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oil for lubricating lathe

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Joe McKean19/05/2019 09:19:14
19 forum posts

Having recently acquired a Boxford AUD that I've now got up and running I am looking for recommendations for a good quality oil suitable for oiling the various points on the lathe. Any suggestions for a readily available (UK), economical suitable product ?


not done it yet19/05/2019 09:25:09
3248 forum posts
11 photos

Have you searched for the topic? ‘Lubrication’ brings up a host of threads on the subject.

Hopper19/05/2019 09:31:51
3657 forum posts
72 photos

Standard spec for most hobby lathes seems to usually be hydraulic oil, ISO 32 for general points, ISO 68 for ways and drive gears. Often sold in hardware stores as "Compressor Oil" in hobby-sized one quart containers.

But it's not critical. Automotive engine oil of about 20/50 or even 10/30 grade will do the job just fine.

On the other hand, you can buy special "way oil" whose devotees swear by it for use on the sliding ways.

Most important thing is to use some kind of oil rather than no oil.

Brian H19/05/2019 10:38:26
1194 forum posts
87 photos

I use a straight SAE 30 grade as I have some left after selling my pre-war Austin 7.


Chris Evans 619/05/2019 10:50:45
1451 forum posts

I run ISO 32 hydraulic oil in the headstock and ISO 68 for the ways and all other oiling points. It does not seem to be critical, just keep the machine clean from swarf and oil regularly. Lack of oil kills machinery.

Thor19/05/2019 11:32:27
1109 forum posts
31 photos

The Boxford Know Your Lathe book recommends these oils:

Esso Esstic 55
Mobil Vactra Heavy
Shell Carnea 41

or any light machine oil SAE 20 (around ISO 46)


Edited By Thor on 19/05/2019 11:32:43

mechman4819/05/2019 11:34:41
2432 forum posts
372 photos

I have a WM250V-F & WM16 mill & for the lathe headstock & saddle gearbox I use SAE 10 - 30; for the bed ways on both I use Hyd.32.... 'owt's better than nowt'


clogs19/05/2019 13:16:53
476 forum posts
12 photos

have said before, got rid of all the junk special oils for lathes etc......

Now all I use is 5-40w synthetic engine oil (norm mineral oil ok, but I only have synth in stock).....

the only place I use a special oil is in the gearbox of my Colchester Student, sq top...which is

the red automatic Dexrton 3 or 4 transmission oil.......

I even use it in all my compressors, 1 of my Piston type comps would cost over £4,000 if bought new....

never a prob in over 12 years.....

Colch Student 6", Myford S7, Myford VMF, Bridgeport J milling machines, 4 compressors plus tons of other gear...

just got fed up with all those different oils gathering fluff in the storage cupboard......

Nicholas Wheeler 119/05/2019 13:33:16
268 forum posts
16 photos

Dextron 3 everywhere on my WM250. I had about 3 litres left after topping up the trans fluid in my car several years ago. I no longer have the car, so a squirt every now and then leaves me with a lifetime supply.

AdrianR19/05/2019 20:31:55
272 forum posts
20 photos

My lathe specifies SAE 20 ISO 68 I bought Morris Liquimatic No 6 ISO 68 Hydraulic Oil

What you need to avoid is any oil containing zinc (ZDDP) or sulphur as they attack copper based alloys.

Also avoid engine oils, they contain detergents that keep the muck in suspension so the filter can remove it. On a lathe you dont have a pumped filter so you want the muck to settle out.

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