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Thread: SB vs. Sears

  1. #1
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    With all this talk of the "bare bones SB models," I thought I'd give my comparison, having just used a competitor's lathe for 6 hours straight.

    I had the "pleasure" of running a 12" Sears lathe today (in *perfect* condition... the ways have absolutely no wear, the spindle bearings are pristine). Wow, I cannot say how much more I liked running my 10L. Where to start...

    The apron on the sears lathe sucked. It was single walled, and there was no friction longitudinal feed, only halfnuts. The QC gearbox had a small range, and the finest feed was only 0.004" per rev.

    The tailstock didn't have way wipers, so I constantly had to clean and oil the ways, which sucked, since with only 2" of ram travel, on most boring operations I had to move the tailstock.

    The tailstock locking lever is ont he freakin' back of the tailstock. What awful placement...

    The thing used 3C collets. I sure was glad for that 10L and the 5C.

    The lathe was just not rigid enough for its swing. I tried knurling aluminum, and it barely had the power to turn the thing, and the knurls were only half depth once I left the position where I set the depth.

    I really appreciate the SB's simplicity now. Previously I had considered South bends to be the Model T's of lathes. They may be simple, but all those little features are hard to notice until they're no longer there. For example, the 10L has a huge threading dial. I had to squint to see the one on the sears lathe. The carriage traverse handle on the sears lathe was also smaller and closer to the carriage, making it less precise and harder to run.

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    Yeah but the sears lathe comes with the lifetime craftsman warranty. Just return it when it wears out and they'll give you a brand new one. Oh, wait a minute...

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    At the risk of being severely flamed (have at it!), the "C" lathe is made for the "use it a few times a year and don't expect much set"

    When I had my first shop, I bought old Hendeys and P&Ws, A wannabe helper who styled himself as a "tool and die expert" brought a new 12" "C" lathe into the mix. After a few weeks, I noticed he wasn't using it anymore

    After awhile, it seemed to go away, back to his garage I suppose. He was embarrased to have it among the old but real lathes.

    John

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    This would the late-model (square headstock) Atlas made machine, right? It wasn't a competitor of the SB 10L at all. Heavy Tens were made as small industrial/commercial machines. The Atlas ones were purely home use, or for light work in small shops.

    In 1966 you could get a Craftsman/Atlas 12x36" complete with a cabinet stand and underdrive (500 pound shipping weight for everything) for $650. I don't know what a 10L sold for back then but I'd guess it was a little more.

    If you want to see Atlas' 10L fighter, try the Clausing Mk.3 in the '40s, 6300 or 5400 in the '50s, and 4800/4900 in the '60s. Double-wall sealed oil apron, internal backgears (on the later ones), flame-hardened bed, 5C nose with L0 taper. Tailstock lock is still on the back, though.

    [ 01-17-2006, 07:44 PM: Message edited by: John in MA ]

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    To be brutally fair you should probably
    compare the 12 inch atlas to the 9" southbend
    model A.

    (the SB might still win though...)

    Jim

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    Hmm, ok. The guy who showed me the lathe presented it as the Rolls Royce of home shop machines, which it appeared to be, until I started to use it. I had always considered the 10" SB's to be for home shop, aswell. How strange... I was wondering why the 10L had wider ways, yet a lower center height.

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    The 10K is certainly a home shop machine.

    I would say the 10L crosses the line, if only
    because of the ability to accept 5C tooling in
    the spindle.

    Of course 10Ls will never be considered true
    industrial machines ever again because of the
    flat belt drive. But they were at one time.

    Jim

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    All the various Atlas models were the least-expensive fully-featured domestic lathes in their various sizes. Mainly designed to be versatile at the expense of size, strength, and durability for cost reasons. Not that that's a bad thing--they probably got more lathes into people's hands than any other company. South Bend 10Ls were once popular lathes in military and industrial maintenance shops. You'd never see an Atlas in a place like that.

    My circa-1938 Atlas manual opens with something like "until now, a modern lathe cost hundreds of dollars."

    This reminds me of something I'd been pondering. Atlas machines these days get put down by a lot of people. Folks compare them to what are used as inexpensive home shop lathes these days--this includes SB 10Ls, Monarch 10EEs, 12" Clausings, and smaller Colchesters. Back in the '50s did anyone think about these as choices for hobby use? Most were hardly cheap, and a 10EE back then cost as much as a house. Whereas you could waddle out of the local Atlas dealer with a 10" lathe and stuff it in the trunk of your Chevy.

    What were all the popular options back then? Atlases, SB9/10Ks, and Logans seem to make up the vast majority. I guess a few Myfords were available in the US, and things like the 10" Rockwells were creeping in there at the high end.

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    Quite a few nice model IC engines have been built with Craftsman/Atlas 10" and 12" lathes and to a standard that most here would probably be happy with.

    That said, my Clausing 5914 12x36 is a lot more fun and productive to use than the 1950's Craftsman 12x36 that it replaced, even though the Craftsman was in better mechanical condition.

    Mike

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    The Sears / Atlas is the real cheapie.... thin, light, limber and bouncy. The 12" is the worst, too big a swing for its construction. Usable, but not likely to spoil you....

    People look down on Logan, too, but they weigh abut twice as much in the 10" size, and have a bed width of 7" vs I think 4.5" for the Atlas and 5" even for the 9" S-B. I was very surprised at how light the 9B at the dad-in-law's is.

    For mass, the bigger S-B, about ANY Sheldon, and most of the 12x and larger chinese machines have it. The Atlas and 9" SB sure don't, and the Logan is only somewhat heavier buy comparison.

    You WILL see SB, Sheldon, and even Logan in maintenance shops. Atlas are rare outside of basements.

    Have not dealt with a 10L, they do look a bit heavier, what's the bed width and depth?

    I will say that even the 9B has nice features.... Separate power turning feed (option on Logan) and rather decent "everyday working" feel and general behaviour. It's obvious S-B had made lathes before that......

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    My first lathe was a 10" Atlas. I liked it but you couldn't be in a hurry. I have since sold it, bought and sold a 16&1/2 Monarch and now have two SB 10L. As far as ease of operation and speed of spindle and speed changes, the Atlas was easier for me. I would sure take the Atlas ahead of the minie things I see advertised. I agree the Atlas doesn't compare favorably against the 10L. The 10L can't be compared to the big M either. Just one persons opinion. Sicero

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    Just my opinion but I've had the craftsman commercial and have a South Bend 10L although I did like the craftsman after a lot of research and finding out how cheaply Craftsman lathes are built and after playing with a South Bend heavy 10 my craftsman felt very cheap also I didn't realize how much vibration resonated through the craftsman until I used the heavier South Bend. All the controls on my South Bend 10l are smoother and it is considerably heavier with virtually zero vibration even at higher RPM it has more muscle and runs quiete. Like I said just my opinion but I've had both and if you want a machine that is designed to run hours on end very smooth no vibration and is a joy to use get the south bend.

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    Wow, 11 year old zombie thread. That's gotta be a record around here.

    allan

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    My first lathe was a 12X24 Sears Atlas. I did a lot of work with it, but had to remember that it had limitations. Last year i found a South Bend 9-A, and promptly sold the atlas. It is like trading a go kart for a Cadillac. Even though the South Bend has a little less capacity size wise, i am really glad i made the switch.

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk


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