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Is this a good lathe to start with?

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John Ridley

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Looking for opinions before I drop the cash for this lathe (probably in the next few days).

I've done some limited work with other people's lathes, only a junk used Harbor Freight mini lathe to myself, but I just finished my heated shop so now feel like I can buy tools (and not have them rust out immediately in the Michigan weather). Machinist friends have always told me, when you buy a lathe, don't get a little one or you'll just be kicking yourself constantly.

Anyway I have come across a Craigslist ad for a Rockwell 11x37 lathe as shown on this page: http://www.lathes.co.uk/delta metal/page2.html

It looks in pretty decent repair - not as pretty as in the page above but the ways look clean and nothing seems abused as well as I can tell by the photos, has a quick change tool post, 3 and 4 jaw chucks, 3 phase motor (I'll have to buy a VFD to run it), a brand new chuck (the guy says the 3 and 4 jaw chucks it came with (he's including) are actually a bit too big and the jaws can hit the ways so he has a new in box chuck he's including. no steady rest, he has one that he's throwing in but it doesn't currently fit, I guess if I wanted it it would be a project.

Anyway it's $1250. It seems reasonable in this area. Looks a step up from the similarly sized South Bends that are usually coming up - the headstock in particular, the cutaway of that makes it look like it could spin a car.
 

mikey

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If it fits the work envelope of the things you need to make and the ways are not worn then I would say $1250 is a very good price for that lathe. You will need to find the steady rest.

I looked at one exactly like the one in the Lathesuk site and it was in really good shape. I passed because the guy thought the lathe was made of gold and it lacked any tooling but I started it up and it was nice and smooth. Very nice size for a hobby shop, I think.
 

Ed ke6bnl

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I have that lathe yahoo has a good forum. Important to check all the teeth on the back gear
 

mmcmdl

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Looks like a nice lathe . Price isn't bad either at least for this region . As far as the large chucks , most any jaws can be brought out so they could possibly hit the ways . Either that or they would fall out of the scroll first . That is part of the set-up and is up to the operator to plan on . Reverse your jaws , bore soft jaws etc . I wouldn't let that hold you back .
 

BGHansen

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I used a Rockwell 11x37 in junior high school shop class. Owned a 10x36 that never gave me any problems. Rockwell made really nice machines. It'd be a great lathe.

Bruce
 

Janderso

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It will do very nicely, especially if it’s in good shape.
 

cbellanca

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Looks like a great deal. I would check it out personally before you hand over the cash.
 

John Ridley

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Thanks all. Now I just have to work around the guy's schedule of being out of town, me being in the tax filing business and this being electronic filing startup week (typically hectic) and forecast snowstorms that I don't want to tow a trailer with lathe through for 2 hours.
I will definitely be checking the lathe out in person. I'll be watching both Tom Lipton and Lyle Peterson's videos on assessing a used lathe today to be sure I don't miss anything dumb.
Thanks for the tip to check the back gears.
I'll make a list. I have a history of forgetting things when I'm on site.
 

FOMOGO

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I have a history of forgetting things when I'm on site.


I think many of us fall victim to this syndrome. When there in person, ask the guy for 15-20 minutes to check it over uninterrupted. Take a few deep breaths, and methodically go through your list. Good luck with the lathe purchase. Hope it all works out. Mike
 

John Ridley

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Liljoebrshooter

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I would buy it and and use it for awhile. If you don't like it I bet you can sell it for what you paid.
I live in Central Michigan.
Joe
 

ezduzit

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I would avoid such offerings and watch for a well cared for and clean machine, being sold with a comprehensive set of tooling, and in demonstrably good operating condition.
 

John Ridley

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I would avoid such offerings and watch for a well cared for and clean machine, being sold with a comprehensive set of tooling, and in demonstrably good operating condition.
I don't have that kind of money. This machine well cared for with a lot of tooling would go for probably $3000 or more around here. I like restoring things so I think this will be a fun project assuming it's in basically sound shape (no broken gears etc). I've watched a few videos and am convinced that the Rockwell is probably a much sturdier lathe than an equivalent SB or Logan.
 

jwmay

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It’s my opinion, barring any real problems that you can discover upon inspection, that you’ve found a very good starter machine in the range of “probably not going to make clocks and watches” to “not going to work on farm machinery.” There’s a lot of work between those two.
 

John Ridley

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Just to follow up on this thread, I did wind up buying the lathe. I'm about 3/4 of the way through restoring it, which has been a fantastically fun project. The machine is in very good shape mechanically, but had been very poorly lubricated. The only wear I noticed that could be attributed to this was on the spur gear inside the apron that the worm drive engages with - the oil reservoir seems to have NEVER been filled. It's still not horrible and will probably never actually wear out in my use but it is clearly a bit more worn than it should be given the state of the rest of the machine.

All the other oil and grease were dried as well so things were free but kind of gummy. I've been spending many fun days with kerosene and a toothbrush. I'm also stripping the horrible green paint and painting it back to machine grey. I picked up a VFD and just got that wired last night, also got to the point where I took the headstock off last night and cleaned it - the back gears were really gummed up with old grease but once clean they look great. The AXA tool post that came with it has the wrong foot for the compound so it was clearly never actually installed on this machine, but I have an M14 tap coming so I can jump on the mill and make a new foot quickly. Also there's a carriage stop missing but that's probably 30 minutes to make one it's simple enough.
Having a great time bringing this thing back into operation.

here's a photo album:
https://ibb.co/album/k9T7va
 
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