Big shapers, little shapers
I've had my ear to the ground for a shaper for a few months. I think I'd prefer a little smaller one, but the big ones are cheap when you find them.
Today I met an ex-machinery dealer who just putters these days. In the warehouse next to his, the folks have a 16" shaper that he thinks they'd sell for $200 to get it out of the way. IIRC it's a Clark and it's in good condition other than the caked-on dirt. The machine is supposedly about as heavy as a Bridgeport. It has a variable speed pulley mechanism (hmm. that could be nice maybe) that extends off the back of the machine and I'm guessing that makes it probably six feet long or so, and about three wide. This takes a bigger chunk of floor space than I was originally considering, but if it comes in handy I would make the space.
So my question is: those of you who have shapers, how much do you like having one? What size is yours and do you wish yours was larger or smaller? I'm just trying to figure out whether I should pick this thing up or whether it would be in the way more than I'd like. It might be good for hogging out a lot of material cheaply. If so, I might use it more often than for the occasional gear, spline, dovetail or internal keyway and the large size might be handy. If I don't use it much I'll end up selling it later, which is a bit of hassle due to its weight. I don't mind waiting a while for an 8" to pop up if it's a better fit for my shop.
Yea I know... it depends on what you plan to do with it. I'm just looking for some testimonials from those of you with more shaper experience than I have. If you have any, you have more than I do.