View Full Version : Which lathes have the following characteristics?

Tony Ennis
01-18-2013, 11:01 AM
EDIT - thank you all for the responses. Keep it coming, it's educational.

Wife thinks I'm crazy for keeping the Atlas. WHAT A WOMAN! Anyway, it's doing everything I'm asking, but as they say... failing to plan is planning to fail.

While I will never find (and afford) a lathe with all the 'wants and needs' below, the lathe I eventually select should represent an optimal compromise.

These are my needs. Missing any of these would give me pause:

Imperial dials and leadscrew
Imperial QCGB, Metric threads a plus.
Can be of any origin but must not be a kit.
New or restored. It doesn't need to be restored to perfection but must do the job it was intended to do. I want to make chips not fix worn and abused machinery.
Low spindle RPMs delivered in such a way as to retain torque (e.g. back gears). This 'need' is the problem child, it seems. My Atlas + VFD + back gear is DREAMY. No, really.
Rigidity. I already have a NoodleLathe (tm)
Must fit down my basement steps. I can hire Young Strong Men if necessary, but a 3 ton piece of equipment isn't going to happen. If I have to take it apart, someone like me has to be able to put it together. I'm methodical and patient but inexperienced...
Manual operation. CNC... not so much. I program for a living and don't want it in the shop.
Between 10" and 12" swing (diameter, American style)


Separate lead and feed screws.
Powered cross-slide
3-phase, maybe up to 2 HP and work off a common VFD.

Price? I don't know. But good toys cost good money. I'm not looking for something cheap, I'm looking for the best feature-bang for the buck.

So, I ask my extended brain AKA the HSM, what lathes meet these attributes? What feature should I be looking for but didn't mention?

01-18-2013, 11:06 AM
How bout any of the "1440" lathes? Im always looking for a nice one. JR

01-18-2013, 12:26 PM
I would look at the import 1340 machines...like this:

I had one that I acquired that I absolutely hated simply because it was old and beat to hell, but it had all the features you speak of, aside from a back gear. I don't think you'll need a back gear with 3HP and a VFD....I haven't had one in a while and I don't miss it. The 1340 is about 1500lbs, so you'll have to get a bit creative to get it in the basement. It's going to be an order of magnitude more rigid than your atlas. One thing I liked about my 1340 is that the leadscrew didn't have to be reversed between turning and facing operations. It will feed towards the chuck or towards the workpiece centerline while spinning the same direction. My Cadillac, and the Mori that we have at work has the crossfeed geared the other way so you always have to stop the lathe and reverse the screw for facing. It's annoying.

01-18-2013, 12:27 PM
Enco 13 X 40 or Grizzly 13-1/2 X 40 have all of those features except three phase. Having one myself and having become intimately familiar with the electrical controls and relays in my Enco 13 X 40 since 1994 when I bought it new, I can tell you that converting it to three phase would be a chore. Mine is two hp and runs beautifully on single phase, 240V 60 Cycle, 20 amp line.

EDIT: IIRC, the 13 X 40's sold by Enco and Grizly are in the 1.700 pound range. Most any lathe of that size will be close to a ton with others considerably more.

01-18-2013, 12:28 PM
Unfortunately this topic is a bit like "how long is a piece of string" :) But here's my input after going though this a decade ago.

An Emco V13 (three-four stong guys), or V11 (smaller - 2 guys ) fits that bill nicely. $5-7K for the V13, $3500-5K for the V11 in perfect condition.

A V10 (2 guys) is also very nice... prices been going up though - $2-3K lately.

Today I have a monster (relatively speaking) 14x40 - about 3500lb, and a 325lb Emco Compact 10 (undergoing cnc conversion)

If you don't care all that much about hertitage, hit the Grizzley catalog and choose your price point.

For your list : You should also add - speeds... many older lathes simply ignore the high end. Look for 2200-2500 rpm.

01-18-2013, 04:27 PM
Hmmm, #1, #2, #3 yep possible/easy, # 3 perhaps though if some threads are to be believed less likely if new (and of course one could debate "used" is a kit in a different way), #7 agreed, #8 and #9 are at conflict with one another at least to some degree, in looking I "get" # 10 (but some of what you describe fits some makers pretty close that do not have this "feature"), #11 happen to agree (smoking deals on CNC esp with your background can be had).

As little as possible given but also relative.

#4, #6, #8, #9 cause pause...quick trip through EBay and there is a "nice" size Clausing for too much money IMO that is double or a bit more than your 2HP but...to me if you have time and are willing 3 tons in small pieces can be as easy as 600lbs in say 3rds or 1/4s...you are coming IMO close to describing a Heavy 10 of the old variety but those are harder to find (depending on location, as you know, and with that how far afield you are willing to go/ship). Harrison 300 series or so are close to what you describe as well but a bit past the HP figure and don't know if "as little as possible" is realistic ether.

You are describing, from what I have read/heard, a smaller lathe from a manufacturer who had a full line of lathes and let some of the "professional" features trickle down...I am talking older/defunct makers.

Where I am it is unlikely I would ever find it but that little voice still keeps saying Clausing since, to me they can be had with many of the features you mention, to me, though you do not mention it, the wide range of speeds in particular compared to what I have now would be important.

Edit: not that it matters but given my "restrictions" some of my "dream" lathes are very, very unlikely to happen but this http://www.busybeetools.com/products/METAL-LATHE-12IN.-X28IN.-WITH-DIGITAL-READOUT.html is more realistic so under consideration and it gains me a bit of size, more rpm, power feeds in both directions and it is new with the downside, I assume, no back gear...forgot, also large enough spindle bore to use 5C

01-18-2013, 04:55 PM
If you need to get that lathe into your basement down your basement steps then you already have the appropriate lathe unless you are prepared to do some extensive rigging.

uncle pete
01-18-2013, 06:09 PM
Your link shows the same as what I have. Just email me if you've got any questions. I've got a fair amount of info on it. And BB have been incorrectly listing that lathe as having a 12" swing for over a year. It's 11".


01-18-2013, 07:03 PM
A Standard Modern would fit most of your requirements, and they still turn up. The 11" model weighs in at about 1100 lbs. Even the 10" Utilathe, which actually swings a bit ovr 11" is a fairly hefty 700+lbs, and I KNOW that three husky young men can get it down a flight of stairs. The most recent one that I heard of sold at Government auction here in Ottawa for $976.00 cdn, with some tooling, (just before Christmas.)

Spin Doctor
01-19-2013, 09:49 AM
Since you did not spec swing unless I missed it IMO the ideal answer is of course a Hardinge HLV-H or HLV-EM. Or one of the clones. But then they are pricey.

Another of Matt's offering's http://www.machinetoolonline.com/PM-1127-VF.html. Quick trip to Pittsburg to pick it up saves the delivery charge, plus you could stop at the USAF museum at Wright-Patterson. Two trips at once :) True it's 110V single phase but it is variable speed and is offered with a large bore spindle. But I think I'd ditch the stand (or any stand that came with a lathe made out of thin gauge sheet metal) and mount the lathe on a good solid bench. Any thing with 3 phase new I think is going to at the high end of your weight limitation

Tony Ennis
01-19-2013, 10:04 AM
Swing added. RPMs? Dunno, I have a Babbitt headstock now so high RPMs aren't a consideration.

3 Phase is a nice-to-have, not a need-to-have.

Also add a "slow RPMs" need. The issue with some modern Chicoms is that their slowest speeds are in the 70 RPM range.

01-19-2013, 10:07 AM
A Sheldon 13 x ?? gearhead or a Hendey 14 x ?? gear head lathe. All the features you want. Reality says you need to look beyond your local area, maybe 500 miles (a days drive) would be reasonable. U-ship is an option to bring it home if you don't have, can't borrow or rent a trailer.

01-19-2013, 10:15 PM
An apron mounted spindle clutch is a nice addition. Some of the links I've looked at have them, especially the gear head machines. The 70 RPM low end range is a bit high, but on a 3 phase machine that can easily be remedied with a VFD. Another issue is the weight problem, and in your situation I understand your reservations, I once put a 2600 LB lathe in a below grade basement, but the heavier the machine, the less machining problems you have, especially in cutting off and chatter problems.

J Tiers
01-20-2013, 12:13 AM
Clausing or Rockwell in good shape. Rockwell will be a bit smaller in swing, but possibly more "industrial" in general.

Back gears are rare on any "chasian" lathe.

Forrest Addy
01-20-2013, 01:10 AM
Most any of today's lathe offerings in the size/outfitting class you indicate will fulfil your criteria. Item 9, moving the lathe down your basement stairs is more a matter of your ingenuity and perserverance than any factor of 12" lathe construction. Take is apart ahd move it peice by piece if you have to.

I once moved a WW II era #5 Gisholt through the basement window of a lovely Arts and Crafts bungelow in Seattle and at least three turret mills in or out of residences via the stairs. Planks and rope, planning, chain hoists and sweat. Never even marred the paint or tracked the rug.

Low speed torque is a product of mechanical reduction. You can't get 2 HP at low motor RPM from a motor rated at 2HP at 1750 RPM. HP is roughly proportional to motor RPM at the same motor amps.

If you select a machine with a VFD or some other solid state drive in the absense of a multi-step mechanical transmission you will wish later you had held out for at least three overlapping ranges.

Other than that there is a bewildering selection. I suggest you drool over Grizzly's offerings as a place to start if only because Grissly has a large selection and their on-line catalog and PDF data is comprehensive and well illustrated. It will help you gel realistic requirements and relate them to likely candidate machines. Expect to spend two or three months getting smart on the relative merits of the various lathes on the market - maybe even temporarily obsessive. Don't pay too much attention to the "American Arn" crowd or the economic Jingoists. Avoid cheap crap but pay close attention to estate sales and similar opportunities. You never know.

01-20-2013, 02:31 AM
Monarch 10EE

Greg Q
01-20-2013, 03:20 AM
Any of the European lathes similar to the 10EE would also do: Hembrug, Weiler, Cazenueve, Smart & Brown, Schaublin, Boley, etc.

For reliable, robust and supportable, I think I'd be looking for a South Bend heavy ten.

J Tiers
01-20-2013, 09:25 AM
Other than that there is a bewildering selection. I suggest you drool over Grizzly's offerings as a place to start if only because Grissly has a large selection and their on-line catalog and PDF data is comprehensive and well illustrated. It will help you gel realistic requirements and relate them to likely candidate machines. Expect to spend two or three months getting smart on the relative merits of the various lathes on the market - maybe even temporarily obsessive. Don't pay too much attention to the "American Arn" crowd or the economic Jingoists. Avoid cheap crap but pay close attention to estate sales and similar opportunities. You never know.

IIRC, many of the "chasian" machines do NOT have back gears (OP item 7 of requirements) and have rather high "lowest speed" specs. The 12" or so size is where they tend to start having features similar to "old iron", like a "real" back gear etc.

Personally, I demand back gears, and a slowest speed in keeping with the swing. If the lathe will swing 10", even if that is just over the ways, you will want a slow RPM.... taking 100 fpm for CRS, a max diameter part will have 31" periphery, or 2.6 ft. To attain 100 fpm at the O.D., you cannot have more than about 38 rpm in back gear.
Won't happen, you say? Your claim is that there is no point looking at that large a part? I've worked on pulleys that barely fit over the ways, my 10" swings a bit over 10.5". Nobody says the part has to fit over the slide in order to be worked on.

Thinking that way, a 12" machine should have 33 rpm capability, and a 14" machine should have 27 rpm capability. Close is probably OK, perfection is unlikely, and some compromise on extreme cases is reasonable. You may need to make some compromises just to bring your wants in line with an actual purchasable machine. Nobody that I know of makes a clone of old-time machines in that class.

But a 12" machine with 75 RPM minimum (I have seen that on "chasian" lathes) would have a max nominal diameter part humming away at 235 fpm on the O.D. Unless you use carbide, or only work with aluminum, that is likely to be too fast.

Forrest Addy
01-20-2013, 10:10 AM
Way to go Jerry. You illustrated a simply stated requiement for minimum spindle speed for a lathe of a given size. Min spindle speed = RPM to attain X ft/min at max swing dia.

My 17" lathe's min is 20 RPM or 89 ft/min but with the VFD I can go 'way slower if need be.

The OP's desire for a back gear may be fulfilled with a geared head stock. If the drive is geared in a solidly constructed miltispeed transmission the drive will delifer stiff un-hesitating rotary power with no bogdown or overshoot with variations in chipload.

I remember working close to a weld on a 48" American with faceplate drive - a brutal looking pinion irresistablly drove an internal gear mounted in the face plate itself. I was an apprentice and Dick Perkins was watching over my shoulder. My tool was a 1/2 bullnose radius gound on a 1" square tool. At 4.2 RPM things take time and it's easy to get ahead of yourself. I kept nudging the carriage along. A big weld blob appeared over the top and approached the tool. I lunged for the cross slide hand wheel. Perky put a hand out and said "It'll take it" Ultra slow-motion: ker-chunk - no fuss, no feathers. The blob was gone: a 1/2" x 1/2" by 1 1/2" nurdle of metal clunked in the chip pan. "Pretty hard to stop this ol girl." Amen. A stiff spindle drive is much to be desired.

Tony Ennis
01-20-2013, 10:47 AM
Thanks for the replies. Keep'em coming. It's educational.

You may need to make some compromises just to bring your wants in line with an actual purchasable machine. Nobody that I know of makes a clone of old-time machines in that class.

Just so. First, I know that there's probably no lathe that fits all my requirements that's in my price range. macona helpfully recommended a Monarch 10EE which I will surely need to have restored since I have not the skill. I'll be able to find and afford that. Not. :D

So when trying to find the 'next' lathe, which hopefully I will never outgrow, I'll need to choose the one that's the best compromise.

@Forrest and JTeirs: regarding back gears... I suppose what I really want is slower spindle RPMs while retaining torque. If there are alternate ways of getting this that don't involve back gears, that's good too. (I'll augment the original post.)

...the most unexciting passage of tool over work you could imagine.

AKA, a great day at work.

To JTiers' point, the candidates right now are indeed chasian and sport 70 RPM minimum spindles with a 12" swing.

01-20-2013, 11:29 AM
IF, higher end speeds are not required, you could always change out the low speed pulley to something that would fit your needs.

I have had two lathes of eastern origin and both had step pulleys on the motor to main and it is no big deal to change them out.

The first lathe was a belt drive and had a back gear... That 1 1/2 hp motor in low gear low belt back gear was more power than the machine could really handle, IMOP.

I a shop I ran a 13 inch gap bed jet that was a very nice machine. I think it was 2hp and worked well for the work we were doing. I never stalled it.

A few years back I saw a beautifully tooled SouthBend heavy 10 for sale at an unreasonably low price for what was there - every attachment and tool that SouthBend made for it, all in beautiful wooden benches (they would have made Moore proud) - seems like it was $4500. I swear the thing had never been run.

So, there are options.

J Tiers
01-20-2013, 12:51 PM
Torque you can have, especially with a vector VFD.

POWER you cannot, since it is related to force x distance, and at half the speed, the force must be 2x in order to keep up the power.

So it's possible that the 70 rpm might be reduced to a reasonable speed with a VFD while retaining the ability to take a usable cut. Of course, if you have a choice with a real back gear, that's better.

Looking at Grizzly.... apparently they just do not "get it"......

11" ($1500) 150 RPM ............430 fpm (WHAAAAT?)

12" (2 grand & $2800) 70 rpm........... 220 fpm

12" and 14" "gunsmith's lathe with 17" and 19" gap (3 grand & $4500)... all 70 rpm.... 250 fpm at 14",300 fpm at 17" 350 fpm @ 19"

14" "toolroom" (12 grand) 50 rpm... 180 fpm

16" (8 grand) 3 phase 22" gap 45 rpm..... 188 and 250 fpm

20" x 60" large bore (13 grand) with 29" gap ..25 rpm ............. 130 and 190 fpm...

Meanwhile, my little old 10" Logan has back gears, and happily does 78 fpm at absolute max diameter. Cost me FAR less than any of the above choices, EVEN AFTER BUYING REPLACEMENT PARTS TO BRING IT UP TO SNUFF.

I don't say you need to buy old iron, that's entirely up to you. But your functional specs can indeed be satisfied by older iron, almost anything EXCEPT Atlas or the "workshop" series Southbend.

You didn't mention spindle bore. You may want to hold out for a bore that takes 5C collets, with or without in-spindle adapter.

Tony Ennis
01-20-2013, 02:55 PM
I'd be more than happy to make a home for some Olde American Iron as long as it's in ready-to-use condition.

Spindle bore - More than less, methinks ;-) Current bore is .75" which is annoying. A 5c requires, what, a 1.25" bore, assuming no adapter is needed? The Precision Mathews machines posted previously on this thread have bores of 1-1/16" and 1-1/2". I'd pretty much already discounted the smaller of the two.

01-20-2013, 11:47 PM
I have a Harrison 10AA that meets ALL of your requirements. It's also sold as a Colchester Chipmaster. 10 x 24 with limited metric threading and inch/metric dials. I was wanting a Hardinge HLV-H when I got the Harrison, but no longer. This machine has variable speed from 35 to 3000 RPM, taper, coolant, and a D1-3 spindle mount.

Couldn't be happier with mine

01-21-2013, 12:32 AM
Not advertising for any of these, they just "fit" the bill and not horribly far away




J Tiers
01-21-2013, 08:18 AM
That Rockwell is a solid machine.... dunno about the others.

Contrasting the Rockwell with the equivalent priced Griz....... what a laugh........

Problem, Rockwell parts are essentially non-existent (but even Griz isn't so wonderful about them, even if better than many).

01-21-2013, 09:12 AM
Of the three, the Rockwell is probably the least desireable. I would rate the Standard Modern #1, the Clausing #2 and the Rockwell #3, condition being comensurate of course.

The Clausing and Rockwell are both 10" belt drive machines, the Standard Modern 13" gearhead.



All three machine are excellent candidates for the home shop.

5C collet capability is a plus, it requires a roughly 1-3/8" spindle bore.

For the home shop, in my opinion a 13" lathe is about optimum. It is large enough to handle most HSM projects while still having high enough speeds for small work. Once you move to 14" and larger they become too big for small work and weight and size become problematical in fitting into a small shop envelope.

The South Bend Heavy Ten and the Sheldon XL 10" lathes are both 10" lathes built on 13" beds and have 5C collet capacity. They are also belt drive, backgeared lathes. They are both worth consideration.