View Full Version : Metal Lathes What do I clean this with?

Matt Ranum
03-16-2011, 9:46 AM
My Dad was a machinist most of his life and bought this Montgomery Wards(Logan) lathe from a guy shortly after he retired, maybe 18 years ago. It was used fairly regular right up to time he got sick last year and passed away. Long story short, it was decided that I would move his lathe and his machinist tool box to my shop as there is some rust starting on some of his tools. No sense in letting them rot away, so yesterday my brother helped me get it moved to its new home.

My shop is a woodshop with dust everywhere and this machine has ton of oil and grease layered on it. I need to clean it up but what should I use for a degreaser?


Thomas Bank
03-16-2011, 10:00 AM
My initial inclination is to say that degreasing it will just lead to more rusting. If you are worried about it getting covered with sawdust from your shop, I'd just cover it up to protect it when not in use.

Bruce Page
03-16-2011, 3:22 PM
Anything you do is going to be messy and require some elbow grease. I will occasionally get after my lathe with a small brush and mineral oil. You can clean the cross slide, chuck & ways with grey scotch-brite dipped in mineral oil. The painted surfaces should clean up with 409. Be sure to apply a paste wax like Johnson’s to all of the bare metal surfaces when you are through.
You will have a nice little lathe when you get it cleaned up.

Dan Hintz
03-16-2011, 3:56 PM
I asked something similar a week or two ago. I would suggest acetone to remove as much grease as you can to get to bare metal, and then recoat with a clean batch, where necessary. Use PTFE/Teflon on all of the threaded components. Use a light grease/oil on the ways.

Matt Ranum
03-16-2011, 4:11 PM
Thanks for the input guys. I do plan on keeping it covered when its not in use just to cut back on the saw dust collection. The biggest reason I wanted to do some clean up was to cut back on the incidental transfer of oil to wood in the shop. Oil and lube is a fact of life with these units but this is pretty nasty, the pics don't show it that well.

I'm not to concerned with rust in my shop, with doors and windows always closed the humidity never poses a problem. I have had bare cast iron in the past with no rust issues but keep everything waxed now just as general maintenance.

Bruce Page
03-16-2011, 5:03 PM
Of course acetone will degrease but it is aggressive and will dissolve any paint it comes in contact with, not to mention the fumes and flammability issues.

We donít have much of a rust problem in NM so a light coat of Johnsonís is all that is needed. Hereís a pic of my 14X40 Logan, as you can see it has a drip pan so keeping it clean is not as much an issue.

Troy Ahner
03-16-2011, 8:33 PM
I would try motor oil mixed with mineral spirits using a brush and some rags. I've also mixed it about 50/50 and put it in a dish soap bottle to use as a cutting oil.

If you don't have a piece of sheet metal for underneath, you can buy a galvanized drip tray at the autoparts store.

Jerry Bruette
03-16-2011, 10:02 PM
At work we use citrus cleaner for degreasing. You can use a brass brush for the stubborn spots and it doesn't harm the paint. After degreasing and cleaning I'd wipe any exposed metal surfaces with a light oil to keep them from rusting.

Bruce Page
03-16-2011, 10:32 PM
Jerry, I love your signature! I have felt that confidence many times!

Matt Ranum
03-16-2011, 11:42 PM
I started on it this afternoon for a bit. My brother has a parts cleaner in his shop so I borrowed a little to see how it would go. Not to bad, some of the real heavy areas I just brushed it on and will try scrubbing it off tomorrow. I have to start on some kitchen cabinets next week so I'm going to try and get her done in the next couple of days.

One other thing, when I set it permanently in place should I make it so it is perfectly level across the ways? Correct me if I'm wrong, but if its off it could affect the way it cuts correct?

Bruce Page
03-16-2011, 11:53 PM
Matt, you should get it as level as you can. I the real machine shop world they will use lasers to level a new machine so the wear on the ways is not effected.
With old lathes like yours & mine just get it as close as you can.

Stephen Pereira
03-17-2011, 11:01 AM

One other thing, when I set it permanently in place should I make it so it is perfectly level across the ways? Correct me if I'm wrong, but if its off it could affect the way it cuts correct?

It is important that the lathe bed is not twisted..not necessarily level . Using a precision level across the ways near the headstock and then near the tailstock is one way to do it. When you lathe was built the factory leveled it and then made the final fittings of tailstock and saddle. To duplicate this you should level your lathe. Get the book " How To Run a Lathe"..its cheap and widely available..also check out forum on homeshopmachinist

Matt Ranum
03-17-2011, 2:28 PM
I put a precision level across the ways and front to back looks good, no sign of a twist. It is off headstock to tail stock though.

I'll check out the book and the forum. Thanks!

Michael Mills
03-17-2011, 2:59 PM
I use a product called Dry Lube (graphite in a carrier) on hand operated items on my lathe (tailstock, chuck, etc). I tried it on the bed but it was too slick and the banjo would not lock. However, others use a similar product, without my problem, to protect the bed from moisture from wet wood and they say it works very well. Shake the can well and spray, after the carrier evaporates you have a thin coating of graphite with no oil or grease to attract/hold dust. May work well in this case to coat and stop rust once the lathe is cleaned.

Matt Ranum
03-17-2011, 11:23 PM
In case anyone was interested I thought I would take some pics after washing some of the crud off. Cleaned up pretty good, any better I'd have to dismantle it and its not worth it at this point in time. Now to get the flat belt shortened and relaced and we're good to go.

Apologies for the poor pics, used my cell phone this time.


Stephen Pereira
03-17-2011, 11:53 PM
Nice looking lathe!! The bed looks to be in excellent condition. I wish my SB Hvy 10 was in such a good shape. After you get your belt done.. I can help you with that if need be..get yourself a quickchange toolpost..Phase 11 is a good brand as far as imports go. Enco sells them..check out Shars also. Once you rid yourself of the latern toolpost you'll be happy you did.

Matt Ranum
03-18-2011, 12:06 AM
Thanks Stephen. I still need to wash up the steady yet but thats for another day. Lacing the belt shouldn't be a problem as we have lacing at our farm shop. I'll look into the quick change post too.

Stephen Pereira
03-18-2011, 12:30 AM
If you use Clipper lacing make sure it is#1 . Most farm lacing machines are for lacing baler belts and use #4, too big for the size of your lathe's pulley. Once you get this machine up and running there is no limit to what you can make. They say that themetal lathe is the only machine that can reproduce itself..might be a bit of a stretch.

What other tooling comes with? Steady, follower rest, faceplate?

Matt Ranum
03-18-2011, 1:19 AM
It has a 3 jaw, 4 jaw, steady rest and a follower rest, threading sprockets, dead center, drill chuck, homemade faceplate, a couple homemade boring bars, and a ton of tool stock. Only problem is my current tool holders are 1/4" and a bunch of the stock is larger. Like I said in my OP, this was my Dad's until his passing. He wanted to keep his machinist tools together with the lathe and the tool box in the pic is pretty well loaded with everything from hole gauges & micro drills to depth mics & precision squares & levels, to brand new end mills and reamers. Dad liked his tools.;)




Gerald Wubs
03-24-2011, 2:21 PM
nice machine! I just got my Dad's 12x40 last week. He is still well, but moving to a smaller home, so I got his lathe.
I would bolt down your machine to a solid top bench at the very least. level across the ways to avoid twisting the bed. End to end level is not crucial, but the more level you get it, the better for many aspects of setup and machining.
Happy chip making

Bruce Page
03-24-2011, 2:50 PM
Matt, that cleaned up nicely! If you plan on using it very much you might think of upgrading the antiquated tool post to an indexing quick change post. You can find them reasonably priced on eBay.

Matt Ranum
03-24-2011, 10:52 PM
The top I mounted the lathe to is 2x4 & 2x6's with plywood fastened to the top. I used a precision level across the ways along the whole length. It may not be perfectly level but its pretty darn close.

I'll have to look into those QC tool posts. Sounds interesting.

Noah Bledstein
05-28-2011, 12:02 AM
I have a metal lathe that is close to the same size. Wal-Mart sells a large metal pan intended for use under a car while changing oil that makes a great drip pan for these smaller metal working lathes. It will make cleaning up after a project much easier.