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Help me decide on my first lathe: South Bend light 10, or Sheldon 10, or Logan 2557VH

40Phil

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Hi Everyone. I've been searching through threads for the last week or so looking for advice on buying my first lathe.
I have a vintage lathe budget and have been searching Craigslist for a while and found these three... The Logan 2557VH and the SB L10 are roughly the same price, the Sheldon TS56-P is quite a bit cheaper, but needs some love to get working.
I found a lot of helpful information about each of the lathes listed but I didn't see any direct comparisons and I could use a little push in a direction bases on what I've seen of them in person.

The South Bend is a cream-puff. It's used obviously but looks like it wasn't used much and was well cared for. It's complete with a 5"chuck and a quick change setup, but no real tooling.
The Logan is a little more lived in but still seems tight, clean and well taken care of. It has a bit more tooling and a Variable speed controller.
The Sheldon is more warn, but the bed seems unharmed and true. It had a problem with the belt tensioner so I couldn't run it much, but everything worked. Although it had a heaving coating of grease on all of it. Honestly, all things equal, the Sheldon wouldn't be on the list but it was $600 cheaper than the next cheapest option and I'm pretty sure I could fix what was ailing it.

So what would you do? I gather each brand has their fans, but I wasn't sure if that was more up to personal preference or something more. I came into this thinking the South Bend was what I wanted, but the more I've read, the waters have muddied a bit.

Oh, I also found a Monarch 10EE, but at $10G, I shed a tear and moved on.
Thanks!
Phil
 

lordbeezer

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I'm a fan of all three..south bend and Logan are easier to get parts for if needed..that being said I have a 11" Sheldon I wouldn't trade for nothing..depends on condition and tooling..good luck..Phil
 

rjs44032

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I own a Sheldon EXL '40s vintage. It was military issue with minor issues. I changed out 1PH motor with 3PH and purchased a VFD to run it. It really is a sweet machine. I've run SBs but do not own one. Here are some differences I noted between Sheldon and SB:

Sheldon has replaceable precision tapered rollers in the headstock. The ones in mine are better than 0.00005 TIR (measuring in the bore). SB's are plain bearings. Not sure that matters for your needs. But it is a difference.

Sheldon spindle feed gear is 32 teeth. SBs seem to be 40 or more and I would argue that seems to be better design for strength. I haven't had problems with mine, but it is surprisingly thin.

Sheldon change gears are all standard 16DP no mixtures of 16 and 14 like the SouthBends I've seen. That may not be true of the Heavy 10s Just something to consider.

LeadScrew on the Sheldon is 8TPI

Both Sheldon and SB have proprietary spindle tapers. This makes it difficult, but not impossible to find reducers and 5C attachments for them.

My Sheldon EXL (10)" has a 7" bed width. This is similar to the SB Heavy 10. The Sheldon TS 56 you are looking at has a beefier bed at 8" width. That is the same as their 12"/13" lathes as well in that series. Also I believe your TS has 10DP gears in the headstock instead of 12DP in the SB. So it's a beefier lathe overall.

If I had it to do over again I would select the biggest Sheldon I could afford. Their larger R series lathes are real industrial work-horses. SBs are very popular as others have said and easy to get parts for, but they generally run 50% to 100% higher prices than Sheldons. That also depends on your location, but around here you can get 50% more machine for the price of an SB.

I have no experience with Logans so I can't give much advice there. However, I think the company is still around and you can buy parts directly from them. Hope this helps.

Best Regards,
Bob
 

Aaron_W

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You aren't comparing like machines.

The Logan 2557 is a 12x36" lathe, the Southbend a 10". You don't mention the size of the Sheldon.

If you have room and the ability to move the Logan it is going to be a more capable machine. 1-3/8" bore vs 5/8", more power, more weight. The variable speed is a nice feature and fairly simple system being a belt / variable size pulley drive, not a complex electrical or hydraulic system as with some.

The Southbend would be nice in a small shop, and will be a lot easier to move but is far more limited in capability.
 

40Phil

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You aren't comparing like machines.

The Logan 2557 is a 12x36" lathe, the Southbend a 10". You don't mention the size of the Sheldon.

If you have room and the ability to move the Logan it is going to be a more capable machine. 1-3/8" bore vs 5/8", more power, more weight. The variable speed is a nice feature and fairly simple system being a belt / variable size pulley drive, not a complex electrical or hydraulic system as with some.

The Southbend would be nice in a small shop, and will be a lot easier to move but is far more limited in capability.
You are correct. They aren't like machines in a lot of different ways actually.

The sheldon is a bench top model that's been mated to what looks to be a standard Sheldon Base for that era. With that model number I believe it's supposed to be an 11" lathe, with a 56" bed. But I measured it at about 5.25 on center so I figure it's a 10" lathe. And it probably qualifies as "rough" condition. It's been in a few machine shops in the area that I can figure. It's been modified with a 110V, gear reduction motor that required the lip of the base tray to be cut to clear. It does have a bunch of tooling with it but it's all well warn. That said, it's got hand scraped ways and you can still see the scraping. The bed has no damage and seems true. The gears all look fine, although with the belt tensioner not working, It was a little hard to see them work. Oil cups just had a drop of oil in them, and the entire mechanism had a healthy coat of grease on it, which may be masking other problems.
I love restoring old machines and I love a deal, but this one has me a little skittish, mostly because I've never really dug into a lathe before.

The South Bend, like I said just seemed to have paint wear from sitting so long... I don't think it was used all that much since the 1940s when it was made. That was nice, but no tooling at all other than the new Chinese QC setup.

The Logan is everything you said. It's the biggest and most expensive by a few hundred, and also the most capable. I couldn't run it but it has some tooling in decent shape and the machine itself seemed decent. I understand Logan has it's fans and it's detractors. Doesn't seem as universally loved as say the South Bend, or have the firm believers Sheldon has but they seem to have a solid rep. Oh, and it's on a wheeled base which is actually pretty huge for me.

So my hang-up comes down to is the Logan worth the extra money? Is the savings on the Sheldon, (I don't think the seller even has a bottom on that one), worth the unknowns and work required to get her right again? Will the safe-bet South Bend be enough machine for me in the long run?

Thanks again for all you're input.
 

Aaron_W

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Logan and Southbend seem to be Ford & Chevy, Miller and Lincoln etc. Seems like a lot of personal preference and selective reasoning for why one is better than the other.

I have a weird 11" Logan with a 10" spindle made in the 1970s by Powermatic. It has the same type of variable speed control as the 2557. I haven't had it all that long, and it had a hard life but seems to work just fine and I've been happy with it so far.

What I can say for Logan is you can get just about any parts you need (although they are not cheap), as well as manuals / parts lists and can get answers to your questions directly from Scott Logan (the founders grandson) who ran a Logan Yahoo group for years, and currently runs an io groups forum.
 

40Phil

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Logan and Sheldon sold. Would the South Bend be enough Lathe for a home shop/hobbiest, or should I keep looking.
I see people recommending 13x40 as a single shop lathe (south bend) is that what everyone else thinks as well?
 

Cooter Brown

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Do not buy a lathe without a quick change gearbox as your first machine....

I have 2 South Bend Heavy 10 lathes and they are great machines for a beginner.....
 
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Aaron_W

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Logan and Sheldon sold. Would the South Bend be enough Lathe for a home shop/hobbiest, or should I keep looking.
I see people recommending 13x40 as a single shop lathe (south bend) is that what everyone else thinks as well?
I started with a 3.5x17 Sherline, and it is still a fine lathe for most of what I do. I have however added some larger machines as my interests have gotten bigger. My bigger machines are a lot larger than my Sherlines, but are still well on the smaller end of the scale. I mostly have small projects and I have a small shop so they work well for me.

What a good size for you depends a lot on what you want to do and how mach room you have. There are a lot of people on this site who seem quite happy with their less than 13x40" lathes, and I'm sure a few who wish they had bought a 14, or 15". Surely there is at least one who still regrets not buying the 8 ton giant that was for sale at scrap metal value.


Personally I think a 10" lathe is a nice size to start with unless you know what your needs are. Price wise they are very affordable, and they are in demand so sell pretty easily if you decide to go bigger or this isn't thie hobby for you after all. The bench models can be moved with just a couple people and minimal equipment (200-300lbs) but can still do pretty good size work. Most 10" lathes are available with 22-24" between centers, where most larger tend to be 36" or longer between centers, adding well over a foot to the length (good if you work on long stuff, not so good if space is at a premium). The underdrive pedestal type (like a SB Heavy 10) trade some of that mobility for added rigidity, but still maintain the smaller foot print.

10" is also kind of at a crossover point between hobbyist / utility lathes and "real" full featured lathes so you really need to look at the specs of a particular lathe. Smaller than 9" you rarely find a quick change gear box, bigger than 10" (within the usual home shop size range) you rarely find a lathe without unless it is ancient, or made for a specific purpose that didn't include threading. You will find 9 and 10" lathes with and without a QCGB, and that was only an option on many older lathes.
Spindle bore also varies widely, that light SB 10 only has a 5/8" bore which is not much larger than a 6" Atlas or even my Sherline. Most 10" lathes have a 3/4" or larger spindle bore, with some 1" and a few as large as 1-3/8" like most common 11 and 12" lathes. If you want to be able to use a collet closer you need at a minimum a 1" spindle for 3C and 1-3/8" for 5C collets. Lacking that you will be limited to a collet chuck.


Of course a bigger lathe has its own set of advantages (bigger) and limitations (bigger). New a bigger lathe costs a lot more. Used the big lathes can sometimes be cheaper than smaller lathes. Small lathes are in demand because more people have room for them, which helps keep their value up. Tooling costs are tied to size, a 5" chuck is cheaper than an 8" chuck. Weight and storage space for tooling also increases with size.

Beyond size and features, for a used lathe look at what it comes with. Tooling is expensive, and getting a well tooled lathe is worth paying more for. They usually do not cost nearly as much as a package as buying the tooling separately.



Whether or not that light 10 is a good fit for you depends on the price and what you want to do. With practically no tooling you should plan on spending at least another $1000-1500 for basic tooling (another chuck, steady rest, follow rest, centers, drill chuck etc). Does the price still seem appealing if you add $1000 to it?
 
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40Phil

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Agreed... It's got a drill chuck, QC tool holder, backing plates for 2 other chucks. No cutting tools, no second chuck, no centers no rests, etc.
My plans are to learn and expand my knowledge. I won't be making big pieces, although, I'm sure as soon as I get my feet wet, I'll think of a million big things I want to do, that won't fit on the machine I buy. :rolleyes:
My shop is bigger than most suburban garages but not by much so compact is good. And the flipside of the tooling thing is it's a lot easier for me to buy tooling over time, in small chunks than it is for me to add another $1000 or more to the initial purchase. Obviously, for some of the higher dollar things like a full 10" chuck, etc, it would be really nice to find a machine that came with them.
Around here though, I think everyone sees the tooling as a way to make extra money and they sell it separately.

Just to level-set... What's a fair price for a SB 10k with little to no tooling in decent shape? Maybe my perspective is off.
 
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mikey

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Hey Phil, I've been watching this thread and it looks like you're trying to choose a lathe based on what is available in your area. Nothing wrong with that but that might not be the best way to choose the size of the lathe you need. You also seem to be only looking at old used lathes, which is fine if your goal is to restore a lathe but you have to remember that you also get years of wear and tear along with the deal.

So, let me ask the obvious questions:
  • What are your needs? Do you own a farm and need to work on big stuff, do car repair or are you just looking to tinker?
  • How much experience do you have with lathes? Are you up to restoring an older lathe?
  • What is your budget? An old used lathe may cost you significantly more to restore than you think and, depending on how much the ways are worn, you may wind up with a nicely restored lathe that is not that accurate. Tooling may also be harder to find and will typically cost more as a result.
  • Is your goal to learn how to machine stuff or restore stuff? For most guys, learning on a machine that is not worn out is easier.
Not giving you a hard time here. Restoring old machines can be fun; I do it from time to time and have done lathes, too. However, I also know that the costs can be much higher than you think, parts can be hard to find and wear and tear will always be there to some extent. If you are not competent at evaluating a used machine then you may end up paying a lot of money for a piece of junk so be careful.

Have you considered buying a new machine? It will come with all the tooling you need to get up and running, it will have a warranty and it will have zero wear.
 

40Phil

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Hey Phil, I've been watching this thread and it looks like you're trying to choose a lathe based on what is available in your area. Nothing wrong with that but that might not be the best way to choose the size of the lathe you need. You also seem to be only looking at old used lathes, which is fine if your goal is to restore a lathe but you have to remember that you also get years of wear and tear along with the deal.

So, let me ask the obvious questions:
  • What are your needs? Do you own a farm and need to work on big stuff, do car repair or are you just looking to tinker?
  • How much experience do you have with lathes? Are you up to restoring an older lathe?
  • What is your budget? An old used lathe may cost you significantly more to restore than you think and, depending on how much the ways are worn, you may wind up with a nicely restored lathe that is not that accurate. Tooling may also be harder to find and will typically cost more as a result.
  • Is your goal to learn how to machine stuff or restore stuff? For most guys, learning on a machine that is not worn out is easier.
Not giving you a hard time here. Restoring old machines can be fun; I do it from time to time and have done lathes, too. However, I also know that the costs can be much higher than you think, parts can be hard to find and wear and tear will always be there to some extent. If you are not competent at evaluating a used machine then you may end up paying a lot of money for a piece of junk so be careful.

Have you considered buying a new machine? It will come with all the tooling you need to get up and running, it will have a warranty and it will have zero wear.
Fair points... I am looking in my area (which is actually pretty fertile for these things), and in a way all those factors relate to my central 'requirement,' which is budget... I pretty much need to find the diamond in the rough, smoking deal, situation, to fit within my constraints.
I can (and have) pretty much fix anything. I have no problem restoring the right older machine if I found one at the right price. That said, I also need to make a couple things right now to restore an old saw I have, so it would be nice if it worked and was accurate out the gate.
Generally, I work on antique cars... All the parts I've thought I needed a lathe for were small so far. Threading, boring, etc... That said, during this journey, I've seen some bigger car related items chucked up and it got me thinking of a lot more things I could use a lathe for.
I have a 20x40 shop... Not huge but big enough for a reasonable sized lathe.
I love the look of old American iron... The picture I have in my head has always been an old South Bend in my shop... That said, I'm out-growing my purist instincts... If I could find a good new Lathe in my price range, I'd certainly consider it.
For reference... I needed a good Table Saw... I had to sell mine before I moved, and had been looking to replace it. I was looking at the top brands and figuring to pay around $2k for the best compromise new machine... I ended up buying a 1940's Rockwell in shop worn but otherwise barely used condition for $800. Also a compromise for sure, but I'm much happier with that purchase than I am with the brand new high quality Drill Press I bought... Even though the Drill Press just works. No questions. Just flip the switch and the job gets done.

So back to my budget... Around $2500 if i could find a brand new complete machine with a warranty. If not probably $2000 for a perfect vintage machine... Walking down from there.
Ludicously restrictive... Believe me, I know... But it's where I'm at. Got a kid in College, and just moved to So Cal from Austin.
 

mikey

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Yeah, I like the look of old iron, too, but I know from experience that some of these old machines can look really nice but have a lot of bed wear that makes it sheer misery to hold tight tolerances. A lathe is not like a table saw, not even close. Just 0.005" of wear in the ways up near the chuck will make it a pain to work with, and that applies to every part you make. I just wanted to make sure your eyes were wide open because a worn bed may require either scraping if it isn't too bad or having the bed, saddle and tailstock ground if it is really bad and that is big bucks!

If you're really lucky and find a low mileage lathe with very little wear and all the usual tooling then great, go for it. It would be good to take an experienced lathe hand with you. Perhaps one of our HM guys can hook up with you if someone is in your area.

Another option is to settle on which new lathe you want and save until you can afford it. This is the way I would go. I've been down the restoration route and now prefer a modern lathe with no wear and all the good stuff - camlock spindle, hardened and ground spindle and gears, precision spindle bearings and the like.

Good luck!
 

Aaron_W

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Prices on used lathes is pretty subjective and heavily dependent on location. I'm also in California and from what I've seen watching CL the past 2 or 3 years used vintage 9 and 10" lathes (Atlas, Logan, SB) run from around $600-2500 depending on condition, tooling and how quickly the seller wants it gone. I'd say average price is around $1500 for a decent condition machine with basic tooling. The Southbend Heavy 10s are usually quite a bit more as they are well liked and in demand, also really kind of a class of their own in reality being an 11" lathe.

If you have the room and the interest in bigger, when looking at used machines 12x36 and even some 13x40 often have quite a bit of price overlap with the smaller machines. This is particularly true if you include used imports, Enco, Jet, Grizzly etc. You might not get a large Southbend for $2000> but you shouldn't have trouble finding a used import at that price. The older imports can be tricky because there are some good Taiwan made machines from the 80s with names nobody has ever heard of. You can find some deals on good machines with poor name recognition.


I don't think $2000-2500 is an unreasonable budget for a 12" or smaller lathe in SoCal, you may need to shop a bit but you can probably do it.



When I bought my Sherline it was fairly easy. I wanted it for model building, and it is very popular for that purpose. When asking other modelers who had a lathe what they recommended I found two types, those with Sherlines and those who wished they had bought Sherlines. It was really that black and white. Used they hold their value, quite well so going new was also fairly easy since buying used wasn't saving me a lot of money.


When I started looking bigger I looked at new, and compared used prices to that. I was looking at the PM 1030 as my ideal, so used that cost ($2500) as my upper budget. It includes a good selection of tooling in that price so I also used that list as a baseline for consideration. I did the same when looking at a larger mill, I looked at the PM25 and similar Grizzly machines as well as the ubiquitous RF-31 clones to help me set a baseline.

Since I had my little machines to tinker with I had the benefit of not being rushed, and I've been lucky enough to have a few good deals find me, as well as finding a few on my own. Having set that baseline with new machines, it helped me a lot when looking at the older used machines to decide if what I was getting was worth the price asked compared to buying a new machine.

Obviously, for some of the higher dollar things like a full 10" chuck, etc, it would be really nice to find a machine that came with them.
Just some clarification, the 10" on a 10" lathe would be the largest diameter that you could theoretically turn using a faceplate, reality is much less. You wouldn't normally use a chuck larger than 50-60% of the swing a 5" chuck is common on a lathe that size.
 

Cooter Brown

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And when you find a good one, be prepared to jump on it; don't diddle around waiting for someone else to buy it.
He is really not kidding about this part...... Save up for a machine before you start looking that way you can just jump on it when you see it...... I was able to buy 2 milling machines out from under my buddy paul just because I got paid on Wednesdays and he got paid on Fridays..... lol
 

MrWhoopee

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You will need to be prepared to drive a little distance. I rented a lift-gate truck to haul my Heavy 10L 250 miles.

A quick search within 150 miles of you brings these results.









 
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Cooter Brown

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I rented a lift-gate truck to haul my Heavy 10L 250 miles.
I was lucky enough to buy machines from places with a forklift and had the machine strapped to a pallet when loaded..... Then I stuck a pallet jack under it in the bed of my f-150 and I called a flatbed tow truck to winch the pallet jack and machine on to his bed so he could set it in my driveway for me...... Cost me about $60-75 each time....
 

40Phil

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He is really not kidding about this part...... Save up for a machine before you start looking that way you can just jump on it when you see it...... I was able to buy 2 milling machines out from under my buddy paul just because I got paid on Wednesdays and he got paid on Fridays..... lol
Wow... Buy Paul a beer for me. Maybe a chaser too...

Well, around here, it doesn't seem like guys sell Lathes with tooling. They all offer it separately. Now I could pay a little more and buy a new Chinese Machine, but even the $10,000 Monarch 10EE came without tooling. It sold. The Logan came without tooling and sold. The Sheldon I looked at had tooling but it was as beat up as the rest of the machine. None of the decent to good machines seem to come with tooling.
And if I buy the Chinese machine, if I want to upgrade later, I'm basically out the money I payed to have the tooling, in resale value, anyway.

In the interest of not waiting around, I bought the South Bend 10k. I pick it up today.
It's all the Lathe I need right now and more. It's right-sized for my shop and easy to move around as I reconfigure my shop. And it's only going to go up in value. Whatever money I put into tooling it up, will be offset to some degree by resale value. I'm pretty sure this lathe, prettied up a little bit with all the tooling would sell for twice what I paid for it.
 

40Phil

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You will need to be prepared to drive a little distance. I rented a lift-gate truck to haul my Heavy 10L 250 miles.

A quick search within 150 miles of you brings these results.









Yep... If you notice not many of those come with tooling. I think the 9" south bend did, but the rest don't. That logan 10 is new.

I was prepared to drive but I was also figuring that into the cost.
 
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Eddyde

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IMHO A 10" South Bend is plenty of lathe for most hobby work, but it depends on what you want to do with it? I went 25 years with a 9" change gear, SB before getting heavy 10 SB, then another Southie and more recently a 13 Clausing Colchester. I only got the bigger lathe because I have a couple of projects I want to do that require it. Otherwise, the 10's can accomplish 98% of my needs. One of my SB is from 1943 the other 1936, Both can easily turn to half a thou if need be. The only drawbacks to the SB's are the threaded chuck mounting and the lack of metric threading Also the flat belt is a little quirky if your not used to it. Definitely get a QC gearbox though.
 

Aaron_W

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In the interest of not waiting around, I bought the South Bend 10k. I pick it up today.
It's all the Lathe I need right now and more. It's right-sized for my shop and easy to move around as I reconfigure my shop. And it's only going to go up in value. Whatever money I put into tooling it up, will be offset to some degree by resale value. I'm pretty sure this lathe, prettied up a little bit with all the tooling would sell for twice what I paid for it.
That will give you something to start with. If it meets all your needs great, if not you will have it's shortcomings as a guide to what you really want / need. I agree that you are unlikely to lose money if you replace and sell it in the future.
 

markba633csi

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I probably would have picked the 2557 just cuz I've always liked 'em, but you'll have great fun with the SB too
M
 

40Phil

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I probably would have picked the 2557 just cuz I've always liked 'em, but you'll have great fun with the SB too
M
The guy with the 2775 was hinky as hell, otherwise that was my top choice too...
It was on CL for over 2 months. I called him at 11:15, he said come right down before 12 because he was going out to eat with someone and wouldn't be back until 1. I couldn't make it before 12, so I told him I'd be there between 1:15 and 2pm. I got to his door at 1:45. His place was in this enclosed industrial complex and the guys from all the other shops (6 or so) were outside and stopped what they were doing to watch me come in and walk to his door. They seemed to be just watching me. It was bizarre. All work stopped while I was there.
I knocked on the door, could tell someone was inside but they weren't answering. I texted, called and waited about 15min. Nothing...

As I was driving out of the place, my phone rang and the guy with the 2775 told me "someone just gave him a deposit." I think he was outside watching me... I think the Lathe may have been stolen and I didn't look like the right buyer to sell it to. My wife thinks they were going to rob me but I'm a pretty big guy and probably didn't look like I had the money on me because I didn't have a way to take the lathe away right then.

Needless to say... No on the 2775.

It was seriously the weirdest experience I've had buying stuff on CL and the Recycler before that, in CA and Texas. And I've bought things in way tougher neighborhoods than that.

This is all sort of off topic, but I wanted to share to remind everyone to be safe out there and protect yourself not just from harm but from potential legal hassles down the road.
 

40Phil

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Well, it took longer than I thought but I got it home.
Haven't really had the time to dig into it too much because I've got to wrap up a couple projects first, but clearly it needs a new motor. It's powered by a 110v single phase 1/3hp motor right now, and it just won't do some of the gears. So a VFD is in it's future. It came with the original 1/2hp motor, and I'll probably use that to get the VFD wired up and dialed in and look to upgrade to a 1hp motor later.

IMG_2274.JPG
 
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