PDA

View Full Version : Anything wrong with Sheldon lathes?



Doc Nickel
02-01-2008, 06:04 AM
I might (if it hasn't been sold yet) have a chance to pick up an 11" Sheldon lathe with D1-4 camlock spindle. I haven't seen it yet, so I don't know which model, exactly, or what drives, etc. but I'm told it's in fine shape and well tooled (taper attachment, toolpost grinder, QC post and blocks, collets and lever closer, centers, chucks, faceplates, etc.)

Anything I should look for specifically to Sheldons? How beefy are they compared to my 11" Logan? How easy is it to get parts?

Doc.

Bguns
02-01-2008, 06:25 AM
My High School had a fleet of around 10 of them. (almost 30 years ago....)

http://www.lathes.co.uk/sheldon/index.html Like the lower picture (had large spindle hole and threaded spindle...)

They were in use daily, and were at least 20 years old then.

I really liked the 5C collets and taper attachment.

Talking to the Shop teacher, his only problem with them was when a student crashed the carriage into headstock or tailstock while in feed mode, something broke in the apron instead of shearing a pin.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sheldonlathe/ for parts info

If under power be sure to check feed functions in both directions and crossfeed.

At the time I thought they were a fine lathe, and would recommend one..
Not a Monarch or LeBlond, but a good solid medium built lathe...

If you don't want it, my neighbor sure does..(tired of his Atlas :) )
He would be there pretty quick..... Not lathe country up here as you know...

JCHannum
02-01-2008, 08:59 AM
The late model 11" & 13" Sheldons were both built on the same heavy bed, with the same headstock. The 13" was made 1" higher, so the 11" lathe is a good, heavy machine. The 11" pedestal lathe weighs just shy of 1500#, the cabinet base about 100# less.

Both lathes share a 60 pitch gearbox that cuts from 4 to 240 TPI, ground & scraped ways and a heavy duty underneath drive that provides 8 or 16 speeds depending on model. They usually had a 1 or 1-1/2HP industrial motor. The spindle drive is by double B belts. They are good machines and a cut above Logan and Southbend lathes in similar sizes.

I doubt anything breaks in the apron in a heavy jam. There are two phenolic gears in the gear train that will shed teeth in event of a serious jam, I know this. Many manufacturers use this same method of protection. The leadscrew has a taper pin in the drive that can be undercut as a shear pin if this is of concern.

Sheldon has been out of business for quite a while, there are some parts remaining, the Yahoo group should prove helpful. However, parts should not be an issue. If the lathe is as described, and not abused, there should be little need for anything.

As described, with the tooling included, you will have a hard time finding a better lathe in this size range.

I have a 13" ex high school Sheldon with a 56" bed. It has given me excellent service for ten years, and I see no reason that it will not last a generation or two more.

J Tiers
02-01-2008, 09:08 AM
Yep there is one major failing with Sheldon lathes. I consider it a major defect.....
.
.
.
.
.
.
The problem is that I don't have one.......... ;)

Bguns
02-01-2008, 09:42 AM
It was 30 years ago :)
Just looked at one of my 2 aprons I have laying around waiting for a lathe to put them on.. :) , and all steel gears in there...
So Fuse gears would have been upstream ...

Apron is a strong double wall no nonsense design..

Orrin
02-01-2008, 12:41 PM
I have two Sheldons, a 10' and a 13". Both are excellent lathes.

The only complaint I have is with the 13" which is the older one and dates back to the '40s or '50s: The cross-feed and compound dials are very small; it is very difficult to split a thou, but I do it routinely.

If you have a chance to buy a well-cared for Sheldon, go for it!

There can be hidden defects in the best of looking lathes, however. My 10" had been run in back gear without adequate lube between the belt pulley and spindle. The spindle was badly scored. When run in direct drive the pulley would pivot on the direct-drive locking pin, causing two distinct knocking noises with every revolution.

I know of at least one other person who found a similar problem in a Sheldon. As for mine, I had to grind the scoring off the spindle, then bore and sleeve the pulley. It was an inexpensive but time-consuming repair job.

Be sure to check the spindle for runout. If the lathe you are looking at has tapered roller spindle bearings, it should have barely detectable runout as checked on the Morse taper. If you see anything more than a ten-thousandth, you may need to replace the bearings.

My 10" had three tenths runout and I had to replace the bearings at a cost of over $400. As it turns out, in a previous lifetime someone must of gotten tired of filling the oil reservoirs and packed the bearings with grease. Big mistake.

My main frustration with that repair was trying to get the bearing dealer to understand that off-the-shelf run-of-the-mill bearings would not work. The dealer didn't know that there are different classes of precision, even though the bearings carried the same part number. He didn't know that the precision class is etched on the edge of the race.

I like my Sheldons.

Orrin

Al Messer
02-01-2008, 12:59 PM
Shelsons were good enough for several Gunsmiths I have known and they are pretty picky when it comes to picking their lathes.

Doc Nickel
02-02-2008, 12:24 AM
Thanks, guys.

I'll be trying to call on it in the morning (owner's away during the week) and hopefully, if it's not gone already (which, sadly, it probably is, my info is two weeks old) I'll go and have a look.

I already have an 11" Logan, and just from the spec sheets, the only real improvement I could see was the D1-4 spindle. Other than that, it was about the same swing, same bedlength, same thru-hole, etc.

But it sounds like the Sheldon is a bit beefier, and if it's available, I'll get it. And if so, I'll leave the collet system on the Logan, and use the Sheldon for anything else.

Doc.

J Tiers
02-02-2008, 01:57 AM
If it is anything like the other Sheldons I have seen, it is more than a "bit" beefier.

The Sheldons normally make a Logan look like a toy.

BadDog
02-02-2008, 05:45 AM
To my (limited) knowledge, of the semi-mainstream home shop sized cabinet/pedestal lathe selection, Sheldon is THE heaviest (and possibly best built) of the lot. So far as I know, it's the only lathe in that class of machine that is heavier/wider/beefier than the Rockwell. Seem that maybe the Rockwell is a bit simpler, but not by a lot. And the Sheldon has a much beefier/better cross slide with better finished ways. However, the best (I think) is the 13". The 10" is a bit too limited to me, but that depends on your goals. If it's in decent, has basic tooling such as steadies and such, and can be bought for a reasonable price, I think it's very unlikely you'll do any better in a similar sized Engine Lathe.

Doc Nickel
02-02-2008, 06:34 AM
Great. Thanks guys. Now that you've got me worked up about it, now it'll definitely be gone when I ask about it.

:D

Doc.

lazlo
02-02-2008, 10:09 AM
So far as I know, it's the only lathe in that class of machine that is heavier/wider/beefier than the Rockwell.

The Clausings (5900, 6900) are also quite a bit heavier/beefier than the Rockwell.

BadDog
02-02-2008, 04:22 PM
The 6900 is 14" and not in the same "class" as the 11" Rockwell and 10" Sheldon, though I suppose I opened the door for that comparison with the 13" Sheldon comment. :D

But the 12" 5900 is certainly fair game based on my "class" reference. However, I think much of the weight difference there is in the headstock and drive system. I think mostly in terms of the bed (both width and mass), where my memory says the Rockwell is bigger (but faulty memory has bit me before, quick google produced no reference). This is also why I don't consider the "pedestal base" SB to not be comparable. But mass is good anywhere it can cut down on vibration and flex, and the headstock/drive certainly counts. So, yeah, I should have put the 5900 in up there ahead of the Rockwell along with the Sheldon.

I think the biggest reason I always forget to throw that in is that the Clausings around here tend to command prices equivalent (or higher) than industrial machines. There was just a Clausing (6900 I think?) sold out here for almost $5k. Nothing that special, far from "pretty", and not well tooled at all. And I can get a Mori Seki 850 for $5k (well used but equipped with basic tooling) up to $7k (nice condition and well equipped). So even though it's technically (by characteristics) in the same class of home shop sized cabinet machines, my brain has learned to shift them into the next category just because of the way they are priced, and at that level, they can't begin to compete (IMO). Obviously that doesn't apply if you can get one for a good price (but pray you don't need to buy new parts as Mori Seki is likely cheaper!).

Another thing I keep hearing about the Clausings is that there are some rather common/wide ranges/times where "Clausing wasn't at their best" (or similar). Combine the two, and it tends to give me a blind spot (which you have helpfully pointed out twice(?) now ;) ). Sorry, maybe I'll remember next time... :D :p

lazlo
02-02-2008, 07:27 PM
But the 12" 5900 is certainly fair game based on my "class" reference. However, I think much of the weight difference there is in the headstock and drive system. I think mostly in terms of the bed (both width and mass), where my memory says the Rockwell is bigger (but faulty memory has bit me before, quick google produced no reference).

We'll have to get out rulers Russ :) But the 5900 outweighs the Rockwell by 300 lbs, both have Reeves drives (although Clausing's is hydraulically driven), so it's a good bet that a lot of the weight difference is in the bed.


I think the biggest reason I always forget to throw that in is that the Clausings around here tend to command prices equivalent (or higher) than industrial machines. There was just a Clausing (6900 I think?) sold out here for almost $5k.

Wow, that's really high! I paid $2250 for my 5914 (from Plaza Machinery), which seems pretty typical for one in good shape.


Another thing I keep hearing about the Clausings is that there are some rather common/wide ranges/times where "Clausing wasn't at their best" (or similar).

Not sure what you mean? The biggest complaint against the Vari-speed Clausings is the Delrin bushing wearing out, but like we've discussed many times before, it's the same Vari-Speed system, and same Delrin bushing that gets noisy in the Bridgeport heads. Shrug.

Every lathe has it's Achilles Heel -- I've seen a lot of posts about the Rockwell backgear.

But these machines (the Clausing, Sheldon, and the Rockwell 11") are all great HSM lathes, which were originally sold as industrial machines -- the Clausing 5900 is pictured in several places in Moltrecht's "Machine Shop Practice" as a "modern toolroom lathe." Which is why they can sell for more than the gigantic toolroom lathes, like the Mori you're obsessed with ;) The Mori is 5,000 lbs (!), kind of like comparing a Cat D9 to a Ford 150 :D

BadDog
02-02-2008, 08:13 PM
We'll have to get out rulers Russ :) But the 5900 outweighs the Rockwell by 300 lbs, both have Reeves drives (although Clausing's is hydraulically driven), so it's a good bet that a lot of the weight difference is in the bed.

I don't know about that; possibly. But if you compare the two just looking at pictures, the Clausing head is much bigger than the (surprisingly small) Rockwell. And I seem to recall the whole head/drive system being much heavier (in construction, wall thickness, etc). <shrug> Maybe just my faulty memory though as it's been over a year since I saw a Clausing in the context of actually "looking it over". It might also be the model, as I don't even recall specifically which of the many models I was looking at. But I'll readily concede the comparable sized Clausings are generally superior as a whole, whether their beds are as physically as wide/heavy or not.


Wow, that's really high! I paid $2250 for my 5914 (from Plaza Machinery), which seems pretty typical for one in good shape.

Yep, painfully high for me. But you got that from Plaza, which is in the cheap iron East Coast market. That might account for your price? But I would dearly love to stumble on a later 15"(?) Colchester "Master" (or Student) tooled and nice for a good price within driving distance. If I did, I would certainly be sending the Rockwell down the road to a new home... Heck, an older round head 15" gap bed Colchester (can never keep the models straight) would likely do the same if I could get it well tooled and cheap enough. Hmmm, maybe that's what I was thinking about, is it he later Colchesters that people talk about being a big drop in quality?


Not sure what you mean? The biggest complaint against the Vari-speed Clausings is the Delrin bushing wearing out, but like we've discussed many times before, it's the same Vari-Speed system, and same Delrin bushing that gets noisy in the Bridgeport heads. Shrug.

Every lathe has it's Achilles Heel -- I've seen a lot of posts about the Rockwell backgear.

But these machines (the Clausing, Sheldon, and the Rockwell 11") are all great HSM lathes, which were originally sold as industrial machines -- the Clausing 5900 is pictured in several places in Moltrecht's "Machine Shop Practice" as a "modern toolroom lathe." Which is why they can sell for more than the gigantic toolroom lathes, like the Mori you're obsessed with ;) The Mori is 5,000 lbs (!), kind of like comparing a Cat D9 to a Ford 150 :D
Absolutely, we're mostly splitting hairs at that level. I don't think any HSM that got a *good* lathe from that selection (Rockwell/Sheldon/Clausing) would be disappointed. And of the 3, the Rockwell is certainly the bottom of the selection in quality fit-n-finish. Heck, the ways on the Rockwell are not even scraped but rather simply ground (and the compound appears to have been only fly cut!).

As for the problem areas, yep, they all have them. On the Rockwell there are 2 main areas, the back-gear (broken through misuse and lack of maintenance, it's actually VERY robust and fool proof if lock-out is maintained). The other problem is the apron clutch which is a wear item and not readily available. Not sure what specific issues the Sheldon might have. But the Clausing comment I've seen more than once. I don't recall specifically, but I saw it come up again fairly recently (on PM?) in one of the "is this a good lathe" threads. Something about generally (dramatic?) drop in quality in certain models of a certain era. And I remember seeing something similar back in the time frame where I was researching/shopping. <shrug> But that's all I've got, not solid references or even specific memories.

And on the Mori, yeah, I guess I am a bit obsessed. :D Unfortunately, I have never seen a DS&G or L&S out here. I've seen a couple of HUGE Monarchs, and even rare Axelson or Pacemakers, but none of semi-HSM size. Then there are the occasional rare Okuma and other imports. But out here the most common (by far) moderately small but yet top-line industrial quality lathe are the Moris and their clones (Yam, Whatcheon, Cadillac, and a dozen others). Short buying sight-unseen and shipping a lathe 1000 miles, those are the best I've seen, so they occupy most of my thoughts on upgrades. Since those the the nicest I routinely lay eyes on, they occupy a lot of my upgrade thoughts.

Another thing likely coloring my thoughts is that the Rockwells are moderately common out here, and you can find them VERY reasonably priced (with no broken back gear yet). If I recall correctly, I've only seen a half dozen Clausings (all over $3k I think? and some pretty sad) and 1(?) Sheldon the entire time I have been sniffing around.

rohamm
02-02-2008, 10:41 PM
The best thing about Sheldon lathes is that John Knox is active on the Yahoo Sheldon group. He was a top honcho with Sheldon, and he can tell you anything you want to know.

There's one model to stay away from: wm-56p. It's got a 1 rpm gear motor controlling the Reeves drive and it's made of solid unobtanium. I had one of these lathes lined up in my sights but failed to pull the trigger. The eventual buyer quickly burned out the gearmotor and it somehow ended up with me. A local motor rebuilder explained how the motor appears to be designed to be virtually unrebuildable.

Sheldon model codes are weird. I think the 'm' in wm-56p makes it a 13, and some other character denotes the achilles-heel electrical varispeed.

Still smarting over the loss of the Sheldon, and trying to feel better about the Rockwell 11 I took instead, I tried to get Dick Triemstra - a Rockwell partisan, I figured - to say the Rockwell was the king of its class. He wouldn't bite: 'Oh, no' he said, 'the Sheldon 13 is better - it weighs more.'

Sheldon's final products were the 13, 15 and 17" VR (iirc) series, and they were quite the lathes.

JCHannum
02-02-2008, 10:55 PM
The W is the vari speed, the M 13" and 56 is the bed length.

While I have only seen the W drive in the manual, loss of the motor should not be a deal killer. It merely operates a screw that jacks the drive up & down to operate the sheaves. It shouldn't be insurmountable to either replace it with a mechanical device, or gut the drive completely. No reason to scrap a good lathe now that VFDs are so available.

rohamm
02-02-2008, 11:22 PM
The gearmotor incorporates electrical brakes, and that's what makes it so special.

I told the new owners they should go the vfd route.

lazlo
02-03-2008, 12:26 AM
While I have only seen the W drive in the manual, loss of the motor should not be a deal killer. It merely operates a screw that jacks the drive up & down to operate the sheaves.

JC, how does the "W-Drive" vari-speed work? Is it a variable-pitch pulley (Reeve's drive), or something else? I can't make heads or tails of the picture on Tony's web page. What is the serrated part in the middle of the pulleys? It looks like a timing belt pulley, but there's no belt running over them?

http://www.lathes.co.uk/sheldon/img12.gif

mr nico
11-07-2008, 02:55 PM
I bought a Sheldon ES 56-B S/N 20797 at the NMSU property auction this week. Going to get it today. Hope the engine hoist will unload it without incident... So, any info on this model out there? It looks like the 11" model, pretty good shape, just missing the compound. I need a manual/parts list though.

Any help would be appreciated.

Nick A
In the New Mexico Desert

laddy
11-07-2008, 05:17 PM
I have a Sheldon/ Vernon vertical jig borer. It is more than beef, it is the whole steer. I haven't had any problems with it. If the lathes are as good quality I would buy one in a heart beat. I have looked at them on ebay but none in my neighborhood Best of luck! Fred

lane
11-07-2008, 07:59 PM
Another good point I did not see mentioned is the ones I am familiar with all had needle bearings on every running shaft . In like lots of machines steel in cast iron are brass bushings. To bad they are not made any more were good machines. wish had one.

Teenage_Machinist
11-08-2008, 02:01 AM
Havent seen it but serrations sound like a spline to transmit power to the pulley while allowing movement.

JCHannum
11-08-2008, 09:28 AM
Nice score, you will not be disappointed with the Sheldon. PM sent re manual.

Robert, I didn't see your question previously. The spline appearance is actually the vari-speed belt. Apparently the lathe in the photo is using vari-belts with lug construction on the backside. The V/S sheaves are arranged front to back, with the belts parallae to the floor.

Scishopguy
11-08-2008, 12:58 PM
One place I worked had an old, probably 40's or 50's, sheldon variable speed with a manual control. It was simply a tee handle that came out of the cabinet below the headstock. You pushed it in to increase speed and pulled it out to speed up the spindle. Pretty simple.

lazlo
11-08-2008, 01:31 PM
Robert, I didn't see your question previously. The spline appearance is actually the vari-speed belt. Apparently the lathe in the photo is using vari-belts with lug construction on the backside. The V/S sheaves are arranged front to back, with the belts parallae to the floor.

Wow, I'm so confused. :) This thread was from last February, and I had posted a picture from Tony's page showing the internal "W-drive" mechanism. Tony's since then changed the picture I linked to a picture of the actual Sheldon lathe, and it's been so long that I can't remember what spline I was asking about :)

I'll see if I can find the original picture of the Vari-speed mechanism on Tony's page.


Another good point I did not see mentioned is the ones I am familiar with all had needle bearings on every running shaft . In like lots of machines steel in cast iron are brass bushings.

That is nice. My Clausing 5914 has steel shafts running in the cast iron apron housing. Hardinge uses flanged needle bearings for those shafts, and I always wondered if it would make the carriage feed a lot smoother.

Alistair Hosie
11-08-2008, 01:52 PM
J Tiers whats wrong with you don't you know you just have to ask and you can have the lathe of your dreams.After all.
















His Lordship Sir John has so much money he doesn't know what to do with it simply ask him, and while your at it ask him for a few million for his old pal north of the border as it's coming up to Christmas Alistair :D:D