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Old Lathe Lubrication - oil through a grease nippled?

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Avon08/12/2019 14:50:54
19 forum posts
2 photos


I have an old Smart & Brown Model M Mk which I'm renovating. I'm now stripping down the leader screw gearbox and find two bearings, which are hidden inside the, bed are lubricated via short pipes that lead to 'grease nipples' on the rear of the machine. The bearings are plain 'brass' bearings which I can't believe would be greased. This gives me two questions:

1. Where do I get a manual oil pump with a grease gun fitting? Or even a hand oil pump that does more than dribble the oil out?

2. What oil would you use?

Having taken the end plate of I find it carries a number of gears and wonder what to lubricate them with? The oil from the bearings wouldn't find its way to them and while there's a grease point on the back wall of the chamber there's no way that anything injected there would ever reach the gears unless the chamber should have an oil bath, but there's no site glass and doesn't look as if that's the way it was setup. Grateful for thoughts from all the experts.

Many thanks.


Thor08/12/2019 15:12:19
1175 forum posts
35 photos

Hi Peter,

Not sure I can answer your first question, I just use an oil can like this, if there leakage i put a small piece from a paper towel between the nipple and the oil can spout. This has worked well for several years. For lubrication of plain bearings I just use hydraulic oil (ISO 32).


not done it yet08/12/2019 15:49:48
4168 forum posts
15 photos

1). If you search for oil gun, you may well find some suggestions.  There are 15 threads which come up with that search.

2). I would expect any good lubricating oil would suffice, preferably not a thick gear oil for bearings.

I expect the nipples are oil nipples if they are to deliver oill.

Edited By not done it yet on 08/12/2019 15:51:08

old mart08/12/2019 16:04:39
1251 forum posts
116 photos

As far as I know, grease is not recommended even if the nipple looks like a grease one. I t has probably been added later in the lathes life. If there are traces of grease, it should be removed by stripping down and washing. The only exceptions to this on the Model A that I use are the leadscrews of the tailstock, cross slide and compound slide which get motorcycle chain grease. The main threading leadscrew gets oil.

I use semi synthetic 5W 40 oil in the head bearings and apron, but if you want the exact stuff, then get Mobil DTE light.

Edited By old mart on 08/12/2019 16:19:54

Avon08/12/2019 17:05:30
19 forum posts
2 photos


Many thanks for the comments. I'll follow them all up. 'Old Mart' - an interesting suggestion to use such a light oil, though I can imagine that it certainly gets to where you want it. I obtained a specialist oil for the head bearings which have felts to move it from the reservoirs, but am away from workshop so can't check the spec. I was going to use slideway oil on the leadscrew.

Many thanks all.

old mart08/12/2019 17:26:52
1251 forum posts
116 photos

You could get more info and manuals from lathes UK;


Martin Connelly08/12/2019 17:55:33
1026 forum posts
122 photos

There are two oil topping up points behind the spindle bearings. One of these leads to a sump under the bull gear to lubricate it and a wick from the oil gallery also takes oil up to the spindle bearings. Grease will obviously not work here so make sure they are not clogged up with mistakenly used grease. There is also an oil point on the spindle pulley with a screw in it. It should say oil but may be worn away. I take the nipple off vertical oiling points to add oil then put the nipples back. It should not be hard to make an extender for any awkward oiling points if you have trouble finding a suitable oil can.

I have a PDF user manual. If you want a copy email me with a suitable contact email.

Martin C

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