Cleaning up a used Lathe

I just bought a used lathe (Yeah!) and want to clean it up before I start using it. It is in very good shape with minimal wear. I plan to change the oil, degrease all the accessible parts and lubricate them. The recommended oil is non-detergent SAE 20W.

There are a few small scratches and a few rust spots on the ways. Should I try to clean them up or am I more likely to cause problems? I could remove the rust with navel jelly. I could clean it off with fine steel wool. I could take a belt sander and get it really smooth (Ha Ha). Do you have any recommendations?

What else should I do with it before I start using it?

Thank you.


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I use a single-edge razor blade to get protruding rust off of machined surfaces, polish with crocus cloth, and oil liberally. I don't worry about making the visible spot go away, as that would require too much material to be removed. The intent is to remove everything sticking up above the original surface, but only that.

Joe Gwinn

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Joseph Gwinn

If the scratches are such that material is displaced, you can stone them down flush, I'd use something like a hard Arkansas stone with light oil, just be careful. Ultra-fine bronze or steel wool and oil(WD40 works for this) for minor rust, if it's more than just freckles, use a razor blade to get the protruding stuff off, then use the steel wool and oil to get as much of the rest as you can. It's not going to look like factory-new, don't try. Don't use chemicals. I find that LPS 1 can lift light rust with a little rubbing with a heavy paper towel or some rags. Got a shock this week, the local HF store carries some of the LPS line now.


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