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View Full Version : Lathe buying tips for newbie



Flatwins
01-24-2008, 06:41 PM
I'm sure you guys are thinking, "Great, another idiot newbie wants our help." :)

Well, if you would be so kind... A guy on Craigslist has a Craftsman Atlas lathe for sale. He thinks it is a 6 x 36 from the 1970s and wants $400. He's about an hour drive from me and I was thinking of checking it out this weekend. Now for some questions: Does this type of lathe even exist? A 6" swing wih a bed that long sounds questionable to me but I'm darn near clueless on these things. He has a few small accessories that go with it but nothing real exciting. Say the thing does exist, what should I look for when I go to inspect it? I did find this article on the subject:

http://www.mermac.com/advicenew.html

Thanks for anyone willing to offer their thoughts, good or bad.

SGW
01-24-2008, 07:05 PM
I think a friend of mine had one of those. It's lightweight, but it's a pretty good little lathe. Always assuming it's in decent shape, of course. $400 seems quite plausible, always assuming....

Bill Pace
01-24-2008, 07:14 PM
Its VERY likely that he is measuring the radius of the swing, and it is in reality a 12x36 -----Craftsman/Atlas made many, many in this size, --- it is a popular HSM lathe. If this is the case, then at $400 it would be well worth your time to check it out.

tony ennis
01-24-2008, 08:07 PM
Take a knowledgeable friend if you can when you go look at it. When I bought my first lathe last year (A 12" Craftsman Atlas, lol, with a long bed, from the late 30s) I didn't know what to look for or what to ask. I bought an under-tooled 'project'. The more I looked the worse it got. It has busted parts all over it. It was ok for the money and that was about all there was within a drive. I have learned a lot, however. I expect it will soon be running better than it has in a long time, with a major assist coming from these forums.

The lathe needs to have a headstock, a carriage, and a tailstock. These are expensive replacements from eBay.

See if you can find the model number of the lathe. If it is a 109.* model, I don't think you want it. If it's a 618 or something, it could be nice. A 101.* is ok.

Find out and post back. And verify if the swing (maximum diameter of the object being turned) is 12" or 6" - it could be either.

If it's a 12" I can help some.

Also, find the Atlas/Craftsman yahoo group once you know the model number.

Racerx
01-24-2008, 08:41 PM
They do exist, you see them on Ebay pretty regularly. It's my understanding Atlas sized these things by the diameter they could turn, and the length of the bed, NOT the length they could turn. My Atlas QC42, with a 42" long bed, will turn about a 24" long piece, by the time you subtract for the headstock and the tailstock.

They are pretty light duty lathes, I know the guys over at PM have nothing good to say about them, but I guess it all depends on what you need out of a lathe. I don't know that they're any worse than any other similar sized bench top lathe.

There are always parts for sale for Atlas/Craftsman lathes on E bay, it seems many people buy these things just to part out. In spite of availability, the parts don't seem all that cheap to me. I can't believe how many times I've seen the milling attachment go for over $200, or steady rests for around $150.

kendall
01-24-2008, 09:02 PM
the Atlas is a good home lathe, I think the problem at PM is that they're comparing them to industrial machines designed for day in day out production use, very few 'home' tools will compare in that manner.

I have an atlas 10x30, and atlas listed it as a 10x48", using the bed length.

They aren't bad in any respect, not as heavy duty as some, but very useable.

I have both a logan and an atlas, and I've been working a trade for my shaper to convert either one to QC, don't care which either one meets my needs, which is turning steel brass copper etc.
Greatest advantage of the atlas is the flat ways, VERY easy to refurb if needed.

Speaking of the milling attachment, there's an atlas on san diego craigslist (under auto parts) listed for 400, with what looks like a milling attachment and steady in the photo. It doesn't say what size it is, but it -looks- like it may be the new style 618, milling attachment looks like it's for a 10-12 inch (big, may just be the angle).

ken.

piniongear
01-24-2008, 09:15 PM
I'm sure you guys are thinking, "Great, another idiot newbie wants our help." :)

Well, if you would be so kind... A guy on Craigslist has a Craftsman Atlas lathe for sale. He thinks it is a 6 x 36 from the 1970s and wants $400. He's about an hour drive from me and I was thinking of checking it out this weekend. Now for some questions: Does this type of lathe even exist? A 6" swing wih a bed that long sounds questionable to me but I'm darn near clueless on these things. He has a few small accessories that go with it but nothing real exciting. Say the thing does exist, what should I look for when I go to inspect it? I did find this article on the subject:

http://www.mermac.com/advicenew.html

Thanks for anyone willing to offer their thoughts, good or bad.
Here is a link to some info on the Atlas 6 inch. It was the smaller of the lathes Sears sold. The larger was the 12 x 36 Atlas.......pg
http://www.lathes.co.uk/atlas/page14.html

torker
01-24-2008, 09:34 PM
An Atlas...ok, you can't turn full size cannon barrels with it.
But...it's a heck of a lot better lathe than the cheaper asian imports.
A great beginners lathe (if it's in decent shape) and mostly all there.
Reminds me..the local highschool sold off their very nice lil' heavyweight Standard Modern 9" lathes. Very stout little machines in nice shape.
Ha..the new wave shop teacher bought a bunch of 9X20 imports to replace them.
Ya...I had to say something derogatory to him. A$$hat moron.
Russ

tony ennis
01-24-2008, 09:54 PM
Unlike the Chicom 9x's, my Atlas is beautiful.

Bob Farr
01-24-2008, 10:17 PM
The link that piniongear gave you is a great source of info abut Atlas/Craftsman lathes. Here is a 12x36, model #101.07383 (circa 1939'ish) I dragged home in the fall for $400:

http://i58.photobucket.com/albums/g272/frankenglide/Atlas12inch6-1.jpg

I had the ways ground for $60, and I'll probably have about $700 into it when finished with the refurb, including a nice sturdy steel bench with drawers:

http://i58.photobucket.com/albums/g272/frankenglide/Refinish1.jpg

The resto process if fun, but the purchase price is just the entry fee! Good luck, and post a picture when you drag it home. You know you will ...

http://i58.photobucket.com/albums/g272/frankenglide/Paintsaddle2.jpg

ulav8r
01-24-2008, 10:43 PM
If the roads are iced up Friday afternoon, I would be willing to go with you to look at it Saturday. If the roads are clear, I'll be going to Arkansas for the weekend.

Flatwins
01-24-2008, 11:26 PM
Thanks all. I hope the lathe is in good shape and I'm the first one there.

ulav8r
02-04-2008, 10:57 PM
Did you look at the lathe? Did you get it?

It's a good thing I did not go with you. I got home Friday night and my wife had a bad headache. She put off going to the ER and ended up having a seizure Sunday afternoon. Shortly after I got her to the ER, she went into a coma that lasted till Wednesday morning. She had meningitis, spent 7 days in critical care unit, but seems to be doing very well now.