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Southbend Lathe - Good for GT Work?

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#1 New.Canadian.DB.Owner OFFLINE  

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Posted February 22, 2015 - 04:56 PM

LilysDad has been taunting me about getting some metal working tools ever since I made an axle with my woodworking tools.  I have been asking around & now have a lead on a Southbend 9 x 18 with the quick change gearbox, 3 & 4 jaw chuck, etc.  


Is this a good lathe for GT work?  


What should I be watching for when I go see it?



#2 petrj6 OFFLINE  

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Posted February 22, 2015 - 05:08 PM

    sound like the rite machine, nice size and good brand.  check the ways and gibs (parts where the lathe table moves back and forth) make sure they are not badly worn out or chipped badly.  take the crank handle and turn it to make the tool holder move left and rite, make sure the table moves evenly and does not bind up, also grab the chuck and turn it back and forth to make sure there is not excessive play in there.  just basically look for excessive wear and tear.


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#3 superspeedex OFFLINE  


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Posted February 22, 2015 - 06:40 PM

Make sure that its not noise or growl like abad spindle bearing also see if tooling is included cause it gets expensive quick.  LIke the above said check the bed for wear and weird noises.  The 2 monarchs that we bought we didnt even see them under power

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#4 LilysDad ONLINE  


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Posted February 22, 2015 - 08:02 PM

There are a lot of folks using that South Bend. Having a lathe with threading capability is enormously useful.

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Posted February 22, 2015 - 08:03 PM

One thing about the South Bend is there is an untold number (thousands) of them in service n home shops. Meaning there is nothing that can go wrong that someone cannot tell you how to fix and where to find parts for it.
Any old machine will have wear, but you can fix most of it.
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#6 Bill 76 ONLINE  

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Posted February 22, 2015 - 09:59 PM

 I have a 10 X 24 South bend lathe age unknown and I love it ,Almost the same as a 9inch.They made a zillon of them,some parts are available but pricey and some parts are NLA but don't let that stop you.If it's underpower listen to it run it should not make any excessive gear noise some noise is normal ,Check the power feeds on the carriage and cross slide. The ways should not be gouged up or rusty,some wear is normal and you can learn how to work around that.The spindle should spin free by hand with the belt off.Anything extra like a steady rest --follower rest--taper attachment--collets  are all a plus cus their hard to find.

Countless of these machines were run 24/7 during the war and if lubed properly will run for many more years .

I say if it sounds and looks good buy it.I would take a 50 year old south bend over a new china lathe any day.

If you do buy it first thing I would do hide the lantern tool post and get a Phase II  quick change tool post,It will make life a lot easer.  

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#7 boyscout862 ONLINE  

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Posted February 23, 2015 - 07:20 AM

I've used my Southbend to make parts for tractors and trucks. Southbend published a book "How to run a metal lathe". It is very good. Good Luck, Rick

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#8 Tennblue59 OFFLINE  



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Posted February 26, 2015 - 09:47 AM

Southbends are good machines. Very capable, and as stated, one of the more common "real" lathes in home use. Just like our GT's, use/abuse and upkeep are critical for an older machine.


Biggest issues to look for are broken gear teeth, wear on the bed, wear/vibration on the main shaft bearings, wear/slop in the main screws. There are some tests you can perform to check for wear that aren't too difficult. One involves turning down a round rod about 12-18 inches long and looking for uniform od cut. Can also use a dial gauge to check for run-out. If you look around you can find detailed instructions on checking lathe condition on a perspective purchase. 


Best bet is to go to one of the home machinist forums and look around there for more info. Practical Machinist, Home Shop Machinist, Machinist Web are all popular forums that can give you lots of info.


MOST of the time, a good machinist can work around many types of wear in a machine, but it increases the learning curve. There are several good videos out there on teaching you to use a lathe. AGI sells a great (but $$$) series of videos on using a lathe. Several good free series on youtube as well - couple good ones are from Open Source Machine Tools, or a guy named mrpete222 (also known as tubalcain) - lots more but those authors are easy to understand... 


A lot of times, what comes WITH the machine (just like a gt) is more of a deal maker/breaker - accessories/tooling are expensive and add up quickly, so if you have to buy separately, consider that. I have often heard it said that you can easily spend as much on tooling as you do on the original machine


The 8-10 inch lathes are good home use machines - they will do most of what you need and have way more capacity than the 7x14 mini lathes also commonly used. And if you get much bigger, tooling/ownership costs go up QUICKLY! They are small enough that they can be moved "relatively easily" (my 16" Hendey weighs 4000+ lbs!). ANY lathe can hurt you QUICKLY, so learn safe operating practices!


Hope that helps.....

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