My Sheldon lathe

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Mr Ron
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My Sheldon lathe

Post by Mr Ron » Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:18 am

I read all the threads about member's lathes, mills, etc with interest. There are problems reported about a lathe that is 50 years old and looking for a part. There are problems reported about bearings, controls that don't work and all sorts of problems, too many to list. After reading them all, I go back to my Sheldon 11" lathe and marvel at what a fantastic deal I got on it.

It was around 1985 in San Francisco that I started looking for a lathe, as I was interested in model railroading and all things mechanical. I spent a couple of weeks searching in used machinery dealers for a medium sized lathe, not knowing how much money it would cost me. I saw everything from monster 60" lathes that were from the shipbuilding industry to 9" South Bends. Then I found a Sheldon 11" lathe for $650. It was built around 1945 (according to John Knox, formerly with Sheldon). It reportedly was installed on a liberty ship and removed after the war when the ship was decommissioned. When I saw it, I was looking at a machine that was well cared for and showed little wear. The price was a bit more than I wanted to pay, but today, I realize what a bargain I got. The lathe was built under a wartime contract with the government symbol stamped on the right front end of the bed. It has a 44" bed, quick change gearbox and underneath drive. It sits on a 5 drawer cabinet and was fully equipped with 8", 3and 4 jaw chucks made by Cushman and Skinner, a taper turning attachment, metric transposing gear set, follow and steady rests, numerous tool holders, centers, dogs and a faceplate, the last appeared never used; even the 4-jaw looked brand new; only a collet closer was missing. The ways still had the hand scrapped marks all along the ways. Being manufactured under a wartime contract, it was fully equipped with all available tooling. Every time I use it, I marvel at how well it works. This is a practically new machine that is now 75 years old and still going strong. When I'm running it, it is virtually vibration free.

This may sound like a brag and really it is. It may not be a Monarch, but it's pretty damn close. It is certainly a better machine than anything out of China or even Taiwan. One reason why I am posting this is because I don't hear much about Sheldon lathes. People brag about their SB's, Atlas, Monarch, but little credit is given to Sheldon. As a medium sized lathe, I consider it to be one of the best all around lathes ever built. End of rant; back to the shop to work on my next locomotive.
Mr.Ron from South Mississippi

Russ Hanscom
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Re: My Sheldon lathe

Post by Russ Hanscom » Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:40 pm

I had a Sheldon 13", about mid 50's vintage, bought it in the early 70s in LA for $750 and used it until 2004 when I upgraded to a Harrison. No complaints, I challenged it with many oversized projects and it always succeeded. I replaced all of the bearings in the drive assembly but other than that, no problems. It was a sound machine.

Jchevy
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Re: My Sheldon lathe

Post by Jchevy » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:01 pm

Sheldon made very good machines for sure , I have an 11" also it preforms well , at one of my jobs we had a 17" swing lathe it was a pleasure to use .

spro
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Re: My Sheldon lathe

Post by spro » Wed Jul 17, 2019 8:26 pm

They weren't as numerous as other American makes. I would mostly read how well they performed. In the earlier days of Ebay there were sellers of tailstocks, follower rests and steady rests but they weren't exactly sure if they were South Bend or Logan or modified Atlas. In most cases it was Sheldon who had nicely styled castings which were similar.

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SteveHGraham
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Re: My Sheldon lathe

Post by SteveHGraham » Wed Jul 17, 2019 9:35 pm

Friend of mine bought a liberty ship and offered me whatever machinery I could remove from it. I try not to think about it.
Every hard-fried egg began life sunny-side up.

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SteveM
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Re: My Sheldon lathe

Post by SteveM » Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:37 am

Mr Ron wrote:
Wed Jul 17, 2019 11:18 am
This may sound like a brag and really it is.
It ain't bragging if you can back it up.

I made a comparison chart of most of the popular lathes around 10" plus or minus an inch. This included South Bend, Clausing, Logan and Sheldon.

Of all the lathes, the Sheldon 11 stands head and shoulders above all of them. The only thing a South Bend heavy 10 has on it is a the availability of a fine feed gearbox, and the Clausing 4900 has a higher spindle speed, but other than that, the Sheldon is tops in pretty much everything.

While the swing is 1" bigger than a H10, it has more than TWO inches more clearance over the carriage. It has more travel in the tailstock, cross slide and compound. It's the only lathe in this class with a 3MT tailstock.

Steve

Mr Ron
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Re: My Sheldon lathe

Post by Mr Ron » Thu Jul 18, 2019 3:12 pm

My Sheldon 11" has a #5MT in the headstock and a #2MT in the tailstock. I understand Sheldon made a lot of lathes during the war and many of them went down to the bottom of the Atlantic ocean in Liberty ships.
Mr.Ron from South Mississippi

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BadDog
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Re: My Sheldon lathe

Post by BadDog » Thu Jul 18, 2019 6:57 pm

SteveM wrote:
Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:37 am
Of all the lathes, the Sheldon 11 stands head and shoulders above all of them. The only thing a South Bend heavy 10 has on it is a the availability of a fine feed gearbox, and the Clausing 4900 has a higher spindle speed, but other than that, the Sheldon is tops in pretty much everything.

While the swing is 1" bigger than a H10, it has more than TWO inches more clearance over the carriage. It has more travel in the tailstock, cross slide and compound. It's the only lathe in this class with a 3MT tailstock.
If you update your document, you should add the Rockwell 11. For one, depending on where you live, they can be a lot more common than the Sheldon. And I think the Sheldon 11 is still a bit better, but the Rockwell 11 is a close second that likewise handily beats the others on your list. And it too has an MT3 tailstock. Richard T and others who know more than I do shared similar views on the relative comparison of the Rockwell and Sheldon.

I wish I had been able to keep mine, but it had to make room for larger machines better suited to the range of my common tasks.
Russ
Master Floor Sweeper

spro
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Re: My Sheldon lathe

Post by spro » Fri Jul 19, 2019 12:35 am

A minor point about the Rockwell 11; Many people look at a separate shaft for the fine feed. The lead screw shaft of the Rockwell is keyed differently. It has a "T" shaped key for the fine feeds and the lead screw is milled different than a slot. The engineers knew how a regular key would eventually lean and disturb the interrupted lead screw threads. So they designed it a way that the key didn't touch them and one lead screw was sufficient.

spro
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Re: My Sheldon lathe

Post by spro » Fri Jul 19, 2019 11:02 pm

This was not intended to divert the topic from neat Sheldon lathes.

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Bill_Cook
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Re: My Sheldon lathe

Post by Bill_Cook » Sun Jul 28, 2019 11:49 pm

I picked up a Sheldon 11" lathe in the early to mid '90's with an 'E' drive. It has the War Board tag and a tag for metric threading - but no metric gears. It was/is badly worn, although the head stock bushings had been replaced. It will still split a thou on the diameter with a double finish cut. We've gotten along OK over the years. A few months back one of the two Spindle drive belts came apart. The other lost all it's string and turned turtle last week. I'll be unloading a bigger lathe after sunup, but that can be in another post. I'll be keeping my old friend - and not just because my father's middle name was Sheldon.

What interests me about it is that the tail end of the bed has a spherical mount, something I've never seen before. It makes sense if it served in a truck or on board a ship.
BC

If there was only one way to do each machining job, the smell of sulphurized cutting oil smoke would have fewer fond memories.

Mr Ron
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Re: My Sheldon lathe

Post by Mr Ron » Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:12 am

Bill_Cook wrote:
Sun Jul 28, 2019 11:49 pm
I picked up a Sheldon 11" lathe in the early to mid '90's with an 'E' drive. It has the War Board tag and a tag for metric threading - but no metric gears. It was/is badly worn, although the head stock bushings had been replaced. It will still split a thou on the diameter with a double finish cut. We've gotten along OK over the years. A few months back one of the two Spindle drive belts came apart. The other lost all it's string and turned turtle last week. I'll be unloading a bigger lathe after sunup, but that can be in another post. I'll be keeping my old friend - and not just because my father's middle name was Sheldon.

What interests me about it is that the tail end of the bed has a spherical mount, something I've never seen before. It makes sense if it served in a truck or on board a ship.
Mine has the same spherical mount. I put a DI on the spindle last night and it fluctuated about half a thou while running. There was no fluctuation when turning the spindle by hand in either X or Y direction; pretty good for a 75 year old lathe.
Mr.Ron from South Mississippi

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