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Is this South Bend lathe still a good buy?


New member

I am planning to buy this South Bend lathe.

The seller says that the back gear is already worn out. Thus, the lathe cannot run at low speeds.

I am just a beginner at machining. I want to learn lathe machining as a hobby.

Is this lathe still a good buy?
Would installing an inverter and a three-phase motor solve the issue of the broken gear?

Thank you.


Derek Smalls

New member
I'm not sure what the seller means by "worn out". The usual problem with the back gear is broken teeth on one or more of the gears in that system caused by misuse, NOT wear. He may mean that the spring loaded plunger which keeps pressure on the back gear engagement cam is missing or not working. This will cause the back gear to work out of engagement while using it. Or, the gear assembly may not have lubed correctly and is now a bit loose on the shaft it rides on.
Obviously, I can't tell the condition of the back gear from the above pics, but it does appear the back gear shaft is in place. All these parts are easily replaced and can be found on ebay or from folks here.
As long as the rest of the machine is in good shape, I'd buy it and repair the back gear, it should not be a difficult nor expensive repair.
Using a VFD to get variable speed is cool but not good for very low motor rpm like you'd need with no back gear. You loose a lot of torque that way.


New member
I think that as a beginner you should not buy a lathe in unknown condition, especially since the one you showing seems in poor shape. As a beginner you you will have enough challenges besides dealing with lathe related problems. And there is no shortage of good machines at very reasonable prices.


New member
"It is a South Bend 10K....how can anyone know if it's a good buy without knowing the price??"

I apologize for this. The seller wants 650USD for it.


New member
As long as you can verify all functions work, going through the settings and turning the chuck by HAND, then I would say you can't get hurt at 500 for your area.....don't power it until you can give it a proper wipe down and oiling.
You can check the motor spins up, but do it with the belt slack and the reverser in the neutral position, only very briefly just to see if the motor runs.

Good luck, if it works out you will have a decent first lathe.


Is this South Bend lathe still a good buy

I have couple of WWI photos of my grandfather, and would like them colorized. Do any of you know a reputable person or company that does this? Thanks Ken


Active member
I have couple of WWI photos of my grandfather, and would like them colorized. Do any of you know a reputable person or company that does this? Thanks Ken

You doo realize this is a "Machining" forum sir ?

Try "Modern Photography Today .com"


New member
I think its also important to note what state you are in. In my experience use lathe/mill prices jump up quite a bit once you get out of the North East/East coast.

But to really stress a good take away: If you are just starting out, having a working lathe right off the bat reduces a lot of the roadblocks from really getting into machining/turning as a hobby. So I would shy away from something that the seller cant show operating, Might even be worth finding someone in your area who wouldn't mind showing you the ropes or a class. It really isn't the greatest idea buying something blind, especially when it weights a couple hundred or more lbs.


Active member
Re-treading a South Bend or Logan bull gear is pretty trivial, assuming you have a lathe and a mill and some experience.... as a novice lacking a mill , index and appropriate cutters necessary to make a gear. I'd call it a deal breaker. Don't fall into the "all ya gotta do is" trap.

And be very aware machine prices are generally less than the cost of tooling to get them up and running. The cost of a new chuck or set of tool holders could easily exceed the purchase price of the machine. Look for something "turn-key": fully tooled up ready to go to work.