Bringing An Old Hardinge HC (Chucker) Back To Life

Copyright 2010 by James P. Riser

I decided to buy and bring this old lathe back to life to manufacture two items that I have held off on due to lack of the proper machine for the job. After some extensive remodeling, this old chucker will do the jobs nicely.

When I bought the lathe, I was informed that it did run - several years ago and that the power feed motor was burnt out. I decided to take a chance on it. The machine had sit around for a number of years and was rather dirty.

The lathe was loaded onto my trailer for the ride home.



Removing heavy machines from my trailer is always a fun activity - one done slowly and carefully. I use my engine hoist and steel cables.

Notice that the lathe is supported by steel bars under the ends of the chip tray - not by the headstock nor bed.


I slowly lowered the lathe on to the legs of the hoist to support it while I drilled the steel base to accept axles for moving the machine.

Here are the wheels temporarily mounted on the machine.

The lathe came with the tooling shown below. All I will require will be an assortment of Hardinge HC tool holders.

Here is the limited turret tooling that came with the lathe. This is an 8 position turret.

A very different speed adjustment ...

This plate is on the inside of the motor compartment door. Two cams needed to be set and locked in position to adjust speed ranges. By shifting a lever topside, the three speed ranges would be changed as programmed by the cams.


These are the two adjustment cams with the locking ring on the left.


Disassembly has started.


This is the wiring setup for the lathe. Speed control wires had been disconnected.


The rear of the speed control looked like this.


Here is another view. Notice that the belt is missing teeth!


I decided to bypass all of the electrics and hook up a new VFD directly to the high speed side of the motor windings.


On the left is testing for motor rotation direction.


On the right is the completed wiring through

the side of the electrical box.

I utilized some now unused terminal strip

for connecting the VFD wires.




Here is the disassembled and removed speed control

with its motor.

It turns out that the motor windings are burnt out - probably why all of the wires had been disconnected.

I'll replace this unit as stripped down

to control the variable speed belt mechanism.




This is what the speed control will look like. Since with the VFD I will very seldom change belt ratios, I have decided to make it all manual for the adjustment. A pulley has been installed to serve as a temporary handwheel for testing. This will work fine for the limited adjusting I will require on the projects in mind for this lathe.

As you can see, the burnt out motor, the cam system, and all unneeded parts have been removed.


Here is the lathe with the variable pulley unit just tied in the high speed position.


Here is the speed adjustment with the new belts. All works fine.



A previous owner added a block of nylon.


This nylon block was added to hold the pulley in position. Adjusting the motor mounts should fix the drifting pulley problem.

In preparation for the new belt set, the old ones are removed. The secondary belt comes out throught the end of the headstock.


This is the VFD I used.



It is mounted as so.


With this VFD unit I can adjust the lathe from just ticking over for threading operations to 3000 rpm for finishing work. Nice!


I was able to get the power feed working again.


The coolant sump was cleaned and will get drain plumbing installed.


I cleaned the coolant pump. It works and will get remounted with the screen filter.


The coolant pump has been rewired and remounted. Here is the new drain line with valve for the coolant sump.



The belts were in horrible shape and new ones have been installed.

Here are the turret tool holders. Since any one setup might require duplicate types of holders, you will see multiples of useful holders.

This is an assortment mounted on the turret.



These hold 1 or 2 (3/8") lathe tools.


Here you can see the bottom of a 5/8" holder and a single tool holder.


This is how the 5/8" holders hook over the turret edge for accuracy.


The two set screws hold separate lathe tools for multiple cuts.





This offset holder allows machining from the side.


There is no point in having a lathe like this without proper tooling. Here is a selection that I have available for making my products. These all plug into the turret tool holders.














I can use the same tooling on my other turret lathe with bushings.

I just had to do a quick and dirty facing cut on the end of some aluminum scrap to test the lathe. The old Hardinge Chucker is now ready to earn its keep.

This is the "as cut" finish on a 3" disc of aluminum.


The above was cut with no radius on the tool. Below is with a slight radius.


And after 20 seconds with Nevr-Dull.

Once the lathe was up and earning money, I decided to add a small steel storage box for the assorted tooling.

I picked up a used electrical box from a demolition company to modify as the box. It had the usual pivoting cover.

Using my HF spot welder, I made the required changes to the box.





After spot welding on hinges, hasp, and staple (plus some mods to the box), I bolted it to the end of the lathe base.

BTW - the welder worked great.

Here it is before priming/painting.


Shelving strips were mounted inside.


The shelves were two pieces of metal bent to hook over the supports.


The turret tooling was placed inside for safe storage.


Here is the completed box after painting.


Everything is lockable.

This is all of the "fixing" that I will do to this old HC.