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  • New guy needs advice on buying first lathe.

    Hello All,
    I'm a new member but I've been lurking and learning for a while now. I got the hobby machining bug about a year ago while working at my other hobby. Pinball machine restoration is a love of mine and I've gotten extremely good at it over the last several years. One day I needed a basic, easily machined part and decided it was time to learn. I certainly don't get any cost savings by owning and learning everything I need to make a $1 part, but it sure is fun. I own a LMS X2 mill and I'm looking for a lathe to complement it now. At first I was going to buy a Grizzly 7x14 but now I'm second guessing that. Now I'm thinking a atlas 618, 10f or a SB 9C.
    First off I love the old tools. I love them but their old. Normally it's not an issue but with a lathe its different. I read and watched all the guides on buying a lathe and what to look for but if I miss something it could get expensive. I need something I can move easily with two people. 250ish lbs or less. I'd like to post the 4 lathes I'm looking at and hear what other had to say based on the ads. One ad has a video with it. In the video they make 3 cuts but only cut from left to right. Isn't most cutting done from right to left? Is that a red flag? I'd love to hear what you have to say.

    As you can see my budget is about $800
    Atlas 3950 Lathe $700
    http://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/tls/4888140417.html

    LATHE METAL, ATLAS QUICK CHANGE $850
    http://baltimore.craigslist.org/tls/4881530368.html

    Atlas Craftsman 618 6 inch lathe $650
    http://reading.craigslist.org/tls/4854708724.html
    (Video for atlas)
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bya...Ums/view?pli=1

    South Bend Model C lathe with tooling $800
    http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/d...862815896.html

    Any of these I should stay away from?

  • #2
    Bump to the top after being stuck in the moderation filter.
    George

    Comment


    • #3
      As much as I enjoyed learning on my Atlas 618, I found that I was happier with a Sherline, once I built an electronic threading accessory. I am planning on getting a Seig Mini Lathe from Little Machine Shop in a few months and putting the Atlas on the market. I will still keep my Sherline, though.
      Weston Bye - Author, The Mechatronist column, Digital Machinist magazine
      ~Practitioner of the Electromechanical Arts~

      Comment


      • #4
        Why would you rather have the seig that the atlas?

        Comment


        • #5
          Although the Atlas has more capacity between centers, I seldom use the capacity. The Atlas has always been a little "flexible", deflecting under cutting pressure to the point that I have never been successful using carbide tooling.

          I am expecting better performance from the Seig, and have vague ideas about a CNC conversion project - stay tuned.
          Weston Bye - Author, The Mechatronist column, Digital Machinist magazine
          ~Practitioner of the Electromechanical Arts~

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Pinresto View Post
            Hello All,
            I'm a new member but I've been lurking and learning for a while now. I got the hobby machining bug about a year ago while working at my other hobby. Pinball machine restoration is a love of mine and I've gotten extremely good at it over the last several years. One day I needed a basic, easily machined part and decided it was time to learn. I certainly don't get any cost savings by owning and learning everything I need to make a $1 part, but it sure is fun. I own a LMS X2 mill and I'm looking for a lathe to complement it now. At first I was going to buy a Grizzly 7x14 but now I'm second guessing that. Now I'm thinking a atlas 618, 10f or a SB 9C.
            First off I love the old tools. I love them but their old. Normally it's not an issue but with a lathe its different. I read and watched all the guides on buying a lathe and what to look for but if I miss something it could get expensive. I need something I can move easily with two people. 250ish lbs or less. I'd like to post the 4 lathes I'm looking at and hear what other had to say based on the ads. One ad has a video with it. In the video they make 3 cuts but only cut from left to right. Isn't most cutting done from right to left? Is that a red flag? I'd love to hear what you have to say.

            As you can see my budget is about $800
            Atlas 3950 Lathe $700
            http://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/tls/4888140417.html

            LATHE METAL, ATLAS QUICK CHANGE $850
            http://baltimore.craigslist.org/tls/4881530368.html

            Atlas Craftsman 618 6 inch lathe $650
            http://reading.craigslist.org/tls/4854708724.html
            (Video for atlas)
            https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bya...Ums/view?pli=1

            South Bend Model C lathe with tooling $800
            http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/d...862815896.html

            Any of these I should stay away from?
            My advice is go big. Anything a 6" lathe can do, a 10" can do better. A lot more tooling fits larger lathes also. Go 9-12" with a quick change box(for easy thread pitch changes). You don't know this yet but the accessories can cost more than the lathe so things like steady and follower rests, extra tooling, milling attachment, 4 jaw chuck and collets can cost $75-$200 each. All of these can easily equal the cost of the lathe itself. If you can get those with the lathe, it makes your decision easier.
            If the ways are worn, pass on the lathe. An example is where the saddle has worn deep grooves in the ways. Any old lathe will have wear. It is a matter of how much and how useable it is in that condition.

            In summary go for a large lightly used lathe with the most attachments.
            Also the 618 is a bottom of the barrel lathe, pass on that for sure no matter how new.

            Comment


            • #7
              Hi. My first lathe was a 12 X 36 Atlas with quick-change gearing. I had a lot of fun with it, but you do have to be very patient. I could never get more than a .020" depth of cut without chatter. Also, the carriage feed runs off the lead screw threads and the half-nuts are really soft, fast-wearing parts. My next and current lathe is a 13" Sheldon, bigger than you want, I know, but man when I need to I can cut .2" deep in good steel with no problem. Like a lot of hobby guys I often have to use whatever material I can get, so cutting large stock down to smaller is something I do often. From my end, I'd say go with the stiffest bed you can find in your size/price range. Of the lathes you listed, that would be the SB, although it is an old one and it doesn't have the QC gearbox. The quick change gearing is a huge time and frustration saver.

              How often do you plan on moving the lathe? If frequently, that's a problem in itself as far as keeping it straight is concerned. If infrequently, get a bigger, heavier machine and smile every time you use it!

              As for the reverse-cutting on the video, yeah, I'd make sure the reversing toggle works.
              Last edited by chipmaker4130; 02-19-2015, 09:16 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                i can't give as good advice as some here about different makes and models because i don't have any time with them all, but i can comment in general on features and accessories. if i wanted one hobby lathe to do whatever i wanted the very first thing on my list would be a quick change gear box. the second thing would be to get as many accessories as possible with the lathe because it will be cheaper to buy them bundled with the lathe than to get them afterwards. shoot for both 3 & 4 jaw chucks at the start. a collet system is good too. steady & follow rests may be handy depending on what you want to do. if not know that it will probably cost you $100-$150 each to buy them later.

                my first lathe was a south bend 9" model 'b' lathe that came with only a 3 jaw chuck. it eventually became a nusiance to have to change gears all the time for feeds and threads. even when i got past that, the lack of a 4-jaw, steady, and follow rests also limited my projects. sure, with a south bend 9, the sky is the limit because you can buy any accessories you want - at a price. i ended up buying another lathe eventually because it would have cost me nearly as much to change my 9b into a 9a and add the accessories i didn't have.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Well, Lol, here we go again about the good and the bad, All i'm going to tell you is that milling attachment shown for the Atlas lathe will sell for about $200-250.00 bucks, if you have a mill you won't need that.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Condition, condition, tooling, if all equal I'd go the QCGB & a 618 Atlas is not a bottom of the barrel lathe. Rickyb have you ever owned & used a 618 Atlas & if so which model or is this something you read?
                    "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

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      X2 Flylo, I didn't comment to that effect, as it just stirs up a hornets nest about hey, they can't cut an 1/8th off at a time in one pass. A 618 in decent condition is great small lathe, and anyone that says the opposite has not seen the fabulous work others have done with them. Not everyone is turning 50lb shafts.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Of those listed the Atlas 10F would be my choice. Quick Change Gearbox and larger capacity does it for me, condition being equal. My Dad has a 10F which I have used several times. It has always done the job when used within it's capacities. Some people speak poorly of the Atlas lathes, but for the average home user they work fine.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          for a turnkey lathe, I think you could do a lot worse than that Mk2 Atlas - lots of tooling, big enough to do what you're interested in - would complement the small benchtop mill you have. I think the others are all pretty decent choices and have their pluses and minuses.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The 3950 is probably the better deal with all the tooling but still a 6". I owned one & just didn't like it as well as the older 618 IMHO.
                            "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

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by flylo View Post
                              a 618 Atlas is not a bottom of the barrel lathe.
                              +1. Excellent for small parts. If I took a .2 inch cut on diameter, there'd be no part left.

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