View Full Version : Nebel Lathe, Is it worth reconditioning?

01-28-2004, 01:19 PM
Has anyone ever heard of or used a Nebel Gear head lathe? I beleive they were made in Cincinnati OH. I have not been able to find anything about the lathe or Nebel Lathe. A friend of mine has a lathe he is willing to give to me, however not being an expert in machine reconditioning I am looking for advice in ask the following manner. 1)The lathe was in his father's basement shop, (he recently passed away) the house caught fire and pretty much burned down. As best as I can guess the lathe did not take a substantial amount of heat, though it was approximately three feet from fires origin. Most of the paint is still there and unblistered, the motor drive belts were still intact. The brass feed and threading charts are still legible, for as thin as they are,I suspect since they are mot melted the machine did not get that hot. 2)The ways have surface rust due to the oil film being vaporised. There are no noticable cracks in the bed. The only real apparent damage to the lathe is the crossfeed handwheel is broken off. The lathe is for the taking if I want it, however I do not want a 1,000# piece of scrap if it is not worth reconditioning. There is much tooling for the lathe. I beleive the machine can be repaired/reconditioned. I am looking for advice from those that know more about reconditioning than myself.

01-28-2004, 01:33 PM
Take out a chuck jaw and find someone with a hardness tester to confirm if it is still hard. If there was a HSS bit in the tool holder test that as well.

01-28-2004, 01:54 PM
It would have to reach red heat to spoil the heat treat of any steel. That should not be a problem. Most damage potential is rust from water and heat removing the oil. Get some oil on the bare metal as soon as possible to prevent any further rusting.
Are you sure that Nebel is not the name of a dealer? Many times these tags looked like manufacturer's tags.
What size is the machine, and can you post any pictures? Might help us to identify it.
It may only need a good cleaning and lubricating to put it back into serviceable condition. It is probably worth taking, if only for the tooling.
I would snag it. At that price, you can't get hurt.

01-28-2004, 01:57 PM
Here is a Nebel lathe:


Here is another:


JC, hardened steels start losing hardness permanently as low as 450F, depending on the alloy and the time exposed to the heat.

Come to think of it, tool steel starts to temper at just above boiling.

[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 01-28-2004).]

01-28-2004, 02:11 PM
Hate to see a key in a chuck even in a photo, gives me the willies.
You will start to draw the temper at lower temperatures, but have to get red heat to fully anneal. That does not sound like a problem here. HSS will withstand red heat.
If that lathe is approaching the size of either of these two, it will weigh a tad more than 1000#. What is swing and length?

01-28-2004, 02:13 PM
The link provided by Evan (sierra equipment)shows a lathe very similar to the lathe available. Thanks for the picture. I am quite sure Nebel is the manufacturer as the name is cast into the base under the tailstock end of the bed. I would guess it is at least a 14" swing. I didn't measure the chuck that is currently on the lathe, I would guess it to be 16"-20" dia. range. Lathe itself is 10'4" OAL. The bed has sections near the headstock which can be removed. Could this be to accomodate larger work or faceplates/chucks? He suspects the lathe to weigh in excess of 1,000#. We had to his large excavator to get it out from the house to the garage. His mini excavator (rated to lift 1,000#) would not budge it.

[This message has been edited by ERBenoit (edited 01-28-2004).]

01-28-2004, 02:18 PM
Yeah, me too. Uh, that first one is 40" swing and 15' bed. Doesn't say for the second.

As far as heat goes I would be worried about bearings with grease burnt inside or maybe babbitt melted. Lead babbitt melts as low as 350F. I still would test for hardness, easy and cheap to do.

01-28-2004, 02:20 PM
Yep, it is a sliding gap bed lathe. Allows for swinging greater sized work.

It most certainly weighs much more than 1000lbs, bet it's more like over 2000.

[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 01-28-2004).]

01-28-2004, 02:22 PM
That is a gap bed lathe. The removable section is the gap.
This appears to be a good quality machine, but it may be too large for a home shop. If you have the room and use for it, it could be a good machine. It will depend on your needs and resources.

Jerry B
01-28-2004, 02:39 PM
If you don't want the lathe and it isn't very far away, I will take it.
I am betting that lathe weighs close to 5,000 pounds.

01-28-2004, 05:46 PM
A chinese 12x36 gear head lathe weighs close to 1,000 lbs. Im with Jerry B, that lathes gotta be around 5,000lbs.

01-28-2004, 05:50 PM
None of us really need a lathe, we just want one. Remember this is a hobby BBS. As a practical matter, unless you're contemplating making big stuff, the cost to move it, tool it and set it up will be WAY far greater than a 9" or 10" bench lathe which is remakably versatile for hobby applications. Rebuild it if it sounds like fun, but more than likely the logistics and costs will be staggering. Ever try talking off a 14" chuck by hand? My advise, get it, paint it, learn from it, sell it. Don't buy anything other than what you need to make it LOOK good, but only if you are looking for a project and bar stories.


L Webb
01-28-2004, 07:11 PM
Wow Andy. According to your statement a HSM'er doesn't need a lathe bigger than 9 or 10 inch?

My smallest is 12" swing. I would feel handicapped without the 14" also.

I may have a business, but it is where I do all my fun stuff also.
If I had to move into my garage tomorrow, the 14" machine would be there also.

ER, if you have the room, go for it. If the wiring insulation is not melted, you are probably fine.
Clean it up and use it.


01-28-2004, 11:20 PM
My Nebel has done good work for me over the last 18+ yrs. Mine is 18" swing x 48" between centers. Nebel was made in Cincinati O. Mine is form WWII it has the war production board tag still on it. It is an extremely heavy lathe. The speeds on mine range from 12 to 400 rpm. I don't use it a whole lot, but it is handy for those occasional big jobs.
Odd things on the lathe:
It only has a 1-1/4" thru hole in the spindle.
The swing over the cross slide is 11".
Threaded spindle nose.

01-29-2004, 10:23 AM
The Nebel Machine Co. advertised geared head timken bearing lathes from 18" to 36" swing in 1946 Modern Machine Shop magazine and 1948 Machine & Tool Blue Book.Features included self oiling head stock,chrome nickle shafts,quick change gear double wall apron, quick action apron levers& thread chasing dial. If the machine is not dammaged too much and you can accomodate the size and weight of the machine it would be a good addition to any shop.

01-29-2004, 01:53 PM
The lathe may be the same model as PolskiFran's. Based on his description of what he has. This one also has a small thru hole in comparison to the overall size of the lathe. Thread on chucks also. From what I can read on the spped chart it looks like 400 RPM also. I would tend to think that the headstock gears bearings etc. are o.k., the oil level sight window is still there. The vent cap however is missing. I suspect contanination. I will need to get a new motor though, the one on it currently is 2 HP 480V. I will probably get a 2 HP 220V motor. I have a RPC to run my Bridgeport and Rockwell. There is an electrical motor repair shop near me, they sell rebuilt motors relatively inexpensive compared to new. I bought everything to build my RPC from them (1/4 HP single phase and 5 HP three phase) motors for less than $150. I have room for the machine, (just need to purge junk). It looks feasable. I see it from ahs437's (Andy's) point also. The most tooling I expect to buy is a new live center. I do not get a lot of "tinker time". I wish I had more time in the shop. Most of what I do as a hobby is to support friends businesses with making and repairing things for a fraction of what buying new or having done elsewhere. I usually do work for them out of friendship. I help them they help me. My SB HATED making 4 1/2" dia. 1 1/2" bore 1 1/4" thick reinforcement rings (8 of them) for an excavator bucket. The Nebel lathe that I may obtain looks as though the afforementioned work would have taken 1 or 2 nights, not the week it took me to do on the SB.

01-29-2004, 09:11 PM
If you are going to change the motor may I suggest using a 3hp. Mine had a 3ph 3hp originally but I changed it to a 2hp 1ph 220v due to the electrical limits in my old shop. This is a little weak for the lathe. I have to engage the clutch slowly as not to drag down the motor. Also check pulley size and rpm of original motor. I had to change the motor pulley when I changed the motor to keep the spindle rpms the same.

My Nebel also has a spindle brake located in the headstock. This is operated by the clutch levers. Pull up clutch engaged - Push down to apply brake.

Hope this helps,