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Are Most Used Lathes Going to Have A Fair Amount Of Wear?

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  • Are Most Used Lathes Going to Have A Fair Amount Of Wear?

    I'm a newbee looking to buy my first lathe. A recent post on this board helped me sort out the question of buying a inexpensive new import or a used USA lathe.

    My question is whether it is reasonable to expect a used lathe to have some wear? And, how much wear is acceptable or OK. I'm asking because I found a used 14"x32" monarch for $1,500. I haven't seen it yet but the owner (he's a machinery dealer I bought my mill from) says it has some wear in the carriage and bed but should hold to .001 or .002.

    Should I consider this lathe or run the other way?




  • #2
    .002" over what distance? On the face of it, that seems excessive. See the lathe inspection tips at

    A Monarch is a fine lathe and basically rebuildable forever...if you want to put the money into it. But, worn and not rebuilt, it's a boat anchor, just like anything else that's worn out. $1500 seems on the low side for a good Monarch...but who knows. It's also pretty big for a home shop. Great if you have the space though!
    Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
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    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


    • #3
      I believe that it depends on the the type of work that you intend to perform on the lathe. If it is an old lathe chances are that the fastest speed that it will turn will be in the 500 to 600 rpm range. Might be a bit awkward for small diameter turning.

      BUT......., my first large lathe was a 1920s 16" Lodge and Shipley. The ways were so worn that I had to drop the rack inorder to permit the carriage gear to consistently engage the rack. The spindle had 0.008" play in its bronze bushings, but it was so heavy it just settled down in it bearings and happily turned out work for me for years before I thought of checking it's fit. Boy, was I surprised. Its highest rpm was about 500 I believe.

      I paid $500 for it and I made a ton of money on it. Everything from microscope adapters to rusty cargo winch drums were turned on that old timer.

      Sold it for $350 and I wish I still had it. If it had been a Monarch I know I would still own it. Any Monarch lathe is a pleasure to run.

      If you can get a journeyman machinist to appraise the lathe it would be a good idea. Try to find some old greybeard to check it out, a young whippersnapper might turn his nose up at the old


      • #4
        Almost overlooked this. Does the lathe have chucks, steady rest. What are you getting for $1500? Keep in mind that sometimes these older tools have just been taking up space in the dealer's showroom. Not too many people have the room for large machines. And don't take his first offer, hem and haw, kick the dirt a little and ask what he is tossing in the pot for the $1500.

        Good luck.


        • #5
          Good advice.

          I would add that if the machine is otherwise in good condition it would be an excellent canidate for rebuilding. Solid machine.

          To be honest a cheap import might not be able to hold that tolerance either...


          • #6
            Here's what I know about the lathe at this point:

            I believe the lathe will hold to .001 or .002 out to about 12" from the chuck.

            It comes with a 10" 3 jaw chuck and the price probably includes delivery to my drive-in basement shop.

            The sellers comments did suggest the highest speed was under 1,000 rpm.

            I'm still debating whether it's worth looking at.

            Thanks for your comments.


            • #7
              When you read the inspection advice, also read "in praise of klunkers".

              Yes every used lathe will have wear. It was "used" after all.

              A new one from the Chicom folks may have a problem that is just as bad, but probably will be fine.

              The 14 x 30 size is bigger than the high priced hobby sizes, but will be a pain to move comparaatively.

              I think you might do better another way. The fact that it is a machinery dealer may make price 1.5 to 2 x the private sale price, and nearly always means no or very little tooling (which they sold separately, because they could move it, and are in business).

              You often are lucky to get a chuck and a steady, some folks will sell the collet setup with the machine if it had one.

              At a private sale, the norm is to get a couple chucks, some form of toolpost, steady, faceplate, tailstock tooling, cutters, and maybe much more, depending.

              For an older machine, locating that stuff is often tough and expensive. If you start by paying more you end up at double the price, i.e. in your case, you pay enough for a lathe and another mill, but only get the lathe.

              Plus, a 9" or 10" is often the best size for a hobby shop, unless you have special needs. Within limits tho bigger can be better, but often only once in a while.

              Where are you located?

              [This message has been edited by Oso (edited 09-07-2003).]


              • #8
                Thanks Oso. I'm located in Upstate New York.



                • #9
                  Keep in mind that all new machine tools are built with "used" machines.
                  Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


                  • #10
                    Unless you are only interested in small hobby type of work I would not pass up this lathe for a small 9 or 10 inch model. It will do everything that a little machine will do and do it with more accuracy and in a fraction of the time that it takes to scratch out those little picayune cuts that the little machine will force you to use. Having a machine that saves you hours of valued time is a godsend unless you are retired and have all day in which to scratch away at a job.

                    I have a 9" Logan right next to a 14" Le Blond that is 2600# heavier. Accuracy and mass go hand in hand together. The big lathe will repeat with amazing ease and accuracy. The Logan will repeat but only on little tiny stuff that has not put any strain on the screws.

                    If you are really interested in the lathe then try to get a good price on a 4 jaw chuck. Any 4 jaw from an 8" to a 12" would be essential to have on something as strong as a 14" Monarch. It would be a miracle to receive a used 3-jaw chuck that would hold work closer than 0.005" true.



                    • #11
                      Ok, so a 3/16 d.o.c. x 0.020 feed cut you think is a little picayune cut to be scratched out.......

                      Some of us don't. Don't bother to be an industrial snob.

                      While you are "scratching out" a 500 rpm cut on an 0.093 shaft, the rest of us will be going along at 1400rpm or better and gettin it done.


                      • #12
                        Oso: Good point about the smaller diameters. I do a lot of small stuff and fortunately have access to 2800rpm. If I were doing heavy shafting or other parts I would certainly want to be able to peel it off quicker.

                        It all gets down to what your main use is going to be.

                        The "bigger lathe can always do smaller work" is oversold sometimes (IMHO) but valid to a point. If you're never going to turn brake rotors or rollers for mills, you may want to think twice about too big.

                        The big job, if it ever comes, can be carried across town to that guy with the 18" swing



                        • #13

                          Sorry, did not intend to touch a nerve. Just trying to be as practical as possible.



                          • #14
                            Not a problem, but the issue of small work is a real issue. I do 25 things under 1 inch for every one over 3".

                            A slow machine would be a pain at real small diameters, no matter how handy it is at large ones.

                            I tossed in the .187 cut just because you can do it with a small machine. Just not with a negative rake carbide bit or in the same way as on a big machine.

                            And not on hard/tough material.

                            If you need to do that more often, the big machine wins every time. I wouldn't want a little one for heavy production.

                            If you don't need it much, the big machine may end up as a limit in a worse way than the little one does.

                            BTW, BECAUSE little machines are not as good for general production, they are often available in better shape than big ones which have spent their lives chewing on cast iron.


                            • #15
                              If you like the Monarch, and it meets yours needs, go ahead and get it. It weighs about 3500-4000 lbs, based upon my 12" CK. When I got my 16"CY years ago, I called Monarch about the RPM problem, it had 487 and I wanted about 1200, they gave me the motor sheave size and belt lengths and said the machine could handle it. I did up the HP from 5 to 7-1/2.
                              I have owned Atlas's, South Bends, Sheldons, Harrison's, and Monarchs. I have to give the ease of use to the Monarchs, followed closly by the Harrison. One piece of advise; small work and big chucks it gets dicey, I would recommend a collet chuck for those situations.