 

Stephen Tegner

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#26
I notice that the Atlas chuck only has one tightening lug, this is strange and something I have never seen this before. I presume it works just as well as having the three tightening lugs?
 

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#27
I didn't get out to the shop today long enough to do anything useful. I did however try plugging in the motor and seeing if it would even spin up. I did get it to spin, but it usually required a little help to get the shaft turning. I'm not sure if the power cord is putting too much resistance on the incoming voltage, the starting capacitor is getting weak or some other problem. Either way the motor will need a tune up, a new power cord and new pulley before it's ready to be put back into service.

- - - Updated - - -

I notice that the Atlas chuck only has one tightening lug, this is strange and something I have never seen this before. I presume it works just as well as having the three tightening lugs?
Now that you mention it, I believe it's probably the only one like that (single lug) I've ever come across before. I'd prefer to have three lugs on the chuck for balancing if nothing else. If I had to guess, I'd say it's probably a cost cutting measure designed in to save a few bucks. These aren't very high speed lathes AFAIK so the balance issue wouldn't be as severe as on a high speed machine.
 

Stephen Tegner

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#28
Yes I was thinking about the balance of the lathe, also if the one cog gets worn it might be problematic, the lathe I am getting has the babbit bearings so slow speeds are not an issue.

- - - Updated - - -

Yes I was thinking about the balance of the lathe, also if the one cog gets worn it might be problematic, the lathe I am getting has the babbit bearings so slow speeds are not an issue.
That should read balance of the CHUCK, idiot that I am.
 

GoMopar440

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#29
I didn't like the feel of the QCGB shifting when I tried moving the levers after I had it off the lathe, so I already knew it was going to get a full teardown. The levers felt sticky but overly loose and kind of jerky when they did move. After looking it over carefully, I started loosening all the locking grub screws and then pulled it all apart. Some of the parts needed to come out first to get out of the way before others could be removed. I'm sure there's a "Best" way to disassemble it, but I just took my time and kept at it till I had it all apart. The last bit to come off was the data plate on the front. To remove that I tapped the little screw rivets (not sure of the exact name for them) from the inside to raise them up a bit. Then I carefully grabbed under the heads with a pair of side cutting pliers, and gently wiggled them out.

The shaft ends all look like they were run without oil for a while at the ends where they ride in the bushings. The bushings didn't have any oil holes in them coming from the oil cups. I'm not sure if that was an oversight when someone may have replaced the bushings in the past, or the wear filled the holes with metal flakes. Either way, it looks like I'll need to get all new shafts and bushings to get this unit back up to 100% condition.

I'm considering reassembling it as is for now until I can find (and afford) the needed replacement parts. I'll definitely have to open up or drill the oil holes in the bushings first though.

My phone was on the charger in the house so I didn't get any pics today.
 

wa5cab

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#30
It is also possible that the bushing are made of sintered bronze. One trade-name is Oilite. These are porous, and wouldn't need an oil hole aligned with the oil supply hole in the QC body casting. I meant to call Clausing last week and ask about that but forgot.

Robert D.
 
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