View Full Version : Southbend Question

03-27-2007, 08:25 PM
Hello everyone, my name is Darrin and I live near Syracuse Ny. I am VERY new to machining and have a question. I have been looking at buying my own lathe for use in my workshop for making shafts, etc for industrial applications as well as small parts for other things. Anyhow, At my day job I use an old Sebastian Lathe with about a 9 1/2-10" swing(?). I may be able to get this lathe for very cheap (about $200) but it has horrible backlash and the ways need fixed(I have no idea how to do this....surface grinding??). I also saw a brand new JET lathe with about an 8" swing for around $1000 which I am also considering. My question to all of you who are experienced is.....well....why do so many people prefer southbend?? Is it the American made thing or ease of use?? Or is it just more of a brand name thing? Thanks for any input. As I said Im real new to machining and would like to add on to my side business of welding plus I have found I like machining even more than welding....I can see this turning into a satisfying hobby...


03-27-2007, 09:51 PM
South Bends are simple machines, simply to use, and simple to fix. If you keep them well oiled they last for three days less than forever. Many new parts are still available new from Le blond or Parts Works. There may have been more of them made than all other American made lathes. There are all kinds of use parts available on Ebay. Many Schools had South Bend lathes so many people were trained on them. With the right skill they can make anything that can be made on a lathe. Gary P. Hansen

Paul Alciatore
03-27-2007, 09:58 PM
I have a SB 9C with a short bed. I looked around for about a year or a bit longer. I was shopping on a short budget and I wanted something that was close enough for me to see it before I was totally committed to the purchase.

I looked at quite a few machines, both new and used. On the new side I found that a good quality, name brand machine would cost 15,000 and UP. Of course, there were the various brands of Chinese made machines. They were all basically similar and there are actually only about two or three basic models plus some variations in the low priced lines. However, there were a lot of missing features on the import modles that I felt were either absolutely necessary or at least highly desirable.

They are all basically metric machines with metric lead screws. I know we are going metric, but most of the dimensions in the US are still English.

They all lack any tumbler reverse. Or at least a few years ago they did. I'm not talking about the more expensive imports, my budget was about $1K. I wanted to be able to reverse the rotation.

And then there is the question of accessories. Chinese imports = zero accessories after the initial package. Repair parts??? I have heard of months of order time.

OTOH, SB has an English lead screw, tumbler reverse, and there are tons of accessories and parts on E-Bay. And the price for a used one was in my budget. When I found one on E-bay that was within driving distance (two states) I jumped at it. I'm in the middle of the Iowa corn fields so that did take some time to find.

It wasn't perfect. The ways do show some wear. The tailstock is a bit loose and I am not even sure it is actually a SB. But it works and I am making improvements. I also got the C model. That's the version with manual change gears and no power cross feed. I would like to convert it to a B with the power feeds, but I have no plans to get a QC gearbox. I like the versatility that manual gears provides. If it had been for a production situation where cutting threads was a frequent thing, then the A model with QC gearbox would have been a better choice. My work is mostly prototypes and tool making - "one offs" as they say.

Was it brand loyalty? No. There were other brands that I considered. Was it buy American (US) made? Well, partially, but not completely. I am a US citizen and definitely patriotic. It just seemed to be the best fit for my needs and limitations ($s). That, more or less, was my thought process. I don't regret it.

You have to determine your needs and buy accordingly.

03-27-2007, 10:15 PM
Not to nit-pick but a correction to Paul's post.

The A models have the QC gearbox and power cross feed.
The B models have change gears but power cross feed
The C models have change gears and no power cross feed

As for South Bend lathes I have a 10K and I like it alot.


Your Old Dog
03-28-2007, 06:35 AM
I have a model A 9x36 I got from my employer. I had always wanted a lathe but didn't know much about how to tell what kind of a deal I was getting. Then I noticed this one in the basement and noted the scrape marks on the ways were consistent from one end to the other. That told me it hadn't been used much. Turn out it was purchased in 1965 to help finish the tv station I work at. In other words, it saw next to no use. I traded some cabinet making skills for it.

Otherwise, I'd have bought a new import because I didn't want to start out with something I didn't know how to fix.

03-28-2007, 06:50 AM
Have a SB10L, find it is easy to set up & use. Would like to have the same
lathe new with all the available SB accessories.

03-28-2007, 09:30 AM
I have a SB 9A with the 42" bed love it and everything about it real easy to make attachments or you can buy them.Like said befor if you take care of them they will last forever.

Paul Alciatore
03-28-2007, 11:30 AM
Not to nit-pick but a correction to Paul's post.

The A models have the QC gearbox and power cross feed.
The B models have change gears but power cross feed
The C models have change gears and no power cross feed

As for South Bend lathes I have a 10K and I like it alot.



Thanks for the correction. I did mix up the As and the Cs. My post is corrected now. Thanks again,

Paul A.

J Tiers
03-28-2007, 01:09 PM
South bend tend (in my area at least) to be offered for sale at a premium price, due to "name recognition".

Another brand to consider is Logan. Usually cheaper for equivalent machines since not as well known as S-B. Very similar to the S-B, but a 10" Logan is a bit heavier built than the 9" or the light 10 S-B. Heavy is good in lathes.

An 11" Logan is a fine machine as well, which has a large enough spindle to take a 5C collet (good for gunsmithing, for instance). Has a 1 3/8 hole through the spindle, where the S-B and 10" Logan have 3/4. (S-B heavy 10 also has 1 3/8).

Depending on what you find, you might be able to get a Logan with all power feeds and QC (like the S-B "A"), or with change gears and power crossfeed (like the S-B "B"). There is no equivalent to the cheapo S-B "C" model.

Other features that you may get, depending, are taper attachment, hardened bed (lower wear), and more modern spindle nose such as L or cam-loc. Most old S-Bs will have the threaded nose.

Logans ALL have ball-bearing spindles, and bearings can be fairly easily replaced if needed. Most S-B have plain bearings, which are great when good, but if messed up , are a problem to fix.

The Logans are supported by the original makers (Logan).

Sheldon is another good brand, but rarer, and with no maker's support at all. However they are usually MUCH heavier than S-B or Logan for equal swing and size.

Any of the above will run rings around the $1000 import chinese machines in terms of features, minimum speeds, stiffness and solidity, etc. You have to pay more to get a heavier chinese machine.