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Lathe sadness...sins...redemption...dunno


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My Dad had two lathes.  He left one to me when he passed.  The other he gave to my older brother long before he passed.

We saw our father in vastly different perspectives.  My lathe is in excellent working order.

Today, I picked up the lathe that my Dad gave to my brother.  Sooooo sad.

I spent a good part of the day, calling Lazarus forth.

Very good progress--the lathe is redeemable, I think.  However, one fatal--well maybe not totally fatal--condition:  The notch (key) in the spindle that captures the collet rusted out.  You see, the lathe was left to the environment with a collet in the spindle.  Rust merged the two and dissolved.

So, I have cleaned everything up.  It appears (using my runout gauge) that once the key issue is resolved, the lathe will be in good order.

What to do about the key????

Perhaps there is a service that will restore the head.  I will do some googling.

All thoughts and prayers are welcomed.

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The key in the bore? Just remove the shank if possible and drill/fit a new piece of rod to suit the key slot on your collets. If you study the outside then you may see filing marks where the original key was made flush with the shank.

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8 hours ago, LittleWatchShop said:

What to do about the key????

Is the key totally gone?

If you look in your watchmaker's lathe you will see that the key itself is typically a circular pin for a lack of a better description.  I'm attaching an image that shows that.

Then it really isn't that necessary. Providing it's totally gone and not interfering the lathe will work fine without it. It just means You just have to be careful when tightening the collet that you hold it in place and it doesn't spin it really isn't an issue.

If you're one of those obsessed types and you want to replace it caution? The spindles themselves can be very very hard and shouldn't be an issue but I've seen an example where it was an issue. My first watchmakers  lathe was frustrating to use? My father a engineer put a dial indicator on it and it wasn't my imagination there was something not right. the lathe was disassembled and found that the spindle was bent. We had access to a hydraulic press an attempt was made to straighten and it broke. Did I mention that there really hard? Careful examination revealed that when the original pin was driven in it cracked the spindle very likely done at the factory. On the other hand it had a happy outcome my Next lathe came with a  full set of collets.

lathe key.JPG

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I love this forum.  Thanks @rodabodand @JohnR725.

Here is a picture of the spindle (one is annotated).  I tried with just ONE punch to see if the key would budge.  I did not hit it hard enough to do anything but make a dent.

I annotated one image to get confirmation about the critical bearing surface.  Do you all agree?

With John's experience, I am kinda hesitant to hammer away at this.

2021-04-03 07_22_22-Photos.png

2021-04-03 07_22_46-Photos.png

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Archie Perkin's Book 'The Modern watchmakers Lathe and How to Use it' Page 87 to 92 goes through the process to replace this.

He mentions to center punch it whilst holding it in a V blot with cardboard between the V block and the spindle and then to drill it out.  So unlike the spindle it's not hardened. He then also goes into the process to make a new one.

If you don't have this book and want to fix the lather I recommend getting a copy

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  • 2 weeks later...

The book arrived!  Nice.

After reading the section, I mounted the spindle between two pieces of oak--each with a slot cut to accommodate the spindle.  Using a staking tool, I drove the key inward enough to properly engage with the collet.  No need to drill it out.  It fits nicely.

Done!!

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