I'm heading to an auction that has a craftsman lathe with a 12" swing and a 36" bed. Are these lathe any good? I'm a machinist and a toolmaker by profesion. I'm looking for something to put in my garage, so I don't have to run over to work everytime I want to do something. Concidering it's in decent shape, what is something like this worth?
Craftsman lathes, made by Atlas, usually sell for $700 to $1200, depending on condition and included accessories.
a recent eBay auction:
They are capable machines, a little lightweight and the bed can be twisted easily by sloppy mounting. A notch below a Logan or South Bend, but still more desirable than a low end Asian lathe.
I had a Craftsman lathe once. Paid $50.00 for it in the old days (70's). They are not made anywhere near as robust as a Logan or SB. I believe that the bed was semisteel and not CI. They can be bought rather cheaply. They were designed to be built down to a price and not up to a standard.
You need to look very closly at the lathe bed itself. Look where the carrage runs. Mine was well worn in that area. Looked like they never oiled it. Since this a flat bed lathe you can have the bed reground rather easily. I hauled mine into work and did it myself. The back gears were die cast. Bottom line: a pretty good lathe if you can get it real cheap, like under $300 when it hits $500+ I would hold out for a Logan or SB. Warning: don't let auction fever strike you silly!!! You will put just as much work into refurbising/reconditioning an Atlas and you will have a much better lathe if you hold out for Logan or SB.
www.lathes.co.uk has more kinds of information on all kinds of small HSM'ists lathes than any other site. Keep us all posted how you made out.
Good Luck, Ken
Nothing wrong with Atlas lathes. Beds are of semi steel cast iron, box construction. Gears of die cast, they called it Zamak, tensile strength 2X cast iron, impact strength 4X cast iron. It doesn't hold up under wet conditions too well, but C/I rusts.
Buying advice same for all lathes, look for wear in bed, lead screw, half nuts, these are most expensive to replace/repair, and have most direct effect on accuracy.
After you have the lathe, mount it on a good solid base, and level with precision level. Check level periodically.
I forgot to mention that lathes.co.uk has a very good article on buying small used lathes suitable for the HSM. Then you can go into their archives and read about the pluses and minises of each type. In some cases they actually make direct comparisons between the different makes. Highly recommended reading.
If you can get it for aqround 500--700 dollars, and it has not been abused too badly, GRAB IT!! Since you are already a machinist, you will know how to check it out and if you do buy it, work with and around its shortcomings. Good Luck!!
There's a 12x36 Craftsman precision lathe in my area,for sale at $1200.00. It has a 3&4 jaw chuck and quick change threading.On a cabinet stand,with a few extra tool holders. It wasn't wired up and I didn't see it run,but it would clean up and be a good starter lathe for someone.
The auction is this weekend, I'll let you know how it goes.
Well it had a 3 jaw chuck with only the outside jaws,a 4 jaw chuck, a steady rest and a couple of tool holders. The lathe was in great shape, but a couple of different people wanted it way worse then me. It sold for $1400.00. To much for my blood!
I'll bet it didn't cost that much when it was brand new in the crate? Wow!! Wonder how much my old Logan-built Powercraft is worth? And it has everything except a traveling steady!