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jss 03-24-2010 12:46 PM

tips on buying a used lathe
I like to get one up to $700

whats better atlas or south bend?

what do I need to check when viewing a used unit

anyhelp would be great 03-24-2010 05:32 PM

Both are about the same as far as the ones I have used.

Biggest problem is replacement parts.

Watch for headstock wear and runout. Not the chuck but the threaded or tapered part the chuck fits onto. Can be corrected but bearings are expensive and bushing types are hard to finish correctly. Check for worn or chipped gears. Back gears and engagement parts.

Watch for beat up or worn ways. Slop in cross feed or apron feed screws. Wear in thread making portion of the carriage. Half nut wear at the carriage. Make sure tailstock matches the lathe.

Single or three phase electric. Condition of motor and forward reverse switch.

trees 03-25-2010 08:44 PM

BobC covered the basic lathe thoroughly so I won't show my ignorance there. You need to look at all the tooling that comes with the lathe. 3 and 4 jaw chucks, tool post, tool holders, steady rest, live center(s), tools, attachments etc. You might get a great deal on a basic machine, but if you have to buy all the items to make the machine productive, the good deal can turn sour very quick.


jss 03-25-2010 10:26 PM

thats true.. the machine will be used for basic car hobby use.nothing hardcore. but I do understand what u mean.
thanks so much

jss 03-25-2010 10:28 PM

ps am I silly to think I can find something decent for 500-700cnd?

I have a guy who wants to sell me a south bend 36" for 550.

4 Jaw Chuck 03-26-2010 09:07 AM

For that price it will likely be a piece of scrap, many times I have seen lathes like that in some guys basement and all your doing is removing scrap metal for him and paying for it.

Buyer beware.

Watch for worn ways and headstock bearings shot with no accessories and no power feed box or a power feed with no gear train. Limited usefulness if those are the conditions its in, we would use lathes like that as polishers in a machine shop.

Can you post pictures?

For example I sold my 2HP-12"X36" Atlas/Clausing lathe on E-Bay for over $4000 to a guy in Hawaii who paid $2800 to have it shipped there from Canada (I couldn't believe it!), a good lathe in that size range with a lot of accessories is worth quite a bit of money if its in good condition. I had a huge assortment of attachments that went with it which raised its value substantially. Southbends are a dime a dozen unless it is a desirable late model unit in excellent condition with a quickchange feedbox or a Clausing toolroom version lathe which are rare (I know of a couple sitting around).

I bought the lathe for $1300 from an old employer who was going to get that for trade-in and I collected accessory attachements over the years, needless to say it was a good investment since I didn't do anything but use it.

jss 03-27-2010 10:51 PM

it funny u should say that it was on this very site I was searching around on info for a mini lathe and guys were telling the original member for 700 bucks not to bother with china crap and just to get a used amercian lathe.

oldred 03-28-2010 09:19 AM


Originally Posted by jss
i I was searching around on info for a mini lathe and guys were telling the original member for 700 bucks not to bother with china crap and just to get a used amercian lathe.

4 JAW is right on but then so is the advice about the $700 Chinese lathe! For $700 you can get any number of brands of the VERY SAME 9"x20" Chinese lathe that will be the same quality (JUNK!!!!) regardless of name and price. This particular machine has been sold for years and there are zillions of them out there but if you run across one, popular as they are you probably will, DON'T buy it you will regret it! They have sold from about $500 (Harbor Freight) to over $1400 for the same exact machine with a different paint job and brand name. The Chinese lathes of 12"x36" and larger are usable quality however and seem to be a lot better built machines, they do not compare to a good used American or European machine but for the price they are much better than "old iron" that is worn out.

jss 03-28-2010 10:04 AM

well said in the end i dont mind paying up to 1000 for usa stuff. will see what comes up and do some testing on them b4 I buy and bring along my dial indicator I guess I to do some runout test etc.

11echo 04-05-2010 05:17 PM

My first lathe was a 10"x 24" Logan, they have been around a long time and parts are readily available! I would suggest you try looking for one. I had mine for about 5 yr.s, ended up selling it for more money then I purchased it for! Only reason I sold it was to get a bigger lathe ...a problem you'll probably end up with! *G* Good Luck!

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