Re: how do I clean and polish a lathe bed

RJ White

On Aug 3, 2020, at 6:24 AM, Andrei <calciu1@...> wrote:

Great tip, Richard. 

I will keep Easy Off in mind. I had some pieces where the paint was super stubborn to remove. 


From: <> on behalf of Richard Wanke <r.wanke@...>
Sent: Monday, August 3, 2020 8:32 AM
To: <>
Subject: Re: [SouthBendLathe] how do I clean and polish a lathe bed
I used Easy Off oven cleaner on my old South Bend. Sprayed it on, let it work for 10 minutes or so, then used a wire brush to easily take off the paint, followed by a wipe down with rags. Worked great.

On Aug 2, 2020, at 9:26 PM, Rogan Creswick <creswick@...> wrote:

I've been trying (unsuccessfully) to strip the paint off a ~1940s south end with citristrip, and it does not appear to work well on lead-based paint. 

Quinn (blondihacks) has a video that supports this, too.  If you have lead based paint, you'll want to use something else.

It does very slightly soften the outer layers, but not enough to make much of a difference.  It took something like 6 applications, and lots of scraping.

On Sun, Aug 2, 2020, 12:06 PM eddie.draper@... via <> wrote:
If you were in the UK I would not hestitate to recomend the miracle juice known as "Elbow Grease".  (Yes, honest.  If you don't believe me, Google it and you will find it even has a Safety Data Sheet.) 

When a coach has been imediately next to my steam loco, with the chimney next to it, it is covered in stuff that paraffin (BS2869 class C1 -oil for burning in lamps and flueless room heaters, probably known as kerosene in the USA, although we reserve that word for class C2, 28 second gas oil for central heating burners) won't shift.

(Apologies for rambling.)  Spray Elbow Grease on and watch the muck run off even without agitation.  I have also used it on the ceiling of a greasy spoon cafe kitchen refurb and it even shifts that with a couple of wipes, ready for paint.

(No commercial interest in Elbow Grease, just a worshipper.)


On Sunday, 2 August 2020, 19:45:49 BST, Andrei <calciu1@...> wrote:

Just for cleaning off grease, walmart purple power works well

Typos are courtesy of autocorrect.

From: <> on behalf of glenn brooks <brooks.glenn@...>
Sent: Sunday, August 2, 2020 2:36:19 PM
To: <>
Subject: Re: [SouthBendLathe] how do I clean and polish a lathe bed
I use Safeway “Spray and Wash” in green squirt bottles. These new household ecological friendly formulations are the best ever for removing dried machine oils.  Spray it on, let soak for a few minutes. Scrub, scrape off. Repeat a couple of times if necessary.  It’s very mild on exposed skin and doesn’t strip the finish.

So, No need to strip the original paint in order to just clean it up. 

I cleaned up and repainted an old 18” x8’ Cincinnati tray top lathe in Hawaii last year that ran in the Doyle Pineapple cannery in Honolulu for 60 years, using a variety of solvents. Turned out thenSpray and Wash treatment was the best to cut through the accumulation of 60 years accumulation of oil, swarf and dirt. 


On Aug 2, 2020, at 11:22 AM, Andrei <calciu1@...> wrote:

I have had decent results with the safe stripper from home depot. It cleaned some old south bend parts to the metal with only 2 applications. Left it overnight, wrapped tightly in a garbage bag so it did not dry out. Overkill? Dunno.

Typos are courtesy of autocorrect.

From: <> on behalf of Jim_B <jim@...>
Sent: Sunday, August 2, 2020 2:20:01 PM
To: <>
Subject: Re: [SouthBendLathe] how do I clean and polish a lathe bed
I do not recommend any sanding. 
These machines were painted with lead based paint. It could be very dangerous. You would need good respirators. 
Chemical or (my preference) electrolytic stripping is better. 
It’s hard to get old style strippers and some find the new “SAFE” strippers leave a lot to be desired. 
For large parts try oven cleaner as a stripper. Wear face mask and gloves. Also very good ventilation. 

Smaller sections use electrolytic stripping. Much safer. Google it. 
It uses washing soda. 
It removes rust oil grease and paint. 
Have a can of primer ready. The parts tend to rust instantly after cleaning. 

Jim B,

On Aug 2, 2020, at 1:55 PM, Dora Tamilta via <doratamilta@...> wrote:

Hi Matt
Got the Hendey off the trailer and into the garage, and have started to clean it up. Lets just say that it has a "fine patina" of old oil/grease, chips, and dirt on it. Seems to run ok, but not the cleanest thing around! Which brings me to my question; Whats the best way to clean up a dirty lathe?

Guessing a pressure washer would not be a good idea... I started off with some mineral spirits and an old brush. Was gonna use a rag, but all those chips make that seem like a bad idea on the hands. My "plan" is to do a couple mineral spirit wipedowns, then use a degreaser on the painted surfaces, sand and repaint as needed to get a decent finish - not gonna be a show piece, but I want it to look good and protect the metal...

As for the machined surfaces, was going to use scotchbrite to clean them up, then add a light coat of oil to protect them.

Once its clean, I'll flush and refill all the fluids, replace felts, etc.

Jim B

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