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pro70z28 10-24-2004 05:48 PM

Metal lathe question???????
I'm about to buy a metal lathe. I would like to pick up a small metal lathe to make miscellaneous parts for the "Z" project. (Check my gallery to see what I'm doin' if you like). I have limited shop space so I want a lathe that's not to big, but big enough to make what I need. Not too expensive but in good enough shape to make decent parts.
Many years ago I had a big South Bend lathe 8 ft. bed with enough throw to turn truck drums. I could handle just about anything with that one.
I guess what I'd like to know is.... buying a smaller lathe what should look for other than wear on a used lathe? I've been told I won't be happy with the real small benchtop lathes like the 20" bed units U see in catalogs for 300 to 500 bux. I'm hoping to find something in the 1,000 or so range.
There is a machine sales about an hour from here and i'm probably going to run over there later this week to see what I can see. Just wondering what to watch for, what brands to watch for or avoid, stuff like that.
Thanks for your input.

BTW: I plan to make small parts for the car like bushings and such. I imagine as I get further into the project there will be many other uses for the lathe that I haven't considered yet. So, I don't want to buy too small and end up farming out work that I'd rather do myself.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

BLOWN 1100 10-24-2004 06:14 PM

Harbour Freight has a 12/36 for about $1800, not a bad piece
for the money. I have the same one from Enco only it cost
about $2800, i did not do enough shoping when i got mine.

trees 10-24-2004 06:48 PM

We have an old South Bend quick change that has a 52 inch bed and will handle a 10 inch chuck. We picked it up from a serious hobbyist that was in his 80s and was selling every thing in his shop. We bought everything for $2500 and rented a 17 ft box van which we filled (weight) and a long bed F 150 and a 5X10 covered trailer and still left some stuff. Included was one 8 inch 4 Jaw Chuck, two 3 jaw chucks, enough tooling for several lifetimes, a grinder, many diamond wheels with lots of wear left, a metal shaper, a small horizontal mill, a great Lincoln stick welder and a metal band saw. Also, at least a 1000 twist drills, 150 #s 1,2 and 3 taper drills, 6 or 8 chucks, enough hex tools to stock ten shops, countless reamers, parallel sets, grinders, and about every kind of mic and holders imaginable. We have sold over $2500 worth of bits and pieces at flea markets. Out of all this, I'm saying search the tool sale magazines and news papers, as well as watch the auction listings. This particular lathe had very little wear and is much more precise than we need in our hobby. Fortunately, my bud is a master tool and die maker that knows what to look for and how to use it once he gets his hands on the equipment. We have since added a off brand vertical mill that has flushed out our shop and it came from a hobbyist as well.


pro70z28 10-24-2004 07:03 PM


Originally posted by trees
We have an old South Bend quick change that has a 52 inch bed and will handle a 10 inch chuck. We picked it up from a serious hobbyist that was in his 80s and was selling every thing in his shop.


Does this guy have a brother that's a hobbyist???
That's the kind of deal I'd like to fall into. :) :) :)

4 Jaw Chuck 10-24-2004 08:24 PM

You need at least a 16" for domestic drums etc. but a 12" will do if you stay with imports. Make sure you get a quick change gear box and that bed wear is not excessive if you intend to turn parts directly to size. I would bring along a 0.0005" reading dial indicator and check the spindle runout, use a bar inserted into the spindle to load it one way and then the other...anything more than 0.001" and I would look elsewhere if it's a roller bearing headstock. Plain bearing headstocks can be refurbed easily by removing shims typically.

Spindle bore may be important to you if you intend to shorten driveshafts etc. the bigger the better. Try and get all the accessories like steady rests and taper attachements, these are very hard to find items for old lathes and getting them used may be next to impossible. A turret tool post (or better yet a cam lock)is a must, those old single adjustable tool holders are a pain to work with and not very rigid.

Don't forget horsepower either, two horse is about bare minimum for metal. Good luck hunting.;)

pro70z28 10-24-2004 08:31 PM

Thanks for the info 4 jaw. It's been about 20 years since i ran that South Bend I referred to. So, I'm a little rusty on what to watch for. I'll look for the things you mentioned.

Kevin45 10-25-2004 07:13 AM

Keep an eye out for a good used LeBlond. Don't take up a lot of room but a very nice lathe.


Pony 10-26-2004 02:42 AM

Avoid cheep off shore junk and worn out used equipment, you just won't be happy with the results. If you'r a serious builder and expect to have quite a bit of lathe & milling machine work on this and future projects, check out what Smithy co. has to offer with there 3 in 1 (lathe/mill/drill) machines. They start at around $1,000 and go up from there depending on size and ability and extend all the way to cnc machines. 1-800-476-4849 Free Catalog.. You really need to check them out before you buy. I did and was impressed with what they had to offer but for my limited budget and amount of expected useage just couldn't justify the expense. Instead I found a local mom & pop machine shop that's hot rod friendly and treats me right. Good looking project!!:thumbup:

OneMoreTime 10-26-2004 04:19 PM

Grizzly tools
These guys have a good line of metal working tools and I have not heard any bad reports on them..their prices seem to be reasonable..

pro70z28 10-31-2004 11:25 AM

1 Attachment(s)
I found one. 10" South Bend. Got a bunch of stuff with it. 3 jaw, 4 jaw, collets, face plates, taper attachment, drill chucks, tool holders, etc. Very slight wear on the ways. Everything is purdy' tight. It will defiantly outlast me. Now I can make round stuff .... oh boy.

68rs327 09-25-2005 04:47 PM

Leblond Lathe
For Sale: Leblond Metal Lathe, 18X36, Comes with 3 jaw chuck, toolpost, coolant pump, powerfeed, Gears all good and runs smooth, Nice Old Lathe, not junk. Asking $1200 or make offer.
Price: $1200.00

Category: Implements
Ad Number: 113155
Date Posted: 09/18/2005
Contact: Rick
Magnolia, KY 42757
Telephone: 270-324-2787
E-Mail: Click Here to Email

I saw the lathe for sale, thought it might help. Leblond is one of the best lathes made. We have a lathe just like this one in our shop. Never gives up any trouble and will handle any job, big or small. We gave $3000 for ours. I wish we saw this one first.
Good luck

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