Tool snobs rant...
Some of them are arrogant, some are ignorant, some are both. Every time someone asks a question about a possible lathe purchase, one of them gives the knee jerk answer of "buy old American iron", or "the bigger the better" with no caveats of any kind. Honestly I think some them would have everyone own an old 12"+ atlas, or south bend, with every accessory known to man.
Lets now examine some concepts that need to be considered when dealing with the newbies.
Bigger is not always better... It the newbie is never going to make anything larger than remote control car parts, he doesn't need a 14x40. What he needs is something small, what will let him get in close to examine the work.
If all the guys is ever going to make, is lawnmower parts, he doesn't need a 10ee, or a Hardinge. What he needs is a run of the mill lathe that will hold a tolerance of .003" (could be off, i don't make lawnmower parts) or better.
If the newbie is never going to make stuff larger than 2 inches in diameter or out of anything harder than 4140, he doesn't need a beast driving up his electric bill. Let's not even get into high voltage or 3 phase.
Again, if he is never going to make anything larger than 2" in diameter, he doesn't need an old beast that's wheezing like a geezer just to crack 1k rpms. What he needs, is a machine that can hit 2k rpm or higher, and maintain it without having a bearing failure.
The snobs really drop the ball when it comes to accessories. I mean honestly, how often do you see an old chunk of American iron for sale that comes with everything included. This is an entire topic by it's self, and come to think of it we should have a sticky about it.
Thus for you tool snobs, if you can't offer sound advice to the newbies don't say anything at all.
I feel better now that i have that off my chest.....