My Speedway 7x12 Bench Lathe

Update: 2003.06.08

Note Well!
I am not a professional machinist, nor have I ever been one.  Prior to purchasing this lathe, I had used a metal cutting lathe precisely once in my life, for about two hours; that was in 1980, and the lathe I used then was a monster compared to this small, inexpensive machine tool.  Don't take anything written here as a recommendation -- in a machine shop, I'm not qualified to recommend anything other than following the manufacturer's instructions and seeking competent advice.

Since the last update, I've made and installed a chip guard for the handwheel gears in the apron.  Nearly every web page I've read about these lathes mentions the need for this, and I noticed, as I was starting work on an upcoming project, that the carriage was hesitating under power feed (even with the 16:1 reduction for the fine feed setup), leading the tool to cut deeper at the point of the hesitation as the effective reduction in long feed reduced the work piece deflection.  That meant that a dead smooth, mirror like surface would show a groove at every hesitation, and the project I was starting is one where appearance is most important (few dimensions are critical, at least in the round parts, because these are to be game pieces).

Unfortunately, I decided, while I had the apron apart, to drill some oil holes (there seem to be several places on my lathe that need to be oiled more or less regularly -- such as the half nut gib and dovetail and the long feed screw bearing blocks -- that don't have oiling holes, though others have reported they're supposed to be present in those parts; perhaps that's part of why Homier's Speedway tool is so much less expensive than the same model tool sold with a different label and more extensive accessory package by Grizzly).  Unfortunate because, though the holes I drilled and tapped for the screws (five 4-40 x 3/8" socket head) to hold the chip guard were completely routine (and the cast iron of the apron machined as easily as the 6061 aluminum I've been working with on other projects), when I tried to drill through the apron for the first oil hole I wanted to add, I got overly enthusiastic, failed to clear the chips soon enough, and broke off a 1/16" twist drill in a hole nearly a half inch deep.  And there it stays; I destroyed both ends of my #1 center drill and one end of my #2 trying to do anything that would get that broken drill out of the hole (I have another 1/16" drill, better than the cheap Chinese one that broke).  Several strikes with my automatic center punch (thinking the hard steel might crack under the sharp impact, as I've heard broken taps will sometimes do) were ineffective, and no tool I have will reach down alongside the drill flutes to gain purchase to pull it out; it's pretty tightly bound in the hole by jammed chips in any case, given that it broke under power in my drill press.

So, no oil holes, and won't be until I can get another small center drill to start the holes (which will be larger than 1/16", probably more like 3/32" or even 7/64").  But the long feed no longer hangs every time a chip goes through the reduction gears between the carriage handwheel and the rack.

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