View Full Version : New member in need of advice on used Southbend Lathe

12-10-2011, 07:14 PM

Dr Stan
12-10-2011, 07:39 PM
From the pics it appears to be in fair condition, so a lot depends on your needs and budget.

I did not see a quick change gear box, so I'll have to assume it has change gears. Make sure you have a full set.

Does it come with any work holding devices in addition to the 3 jaw chuck? How about a steady rest and/or follower rest?

You also need to consider you'll need accessories such as a drill chuck, drill bits, cutting tools, boring bars, live center, etc.

Last but not least is the power requirements. Most, but not all SB's are single phase either 110 or 220. However, once in awhile you'll run across one that is 3 phase. In general its easy to change out a three phase motor and replace it with a single phase, but that would be an additional expense.

BTW, I own 2 SB lathes, a 9" and a 14 1/2". The 9" has had a minor overhaul (less bed work). Once I get my planner running I plan to regrind the bed on my 14 1/2 and do a complete ground up overhaul.

12-10-2011, 07:41 PM
My first lathe was an SB 11" and its a real nice machine, it appears that like mine, the one you are looking at has the quick change gearbox and clutched powerfeed on the cross-slide and carriage.

I believe these machines we're meant to be a tool room quality lathe, for the time (typically early 30's) they had really nice features.

There are 2 rubs on these machines, which doesn't mean don't buy it, just keep it in mind.

There aren't as many out there as other SB's and they are so old that SB doesn't have any info or parts for them. If there is additional tooling you need, like a steady rest, finding one would take a long time.

Also, at least on my machine, the spindle nose had an oddball 1-5/8"-8 thread. That's a very rare spindle thread, it might have been only used on this machine. I only ever ran across one 3 jaw chuck that had that spindle thread, I had to make my own backplate to get a 4 jaw chuck onto the machine. But if it comes with most the tooling you need than you should be ok, my machine came pretty bare.

Good luck-

Paul T.

Tony Ennis
12-10-2011, 09:08 PM
Is that a Babbitt bearing headstock?

12-10-2011, 09:30 PM

Generally, roller/ball type bearings can run faster than the plain bearing type. This may matter if you wish to primarily work with plastics or aluminum since you need run faster. Carbide tooling and small diameter work can also be problematic.

Otherwise, there isn't any real reason to necessarily exclude a plain bearing head lathe.


12-10-2011, 09:33 PM
There is nothing wrong with babbit bearings, if they are oiled regularly. Give the spindle a good shake, look for any looseness/motion. Then run it and listen if possible.

Antiquated? Depends on your definition of antiquated. Those lathes will do a ton of work if theyre in decent shape and are fun to run. Ive run signficantly larger machines with babbit in the headstock without issue many times. IMHO its a much better buy than an import machine if the price is right, but that will depend largely upon your location. Post your location and you will get a better idea of value. In the northeast, this is a $700-1000 machine, condition and tooling dependent. Down south or out west, it may be double that.

Buy it right, clean/pretty it up, take care of any major issues, and you will likely make money off of owning this lathe.

12-10-2011, 09:49 PM
I don't know if it's a Babbitt bearing or not. I'm guessing that's undesirable compared to a roller bearing? I'm getting the impression this thing is really antiquated. Am I better off waiting for a more modern machine to come along? I'm anxious to get a lathe but I don't want to buy something I'll regret later. I'm willing to pay more for quality.

You're better off waiting until you understand the issues raised. Roller bearings are usually less maintenance. Plain bearings with proper lubrication are capable of higher speeds. You need to know what you are going to do with the machine and how to maintain it.

12-10-2011, 11:23 PM
As others have said, make sure it has a full set of gears if you dont have the quick change gearbox. To check for wear take a dial indicator with magnetic base, you can mount on the compound, put the tip of the indicator on the flat ways as close as you can get to both ends were it is not worn and traverse the carraige back and forth. Measure as far as you can from the carraige so its not riding on the same low spot as the carraige.

You can clamp a sustantial bar in the chuck and lift on the bar and measure deviation with indicator. Do the same on the tailstock with the lever snugged just a little to make sure its not sloppy. Feel the inside o tailstock bore for roughness.

Value depends on a lot of variables. Start at say 5-700 for a lathe in decent shape and add for all the accessories.
taper attachemnt + 1-300
steady reast +150
follow rest+100
Collets and closer +200

those are balparks but you get the idea.

For the record my SB has about .008 of wear at the lowest as best as I can measure and about .040 of backlash. Works just fine the way it is.

ALSO 2 points of advise.
1. If you get any lathe from a school take the felts off and clean with laquer thinner or other or replace them. You'd be supprised how much sanding grit they will hold and it just grinds away on your lathe while you use it.

Also on a threaded chick when you are done working if you get the chuck warm at all, break it loose a 1/4 turn before it cools to avoid a heat shrink fit aka; " stuck chuck"

12-10-2011, 11:53 PM
The pictures make me wonder what type of treatment the machine has been given. The first item is the placement of the tool holder, it has a long overhang from the edge of the cross-slide. Second is what appears to be gravel like material on the ways and in the tray adjacent to the lathe. These things sure are not the best and support the need to check it out as stated in the other posts.

Tony Ennis
12-10-2011, 11:57 PM
How much do you want to fix up a lathe, and how much do you want to make stuff? Some people seem to enjoy the former as much as the latter.

If you don't want have to repair/restore the lathe then I recommend you buy a new ChiCom lathe or be prepared to wait a while for a really good 'Olde American Iron' lathe and have cash-in-hand.

J Tiers
12-11-2011, 12:42 AM
As far as I know, all S-B of that general type and age have "plain" bearings, either in bronze or in cast iron (I don't think any babbitt, could be wrong), and none have "rolling element" bearings (ball or roller).

If you really MUST have a "plug and play" machine, with NO maintenance needed to get going.....

THEN DO NOT BUY USED. Not Southbend, Not Logan. Not any brand.

BUY NEW Grizzly, Busy Bee, Jet, or whatever is available in your (unspecified) location.

I have NEVER seen a used machine that was completely ready-to-go. ALL need some work, and once some is done, more will be found to be required. It is a law of nature.... If the machine was still good, they would be using it. It is rare for a machine to 'really" be surplused in perfect condition. It does, however, sometimes happen.

If I were looking for a lathe, I would not be too afraid of that one from what I see....subject to inspection in person*. Looks like it has power feed NOT by the halfnuts, which is good. Change gears are not a killer, just dirty to work with.

With no overall pic, just details, it's hard to get an impression.

Don't be afraid of a machine with some wear.... any used machine will have it.... and a perfect bed with no lockup on a "carriage lock test" is not required.... it makes it easier to turn a new piston rod for your locomotive, but isn't so required for most work done closer to the headstock.

BUT.... now that I have said that, you need to know that I have no problem tearing a lathe down to individual parts and re-scraping, etc, etc..... I am doing that now to a Rivett 608. So anything I say has to be assumed to be potentially inapplicable to you.....

That said, even I would NOT take on a Southbend that needed totally re-scraped..... I have no wish to scrape double V-ways..... too much like work. I'd bag on it, or have it ground.

* inspection in person might be assisted by another person who is familiar with lathes and buying machines. The only drawback to that is that any person who is advising you will likely be ultra-conservative.... on the side of "don't buy that"..... I myself would probably say that about some machines I'd happily buy for me, and expect to use right away...... just because I'd not want to stick the person I was advising with a lemon.

Tony Ennis
12-11-2011, 01:12 AM
Another option is to chisel the Rivett off of JTiers when he's done fixing it up :D

So, to have this lathe working immediately...

1. The bearings must not be shot. They can be worn, but they have to be 'good enough for now.'
2. There must not be broken parts. No bent screws, no busted parts in the apron, etc.
3. The ways must be 'good enough.'

Another question would be how much is this lathe you're looking at? If you get it for a song, you can use it and re-sell it when you find the Right Lathe (assuming this isn't the Right Lathe.) If you pay top dollar you might take a loss, though you could consider it tuition.

My Atlas (which is about 1/10th the lathe of that SB) has some dubiously worn Babbitt bearings and I like it well enough and enjoy using it.

J Tiers
12-11-2011, 01:24 AM
The "accessories" seem to be........

The chuck on the machine, with lantern post and toolholder

quite a few change gears........I do not know what constitutes a full set.*

A 4 jaw chuck, big looking,

A steady rest

Faceplate/dog driver, large

Dog driver , smaller

probable cutters in boxes (can't see them) and maybe more at top right. Plus wrenches for chucks seem to be by the 4 jaw

The"frame" appears to be one countershaft holder.... if for this machine, you'd need two. But it may have motor connected up now, in which case that is extra.

If this is a true list, it is "average" not special..... the only good thing is the steady. the rest is "expected"..... And teh steady is not often used in my experience... but good tohave, no doubt.

make sure it all FITS the machine.... especially the steady and 4 jaw.

* To check the list of gears, look at the threading table..... note all teh gears listed, and see if any are used 2 at a time. Make sure you have gears to cover at least all teh common thread sizes.

Remember that 2 or 3 are probably on the machine, under the cover at headstock end.

12-11-2011, 07:22 AM
There was, and perhaps still is, a school of thought that says journal bearings are better on a lathe than ball bearings. That thinking may be a holdover from the 1920s and 1930s when ball bearings probably were not up to today's quality. In any case, don't be afraid of a lathe with journal bearings. Assuming they are in good shape and properly lubricated with the proper viscosity oil (my SB 10K takes #6 spindle oil in the headstock bearings), journal bearings do just fine. If they are loose on that lathe, they can almost certainly be adjusted by removing some shims.

Your test for bed wear might give you some indication. What you really need to know is whether or not the lathe can turn a parallel shaft with no taper. That will depend both on bed wear and how the lathe is set up. If there is a twist in the bed because the lathe is sitting unevenly, it will turn a taper...unless the twist happens to cancel out some or all of the bed wear.

That lathe is not going to be a turnkey package. You'll need to understand its idiosyncracies and how it works. That is not necessarily a bad thing; you would need to do that with a new lathe. This one will just have more oddities about it that you'll need to understand than a new one might.

If it's a reasonable price and it doesn't look flogged, you could certainly do a lot worse. If you want the least amount of work though, get a new Jet or Grizzly or similar.

Bill Pace
12-11-2011, 08:42 AM
You've already gotten some good info here - I'll try to comment on a couple things. You mentioned age of the lathe, and it almost certainly is late 1930's or early 40's, with that cast iron stand and no chip pan (My SB 10L is a 1944 and has that exact stand) And, being some 60yrs old youre gonna have to expect some areas that will need attention - they can be relatively minor, some clean up, adjustments type, or can turn into a nightmare. The 10L I just mentioned turned into a nightmare, but I was prepared for that and it didnt really bother me - I enjoy repairing these old machines.

Even knowing as much about a lathe as I did, there was no way to determine the extent of problems on mine until I started to disassemble it.

Even so, a SB in half decent condition is still a fine home shop lathe - its gonna come down to the price you pay and your feelings on the amount of work to put in it.

As mentioned, one of the Chinese lathes can be good way to go for a newbie, they have improved greatly over the last few years, they are "plug & play" and the cost is still fairly reasonable (tho has been steadily increasing)

12-11-2011, 09:02 AM
All I can say is, the photo has got the saddle parked right over, possibly the worst damaged area on any lathe...so we cant see the full extent of wear or possibly major dings.

Other things, that you want to look out for.... are,

Missing teeth on the gears in the headstock (a big possibility with that one ..as the same person who ran it, has run the top slide into the spinning chuck a few times, that person may have also used force to get the chuck off, breaking the gears )

.....and wear on the counter shaft bearings...(because its at the back and out of reach ..oiling gets neglected).

Definately buy new felt spindle oilers for it ..as well as all the other felts ..before you even start running it .

all the best.markj

big job
12-11-2011, 10:10 AM
I wouldnt think twice, looks like complete set of gears, looks like normal wear
I have had a lifetime running things loose as a goose and just deal with it.
Just what I see pics I think it will do anything you want to do but it will only
do half, you will be the other half. I have three the newest is 1942 9A one
1918 Greaves and an Atlas. Im not running a museum, an 85 Lincoln a 1914
Robertson hacksaw flat belt drill presses. Not trying to be a wise guy, but
just wait till you retire as a fast education on new, antiques, and any thing
in the middle. Jump on it before its too late.

J Tiers
12-11-2011, 10:30 AM
Good point on the chuck collision..... although there is no proof who did it or when,...... could have been 50 years ago in a school shop class, with any important damage being repaired long ago.

One other point..... the lathe looks "dry"...... lathes are normally oily, the ways should not look "dry" if it has been used recently. If it does, it is evidence of neglect.

A person who does not oil the ways when using the machine almost certainly did not oil the back gears, the tailstock ram, backgear pulley bearing, or the apron gears, and may even have neglected oil in the spindle. That makes it more important to check on things that should be oiled to see if they were.

if the seller is the last user, ASK them what the items that need oiling are...... if their list is short a few important items, you need to check them carefully.

As always, neglect is not destruction, it just plays into your decision concerning how "plug and play" you need the machine to be.

BTW.... NO USED MACHINE WILL TURN PARALLEL PERFECTLY OVER LONG LENGTHS. Or at least not most of them this age. But a few thou of wear on the bed doesn't mean a big problem in every case.

The difference in "on-center" is a great deal more significant for a SMALL part, perhaps 0.2 diameter, than it is on a 4" part. The error of turning parallel, or when turning a taper, is different for those two cases.

it will be much harder to hold parallel / same diameter on a 12" long part that is 0.2" diameter than one that is 4" diameter.

The good news is that the smaller the diameter, the shorter the part normally is, so these things tend to cancel. Turning a long thin part takes special care on a new, perfect lathe, in any case.

12-11-2011, 12:28 PM
This is a series O, 1928 to 1935ish. There should be a few more change gears- look for a threading chart on the machine. There should also be a compound gear or two, maybe that's on the machine currently. These machines had bronze sleeve bearings. Top speed would have been limited to 500 rpm or so. Lots of info here: http://wswells.com/ and at the SB forum over on practicalmachinist.com


12-11-2011, 09:02 PM
Get the serial number off the right end of the bed, between the front two ways. We can date it with that.


Bill Pace
12-11-2011, 09:53 PM
With your description and a price of $500, I think you do AOK! You cant have got hurt too badly on that and have probably got a nice lathe there...

Tony Ennis
12-11-2011, 09:59 PM
I paid about that for a wreck. You did good! Grats!

12-11-2011, 10:00 PM
You did good!!!!!
A few years back I bought a 16" SB from a local oil dist, with a bunch of extras, for $200.00 and consider it one of the better deals I've made.
You'll like that lathe.


People say I'm getting crankier as I get older. That's not it. I just find I enjoy annoying people a lot more now. Especially younger people!!!

Dr Stan
12-11-2011, 11:30 PM
You did good. One of these days (years) when I get my Cincinnati planner up & running I can start regrinding lathe beds and bring them back to like new condition. :D

Chris S.
12-12-2011, 12:59 AM
Congratulations, you did very well indeed. At this moment in time you don't realize what you've just bought. I can almost guarantee you that in very short order you will not view that South Bend as an old antiquated hunk of iron. You only feel that way because of your unfamiliarity with lathes. You'll wake up one morning and see her with very different eyes. You'll see graceful lines of not an antique but rather a classic machine.

I also predict that, though you didn't want a project in the lathe itself, you will. As time goes by and you view SB picture galleries you will realize what one of these old girls looked like, factory new.... An Art form!

Oh, those flat belts... They'll save a nubes butt when you so something stupid and you'll learn to love the sound of them running over the cones. If someone offered me a complete changeover to V belts for free I wouldn't do it.

BTW, as previously stated, SB used bronze and cast iron bearings, never babbitt. If your model has cast iron bearings they will be sintered. This bearing type had a higher max RPM than the bronze bearings but I'm not sure what that is without some research.

Chris S.
12-12-2011, 01:07 AM
I just realized something. You didn't pay $500.00 for her. More like $400.00. They tore her down and loaded it for you! ;)

Black Forest
12-12-2011, 07:38 AM
Machine you and Gwilson should get married! There are so many holes in your synopsis of what machine builders do these days. Art to me is what the machines can produce. When I want pretty curves I look to my wife!

12-12-2011, 08:39 AM
Thanks for the encouraging words, I thought you guys would approve of the price. The serial number is 32088. Any idea year it is?

Late 1925, early 1926.



12-12-2011, 10:01 AM
If you are anything like me, your first job will be to see what make it "tick." My first lathe was a 1945 SB Heavy 10" which I disassembled when I got it home. First to see how things worked and secondly to give it a VERY good cleaning. Inside of the saddle, I discovered there was so much chips and krud that I was suprised the gears would turn!

I also discovered that the oil channels for the bearing lubrication were all blocked and I cleaned them out. About a year after my lathe cleaning, it let me know that I missed one of the oil channels as the bearing being feed by the blocked channel seized. I would recommend that you make doublely sure that all oil channels are free and not blocked. Naturally, it was one of the hardest bearings get at to repair.

12-12-2011, 11:10 AM
Definitely sounds like a fair deal was struck to me, and Im the king of the cheap SOBs here!

You are very correct about the overall quality and beauty inherent in antique machines. I would highly recommend taking a glance over on PM or on google for pics of restorations of similar machines. Seeing them painted/prettied up always seems to give me motivation when confronted by problems. I would suggest starting by checking for oil flow as previously suggested. Then I would get out the buffer and polish/paint up the handles and some of the simpler parts. Quite often, these alone will improve the look substantially and make using it more enjoyable, even if you never go for a full scale repaint/resto.

Chris S.
12-12-2011, 12:03 PM
Machine you and Gwilson should get married! There are so many holes in your synopsis of what machine builders do these days. Art to me is what the machines can produce. When I want pretty curves I look to my wife!

When I first came aboard here I was surfing through a boat load of threads. If I'm not mistaken I saw some of your classic gun smithing, or at least I think it was you. Your exceptional workmanship (ART) belies your statements here. ;)

Yeah, SB owners romanticize about their machines more than any other lathe known to man. The typical SB owner that starts out with 9" or 10K and eventually needs a larger lathe, can't say goodbye to her. His shop may be choking from lack of space but he'll squeeze the new girl in next to his first love. The larger lathe will also be a SB of course!

BF, am I making you nauseous yet? :D

Machine, don't even bother to respond to this stuff. 90% of the posts on HSM has nothing to do with machines or machining, whatsoever. Even if they begin as a related topic they soon morph into nasty pissing contests that has nothing to do with the original topic.

Regarding SB parts and sales: When SB made its last lathe (I think the 70's) the remaining stock and all SB documentation was turned over to LeBlond. Currently, Grizzly bought the rights and SB name and are manufacturing new SB lathes. These new lathes have little in common with a classic SB but are a good deal better than their Grizzly brand lathes and accessories, despite the fact that they're Taiwanese. I would not rely on them for parts replacement for your lathe though.

Gary Gill
12-12-2011, 12:54 PM
Sounds like you really did well on this lathe. Enjoy it.

Chris S.
12-12-2011, 12:54 PM
Machine, you're welcome to join us ..

We have sh!t loads of SB documentation here and added often. We also are blessed with Dennis Turk, who's a SB historian and maintains a SB museum at his factory, Turks Works. Denny is one of the few people that can say that they walked through the remnants of the SB plant after it closed its doors.

We use our real names and we don't fight. Some of our members have physically met each other. One big happy SB family!


12-13-2011, 10:42 AM
Congratulations on your purchase. There is also a friendly and active South Bend forum at Practical Machinist. A lot of people post their rebuilds there. Some have done amazing work.


Chris S.
12-13-2011, 11:49 AM
Congratulations on your purchase. There is also a friendly and active South Bend forum at Practical Machinist. A lot of people post their rebuilds there. Some have done amazing work.


Yes Bob, I should have mentioned PM. A very nice environment, loaded with lots of pix and helpful folks. Come to think of it, I've never posted outside the SB section of PM. ;)

Chris S.
12-13-2011, 12:02 PM
Machine, I forgot to mention that your first photo shows the 'T' handle of a chuck key resting in a vertical hole in your tail stock. FYI, that hole is not intended for that. It originally held a dobber. The dobber was used with a dead center held in the TS quill. The cavity would hold a small amount of a lead based lubricant. A little bit went a long way. ;)

Chris S.
12-14-2011, 11:34 AM
If and when you remove the HS bearing sleeves be certain to mark them, tag them or any method you can manage to insure they get reassembled exactly oriented the same as they were removed. One trick, to keep everything oriented, is to use a large dia wood dowel or PVC pipe as a faux spindle. This keeps all the parts oriented.


Chris S.
12-14-2011, 12:19 PM
I don't know if this link was given to you yet but here it is.

It's a good read.

12-14-2011, 12:23 PM
Disassembly should not be a problem, as long as you follow the first rule of intelligent tinkering and keep track of all the parts. The headstock is aligned by the lathe ways and should go back to its proper location with no trouble.

Follow Chris's advice on the headstock bearings. Lindsay Publications http://www.lindsaybks.com/ sold a reprint of a South Bend pamphlet called "Keep Your Lathe In Trim." I don't know if it is still available, but if it is it's worth getting.

The thought of taking out the spindle is terrifying, at least to me. I have taken the spindle out of a spare headstock and in fact it is not particularly difficult. It's been a while, but as I recall, you do it like this:

Find the setscrew on the bull gear and loosen it or remove it. Loosen the locking screw in the take-up nut at the left end of the spindle and remove the nut. There will probably be a thin washer behind it. Keep track of it!
With a soft-faced hammer or hammer and block of wood, tap the spindle out of its bearings from left to right. The bull gear is a light press fit on the spindle, so the tapping has to be persuasive. As the spindle moves, things will start to drop off, so be ready to catch them and keep them in order. These will include the thrust bearing, the pulleys, and the bull gear.

As you knock the spindle out of the bearings spring-loaded oiling wicks will pop up. These will probably need to be replaced. I think somebody over on PM sells them, I'm not sure.

To reinstall the spindle, do the reverse. To deal with the spring-loaded oiling wicks, pull the two oil cups on the front of the headstock. Push down the oiling wicks and insert a couple of stiff wires into the oilcup holes and through the wicks to hold them down until you get the spindle back in.

...or something like that. Others may remember details I've forgotten.

12-14-2011, 12:50 PM
I would leave the headstock for last as it poses the only real alignment issue IMHO. There is enough to do otherwise, and its usually one of the best oiled parts IMHO. In the meantime, I would continue to pour oil through the headstock in an attempt to flush out any crap. You might also consider pulling the change gears currently installed, and giving them all a thorough cleaning. I would start with either the drive or the apron, and simply limit running it until you have checked everything. As someone said previously, the drives are sometimes dont see much oil because of their location, so check for sloppy fits.

If you ever need/want any of the South Bend factory literature, I would recommend looking online first. I have never heard of a book or bulletin of theirs that isnt online.


One good index of files. Includes a few versions of their standard "how to run a lathe."


The aforementioned "how to keep your lathe in trim."

Chris S.
12-14-2011, 10:54 PM
First off, I can't believe that you were dopey enough to wrestle that thing out of your van by yourself. You should have had your wife do it! :rolleyes: :D

Have you downloaded any of the on line manuals yet? They will answer many of your questions.

http://f1.grp.yahoofs.com/v1/sGLpTp2yqqoVR3qQY742QSVtJ_hwnmw0cWkrunsgL37pLCuRHz 5gCIowjgTWCGwTGrMf0ccIgTipQKMMWGd40w/SBparts%26MaintMan.pdf

12-15-2011, 07:38 AM
Whole carriage can slide off as the lead screw is already removed (up on a bench top will make it easier IMO) and then yes, those couple of screws...there may also be a couple of locating pins which should be a pretty tight fit and may need a bit of persuading.

Other is likely taper pin and as you mention be sure to find the large end so as to know which direction to drive it...as you go along keep an eye open for other tapered pins, they can sometimes be very difficult to spot and the smaller ones, depending on location and lighting, tough to tell the small and large ends apart (a greasy finger swiped across will show up edges of said pins, usually)...that will allow for removal of handle on the backgear, remove the set screw on the other and there should be a central shaft that pushes out either end (not entirely certain, it could be "one way" but doubt it, should have a couple of eccentrics on it) which in turn will allow removal of the backgear assembly

Chris S.
12-15-2011, 11:31 AM
......Thanks for the various links, although the last one you provided is a dead link. I sorted through most of the other ones provided earlier and couldn't see where a manual or parts breakdown was provided for my particular lathe. Mine is SN 32088 11in x 5ft and it says Catalog No. 327-B on the gear cover. Any idea where this manual is?......

That link will do that if your not a member of South Bend Manual, which is a link I gave you earlier. The manual is located in the 'Files' section named

Finding an exact manual for your vintage lathe might be a tough nut. Fortunately the similarities in construction of SB lathes over many decades is astoundingly similar, with the exception of introduction of the Quick Change gear box vs Change Gears. Oh... power feeds. I'm fairly certain that the earliest SBs didn't have that either but SB goes back to the turn of the century, I believe.

Besides this thread, I'm currently involved with very similar vintage SB thread on the Practical Machinist, in the SB section. So forgive me if I get confused about what I've I've posted here vs what I've posted there. Anyway, I know no one who has more knowledge of of South Bend history than Dennis Turk (Turks Works Inc.) and Steve Wells. The two of them have done a lot of historic collaboration together and are members of my SB Yahoo groups. Paula, in the SB section on PM is also a wealth of knowledge. She worked for SB and after, with Leblond when they bought the rights and name.

If I were a betting man I'd say that the rebuild kit for the Heavy 10 would fit your lathe, but I'm not a betting man. :D

12-15-2011, 02:36 PM
There could be a few bits when if removed you maybe able to lift the whole works vertically without moving it to the end of the bed.

When you re-assemble re-torque those screws, between carriage and apron, after a bit of use...don't ask how I know.

Depending on age and exact model (more the variations your lathe may have from a given brochure/manual) Chris is right...it maybe difficult to find but there are some pretty common parts that if the measurement is even in the ball park, it is not much work to "adapt"...and that goes across manufacturing lines...my Sheldon will end up with bits from Sheldon, Logan and South Bend, some with no change some with very little change...the build process was so similar...its the oddities that may have you pulling your hair at some point as example with measurements I am sure the bulk of the Heavy 10 felt package would work on my Sheldon and if not there could be one closer

By the way, welcome...take lots of pictures even if you think a given angle in no way will help, makes life way easier when going in the "put it together" direction...esp getting to the back of something with limited access, its surprising sometimes how much a camera shot will reveal where you can barely get a hand in...

Edit: I think, given my very limited knowledge of early South Bend, the 11" had some commonality with the 13" but back then they had some model details that only lasted a short while (few years)

12-15-2011, 03:21 PM
stevewb on ebay has produced some pretty good rebuild manuals for South Bends. He also has wick kits etc.... While your machine isn't specifically one that he deals with, there are more similarities than differences between all of these.


12-16-2011, 02:42 PM
may not be of much help since my lathe is not South Bend and if I am wrong, I am sure there will be others who offer correct...having said that it is possible yours is what I believe is called "total loss"...you put it in, the majority runs out. The Sheldon I have is that, no sumps anywhere (that I know of and its been entirely torn apart) and in most cases short and quite straight passages to the bearings surfaces. AND, not even capped in all cases by a Gits oil cup...the countershaft and the three oiling points of the apron as well as the lead screw support bracket at the tail stock end are all just slightly counter sunk holes...you have to keep an eye on them in terms of grit/swarf (and very much a large part of the reason I will only turn metal, NO WOOD)
And all information I can find about those very early Sheldons is that that is the way it came from the factory.

I have added a "wick" to both of the oil cups over the main spindle bearings but while it slows the passage of oil out to some extent it is far more important IMO to act as a filter from crap in general (the way I now understand wicks, my reference is in name only not true wick function). Again, my understanding, is the amount of oil loss and bearing function depends entirely (?) on fit of shaft to bearing surface...heat, or change in temperature during work is often a good indicator and factory suggestions as to how often to oil those points gives a bit of a clue as to how much "loss" to expect...the plan for next spring/summer is to further control the flow of lubricants while keeping in mind there will always be some loss and more is better than none (as in running the bearings dry from either no oil getting to them or no oil available since those little cups and passages are empty)

Edit: PM sent

Chris S.
12-16-2011, 04:00 PM
I believe the earliest SBs employed McCoy Drip Oilers. They look really nice on old iron. Dennis Turk has a number of machines with them but not necessarily all Southbend's.

12-20-2011, 08:46 PM
That doesn't look quite right to have wicks. What are those things on top of the bearing caps? The number looks something like 262, although I can't read it very well. If those are the oiling points, I think I would favor the idea of oil drip cups. There is certainly no sign of the spring-loaded wicks.

12-21-2011, 12:00 AM
I haved a 9" Model O and it requires no wicks on the headstock bearings. It is a total loss oiling system and the oil just runs out the bottem after going through the bearings. I installed Drip Oilers and that really helped in regulating the oil and its not that much you see going through when running. Make sure you use the correct spindle oil as the oil film is the only protection you have for the spindle under load. Good luck with the clean up and restoration.



12-21-2011, 05:59 PM
If there are no oiling wicks to replace (and apparently there aren't), I would resist the temptation to dismantle the spindle and leave it in peace, unless there is an obvious problem that needs to be fixed. It's been perfectly content to sit where it is for 80 years or whatever it may be, and it seems a shame to disturb it now.

12-22-2011, 12:03 AM
Surely, buying an old lathe can become a time consuming project. My last lathe purchase was a South Bend heavy 10 inch , circa 1954. The ebay ad stated it was from the machine shop of her recently departed grandfather.
After I made the 3 hour trip, I confirmed that it was indeed from her grandfather's machine shop. Unfortunately, there's no evidence that he ever actually used that lathe, and more likely it had been brought to him for repairs. The lathe he actually used was an older Seneca Falls model, for which he had all sorts of accessories, and everything looked to be in well kept condition. I've spent three years collecting accessories and rebuild parts for my lathe, but I have yet to produce a single chip ! I also have a 9 inch South Bend lathe and a round ram Bridgeport on the rebuild list. The 1916 Canedy-Otto 16 inch lathe is last on the " do " list. I'm not a machinist, I'm a rebuilder , as it turned out.

J Tiers
12-22-2011, 12:31 AM
Surely, buying an old lathe can become a time consuming project. ................................... I'm not a machinist, I'm a rebuilder , as it turned out.

I resemble that remark..... Since right now I have a Benchmaster mill AND a rivett 608, with the bulk of each one in individual pieces in bags and trays, getting (slowly) scraped-in and put together.

There are two Atlas shapers waiting in line for the same...... One I may just turn around without any significant work.... gotta clean house some time..... And find room for the Rivett.... been messing with different shop arrangements on CAD trying to get one that works.

Good thing I enjoy machine rebuilding......

12-22-2011, 09:45 AM
there are some mods that can be applied to it ..if its the same set up as the 9

1. Polly-v belt instead of the leather one ..if its horizontal drive (used with the V's facing the pulleys ..doesnt have to have V's in the pulleys as rubber grips better than leather ..even with the v's...and no join to make rat-a-tat-tat noise either.

can also be used on the motor to counter shaft drive.

2. needle roller bearing on the end of the spindle ..instead of the red resin washer (allows you to pull the spindle a bit tighter to eliminate backlash)

3. and Teflon grease in the back gear spindle pulleys...(no need to oil any more)

4 a set of metric transposing gears should be up there on your list as well.

all the best...markj

Chris S.
12-24-2011, 11:29 AM
4 a set of metric transposing gears should be up there on your list as well.

all the best...markj

Yup, got a set of them from Jeff Beck at..


They're Chicom imports but Jeff had these made for him along with other hard to find SB items. He keeps a close watch on the QC.


12-24-2011, 01:18 PM
I have the 13" SBL and it has the popup felt oilers under the spindles. I bought a new set from SBLatheman because mine turned to mush when I removed them. More than likely all of the felts need to be replaced as old as that machine is. I hope you removed the two screws from the top of the bearing caps before you removed the caps themselves. They are the adjusters for the bearings and are screwed into the adjusters that fit into dovetails of the bronze bushings. Mine had been improperly installed by one of the original owners. I went through my entire machine and replaced all felts and reworked one of the bearing fits on the QC gearbox.
You did good on that lathe. Good deal!!


12-24-2011, 01:50 PM
Thanks mark, I'll definitely keep your tips in mind. Right now I'm just going through the basics, but after I have it repainted and reassembled, I'll be ready to look into the upgrades and improvements you mention. Got any pics of the ply V belt conversion? That would be interesting to see. My machine has the upright chain drive power head unit.

Sorry ..i don't have any pictures.

I think Evan first came up with the idea...well he's the first one that posted about it ..or could be !

unfortunately the forum search isn't working ..so cant find those posts ..

Anyway, if you google "south bend" and " serpentine belt" or google "south bend" and"Polly-v belt" ..the results will come up.

all the best...markj

12-24-2011, 02:36 PM
To each his own, however, I like the sound of my flat belt going over the cones.:D :D

12-24-2011, 10:56 PM
+1 on using leather. I have seen them used for decades without issue. If you use a more modern belt, I would make sure its a solid one. Im not a big fan of the "multi-link belts." Yes, they work great in a home shop with limited use, but that is all those are meant for - limited (ie temporary/emergency) use and not as a permanent solution.

03-20-2016, 08:23 PM
Looks like a very nice job! Congrats!

03-20-2016, 08:23 PM
Nice! It sure is nice using a machine that you dont have to tinker with every time you use it. Nice job!

03-20-2016, 09:23 PM
You are not alone!

I have a lathe that is currently a bunch of boxes of parts, has been for a couple of years at least, and will be that way for another 8 months minimum, since all my tools are now in storage until I move and build a shop at the house I haven't even moved into yet. Fortunately, I do have a working lathe (also in storage of course) so when I have a roof and walls to put around it I can hit the ground running on the project machines.

I hope mine looks as good when I'm done!

Mike Amick
03-20-2016, 09:45 PM
QCTP ... asap

03-21-2016, 01:14 AM
WOW, very nice!!!


03-21-2016, 05:54 AM
Congratulations on a job finished :). Thanks for the update and pictures

Chris S.
03-21-2016, 07:28 PM
A real Cinderella story! She's beautiful!!!!!


03-21-2016, 10:36 PM
QCTP ... asap

Amen to that. I have a South Bend 10K and the best money I ever spent on her was a QCTP. Parting turned from a rectum-clenching operation to just another cut. The added rigidity and ease of getting things perfectly aligned and centered make a world of difference.

I started with a Phase II import and was extremely pleased with it. I recently acquired an Aloris with a bunch of tools I got and while it's nominally better, there's not really a world of difference. For the home shop, the better imports are IMO plenty good enough. I'd avoid the no-name ones, but lots of people (including me) speak highly of Phase II and they're pretty darn reasonable.

J Tiers
03-22-2016, 12:01 AM
A nice solid 4-way toolpost will also make cutoff routine. I use whatever grooving type tool looks appropriate and put it in the toolpost. I also have an insert type that fits, and use that in it sometimes.