View Full Version : What can you tell me about this lathe?

04-17-2006, 06:44 PM
Person is selling it for his German neighbor who doesn't do the net. Seller apparently knows nothing about lathes and cannot provided anymore details then are in the add, just wants me to "come look at it".

Would this be the 11" model sheldon?

I realize there will probably be 6 people posting that, "machines like this go for $300 all the time in my area"... The pickings are slim to none in my area so the price may not be out of line.

Or... I was thinking about getting something like this from grizzly. Of course this would need to be tooled up from ground zero, and would have to pay sales tax 8.5%.

or maybe this one for $200 more.

what's the 411 on these "gap bed" lathes, they seem to be all the rage with several of grizzly's models???


04-17-2006, 07:26 PM
The G4003 ends up being more than the other one if you buy the base...which is included with the other model you showed. I almost bought a 4003 as the shop downstairs has a couple of them and they are not too bad. I would opt for gears over belts for convenience although the latter can be more forgiving.

I ended up buying this


which is the same as this but in different paint and at a much lower price:


In fact, the lousy picture of the Kent is mine...The "dealer" did not have one to take his own pictures, so I sent him some when my lathe arrived. No complaints but for a small gearbox leak at a seal around a change lever. Otherwise, top notch and pretty well finished (except for typical Chinese paint). Machined surfaces look nice and not a lot of grit, but plenty of egg-foo-goo :)

Still, if I had had more success in shopping for older American iron in *good shape* I might have gone that route.

good luck

04-17-2006, 07:29 PM
Go look at the Sheldon. It is hard to tell from the photo, but it looks like the 11". If possible, get the catalog number from the machine. It is stamped on the plate with the change gear tables. I can tell you more from that.

Sheldon made the XL, S and M series in 10", 11" and 13" swings. All shared the same bed and spindle size. They also made a lighter L series 10" that had a smaller bed and a 1-3/4"-8 spindle.

All are very good machines, the larger are more desireable due to increased capacity.

It is the earlier model of their last version of this series. It has the turn knob on the carriage feed, later models had a lever operator, a minor detail that does not detract from the machine.

Check the condition and tooling. $1500 is not a bad price for any of these machines in good condition with a reasonable amount of tooling. I would expect 3 & 4 jaw chucks, toolholders, a tailstock chuck and live center in the package. Anything more will be a bonus.


I have a Sheldon 13"X 56". It is an excellent
machine. I would not trade it even up for a brand new Grizzly or JET. They are a well made, solid machine.

The gap beds get mixed reviews. It is a convenience when turning something over the nominal swing, but usually you cannot move the toolpost out far enough to reach the OD, so it can only be used for facing. Many people seem to encounter problems replacing the gap when removed. The other downside is that when the lathe needs to be at it's most rigid, it is at it's most flexible.

04-18-2006, 09:25 AM
Buy the Sheldon.
Even if it were badly worn, you will still have a machine that will last your lifetime and your kids lifetime, and probably without ever needing any repair. The design and workmanship of the Sheldon is very good. There is frankly no comparison between a Sheldon any and all of the Chinese tools.
Buy the Sheldon.

04-18-2006, 12:25 PM
I know I risk starting the usual Chinese vs. American iron problem here, but it seems pretty hard for me to make a statement like "buy the Sheldon" without knowing about its condition. Sheldon closed up a number of years back (they used to be near Chicago) so parts will be harder to come by. If that lathe had badly worn ways, it would be a worn, but otherwise really nice lathe that won't turn straight parts. Could you have the ways re-scraped and re-flaked, or re-ground...sure, but then the budget changes substantially.

I recently went through the same thing. I could have bought a big LeBlond used that was way more lathe in capacity and rigidity than what I ended up with...but would not turn straight parts because the tailstock ways were worn...and this wear is tapered from one end to the other, making it very hard to compensate for. I would have spent my budget on a piece of machinery that I could never afford to repair properly. I called in advance to check on the prices of some parts at LeBlond....and was totally floored.

On top of that, I would not have been able to cut metric threads easily and could not turn small parts (which I do more often than not) very well due to a slow, highest speed.

I just think sometimes, we get so cought up in the superiority of american made stuff (which may well be true) that you can't buy new any more that we are willing to live with a handicap we wouldn't accept from a Chicom tool.

On the other hand, I hope that the Sheldon turns out to be in great shape as it will be a real find.


04-18-2006, 12:25 PM

This is just like one of the two I had in the shop at work. From the looks of the cabinet this looks to be a shipboard model from the WWII era. The one I had was military surplus and had the date and ordinance stamp (flaming cannon ball) on the bed, at the right side end. The date on mine was 8-43 and probably came off a liberty ship. These are good machines and much better than the Jet or Grizzly. You can still get parts for them too. I also had a 10" Sheldon XL that had the lever type feed handle. It's MFG date was 10-53, so you can see that the knob type feed engagement probably makes this a '40s machine. As was said earlier, this machine will outlast you and at $1500 is a bargain.

Jim (KB4IVH)

Bill in Ky
04-18-2006, 12:35 PM
I have a Sheldon 10 x 36 that looks just like that. Mine was made is Sept of '52. It looks like that one has a taper attachment. I like mine alot.

04-18-2006, 01:40 PM
A badly worn lathe is not a bargain regardless of the manufacturer or country of origin. If you are fortunate enough to find a good US made machine like this that has had reasonable care, it will be a much better buy than an economy import.

The pipe or tubing may date this to the late 40's or early 50's.

LeBlond bought the replacement parts from National Acme for Sheldon lathes, and some were available a few years ago, I don't know the situation today. They are not inexpensive.

The parts question is often mentioned as a problem, but it is no different with the imports. Most of the Asian machines have evolved from other machines and it is virtually impossible to identify the various models and manufacturers to find parts for any that are more than a few years old.

As long as the basic machine is in good condition, the bed not badly worn, no major castings are broken or missing, etc, most normal wear parts can be shop fabricated. After all, you do have a lathe.

I do see a steady rest, a 4 way toolpost, a bullnose live center and it does look like it may have a taper attachment. I would suspect it is pretty well tooled. It looks clean and well cared for, and I would doubt it has been abused. If that is the case, it is well worth the asking price.

04-18-2006, 05:00 PM
Thanks for the information. I just got back from looking at it. The owner is out of state so his neighbor opened his shop and let me in to play with it. It is an EXL 56B. Which according to the website means it is a 10" machine. Would have preferred larger, but I couldn't get past the excellent shape the thing was in. Very little wear at all.

I was amazed at how quite and smooth the thing was. Maybe that's because of all the worn out stuff I've been looking at over the last couple years. Didn't know they weren't supposed to sound/feel like that.

Anyway, I went ahead and bought it for $1400. Have to hook up my trailer and go back to pick it up this afternoon. The bad news is I couldn't find a 4 jaw chuck or a tail-stock chuck. In the drawers there was another, larger live-center, a gear of some sort, a wrench for the tail-stock, a steady-rest (I think that's what it is called), and some small miscellaneous stuff that I didn't look at real close.


04-18-2006, 05:07 PM
You'll like it. I have a 10x24 XL made in 1946 that later had a tailstock extension added to get the centers to 36" (quite professionally, I might add). Anyway, it's a great lathe and will do a lot of work, even with its 3/4 hp motor. Mine has a threaded spindle and that is sometimes a nuisance but I've learned to work around it.

Forrest Addy
04-18-2006, 05:48 PM
Disagree. A worn out lathe is a worn out lathe no matter who made it. One reason a worn-our lathe lasts forever is no-one likes to use them. That's not to say this particular lathe is good or bad. You won' know that until you have a good look at it.

I generally advise newbies to get a better import that's new and tight in all particulars rather than get involved with worn "American iron". I've seen the results of both. The newbie who buys a better import has fewer problems and a ready remedy through the seller if anything goes wrong. A newbiewho buys a classy old junker frequently has problems but lacks the judgement to separate his problems from the machine's problem. He's on his own and has a Looooong learning curve to master before he gains confidence. Newbies saddled with worn out machinery frequently get frustrated and drop out of the trade. Besides sooner or later he'll want to rebuilt his worn-out machine and that takes time and money he probably would rather spend buying a mill.

Don't sneer at the better imports. Thir qualty while still in need of improvvement has vastly improved in the last few years. There are frequently teething problems but once they are solved the imports give good service' far better than a worn Sheldon whose carriage has (for example) 0.010" rocking chair, 0.080" backlash in the cross slide screw, and a back gear with a busted tooth or some similar list of woes.

I would give a heavily qualified endorsement for Grizzly machinery. It's not the best but what the average home shop machinist can afford is either junk or import. When you get it you will have to go all through it to discover any discrepancies. If you expect a perfect new import machine you will be disappointed.

For that matter machine tools are not a pair of shoes or even aTroy built mower. You cannot reasonably expect a perfect product out of the box even from reputable outfits like Grizzly. There will be minor things to fix, tune up, and adjust. If you have a low frustration threshhold and cannot conduct a break-in period without resentment and cannot maintain a helpful sense of cooperation with the seller then you probably shouldn't even be messing with machinery.

04-18-2006, 05:49 PM
The EXL 56B is the 10", with a 56" bed, which gives 36" between centers. B refers to the cabinet base.

They came with a 3/4 or 1 HP motor, and should have a double V belt drive if they are the same as the 13".

That lathe is what the South Bend heavy 10 should have been. Sheldon built the bed and carriage for a 13" lathe and put shorter headstocks on them for the smaller machines. They are heavy, and have one of the widest ranges of speed/thread selectors with 60 pitches available.

Glad to hear you bought it, you did very well, and have a machine that will handle anything you can throw at it.

Leave the door open so that when the neighbor returns you can get back to look for any more tooling for it.

04-18-2006, 05:57 PM
Forrest snuck in while I was writing the previous post.

I agree with him, but want to reinforce his recommendation of the better imports. Too often people seem to look for the cheapest machine they can find. The saving of a few hundred dollars on a machine tool is false economy. Junk is junk, whether it is a brand new bottom of the line import machine or a worn out top dollar American machine.

The better imports have earned their brand recognition by offering a good product and providing after sale support.

04-19-2006, 01:42 PM
JC-- it is certainly true that there is variability in import quality in that a vendor gets whatever he tolerates so to speak....the HF stuff seems to be less well finished than some of the Grizzly stuff...but not always.

I bought a "Kent" that was *identical* to a particular Grizzly model after looking at the Grizzly in the showroom. I paid hundreds less and the lathe is just as well finished as the Grizzly, but it wears gray paint. I took a risk on the Kent since I hadn't seen one first hand, and it was just fine.

Fewer of the import machines are the gritty, sharp-edged junk with bad machining that they used to be. Experience with a bad import that is even a few years old may be old news. In short, the Chinese are getting better at what they do. Someone posted here a good while back about this trend where a third-world country copies our stuff and it is poor quality, then their quality gets better...then (in the case of Japan) it has often eventually exceeded our own. I remember when "made in Japan" was a sure sign of junk. An early Honda car was nothing to brag about. That changed. The sad thing was that the low-quality car maker was more responsive to demand for improved quality.

I also agree with Forrest's statement. I learned years ago as a teenager when I was learning to play the banjo that the newbie really needs the best equipment. Sounds backwards, but there are enough frustrations in learning anything that adding in equipment limitations make it really hard to figure out what you are doing wrong. We often hear something like "a good machinist can make up for machine wear or idiosyncracies"...but I am not yet a "good machinist" :D

Wayne-- it sounds like you got a great deal even if you have to spend a few hundred on another chuck. The "tailstock chuck" which I assume means a Jacobs type chuck on an arbor, is a commodity item to be found on Ebay. I have purchased a couple of the genuine Jacobs items in great shape at decent prices. If you want to save a few bucks, the import chucks can be great too. My Jet drill press has about .002 runout with a tool bit in the chuck. That is spindle plus chuck runout.

04-19-2006, 02:06 PM
I was going to tell you about this one but it looks like it sold. It makes a good comparison for price and I am just a couple hours down the road.


Here is a import.


Here is a logan price is a little high to me.


04-19-2006, 10:16 PM
I just recieved this email from an auction site that is in your neck of the woods I can not attend the lathe looks better than all you mentioned who knows you may steal it cheap.