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Yesterday I finally got around to draining the headstock on my Lux-Matter 16 x 60 lathe.
The gear selectors were very sluggish, especially the "High-Low" range lever. One time last winter I actually had to take the headstock cover off and pry the shifting gear in order to change to Low.
The problem was definitely worsened by lower temperature.

I started cleaning the channel that goes around the front (chuck) end of the headstock. There was a hole just over the front spindle bearing and I figured that must be how the bearing is oiled, by channeling the splash oil around the channel to the bearing so I plugged it and started using various solvents.
Paint thinner didn't seem to work very well so I cried some carb cleaner in a spray can, it worked a little better.
I managed to get the front half cleaned which exposed some other "dimples" in the channel. I was worried that they too might be drillings to send splash oil to other points needing lube but once cleaned they were found to be very shallow holes with a drill point shape end.
Once the headstock was drained of it's "oil" (I use the term loosely)
I looked at the bottom and saw what looked like some settling of sludge on the bottom.
I was able to reach past stuff to get my fingers into it.


This is going to prove difficult to remove. I plan to scrap out as much as I can manually and then do a flush.


I've heard that automatic transmission fluid is an excellent cleaner as well as lubricant, what do you folks think of filling the headstock and running it for a few days (or weeks) then draining it.
And, once done, if effective, I thought of refilling with fresh ATF and then setting up a schedule for changes.
Any thoughts or advice would be appreciated.
Wonder if heating varsol would help dissolve the sludge? Maybe even fill the headstock and put an electric immersion heater in there and run it with no load.
hi just my bit mix up sum diesel and paraffin 50 x 50 mix its a good all round sludge shifter
STEVE i WOULD USE A 50/50 MIX OF DIESEL + A GOOD ENGINE OIL. The diesel is a lubricant as well as cleaner and mixed with oil will not cause any problems as long as you avoid prolonged use at high speeds. I will dissolve and remove anything like old sludge and will not hurt seals etc. After the initial flush one could overfill with diesel + run at low speed and then let drain overnight. I would then fill with a good 50 weight synthetic oil like used in truck transmissions and you will never have a shift problem again. My experience with diese in oil comes from leaky injector in my truck and a trip from WPG to CALGARY with 3 to 4 gals of diesel in the oil. This was before my inframe and experienced no damage to the bearings etc and really left the engine spotless inside. A good filter system helped also. Diesel is cheap and readily available compared to anything else you could use. tom
On second thought I have to agree with the masses, diesel would probably be beter, varsol would damage the seals.
Not sure about AFT for a final lubricant, it probably has some additives for the clutches, but is used in transfer cases and standard transmissions now. Shell makes a hydraulic fluid that most lathes call for. Can check my pail for the name and weight if you want.
Well for what it's worth I've tried methyl hydrate (wood alcohol), Varsol (paint thinner), acetone, brake cleaner and carb cleaner. None seem to disolve samples of the sludge I've scrapped off.
I am presently pumping deiselthrough the bottom of the headstock.
The white stuff on the surface is due to the swirling of the deisel.


Above it I've hung a heat lamp in an effort to raise the temperature.
Here's the pump set-up.


The deisel had a green hue, it looks like a sickly mustard green colour in the pick but that (hopefully) is due the sludge being picked up.
I'm gonna let it run all evening and maybe all night.
Any sign of success and I'll report back.
BTW I scraped out as much as I could but with all that important stuff in the way it's nowhere near thorough.
Update, Well the diesel fuel doesn't seem to cut it. The heat seems to have softened it so that where the stream from the pump comes out the sludge gets moved but it's definitely not getting disolved/absorbed.
I could probably get it out with some sort of heated pressure washer but I don't want to shoot water of any sort into the headstock for fear of rusting places where I won't be able to remove the water.
I think if you just use it for some time with the oil/diesel mix it will begin to move, a bit of work will not hurt the bearings with this mix, cleaning will not be instantaneous I would think a few weeks of use and it should clean up well. (just my 2cents worth) tom
How about parts cleaner solution? Safety Kleen type stuff disolves most petroleum products easily.
rleete, I'm begining to think it's not a petroleum product.
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