• We want to encourage those of you who ENJOY our site and find it USEFUL to DONATE and UPGRADE your membership from active member to donating or premium membership. If you want to know the differences in membership benefits, please visit THIS PAGE:

    https://www.hobby-machinist.com/premium/

    Donating memberships start at just $10 per year. These memberships are in fact donations that help pay our costs, and keep our site running!
    Thank you for your donation, God Bless You

  • As some of you know, I have wanted to stop managing H-M for some time. It's a tremendous strain on my personal life. I want to set up my own shop. In September, September 15, to be exact, it will be 8 years that Hobby-Machinist has been in existence.

    I have been training VTCNC to run things here. Dabbler is going to learn too. I feel that they are ready to start taking over the operation. I will be here to help in case they need, but I don't think they will. Tony Wells is and will be here also to consult with. I will be doing backups, upgrades, and installing addons. Other than that, I will not be around. I am leaving this place in good operating condition, and financial condition.
    --Nelson
[4]

How to buy a shaper?

[3]
[10] Like what you see?
Click here to donate to this forum and upgrade your account!

Glenn Brooks

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Nov 14, 2014
Messages
764
Likes
942
#1
Iam going to drive down to look at the small 7” Atlas shaper that’s been advertised on CL next weekend. I called the owner and learned he bought it to do a cosmetic rebuild and sell. Says he disassembled the machine and looked at everythng, but didn’t have to replace any parts. Also that he rebuilds old machine tools and resells them. Not a deal killer by any means. But to me, it means the seller doesn’t really know how the machine performs. So it looks very nice, cosmetically, but buyer beware.

My question is, are there some common inspection points I should look at with this style machine? Any key tell tale wear patterns to look for??

For example, I’ve learned to inspect the underside of the tailstock on a lathe, to feel for ridges or wear lines cut into the tailstock by the ways, as an indicator of overall wear...

But, have no experience with shapers, of any kind.

So just wondering if there are a couple of key inspection points to determine if the Machine is clapped out, or not??

Thanks much,
Glenn
 

Superburban

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Jan 2, 2016
Messages
445
Likes
341
#2
I'm not experienced by far. When I bought mine, I looked close at the ways for the ram, and table. And took a look at the gear teeth, and The ways for the big arm, in the big gear. And the last points I considered important were the bearing/ bushing that the big arm pivots on, and the bushings/ bearings ate the top end.

See if you can find a parts manual, or diagram for the Atlas. See where all the bushings are. Check those for play, to me they would not be a deal killer, but rather a bargaining point. But that is more determined by your experience, and tools you have to make things.
 

Downwindtracker2

Active User
Registered
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
243
Likes
95
#3
The drive, which I've forgotten the name of, can get sloppy. BTW the Atlas shaper is well made. Better than other Atlas offerings.

Does it have the skate under the table? Does it have the vise? Shaper vises are different than milling machine vises .
 

Doubleeboy

Active User
Registered
Joined
Dec 3, 2014
Messages
742
Likes
409
#4
Look for broken parts, shapers can be cruel to themselves when something goes wrong. Check all the parts of the scotch yoke for welds or brazing. I am no shaper expert but I did look at a number of little ones before buying a Logan.
 

Glenn Brooks

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Nov 14, 2014
Messages
764
Likes
942
#5
Thanks Doubleby, what is a scotch yoke?
 

f350ca

Active User
H-M Supporter - Silver Member ($10)
Joined
Jul 11, 2013
Messages
1,584
Likes
2,843
#6
As has been mentioned check the ram ways for signs of wear. You'll see ridges at the top of the way on the ram if its worn bad.
Extend the ram out as far as it will go and check up and down slop with an indicator. More than a few thou could be a problem. Some can be removed by adjusting the gibs but uneven wear may make it tight in some spots.
Check if the table is parallel to the ram with an indicator. Mount the indicator to the tool post and run the ram back and forth. Excessive droop at the front means the ways for the table are worn.
On a small shaper you should be able to push and pull on the ram to check for wear in the block / yoke that drives the ram off the bull gear.
If he's "restored" it you won't be able to tell how much oil was used on it. These things have so many sliding and rotating parts that they need to be dripping wet to survive.
Other than wear in the ram anything else can probably be rebuilt or remade with the machines you have.
When I bought the Peerless it had sat for 11 years, it was so tight from the oil going stiff I could hardly turn it by hand on the motor shaft, but the ram looked good. Couldn't power it up so had to buy it as is. Figured at $400 for probably 4000 pounds of cast I could recoop most of my cost at the scrapers
Greg
 

CluelessNewB

Active Resistor
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
1,087
Likes
596
#7
Mr Pete has a video you might find interesting on a shaper, it shows the scotch yoke and Whitworth quick return mechanism.

 

Glenn Brooks

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Nov 14, 2014
Messages
764
Likes
942
#8
As has been mentioned check the ram ways for signs of wear. You'll see ridges at the top of the way on the ram if its worn bad.
Extend the ram out as far as it will go and check up and down slop with an indicator. More than a few thou could be a problem.

Some can be removed by adjusting the gibs but uneven wear may make it tight in some spots.
Check if the table is parallel to the ram with an indicator. Mount the indicator to the tool post and run the ram back and forth. Excessive droop at the front means the ways for the table are worn.

On a small shaper you should be able to push and pull on the ram to check for wear in the block / yoke that drives the ram off the bull gear.
Greg
Thanks Greg, these items are going on my check list. Exactly what Iam looking for.
 

12bolts

Global Moderator
Staff member
Registered
Joined
Apr 23, 2011
Messages
1,967
Likes
423
#9
I managed to acquire a Douglas shaper in excellent condition a while back https://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads/my-new-ish-shaper.53313/
The clapper box has absolutely zero wear, or sideways movement that I can detect. I dont know if its a wear problem point for shapers generally, but I imagine it would be "easy" for a machine reseller to overlook that area. Loosen the ram position adjustment nut, (on top) and you should be able to slide the ram easliy but not "too freely" in its ways. Check the table advance gear for chipped/broken teeth. I managed to snap a tooth off mine easily. Stupidly! But still easily done...........
I didnt get a vise with mine, and as previously mentioned they are different, $pendy, and can be hard to come by.

Cheers Phil
 

vtcnc

Administrator Trainee
Staff member
H-M Platinum Supporter ($50)
Joined
Jun 29, 2014
Messages
281
Likes
245
#10
Keep an eye out for patches of J.B. weld in the casting. While not necessarily deal breakers depending on the size and location of the patch, fresh paint by resellers is a sign they are covering something up.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Dabbler

Administrator Trainee
Staff member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Oct 11, 2016
Messages
440
Likes
332
#11
Perhaps it is a bit basic, but in the thrill of the find, often overlooked (and I have several discarded remains of ignoring this). You can't ignore your instincts - if the guy feels shady, or the entire package looks or feels a little dodgy, it is a very good idea to walk! Sometimes it is just the overall look of the machine or what is missing (and you ask yourself "why would this be missing?")

If you love rebuilding machines as I do, you can forgive a bunch, as long as the deal and the machine are solid. I agree with vtcnc about repainted machines, a definite warning sign!

I recently bought a 1920s shaper from the 'here's the castings, now build it yourself' era of machine tools. it is a 6" storke 5" X travel shaper in very rough condition, but all the parts were there and the hard stuff: the gears, the scotch yoke, and the ratchet advance were in good shape. I'll have to replace a gibb, and is about a 200 hour project. But it is what I love to do, so I bought it.

Part of what to look for is what you feel you are willing to fix, or do you want a working machine? Do you have the budget for a perfect one, or do you have to go discount? Do you have the tooling, skills and time for a big project? In some ways these answers will dictate how picky you look at the machine.

In any machine tool I check fo cracks in the casting, looking in and out if possible. I look at the wear marks and chipped paint for signs of abuse. I try to look at what I can see of the ways to look for excessive wear due to non-lubrication. These things can scuttle the deal for me.
 

Glenn Brooks

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Nov 14, 2014
Messages
764
Likes
942
#12
Several people have mentioned looking for wear on the ways, with attendant drop in the tool post, cutter across the surface of the work.

Obviously, old tools are gonna have wear. But, How much wear is to much? (In thousands)

I plan on taking a dial indicator with me and measuring vertical movement of the clapper as the arm moves in and out.

One of the primary purposes I would use this shaper is to make dovetails. For mating surfaces, clearly flatter is better.

Thanks for all the suggestions thus far. Great primer on shapers!

Glenn
 

Dave Smith

Active User
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Mar 10, 2013
Messages
1,040
Likes
214
#13
it looks real nice but an odd color--I have two of them --one green and one orange--he is priced pretty high and for that price the tray and stand should be included---Dave
 

Doubleeboy

Active User
Registered
Joined
Dec 3, 2014
Messages
742
Likes
409
#14
Thanks Doubleby, what is a scotch yoke?
Lots of youtube videos showing scotch yoke movement. BTW that shaper is over priced in my book and to boot has fresh paint, which for me is always and I mean always a RED FLAG. Others love fresh looking machines, but fresh paint hides flaws as others have mentioned. Machines with soft ways are pretty easy to spot wear on, your fingernail can tell you a lot. Its fun getting excited about a possible new tool, but keep in mind Atlas were budget machines, not saying they can't make parts, but they are not heavy duty, used pot metal parts in places, do not have hardened slideways. Because they are small and can be moved easily they go for a premium for what they really are. If you want a better machine, looking for a Logan, Southbend or other would be a good choice.

If you have the space move up and buy a real machine that can work, something in the 12" or more size range. Shapers are great for cutting dovetails, but I can cut them way faster on a mill than I can on a small shaper and more accurately also unless that shaper is a tight, low wear machine. To me the reasons for a first shaper are..... you want one, its cheap and you have room or you have lots of keyways to cut. Myself I just wanted one, to this day I wish I had gotten a bigger one, mine works great, but anything I can do on it, I can do faster and better on my mill. If you just want one because they are cool, might want to consider one without the fresh paint and high price.
 

extropic

Active User
Former Member
Joined
Nov 24, 2014
Messages
533
Likes
353
#15
In addition to looking for braze/weld repairs, don't hesitate to question the seller about the subject. Remember, he's seen the machine BEFORE the refinish. If he's not ready to guarantee that there aren't any, I would count that as a significant negative. If there are such repairs, use your judgement.
 

Downwindtracker2

Active User
Registered
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
243
Likes
95
#16
I have 6" shop built shaper that I'm completing, so I asked just how accurate are these things. To know when I'm there. It 's from the '50s I'm guessing. No one really gave me an answer. I have 4" Chinese milling machine vise I'm going to use on it. It was made on a shaper and it was .005" out. I think that might be the answer.

However lookcreations on YouTube has his really tuned up.
 

f350ca

Active User
H-M Supporter - Silver Member ($10)
Joined
Jul 11, 2013
Messages
1,584
Likes
2,843
#17
Good question Glen. As for a number Im not sure. When the machine is running the ram should be floating on a layer of oil so ideally all the clearance is taken up. With that in mind probably 3 thou up and down movement with the ram retracted and fully seated in the ways of the base. With it sticking out that is going to be amplified. With say half the ram in the ways you'd then probably get 6 thou up down. Thats assuming your squeezing the oil film out. I've measured the movement on mine and can't remember the number, will try and remember to measure it after coffee. Old age thing.

Greg
 

tertiaryjim

Active User
H-M Platinum Supporter ($50)
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Messages
604
Likes
311
#18
I did some searching in Connelly's book and for new clearance in the ram a minimum of 5 tenths and maximum of 1.25 thousanths.
That was for flat ways so a dovetail might need more than 5 tenths. Don't know.
If it has several thousanths wear I would consider scraping it back to spec.
 

f350ca

Active User
H-M Supporter - Silver Member ($10)
Joined
Jul 11, 2013
Messages
1,584
Likes
2,843
#19
The shaper is a lot tighter than I remembered. Forgot and had to go back out and measure.
With the ram retracted i could get .0005 movement up and down with all I could lift on it.
With an 18 inch bar i could get about 2 thou.
With 10 inches of ram out beyond the ways I could lift it about 0.001 by hand, hard lift
The 18 inch bar would lift it .0025.

Greg
 

Glenn Brooks

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Nov 14, 2014
Messages
764
Likes
942
#20
Thanks all for your info. Particularly measurements on ram movement. Really good to know.

Yep, Iam a little concerned by the new paint job and no info on how much variantion there is in ram movement, flatness of the dovetails and machine surfaces, etc.

Dave lives nearby and might be able to go take a preliminary look for me. (Around 5 hr RT for me, + time to inspect etc).

Shapers don’t come up around Seattle very often. Maybe 2-3 times a year. Sadly a 10” shaper just sold in Idaho. Didn’t get a chance to go see it, before it fell off CraigsList. Plus I don’t have any room in my shop until I sell some stuff. Plus Iam kind of tired of moving 3000# tools around. so a small one is attractive. Although, I bet a larger one would be more useful over the long haul. Just have to see how it plays out.

Glenn
 
Joined
May 4, 2015
Messages
3,389
Likes
1,628
#21
Don't forget slop in the shafts , gears shouldn't float , shafts shouldn't either . Push and pull Ck the table in all directions. The ram too. Engage and Ck the feed , no slip jumps or non movement. Wear on gear teeth there soft also.
 
Last edited:

francist

Active User
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Sep 5, 2013
Messages
930
Likes
1,349
#22
Now that everyone has piqued my curiosity, I went down and measured mine. It's an 8" stroke machine, and I think around 75 years old give or take.
With the ram at full stroke out, I can get 0.0015 vertical at the tool head. Just me lifting it, no bar or anything. Perhaps not so good is side to side at the same extension -- I can see almost 1-1/2 thousands each way.
I can tell there's some crowning or hollowing on the ways, it runs best in the mid-range, but if I snug the gibs any more it starts to tighten up.
For my uses it's still plenty adequate, but I also don't have tons of time on it.

Good luck if you do chase it, Glenn. It's sure nice looking, that's for certain.

-frank
 

tertiaryjim

Active User
H-M Platinum Supporter ($50)
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Messages
604
Likes
311
#23
It seems to me that as the ram gibs wear people find it wont cut true and then machine the table top flat to the ram travel.
Might want to check that the table has plenty of meat left.
 

cjtoombs

Active User
Registered
Joined
May 10, 2012
Messages
549
Likes
163
#24
One thing about Atlas machines, they typicaly didn't get much use, so I would be surprised if you see any signifigant wear on it. They were sold as hobby machines and not many were used in industrial settings, which is where you tend to get a lot of wear. Galling on the ram ways would be something much more common, which is caused by insuficient lubrication. I have one of these shapers, and it's a good little machine for it's size. I use it occasionaly for small jobs. I wouldn't let the zamak parts used on Atlas machines scare you off, many of them have lasted for 50 years and if treated well (not crashed or dropped) will last another 50. As stated above, having the vise on it is goodness. Those Atlas shaper vises come up on Ebay occasionaly, but they generaly sell for around 250, so take that into consideration if it doesn't have one. They also made a rotary table and index centers for them, but they tend to be fairly rare and expensive.
 

Dredb

Registered
Registered
Joined
Jan 6, 2018
Messages
94
Likes
88
#25
Broken teeth on the bull gear are not uncommon.
 

C-Bag

Ned Ludd's bro
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Feb 9, 2017
Messages
355
Likes
270
#27
I'm with the rest of the guys, cosmetic paint jobs are a red flag. I see buying machine tools like buying used cars and a paint job was always a bad sign. It usually meant they'd rather look good than work good.

Mine suffered from bad adjustment by careless operators. Like the cutting head gib had a HUGE gouge in it that made it so it wouldn't operate its whole range. This also had warped the gib. I suspect it was somebody over tightening the gib but who knows with a machine this old. Several suggested by its paint job that it was a school machine. It also had .005 up and down play in the ram. For some unknown reason it had an extra shim under one side of the ram. When I took it out and checked it had .0015 play retracted and less than .001 extended. I'm sure it spent most of its life cutting small things in close and in the middle of the X range. The X nut needs replacing and probably the X lead screw. The insides looked good but the ram adjusting screw had obviously been jammed also. Probably someone not taking the lock off first. I straightened it and it works fine now. This also happened to to stroke adjuster. The screw itself was bent from someone cranking on it. It took a lot of finagling to fix that. Now it works through its whole range. These adjustments are crucial to proper use but are not like anything on any other machine tool I'm aware of. It takes some familiarity with this brand of shaper to know how these work.

Besides the vise the other most scavenged part off old Atlas7b's are the ratchet box. And you almost never see them on eBay. So be sure this one operates properly in both directions. I don't believe the problem with the ratchet box is the Zemak. I think it's more about adjustment of the link and forgetting to tighten it down. Then it coming loose and causing the box to crash into the X casting. Mine had obviously done that and somebody had done a pretty nice job of welding it. It's probably aluminum brazing or solder as its not JB weld.

The 7b is deceptively simple looking but there is far more moving parts, adjustments and they don't make the parts anymore. I like mine but it's an ongoing process of use and observation then remedy than I hoped for. But for $125 for a complete machine I figured it was worth the gamble. But I'd already put a ceiling of $250 on the whim of a shaper and this one still got me. I've just got a ton of hours of labor in cleaning and fixing with only a $20 motor start cap in parts. And since I need function more than esthetics, I didn't paint it. YMMV and good luck.
 

tertiaryjim

Active User
H-M Platinum Supporter ($50)
Joined
Mar 3, 2014
Messages
604
Likes
311
#28
When buying a shaper, one should determine the machines worth.
For machines of 7" to 12" pay the man twice that amount.
For machines 12" to 16" pay the determined amount.
For machines of 16" and larger pay half that amount.
A little crossover there so it depends on how bad they want to sell and how much you want it.
 

Downwindtracker2

Active User
Registered
Joined
Sep 5, 2014
Messages
243
Likes
95
#29
I think the blue grey Baldor uses for their new grinders is a nice machine colour, so I chose a colour swath at the paint department and had them mix a quart. I now have a purple and Kubota orange shaper.
 

Nogoingback

H-M Supporter - Gold Member
H-M Supporter - Gold Member ($25)
Joined
Oct 18, 2016
Messages
820
Likes
640
#30
After telling us that, you do have to post pics you know.
 
[6]
[5] [7]
Top