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Craftsman 109.xxxx Lathe Enhancements revised 6/15/99 J Tiers The Craftsman lathe is a usable small lathe.

It does have some deficie ncies which tend to make it less than perfectly satisfactory for serious use. The enhancements and added parts described in thi s document and accompanying drawings have proved very useful in overcoming some of the common problems of the lathe. Included are drawings for a follower rest, an improved toolholder, and an impr oved rear carriage bearing. In the text some other parts are described, and some refurbishing ideas are given. All the parts in th e drawings can be made with only a drill press and hand tools in addition to the lathe itself. Most difficulties originate from the rather flexible construction of the 109. While the oldest units, from the 1940's, superficially look like a small South Bend, and have the heaviest frames, they cannot compare to industrial lathes in rigidity or features. The width of the carriage, arrangement of gibs, etc all tend to increase the l ooseness. And, on many older units, wear or imperfect manufacturing allows the carriage to twist relative to the ways. Some of the newer versions, especially the ones sold under the Sears Companion brand, are of somewhat lighter construction than the 1940's versions. Some are painted a blue color, others hav e "swoopy" styling and polished trim pieces. On these units, dimensions may vary from the older ones, and the basic c onstruction may not justify a lot of work to improve the unit. DISCLAIMER All the parts and improvements described, refurbishing ideas, and other inform ation in this document is based on my specific 1940's vintage lathe. For the newer versions, including the ver sions with the "spaceship styling" and the trim piece on headstock, as well as the blue painted (Companion brand?) versions , the information may either be not applicable, or may need to be adapted. In addition, adaptation may be required t o compensate for wear or manufacturing variations even on other 1940's vintage units. There is no guarantee exp ressed or implied that the dimensions or parts, ideas etc will fit or work with any other particular individual lathe. 109 Problems and solutions Things to do in general 1) Relieve the carriage bearing surfaces. The carriage was not made with reliefs at the 'corners' where the bearing surf aces meet. In consequence, the carriage may tend to ride on the "points" of the ways after some wear has occurred. This can be corrected by removing the carriage and carefully using a hacksaw b lade to cut a groove at the points where the carriage way bearing surfaces meet each other. Then the "points" of the ways ca n extend into these reliefs as the bearing surfaces wear. in this way the flat surfaces can take the pressure and more firm ly align the carriage. 2) Add way wipers The carriage was not made with any provision to supply oil to the ways or brus

h chips off of the ways. This can allow excessive wear, as well as binding of the carriage. Felt way wipers can be added by drilling and tapping a 6-32 hole in the carria ge above each way bearing (4 places total). Pieces of thick (3/16 inch to 1/4 inch) felt can then be secured via screws an d washers so as to wipe the ways clean as the carriage moves. Cut a "v" out of the felt so as to fit over the ways with some pressure. Keep the felts well oiled, and brush the chips off of them from time to time. A large fender washer cut with a "v" to fit over the way and trimmed to avoid the cross-slide can help hold the felt in place. Ordinary 30 weight or "3in1" oil sh ould be satisfactory. 3) Add a handle to the lead screw handwheel The older 1940's versions have a boss on the handwheel which could take a hand le. This is extremely handy when using the lathe, since no longitudinal feed handwheel is present on the unit. Moving the c arriage smoothly by hand can be a real pain otherwise. A handle about 2" long and about 1/2" in diameter at the thickest poi nt is suitable. Rough it out to a "fat baseball bat" shape between centers with use of the longitudinal feed and crossfeed, leav ing a thicker parallel area at the "knob" of the "bat" for seating. Don't cut it off yet. Use a file to smooth it to a suitab le shape, and turn about 3/8" of the piece below the "knob" to a suitable diameter for threading 1/4-20 as a mounting pin. Either thread on the lathe, or thread later with a die. Cut the base of the "knob" in flat as a seating area, and cut off the part. Drill and thread the handwheel boss 1/4-20, being careful, since the wheel is a soft zinc alloy. You may want to drill a short portion oversize to take the unthreadable area of the mounting pin. After thread ing and smoothing with sandpaper, the handle can be screwed in using a little removable locktite. 4) Make calibrated feed handwheels to replace the cast handles The original "AAdocs" file gives some plans for these. I would not bother with some of the frills like movable collars etc, but the basic plans are good. A couple of details are not in the file but are in an old "Projects in Metal" article. For one thing, the plans are based on using longer feed leadscrews than originally supplied. So you may need to cut the hand wheel assemblies shorter than the plans. For another, the calibrations can be most easily cut by making a "poor man's d ividing head". This is a strip of paper taped around the chuck. You first hold the strip in place and mark the length. Then y ou take it off and mark the needed number of divisions by measuring the length and dividing it by the number of divisions. Wh en put back on the chuck, a temporary pointer allows rotation to fairly accurate spacings. Mount the wheel in the chuck and se t to a mark on the paper. Mount a pointed cutting tool in the toolholder, sideways and set to the center height. Advance t he tool against the workpiece and use the leadscrew by hand to scribe the mark. A couple of passes may be needed to get to a good depth. Move to next division on your paper strip, and repeat. Varying the number of turns of the leadscrew allows marking longer marks for 5 and 10 thousandths divisions than for 1/1000 marks. Since the feed screw threading is 5/16-24, 42 marks around the dial are almost exact for 1/1000 feed per mark. 5) Replace the steel cross slide gib with a brass gib.

Brass will slide more easily when adjusted tight than the steel does. Secure a piece of brass of suitable thickness, cut to length, file to right thickness, bevel to fit into the space and slide it into p lace. You can (as I did) solder two pieces of shim brass together to make up the thickness. Be sure to file off any solder from the bearing surfaces. If tightness persists, it may be necessary to scrape the cross slide dovetails to a better fit. Do in similar fashion to the carriage scraping as below. You won't be able to see much, so I would go by feel . File or scrape only on the carriage dovetails, they are the ones with the problem in most cases. It won't be much, s o go easy. 6) Regularly oil the back gears as well as the nose and tail bearings. A 1/4 inch set screw is located on the back gear cone pulley. If removed, it a llows oil to be supplied to the back gear bearings. A couple of drops should be sufficient, at intervals corresponding to about every other time you oil the nose bearing. Specific Fixes A) Carriage twists when reversing direction of feed This often causes the cut depth to be different feeding toward vs away from th e headstock. The root of the problem is wear or excessive manufacturing tolerances. It is aggravated by tightening the carriage clamp on the rear of the carriage, since the drag tends to twist the carriage and increase wear on front bearings. In severe cases, the carriage will rock or twist when allowed to sit on the wa ys with no pressure. Try opposite (cater) corners and see if it will rock like a chair with one short leg. Try to rotate the carriage in a horizontal plane while lightly holding it dow n. It should not move much if any. The cause of the twist or rocking problem is that the vertical bearing surfac e on the front of the way is not in contact with the mating surface on the carriage. A complete solution is probably impossible, as t he design is not as solid as it could be, the carriage is too narrow along the bed. However, "scraping" the carriage way beari ngs to the ways can help. Scraping (in my case, "filing")is not for the faint of heart, but if it is needed and carefully done it will be well worth the trouble. Use of the improved rear carriage bearing described in this document can also help, by holding the carriage in better contact with the ways. And the way wipers will keep down additional wear. Remove and strip down the carriage. Apply marking blue to the carriage way be arings after cleaning off all oil from them and from the ways. (you can also use an indelible felt marker pen). Place the carriage on the ways and move back and forth applying light downwar d pressure to seat it on the ways. Remove from the ways and examine the bearing surfaces. If the carriage is well seated, all bearing surfaces will show even marking ( wear) of the blue. This is not likely to be true of your lathe! If not well seated, some surfaces will show worn areas in the blue, and o thers may be untouched or nearly so. The worn surfaces are holding the un-worn surfaces off of the ways. They need to have material removed until the other surfaces are brought in contact with the ways. Judgement is needed to decide what surface to attack, but the principle is to carefully file or scrape those carriage way bearing surfaces that show worn blue. Then re-mark and re-try against the ways. This check and file routine is repeated until

all bearing surfaces are in complete contact with the ways as shown by evenly wo rn blue. It is usually necessary to wipe off and re-apply blue after each filing, and before each re-check against the ways. File only those areas that have wear. It is possible to have uneven wear on o ne surface, and this must be corrected by filing the worn spots only. Use of a fine square file that has two "safe" (non-toothed) surfaces is stron gly suggested. This will allow work on just one bearing surface at a time. You can grind off the 'side" teeth from a standard fi le if necessary, but it must be a file of a size which will fit down into the way bearings. The more rigid the file the better, d on't try to use a thin file, you will just get the bearings out of square. Remember, you are not trying to take much off, only a few thousandths. It is better to take off too little than too much, since you can always take off a little more. Too much pressure when trying against the ways can warp the carriage and give false readings. If the ways are worn very unevenly, it may not be possible to do this to the point of complete satisfaction. You may have to split the difference and scrape to an intermediate portion of the ways, or to th e area you expect to use the most. I definitely do not recommend trying to scrape the ways, that is a job for an expert, and the 109 lathe does not justify the cost. B) Excessive vibration when turning parts. Turned surface scalloped. This is due in large part to the inherent looseness of the lathe. Correc tive actions include: 1) Tighten the cross-slide and carriage gibs 2) Make sure the tool is very sharp 3) Use the toolholder described in this document 4) Use the follower rest described in this document 5) Scrape the carriage to the ways as above (if it rocks on the ways when l oosened) 6) Make sure the tool is not extended too far out of the holder 7) Make sure the tool is not too thin or is backed up by a heavy backer pie ce 8) Take a heavier or lighter cut 9) Change spindle speed


Excessive backlash in the lead screw This can be caused by a worn leadscrew or half-nut. It can also be caused by e xcessive twist of the type described above, or endplay in leadscrew. 1) Replace leadscrew or half-nut (not likely, live with it!) 2) Scrape carriage to the ways if twist is the problem 3) Add thin packing washers to leadscrew bearing at tailstock end to take u p end play D) Excessive backlash in the cross-slide feed screw The nut is a silly loose round piece which fits under the compound rest. It ha s a flange to hold it, but it does not fit tightly, and tends to rock as the feed screw is reversed. It can rock enough to cause 3/4 turn of play. Take off the compound rest and file down a large washer until it fits on top o f the nut flange and keeps it from rocking when the compound is installed. Don't let the added washer hold the compound off of i

ts bearing surface, you should still have a few thousandths play.

Construction notes for improved parts Follower rest The drawings should be fairly self-explanatory as to the pieces. A few importa nt points are worth noting. 1) The base of the pillar piece must be quite flat and square to ensure tha t it will be straight and tight. 2) The exact height should be checked for your lathe, since some variations exist among different units. Also different material thickness on the base will throw it off. if you change the base thickne ss, don't go too thin, you need the thickness for rigidity. 3) Don't drill the wedges until the base is made. Clamp the base in place o n the carriage at accurate right angles to the cross-slide dovetail way, and hold a wedge in place at the end near the pillar p iece. Make sure it is up against the bottom of the base and in place against the cross-slide dovetail. Mark the holes through t he base, drill and tap. Install that wedge, and repeat the process for the other wedge, being sure the both wedges are tight aga inst their dovetails. Before marking, put a piece of 0.030 (approximately) thick material between the second wedge and the b ottom of the base. This will ensure that the wedge will clamp onto the dovetail. 3) Grind a round end on the bolts used for the actual rest. It helps if the bolts are hardened, but it is not essential. The nuts are to jam and hold the bolts in position after adjustment. 4) If the rest is carefully made, you will be able to reverse the pillar pi ece and turn the rest so that you can have the pillar piece on either the headstock or tailstock side of the toolholder.

Toolholder There is nothing tricky about this. It is simply a block made to solidly hold cutters. As-built, a 3/8 square cutter ends up on exact center for my lathe, if the cutting edge is at the top surface. Otherwise some packing underneath is required to put it on center. The six 10-32 holes in the top plate fit 10-32 x 5/8 inch (typical) allen head cap screws to hold the cutter. A few important points in case they are not obvious: 1) The spacer block may be made of one piece, or built up from a 3/8 and a 3/16 thick piece, etc, although the fewer pieces the better. The top and bottom should be one thickness each. 2) The center hole should be drilled through the completed part after the t wo flat-head 10-32 screws are put in and tightened. Otherwise it may not be true and aligned in all parts. 3) Locktite or equivalent can be used to fill the spaces between the parts and ensure a solid assembly. 4) The retaining nut can be made or purchased from a tool and supply source such as MSC or J&L. It is not very difficult to make, even with saw and files. Some adjustment may be necessary to fit newer lat hes with different compound rests. 5) A 5/16-18 x 1 1/2 hex-head cap screw is used to secure the holder on th e cross-slide. If desired, a thick "washer" could be turned and used with a longer 5/16-18 hold-down bolt. This would keep the hea

d and tightening wrench clear of the bit holding screws. Since I tend to use only one side at a time, I have not made the washer yet. Rear Carriage Bearing The clamp arrangement on older 109 lathes is plain silly. It is made so that the clamp may not actually tighten unless it is shifted to just the right position. Otherwise the clamp nut is in line with the projections on the clamp piece so that there is no rotation of the clamp piece into contact with the ways. Also, if tightened enough to be useful, it is often too tight to move easily. it is just a poor design, trying to be a guide and a clamp at once. I concluded to dispense with the clamping and settle for a good g uide. I have had no problems using the leadscrew as my support against carriage movement when facing a part. The odd shape of the brass gib is so that it fits and locates in the hollowed area in the middle of the carriage, around the clamp stud. It should be a loose fit between the contact bosses, so that it does not hold the bearing plate off the contact surface of the carriage. The larger hole in the bearing plate and the motch in the gib are for the cla mp stud. I left it in place in case I (or the next owner) ever want to use the clamp again. Make the parts to the sizes shown. Note that one of the 0.167 inch holes is s hown as ovaled slightly. This will let it fit better, just file out the ends a bit for now. Then remove the carriage. First remove the clamp. Then move the crossslide al l the way to the back and remove the 4 screws which are uncovered. Catch and retain the gibs which will fall into the l eadscrew. They are not identical, see that you know which is which. Lift off the carriage, disengaging it carefully from th e leadscrew. Hold the bearing plate in place on the rear surface of the carriage and mark out the two holes to be drilled in the carriage. Carefully drill a tapping hole for 8-32 in each marked spot. Don't drill too dee p, you don't want to drill through the carriage. Tap, using a bottoming tap if needed (you can grind the tip off an ordinary t ap). Clean up the holes and surfaces. Now do a trial assembly, checking fits. The bearing gib may be tight or loose depending on your lathe. You can adjust with paper or shim material liners either under the brass to correct looseness, or wh ere the bearing plate touches the carriage surface if it is tight. The idea is to arrive at a fit which is not loose but does not bind up either . When you are satisfied, reassemble the carriage to the ways using the required liners and put the lathe to work.