View Full Version : Lathes
Am not sure if this should be in the offtopic area or not.
I'm interested in getting started in machining. I have enjoyed welding and would like to expand my hobby further. I will never do this money, it is for enjoyment only. That said, I hate to buy inferior things and would rather save up and buy quality used stuff.
So to further my research, anyone have any input on good areas on the web (or personal knowledge) to learn more about the selection of used lathes out there? I have found a few places, but of course everyone hates newbies coming in and asking is X better than Y type of stuff. I don't need someone to make a decision for me, I just want to do some research.
Have any tips for my new journey? I have followed everyone over here from Rock's old site and have found everyone here to be pleasant and informative.
Eventually maybe I'll look into a mill, but that's behind the plasma cutter purchase I know.
02-28-2004, 11:23 PM
I sure wouldn't claim to be a pimple on a machinist's butt, although I own a few machines, and can make plenty of chips.
Everything I own is OLD, from a Hamilton lathe made in 1916, a couple Lees, and an Ames. Lathes tend to be a lot like tractors, there are Monarch guys and South Bend guys who will argue all day long, and of course there are the LeBlond guys will swear the rest are all scrap metal.
For a new guy who has never run a machine, I'd say you'll get maximum bang for the buck out of old iron, regardless of brand, and learn how to run the machine. Getting overly concerned about tolerences and cariable speed at this point is counter productive.
Find a machine you can afford to own, that has a 3 and 4 jaw chuck along with a set of toolholders and centers, and learn to make chips. The good thing is there are a lot of older machines out there you can get for a few hundred bucks.
02-28-2004, 11:26 PM
I'd look into an import 9x20 lathe. they're decent sized units for the money .... also, a lathe is alot like a mill (but not quite as bad) in that the machine itself is just the tip of the iceberg as far as costs go. It's the tooling you need to really make use of the machine that really adds up quick.
I almost bought a 9x20 but the spindle hole was too small for alot of things I want to do so I decided to keep saving and maybe buy a 14x40 one day. I search eBay alot for lathe's to see what sells for what. My friend has a South Bend that i've used alot, it's probably 30 years older than I am and still works great. I think it's a 9x36 or something like that.
02-29-2004, 12:16 AM
As far as advice goes, check out Meridian Machinery at www.mermac.com. The owner has several essays of advice for buying lathes, milling machines and praise for the old klunkers out there. I've an old South Bend 9", 1964 J-head Bridgeport and an early model Logan shaper for machine tools and enjoy the abilities they offer to me. Watch out though....the price of the machine is nothing compared to the pricing for tooling to get any of these machines working to the levels they were designed to meet. Good side is that with the economy the way it is, NAFTA and such the used machine tool pricing is cheaper than it has ever been in the past. There are bargains to be had...especially in the home shop level of machines. Let's face it, industry isn't wasting its time on old hand/user operated machine tools these days...so about the only competition you will have for the older machines is other home shop guys.
02-29-2004, 09:49 AM
I have a 13" Le Blond in my cellar and a 12" South Bend at work both purchased used.
If I were to purchase another the first thing that I would consider would be how much floor space can I afford to loose to a machine that will be covered more than uncovered.
Than find a used machine of that size but with the following attachments or at least available.
Collet closer----3 and 4 jaw chuck--stedy rest--follow rest and taper attachment.
Also keeping an eye out for used micrometers, verrners, dial indicators, depth gauges,
bore gauges, and the list goes on--------I spent way more on measuring equipment than I did the machines..learn the proper speeds and use them and I use cobalt blanks at home
And carbide at work.
02-29-2004, 10:21 AM
Check out your priorities on the mill or lathe purchase. As I said, I have both, but I would much rather have the mill if that was the only machine I had access to. Your priorities and projects may or may not be the same. While you can do millwork on a lathe, it is a pocket full of trade offs.
Best advice....don't get into a hurry. You're talking a good chunk of change for either a lathe or mill....not counting the tooling and precision instruments which will run more than the basic cost of either machine. Size up your needs and go with a machine or machines that will fit your needs, space and pocketbook.
If all you anticipate is small putzying work, a 3-in-1 machine may fit your needs perfectly if you don't mind the hassles of setting up work inside a very small envelope. You are your own best judge and the one that is going to have to live with your decisions for a good long time after any tool purchase.
02-29-2004, 02:03 PM
I'm in a similar boat, trying to figure out what to equip my shop with. Theres really 4 camps out there: Buy old and restore, CNC, Imports (the small HF-style machines), and 3-1 (ala smithy).
Heres some interesting links that INTP didnt cover:
Wyoming's got the best link http://www.mermac.com/advicenew.html
http://www.mini-lathe.com/ <--great site
http://www.littlemachineshop.com/ <-- lots of how-to guides
http://www.homeshopmachinist.net/ (go pick up a copy of HSM at the bookstore, great ads and articles)
(tons more, google is your friend)
It really comes down to what projects you want to do. Figure that out, and go backwards. Making chips is a blast as first, but its not 'fun' after a while, its just a tool to do a job, its like a skill saw, at first its all kinds of entertainment, but then its just a way to cut wood. Take your time, be open to alterntives (like the 3in1 and 'CNC-ready') and remember to budget at least cost of the machine again in tooling and measuring equipment to get the full machines functionality.
I'd also recommend a book called "The Home Machinist's Handbook" by Briney. It's a good intro, and while they use sherline lathe and mill, it's not machine specific. at $13.97 (amazon link (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0830615733/qid=1078082432/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-1058707-1603307?v=glance&s=books) ) it's a good deal for someone just starting out.
Thanks for the help everyone. This is a lot more info than I expected.
No worries as I'm in no hurry. Here's the way I have my objectives lined up:
1. Make sure I understand exactly what I'm getting into and no the full investment, not just money but learning time etc. Again, this is pure hobby, so all of that comes into play.
2. Make certain that I set a package price I can afford, meaning know going into it that I can spend X dollars for the lathe starter tooling etc. So if I get just a lathe, then that leaves X-lathe price left over for tooling.
3. I am pretty sure I will go used, and probably never restore. I will make do or slightly restore whatever I get. I hate chiwanese stuff just on principal and prefer the older vintage. I liked someone's comment in another thread about thinking of what all was made with it as I'm learning to use it.
4. Finally identify exactly what I want.
9. Then eventually get it and learn how to use it.
Thanks again for all the great comments and thoughts.
03-01-2004, 02:10 AM
Here's a good place to do some studying on machine tools.
Thank you. That is a great site. Thanks for passing it along.
03-01-2004, 11:13 AM
Due to the economy and overall exodus of manufacturing, there are a lot of good deals on machine tools right now. I have a 10x36 Sheldon lathe made in 1946 that I bought 15 years ago but I paid a premium because they were hard to find at that time. Besides space, you might consider the electrical service and whether you want to run a 3-phase converter. I once knew a fellow that had an immaculate South Bend in his two car garage that blew the breaker every time he turned it on. It was about 10 feet between centers with a 20 inch swing. Was nice to look at but he couldn't use it. Another problem with old machine tools is spare parts. I broke a gear in my Sheldon some years ago and finally found a replacement part for $250. After doing some research, I found the exact same gear in the Browning book for $45 and ordered it locally so once in a while, I get lucky. A digital read out (DRO) is also a great thing to have but if I had to spend the money, would rather put it on a vertical mill than a lathe. I stay away from imports only because of the spare parts issue but if it is a reputable foreign brand, then a distributor should carry spares.
03-01-2004, 06:28 PM
Where in central NJ are you?
The shop I'm at has a handful of old iron, all doing good work, all old to ancient, all "worn out". These include a 1910 54" Harrington that turns to less than a thou, a 1885 Harrington gap bed, that will do close to a thou with a little care, an early 60's 14" Pacemaker that does better than a thou without blinking, and a 10" Logan that need some lovin' for small work.
Old iron can be very good iron. Among the less expensive options when I was last looking (2 years ago) are the assorted 6" Craftsman (Made by Atlas and by AA Machine- very different machines, both can do good work, both can be had at reasonable price). Genuine Atlas's are available reasonably priced, often with tooling and accessories. Logan and South Bend machines are common, but often priced high due to the name. Logans seem to be more reasonable with the Ward name.
If you can find a Logan, many parts are still available-- Logan Actuator Co if the current supplier, run by Logan family. See: http://www.lathe.com and http://www.loganact.com
03-01-2004, 07:59 PM
Lathes in the smaller sizes...under 10" swing...can often be "cult" lathes. Due to their small size, every homeshop owner wants/needs/has to have one of these lathes. Because of this, the smaller lathes may actually go for more money than the slightly larger entry level commercial lathes. Their accessories won't be as cheap and the headstock spindle will likely be threaded and smaller than what a 5C collet will fit into. If you can fit a larger lathe into your shop you may be better served as the extra iron will tend to cut down on chatter due to increased rigidity...important if you are ever contemplating using carbide tooling. Many of the accessories will also be cheaper...a modestly sized set of 5C collets is going to run substantially less than a 3C or 3AT set and cover nearly twice the diameter as well. Downside of the larger lathes is that parts may not be as readily available for these machines....there were one heck of a lot of small South Bend, Logan, Atlas, etc lathes produced in the glory years of homeshop metalworking from the '20s-'60s.
enlpck, Thanks. Judging by your location, I assume you are in Newark or Jersey City:D
I'm just outside of Morristown about 20 minutes away.
I think ideally I would get some old iron. I just like the quality of the older machines and don't need anything fancy. I could fit anywhere between a 10-13" in my space and budget I think. If you ever hear of them getting ready to dump something like that 10" logan, I'd appreciate a holler if you happen to think of it. That is if it doesn't end up in your garage.:D
Thanks again everyone.
03-01-2004, 09:33 PM
I really am in the armpit... by South amboy, raritan bay area.. oil farms and sewage.
The Logan is too useful for small work right now. tThe other week it was the only machine we had to cut some seats on a couple shafts. I had to weld the bottoms on for fitup (reach rods for remote operation on ball valves) and then, whoops, the ends were too big and the rods just too short to fit the spindle on the Pacemaker. The logan is short enough that they ends could hang outboard. Duct tape kept the universals from flopping. Cut to a snug slip fit for pinning in place.
I have a coworker at my day job that had a 6" Atlas for sale recently.. I can see if he still has it if you're interested. There are a bunch of machinery shows coming up, as well. Allaire state park in May. Several in eastern PA same time frame. Good place to network for deals.
Ok, know right where you are. Used to live in Sayreville awhile back. Yes, if he has a 6" Atlas, I'd be interested. Thanks.
Yeah, I'm going to hit those shows hopefully. I'm trying to hunt around for shops that are closing. Figure someone has to have something. Not in a major rush though, would rather take my time and find the right one.
03-02-2004, 07:07 PM
Originally posted by Franz
and of course there are the LeBlond guys will swear the rest are all scrap metal.
I have 2 LeBlonds 15x48 about 1981 models. Ran large LeBlonds, Lodges, and Americans for 12 years for Newport News Shipbuilding. What a good place to learn! As soon as the new shop is finished going to rebuild at least 1. Got the the 2 I have at auction at my current job for 250.00 each.
03-02-2004, 07:15 PM
second LeBlond I have.
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