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Wade 8a - Head stock/spindle dismantling

Darren McCarley

Cast Iron
Nov 24, 2017
I have a couple of extra Wade 8a head stocks and I'd like to try and harvest a few parts. However, after digging into the first one, I'm puzzled. How the heck do you dismantle this thing??

My headstock/spindle for reference. Assuming I don't break the others, I MAY tear mine down for a proper internal cleaning as there's JUST a hint of some internal corrosion when I turn the spindle by hand.
I recently disassembled mine. I'll edit to add photos to this post later this evening. My lathe had been packed with a thick graphite grease. All the oil passages were clogged, including those in the headstock. My headstock needed cleaning and a new rear bearing.

In my opinion, unless you absolutely must, I don't see a reason to disassemble a headstock. The headstock is full of unicorns and unobtainium. Decide how much risk you can tolerate. Wade probably had dedicated fixtures for disassembly.

Here is how I took my early version Wade headstock apart. The part number references are from the Wade 8A owner's manual.
  • Remove the backgears first, the key step is removing the tapered pin from the back gear handle (#27).
  • Remove the front and rear outside dust caps (#102 and #114). All four dust caps have 1/8" thick felt spindle seals, so be prepared to cut new ones.
  • Mark the orientation of the spindle adjustment nut (#23) on the spindle and remove it.
  • Remove the spindle gear (#115). The gear is keyed to the spindle with a permanently attached key. I used a pulley puller to slowly work the gear off the spindle.
  • Push the spindle out from the rear side of the headstock (see below). Again, I used a pulley puller. The rear spindle bearing (#111) will remain in the headstock.
  • Once the spindle is pushed free of the rear bearing, the rest of the assembly moves easily. The cone pulley assembly, spindle back gear (#108), and ball bearing spacer (#112) will slide and drop as the spindle is pushed out (the spindle back gear is also keyed with an attached key). The front roller bearing (#127), thrust bearing (#105), and cone pulley gear spacer (#135) will remain on the spindle and easily slide out the front of the headstock.
  • Use the pulley puller and a block to push on the rear inside dust cap (#113) to shove the cap and rear bearing out the back of the headstock.
  • There is no good way to remove the cone bearings (#128) from the cone pulley.
To push out the spindle, you must decide what to push against. The pulley puller can be braced against the front of the headstock, which means pushing across the races of the rear bearing. Or the puller can be braced against the cone pulley, which means pushing across the spindle back gear. I knew my rear bearing would need replacement, so I braced against the front of the headstock. My spindle back gear casting is somewhat porous. I'm glad I didn't push across it.

Other things to consider.
  • The cone pulley bearings (#128) are not metric, but imperial sized (Federal XLS 17/8). Treat them with kindness or at least first get a quote for new ones. I suppose if these bearings are damaged it is possible to replace them with metric bearings and spacers.
  • My rear bearing (#111) was an SKF 6209/C782, an ABEC 5 metric bearing. I can't be sure this was the original factory bearing. I asked an online vendor for a shipping quote on the NOS bearing listed at $61 on their website. They came back with a bait and switch quotation of $890! I bought a NOS bearing off eBay instead. Fortunately, I received what I expected.
  • Luckily, my front roller bearing (SKF, but no model numbers are visible) and thrust bearing (SKF 2912/C08) were in good shape. I soaked both in mineral spirits for a few days and they cleaned up nicely.
  • I did not see a reason to remove the roller bearing from the spindle. I could readily soak the rollers in solvent while on the spindle.
  • In the same manner, I did not remove the thrust bearing housing (#106) or the roller bearing outer race from the headstock. I could clean around them and didn't wish to risk damage or subsequent misalignment.
  • Someone welded the spindle collet key (#39) permanently into my spindle. I doubt the Wade factory did this, but would be interested in what other owners have found.
  • My spindle has a spacer against the rear bearing that isn't listed on the Wade assembly diagram.

Here are the photos of the disassembled parts.


First is an image of the major headstock parts - not including the backgears. The thumbnails below link to larger photos with more details of each piece.

Wade-8A Headstock Disassembled.jpg

The image on the left is the front roller bearing after removal. The thrust bearing is in the background and one of the thrust plates is still on the spindle. The bearings were soaked in mineral spirits and scrubbed with a toothbrush to remove deposits. The cleaned up roller bearing is in the image on the right. There was no need to remove the bearing from the spindle. The two pieces marked by the red arrows were removed for cleaning.

Wade-8A Spindle Initial.jpg Wade-8A Spindle.jpg

The photo on the left shows the cone pulley filled with grease (the port is clearly marked oil). There is a spacer between the two bearings as shown in the center photo. The photo on the right shows the outside of the cone pulley. The cone pulley gear on the right hand side is keyed to the cone pulley with a captive key. The gear is a press fit in the cone pulley.

Wade-8A Headstock Spindle Cone Initial.jpg Wade-8A Headstock Spindle Cone 2.jpg Wade-8A Headstock Spindle Cone.jpg

The spindle back gear casting photo on the left shows quite a few defects. Air blown in one hole can push oil from other holes. The key in the photo should be captive in the gear. The photo on the right shows a counterweight that is hidden inside the cone pulley. The assembly on the top of the photo is the back gear locking pin.

Wade-8A Headstock Spindle Back Gear.jpg Wade-8A Headstock Spindle Back Gear 2.jpg

The photo on the left shows the rear spindle dust caps, each with a felt seal. The seals run against the ball bearing spacer and spindle gear. The right hand photo shows the spindle gear has a captive key. The gear is held in place by the spindle adjusting nut. The photo also shows a thin spacer not listed in the Wade manual.

Wade-8A Headstock Rear Dust Caps.jpg Wade-8A Headstock Rear Spindle parts.jpg
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Impressive Tom! The headstock is the only part on mine that I didn't take completely apart. I got some prices for bearings about 15 years ago and after playing with an indicator on the spindle for a couple of hours decided not to take it apart! The spindle seems good on mine. I haven't cut anything with it and now I'm in the middle of a move so it will be awhile before I get to run it. Really nice job taking it apart and documenting it!
Sorry, but I didn't take any pictures when I reassembled my headstock. I never did remove the front inner dust cap or front bearing ring from my headstock. Nor did I remove the roller bearing from the spindle (photos earlier). Place/press those parts into position before starting.
  • Insert the felt seals into the dust caps. I soaked my seals in spindle oil overnight first.
  • Place a couple layers of tape on the headstock paint to protect it from the bull and cone pulley gear teeth (or tape the teeth directly).
  • Stand the spindle on end, front bearing down. Place the thrust bearing on the spindle.
  • Stand the empty headstock on end, front bearing side down.
  • Place the bull gear on the cone pulley and place the assembly into the headstock, resting the cone pulley on the front inner dust cap. Center the spacer between the cone pulley bearings so the spindle does not catch on it.
  • Pick up the headstock/cone pulley/bull gear assembly and carefully lower it onto the spindle.
  • Jiggle, jostle, curse and swear until the cone pulley and headstock align into place on the spindle.
    • Repeat until you get it right.​
    • If you didn't tape the bull gear teeth, no one will see the paint damage after the lathe is fully reassembled.​
  • Push the spindle the rest of the way into the headstock to seat the front bearing.
  • Install the back inner dust cap, then carefully push/tap the back bearing into position.
  • Reassemble the rear pieces on the spindle and mount both outer dust caps.
  • Reassemble the back gears.
The key on my bull gear was no longer captive. Even worse, a prior worker had filed the key and ruined the fit. I installed a new key after I seated the front bearing. My reassembled headstock is in the photo below.

The spacer between the two cone pulley bearings is very prone to sliding to the side, catching on the spindle diameter changes. I'm sure the Wade factory used an alignment fixture(s) to make this an easier job. If I had to do this again, I would take the time to fabricate something from PVC or aluminum.