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Thread: How do I find an old southbend lathe???

  1. #1
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    How do I find an old southbend lathe???

    Ok guys, I'm looking for a decent Southbend lathe. Seems easy enough, they made a lot, but nothing is turning up in my usual searches. I'm sure some of you dabble in machinist things too, anyone care to share an idea or two?

  2. #2
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    There appear to be nine of them on our local Craigslist right now, which seems to be a typical number. I've turned down two free ones with a ton of tooling in the last 18 months as I have neither a use nor any place to put such a thing-- nor would I want to wrestle them up the basement steps. The CL ones look as though they vary dramatically in age and condition, and I know approximately nothing about them, but they seem relatively abundant in this part of the world.

    Is there a model engineering or steam/antique gas engine club in your area? Lots of those guys have equipment of that vintage and know where to find it locally.

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  4. #4
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    Thanks Tom, that's very interesting. Think I'll check on one of those. I see several sold ones in my driving range, so good to know they exist here. Most are just way to far away from what I've found on my other scrounging sources.

  5. #5
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    Roger, it's odd, I never thought about them much until recently when a need for one came up. I've actually owned one, got it with a bunch of farm equipment. It just sat in the farm shop collecting dust for several years before a neighbor bought it. I never even played with it. Would have been perfect for this job. Now it's in Arizona I think, and I'm kicking myself.

  6. #6
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    Why limit to that one brand? they have a big fan base and the price reflects that. Sheldon or Logan will be much cheaper. Do you want metric? Cam lock spindle is nicer then threaded.
    The grizzly/southbend lathe have no relation what so ever to anything made earlier even the Brazil made ones
    Bill D.

  7. #7
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    Bill, I like a vintage machine, 40's, 50's, era for no good reason other than nostalgia, and it would blend in nicely with the rest of the shop. I don't want DROs or metric. It could be South Bend, Clausing, Altas/Craftsman, Logan, or Sheldon, I'd be interested in any of those in good shape. Seems like the idea of a home lathe was popular in that period, lots of 9" and 10" machines available in that time frame, so the pickings should be adequate in theory. I'm not expecting pristine, just usable with minor fiddling. I'm a rank amatuer at this, just wanting to use one for a project I have in mind which will probably turn into a rabbit hole for a while. I'd want to see it prior to buying, so within 8 hours of home is pretty much the limit of my driving patience. Lots of stuff in the great lakes area and east, just not much in the mountain west showing up. Ideally, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, North Dakota, and parts of Colorado. Not asking for much, lol!

    Another reason for South Bend is it's popularity, seems like there is a lot more info preserved for their lathes than anything else, which makes learning about them a lot easier. Been watching lots of youtube, tubalcain (mrpete222) is a fantastic resource by himself.

    Bill, you have experience it sounds like, what would you advise to look for? I'm making a couple tools and jigs for a truss plate press and table. Nothing will be too big to work on a 48" bed 9" machine. A taper attachment would be useful, could use tapered pins on one part of this.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Rozmiarek View Post
    Bill, I like a vintage machine, 40's, 50's, era for no good reason other than nostalgia, and it would blend in nicely with the rest of the shop. I don't want DROs or metric. It could be South Bend, Clausing, Altas/Craftsman, Logan, or Sheldon, I'd be interested in any of those in good shape. Seems like the idea of a home lathe was popular in that period, lots of 9" and 10" machines available in that time frame, so the pickings should be adequate in theory. I'm not expecting pristine, just usable with minor fiddling. I'm a rank amatuer at this, just wanting to use one for a project I have in mind which will probably turn into a rabbit hole for a while. I'd want to see it prior to buying, so within 8 hours of home is pretty much the limit of my driving patience. Lots of stuff in the great lakes area and east, just not much in the mountain west showing up. Ideally, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, North Dakota, and parts of Colorado. Not asking for much, lol!

    Another reason for South Bend is it's popularity, seems like there is a lot more info preserved for their lathes than anything else, which makes learning about them a lot easier. Been watching lots of youtube, tubalcain (mrpete222) is a fantastic resource by himself.

    Bill, you have experience it sounds like, what would you advise to look for? I'm making a couple tools and jigs for a truss plate press and table. Nothing will be too big to work on a 48" bed 9" machine. A taper attachment would be useful, could use tapered pins on one part of this.
    How many taper pins and what size? With the hassle of setting up and resetting a taper attachment you might be better off buying the taper pins.

    If you don't set it up properly you won't have a properly fitting taper pin and if you don't take the time to use a dial indicator when resetting you'll have a taper when you want straight shafts.
    Confidence: The feeling you experience before you fully understand the situation

  9. #9
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    I drove 6 hours each way to pick up my South Bend 13" about 8 years ago. It was a long trip but worth the effort. The SouthBend was a huge upgrade from my Atlas 12". I picked up the SouthBend 13" for about what it would have cost to add a quick change gear box to may Atlas 12", $1000. I wasn't looking for a replacement lathe at the time but knew a deal when I saw it and jumped on it when it came along!

  10. #10
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    I hear you Jerry, to be honest I won't be making anything economically viable with a lathe, it's just a new challenge to try.

    I did come across a nice craftsman/atlas within my driving range, but it's on Facebook and I'm cursed when it comes to actually completing a deal from there. Price is fair, a little high but some extrs come with, so I'm up for a drive. Condition looks good in the pics. The usual "there is another guy coming first, if he doesn't" story though, so I'm skeptical this will work.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Schuch View Post
    I drove 6 hours each way to pick up my South Bend 13" about 8 years ago. It was a long trip but worth the effort. The SouthBend was a huge upgrade from my Atlas 12". I picked up the SouthBend 13" for about what it would have cost to add a quick change gear box to may Atlas 12", $1000. I wasn't looking for a replacement lathe at the time but knew a deal when I saw it and jumped on it when it came along!
    Michael, was the south bend an upgrade because of the quick change and a bigger machine, or some other thing?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Rozmiarek View Post
    Michael, was the south bend an upgrade because of the quick change and a bigger machine, or some other thing?

    I spent years looking for an affordable quick change box for my 12" Atlas. When the SouthBend came along it was a no-brainer! The SouthBend 13" is a REAL lathe. The Craftsman/Atlas lathes are not in the same class. The gears, handles and much of the cast pieces on the Altas lathes are made out of Zamak, a Zinc Aluminum alloy that is cheap to cast at the cost of strength. Southbend lathes are made out of steel and cast iron, they really are a production lathe that will stand up to many decades of production use.

    I recommend staying away from Atlas/Craftsman lathes (Atlas made the lathes for Craftsman as well as selling them under their own name). They are usable, will produce one off parts in a home shop setting but you will run into precision issues if you try to produce anything to close tollerances.

    There are many other brands of quality lathes, Southbend is just what I am most familular with. The Southbend heavy 10" lathe is a popular home shop lathe of a smaller size that is also heads and tails better than a Atlas 12" lathe.
    Last edited by Michael Schuch; 04-16-2022 at 10:37 PM.

  13. #13
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    What size are you looking for and what power do you have available?

    My 15hp 17" x 60 South Bend Turn-nado requires 240 3 phase. My older 9" was single phase.

  14. #14
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    Scott, I think I found a decent option, not a South Bend, but I think it'll be fine. It's a 12" atlas with quite a load of extras, looks to be in fantastic shape in the pics. I'm taking a drive to go see it in person today actually. It's a little machine, the lady doesn't know much about it, but I'm expecting a 1hp single phase or something like it. Just a little hobby lathe, but it'll be enough to do that first project and scratch the itch so to speak. Who knows, maybe I'll make a deal for that big clausing that is listed at some point if this goes well.

  15. #15
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    Well if anyone followed this thread on its move from the off topic room, here's an update. The atlas I mentioned was in Cody WY, 6 hours away. I decided to go for a drive today and go see it. That's beautiful country, so at the very least figured some change of scenery would be good for the soul. Turns out the little lathe is in pristine condition. I'm not exaggerating when I say this 1975 vintage machine has no visible wear. A little discoloring on some paint maybe, but nothing discernable on the ways, gears, etc. No crash signs on the compound, no dropped chuck bites on the bed, nothing. The guy who owned it was a good gunsmith, and he obviously took good care of his tools. It came with some good gunsmithing jigs and tools, and a whole bunch of other stuff, so I couldn't resist. I know it's not the most capable machine, but finding one in this condition, I just couldn't resist. Had to go solo, so took my dingo, that's why it's in the pic.

    20220418_162807.jpg
    Last edited by Steve Rozmiarek; 04-18-2022 at 11:55 PM.

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