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My new (old) Levin lathe--thoughts on how to clean it up?


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In my never-ending quest to go bankrupt buying watchmaking stuff, I bought this on FB marketplace for a total of $340.

Everything is Levin except for the four-jaw and the base.  The base is unusual to me...must weigh ten pounds.

I did an initial test using my gauge, and the headstock appears dead on.  However, the index pin has long since gone, so I will need to replace it.

I have cleaned several WW style lathes in the past, but the Levin is a little different.  Any special precautions related to disassembly of the headstock and tailstock?

Should I put these parts in the ultrasonic with  ??? solvent, or just do everything by hand as if to clean a Glock?

Everybody chime in here...especially @nickelsilver

 

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I would clean everything by hand. Spray down everything with WD40 and leave it overnight. Then take everything apart abd clean off all the rust with a wire brush.

The headstock and cross slide would probably need the most care. Don't go crazy with cleaning or you'll lose the tight tolerances.

There have been a lot of nice lathes on eBay recently. I mean complete sets, with all the accessories and in a wooden case. 🤤

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I agree with Hector. This is one area where WD40 is actually one of the best things (or any "penetrating oil" in a can); it doesn't remove rust but the solvents in it really help when going at the parts. I would use a wire brush (hand held) to get the big stuff off, then go at it with steel wool and WD40- keep it wet. I would avoid all abrasives, pretty much period.

 

Levin made easily the best slide rests of any of the makers. Some were chrome plated (really old ones in particular), some nickel plated (yours looks like that), some no plating. If the plating is flaking or worn here or there just clean it up and leave it, don't try re-plating. Yours is inch, which would be a killer for me now as my brain has turned full metric, but is not too hard to get used to. I used to work at a place with two Schaublin lathes, one inch, one metric, and switched between them no problem, haha.

 

I would imagine from the pics that the actual tailstock quill and bore are in good shape, same for the headstock bearings. If so, that's a big bullet dodged. It looks like the bad rust is near the drawbar knob on both. When you get into the slide rest you'll need a really complete set of inch hex keys, good quality. There are at least 3 different sized screws from the cranks to the gib adjustment to the others, and they used really odd sizes not necessarily in basic sets. From memory there are brass pieces between the gib screws and the gibs, with tapered faces to match the gib- don't lose them! This is a pretty late model, so there will be ball bearings in the crank barrels. Don't muck around trying to change them- just clean them up and grease them, and check on disassembly if there are any shims and get those back in as they were. The bearings are normal deep groove, but are setup with preload like angular contacts to eliminate slop there. Great design (Schaublin does the same).

 

As it cleans up you'll recognize the quality difference between it and something like a Peerless... these things are nice.

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48 minutes ago, nickelsilver said:

my brain has turned full metric, but is not too hard to get used to

My first job as in IC designer was in the late 70's.  The integrated circuit tooling was transitioning from English to metric.  In order to deal with mental math, the company adopted "mocrons" which were English microns ("MOcrons was the term adopted because the name of the company was MOstek--MOSTEK microns, so to speak).  There are 25 mocrons in one mil (1/1000 of an inch).  The math was easier than the correct conversion (25.4 microns per mil).  It is only off by 1.6%

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I have made a hex key that fits the screw in the pulley but it refuses to budge.  Been soaking the screw with penetrating oil for 24+ hours.

Question:  If I cannot remove it in the conventional way, should I just move on and not worry about a thorough cleaning of the spindle?  Just oil it and move on?

I have manually cleaned the exterior and it is nice.

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1 hour ago, LittleWatchShop said:

I have made a hex key that fits the screw in the pulley but it refuses to budge.  Been soaking the screw with penetrating oil for 24+ hours.

Question:  If I cannot remove it in the conventional way, should I just move on and not worry about a thorough cleaning of the spindle?  Just oil it and move on?

I have manually cleaned the exterior and it is nice.

Try kroil if you got some? thought about center drill, pilot drill, drill and then easy-out it? how about adding more leverage/torque by adding a cheater pipe/tubing at the end of your hex wrench? 

When I got my Unimat DB200 I took all down by hand then bought a gallon of carburetor cleaner and soaked parts in it overnight. Even comes with its own basket to lower into the can to put the lid back on while you let em soak. Still have the can and use it often. for the big stuff I would dip my toothbrush and copper brush into it to do by hand. 

 

 

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40 minutes ago, MechanicMike said:

Try kroil if you got some? thought about center drill, pilot drill, drill and then easy-out it? how about adding more leverage/torque by adding a cheater pipe/tubing at the end of your hex wrench? 

Trying my best to minimize any damage.  A guy on the NAWCC forum mentioned heating the screw with a soldering iron and then immediately hitting it with freeze spray.  The idea being to cause the screw to break a way due to quick contraction.  That is easy enough to try I think.

I have ordered some Kroil

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Even with the screw removed, the pulley does not want to budge.  There is enough slack so that I can push the outer bearing forward and spray it with a solvent so that it can be cleaned.  The rear bearing comes off easily.

So, I have cleaned it, oiled it, and reassembled it.  Looks very nice.  Will post pictures later.

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On 10/20/2022 at 4:30 PM, LittleWatchShop said:

mentioned heating the screw with a soldering iron and then immediately hitting it with freeze spray

was thinking about that but was worried about the bakelite. don't know how it would've affected it?

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2 hours ago, MechanicMike said:

was thinking about that but was worried about the bakelite. don't know how it would've affected it?

The more I have studied the Levin pulley, the more I think it is not made of bakelite like my other lathes. Maybe some kind of fiberglass??

Edited by LittleWatchShop
total fubar of autocomplete!!
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even better to be wary of heat, then cold shock, ya know?

18 hours ago, LittleWatchShop said:

Liquid Wrench

good stuff. Kroil and Marvel mystery oil is good stuff too, if not kinda relying on the fact that they've been around forever. Dad and grampa used it. I still have one of my dads old oil cans with Marvel in it lol i actually mixed a little of the two once and made a concoction of my own. probably wind up blowing up my garage one of these days...

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OK, the headstock and tailstock are pretty clean now.  I printed oil caps because the originals were missing.

I have the cross slide soaking now.

 

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One thing that is a little odd about this setup.  The lathe bed is not Levin, which is not so odd, I guess, but it appears that it was not mounted to anything.  So with the motor driving the pulley, what kept the tension?

My plan is to remove the bell mounts and mount the bed and the motor on the same platform.

The lathe bed, BTW, is very very heavy, so that may be why it worked for the former owner.

I am loving this thing more and more every day.

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The pulley can be a little difficult to remove, especially if there's rust and dried up lubricants. 

I had to spray mine with plenty of WD40, attach a bearing puller to it and leave it under tension overnight. Every few hours I had to check the bearing puller and apply more tension if necessary. Don't be impatient. I think many lathes out there with chipped pulleys were a result of impatience. 

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1 minute ago, HectorLooi said:

The pulley can be a little difficult to remove, especially if there's rust and dried up lubricants. 

I had to spray mine with plenty of WD40, attach a bearing puller to it and leave it under tension overnight. Every few hours I had to check the bearing puller and apply more tension if necessary. Don't be impatient. I think many lathes out there with chipped pulleys were a result of impatience. 

At this point, I am not sure it is important to remove the pulley.  I was able to get enough movement laterally so that I could spray my cleaner spray on to the spindle.  Pretty sure it is clean.  Then I tightened up and oiled.

Yes, of my many lathes...one of them has a chip due to the very point you made.  It took me many months to quit beating myself up for that...lol

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On 10/22/2022 at 6:50 PM, LittleWatchShop said:

I am loving this thing more and more every day

thats a slick rig for sure.

12 hours ago, LittleWatchShop said:

I suspect finding a replacement would be nearly impossible

why is that? go to: www.mcmaster.com 

they have everything. 

Web capture_23-10-2022_235528_www.mcmaster.com.jpeg

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Here is a side view.  LH thread.  Not your average set screw.759755566_2022-10-2406_54_24-20221024_061808.jpg-Photos.png.3eb9bdccc86c4173b22fdd3dcc96d545.png

Could perhaps get a screw with the right threads, length and turn down the head to fit...pondering

Looks like Levin still makes this chuck...lol

2022-10-24 07_26_18-LevinLathe.com_ LEVIN CHUCKS — Mozilla Firefox.png

I just sent a query to Levin to see if they would sell me the screw.

Edited by LittleWatchShop
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The price for the screw isn't too bad. But the price for the chuck is crazy. They've doubled at least twice in the last 10 years. Pretty sure they don't make that chuck but not sure who does/did; their 6 and 3  jaw chucks are made by Maprox (used to be called JF). Levin price 4500, Maprox around 1200. Quick change toolpost is rebadged Tripan, a toolholder from Tripan is 100, Levin, 1200. Insane.

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