Bronze or babbit for lathe spindle bearings

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Bronze or babbit for lathe spindle bearings

Post by Orrin » Mon Feb 24, 2003 11:48 am

I have two 9-inch SB lathes to restore. The spindles on both are rough so I intend to clean them up by grinding. This means the existing bronze bearings will be seriously oversized.

I have bearing bronze stock on hand and am prepared to machine new bearings; however, I'm wondering if it would be easier to bore out the old bearings to 0.060" oversize, or so, tin them, and then pour new babbit linings.

Which way would you go? Would the babbit wear too fast to be satisfactory? Would it have insufficient load bearing capacity?

All suggestions, tales of your experiences, etc. are welcome.

Both these lathes are of SB's old pattern. Most 9" SB parts out there are unlikely to be of the same vintage and won't fit.

Thank you in advance.

So many projects, so little time.


Re: Bronze or babbit for lathe spindle bearings

Post by Anonymous » Mon Feb 24, 2003 11:58 am

Babbitt works fine. However, you will need to be sure to maintain the machineries handbook clearances, add oil channels and be sure to keep the bearings well lubricated at all times.

Casting a babbitt shell .060 thick is likely to be a problem. You may want to pour a babbitt bearing shell that completely replaces the bronze.

Also consider grinding the spindle to cleanup and plating with nickel to get back to size. Do a search on the web for brush platng and you will find a number of sources for plating solutions and brush plating equipment and kits.

A final possibility would be to take the spindle to a shop with flame spraying capability and build up the spindle oversize and grind back to a working tolerance for the existing bronze shells, which you could bore to recondition.

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Re: Bronze or babbit for lathe spindle bearings

Post by Al_Messer » Mon Feb 24, 2003 6:55 pm

I would go with the sprayed metal and re-grinding and bronze bushings.
Al Messer

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Re: Bronze or babbit for lathe spindle bearings

Post by MarkLong » Mon Feb 24, 2003 9:36 pm

I was told by someone at South Bend Lathe that many amature shops have the capability to bring spindles back to proper clearance. That is how they do it. They send their spindles out to a motor shop to have new metal sprayed on. Can't remember who he said did the final OD grinding??

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