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Rebuilding an early Covel Type 15 Surface Grinder
Several years ago I was in need of a surface grinder to add to my collection, and happened across an older
Covel Type 15, similar to that shown above. (Photo stolen at random from the Internet, I apparently didn't
get a pic of mine before I started pulling it apart.) It was a little worn, but servicable, and the price was
dirt cheap- and not even that good
dirt- as the shop was upgrading to a much newer machine.
Once I'd hauled it home, I of course dismantled it, and started scraping
off the multiple badly-applied layers of paint. I'm told the machine could
date back as far as the mid-late 30s, so it's been around a while.
I didn't try stripping it all the way down to beare metal. Most machine tools are given a coating of a "filler"
to help smooth out the casting, so anything that didn't come off right away, I left in place and sanded smooth.
I'd originally planned to leave the spindle alone- the machine had been in regular use right up 'til I bought it,
and I assumed it worked at least reasonably well. However, the bearings felt a little rough to me, and I
figured it would be worth the trouble to swap them. Note how I was using small bits of "spot" putty to fill in
parts of the casting. I wasn't going for a perfectly smooth finish, but I wanted to fill some of the deeper pits.
Fortunately, very little needed serious repair on this machine, so most of it was simply a matter of
stripping off the old paint, pressure-washing the pieces clean, and applying a coat of fresh paint.
No cheap sheetmetal covers on this badboy. That's a 60-pound casting!
Finally, two coats of red primer, followed by two of industrial grey enamel.
The rest of the parts are sorted, some are cleaned, and then evaluated. The only pieces that truly need
repair are the knee and cross-slide screws, both of which are badly worn, thanks to the typically
poor dust control of these older machines. (They generally ran coolant, but no vacuum.)
[ Years pass :) ] I brought this one home in early 2010, and wasn't able to
do much work to it until later in the summer. After I'd gotten most everything
cleaned and more or less ready to start reassembling, work and other commitments
forced me to set it aside. Then, in the early fall of that year, I happened across
a Replublic-Lagun surface grinder, much newer and in better condition, and
that included a vacuum/coolant unit.
That pretty much made the Covel instantly obsolete, at least to me, so I
figured at some point I'd take the time to reassemble it, test it, and sell it.
However, as most readers know, I always have a great many projects going on, and
so this machine was no longer a high enough importance to spend any more time on.
Finally, in 2016, a regular reader of these pages expressed an interest in it, and we
made a deal for it. Which was fortuitous, as in the intervening years I'd added way
too many other machines to the shop, and had pretty much run out of room.
Fortunately, I'd stored and labeled the parts well, and everything had stayed
together. I took a quick inventory, pressure-washed the column casting again
and set to task. Note the all-new knee screw- the only part I'd managed
to fix before setting the thing aside back in 2010.
All text, photos and graphics
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Information contained in
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purposes only. Our methods are not always the best,
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Keep your fingers away from the spinny blades o' death and you should
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