Clausing 5914 Lathe

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First let me say that I am not a machinist and I probably never will be. I took shop in high school and beyond that, I have no further formal training on metal shaping. However, I am very interested in learning enough to satisfy my need to make a few parts now and then. Mostly I will make parts for my vehicles, equipment and model planes.

In addition to the small milling and drilling machine I have in my shop, I also have an old Clausing 5914 Lathe. I purchased it from my uncle for scrap price many years ago to save it from being recycled. It was not in great shape, and it lacked any tooling. But it was something I wanted to see if I could restore so I dragged it home to my shop. I have had it sitting in the corner of the shop waiting for me to get around to restoring it.

I replaced the three phase motor with a single phase motor when I first got it. The variable speed drive did not work. But I did get it to run enough over the years to temporarily mount a three-jaw chuck on a back-plate and turn a few simple parts. There were so many other things on the lathe that it needed to be brought back to life that I left it for a retirement project.

Recently, I needed to make some sleeves for a disc harrow and realized that the lathe was barely working enough to make them. One thing led to another and I started cleaning the lathe and fixing things. Before I knew it, I bought about $500 worth of parts, correct oils, seals and etc. Below are the things I worked on to restore the lathe for making my simple metal projects.

Much of the cleaning was done with WD-40 and steel wool. That worked well to remove most of the surface rust. I followed with a light sanding of 2000 grit paper on a few stubborn rust spots. The good news is that the rust did not pit the metal. the rust did stain a few spots, but now everything is smooth again.

As I cleaned I realized that I did not know much about the lathe controls and the few tools that I did have with the lathe. So, I started my normal research project on the interweb. I did locate an operators manual for a 5914 and so far it seems to be accurate for the one I have. That really helped me. It also had exploded drawings of all the parts with part numbers. The manual also identified all the different controls which brought back memories of shop class.

I found out that this lathe does have an original taper attachment with most of the parts intact. It also has a Royal type collet closer. But it may need a part or two and I will have to find some 5c collets to see if it works. It also included an original Clausing collet rack and steady rest. There were a couple back-plates, one old three-jaw chuck made in Kalamazoo without a mount and one Burnerd four-jaw chuck.

The old lantern type tool post was there, but no tool holders. I have been using a small adjustable tool holder from my mini-lathe for the light turning that I have done.

There were a couple back-plates, one old three-jaw chuck made in Kalamazoo without a mount and one Burnerd four-jaw chuck. Several chuck keys, a drill chuck and a couple centers were found in the lower cabinet. All these parts were rusty and crusty and would have to be cleaned up.

So, to begin the restoration, I decided to tackle things I was not sure I could fix first. Then I would know before getting too involved how successful I might be in making the machine better. I already knew the lathe had many years of use which could have caused some irreversible wear. My hope was to make it a good as I could without spending all my money.

The list of things needing repair or attention included:

  • Surface rust removal

  • Variable speed control

  • Clutch control

  • Three-jaw chuck cleaning and mounting plate

  • Spindle head oil level sightglass

  • Apron oil level sightglass

  • Four-jaw chuck cleaning

  • Collet closer cleaning

  • 5c collet set

  • Lead screw shear pin

  • Motor cover

  • Lead screw feed control lever

  • Spindle nut wrench

  • Carriage Wheel slop

  • Proper leveling

  • BXA tool post

  • Tools for the BXA tool post

  • Old tool holders

  • Many other small odds and ends

  • Lead screw worm gear

This is what the lathe looked like before I started working on restoring it. I had already installed a single phase motor and I had mounted the three-jaw chuck on a back plate that came with the lathe. As you can see it was a mess.

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I found the Serial Number and Model number on this plate.

Notice the layer of dust and crud on the surface of the lathe. It has been sitting here for years.

I started with the variable speed control and drive. While I could get the spindle to turn, the speed control had never worked since I got the lathe.

Based on reading about the variable speed drive on , I took the drive pulley off the motor to see if the plastic coating was still intact. Apparently that can be a big problem if it has been worn off. It looks like mine is OK. The key had a small amount of wear but seems to be serviceable.

There was some surface rust on the drive pulleys from lack of use and some pitting, but I cleaned them up except for the pits.

Then I removed the variable speed control master and slave cylinders. There was no oil left in the system. The master cylinder was attached with two set screws and had a push rod that came out as I removed it.

The master cylinder came apart by removing two cap screws. You can almost see the large O-ring and seal in the block behind the spring.

These are the master cylinder parts. The small O-ring seals the two blocks at the oil reservoir. The large one is an oil wiper I guess since there is another packing type seal below it in the bore.

The slave cylinder has two pistons. They were stuck in the bores. So, I installed a grease fitting and used a grease gun to encourage the two pistons to come out. It worked great!

The slave cylinder had a single seal in a grove in the bores and they were crusty and brittle. They were a c-cup seal with an O-ring fitted inside them.

I measured the pistons from all the cylinders and seal remnants to see if I could source the seals locally.

I finally decided to just order the seals from Clausing. While the price was really high for the five seals, I wanted the correct seals.

As I was ordering seals, I asked if the clutch control handle bracket (part #041-259) was still available. I was told they would check and get back with me later. I figured it must not be available based on that response and started fabricating a part to activate the clutch. As you can see below, the part was so worn out that it just rotated around the square control rod.

I had an idea to fix it and started cutting some 1/4" plate steel. I fashioned a square tube of sorts to fit the square control rod. I used this steel block in the vise to hold two parts as square as possible while I tack welded them together.

Then I used this flare tool which is made of 5/8" square steel to hold the two parts I just made while I welded them into the square tube I needed.

I had to use a small file on the inside of it to make it fit properly, but it worked.

Next I had to find a way to make the old part drive the new part. I used the clutch control arm and jam nut to hold a plate on the front of the old part. Then I used two small trianglular pieces of 1/4" plate to attach the new part to the old.

I welded it while on mounted on the lathe to hold the pieces in the proper position.

After a little test fitting, additional welding and trimming, the part was ready.

I am not the best welder, but the part came out great!

The clutch control arm needed some additional threading to allow for the jam nut.

Believe it or not, the fix worked great. I think it will outlast me.

I also needed a spindle nut wrench. I found this thread online and contacted Walter. . Walter wanted some measurements and pictures so I sent him these pictures. He said he could make the wrench but I would need to round the pin on the end once it arrived.

Before the wrench arrived, the seals came from Clausing for the variable speed drive hydraulics. So I installed them and reattached the variable speed drive hydraulics to the lathe. I used a syringe to fill each cylinder and the hose with DTE-24 oil.

It took 15 or 20 cycles of running the speed control up and down to bleed the air from the system. I wrapped a rag around the hose at the master cylinder and would let the air escape at the hose connection by loosening it a little between each time. The speed control would not stay at low speeds at first. But as I cycled it and bled the air, the control would hold at lower and lower speeds. Then it finally started working properly.

Low speed.

Half speed.

I started cleaning up the three-jaw chuck next. It says it was made in Kalamazoo, so I guess it came with the lathe.

The three-jaw chuck had no back plate, so I ordered a 6" L00 blank from Ebay and fitted it to the chuck.

I had to use my small tool holder and a carbide cutting tool to fit the plate to the back of the lathe. It took a few attempts to find the best speed and cut depth.

I think it turned out well for a novice.

I drilled the first hole while using the back part of the chuck as a guide. Then I tapped the hole and used one of the screws to hold the chuck back before marking the rest of the holes and drilling them.

Then I tapped all the holes and trimmed the new back plate diameter to match the chuck.

I will check the runout later, but it should be pretty close.

I took the carriage slide off the apron so I could change the oil and replace the oil level window. I used a large screwdriver and a piece of round stock to push the old window out from the inside.

I removed the headstock cover and did the same to push the window out.

I got some new oil level windows online from Webb Wyman on the Yahoo Users of Clausing lathes and Mills group.

I used some sealant on the new oil level windows and carefully tapped them in.

This is the Burnerd four-jaw chuck as it is getting a cleanup.

I then started cleaning up the Royal collet closer. I am not sure it still works, but cleaned it up anyway.

There is a bit of thread damage that I will try to clean up with a small file.

I will get back to the collet closer once I find some 5c collets.

The lead screw direction lever would not lock into the upper position. I finally figured out that it was out of adjustment. There are two set screws that lock the selection arm to the gear pivot. It required me to remove some of the gears to access the set screws.

That allowed me room to access the set screws and adjust the control arm. One of the set screws was almost stripped, so it got replaced.

The snap ring was improperly installed and had slipped out of the groove.

The gears needed a good cleaning anyway.

I got the control arm adjusted and all the gears back on. I am concerned about some of the gear spacing. However, I see no way to adjust them.

I purchased a used lower motor cover from Ebay since the lathe did not come with one. To install it, I used an old truck mud flap to cut some cushion washers to put on the support pegs.

Then I cleaned out the threads in the bolt holes and mounted the cover.

With both covers installed, I started the motor. Something was rubbing and making too much noise.

The pulley system was vibrating badly and protruding too far out allowing the slave cylinder bolt to rub the cover. Also, the slave cylinder did not sit upright and was also rubbing the cover.

The motor mounts I made to mount the single phase motor years ago were 1/4" plate with some aluminum spacers to lift the motor into the correct position. I needed some ability to adjust the mounts.

Since I now have a little mill, I used it to cut slots into the plates to allow some adjustment.

I used a piece of angle iron to space and align the motor back into position.

The vibration was caused by the drive not staying tight to the motor. It had slipped down the shaft about 1/2". I took it apart, put it back into position and tightened the set screws to hold it properly.

The bad news is that I did not think about the hydraulics being under pressure when I took it off. One of the lower pistons came loose allowing the oil to get out. Now I had to bleed the system again. What a pain!

The problem with the slave cylinder sitting tilted was corrected by adjusting the hose support to keep the cylinder standing vertical. Now the cylinder would fit in the pocket inside the cover.

When I tested ran the lathe again, I still got some vibration noise. The slave cylinder cover screws onto the main cover and was making the noise. I cut a slit in some 5/16" fuel line and used it to fashion a gasket around the lip of the small cover. It really reduced the noise to almost none.

I found these parts in the tray. It turns out the lead screw shear pin had done its job.

The lead screw shear pins I got from Webb were 3/32" diameter but the hole in my screw was 1/8" diameter. Just my luck. Someone may have drilled it out? I tried one of the 3/32" pins, but it broke pretty quickly.

I ordered some 1/8" diameter x 1-3/8" dead soft solid aluminum rivets from Aircraft Spruce. (They were out of the 1" long ones.)

A 1/8" drill fit the hole just fine.

The spindle nut wrench that Walter made for me came in the mail. It looks great. It is made of 1/2" tool steel plate. As mentioned before, I will need to round the pin to fit the holes on my spindle nut.

I used a 3/8" washer as a template and a sharpened end of a small file to scribe a circle on the pin.

I used a Dremel metal cutting wheel to hog off most of the excess material.

Then I used a small file on the pin to round it out and finish it up.

This is one stout tool! And it fits great!

The 1/8" rivets that I ordered from Aircraft Spruce arrived and I immediately tried them out.

They seemed to fit the hole much better but still had a little slop in the fit. With the new shear pin installed, I tried the carriage feeds. I could not get the carriage power feeds to work even though the lead screw was now turning.

I finally took the carriage off the lathe to see why.

The worm gear that is driven by a key way in the lead screw had no key in it any longer.

I removed the worm gear and found that someone, probably me, must have thought it a good idea to load the area with grease. Now I had to clean that mess out.

Then I remembered that when I got the lathe years ago the key inside the worm gear was worn to the point it would bind on the lead screw. I had a friend with a lathe to bore the remaining part of the key out of the worm gear. That allowed me to move the carriage manually during those years.

I called Clausing to find that a new worm gear is still available, but very pricey. I asked Webb for advice and he pointed me to a complete but used carriage on Ebay. I purchased it since it had several parts I could use now and more parts I can possibly use later if needed.

The carriage arrived several days later. The worm gear had a removable key inside it. I guess someone cut a key way into the inside of the gear, put two small pins into a piece of key and made it all fit inside the worm gear. I installed the worm gear from the new carriage into my carriage along with the carriage hand wheel and the clutch control handle bracket.

The new carriage also included the lead screw split nut. But I used the ones I had since mine had less wear.

I reinstalled the carriage. The power cross feed and the longitudinal feed worked! But! Oh-No! the new 1/8" diameter shear pin sheared very quickly. It appears the extra slop in the pin hole allows it to cut the pin. I will have to find a fix for that.

I ordered some 5/32" diameter aluminum rivets from Aircraft Spruce. This time I ordered some type A and AD rivets. The A rivets are dead soft and the AD rivets are tempered.

These are the A rivets and the ones I will try first since they are the softest.

I drilled the hole out to 5/32" diameter with the notion that if this does not work, I will drill a new hole starting at 3/32" since Webb told me that was the original size.

The hole cleaned up nicely and the 5/32" rivet fit snuggly.

Once the gear box is fixed I will try out the new 5/32" diameter shear pin.

I also noticed a shaft wobbling in a bushing on the side of the quick-change gear box.

I already knew that the tumbler bracket on the quick-change gear box would not move easily. So, I removed the gear box to clean it up, fix the bushing and address any more issues I found inside.

The tumbler shaft had some wear. The shaft's bushing end I had noticed from the outside was badly worn.

The shaft was worn from 0.625" to about 0.606" diameter and the bushing was worn very badly to about 0.659".

The drive gear end of the shaft was also worn from 0.75" to about 0.745".

But the drive gear end of the shaft bushing was worn badly at the bottom of the bore to about 0.756".

I looked on Ebay and found some Oilite bushings. I ordered a 9/16" id x 3/4" od x 1" long bushing to allow me to turn the 5/8" end down and match the bushing to the new diameter.

I also ordered an Oilite bushing 3/4" id x 1-1/4" od x 1-1/4" long bushing for the drive gear end.

The 9/16" id bushings arrived first. So, I mounted the shaft in the lathe and turned it to the largest size I could and still remove the damaged areas. It came out to 0.583" diameter after polishing. This is the first time I ever used the four-jaw chuck. I used an indicator and got the shaft centered really well.

I bored the inside of the bushing to 0.585". I know Oilite is not supposed to be machined, but I had to in this case. I hope it works since the shaft does have an oiler to keep it oiled.

I used the shaft to lightly tap the bushing into place. It turned out with a very nice fit even though the original bushing was only 3/4" long and the new one is 1" long.

The length of the tumbler shaft felt rough in several places. I have not decided what should be done for that yet. I think I can smooth it up with Emery cloth enough to allow the tumbler bracket to slide on it again.

The tumbler bracket holes are badly worn and have very sharp edges. The holes are oval shaped from the bracket riding on the turning shaft.

That causes the bracket to bite when trying to slide along on the rough tumbler shaft. I am going to try and chamfer the bracket holes. If that does not work I may try to bore them out to a larger size and bush them back to the 3/4" shaft diameter.

I hope the chamfer I did with the file will work.

The new tumbler shaft bushing for the drive gear side arrived today. It looks like it will work just fine with very few changes.

The shaft diameter is now 0.747" after polishing with some Emery cloth.

The new bushing is 0.748" id and fits nicely.

There is a 1/4" diameter oil feed hole to drill in the new bushing. I marked it and drilled it on the drill press.

The new bushing was a full 1.250" od.

The old bushing was 1.248" od. and would fit in the bore with only hand pressure.

So, I mounted the shaft in the lathe and used it and the old bushing to hold it onto the shaft while I carefully sanded the new bushing. I stopped often and checked the fit.

Both new bushings are in and the qucik-change gear box is back together!

I put the gearbox back onto the lathe.

The sliding gear is not fully engaged to the tumbler shaft gear. I made a spacer out of the nut, but it appears it is too wide. I will make a different spacer later and fix that.

Overall the lathe should be useful again! Even the new 5/32" shear pin seems to be working well.

I took a little time today and did some more things to the lathe. I first took an old 5/8" collar and cut it down to 1/4" thick to space the tumbler shaft drive gear to the sliding gear. I used the remaining piece of the old collar as a washer under the tumbler shaft nut. I like this fit much better.

Then I changed the headstock oil. I apparently put DTE-26 in it instead of the recommended DTE-24. So, I corrected that. I cut a square plastic container to catch the oil. It worked but was still messy.

Then I made a plumb bob leveling device similar to one that I saw on YouTube at

The steel stock was very rusty and pitted since it came from an old piece of farm equipment. I milled the two flat surfaces to have one side reasonably flat to lay on the ways.

Then I drilled the existing hole out to 15/16" to accept a piece of 3/4" EMT. I tack welded the EMT in the hole and added a piece of 3/8" all thread to the other end of the EMT to support the plumb bob.

I used the device to try and level the lathe... well sort of. All I had around was an old masons level to try to get the ways close to level.

Then I used my new tool to remove the twist from the ways. It was a little off but adjusted fairly nicely.

I think I can do a better job even with the level, but that can wait until it is cooler weather. It is really hot in my shop. I will try to find a machinists level and check my work. But this will have to do for now.

I still have to work on the taper jig and the collet closer. On to them!