View Full Version : Machinery from Schools

02-28-2008, 08:13 PM
I am curious as to the opinion of machinery from schools. On one of the boards (I don't remember which.), somebody made a negative comment about machinery from schools.

So far, my experience has been....interesting. Two of my machines are from schools.

The Hardinge horizontal mill had a bent shaft for the power feed and I determined that the end of the cross feed lead screw was broken off, at some point in time, and the "repair" consisted of drilling a hole, tapping it, and installing a bolt to hold the handle on. At some point, in the future, I'll pull the cross feed lead screw and make a new end for it.

The South Bend 13 also came from a school. Almost all of the oil caps were bent or broken. The paint was almost gone on many parts even though there is evidence of 3 paint jobs. Some of the change gears were installed by a hammer as the inner diameter was clearly mushroomed in. I had to use a plastic hammer to remove them and spend some time with files and Dychem to fix them. Some shafts had the same problem and I used a lathe to remove the mushroomed areas. I was working on the taper attachment, last night, and realized that at some time it must have jammed. This problem was "resolved" by, apparently, adjusting it with a hammer as many of the edges had to be filed down. When I pulled it apart, I couldn't get it to move without some serious persuasion from the plastic hammer. Oh, yeah, they apparently didn't use a plastic, rubber, or leather hammer. It had to be a metal hammer of some variety, given the way the metal was mushroomed out. The ways are worn down pretty good and I could almost hear the machine wondering what I was doing when I put some way oil on it. The wear, on the ways, is about 0.010, when measured using a straight edge positioned vertically from the top to the base of the prism. I didn't have a straight edge handy to attempt to measure it horizontally.

Is this about normal? I would think that school machines would see little use and some abuse; but, the lathe had to have been rode hard and put away wet.

On the other hand, my 1893 Pratt & Whitney (not from a school) has very little wear on the ways. Though there are some hammer marks on the tail stock hand wheel.

I am just wondering what other experiences, with school machinery, have been like.



02-28-2008, 09:00 PM
I bought my milling machine (SB vertical mill) from the local high school shop. It had been there 30 or so years. it was filthy, the table has lots of little dings in it, as do the ways from having tools and who knows what else being plopped on them. After a good cleaning and paint along with some tweaking, and VFD it is an OK machine. Not perfect, but works fine for what I do and very cheap money. Got way more fun to use when I added a DRO.

One of my lathes came from a state run job re-training type (adult) school, it was bought as a pair of identical units, Taiwanese jet 10x24's. They were both broken (broken gear teeth) and junk motors, but had enough parts to make one good machine. Spindles were tight, ways were nice and clean (hardened), imperceptible wear. I later bought and/or made the parts to repair the other and sold it. You won't mistake it for a Hardinge, but a good solid working machine.

Both the lathes and mill were good deals, if you go in figuring on a project. There was a used machine dealer around here who always told me that as a general rule, school machines tend to be broken rather than worn out.


02-28-2008, 09:19 PM
I dont have any experience but I would imagine a machine out of a college would be in better shape than one being abused by kids in high school. Kids like to watch stuff crash, that may include machinery's moving parts. And unfortunately alot of just dont have respect for other peoples stuff, specially their high school's stuff. JRouche

02-28-2008, 09:21 PM
I taught in a high school and I was almost given the automotive shop's two brake lathes as the rotor lathe was (no good ) The students (not mine) had hammered the end of the rotor spindle to get spacers off. The spindle was running .050" out. All I had to do was clean up the ends and then fine tune it to run within .0005" . No wonder they had trouble with the rotors!!! Have used them for 10 years without a hitch. The machines in my machine shop were in perfect shape when I left,When I returned for a visit, two of the compounds on the Standard Modern were broken off at the T slot. Someone didn't know to keep the compound back on its base. Stuck it out and took a heavy cut and wondered why it broke. It all depends on the teacher and how many students in the course. Watch out for Chinese surface grinders. Our grinder had the hydraulic fluid tank wide open and overflow coolant could spill over into it, Needles to say it was very soon scrap iron. If you are going to get collage or school machine tools, take a machinist along to examine it so you know what you are getting into. Peter:eek:

tyrone shewlaces
02-28-2008, 09:37 PM
Just a simple and generalized observation of school machines vs. company machines:

Company machines tend to be worn out in many places from continuous production use and would require lots of work to make accurate.

School machines tend to have relatively little wear, but are crashed more often and sometimes have terrible slathered paint jobs on them. Given a choice, I would prefer a crashed machine as it usually just needs the high spots stoned flat and once that's done it is still smooth & accurate. Dealing with paint is a no-brainer.

I'd rather deal with a few dings than banana ways.

Anything can happen in either setting and, as noted, this is just a generalization.

02-28-2008, 09:52 PM
Seems to depend on the school & teacher. My Clausing 8520 mill has some dings in the table (less than a lot of ex-production machines I've seen), and one of the fine feed gears was missing. It must have been crashed early on, as it took a chisel to get the petrified grease out of there. Clausing still had the gear in stock, no problem.

Once saw a mid-size South Bend lathe from a school shop with hardly any wear at all, some of the acc's still in the box with SB stickers on them. Lots of school shops have been closed down in recent years, so there are some machines out there which were nowhere near replacement.

Wish my (ex-production) SBL was in that kind of shape.


02-28-2008, 10:51 PM
I've pulled a lot out schools, great stuff. gets used a few hours a day and for a kid a 100 thou's a big honkin cut. in the schools around here, there was always some strict German tool and die maker as shop teacher who was always ready to through a wrench at any one using abrasives, files, or putting something on the way :D the stuff i have is pristine.....i guess like any org the culture's set by the leaders....some teacher doesn't know or doesn't care and the kids might rough them up a bit.....still its rounded edges, not wear. and anything got broke got fixed.

02-29-2008, 12:22 AM
I agree with BillB. The teacher makes all the difference. In my area there are 2 local High schools and they both had very strict teachers. One school shutdown the machine shop about 15 years ago and the other still has the machine shop program. Both schools had or have both good and bad machines. The good machines are reserved for the more advanced students and therefore have less damage and fewer crashes under their ways :D . The beginner machines are, for the most part, scrap when they are sold off. Not worn out, just abused beyond hope or practical repair. An example of this is my LeBlond Regal lathe. It is a 1951 Navy machine. The local high school teacher got it on one of the DOD redistribution programs. It was a very special machine to the machine shop program as it is a factory variable speed gear head, 17X36 36X60 sliding gap machine with metric interposing threading gears and 28 speed quick change gearbox as well as the standard inch gears, taper attachment and L0 long taper spindle. This machine was one of the Good machines and was reserved for the advanced students (read seniors only with 3 years in the program). This machine was put into storage when the rest of the machine shop was auctioned off because the DOD technically still owned it so the school could not sell it. The shop teacher coated it in cosmoline (sp) for storage. Fast forward 12 years to a surplus school district auction. No one knew the lathe was going on the block except me because I work closely with the maintenance department who is in charge of surplus sales and the director told me about it. I bought it at the auction for a little over scrap price. The machine will meet all of Leblond factory new specs. I am a proud owner of a little US History and use it with pride. So, school machines can be Excellent buys or scrap iron. You just have to look them over closely and be aware of what they should look like. If you don't know find someone to advise you even if you have to pay them a little for their time.

Sorry for the long post, kinda like a proud daddy:D