The lathe functions as a multi-purpose tool in any venue, from the home handyman’s workshop to a professional setting, performing operations including boring, drilling, grinding, and turning. Keeping this valuable tool in good working order through routine preventative maintenance, and lathe repair when necessary, is therefore an important consideration. Repairing a lathe may even extend its life and keep a shop up and running. The best tips for lathe repair include getting to know an experienced repairman, keeping an eye on parts that most often wear out, and keeping spare parts on hand.
When repairs are needed, an experienced lathe repairman can offer the best advice, since maintaining the precision of the machine is crucial. This individual can examine the lathe for signs of wear and explain to the owner how the machine should be maintained. Unless the owner is familiar with repairing tools of this kind, he or she should probably leave repairs up to professionals or the tool's manufacturer, in the case of an existing warranty.
Most often, the best thing the lathe owner can do is to perform preventative maintenance. The more consistently the lathe is cleaned and inspected, the less likely it will need expensive repairs. One of the most common preventative maintenance tasks is to ensure the lathe is sufficiently lubricated; this will keep the machine operating smoothly.
Since even different types of lathes share standard functions and repair needs, while doing preventative maintenance, one should inspect the lathe for five common lathe repair problems:
- Loose or worn drive belts: This problem occurs during normal wear and tear on a lathe.
- Worn clamping jaws: Chips formed during the lathing process often become lodged between moving parts, preventing smooth movement or disrupting it altogether. This situation often occurs particularly with cross slide or clamping jaws, resulting in a loss of precision, as the jaws can no longer hold a part “true.”
- Worn gibs: A gib is essentially a precise shim that allows adequate clearance for movement, but prevents additional movement, or “slop,” that could reduce precision.
- Worn bearings: This problem typically results from lack of adequate lubrication.
- Damaged gears: Attempting to change rotation speeds during the lathe’s operation can severely damage the gears, unless the particular model allows for making those changes.
Another tip for lathe repair involves keeping spare lathe parts on hand. Whether at home or in the workplace shop, having those essential parts in stock can make all the difference in replacing a worn part when it no longer functions properly, saving the owner the time and money it would take to locate parts in an emergency. In the long run, even if a professional repairman must be brought in, the cost of repairs is worthwhile if it prolongs the life of the lathe, as compared to the usually higher costs of replacing this tool due to improper maintenance.