Which lathe?

All discussion about lathes including but not limited to: South Bend, Hardinge, Logan, Monarch, Clausing and other HSM lathes, including imports

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VelocityDuck
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Which lathe?

Post by VelocityDuck » Sun Jan 16, 2022 9:04 am

My lathe search is still ongoing. I was going to give up on used and go new, but I just can't seem to allow myself to give up so I've resigned myself to lots of driving to where the machines are.

So I'm looking for benchtop or small floor standing. 10"x30" range. I found a Hardinge but it's a bit spendy at $4,000+. I'm seeing a bunch of Atlas in the $2,000 range. There was a Clausing up in Chattanooga. Also found a Sheldon "project" lathe that was partially restored. Not sure I want to stick my head in that rabbit hole.

It seems like the Atlas were like the mini lathes of the 60's and 70's. I read something about the gears on the Clausing being made from some type metal that people don't like.

I have no problem with rebuilding a machine. So far I've made some modifications to my Shoptask BridgeMill 3-in-1, completely rebuilt a 1974 delta tablesaw, put a 3-phase motor with VFD on my Delta drillpress.

But it would be nice to know the gotcha's on these different machines. Things like the parts availability, ways made out of soft metal, leadscrews that are known to wobble. Is there a place where I can find out the pro's and con's of these different machines rather than having to research and become an almost expert on every brand?

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pat1027
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Re: Which lathe?

Post by pat1027 » Sun Jan 16, 2022 9:33 am

If I were searching for lathe information I would look here and on Practical Machinist.

Of the machines you mentioned I have only used a 12" Atlas. Atlas marketed to users who didn't need the capabilities of heavier more powerful machines. Their machines were lighter giving them the moniker "Flexible Flyer" compared to say a Hardinge. But used within its capability it is a good machine. Some had die cast back gears.

Shopping used condition could more important than the name plate. A worn out machine is a worn out machine.

VelocityDuck
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Re: Which lathe?

Post by VelocityDuck » Sun Jan 16, 2022 12:00 pm

Right. But a well used Hardinge compared to a pristine Atlas "flexible flyer"?

Or a well used Hardinge vs. a well used Clausing? In this case if the Hardinge has a know issue of a part failing and replacements aren't available then that would tip the scales to the Clausing.

See where I'm going? I'm just wondering if there's a list somewhere of known issues which would be easier than doing a search here for "Clausing lathe problems" and going through the results to build up the information. And then repeating for every brand.

John Evans
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Re: Which lathe?

Post by John Evans » Sun Jan 16, 2022 1:36 pm

As the owner of about 4-5 12X36 Atlas lathe over the years ranging from brand new to well used they are not a bad machine used within their capabilities . With a Q/C box the only die cast gears are in the train on the left side of the head stock! Back gears and QC are iron/steel. Loose change gears were die cast,also the half nuts. With reasonalbe lubing they last just fine. Bigest issue is the half nuts are also used for the slide feed ,again keep the lead screw clean and well lubed they last a long . They never had a hardened bed so with poor maintance they wore just like SB and all the others. Any part avilalble new for a Hardinge will be eye watering expensive ! As far as that goes any new part for a out of production machine with be PRICEY !! I just ordered a new cross slide lead screw for my 5914 Clausing with T/A $188 , and several years ago a new master cylinder for the V/S drive same lathe $450 ! .Atlas parts used to be available from Sears before they died, but I would suspect new might still be available from Clausing as Atlas Press bought Clausing back in the 50s. And eBay always has a good slection of Atlas and SB used parts.
Problems ! WEAR !!! Everything wears with use magnifyed by poor maintainece . Clausings the ones with the VS speed system can have issues there but,many of them both belt and VS have a big plus a clutch/brake!! Atlas I already covered. Logans very good machines with the 11-12" sometimes having hard beds ,their VS system is all mechanical . Parts are available new from Logan but PRICEY ! Sheldon no experance there.
Do not discount the import [Chinese ] machines . I replaced my last personal Atlas with a 12X36 gear head hard gap bed "Acra-Turn" I bought new from Rutland. Over the last 10 years I have fixed up and sold maybe 6-8 10-12-13" Chinese lathes . Parts are ALWAYS a issue with these even if it is 4-5 year old Grizzly ! And I have bought parts from Grizzly to repair Jets -ENCO's etc. My Acra-Turn was every bit as good a machine as my Clausing, Clausing won out because it has the clutch/brake and Taper Atachment. And I do prefer a gear head!! But you can not always have eggs in your beer !!
Good luck !
John
www.chaski.com

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Bill Shields
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Re: Which lathe?

Post by Bill Shields » Sun Jan 16, 2022 2:29 pm

A hardinge that is in good shape is a better buy of any other lathe that needs work
Too many things going on to bother listing them.

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NP317
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Re: Which lathe?

Post by NP317 » Sun Jan 16, 2022 10:22 pm

I can add that a worn out Hardinge lathe is often still better than a new import lathe.
RussN

pete
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Re: Which lathe?

Post by pete » Mon Jan 17, 2022 2:45 am

I'll try and add to what others have already said and what cost me a fair amount to learn the hard way. For researching almost any better known brand name used lathes made in the 20th century this is always my first go to. http://www.lathes.co.uk/Scroll down a bit to get to the alphabetical list. That wear and lack of proper maintenance or even ham fisted damage almost goes hand in hand with more hobby sized machine tools. It's also not unknown with larger more professional sized machines and employees who just don't care. Not an opinion shared by most, but I honestly think these used machines should come with a large price reduction in most cases because of those usual issues instead of the artificially inflated prices we see due to a brand name over what there real condition might be. Those prices are high and going higher because enough less than knowledgeable are completely willing to pay very close to those sometimes insane asking prices. And even with a lightly used common machine with easy part availability, you better buy the most complete with no missing parts machine you can find and afford. My little Atlas horizontal turned out to be a money pit since I didn't understand that seemingly minor detail at the time. I've literally paid the same again for missing or replacing damaged parts as it's selling price was. A bit of luck was that both my South Bend shaper and the Atlas suffered more from neglect and poor lubrication choices than any major use. There slides were almost glued together with congealed grease and oil. So even with the very stupid choices of using that grease or heavy motor oil instead of way oil, there slide ways, feed screws, nuts etc are very close to as new. At the time my decision to buy what I did was more luck than actual knowledge. I could have just as easily bought totally worn out boat anchors.

You mentioned rebuilding, be absolutely sure you fully understand what that involves and means. It doesn't mean what some seem to think as being a few repairs, a bit of polish and a coat of glossy paint. Rebuilding means to restore back to new or better accuracy and operating condition. Machined parts don't care about paint. They are nicer to use, keep clean and have, but paint is optional good or bad. It takes a fair amount of knowledge to even understand what to do or who to have it done by when you don't have the skills or equipment to do it yourself. For something you'll keep and use for the next 25 + years and the machine was designed and built well enough to justify doing so, it's worth it. But you'll lose money if you ever sell it. Sometimes a lot!!! You can also add subtle well thought out improvements more expensive machines might have that the OEM couldn't because of there built down to and out the door price. It is pretty satisfying though. There's no question about buying a Hardinge HLV-H that's in good shape, but I've read that just to replace the fairly simple hardened and ground dovetail bed plate, that runs around $5k for that one single part. They also made other models that definitely won't do what that HLV-H can.So you need to know a bit about what your getting into and have a rough idea of costs and what might need replacing, regrinding or expensive professional level work. When I bought my last lathe I could have bought a new Sharp made copy of those HLV's. For my shop there too heavy so they or even an off shore 14" swing lathe were out.

New and offshore at around the $3500-$5000 range can work ok for a home shop. From what I've seen, the less you pay under those numbers the more disappointed you'll be. Taiwan built will almost always be superior than a mainland Chinese machine and the price reflects that. The Chinese also seem to like playing subtle games. As just one example, my lathe bed casting below the ways appears to be much more rigid than it really is. What they did was add a narrow lip inside and around the perimeter of the bottom of the bed between the mounting feet. That made the actual bed casting a lot tougher to pull off simply to give the illusion it's built thicker and stiffer than it is. When looking for any machine tool I always make a list of what isn't optional to me. For various reasons and for my last lathe search, I wanted a non threaded spindle nose, tee slotted cross slide, MT 4 or above spindle bore, MT 3 at least tail stock taper, cam locking on that tail stock, gear box for threading, power cross feed etc. I got really close to that, but some items could have been a bit better. I can tune and make it work for what I want at least.What you want or need or be willing to settle for could easily be different. Within the 10"-12" swing range, new or used, the tooling costs are roughly just about equal. So the lathes initial cost even though it might be budget breaking is after some time almost incidental. Pay a bit more up front even if you have to wait a bit longer and be a lot happier later. And that goes for new or used. There were some lathes with less common spindle noses and tapers, that can also get costly to even find today. Parts for some rarer machines might be almost impossible or take multiple years to locate.

VelocityDuck
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Re: Which lathe?

Post by VelocityDuck » Mon Jan 17, 2022 8:04 am

pete wrote:
Mon Jan 17, 2022 2:45 am
For researching almost any better known brand name used lathes made in the 20th century this is always my first go to. http://www.lathes.co.uk
Not that's what I'm looking for!!! Thanks!
pete wrote:
Mon Jan 17, 2022 2:45 am
For something you'll keep and use for the next 25 + years and the machine was designed and built well enough to justify doing so, it's worth it. But you'll lose money if you ever sell it. Sometimes a lot!!!
I've owned two airplanes. This is not an unusual position for me. :lol:

Thanks for the pointers. It's a huge help.

earlgo
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Re: Which lathe?

Post by earlgo » Mon Jan 17, 2022 10:27 am

And speaking of worn-out Atlas lathes, be sure to check for this wear point.
Groove in bed.JPG
This was caused by faulty way wipers that hadn't been changed in about 45 years,
Groove about 003 in deep.JPG
Wipers.jpg
Zamak gears are not so good compared to good Boston steel gears.
20 tooth replacement resized.jpg
Good luck.
--earlgo
Before you do anything, you must do something else first. - Washington's principle.

pete
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Re: Which lathe?

Post by pete » Mon Jan 17, 2022 4:46 pm

Wow, that's quite the wear path from previous owners being too cheap to just change out those wipers Earl. Yeah, that infamous Zamak, a built in albatross for sure. Obviously Atlas never contemplated there machines being still sought after 40-60 years later. And I very much doubt the materials long term degradation may have been even known about back then. Fwiw I've seen a couple of possible reasons mentioned about why it falls apart sometimes and others where it's still fine. One forum thread mentioned the exact percentages of the zink, magnesium, copper & aluminum alloy composition may not have been as tightly controlled as it should have been from lot to lot. And that magnesium as a metal always surface corrodes really easy. Mixed with aluminum is supposed to seriously reduce that, but??? Others have said they think environment conditions with high humidity and/or salty air over long periods accelerates the problem. So the idea about the magnesium being the main issue just might be true. I've also thought the incorrect lube like a high sulfur content hypoid gear oil might also have some effect if it was used by mistake. It could be any or all of them for all I know. I've got some Zamak gears in my horizontal mill that are still ok. Maybe all that grease and old oil that was caked on helped preserve them and did me a favor.

earlgo
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Re: Which lathe?

Post by earlgo » Mon Jan 17, 2022 5:50 pm

The previous owner was my dad, and I got this after he passed away in1985 or so. There are no instructions in the user manual about way wipers needing to be replaced and Clausing was the only place one could buy parts. This lathe wore out a couple of lead screws and nuts and eventually the threads on the spindle nose. I had to scrape the carriage so it wouldn't rattle and make a lot of other aggravating adjustments and repairs.
Carriage Parts removed.JPG
On the other hand, he got his money's worth making stuff and having fun.
Atlas 12 in invoice_Page_1.jpg
Atlas 12 in invoice_Page_2.jpg
Now it almost is useful but certainly is no Monarch Regal or Myford.
--earlgo
Before you do anything, you must do something else first. - Washington's principle.

pete
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Re: Which lathe?

Post by pete » Mon Jan 17, 2022 6:26 pm

My apology's for seeming to insult your father Earl. Amazing, $365.00 for a bare 12" x 36". Now they go $800 - way over that for used. And $40 for the milling attachment, those are running $350+ all the time on Ebay. Average South Bend prices are even higher. One of the machine shop owners I know in San Francisco told me in the 70's and early 80's you could hardly get $100-$200 if you were lucky for Atlas and SB shapers or my horizontal mill. He said lot's got scrapped because they just weren't worth enough to try and sell. Even since I bought mine the prices have roughly doubled.

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