View Full Version : Ye olde "help the noob with first purchase" thread

02-16-2013, 12:01 AM
Let me start by saying that I am a complete noob to machining tools like lathes and mills.
Over the last several years I have had multiple occasions where I thought it would be wonderful to have a lathe (and a mill too) for some concepts I had in mind. Note that this would be completely hobby level stuff and no production work...or nothing serious.

Recently decided I'm going to go for it and buy a lathe and have been prowling the forums and groups trying to research the best "first machine" for me and my budget. It seems to me that a recurring theme in all forums that are not dedicated to the Asian machines is to go for "old American/UK/German iron" over the Asian machines whenever possible. I can certainly understand that...I am quite familiar with Chinese tools (HF and the like) and how the quality is, to say the least, hit and miss. With that in mind, I have been watching for locally available "old iron" while doing most of my research on the Asian machines since I figured that's what I would actually be able to get. I will not, at least initially, state what my budget is so that I don't prejudice the answers.

However, I just happened in to a possible buy on a Clausing 5914 that looks to be quite good overall and it seems to fit the "old iron" concept. When I went to look at it though, I quickly realized two things, 1) despite all my research, I really had no clue what I was doing and 2) I really don't have much of a clue what the machine was worth. So now I come here, hat in hand, to humbly request the assistance of the Machinist Sages in my quest for good "old iron". My first look was pretty short since it was late but I am going back tomorrow for a more thorough evaluation.
Here is what I know about the machine:
The good news...
Clausing 5914. Doofus me, didn't get the serial number but will get it tomorrow.
The ways look quite good with little or no dings, gouges, or rust.
Very little rust overall though the paint on the base/cabinet is pretty well shot (pealing off).
It comes with an Aloris type (may be Aloris) QCTP and 5 or 6 tool holders including a couple of monsters that hold 1" boring bars. A few indexing tools w/carbide tips and some parting blades will also be thrown in. I might be able to rummage and deal for some more minor tooling.
Although the compound slide comes with the machine, it has been removed and the QCTP has been mounted on spacers, directly to the cross slide.
Overall, the machine seems quite "clean" but could definitely stand a good scrubbing (the owner said this as well) since it has not been used for several years and has collected a good layer of dirt/dust stuck to any exposed lubricated part.
The bad news:
The owner stated that the timing belt failed and that, when it went, it took out the ring that is part of the upper (spindle) pulley. This ring is on the inner (right) side of the pulley and is one of two that help keep the belt on the pulley. It turns out that these rings are press-fit on to the sides of the pulley and, given enough force, they can come off :). I will try to attach a pic of the damage but, basically, this ring came off and met up with a bunch of spinning metal bits that proceeded to make it into a bit of a pretzel. I didn't see any obvious damage to anything else in the vicinity but I will make a point to carefully check for that on the morrow. The pulley is no longer available from Clausing but I have a line on a used replacement.
The problem is that, for now, I cannot see the machine run for lack of the pulley and a timing belt. So, should I get the pulley and belt, with the understanding from the owner that, if I back out, he will pay for them or should I just take it as it is and risk it?

How much backlash should be acceptable/expected in the cross slide and compound slide (reading the scale while turning from engage point counter clockwise to engage point clockwise)?

What else should I look for/check/test? I know I need to look at the static sheaves to verify the epoxy coating on the spindle is OK but not certain how to do so without disassembling the drive.

Finally, what would be a fair price for such a machine, both in it's current "unknown" condition, and in "new pulley & belt...and it works" condition?

Any help is greatly appreciated,


02-16-2013, 12:19 AM
That lathe look`s pretty good .The ring can be put back on it is just stacked in a few spots. As far as back lash 1/4 of the dial is acceptable.1/2 a round is way to much . Belts From Goodyear. It look`s to be very fixable . Around a $1000.00 lathe as is 2-2 1/2 fixed up .

02-16-2013, 02:56 AM
Thanks lane. Wow, that low (the price)? I would have thought 1400 or so as-is.

By "fixed up" do you mean the pulley fixed and all lathe tested OK fixed up or do you mean taken down and rebuilt to be as near 100% as possible fixed up?
EDIT: I re-read my own post and I see you were referencing my question (duh!). So, I get that you meant fixed/running.

The problem with just putting the ring back on is that it got "caught in the cogs" so it's not just not flat anymore, it's also no longer round...in fact, it's rather egg shaped (it got squeezed).

02-16-2013, 03:57 AM
What will happen without the ring in place- I don't think it will be difficult to make the belt stay in place. You could rig up a ball bearing to bear against the side of the belt. You would of course also play with the alignment of the drive pulley so the belt tracks pretty much on its own. If that ring is beyond repair, I'd just cut it off. I'm more concerned that it damaged something, but it also looks like you can easily see everything to assess that.
The carriage looks funny- is that the original?

I'm thinking that the value in that machine is in the headstock and the bed. If the spindle and bearings are good, then I'd say that it's a good fixer-upper. But that would be what it is- something that you'd have to be willing to spend some time on- and some money. Some considerable knowledge would be required in order to perform these tasks, but obviously you'll be able to get lots of help here.

From what I can see, it's not worth a lot of money as it is now. I think 1000 might be on the high side.

Take some masking tape with you when you go to check it out again. Tape that ring up so it doesn't rattle when you turn the spindle. I can't tell if that gear towards the back is engaging the gear on the spindle, but if there's a way to disengage it temporarily, then do so. All that's left then is whatever noise the spindle might make when you turn it. Look carefully for any wobble in the spindle. If the bearings are noisy, I'd walk away. That's an expensive repair, I'm sure. If the spindle is bent at all- same thing. Don't be afraid to push and pull the spindle around while listening and feeling for looseness. Take a piece of cord with you to wrap around the pulley so you can yank it and get a few revolutions out of the spindle.

You would also want to look carefully at the ways. The carriage usually spends most of its time moving back and forth near the headstock, so I would be trying to see if I could detect a difference in the way the ways look there. From here it doesn't look bad-

There are ways and means of dealing with the tailstock and the carriage, and the lathe can still be very useful even with a lot of things in these areas needing attention. You might need a new lead screw and nut, you might need any number of smaller items to bring it up to par, but you can't start with problems in the spindle area. You'd be better off in my opinion to just buy a new lathe, even an off-shore one. But if the spindle and bearings are good, then I'd have to agree with Lane- rejuvenated it would be worth a considerable dollar.

Dr Stan
02-16-2013, 06:01 AM
While its hard to tell from the pic, it appears the ways are in good shape. It also looks like there was little to no collateral damage when the belt failed, other than the ring.

I'd do a search to a replacement ring, just in case. Try FleaBay and of course Clausing. I'm sure they'd love to sell you one, at a considerable price. While you're at it check the price on the Clausing in running condition. Just checked Lost Creek Machine http://www.lostcreekmachine.com/ and he has one listed for $2995. So given the fact it needs repair $1000 to $1500 is probably a good ball park.

Finally, I'd pay the same for a excellent condition American iron as one would pay for a new Chinese machine tool. In fact that's what I did. My Logan 14X30 was listed at $3600 and in absolutely prime condition. I traded in three other machines to bring down the actual cash difference, but I could have bought a new HF or similar for $3600. However my Logan will outlast any new Chinese lathe I could have purchased.

On edit. Looking at the ring again, it looks like one could rig up a puller, take it off then make the repairs. To put it back on, heat the ring and freeze the mating part.

Tony Ennis
02-16-2013, 08:14 AM
Are you prepared for a year-long journey of discovery wherein you learn how to repair a lathe that's worn and broken? It could be expensive and flat-out difficult.

If you are, and if you succeed, you'll end up with a lathe that will last you the rest of your life.

If your primary goal is to realize your project, however, this may not be the lathe for you.

A few years back, HSM'er Lazlo had one of these and seemed to like it. Perhaps he'll chime in.

Is one of the QCGB handles missing?

What accessories are included? I see a 3-jaw chuck. You'll eventually need a steady, follower, 4-jaw chuck, and tail stock. Each of those will set you back between $100 and $150 if you have to buy them later.

02-16-2013, 10:20 AM
All lathes wear. Even a new out the box lathe begins to wear the first time you power up the spindle and run the cross slide along the ways. Some new lathes are cast of inferior iron, poorly machined, fitted and will under perform a worn veteran lathe from WWII. Used doesn't always mean used up and not every used lathe means a long rebuild before the machine is useful or reliable. Fix what's necessary to get it running, address other issues later as time and money allow.

Four jaw, yes. Steady and follower?? Maybe. Depends on the work you do. Lots of lathe steady rests spend their life in a drawer.

Search for "In praise of clunkers"

02-16-2013, 11:13 AM
That's an easy fix, that ring is staked or tack welded on there. I suspect what happened was that the belt didn't fail as much as it rode over against the ring and pushed it off the pulley, followed shortly by the belt riding off the pulley. If the spindle turns smoothly it's likely fine.

Value is gonna depend alot on where you'd located. A lathe like that in any decent condition will sell for upwards of $2000 or more around here even with it's minor problem, more in full operating condition. I bought one here locally last year for $1300, was in decent shape and running, problem was the doofus that had it listed knew NOTHING about what he had and couldn't tell anyone who contacted him anything about it. Only way to know was to go look at it, which I was the only one that did. With a couple more pictures I'd give $1500 for this one in a heartbeat as it looks clean and well cared for. Likely it's in pretty decent shape. I doubt the guy is out to screw anyone.

Don't get wound up over the variable speed drive, there's several options for fixing it or retro fitting a VFD setup.
My variable drive is laying on the floor as we speak, replaced by a VFD.
You could cut off what's left of the toothed belt and power up the motor and variable speed where it sits, that will tell you something of it's condition.
If you take the bottom cover off you can look down between the sides of the lower(drive) pulley and see if the green coating(most are green) is still on the center shaft.

No, there is not a lever missing from the quick change box, 5900 models have a single tumbler box. The A-B-C knob above serves as the 2nd tumbler.

The Yahoo Clausing group is probably your best resource for info.

02-17-2013, 02:15 AM
Thank you all so very much for your input!!

The game has changed in mid course (doesn't it always) and I am now up against a situation where another prospective buyer is "coming tomorrow with a trailer". I don't believe that the seller is being deceptive in this and it is likely that, if I hesitate, the machine will be gone. After considerable self-debate, I have determined that, to me, the gamble is worth taking unless my second inspection uncovers some major flaw and I will accept the current asking price. For those of you who are dying to know, he is asking $2K for the lathe plus about 50 odd 5C collets and a very nice (Clausing brand) lever-action collet closer plus the QCTP and tool holders and some odds and ends tools.
Also included is a steady rest for (probably) a 14" lathe of unknown brand that he no longer owns...I can either rework it to fit or sell it for $$ to go toward one that does fit. It does also come with a fully-functional tailstock.

Oh yes, 2 collet chucks are also included.

02-17-2013, 02:55 AM
Oh yes...
To daryll; the carriage looks odd because the (original) compound slide is detached and is just sitting on the cross slide which is currently fitted with a couple of home-turned spacers and the QCTP. Everything appears to be there for the compound except for the original pinion stud which, as of '05, was available for about $7. Can't verify current availability until Monday but, worst case, I can turn my own replacement.
I can get, and will order, a used OEM replacement pulley for about $90 and then attempt to fix the old one to sell (or swap it out and sell the OEM pulley).

To Tony; I don't have any project that is weighing heavy on my soul...not that I don't have projects in queue; but i won't cause me to sob in the corner if they get delayed a bit :). My guts tell me that this machine is pretty prime for its age (maybe even ignoring the age) and that, once the pulley problem has been resolved, I'll be going strong with a nice hunk of iron in my [unsteady] hands.

Wish me luck guys...I may need it :)

Tony Ennis
02-17-2013, 08:52 AM
Good luck! I am confident you'll like the machine, sooner or later. Hopefully sooner.

02-18-2013, 12:04 AM
Well, it's mine now!
I went out this morning and did a more thorough and informed inspection. The seller was more than helpful and spent several hours with me searching for the missing chuck spanner and spindle hand wheel (we did find both). He even threw in a few bits of plastic (thick acetate) and aluminum stock for me to play/learn with. I did see the motor run and it seemed fine (even though he was running it on an antiquated motor-driven 3-phase converter). I rechecked for damage caused by the pulley ring and found none. Rechecked the ways and could not find ANY difference between the area near the chuck and further out. There is less than a quarter turn of play/backlash in the cross slide and almost none in the compound slide. The seller has a nice Webb mill he's also "trying to sell" and stated that, if he does not sell it (he really doesn't want to) that he would assist me in making a new ring...which I thought was very nice but, ultimately, probably too late to help (tah tah). I gave him a deposit and he handed me a bill of sale. This coming weekend we will load it on my trailer and it will then be up to me to get it in to my shop ... in the basement ... down a flight of wooden steps. Boy howdy , I'm looking forward to that!!!! Think I'll be making room in the garage which is as street level, so I can stage it there and disassemble as much as possible before transferring down to the shop. Anyone know of a reputable anti-grav supplier? :)

Once again, thanks to everyone for their responses. I hope my gut feeling is correct because, if it is, I'll be one happy camper once I resolve the fairly minor issues with this lathe. Then I'll have to fight between my wish to get in and use it for a current project and my innate need to make my toys look and perform their best. Maybe I can convince myself to do the one project and then do the "restoration", including a top-to-bottom cleaning/alignment/repaint. Whataya think...purple with pink zebra stripes???

02-18-2013, 01:30 AM
Be really careful while moving it, 1100 pounds and they tip over easily.

02-18-2013, 04:11 AM
Planning on getting a hoist web from HF and using my engine hoist. Thanks for the warning...wouldn't want to injure myself...or the lathe :)