No announcement yet.

What to look for in buying used lathe

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • What to look for in buying used lathe

    I am sure this topic has been addressed, but not since I have been reading this board.

    What should a rookie look for when buying a used lathe? I'm not asking what lathe, but what are some things to consider about used lathes.

    For instance, if buying a used car it is wise to look at the front tires for unusual wear that may indicate an alignment problem.

    What are some things to look for, like that, in used lathes?


  • #2
    Well, straightness and smoothness of bed (no warp), little or no wear on bed such that carriage is sloppy, tightness of "feel" of carriage, cross slide, compound slide, and tailstock ram; no slop in headstock indicating bad bearings or, worse, worn headstock spindle; smooth running with no unusual gear noises; lead screw not bent; and no rust. If rust is present, it's the removeable surface kind. All engagements (half-nut, power cross slide, gear changers, etc.) should be smooth and positive. Some minor defects can be worked around and lived with, but they should be few and far between.


    • #3
      Go to site where if you scroll down the left side you will find some links to essays discussing the evaluation of used lathes and mills. These should help a
      good bit. Steve


      • #4

        Car buying and machine buying are similar but not quite. You KNOW the car is crap to begin with but at least some other sucker has taken the depreciation on its value.

        Quality machines are built like tanks and you pay for that. A quality used machine can still be producing as new accuracy fifty years after it was first used. Only now it is 1/30th. original cost. An excellent deal!
        Clean it up, take care of it, use it safely and enjoy. was a video tape on what to look for and what to avoid like the plague. Or ask a machinist friend to help you out.

        American, English, Canadian, German, Austrian, and Polish all have wonderful old iron to look for.

        Good Luck
        Dave Smith


        • #5
          See Dave Fricken's advice pages at
          Dave has an excellent reputation for fair dealing, by the way.

          Opps - I see sch has already referred you to Meridian Machinery, above.

          [This message has been edited by SGW (edited 09-25-2001).]
          Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
          Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
          Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
          There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
          Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
          Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie


          • #6

            Thank you for the pointers, especially to MerMac's site. They were most helpful.



            • #7
              A simple reminder for you that I have seen people overlook that sounds silly, is remember your power supply!!!
              Inverters and transformers can be costly and inefficient.


              • #8
                I'll add a couple of cents worth.

                Mermac site advice good. I would also take along a feeler gage and check the carriage wear, check and see if you can get a feeler gage under back right carriage wing, and the front left.

                Are all parts there.

                What does machine come with, the extras are sometimes worth more than the machine. Does it have a steady rest, one can be located sometimes or built, adapted, but a pain.

                Good luck


                • #9
                  The other guys covered the spread, but tooling is key after you check the lathe.
                  Collets and closers are exspensive. Number and types of chucks. Taper attachement. Centers, faceplates, stops, thread dials, and all gears. These can add up to a lot of money getting them separate. IF you can get most of this in a lathe purchase it will cost a little more up front, but a lot less over time.
                  Also look for important things like oil. If the lathe is dry, they might have ran it that way. Automotive shops are ussually hard on lathes. They think oil is only for cars, but they can be a great sorce for old, used machinery. Also look at part availability, Lathes like South Bend and Altlas have good cheap parts available at shows and Ebay. Others too, just used these names as examples. Good luck.