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View Full Version : Buying a used Lathe



musselmark
03-15-2017, 01:07 PM
I have been looking for a lathe for a while now and recently found 2 for sale locally. One is a 13" X 60" Southbend $2400.00 Cnd owner said it has some play in handwheels but works excellent and the other is a King 1440G $2750.00 Cndapprox. 15 years old , owner says it mostly sat in his home garage and acted like a shelf, not much use at all and in near new condition, no rust, looks similar to a Birmingham 1440 . Of these 2 which would you buy and why? Thanks for any opinions. Used lathes are not easy to find around here (east coast of canada) and shipping/exchange rates make it too expensive to buy from the US.

I guess I dont have permission to post the pics of each here.

pinstripe
03-15-2017, 01:21 PM
Hi! There is a sticky that shows you how to post pictures http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/threads/62262-Posting-Photos

mattthemuppet
03-15-2017, 02:02 PM
key question is how much tooling does each one come with? Somethings (steadies, micrometer stops) are hard to find and very expensive, other stuff (chucks, tool posts) are easy to find and expensive. You can easily spend 50% or more of what those lathes are going for on basic tooling.

all things being equal on the tooling front, then it comes down to wear. I really wouldn't go by any seller saying "it never got used guv, honest!". Check out all the gears as best as you can, especially the back gears, make sure they don't have any missing teeth. Make sure that all the power feeds and threading half nuts engage properly. Slop in the handles could mean they need a little adjustment or it could mean a gear that is almost worn out. Lastly look for a wear ridge and dings to the ways near the headstock - the SB is more likely to have this as it's probably a lot older. Of all the criteria, this is most likely the least important.

If you can, run them through the speeds and make sure there aren't any suspicious sounds (rumbling, banging, screeching etc).

I'd personally lean towards the King if you can move it and fit it in your space. More modern, more mass and more capable. Not that the SB isn't capable, but they're not quite in the same class.

dave_r
03-15-2017, 02:28 PM
Yeah, I would check for lathe parts like:

3 jaw chuck
4 jaw chuck
face-plate "chuck" (I always forget the right name for this, namely you bolt odd-shaped parts to it)
steady rest
change gears (lathe probably does threading, but to use all the different thread pitches, you may need to swap some gears. my lathe has some plaques on it with tables of which gears to use and which settings on the machine to use to get a specify thread)

If it can power on, I would check that the power feed and threading levers both work (but don't try to engage them at the same time).

ask about any paper on it, like manuals, install/setup instructions.

dian
03-15-2017, 02:31 PM
a good chuck that is not bellmouthed is important as is a faceplate. good ones new are money. check if the spindle taper has runout and the spindle is maybe bent. you can put a mike on the middle portion of the spindle between the gears somewhere.

J Tiers
03-15-2017, 02:47 PM
You must be in a "machinery desert", because those would be very high prices here.

Birmingham manual site , if it is any help

http://birminghammachine.com/esco/manuals.php

The Birmingham gets varying reviews, but if in new condition that might count for something despite the even higher price.

BCRider
03-15-2017, 03:25 PM
You must be in a "machinery desert", because those would be very high prices here.
.......

Canada IS a machinery desert. A few of us Canuckistanians have repeatedly voiced that fact. Even around the Great Lakes region north of America's machinery "land of milk and honey" it was far from great. The prices he's quoting would see such machines snapped up in short order out here on the West Coast as well. And at any given time only a handful of machines will show up over the course of a year.

The older King brand lathes were mostly produced in Taiwan which SHOULD make them a good choice. But 15 years is sort of on the cusp for a possible shift to mainland Chinese production. Still, King is USUALLY a step or three better than some options. And none of the 14" models in any line were options to be sneezed at anyway. Most of the Chiconium poor design and poorly made models tended to be in the smaller sizes.

A large South Bend of that sort COULD be a nice machine. But only if it comes with a quick change gear box. And only if the beds and other bits are in good shape. It's a LOT older so the chances are it was well used. That in itself is not a bad thing if it was used with respect and cleaned and maintained well. But if you are not in a position to see it in person or do not know what to look for and how to quickly measure for wear with a few simple checks I'd suggest that the King would be a far better option. Not being hooked to power isn't even a big deal for me. If I'm able to check for broken gears visually and run a few dial indicator and mag base tests I would be able to tell quickly if I should buy or walk. Seeing the motor and machine turning is fairly far down on my own list of things to check on an old lathe.

For example a lot of play in the wheels could easily indicate badly worn bed gear rack and pinion on the apron. Or a lot of play in the cross slide could indicate a badly worn nut on the lead screw. Or it may be simply that the stop collar on the lead screw came loose and slipped. All this and more can be seen with some checking with a flashlight and inspection mirror and a sense of how such things are put together.

But if you don't have that knowledge of what to look for I'd say the King is a much safer bet.

Accessories do count for a lot. But half a truck load of accessories is a poor substitute for a worn bed and carriage dovetails. You want to first and foremost confirm that the core machine is in good condition.

Danl
03-15-2017, 03:46 PM
But if you don't have that knowledge of what to look for I'd say the King is a much safer bet.

Accessories do count for a lot. But half a truck load of accessories is a poor substitute for a worn bed and carriage dovetails. You want to first and foremost confirm that the core machine is in good condition.

I agree with BC. The spindle hole on the King is likely twice the size of that 50 or 60 year old SB.

Dan L

BCRider
03-15-2017, 03:55 PM
I agree with BC. The spindle hole on the King is likely twice the size of that 50 or 60 year old SB.

Dan L

And there's that too. Not only does the spindle hole size make the machine far more flexible in what it can hold but I strongly feel that the increase in size of the diameter of the spindle around the bigger hole also produces a stiffer spindle which resists chatter to a far higher degree.

It also raises the issue of what the older SB has for head stock bearings. I recall that my father's old SB that would be on par for size had plain bearings that he occasionally had to scrape and shave to tighten the head stock up at least one time that I recall.

Mcgyver
03-15-2017, 04:25 PM
Even around the Great Lakes region north of America's machinery "land of milk and honey" it was far from great. .

my 14 or so lathes would disagree with that remark :).

As for price, its never an exact thing, every machine is different; wear and tooling - without inspecting and a detailed list of tooling and its hard to make a meaningful comments on which is best. If its a quality machine, and if properly marketed it will always bring top dollar wherever you are - but both have be true to their full meaning. And then there's always some idgit too lazy to investigate who lists it for 1/4 of what he could sell if for....so the market can seem behave erratically. I sold a lathe few months ago for X, and saw one go for 0.5X last week with very similar tooling ....doesn't mean the market went down by 50%, just that that vendor was clueless or was desperate for a fast sale.

I'm not flippant with money, but if find the one you like and its in good shape with all the bits and pieces, who cares that some guy in the internet says he can get it for less. You could waste years worrying about a few hundred dollars....while not pursuing your interest. what counts is whether its right for you.....and nothing is forever; if you're wrong you're not stuck with it for eternity.

J Tiers
03-15-2017, 05:33 PM
A look at the Birmingham/King manuals suggests you may want to be careful.

SOME of the "1440" machines have a pretty decent QC gear box for threading. You only need to open up the gear cover to go outside the usual range, for very coarse (4 to 8 tpi or metric equivalent) or very fine threads.

OTHERS are half change-gear, where a group of 7 or 8 different threads is possible with a given set of gears, but to move outside of that group, you must open up the gear cover and substitute other gears, just like any change-gear machine.

I think any SB of the size you are looking at will have a standard "no excuses" QC gearbox for threading and feeds.

Just another thing to look at and verify when considering a machine.

BCRider
03-15-2017, 05:44 PM
....OTHERS are half change-gear, where a group of threads is possible with a given set of gears, but to move outside of that group, you must open up the gear cover and substitute other gears, just like any change-gear machine........

I've noticed that this is quite common on the more recent machines in the smaller to mid size range. Like over the last decade or so. A rather nasty feature that once I figured out what it entailed I decided was a rather loathsome development.

Does that jive with the sort of time period the rest of you have seen on this?

MacGuyver, I was up in Ottawa. The tool stores I hit up at the time were more focused on wood working tools and had few machine tools. For a giggle I checked the popular advertising paper at the time for machine tools now and then and there were never a lot being advertised. But to be honest I was more into the wood working at the time with only a "future" interest in the metal side of things.

pinstripe
03-15-2017, 05:56 PM
... who cares that some guy in the internet says he can get it for less. You could waste years worrying about a few hundred dollars....while not pursuing your interest.

Exactly. Those screaming deals aren't repeatable. Some areas have better deals than others, but the truly great deals for your location won't come around too often. I posted here recently about the $600 - $900 drill bit I bought for $30. If I needed another one of those, do you think I would wait around for another $30 one?

J Tiers
03-15-2017, 06:11 PM
I've noticed that this is quite common on the more recent machines in the smaller to mid size range. Like over the last decade or so. A rather nasty feature that once I figured out what it entailed I decided was a rather loathsome development.

Does that jive with the sort of time period the rest of you have seen on this?
...

The 1440 versions that had this on the Birmingham?king units are not as bad as some. They seemed to do, say, 16 to 28 tpi with one set of gears. While not great, it at least gives you a chance that the next thread you want might be in the same range. This is the way older machines from as much as 10 to 15 years ago might be set up.

The NEW type really NASTY versions are the cheaper-still type where you can get, say, 13 tpi, 26 tpi, and 52 tpi with a given set of gears, but to get 18 tpi, you need to change gears again. If you set up for 18 tpi you can select between that really useful range of 18, 36, or 72 tpi.... :rolleyes:

With that new version, there is virtually NO chance that you will be already set up for the next thread you want. You are nearly guaranteed that you will have to get dirty and change gears again.

basically, with the old style, you get the "B" selector lever, the one that covers maybe 8 threads in a range. Only if you need to go to another range do you change gears, your gear change does the "A' lever job. You get to select among all the threads in the "row". I know that I do most threading on the range of 16 to 28 tpi, with a few 9 or 13 tpi. Having a full "row" worth of range available would be reasonably acceptable

With the new style, you get only the "A" selector lever, so you get to select between the rows, but only one possible thread from each row. You can select only within a column, to select a thread in the row, you change gears. You will do that a good deal more, most likely.

flylo
03-15-2017, 06:36 PM
You need to post where you are & pics of the machines as we can only guess at what they come with, which models, what condition, etc. If we know where you're located we may be able to help find better machines or deals for you.

J Tiers
03-15-2017, 07:59 PM
You need to post where you are & pics of the machines as we can only guess at what they come with, which models, what condition, etc. If we know where you're located we may be able to help find better machines or deals for you.

He is in Canada on the East coast. Pics would of course be very good, but beggars cannot be choosers. Possibly he can;t get them.

East coast may not be wonderful for machines, but it is a fishing area, so perhaps there is more machinery than it seems. Ships, boats, and machine shops go together. Since there are two 13" class machines , and one is a fairly long machine, at 60", that suggests something different than lots of 7 x 12 and SB 9" might.

Mcgyver
03-16-2017, 06:58 AM
MacGuyver, I was up in Ottawa. .

that explains it, Ottawa. Of course there's no tools there, there's only three useful people in the region and they hang out here. :).

The GTA, as the 2nd largest industrial market in NA (very slightly behind Chicago) has proven fertile ground. This too diminishes over time though... for the most part the types of used machines we want haven't been made in decades.

David Powell
03-16-2017, 04:41 PM
that explains it, Ottawa. Of course there's no tools there, there's only three useful people in the region and they hang out here. :).

The GTA, as the 2nd largest industrial market in NA (very slightly behind Chicago) has proven fertile ground. This too diminishes over time though... for the most part the types of used machines we want haven't been made in decades.

I recently bought a Myford ML 10. Intending to put it in the cottage, to replace my Sears machine. However , I have now added it to my new shop here. I paid $1000 for a machine which has virtually no wear, the backgears had never been engaged, the bed has just a couple of minor marks, presumably from someone dropping workpieces or the chuck key, the tailstock was off a bit to one side and the Drummond style toolholder ,obviously a home made item had a stripped thread. The drive belts look like new, the 3 jaw had a tiny rust mark removed in seconds with a worn piece of emery. The change gears were set up for the finest feed possible, the rest unused. The worst point is that the paint on the belt guards is flaking, that on the machine is pristine. It is a simple machine, perhaps not as convenient to use as a more modern Asian made job, but the obvious high quality means I will smile every time I use it. I can now put my tailstock turret on to my SouthBend 9" to do repetition work. Regards David Powell