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Taking Care of Your Ammco Brake Lathe

This author has 35 years' experience as a successful owner-operator of an auto repair shop and buyer and seller of auto repair equipment.

It's important to keep up maintenance on your older brake lathes.

It's important to keep up maintenance on your older brake lathes.

Ammco Brake Lathes for Your Workshop

Ammco have been making high-quality brake lathes for a very long time, without needing to change the basic design. Buying spare parts even for a 40-year-old model is a breeze!

Servicing and rebuilding them for years, I know why they are so damn good.

The reason these machines have remained much the same is a wonderfully robust design that is engineered beautifully for constant heavy work.

With one of these in a workshop, you will make good money on brake jobs with near zero down-time and very few machining failures through operator error.

The machine cuts beautifully and has a wide choice of cutting bits for any and all applications, but I reckon 90% of all machining can be done with one of two types of cutter tip.

American Made

American machinery at its best is still very hard to equal, and the quality of the Ammco brake lathe has remained the same all these years.

I sincerely believe this to be in the top running for the world's best brake lathe, with the following attributes:

  • Top service from accredited dealers
  • Wonderful parts availability
  • Reliability in operation
  • Short operator set-up time
  • Simple cleaning
  • Quality tools
  • Long life

Solid Construction

I have reconditioned a 40-year-old 4000 series unit to be just as precise as when new. You will still see machines working in brake shops that are this old, yet still doing perfect machining of drum and disc brakes.

The first thing you notice about the Ammco brake lathe is its weight. The whole machine is cased in a huge casting with room for massive needle roller bearings that are fitted to huge precise tapers in the casting.

The arbour (the removable shaft that holds the brake disc or drum on to the alignment cones and cups, or supports the new chucks) is massive and made from the best high tensile steel alloy available. The arbour needs to be so straight in a brake lathe that no side movement at all should be indicated by a dial gauge when the lathe is running.

If the cross feed box gets jammed, it has a simple nylon gear that takes the damage. It is cheap and easy to replace and you should always keep a spare one.

Ammco 400 being fully serviced including inspection and re greasing of all components.

Ammco 400 being fully serviced including inspection and re greasing of all components.

Advantages of the Chuck Unit

I prefer to tool up with Ammco's new multi-fit chuck rather than use the tools. It's faster and easier with more reliable set-ups that align the disc or drum ready to machine much quicker.

The chuck unit fits straight on the lathe in minutes, and can handle even the most awkward of jobs.

If you decide to buy an Ammco brake lathe, get the chuck with it at the same time. It really solves a lot of problems when mounting all the various discs that are out there these days, and even with a full set of tools and two extra light truck kits, there will always be that odd disc or drum that does not conform well to your tools when you mount it on the arbour.

Ammco 400 brake lathe without bench or tools.

Ammco 400 brake lathe without bench or tools.


This photo shows a standard Ammco 4000 with standard tools. What you may not know, is that this machine has seen 39 years of service!

Refurbished, fully serviced, tested, and ready to go back to work for another 39 years!

Running a test cut on a refurbished 4000 series Ammco Brake Lathe

Running a test cut on a refurbished 4000 series Ammco Brake Lathe

Using the Lathe Properly

Any problems with these machines are usually caused by operators mishandling the tools, dropping things on the arbour, or dropping the fitting tools on the floor.

I have even seen one idiot using a cone as a hammer!

Mounting tools such as hub-less cones must be kept in top condition and remain clean between the slots to work efficiently.

Cups must have a perfect surface to sit against the disc. I re-surface them using the lathe itself. It does a perfect job of cleaning the face of the alignment cups.

Testimonial for Aamco Brake Lathes

I would buy an Ammco if I wanted a long-lasting brake lathe that was easy to use and extremely accurate when operated and tooled up by a professional operator.

If the machine is treated as it should be, kept in good condition, and the tools cleaned properly after each job, it will run for a very long time and perform impeccably.

Expect a life of at least 20 years from an Ammco of any model.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.