My lathe

“My” minilathe is in pretty good condition overall, and appears to have been lovingly set up by a former owner, saving me much of the hassle with alignment of the tailstock, play in the various slides and carriage and so on that others have described.

On the downside, various bits of it have suffered somewhat from being stored directly underneath an unsuspected water leak – they spent a few weeks, perhaps months, partly underwater in a plastic container, mixed in with decomposing cardboard packaging. Lovely! Among the stuff in there were the original spanners and allen keys, a faceplate, two optional-extra steadies, a toolholder and a couple of HSS tools, the change gears, chuck key and, unfortunately, the complete tailstock.

The change gears are nylon, so they didn’t mind the water at all, the steadies were fully submerged and still coated with packing grease and seem to have escaped pretty much unscathed, the spanners etc. are just common metric sizes and I’ve written them off, but the tailstock was partially submerged and needed a lot of cleaning up – the quill has suffered a bit, the graduated markings on the end of it are no longer visible. However, the working surfaces including the internal morse taper don’t seem too dimensionally compromised. This is the older-style awkward tailstock which is almost impossible to adjust and a royal pain in the areas to fit, thanks to a distinctly nasty clamping plate and an awkward nut to hold it down. In common with many a mini-lather, improving the tailstock mounting arrangement is on my priority to-do list. The faceplate could do with more thoroughly cleaning up – that’s a job for later.

A while after getting the lathe, the chap who lent it to me phoned up to say he’d found a four-jaw chuck for it, too. That appears to be new and unused, in its box, and looks like it’s going to be very useful – aside from the potential extra accuracy, it’s significantly shorter than the three-jaw, while accomodating larger work and having a bigger through-hole. The 80mm 3-jaw chuck restricts the size of stock you can fit down the spindle to around 16mm (5/8″ bar just fits), while the 4-jaw will allow up to the spindle size, 20mm.

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