Headstock Lubrication Fiasco

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rmac
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Headstock Lubrication Fiasco

Post by rmac » Sun Jul 04, 2021 10:58 pm

I learned something kind of scary today. As a result of
this discussion
a few weeks ago, I got me a big jug of Vectra 2 way oil for general lubrication of my lathe and my (despicable) round column mill/drill. The jug is still full because I was in woodworking mode for a little while, but today I had some time to replace the oil in the lathe headstock.

The lathe has two sight glasses, one for each spindle bearing. Behind each sight glass is a little cylindrical cavity that's fed from above through an oil filler hole. The back of the cavity is conical (probably because it was just drilled out), and terminates in a 1/4" (or so) hole that must somehow lead to the bearing.

I've never seen the oil level drop below, say, a third of the way up the sight glass, but I've diligently squirted in a shot of oil every now and then just for drill. The oil level has never seemed to rise as a result, but I've never worried about it because that's the way it's always been. Ignorance is bliss.

So today I tried to remove the old oil by sucking it out through a tube stuck into the filler hole. Surprise, surprise, the only oil to be sucked was the little bit in the cavity behind the sight glass. Yikes! I think what that all means is that I've never had enough oil in the headstock. When I've added oil in the past, the level in the sight glass probably never rose because the cavity was still draining out the back into the not-yet-full (maybe never-been-full) oil reservoirs for the spindle bearings.

The Grizzly manual for a similar lathe (G9249) says you can drain the headstock by removing the sight glasses. I'm thinking that means mine is as drained right now as it's going to get and that I should just fill it up with new oil. Maybe flush it out with some kind of solvent first? Maybe? Any hints on that?

For sure it looks like the level in the sight glass has to be substantially higher than half full to make sure there's enough oil in there.

-- Russell Mac

chaski_20210704_0002.png

Harold_V
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Re: Headstock Lubrication Fiasco

Post by Harold_V » Mon Jul 05, 2021 1:38 am

You likely understand that Vactra 2 is generally recommended for sliding surfaces (ways), not headstocks. Unless the maker makes the recommendation to use it there, I suggest you do not, although it may well be perfectly fine if you do.

I suspect that you'd be well served to dig deeper to determine if you are getting oil where it's required. I suspect you are, especially if you've been using the machine for a long time. The way I see it, looking at your drawing, it will ALWAYS show oil, and will represent oil storage only when it is higher than the bottom of the little hole at the back side. Oil in the site glass would rise ONLY if it is higher than the bottom of the hole.

Yeah, I thought you already knew that, but I wanted to make sure you did.

H
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Bill Shields
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Re: Headstock Lubrication Fiasco

Post by Bill Shields » Mon Jul 05, 2021 6:25 am

First.. do not panic..

I have a lathe of similar Taiwanese design..not a grizzly..

I keep the sight glasses always showing full by a method to be described.

Temptation is to remove sight glasses and blow in...recommend not doing that.

A pipe cleaner soaked in acetone is a way to start...if you think a passage is clogged.

As per Harold -> Vactra 2 is not what I would use on a ball bearing spindle.

Ball bearings in this service require little lubrication..much less than a sleeve bearing.

You do not want to fill them with heavy lube like you would the axle bearing of a car.

After all is clean as you can tell with the pipe cleaner -> reinstall the sight glass and seal it with some gasket goop.

Clean any oil away from the bearing race area.

On the fill fitting, attach a straight piece of pipe or tube that has the opening and a good 6" above the top of the bearing. You are creating a standpipe.

Squirt in some very light spindle oil and fill to the top.

Refill immediately to account for bubbles.

Give it a day or two to allow Sir Isaac to do his job.

Is the level going down over a few days? If so.. where us it going? Should be coming out around the bearings.

If so-> and bearings seem smooth...then you have learned about your headstock lube system and hopefully no damage done

I left similar filler pipes on my lathe...when the level gets down to just below centerline of the bearing i refill.

I level does not drop at all -> then maybe consider pulling spindle and investigate entire lube channel and replace bearings as needed.

You are correct in assuming it is a crappy setup.
Too many things going on to bother listing them.

pete
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Re: Headstock Lubrication Fiasco

Post by pete » Mon Jul 05, 2021 9:33 am

Add me to the list of not using way oil for the head stock. Way oil is not only too thick it's also designed to help float contamination off the surface so the felt oilers (if you have them) on the slides can push it away. With a non filtered head stock lubrication that's exactly the opposite of what you want. With your type of system you want any wear particles to quickly drop out of suspension and to the bottom of the oil sump to be removed at the next oil change. What does your user manual say for oil type? For flushing out what you now have? Probably diesel is the easiest and fastest. Fill the sump to your normal oil level and gently run it through your speed ranges for a few minutes each. I'd probably expect to find a lot of trash depending on how much use your lathe has had. Drain and wipe out well. If it's really dirty, doing so a couple of times until it's clean might be required.

If it were me and your planning on keeping that lathe, I'd sure investigate where to drill / tap for a proper oil drain plug even if I had to move the lathe from it's current position to do so. With it empty of oil, now would be the time to do this so it's easy to clean out the metal chips from doing the drilling and tapping. Add fittings so it's easy to get a container under the oil exit during oil changes. It sucks your lathe was like that apparently from the factory, but it's a good object lesson in not blindly trusting anything until you've personally verified it's correct first. You also might check your carriage sump as well to see if it does have the proper amount of oil. And your user manual will probably list the same oil for both.

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Bill Shields
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Re: Headstock Lubrication Fiasco

Post by Bill Shields » Mon Jul 05, 2021 10:47 am

These lathes do not have a sump and there is no way to flush short of removing the bearings.

Oil in leaks out through the bearing shields
Too many things going on to bother listing them.

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GlennW
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Re: Headstock Lubrication Fiasco

Post by GlennW » Mon Jul 05, 2021 11:03 am

There is also lubrication to nothing but the single headstock bearing itself. That's why there are two sight glasses and fillers.

It isn't like you are lubing a gear train where contamination from wear is possible.

The only source of contamination, other than chips through the fill port, would be from the bearing itself deterioration, which is highly unlikely.
Glenn

Operating machines is perfectly safe......until you forget how dangerous it really is!

pete
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Re: Headstock Lubrication Fiasco

Post by pete » Mon Jul 05, 2021 11:15 am

Hmm, then most of what I posted was worthless. An odd set up and not one I've seen before. But I still wouldn't use way oil.

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NP317
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Re: Headstock Lubrication Fiasco

Post by NP317 » Mon Jul 05, 2021 3:55 pm

Pete:
Never worthless. Your posting caused me to rethink my own lathe headstock lubrication and verify that it is still OK.
Thanks.
Russ

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Re: Headstock Lubrication Fiasco

Post by JackF » Mon Jul 05, 2021 5:15 pm

It looks to me like the hole opposite the sight glass should be at the very bottom of the sight glass hole. That way oil would not show in the sight glass until it was at the hole or above. To fix this example, drilling a hole thru the fill hole to open a hole in the bottom of the sight glass cavity would now allow the sight glass to only show the oil level when it was up to the level of the sight glass. Of course, catching the drilling chips is another problem. :shock: :? :lol:

Thats my 2c.

OOOOPS, I just noticed that the headstock casting may not have a bottom to drill thru. To fix that you would drill thru the fill hole and into the head casting far enough to allow a horizontal to be drilled thru the head casting intersecting the above hole and into the oil reservoir. Then plug the outside horizontal. Still the drilling chips to catch.

Jack

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rmac
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Re: Headstock Lubrication Fiasco

Post by rmac » Tue Jul 06, 2021 7:08 am

As always, thanks to everyone for the help. I'd be really swimming upstream without it sometimes.
Harold wrote: You likely understand that Vactra 2 is generally recommended for sliding surfaces (ways), not headstocks. Unless the maker makes the recommendation to use it there, I suggest you do not.
Unfortunately, the only "maker's recommendations" I have for this thing is a nearly illegible copy of a copy of a copy of a very rudimentary manual that was apparently translated from Chinese to English by Siberian yetis that were unfamiliar with either language. Hence my reliance on the Grizzly manual for a similar machine.

As far as using way oil in the headstock goes, I had a major brain fart on that one. The Grizzly manual recommends "ISO 68 SAE 20W Bearing and Gear Lubricant" for general use. Somehow I got hung up on the "ISO 68 SAE 20W" part when I got my way oil and thought, "Oh great! I can use this for everything." Obviously not so. Sorry for the confusion on that point.

Moving right along ...
Harold wrote: I suspect that you'd be well served to dig deeper to determine if you are getting oil where it's required.
Agreed. When I first got the lathe, I took it completely apart except the spindle assembly to clean and lubricate everything and replace a couple of suspect bearings. I was (and continue to be) reluctant to play too much with the spindle because I'm afraid I'll mess up the adjustment of the bearings. However looking at the parts diagram (again from the Grizzly manual), I think I can safely remove the spindle covers (parts 104 and 133 in the diagram) and at least see if the bearings are dry. That's the next step.

headstock.png
Harold wrote: The way I see it, looking at your drawing, it will ALWAYS show oil, and will represent oil storage only when it is higher than the bottom of the little hole at the back side. Oil in the site glass would rise ONLY if it is higher than the bottom of the hole.
Yes. That realization is the major result of this exercise so far.
Bill Shields wrote: Temptation is to remove sight glasses and blow in...recommend not doing that.
Too late! There are a couple of small holes near the top of the casting that look like they might lead to the main bearings. So I did blow gently into the sight glasses--not to try to clean things out, but to see if air would come out those other two holes. And it did, so apparently things aren't plugged up.

I suppose you could add oil through those little holes, but it would be very tedious. More likely they're there to allow the air to escape when you add oil through the ports behind the sight glasses.

And thanks for the "standpipe" idea.
GlennW wrote: The only source of contamination, other than chips through the fill port, would be from the bearing itself deterioration, which is highly unlikely.
And the fill ports are covered except when adding oil, so nothing gets in there.
JackF wrote: drilling ... open a hole ... catching the drilling chips ... drill thru ... drilled thru ... drilling chips
Holy cow! Call me a coward, but I'm nervous even about removing the bearing covers from the headstock. I'd need X-ray vision and a whole lot of beer before I started drilling into the casting!

-- Russell Mac

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Bill Shields
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Re: Headstock Lubrication Fiasco

Post by Bill Shields » Tue Jul 06, 2021 9:28 am

not to worry about taking off the covers...just be aware of any gaskets / shims that may be under there....

If you do replace the gasket...you may need to be careful about the thickness of the gasket as it may well alter the settings for the bearings / shims...not likely...but just be aware. Too thick a gasket and the front bearing may 'float' axially which would allow your work to walk away from the tool when pressure is applied.

I don't trust any drawings from Taiwan as being anything more than a 'general representation of how it was originally designed.'

were it me..I would take off #103 and look for lube. If you find it -> maybe best to assume that the 'tail end' is also ok.

getting #103 of is generally a lot easier than #133 -> the removal of which is also going to require removal of the locknut / ring tab and gear...

If you can figure out a way to do it (probably with adhesive and / or o-rings of some kind), if you cannot put in the standpipe suggested, then maybe replace the 'bulls eye' with a vertical oil sight glass
Too many things going on to bother listing them.

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GlennW
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Re: Headstock Lubrication Fiasco

Post by GlennW » Tue Jul 06, 2021 9:59 am

The bearings are pre-loaded by being pulled toward each other in the headstock housing.

#103 is just a seal housing.
Glenn

Operating machines is perfectly safe......until you forget how dangerous it really is!

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