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  • Advice needed for new older lathe purchase

    Bought a LittleMachineShop Hi Torque lathe a few months back and I've had a lot of fun with it and the LMS web site has given me lot's of support to help me re-fresh the memory of my early days in high school machine shop.

    I'm ready to move up to something more precise and rigid. I'm still imtimidated by the large lathes and I'll never need the capacity of one, so I was thinking of an early Logan, Altlas or similar.

    School me on your early hobby lathes. What you like or don't like and what to look out for.

  • #2
    This Atlas/Craftsman lathe owner says
    1. Decide if you want to fix the lathe, or use the lathe
    2. AC lathes are light. This is not great for machining, but is great when you want to get the lathe down the steps.
    3. AC lathes won't hog off metal or cut super-precisely.
    4. AC lathes are very affordable
    5. Skip the Chicom 9x lathe, if you decide to buy new. The AC is better. I used to think otherwise.
    6. A new Chicom 12x lathe is $3000 with some tooling. Just sayin'
    7. AC lathes were made for about 50 years. That's a huge variation in wear. The older lathes are generally feature-poor and less rigid.

    If you use the AC lathe within its intended envelope, it's pretty good.

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    • #3
      I'm still imtimidated by the large lathes and I'll never need the capacity of one, so I was thinking of an early Logan, Altlas or similar.


      You may not need it now, but later............................................. .....

      South Bends are ubiquitous. just about everybody has had or has used one at one time or another. There are a ton of attachments and after market parts for them.
      WHen you're shopping around ask a lot of questions and if possible take somebody more knowledgeable with you to go over your prospective toy.



      Running a lathe is a long way from shoeing horses.
      have fun. Be safe.

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      • #4
        My first lathe was an Atlas 10". Whilst I enjoyed using it I was glad to see the back of it. Not very rigid at all nor powerful, and changing feed rates with the changegears was a pain.

        I vote get something newer with a gearbox.
        Peter - novice home machinist, modern motorcycle enthusiast.

        Denford Viceroy 280 Synchro (11 x 24)
        Herbert 0V adapted to R8 by 'Sir John'.
        Monarch 10EE 1942

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        • #5
          It seems to depend a lot on your location... here in the northeast, I've seen at least a half dozen 9" South Bends with gearbox and power cross feed setups for under $500 in the past year. As Rustybolt said, parts and accessories are easy to find making them ideal for the home shop.

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          • #6
            In my opinion witch probably doesn't mean much, but look at the lower speed of the lathe. A lot of the import lathes have a lowest speed of 70 or even 100 rpm. When threading to a shoulder with a coarse thread it gets scary fast, or when turning a largish diameter that rpm may be to high of surface feet per Minuit.
            Don't be afraid of a large lathe ( 14x40 may not be large to some but you get my drift ), respect it for it's size and power but don't be afraid. You can do small work in the large lathe but can't do large work in a small lathe.

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            • #7
              Ix-nay on the Atlas

              I've owned a 10-inch Atlas, 9" Logan, 9" South Bend, 10" Enco, 12" Enco.

              I'd recommend any but the Atlas, as has been covered. I do like the 618s, but that's not what you are looking at.

              Right now I have the SB, and I understand why people are so fond of them. They are very well made, and they have lube points in every conceivable place. They exude vintage precision. Probably the smoothest machine I have owned. Unless you get lucky, expect to pay a premium price. I think they are overpriced.

              I also like the Encos. Both mine were made in the 1980s in Taiwan, not ROC. They are both more substantial than the South bend, cost less on the used market. Both have hardened ways, are very rigid and accurate.
              The down side is parts are not available from enco, but it's not been a problem. Lathes make their own parts, and I've only needed a few.

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              • #8
                Since you're moving up from a mini lathe I don't think you would be unhappy with the performance of any of the machines you mentioned.

                My Dad has an Atlas 10" bench lathe that I have used quite a bit and although it isn't as rigid as a South bend or Logan, it performs very well and has done all I ask of it, including parting, which is troublesome on light machines. The best addition was the quick change tool post which is head over heels more rigid than the original lantern style. Besides being a little less rigid the only other downside to an Atlas is the Zimac gears and other parts. They are not as durable or strong as the cast iron parts in Logans and South Bends. Even so, given care and worked within it's limits the Atlas is a good performer. Using attachments with the Atlas is very easy. The compound is easily removed and the milling attachment just as easily replaced.

                My lathe is a Logan 10" on cast iron legs. 1943 vintage. It is quite rigid for a small lathe. I have no experience with South Bend and don't mean to disparage them in any way but I have read that Logans are slightly more rigid than similar SB models. Perhaps those who have experienced both machines can advise better on this point.

                As with the Atlas, the QC tool post made a lot of difference in rigidity. Parting is no problem, even at normal turning speeds which is contrary to what South Bend's How to Run a Lathe book suggests.

                A couple of other pluses for the Logan lathe are that they tend to be less expensive since they don't carry South Bend's fame and Logan parts are still available new as is support from Logan Actuator.

                No doubt a South Bend would be a great choice as well. They are good machines.

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                • #9
                  Got a 10 in Logan for $500 a couple years ago. Kept my 9X20 older Jet cause it is so well tooled. The Logan can take .050 cuts easily, but when it comes to smaller things ,I prefer the Jet. I bought some Logan parts on e-bay, plenty available at reasonable prices. Bob.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Rex
                    The down side is parts are not available from enco, but it's not been a problem. Lathes make their own parts, and I've only needed a few.
                    Are you saying that Enco sells a product where there is no parts support?

                    Or do they not sell parts for the current year Enco that you have?

                    I'd prefer to buy early American macinery but I do like Enco for the price.

                    I'm not going to search the net for months/years to find the perfect American lathe that I want to use now. If I happen to stumble upon a smokin' deal later on, I'll grab it if I can.

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                    • #11
                      I have a 13x40 Imort but just bought a 6x18 Atlas/Craftsman. I love it. It has plenty of power, is precise, well tooled & only $150 on Craigslist. If possible get the Atlas or the last Craftsman model as they have bearings in the head not bushings. I was lucky & got one of these. If you want to upsize later I'm sure you'll keep it but if not look on Ebay & you can sell it & make money.Also Atlas/Clausing still supports these with parts. They are in Goshen In or Kalamazoo Mi. I had a back gear question & called. They not only took the time to explain a few things they also sent me a manual. Great little lathe.
                      Last edited by flylo; 11-19-2011, 08:20 PM.
                      "Let me recommend the best medicine in the
                      world: a long journey, at a mild season, through a pleasant
                      country, in easy stages."
                      ~ James Madison

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                      • #12
                        Asian equipment tends to be like Asian cars. Once theyre more than a decade or two old the parts support ceases to exist. Theyre considered expendable, not rebuildable like many of their domestic counterparts.

                        IMHO South Bends are nice for a light duty lathe, but tend to be overpriced. If you can get a 9a in decent shape with some basic tooling for <$700, youre not overpaying.

                        Logans can be good or bad. They made some very nice precision lathes. They also made some home grade benchtop crap that was sold in Montgomery Wards to rival the Atlas/Cman toys sold in Sears. I would avoid both and look for one of the Logan commercial lathes.

                        Personally I think its time you stepped up from a toy to a machine that you can do really nice work with. You dont need a Monarch 10EE or anything else super precision, but a decent precision Clausing, Logan, South Bend, or others in the 12-14" swing size. Many people claim to like a lighter or smaller lathe due to ease of moving or space limitations. Thats fine and dandy, but moving a 300 lb machine isnt really easier than moving a 1000 lb machine, nor is the space savings significant. I suspect if you buy a good quality machine your enjoyment of this hobby will only increase.
                        "I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer -- born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow."

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                        • #13
                          Farrier, where are you located?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Fasttrack
                            Farrier, where are you located?
                            Several days days drive from you,....Cen Cal.

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                            • #15
                              Farrier,it all depends on what your using the lathe for,small model stuff,small light duty will do.I work on and build sawmill machinery the bigger the better.Larger lathes are ment for real work and are made better,and most of the time the older ones are cheaper to buy than the cutesy home lathes.Frank C.

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