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Setting up for lathe coolant

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Roger King 116/09/2019 10:01:32
24 forum posts
2 photos

My Super 7 is sitting on the standard Myford cabinet, which I'm fixing to the concrete floor with resin anchors. I'm thinking of adding a coolant system at some stage - what's best to do about drainage? I had considered maybe giving a slight slope to the cabinet by packing one end at the floor bolts, then adjusting the lathe for level by screwing the nuts out on the raising blocks to compensate. I've tried this and it does seem to leave ¼" or so of thread showing under the lathe mounts so not sure this is a good idea. Would it be best to de everything as level as I can get it and deal with the coolant later?

Mike Poole16/09/2019 10:22:43
2300 forum posts
52 photos

I think I would go for having the drain point lowest as I am sure having coolant hanging in the tray would be a nuisance. As long as the drain is just the tiniest bit low then the coolant will find it, no need to have it so low the coolant rushes to find it. If it doesn’t drain then I think you will be throwing coolant out with the swarf when you clean down.


John Pace16/09/2019 10:42:39
157 forum posts
156 photos

I have my Myford stand and tray set up as you have described,the
stand is packed at an angle about 1 deg and the mountings for the lathe
set so the machine is level.
I use neat cutting oil the angle is enough for the oil to drain away.
If you are using suds coolant it is still worth doing if you have a
hobby type system the container only holds about 12 to 15 litres
if the tray fills with coolant the level drops in the container and
pumped delivery slows down.


myford tray.jpg

not done it yet16/09/2019 11:04:37
3898 forum posts
15 photos

This ‘hot chestnut’ re lathe levelling again! Levelling does not mean perfectly horizontal - it just means adjusted for straight cuts, so no twist or bend in the bed! Think here of the terrible work that would be done on a ship’s lathe, if your scenario was crucially important!!

Clive Foster16/09/2019 13:35:41
1980 forum posts
73 photos

Agree with NDIY that a lathe works just fine if level isn't truly level so long as the bed is untwisted and unstressed.

However shimming things up at a slight angle to compensate for the small drainage lean on the cabinet so the bed itself is perfectly level makes it very easy to verify that nothing has moved during the once a year wash down, deep clean and service check.

Although dead level is more likely to be useful on a milling machine where a clinometer or sensitive level can be a great hep in initially dialing a job in I have actually used a level to help set up a "why did I agree to do this" pig job in lathe.


Roger King 116/09/2019 13:42:54
24 forum posts
2 photos

Thanks all - I particularly like John's idea of a couple of spacers to lift the 'drain' end of the lathe to bring it nearer level. I understand that level is a relative term for the lathe itself, not necessarily absolute level - but I think that while I'm doing this it makes sense to get things as level as I can, if only for reference purposes.

Now, how can I get hold of a couple of simple spacers to raise one end of the lathe? Er - oh yes....

SillyOldDuffer16/09/2019 17:01:32
5106 forum posts
1073 photos

Hi Roger,

Looks like everyone missed your post asking about coolant systems on the 29th August. My advice is don't bother! Messy and unlikely to be necessary unless your lathe is going to be worked unusually hard on steel.

Discussed recently in this thread about suds.


old mart16/09/2019 20:39:45
1074 forum posts
109 photos

If you make a stronger mix than normal, it will take longer before it starts to rot and stink the place out.

 Having the bed at a slight angle won't make any difference to it, lathes on ships work perfectly well. The word "levelling" is a misnomer, as already mentioned more than once.

Edited By old mart on 16/09/2019 20:46:29

Nigel Graham 218/09/2019 00:20:06
453 forum posts

Indeed - in fact the manual for the Harrison lathe (mine is an L5) advises setting the machine on its cabinet on a very slight slope towards the drain, using the cabinet levelling-screws provided. (They weren't on mine, and the holes in the base-plate didn't even have threads... I added some. Oh my goodness what a saga!).

This on a machine which was factory-matched to the planed top of the cabinet, no little bed-alignment screws a la Myford.

Modern cutting fluids don't rot and stink the place out as the older type of "suds" could (they attracted a particular bacteria). As a result, I never had to change the coolant in the hacksawing machine I used at work for some years; and I don't recall seeing that done very often on the other machine-tools, either.

As SillyOldDuffer asks though, is a pumped coolant system worth-while on our lathes or mills, generally used for fairly short periods and rather intermittently? Probably not. I'd considered a portable or central system for my Myford and Harrison lathes, and Myford mill, but I've enough projects wanting finishing to worry about replacing the present system, even though that's a worn paint-brush and old bean-tin.

Regarding Mike's comment about throwing out coolant with swarf, it's inevitable you will lose some like that, but if you wished to recover at least some, use a cheap, coarse kitchen sieve or old colander, and a bucket.

not done it yet18/09/2019 06:47:33
3898 forum posts
15 photos
Posted by Nigel Graham 2 on 18/09/2019 00:20:06:

Indeed - in fact the manual for the Harrison lathe (mine is an L5) advises setting the machine on its cabinet on a very slight slope towards the drain, using the cabinet levelling-screws provided. (They weren't on mine, and the holes in the base-plate didn't even have threads... I added some. Oh my goodness what a saga!).


Why would those holes need threads? A simple arrangement with a set screw with nut (to adjust the height) and another as a lock nut. 4 set screws, 8 nuts and two spanners is all that is needed. No threads needing to be cut whatsoever!

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