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Bought my first metal lathe - refurb or part out?

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  • Bought my first metal lathe - refurb or part out?

    Hello, all. I recently purchased an 11" x 24" Logan 955 from the local school district. It is a cabinet model with 1/2 hp 3ph underdrive and quick change gears. Tooling is minimal, with a 3-jaw, drill chuck, and standard tool post. All 810 lbs. of it is in my basement, although in pieces. I bought the operators instructions and parts list from Scott Logan and have been reading the posts on the Yahoo Logan discussion group. I'm an accomplished woodworker, but I'm taking the plunge into metalworking. I need some advice.

    My main questions is: If I buy a new (used) bed for this lathe, what are the issues with mounting the old headstock, tailstock, and carraige? Will they align properly?

    What follows is me asking some rambling questions, but hey, this newfound hobby looks pretty cool and I've got issues that need addressed.

    This is a hobby. No need to make money so there is no hurry. Fixing up the lathe is a hobby I look forward to. Doing it without spending tons of money foolishly makes it more fun. I've got a good start - only paid $31.25 for the lathe. Here's what I've found. The change gear, bull gear, reverse gear, and back gear assembly all have at least one missing tooth. A headstock hinge bracket is missing, as is the shifter rack, threading dial, and the "lock" (not sure what that's for). I figure I'll eventually find replacements on Ebay (I was just outbid on a nice looking bed). I can tell some of the gears are a bit worn because the ends of the teeth are nicely shaped with crisp edges but the middles are rounded a bit. But they don't look "scalloped", if that is an issue. The bed is pretty beat up right by the chuck with lots of nicks and dents. The rest of the bed has only a haze of rust on it. The whole machine is only moderately grungy. It should clean up fine. I think the machine is from the 1940's, and the ways are not hardened. The motor is not an issue. It looks like a motor swap would be pretty easy. I'll also look into a VFD.

    I think it's a candidate for a refurb. I'm most worried about the bed. Maybe it would be ok with what I have. From my research on this and other boards, a regrind would flush the value part of the equation down the toilet. Hence the question about fitting it with another bed. I could make a killing by parting it out, for sure, but would that net me enough to get a similar size lathe in better condition? I do like the cabinet drive and the size of this lathe.

    Sorry for being so long winded. I'd appreciate any advice, especially about the bed. I'd love to have a bunch of you guys over for beers and swapping lies, but my wife might get suspicious. You see, she doesn't know I've got another project...!(Shhhhhh!)

  • #2
    Do you live some place where used machine tools are hard to find?
    My personal feelings is that anyone who takes a beutiful lathe and parts it out should be shot in the head, but since your lathe is already parted out, and IF you live in an area where machine tools are plentiful, I would keep those parts for spares, and look for a used machine thats all together.
    When you have a hodgepodge of parts from different lathes, you need to hand fit the parts and align them all together, not a task for a newbie, but if you take your time and do things right, you'll pick up skills that most wish they had including me.


    • #3
      Bill, thanks for the reply. My lathe is apart, but not parted out. With the exception of a few pieces, it's complete. I just broke it down into its components so I could get it in the basement. I've been watching Ebay since before I got the lathe and parts seem to be pretty reasonable. Even if it took $600 to get the parts, I figure that's still cheap for this size machine. But I think it all hinges on the bed. Swapping out some gears - I can do that. Grinding/milling/scrapping a bed, maybe someday, but not at the present. But I've not been able to find a post about fitting the old assemblies to a different bed.


      • #4
        I use a 1941 South Bend. You can fix those gears if they are missing teeth. You can braze on a new tooth in the missing slot, and then file to the correct profile, or you could simply screw in 2 bolts into missing slot, silver solder them in, then file them to correct profile.
        IF the bed is only dinged up at the headstock, thats fine as long as the carriage doenst ride over it, If any bumps are there, you could stone the bumps down only near the headstock. Don't go stoning the rest of the ways or where the carriage is going to be 99% of the time. Bed wear is not as bad as you think. Most people including me don't expect to turn to .0001. Put it together, use it, learn from it. Right now your thinking everything needs to be perfect, well it don't.
        My 1941 southbend is far from perfect and it works great for my needs.


        • #5
          Lathes are parted out often on eBay, it's just that it seems folks eBay everything but the thing you need. Luck happens. Thenn again, the gears might be easily made to fit from a generic gear from Boston gear or the like.

          As for the bed, nicks and gouges aren't necessarily important as long as you flatten out any raised metal. The bearing surface of the carraige spans several inches so it will pass over and ignore any voids. The most important failing in a bed is if it's generally worn. If the naked eye could see it, it would look like a banana with the slump in the area of heaviest use. My first lathe was badly worn when I bought it. Though it was a more difficult to use, I still made many dozens of good parts on it and I was glad to have it at the time. I'd suggest you get the thing together and just use it. If you get parts later, you can always swap them out then. In the meantime you are fiddling with a fun hobby.

          I think if the parts all came off the same lathe, theres a pretty good chance you could slap the parts on a new bed and things would like up pretty well. Until you do that, you won't know what you have to do to true it up anyway, if anything.

          Do a little research on gears to find out what you need. You might check this link for a start:

          You might be able to replace your bad gears with off-the-shelf gears from a source, but at worst you might have to machine the bore to fit the shaft, and maybe cut a keyway (carefully with a file if you have no other resources at your disposal).

          Congrats on the new tool and good luck.


          • #6
            Dents and nicks are not a big problem. You just need to stone down the raised material around the dent. If stoning scares you, due to using abrasives on the bed, then use a "burr file".

            You make this by breaking a 3" or so piece off an old file, and then stoning the teeth down a bit. You take the edge off, so it won't bite into a flat surface, it just skids along. But it will still cut down anything that sticks UP.

            That will take care of anything that is going to interfere with carriage travel. But if you rubbed it on there all day you still wouldn't have taken off anything significant from the working surface.

            As someone else said, it don't have to be perfect. As soon as you start using a new machine, it stops being perfect, if it ever was. And with a few dents already, you will save a lot of kicking of yourself WHEN you add a dent here or there.

            My 10" has some appalling gouges where the Previous Owner did something silly. A person might say "junk, don't bother looking at it". But it has served me well for several years, and has recently been substantially improved.

            Mind, if it looks like its been hammered into junk, forget about it. But I think you'd say if that were the case.

            That is a nice stout machine. I'd rather have an 11" than a 10", due to the larger spindle bore.

            The best source I have found for Logan stuff is [email protected] aka Leigh at Marmachine. He posts sometimes on the Practical machinist board.

            I got change gears from him for a VERY good price. You don't need those, but he has other parts too.

            As far as beds, I think most available are likely bad. If they are good, they get kept, and a machine built on them of spare parts from machines that had junk beds.

            Alinement of headstock won't be an issue with most any Logan.

            BTW, in good shape, with standard amounts of tooling, that machine is as much as $1100 easy, depending on area. More if with more tooling. Less with the lesser amount of tooling.

            So worries of spending more than its worth are not reasonable for quite a few more $$$ yet. $31.25 indeed! Hah!

            Keep eye on ball.
            Hashim Khan


            • #7
              oh buddie, I hope you spend $500-$5,000 +/- and get a good lathe.

              If you are not a lathe man yet get one that runs to start with.

              you should want to thread, bore, and turn parts, not fix a POS.

              I hope the best for you..


              • #8
                You guys are absolutely right. I need to just get this thing running and get on with it. I'm going to clean, reassemble, and lube, and hopefully, with your help, make something with the darn thing. Thanks for setting me straight.

                The way I came to buy this lathe is a fun story. I originally posted this to a woodworking forum I belong to. Here it is:

                A year ago or so I posted about that I'd learned that the
                leftover machinery from the decommissioned shop at the local high
                school was in storage in a garage on the school property. I won't
                bore you with the details, but let's just say that I've been watching
                that garage very closely.

                Today, they finally got around to holding a sale to clean out the
                garage of all its contents, which was mostly old chairs, tables, and
                computer stuff. As for machinery, it turns out that most of the good
                stuff had already been sold to a dealer. The talk was of an auction
                for the remainder. Well, their auction consisted of having
                interested parties write their bids on a sheet for all to see and
                then show up at 11:30 for the final showdown. The items of interest
                to me were two Delta/Rockwell 46-400 variable speed 12" lathes, a
                Logan 11x24 metal lathe, and a Unisaw. I was familiar with these
                items only enough to know they existed, they might be three phase,
                and that they worked when taken out of service. All were stored
                inside, with the Unisaw serving as the outfeed table for another
                Unisaw in the district maintenance shop.

                I showed up at the appointed start time of 9am to find that due to
                lack of advertising and the cold weather, interest in the sale was
                miniscule. I was the only person there, except for the head
                custodian, Bob, and the Assistant Finance Secretary, Sandy. Two or
                three people came and went during the next half hour, but nothing
                more than a casual interest in anything, except for a Ford 8N
                tractor. The `chines were drawing no lookers. The minimum bid for
                each of the tools was fifty dollars. I decided to play it close to
                the vest and come back at the close and take it from there.

                A little background that's essential to the story. I'm a
                fireman here in town, and today was my shift. I considered getting
                someone to work for me for a few hours so I could be at the sale, but
                we were already short shifted, so that was out of the question. But
                no big deal, as our chief actually encourages us to get out and about
                and be seen while on duty. (We even get the duty shift to go down to
                the elementary school to have lunch with the kids occasionally.)
                Anyway, I told him about the sale, and he was ok with me attending.
                Great. I'm all set.

                Well, at 11:10am I jump in the fire engine and head down to the
                school. I get halfway there and the inevitable happens. We get a fire
                alarm on the other end of town! Now I'll admit, I hesitated, but
                there was no way I was going to be able to avoid going to the fire
                alarm call! I got wheeled around and sped off to the alarm drop, all
                the while checking my watch. The alarm turned out to be false, so I
                made sure that the first due station was checking everything out ok,
                verified that there was no fire, and jumped back into my fire truck
                to get back to the "auction". It took every ounce of my willpower to
                not reach over and turn on the emergency lights and run "hot" to the

                I arrived back at the school at 11:36 six minutes after the
                close of bidding. I was expecting the worst. I was certain that some
                well intentioned, but uniformed, good `ol boy was going to have swiped
                MY arn away from me. Imagine my relief when I walked up and found the
                bid sheets for each of the four pieces blank! Wooo hoooo! I pulled
                the superintendant aside (a friend of the family from when he was the
                junior high band teacher wink wink) and asked what would it
                take to "pry" the items in question from the district. He directed
                me to the maintenance supervisor, Terry, whom I've conducted business
                with in the past and drank with on occasion. Now, I knew that Terry
                was feeling a bit surly because he had been "cheated" out of
                buying the Ford 8N for himself because the local stable owner, Dave,
                pulled out the stops and bid it up to a whole $576, which was too
                rich for Terry's blood. But Terry already knew I was interested in the
                tools, so I figured there was no sense in playing coy.

                Me: "Terry, you know I want to buy them tools."
                Terry: "Yeah?"
                Me: "But I don't want to pay $50 for the each of them."
                Terry: "Yeah?"
                Me: "I'll give you $100 for all of them."
                (Long wait)
                Terry: " $125."
                Me: "Who do I make the check out to?"

                So, for those of you who jumped ahead, here's the tally:

                - Two Delta/Rockwell 46-400's painted the school colors of blue
                and yellow - $31.25 each
                - A Logan 11"x24" (I think) screw cutting lathe with quick
                change gears, V-way bed, three jaw chuck, and a faceplate - $31.25.
                - A Delta Unisaw, most likely three phase, with bullet motor, dust
                door, no fence, cast iron base, sans goose egg - $31.25. Oh, yeah.
                It too is painted blue and yellow.

                I hope you got a laugh out of that. I love the story behind the machines. It makes life interesting!

                Thanks again, Frank.


                • #9
                  It's good to see that some of us get a descent deal once in a while but that was fantastic!

                  I bought lathe on ebay that was "excellent condition, no warrantee" ;it was anything but "excellent". The ways are so bad that the carriage can be lifted with a "klunk" near the headstock and is tight from center of travel on. I fretted and checked into regrinding, replacement, etc. Finally did some turning with it and found that it does ok. It is not my only lathe and I haven't needed extreme accuracy yet. I would do as others have said and clean, lube and assemble, then try it and see what it will do. I wouldn't even fix the back gears until I decided whether I was going to keep it. I bought a gear for mine from Boston Gear and bored it an fitted a bushing.

                  BTW I am a Volunteer Fireman and a fulltime firetruck mechanic.



                  • #10
                    I too bought an Ebay lathe which was described as being normal wear or something like that. Looked at it before accepting and pickup and thought it wasn't any worse than my old one at home. I was wrong. Wish I'd taken the time to partly disassemble it. The ways didn't look to bad on the bed but when I took the saddle off and turned it over you could see it was worn so deep it was rubbing places in the casting that it shouldn't have touched. I don't have the tools to scrape in a lathe so I expect I will put it back together and see what it does.

                    I do need a gear though (or need to repair it) Missing a couple teeth. But I can't find a Boston or other gear because it seems to be a non-stock number of teeth; 62 Can find 60 and 64 but no 62. So i'll probably have to repair or cut a new one. Meanwhile I have no backgear.

                    BTW it is a South Bend 10K I believe, with a taper attachment.


                    • #11
                      Your lathe cannot possibly be worn out any more than my old Atlas 10 inch. I have enjoyed every minute with it and for my use I don't need any more accurancy.
                      For $31.25 I would use it learn.