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I Forge Iron

Mini Lathe Rebuild


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Hello there.

I have been wanting a mini metal lathe for as long as I can remember. About 25 years ago I owned one for a short time, but was forced to sell it. Boo Hoo, that's the way it went.

About 5 years ago a new neighbour moved in to the house to the south of us. I helped him move in and we get along fine. A few years ago I was telling him I was looking to buy a mini metal lathe. He said he had one his cousin made. I was like "yeah right, how good could a home made lathe be?" He showed me this little machine screwed to a piece of 3/4"plywood, no motor, but by gum, it had the parts required.

Last fall he was cleaning out his basement and he gave it to me along with a box of assorted tools and goodies. He said at the time it was useless because it has a 4 jaw chuck. But I know better.

So last week I started to rebuild the thing. It is all cast iron. It looks like it was a school project of some sort. Some of the castings are not so good and the machining on some of the parts is rather poorly done. It has been idle so long that the iron had oxidised and turned black, no rust, just a black dull appearance. Someone had taken it apart and put it together wrong and the gibs were in backwards. 2 of the 4 jaws are broke and have an ear on one side broke off.

So I cleaned it up as best I could. Lapped all the gibs on wet/dry sandpaper to make them smooth again. Took the whole thing to pieces and cleaned everything good with Varsol. It had never seen paint so I painted it a nice green. I just put her all back together as I have other chores and I need to figure out what motor will run it and what pulleys to use and how it will set up, etc. Upon the whole it doesn't look like it was run much. The head bearings are not in too bad a shape. No gears to hook the head shaft to the main drive screw, but perhaps I can rig a motor on that somehow. It has a longer bed than other mini lathes about the same size that I've seen. The chuck is 3.5" and the working area on the bed is 14".

Could be a sweet little machine. Has anyone seen a lathe like this before?






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Looks a little like the Gingery lathe. Like maybe the guy took some inspiration from the "shop from scrap" books and did it up better. Cast iron would be better than aluminum, for sure. The ways look thicker; it all just looks a lot heavier. The carriage looks well done, too. MT1 or MT2 taper in the tailstock? The chuck looks commercial... does it come off? What's the headstock spindle and taper? Seems like with just two pulley sizes in the headstock you'll want a countershaft arrangement with several sizes to get a range of speeds. Looks really good!


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Hi Steve,
I'm afraid I'm not so savvy as to know what you mean by MT1 or MT2. I think you refer to the taper that holds tools in the tail stock. There is a taper, but I'm not sure what it is. The chuck comes off with 4 screws that hold it to a plate that i think is screwed to the main shaft. I didn't try to take that apart because i didn't want to damage the shaft and it could all be machined from a solid piece, but I doubt it. No visible signs of threads though.

I'm currently working out the headstock frame. A bit of a challenge, but I think I have it now. It came with a head stock with big pulleys made from wood. I hope to cast pulleys once I get my forge going.

It only has 2 pulleys, but there is a gear drive that reduces the speed to 4 to 1. then there is a hole to put a pin through and hook the pulleys directly to the drive gear to make the speed as fast as the pulleys.

Thanks for the interest.


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