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Reversing the bed on Atlas/Craftsman Lathe?

Discussion in 'ATLAS, CRAFTSMAN & AA' started by azscooby, Feb 17, 2017.

  1. azscooby

    azscooby United States Steel Registered Member

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    I have a 12x36 Craftsman lathe that I purchased a few months ago.

    I spent a lot of time getting it into good running condition but have noticed quite a bit of bed wear near the headstock, as is typical.

    I've looked at different options and the consensus seems to be "just deal with it," which is fine.

    However, as I look at the bed and how the headstock is attached I wonder if it would be possible to "reverse" the bed? By this I mean, move the headstock to the rear, move the leadscrew to the "back", flip the bed (turn it around front to back)..etc...has anyone done this? Is it possible?

    I did notice the webbing structure is a bit different near the headstock, and the casting has a few differences front to back, but I really don't see any reason why this couldn't be done.

    Since I have the 54" bed, past the wear area, there is another three feet of bed that is virtually pristine that would give me years of "like new" performance.

    My other thought was shortening the bed by moving the headstock up 12" or so and chopping the bed. This would also solve the issue of the worn leadscrew....

    I really don't need a 54" bed, 36" would be fine for what I do.

    Any thoughts? Anyone done it? Is it possible? Am I missing something obvious that would make this impossible?
     
  2. wawoodman

    wawoodman himself, himself H-M Supporter-Premium

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    If you can move the headstock up, that's the way I would go.
     
  3. wa5cab

    wa5cab Downloads Moderator Staff Member H-M Supporter-Premium

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    I agree. Fewer holes to drill and tap, and might remove the lead screw wear. But if the wear locations on on the bed and leadscrew allow, I would only shorten it to 12x24. Which means a 42" bed. Although the center-to-center distance and bed length don't actually have to vary in 6" increments.

    However, before you start cutting, you need to make sure that with the bed shortened to a certain point, you can bolt down the headstock without interference from the cross webs in the casting. So after stripping all of the parts or assemblies off, test fit the headstock in the tentative location and confirm that you can drill the two small holes that position the headstock longitudinally and that you can fit the clamp and then get a wrench onto the clamp bolts. The worn area in the bed shouldn't be a problem even if the headstock happens to fall within it after shortening the bed as the headstock sits on the inner parts of the ways and the carriage runs on the outer parts.

    But, you didn't state the model number of your lathe, only that it is a 12x36. A lot of the early 12" had 5/8" diameter leadscrews. If the leadscrew is 3/4", you will need to turn down a short part of the left end to 5/8" and cut a short keyway. If the reduced diameter falls in the threaded part of the leadscrew, the turning will remove most of the acme threads and I think that it won't matter much where the cut falls. If the leadscrew is 5/8" and the cut happens to fall in the worn area, that might be a problem.
     
  4. azscooby

    azscooby United States Steel Registered Member

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    It's a 7403, so 3/4" leadscrew, which also has severe wear but only in about a 2" area....whoever had this lathe must have worked exclusively within those first 2-3 inches....

    I agree that shortening would be the easiest way to go. I have a little Benchmaster mill so I should be able to mill the slot after turning it down.

    I'm surprised no one else has done this especially on the longer 54" bed lathes...(which also worries me as there may be an obvious reason that I'm not seeing.)

    But from memory, it seems all I'd need to do is drill/tap the two new leadscrew bearing holes in the bed, the two new headstock holes in the end of the ways (no tapping) and the three holes that hold the bed to the left legs, as well as soften the leadscrew....

    Anything else I'm missing? Assuming the alignment of the headstock at the clamp doesn't interfere with any webbing this seems like it may work....but cutting that bed is going to be quite the commitment.....no going back.

    I'd probably go ahead and drill/tap all the holes and set it up (without the gears or leadscrew) just to verify it'll all work, because once I cut, that's it.
     
  5. wa5cab

    wa5cab Downloads Moderator Staff Member H-M Supporter-Premium

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    As I recall, the two or three people who talked about shortening their bed, rack and lead screw ended up finding a better condition bed instead (either shorter, longer, or the same length). So you may be the first that I know of to actually do it.

    I can't think of anything that you have forgotten.
     
  6. azscooby

    azscooby United States Steel Registered Member

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    Ok, thanks guys for the info.

    I have also thought of buying a used bed from an online auction site as to have a sacrificial bed instead....those longer 54" beds could serve others very well since most of th wear is within the first few inches.....if your lathe was a 24" to start with you'd have plenty of room for a nice new bed....

    It's so hard to find good machinery in his area.....a neat job atlas or craftsman with little to no tooling start at $800 and sell quickly....forget finding a southbend or Logan.......I did get lucky with my benchmaster find, though that's understandable since they were made in the LA area (only a five hour drive from here.)

    I got this one for $400 with a 6" shars chuck that was missing the top jaws and a set of collets...no steady rest or any other attachments....it was a steal at $400....I've seen one Southbend for sale in the last year and they wanted $4k, it sold quickly....it's insane when I hear you guys in the NE pay for good machines....

    So I'm trying to make due with what I have until something better comes along. I had t buy 5 gears to get a full set and replaced the gears on the tumbler reverse all with steel Boston gears...that cost me more than I paid for the entire lathe....
     
  7. wa5cab

    wa5cab Downloads Moderator Staff Member H-M Supporter-Premium

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    AZ,

    Of all of the parts that typically wear out on an Atlas (or other badges for that matter), the bed is probably the least likely to show up for sale on-line. Reasons are (1) that its probably the most trouble to pack and least likely that a seller would just happen to have a suitable box. And (2) shipping costs have more than doubled the past 7 or 8 years. If you really don't mind having a shorter bed machine, shortening the bed is probably the best way to go. If you did manage to locate another bed, rack and lead screw, you would then have to figure out what to do with the originals. :confused:

    Plus given that up through the the 101.07403, the model number did not specify the bed length, there would be no future confusion as to what to call it. :)
     
  8. yendor

    yendor Active User Active Member

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    While the beds don't come for auctions exactly for the reasons discussed.
    You may be able to e-mail the site and ask them about a good condition bed.

    I picked up a couple of parts for my Atlas from a local EBay seller and he had several beds laying around his place that he was simply hauling away for scrap.
    They break down the saleable parts and scrap the rest.
     
  9. tq60

    tq60 United States Active Member Active Member

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    Or...
    Use it as is and compensate for the wear.

    Keep eyes open and go to estate sales.

    Get in good with the operators as they often have estates where these are located.

    Our SB 14.5 was from an estate sale where the operator called us to look at it as the sale was at a distance.

    Key is having "agents" look for you and having the funds available to jump on the deal.

    Your lathe will be worth much less in the altered state even if less worn and your time will be lost.

    That lathe has other areas that make it not so good to spend the amount of time to modify it.

    Now flipping the lead screw end over end may be option as making bushing for tail stock end and making tail stock end work at headstock is suitable work and a replaceable part if you trash it.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337Z using Tapatalk
     
  10. bfd

    bfd United States H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    I like the idea of shortening the bed I would only shorten it to cover the worn spot and shim the headstock into alignment keep the bed as long as possible but that's just me.
     
  11. ghostdncr

    ghostdncr United States Active Member Active Member

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    I wouldn't modify the bed, myself. My 12x24 (101.07380) has a great bed but I've been looking for one of the longer ones for awhile now. They seem to be far more rare than the short beds, probably because of the shipping issues pointed out earlier.
     

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