View Full Version : I'm looking to buy a "real" lathe. Sorry, its long.

02-05-2010, 01:40 PM
Some time this summer, I hope to move to larger digs and will be looking to buy a lathe of at least 13" swing. At the moment I have a nice SB 10K I plan to part out as soon as I have the heart to do it, and an 11" Logan I'll be keeping since it has 5C and DRO and does very good work. I'm not a real machinist, just another hobbyist hack, but one feature I definitely want is a modern cam-lock chuck spindle, not the threaded type I have now, and not some obsolete alternative. I have to admit that I have flirted with some of the 14x Chicom lathes, but, w/o getting into another Chi-com vs worn out US/European lathe debate, I generally nix the Chi-coms because of 1) my past experience with their poor quality and 2) they appear to be little more than bench top lathes set upon sheet metal cabinets. I've read specs on their 14x lathes that weigh ~ 1,500 lbs while a 10EE will come in at two US tons. So, I'm basically considering used US/UK/European machines. My SB and Logan are often referred to as "toys" by the guys that have "real" lathes. (I know the US military bought a few gazillion of those "toys" during WW2). So, where do the toys end and the real lathes begin? The only heavy lathes I have had experience with (in school) were Colchester/Clausings, Leblonds, and Republic Laguns. I like them all, but favored the Clausings. The Clausings I've seen on eBay look to be light weight machines in contrast to the ones I ran in school. I like the 10/12 EEs but think their electronic drive system is overly complex and gawdaful expensive to repair. I've seen other Monarchs, "CK" as I recall, that might fit the bill but can't seem to find out much about them. I want to pay less than 5K$$. Suggestions?

02-05-2010, 02:06 PM
Where are you (Country, State)?
Can you transport 5000# machinery yourself, unload & place it?
Are you comfortable evaluating a machine by yourself?

If you are USA:
Since it's American or at least "Industrial" size, check the "For Sale" on PM.

02-05-2010, 02:28 PM
JT, I suggest you look at some of the Polish lathes and European lathes while your looking at the American old stock. Are you thinking new or will you be looking at new and old stuff?

I don't consider your SB or Logan to be toy lathes as some do and while they have limits everything has limits.

Taiwan makes good lathes and China does too if you look for the industrial grade lathes made in China. As you know you get what you pay for so industrial grade will cost more.

02-05-2010, 07:52 PM
Monarch 12" CK was made with top speed from approx 550-1200 depending on what was ordered. D1-6 spindle standard, 30" centers, weighs approx 3500 LBS., 54" centers offered and not sure about 78" centers, spindle hole approx 1-3/8". All helical geared headstock.
Lets face reality, these lathes, at least the ones I've seen, are approaching 70 years old, and it's a good possibilty they've been rode hard and put away wet. Are they worth the effort to restore/recondition- that's for you to decide. The one I reconditioned in "Reconditioning a Lathe- Revisited" HSM Sept '04, is a pleasure to use.
Take a look at the Monarch forum on Practical Machinist BBS, on occassion the "other" Monarchs are discussed.

Tony Ennis
02-05-2010, 07:58 PM
Knowing what you want is half the battle.

02-05-2010, 08:25 PM
If you want "European" but built for the USA, look at Polomco (Polish, now owned by Toolmex/Bison)TUM series. A 14x40 would be a TUM-35. I have one, and it's a very well built and heavy machine (3000lb plus). All parts are still available.

I nearly bought an Grazziano (Italian) SAG-14... beautiful machine.

Another great lathe - Emco (Austrian) V13. I have a V10P - the V13 is on my wish list. Ligher than a TUM-35, but a fantastic machine.

And... Korean - Wacheon - a Mori Seki (licenced) machine. Great machines.

There are many more...

02-05-2010, 08:27 PM
You can do mighty fine work on a small South Bend or Logan!
To refer to them as "toys" and the larger and more expensive lathes as "real" is arrogant and snobbish.
Machines are built to a specific price point and end use.

I see no reason why you felt the need to start your thread with that title or include the "toy" comments.
Simply asking for help choosing a larger more robust machine with a higher end design would be a bit more tactful IMO.


02-05-2010, 08:31 PM
I didn't read it that way at all... The "toys" and "real" are in quotes for a reason, and the reference was to a third party comments (the snobs, I guess)...

I own a 10 inch machine, it's joy to use and it can do fine work, but heck, it really is a "toy" in comparison to my larger machine, but I love it;).

02-05-2010, 08:56 PM
Well, if you can handle something like a 15"+x60"+ lathe, you can get some INDUSTRAL iron cheap (<$1000), as HSM often won't touch anything that big.
If your looking for a 12~14" lathe, your not gonna find much american iron AFAIK. And what you do find will be really overpriced because of high demand for the 'largest' lathe that can fit in a sane home shop.
Theres lots of 10/11" lathes yea, but.. you allready have one :) (Keep it!)

Course, the problem with giant lathes, is giant chucks, Hard to swap a 200lb chuck by yourself without a crane. moving my 80lb 8" D1-4 chuck is hard enough, being round does not help.. don't put hands under it either when removing.. *looks at previously purple finger*
But at least with camlock, its a little easyer install yes. But you'll likey find it easyer to do smaller jobs/switch setups on your smaller lathe then the big lathe, just due to the chuck weight.

I run a chinese 12x36 and love it. 1000lbs is rigid enough to take 0.1" DOC at high feeds/sfm in mild steel, and 0.25" DOC (thats 0.5" reduction in diamiter in a pass!) in aluminum, with neutral rake carbide inserts. Just starts to bog the motor down at higher feed rates... High enough that the biggest problem you have is avoiding a shower of scalding hot aluminum/black steel chips while being ready to flip the feed lever as it flys towards the chuck at top speed. rarely have chatter problems thats not due to poorly supported work
the only thing additional weight would really help with IMO would be turning offset/unbalanced work at higher RPM's. And you can allways strap counterweights onto your work/faceplate to help compensate for that, or just run lower RPM's.
Weight is good, but I don't think you need 2 tons of lathe in a home shop, unless its a 2+ ton 15+x60+ you got for $<1000 :)

02-05-2010, 08:57 PM
I have a Victor Mod "B" toolroom lathe 14x40 made in Tiwan that is decent and got it off the PM site for $2800. Check them out also.

02-05-2010, 09:01 PM

Look for an ATW Pacemaker. You won't be sorry - so long as you've got the room/etc to handle a very serious lathe.

(It's kind of like talking to a bot, isn't it? OP: "What should I buy?" Me: "Buy a Pacemaker" or OP: "How should I attempt this?" Me: "Buy a Pacemaker", etc :D )


(I just realized I don't have any really good pictures of my lathes. This one is a shot of my "project lathe" while it was still on the flatbed)

02-05-2010, 09:24 PM
Thanks guy, you've given me some options I hadn't considered. The reason I want greater than 11" swing is that on a recent project that required turning a 7" dia plate required a bit of creativity. I thought it would be a cakewalk - it wasn't. Regarding the weight issue, I definitely want heavy. After dealing with the Lagun, which is, I believe, ~3k lbs., I've learned a lot. I've been checking Craig's list from time to time and might well buy from it, although Victor Lathes is on my way to work so its also a consideration. We used Mori-Seiki CNC at school and they were fine machines. Didn't know about Korean licensed manuals, but that's interesting. We're looking to buy a house with a 3 or 4 car garage this summer, provided the banks will loosen up a bit. It that happens, space won't be an issue. Housed in So Calif are still pricey and banks are still stingy. Again, thanks for the input. BTW, I will be keeping the Logan, its been great.

02-05-2010, 09:54 PM
Can't let Fasttrack have all the fun. Here's a 16(18-1/2" swing) X 78 Series 60 Monarch, 9200 LBS, 15 HP.

02-05-2010, 09:57 PM
:eek: WOW, when did you get that one Harry. I don't remember seeing that lathe at your shop.

02-05-2010, 10:03 PM
ooooooh....:cool: I like it.:)

02-05-2010, 10:21 PM
It's been in the shop since Aug '08. You've walked right past it several times, your eyes must be getting tired. Here's the whole story.

02-05-2010, 11:41 PM
I guess you didn't have it painted like it is now. I do seem to remember you telling me about it. Is it to the left when you come in the side door of the shop?

02-05-2010, 11:49 PM
You guys and your miniature lathes :)

I suppose the Unimat would fit between the spokes on the handwheels on those-

02-06-2010, 12:30 AM
To add to your search list.......Monarch, L&S, Pacemaker, Herbert, Tos.......all are available at certain times for cheap and don't fall into anybodies "toy" category............

02-06-2010, 12:36 AM
Can't let Fasttrack have all the fun. Here's a 16(18-1/2" swing) X 78 Series 60 Monarch, 9200 LBS, 15 HP.


I've been out-lathed :(


02-06-2010, 02:32 AM
Beckley - Wow! I read with fascination both your account and that of Jim K about the "super lathes". It was an education. Thanks, that was great.

02-06-2010, 08:55 AM
Now own up, How much did you guys pay for your GIANT lathes?
I bet it was same or less then I paid for a new 12x36 :(

As I said, if you can convince your brain go out on vacation while you buy and drag home a lathe as big and heavy as a T-rex, you can get a good deal, as most Home Sane Machinists just don't have a need or room for a lathe that big.

02-06-2010, 12:09 PM
Well... I've been following the used market around here (Seattle area) for many years. Unless they are rusted clunkers, or can't be checked out by running, big lathes of a decent brand are still useful to industry and sell well - 14x40 though 16-18x80 is going to cost you $4k->10k... and more for certain brands/models. There's a lot of price compression in the "hobby" 9-12in class. $500-$2k.. I see a smattering of 14x lathes in the $1500-$3000 range where the low price is almost always the "no-name" or "gone-name" Taiwan machines. But yes... "1950's T-rex like" machines can be found at a discount, but they don't last long - there are no lack of interested parties.

Lathes with "legacy" like 10EE and certain SB models aways sell for a premium, deserved or not;) Sometimes a deal can be found - most don't realize that some Webb models are actually Takisawa, and as Webb isn't well known it tends to get ignored.

My 3000+lb Polamco 1440 with Dorian TP, steady, taper adapter, 3-jaw, 4 jaw, tooled to the max... $3000 (he wanted $4k - estate sale). Hey.. $1.00 a lb ;) it was a good deal because the brand is not well known. I could have run it "as-is" but I couldn't stand the clunking pully, the non-working magnetic clutch and the neglect, so I tore into it and a couple of hundred later (hours and $), have a top quality European lathe. It did seem big the day (and still looks big to SWMBO) I hauled it home, but now... It may be too big for the guy in a basement, but it fits quite well in my garage, sans car - about 92 inches end to end.

At that time.. locally, I could have bought a beautiful SAG-14 Garziano (asking $4k) or a Webb/Takisawa 900 for $2500, but choose the Polamco because of tooling. The other alternatives (out of my price range, but similar physical size) were a "Caddilac" at $6K, a couple of well tooled 1990's Sharp 14x40 at $7k, and many others I forget. There was a pair of T-Rex - a gigantic P&W (ex-Boeing surplus) that went for $6k... and a huge rusted Monarch at $900 - but that had sat on a trailer outside (but tarped!) for a couple of years.

As for "value", a machinery dealer said he'd give me $4k for my Polamco, and resell it for $7500... he wouldn't have to give it the usual "rattle-can overhaul". I doubt I'll ever sell it, but.. he nibbles at me with "trades" now and then.

02-06-2010, 12:18 PM
Black Moons, you are a bit preoccupied with price. This isn't a hobby with me. I've used the lighter weight lathes, and simply put, they don't come anywhere near the performance characteristics and construction of the heavier machines.
In August of 2001, I deliberately purchased the 12" CK Monarch with the intent to replace a Harrison model L-6 13" X 40" lathe, 1800 LBS, a manufacturer of good reputation. The reason being is that I simply had had enough of pulling the apron to clean the gummy coolant residue from the plain bearings in the apron controls, that made the carriage very difficult to move. At that time I had owned a Monarch 16" CY for about 15 years, aways considered it that big old lathe for the big work. Upon reflection, I considered that I had never had a tolerance problem, never had a problem moving the carriage, in fact I never any troubles with it. Then I considered when I first bought the machine and did my SOP of going through the machine before using it, and that is when I made my my decision to replace the Harrison. I called a machinery dealer here and inquired about a Monarch, specifically, and that is how I wound up with the CK. After getting the CK in the shop, I did a more thorough accuracy check, and immediately decided I made a mistake. I tried to sell it, and failing that half hearted measure, decided to recondition it. That story is told in the HSM article "Reconditioning a Lathe-Revisited" Sep/Oct 2004. I have never regretted that reconditioning decision.
I have 2 lathes that are home shop size, the 12" CK and a Monarch 10 EE, that I don't think there is anybody that will try to match their performance, using a 1000 LB lathe. They may look big, sluggish and clunky, but I can assure you they are anything but.
BTW, I've got more than 3 times my initial purchase price in each one, not including the DRO's. I do go into these purchases with my eyes wide open.

02-06-2010, 12:41 PM
Now own up, How much did you guys pay for your GIANT lathes?
I bet it was same or less then I paid for a new 12x36 :(

As I said, if you can convince your brain go out on vacation while you buy and drag home a lathe as big and heavy as a T-rex, you can get a good deal, as most Home Sane Machinists just don't have a need or room for a lathe that big.

$1250 fully tooled.

And by fully tooled I mean 5 Cushman chucks in excellent condition ranging from 8" 3 jaw and 4 jaws to 12" 4 jaw. One brand new (still with cosmoline on it) Bison 10" 3 jaw chuck, three quick change tool post holders and lots of tool holders, including a 5C collet holder. Four Jacobs ball bearing chucks of various sizes, a Jorgenson 2J collet chuck, a sky hook hoist, a 1.5" diameter Kennametal boring bar with a box of inserts (bar and inserts new), 5 other Kennametal indexable holders, three coolant pumps, lamp, chuck shield, steady rest, micrometer stop, 2 brand new Ritter live centers, one used live center, misc wrenches, face plate ... I may be forgetting a few things but you get the idea.

My brain was not on "vacation" thank you very much. :D

Can your 12 by 36 take a 0.5" DOC in 4140 pre-hard without flexing or groaning? My 16 by 30 can. Do most of us need that kind of capacity? Well, no of course not. Just because somone has a smaller lathe doesn't mean they can't do better work than a newb like me ;) But don't belittle or insult those of us who decide to chase after the big girls... they need loving to :D

02-06-2010, 02:40 PM
I'm kinda in the same boat as the OP. All I have right now is a mid 50's, tiny little Craftsman lathe I know next to nothing about.
I found a Craigslist for a Kerry 13" x 40", 2 hp. with converter and a couple chucks about 3 hours away from me. Pic looks decent and at $1k it sounds reasonable, but as have been lurking here for only about a year, I have never heard the Kerry name mentioned.
I also have a line on a really nice larger PolAmCo, about 18"-20" x 48", but I haven't been able to get the guy to give me a price on it yet. Other stuff I have bought from him has been half the price of scrap weight so I keep hoping.

Any info on a Kerry lathe?

02-06-2010, 03:34 PM

02-07-2010, 03:32 PM
kyfho, another option is to just hit a few small machine shops in your area, ask if they have a lathe the might sell. Let them know you're just a hobbyist and they're likely to be helpful. Worked for me. My two lathes and mill came from small shops that didn't need them.