Tom CPM10V
02-09-2005, 08:19 PM
I need the advice/guidance of you far-more-experienced guys & gals ...regarding the advisability of buying a Sheldon 15" lathe.

I'm a beginner with a Harrison 15" x 50" lathe, but for a variety of reasons would like to own & use a U.S.-made lathe. Not far away, a Vo-Tech school will soon be selling a Sheldon Model 3 turret lathe. I got a quick look at it yesterday, and it is hardly used at all -- ways are perfect/new, the headstock operates smoothly & quietly, and it has much tooling -- 3J collets, taper, etc. Has 2" spindle bore, really fine longitudinal feeds, lots o mass, broad speed range, A1-6 spindle, etc. As a newbie, I'm impressed with it.

It appears to swing about 15" x 40"; the data plate says it is a 'Model 3R' with SN '31669'; and the shop teacher says it was made in 1969. Although it is a turret lathe, in many cases the owners manual describes the component parts generically as 15" lathe parts.
To me, it looks like the turret assembly could be removed easily and replaced with a conventional tail stock. [Ebay currently has a Sheldon 15" tailstock up for auction.]

Advice/opinions, please. Are these good lathes? Any known weaknesses / problems / faults to be investigated before buying? Are parts available? How about tech data/literature/support? Would a conventional tailstock fit? Would you personally buy one?

I will genuinely appreciate your advice and guidance. At my age, my next lathe will be the last lathe I ever buy, so I want to do it right. [I've been exploring LeBlonds, but one of comparable size & condition would cost several thousand $$$ more.]


02-09-2005, 08:45 PM
I have a 13" Sheldon and am very pleased with it. It is a good rugged lathe, I feel it is better in many ways than a South Bend or other comparable lathe in several ways. It is generally of stouter construction and has a much wider range of feeds and threads. Mine is a 1962, out of a local school. I have had for 5 years and gotten good service from it.

My catalog shoes the 3R as having a 1-1/2" through the spindle bore, but other specs the same as you have listed.

The 15" was a new machine, not an upsized 13", and weighs about 1300# more. Shipping weight is 2800#.

The 15" precision lathe is the same machine, trimmed out differently than the turret lathe, and the tailstock should fit. The turret does take up a bit of the bed, and replacement may be a good idea. However, distance from the spindle to the turret face is 33-1/4".

02-09-2005, 10:18 PM
I'll drive from southern Illinois to Pennsylvania if you don't want that Sheldon! I would kill for a 13-15" machine with 2" bore.

Keep us posted on this one. Sounds like the makings of a great story!

Barry Milton

02-10-2005, 09:47 AM
I have two Sheldons, both very good lathes. I liked my 13-inch so much that when I got a chance to buy a 10-inch I jumped at the chance.

Along the way Sheldon changed their design. Mine are older than the one you describe. I'm not sure if yours is the newer style, or not.

I'd say, "Go for it!"


02-10-2005, 10:00 AM
I had a 11" Sheldon with sleeve bearings and underneath drive. It was and still is a very good lathe. A friend bought it and I bought a newer SBL heavy 10. I too would love to have the 15" turret lathe. A turret lathe can be very handy in a shop. Parts will be scarce because Sheldon went out of business in the early 70's I think. But they made good machines and if taken care of will last a long time.

02-10-2005, 11:49 AM
I ran a Sheldon turret lathe in a job shop. Nice solid machine when I was running it every day. That's been about 15 years ago, now. Now, it's a bit abused. A bunch of "kids" as the boss there calls them have been rough on the old girl. The only problems with it were: no compound and the tool post wasn't real solid.

Buy it! I bought my Clausing 10" lathe 15 years ago and it came out of the Baltimore City School system. Still has the property tag on it. There are a few dings on the compound, but the machine has been great!

Andy Pullen