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  • 9 inch swing lathe

    I'm looking, to buy a 9 inch swing lathe , and was wanting to get opinions on what to buy. Old atlas lathes that are in good shape are rare, here in St Louis, so I was looking at the chinese alternatives.

  • #2
    The South Bend 9A's are good lathes if you can find one that has a bed in decent shape. There have been a few on E-bay lately. IMO they are better than the Atlas and smaller imports.

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    • #3
      I agree with quadrod. The parts for south bend and atlas are easier to come by as well.

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      • #4
        For a beginner, I would recommend a ChiCom 9x20 unless you find a simply superb Atlas for cheap. Pass on the worn battered Atlas as a first lathe. Guess which route I took

        If you can find a South Bend 9x that's immediately usable, that would be sweet and preferable to either ChiCom or Atlas.

        There generally nothing wrong with the ChiCom lathes. Sometimes, you just have to tweak them. I am having to rebuild a lot of my Atlas, so I can't see how a non-perfect ChiCom is any worse. There are also a lot of mods and hacks published on the webs for ChiComs. If you want a certain feature, someone has probably posted about it.

        Also acquiring a ChiCom now will allow you to search for a killer lathe in a leisurely fashion. The hunting is easier when you're not in a hurry.

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        • #5
          There have been quite a number of 9" and 10" lathes on Craigslist over the past few months.

          The one problem with buying a chinese "starter lathe", is that the chinese do such a horrible job of making them. The small machines usually have far fewer useful features than ones in the 12" and above classs.

          They usually have insanely high slowest speeds, speeds more typical of a "second operation lathe", or "polishing lathe", as high as 150 rpm MINIMUM, or even more.

          Some don't have complete half nuts, so it is always a case of winding back to the start of a thread to make the next cut.

          Many, like the "9 x 20" type, are really a decent 5" lathe "put on stilts" to make it a 9". The result is to make it very shaky and chattery compared to a "real" lathe.

          In many cases, you will pay MORE for it than for the machine you really want, and much of the tooling you may acquire will NOT transfer (some will), so that might be a dead loss. You can't sell the machine later for the price you paid, and you almost certainly won't recover more than 10% of your non-transferrable tooling cost.

          That all said, in St Louis, the prices asked for ordinary dime a dozen South bend machines can be astronomical. I have seen beat-on units listed for $1200 with essentially NO tooling, not even a chuck or steady, not even a motor, and often missing several change gears. That is insane for a change-gear machine, and high for any machine in the class, when not including any tooling.

          OTOH, other brands, such as Logan, go for much less. It is something about the S-B brand that seems to carry a false sense of extra-high quality and lasting value here.
          1601

          Keep eye on ball.
          Hashim Khan

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          • #6
            They usually have insanely high slowest speeds, ... as high as 150 rpm MINIMUM, or even more.
            My friend's ChiCom 9x20 is like that. I think his is around 150. I don't understand why this is.

            His also has an "ok" QCGB, but you still have to change gears for some common-enough Imperial threads. I don't understand why this is, either.

            I've enjoyed using it just the same.

            +1 on JTiers regarding looking for other options. Bear in mind, however, that some 12" lathes can be a LOT heavier than a 12" Atlas. You have to be able to get it into your shop, and the floor has to be able to support it. For example, my woodshop has a 5/8" oak floor on 16" centers. I don't think a 2000lb machine would do well there.

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            • #7
              Here is a real nice lathe that should fit your work.

              http://minneapolis.craigslist.org/bfs/1157143804.html

              - T

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              • #8
                You might wait and see what a new South Bend 9" lathe is like. As you might have heard, the owner of Grizzly has bought South Bend from LeBlond and is coming out with a new line of SB lathes. See http://www.southbendlathe.com/
                No idea of the time frame though.
                ----------
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                • #9
                  This has been covered before including just a couple of days ago but if you do decide to go with a Chinese 9x20 they are all pretty much the same. I paid a premium price to buy the Jet 9x20 thinking I was getting better quality, NOT SO! After using a Harbor Freight version of the same machine and having the chance to compare them "hands on" I found there is ZERO difference in quality. This seems to be the case whether it is HF, Enco, Grizzly or any other brand of the same machine. If you go this route just get the HF version and you will save about $500 or even more if you catch them on sale which is quite often.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SGW
                    You might wait and see what a new South Bend 9" lathe is like. As you might have heard, the owner of Grizzly has bought South Bend from LeBlond and is coming out with a new line of SB lathes. See http://www.southbendlathe.com/
                    No idea of the time frame though.

                    Yep - I'm hoping one of the members here will buy one of these new SB's and tell us how they are ...

                    TaMartin - I'm often in the St. Louis area and I see quite a few lathes pop up on Craigslist. Most people will tell you to buy a lathe that is about twice as big as what you think you will need, and I agree! In that spirit, you could probably find a 12"-16" for about the cost of a new 9 by 20 in the St. Louis area. I looked at a very nice old Reed and Prentice lathe, I think it was about a 14" swing, IIRC, and they wanted $850 for it. On the down side, these larger lathes not only take up more room, but they weigh a lot! You'll want some buddies plus a hoist and/or some pipe or, better yet, a forklift to move them around.


                    Here ya go, a small starter lathe:
                    http://stlouis.craigslist.org/tls/1139501537.html

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                    • #11
                      tamartin, 9x20 lathes are good but need alot of modifications when you first get them. Look at some of the the 9x20 sites (Steve Bedair's is a good one)and you will see what I mean. 9x20s are any where from $700 and up depending on the brand. If it were me, I would get the Lathemaster's 9x30. http://www.lathemaster.com/LATHEMASTER9x30Lathe.htm
                      It is about $1200 but a very much better lathe and far better built. Just my 2C. good luck. DavidH
                      DH

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                      • #12
                        Not sure what your budget will allow, but for about $1050 you can get one of these. Free shipping as well!

                        These machines are a substantial improvement over the typical 9x20 lathes.
                        Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
                        Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Willy
                          Not sure what your budget will allow, but for about $1050 you can get one of these. Free shipping as well!

                          These machines are a substantial improvement over the typical 9x20 lathes.

                          I got a chance to check out one of those lathes and I will agree wholeheartedly with you about the improvement over the 9x20s.

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                          • #14
                            Find an Emco V10 or V10P... These sell for $1200 to $2k... tooled... I just sold one for $1500, complete with Mill... I still own one.. and love it.
                            Last edited by lakeside53; 05-08-2009, 10:33 PM.

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                            • #15
                              9x 30 lathemaster or mint 618 atlas lathe

                              I am looking for opinions on weather to purchase a nice atlas 618 or a 9 x 30 lathe master lathe, lets here your comments...

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