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Thread: Anything wrong with Sheldon lathes?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    3,039

    Default Anything wrong with Sheldon lathes?

    I might (if it hasn't been sold yet) have a chance to pick up an 11" Sheldon lathe with D1-4 camlock spindle. I haven't seen it yet, so I don't know which model, exactly, or what drives, etc. but I'm told it's in fine shape and well tooled (taper attachment, toolpost grinder, QC post and blocks, collets and lever closer, centers, chucks, faceplates, etc.)

    Anything I should look for specifically to Sheldons? How beefy are they compared to my 11" Logan? How easy is it to get parts?

    Doc.
    Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Palmer Alaska
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    748

    Default Sheldons..

    My High School had a fleet of around 10 of them. (almost 30 years ago....)

    http://www.lathes.co.uk/sheldon/index.html Like the lower picture (had large spindle hole and threaded spindle...)

    They were in use daily, and were at least 20 years old then.

    I really liked the 5C collets and taper attachment.

    Talking to the Shop teacher, his only problem with them was when a student crashed the carriage into headstock or tailstock while in feed mode, something broke in the apron instead of shearing a pin.

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sheldonlathe/ for parts info

    If under power be sure to check feed functions in both directions and crossfeed.

    At the time I thought they were a fine lathe, and would recommend one..
    Not a Monarch or LeBlond, but a good solid medium built lathe...

    If you don't want it, my neighbor sure does..(tired of his Atlas )
    He would be there pretty quick..... Not lathe country up here as you know...
    Last edited by Bguns; 02-01-2008 at 06:29 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Toledo, Ohio
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    9,069

    Default

    The late model 11" & 13" Sheldons were both built on the same heavy bed, with the same headstock. The 13" was made 1" higher, so the 11" lathe is a good, heavy machine. The 11" pedestal lathe weighs just shy of 1500#, the cabinet base about 100# less.

    Both lathes share a 60 pitch gearbox that cuts from 4 to 240 TPI, ground & scraped ways and a heavy duty underneath drive that provides 8 or 16 speeds depending on model. They usually had a 1 or 1-1/2HP industrial motor. The spindle drive is by double B belts. They are good machines and a cut above Logan and Southbend lathes in similar sizes.

    I doubt anything breaks in the apron in a heavy jam. There are two phenolic gears in the gear train that will shed teeth in event of a serious jam, I know this. Many manufacturers use this same method of protection. The leadscrew has a taper pin in the drive that can be undercut as a shear pin if this is of concern.

    Sheldon has been out of business for quite a while, there are some parts remaining, the Yahoo group should prove helpful. However, parts should not be an issue. If the lathe is as described, and not abused, there should be little need for anything.

    As described, with the tooling included, you will have a hard time finding a better lathe in this size range.

    I have a 13" ex high school Sheldon with a 56" bed. It has given me excellent service for ten years, and I see no reason that it will not last a generation or two more.
    Jim H.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Missouri
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    Default

    Yep there is one major failing with Sheldon lathes. I consider it a major defect.....
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    The problem is that I don't have one..........

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Palmer Alaska
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    748

    Default Phenolic gear sounds right

    It was 30 years ago
    Just looked at one of my 2 aprons I have laying around waiting for a lathe to put them on.. , and all steel gears in there...
    So Fuse gears would have been upstream ...

    Apron is a strong double wall no nonsense design..

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Colton, Washington, USA
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    655

    Default

    I have two Sheldons, a 10' and a 13". Both are excellent lathes.

    The only complaint I have is with the 13" which is the older one and dates back to the '40s or '50s: The cross-feed and compound dials are very small; it is very difficult to split a thou, but I do it routinely.

    If you have a chance to buy a well-cared for Sheldon, go for it!

    There can be hidden defects in the best of looking lathes, however. My 10" had been run in back gear without adequate lube between the belt pulley and spindle. The spindle was badly scored. When run in direct drive the pulley would pivot on the direct-drive locking pin, causing two distinct knocking noises with every revolution.

    I know of at least one other person who found a similar problem in a Sheldon. As for mine, I had to grind the scoring off the spindle, then bore and sleeve the pulley. It was an inexpensive but time-consuming repair job.

    Be sure to check the spindle for runout. If the lathe you are looking at has tapered roller spindle bearings, it should have barely detectable runout as checked on the Morse taper. If you see anything more than a ten-thousandth, you may need to replace the bearings.

    My 10" had three tenths runout and I had to replace the bearings at a cost of over $400. As it turns out, in a previous lifetime someone must of gotten tired of filling the oil reservoirs and packed the bearings with grease. Big mistake.

    My main frustration with that repair was trying to get the bearing dealer to understand that off-the-shelf run-of-the-mill bearings would not work. The dealer didn't know that there are different classes of precision, even though the bearings carried the same part number. He didn't know that the precision class is etched on the edge of the race.

    I like my Sheldons.

    Orrin
    So many projects. So little time.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Ashland City, TN
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    2,295

    Default

    Shelsons were good enough for several Gunsmiths I have known and they are pretty picky when it comes to picking their lathes.

  8. #8
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    Mar 2003
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    Thanks, guys.

    I'll be trying to call on it in the morning (owner's away during the week) and hopefully, if it's not gone already (which, sadly, it probably is, my info is two weeks old) I'll go and have a look.

    I already have an 11" Logan, and just from the spec sheets, the only real improvement I could see was the D1-4 spindle. Other than that, it was about the same swing, same bedlength, same thru-hole, etc.

    But it sounds like the Sheldon is a bit beefier, and if it's available, I'll get it. And if so, I'll leave the collet system on the Logan, and use the Sheldon for anything else.

    Doc.
    Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Missouri
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    If it is anything like the other Sheldons I have seen, it is more than a "bit" beefier.

    The Sheldons normally make a Logan look like a toy.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Phoenix, AZ
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    Default

    To my (limited) knowledge, of the semi-mainstream home shop sized cabinet/pedestal lathe selection, Sheldon is THE heaviest (and possibly best built) of the lot. So far as I know, it's the only lathe in that class of machine that is heavier/wider/beefier than the Rockwell. Seem that maybe the Rockwell is a bit simpler, but not by a lot. And the Sheldon has a much beefier/better cross slide with better finished ways. However, the best (I think) is the 13". The 10" is a bit too limited to me, but that depends on your goals. If it's in decent, has basic tooling such as steadies and such, and can be bought for a reasonable price, I think it's very unlikely you'll do any better in a similar sized Engine Lathe.

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