I decided to install lead screw covers on my Colchester Master 2500 lathe. The lathe is about 50 years old, so you might say that it is a bit late in its life to install covers now, but I really like my Colchester, and the lead screw appears to be in good condition, like the rest of the lathe. And lately I have been turning some cast iron, which is quite abrasive. And I occasionally use a tool post grinder. So, protect the lead screw I bought some covers from DY-Global in South Korea.
To give DY-Global a free plug, the covers arrived at my home in Australia, from Korea, 48 hours after I paid for them. With a hand written thank you note. Fantastic service.
Anyway, back to the installation. I had installed covers on another lathe a few years ago, and I was not looking forward to repeating the experience. If past experience is anything to go on, the installer is lucky if afterwards he (or she) does not require skin grafts and a blood transfusion.
Handling the covers is like handling an oiled snake, which bites.
So this time, I thought about the job in advance.
And I made mental notes, which I am now setting down, for your benefit. And mine, if I ever have to repeat the task. I might add that the covers do not come with any installation instructions. Nor could I find anything on the web which helped. So this is how I managed.
The unprotected leadscrew
With the carriage moved to the tailstock end
Firstly, clean and oil the leadscrew. This can be done after the cover installation, but it is a lot easier if done beforehand.
Also, tke note of the dimensions of the lathe hardware where the covers will sit, to make sure that the covers will fit, and not obstruct the leadscrew nut or anything else.
Then, wearing eye protection and gloves, compress the cover with one hand, while removing the metal clip with the other hand. Then very carefully, allow the cover to expand to its full length. WARNING: the cover is under considerable tension (correction… Should read “compression”). Do not allow it to explosively expand. How do I know this? Do not ask.
The alternative method is to disassemble the lead screw, half nuts, leadscrew bearing mounts and most of the carriage. It might be easier to do this, but I did not, so I will press on with my chosen method.
The expanded cover will be about 1 meter long, depending on specifications. It will be oily and slippery, and attract whatever dust and crap you have lying around your lathe. I suggest that you wipe the exterior surfaces clean, to make subsequent handling a bit more like handling a dry snake than an oily one. Re-oil it after installation.
Lay the cover near the leadscrew, in its intended position. The carriage should be at one extreme end of the lathe. You will note a big diameter end and a small diameter end. In my case I decided that the small diameter should be at the carriage end.
The next instruction is the pearl in the description. Read it carefully.
Using fingers, prise open the big diameter end of the cover and slip it over the lead screw about half way long the exposed length. It will resist you, but be forcefull.
Then twist the cover to screw on the rest of it. Simple!
I found that 95% of the cover went on in a few seconds, but the final 3 or 4 turns of the cover would not go on by twisting. To get those last turns on, I used small flat screw drivers to lever them on. Even better, I realised later, would have been to use bicycle tyre levers.
The cover then snaps into place, in a most satisfying manner.
The big diameter end of the cover slipped over the leadscrew.
One of the covers in place. The one on the other side of the carriage is mirror reversed of course.
The compressed cover occupies about 50mm, so the carriage movement is slightly reduced.
The first time I installed these covers took me several hours. And skin grafts and a blood transfusion. Now that I have this technique it takes me about 5 minutes.