I would think that you better take the apron apart and find out whats going on. The hammer is not a good idea.
IMO, it is money well spent to invest in a reprint of LeBlond's Manual: "Running a Regal". I got a copy off ebay for about 20 dollars. It has exploded views of the various assemblies of the round head Regal lathes.
Looking at the exploded view of the 13" round head Regal apron, the shifter lever for the long & cross feeds is pinned onto a rather complex looking part. This part consists of a shaft made integral with a two-part "cam". Using a hammer on the feed shifter lever is a good way to do some irrepairable damage to that feed shifter cam. The cam is a relatively complex part, something you'd either be unable to obtain as a new/replacement part, or else be a long time trying to duplicate and get working right.
The feed shifter cam fits into a raised housing cast as part of the apron front. There is a feed trip adjusting screw on the Left Hand top of the raised portion of this housing. This is out in the open, on the front of the apron, and is easy to get at. I'd start by removing the feed trip adjusting screw (make sure not to let the spring contained under it go flying into the unknown). I'd start there, clean, inspect, and try operating without the adjuster (lathe not under power) to see if the feed shifter was freed up.
The feed shifter shaft (connecting the feed shifter lever and the cam) runs in a bushing. This bushing fits into a bore in the RH side of that raised portion of the housing.
If you face the apron, and look at this raised portion of the housing, the feed shifter lever will be on your right. There should be a set screw holding the feed shifter shaft bushing into the apron. This may be covered with paint and will be at about 6:00 in the boss on the apron housing section.
If you look at the left end of where the feed shifter cam is housed, there should be a sheet metal plug. This plug closes the end of the bore where the shifter cam turns. I'd start by cleaning off any encrusted paint, and you may find the plug was chrome plated. Try to pry the plug out. This will let you look into the shifter cam and see if it is working correctly. This cam is worked in two directions- axially, to shift between long and cross feeds, and by turning the cam shaft when you use the lever, to clutch the feeds in or out. Squirt some penetrating oil or solvent in with the cam and try to get a look at it before you take things further apart.
There is also a spring loaded detent that locks the feed cam in whatever position is needed. This detent comes in from the bottom of that raised area of the housing where the feed shifter cam is housed. There is a set screw which plugs the drilling for the detent, then a compression spring, then the detent- a piece of round stock with a chisel edge. There is a detent retaining set screw that comes in from the front of the apron. The detent works vertically. I'd pull the detent and try working the feed shifter, and look at the tip of the detent for visible damage.
This is about the limit of what can be accessed without a more extensive dismantling. If the problem is not in the shifter mechanism, it may be in the clutch gears. This requires separating the saddle from the apron.
IMO, I'd start by hunting up a manual- I think one is available online for free. Study that, then start with what is readily accessable. Putting a dead blow hammer to the feed shifter lever is a sure way to break something.
Thanks for the detailed info guys. I'll start looking. I do have the manual as well.
I emailed LeBlond, Ltd Sunday morning and got a answer back this morning, Those people are fast. Anyway here is the info they sent me.
1. Serial Number: B11573
2. 13”X30” LeBlond Regal
3. Spindle Speeds: 37 to 750RPM
4. Motor: 1HP; 1800RPM
6. Sold to U.S. Government
7. Ship Date: September 17, 1953
Good to hear that they are still at it.The person I talked to was Ed Morris.He had been a service tech for LeBlond.One thing he told me is that they now recommend 20 wt or ISO 68 machine oil for those lathes.I cleaned mine up and changed both reservoirs to the ISO 68 turbin oil.The hand pump even works in freezing weather (my 13 is in the garage).
Thanks for the heads up on the oil.
Finally got around to taking the apron off and checking it. Not wanting or knowing how to take most of the stuff apart, I started with the small stuff. I noticed that from the bottom of the apron(parts breakdown schematic), there was a removable screw that held a spring. I guess that spring put pressure on the lever mechanism as when removed the lever just dropped around very easily. I took it apart and cleaned it up and started playing with the tension on the spring. I got to a point where the lever feels good and left it at that. Now it's pretty easy to engage on and off.