Taking Care of Your Ammco Brake Lathe

Updated on January 17, 2019
earnestshub profile image

35 years' experience as a successful owner operater of an auto repair shop and buyer and seller of auto repair equipment.

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 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

Old Ammco 4000

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.

Servicing the 4000

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.

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.

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.

Where to Go for Your Ammco and Coats Manuals, Parts, and Advice

Aamco brake lathes are sold by Hennesey Industries, whose website links to manuals for your Ammco lathe.

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.


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    • profile image


      5 months ago

      Well the most popular model is the 4000 it does disc and drum. There is a model 7000 that does discs only and there is a Model 3000 that does drum only. There's also a 4100 that does disc and drum and has a longer spindle to do wider drums. there is also a 3850 which is kind of square looking does rotors and drums but that's not very common. All I would need is a picture and I could tell you what model you have

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      How do i identify what modle my amco lathe is. The tag was removed.


    • profile image


      11 months ago

      do you guys know where to find parts for ammco breake lathes?

      Since the beggining of 2018 i have trouble finding parts, like 907778 Gear, Drive or 909813 Clutch.

      Hope you guys can help me.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      "Never fear perfection it's unabeihvacle".I once owned a 1934 South Bend machining lathe with a 4' bed. It was a thing of beauty, knurled knobs an levers and zurks everywhere they could put them. It had a chuck the size of my child's head. it weighed 800 lbs. I bought it from an old architectural model shop. As a sculptor, I only used it for the odd collette or bit of custom hardware. Truth be told, it was more a beautiful artifact than a daily work mate. During my divorce I had to get rid of it. Try as I might, I couldn't find a buyer for it in this digital age of automation and computer numeric control. I ended up selling it for scrap, a tragedy that I will lament till my last day.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Hello Moyra, just keeping in touch radreging plate. However, we are know thinking of the elipse version with small legs. Sods law, the one I did not take a photo off. Unfortunately we can't make it to Pittenweem next week so would it be OK to phone you later this week to arrange a visit to your gallery the following week.regards,Dave

    • sinned96 profile image


      7 years ago from Leonard, Texas

      The ammco 3000 4000 4100 and 7000 do not have needle roller bearings. They use large brass bushings

    • profile image

      Selina Lau 

      7 years ago

      Very happy to read this article!It is very useful! And could you join my MSN:ats-sales1@hotmail.com ? Tks ...

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi Earnesthub, what's involved in checking one of these ammco 4000 brake lathes as well as rebuilding? I have two I picked up and the arbor feels tight but have not had a chance to cut any rotors or drums.

    • earnestshub profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Good choice! If you are in America or Australia I can give you good information, apologies for my lack of Spanish.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      ando buscando una maquina ammco modelo 4000 usada para rectificar tambores y discos en buen estado

    • earnestshub profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Thank you Hello, hello. I offer first hand information on these Ammcao brake lates. I have refurbished and rebuilt dozens of them.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      9 years ago from London, UK

      Great hub about a fantastic machinery. I emailed to my son who is more at home in that. Thank you for an honest and clearly written hub.

    • earnestshub profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      Thank you sag'e. Your compliment means a lot to me, as I love to teach about mechanical things.

      Classes? That's a good idea!

    • Sa`ge profile image


      9 years ago from Barefoot Island

      Do you have classes? you are a good teacher you know!

      thank you for all your hubs that teach me so many things about cars and how they run and work!

      ~aloha nui~


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