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  1. #1
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    Default Best vintage lathes

    Curious how folks would rank lathes in terms of desirability. I know that is a loaded question so here is what I'm looking for. Give me your top 3-4 lathes in terms of quality etc.. I have a small SB, but would like to get a bigger (floor model) lathe as a project. I have been looking at some SB 16in lathes, my brother tells me if I'm going to do it go big - ie. Hendey (and when I say big I'm not saying size but quality). So give me your top/desirable old lathes. Thanks

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    No best one, many post on this subject, But Monarch, L&S, American,are in the top 3... many more.... all good old American iron from the 50S up...Phil

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    Quote Originally Posted by mwill135 View Post
    Curious how folks would rank lathes in terms of desirability. I know that is a loaded question so here is what I'm looking for. Give me your top 3-4 lathes in terms of quality etc.. I have a small SB, but would like to get a bigger (floor model) lathe as a project. I have been looking at some SB 16in lathes, my brother tells me if I'm going to do it go big - ie. Hendey (and when I say big I'm not saying size but quality). So give me your top/desirable old lathes. Thanks
    To doo what with ?
    Polish up and admire ?

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    To me, most of the storied builders from the 40s onward are probably really good and have their followers. Many still have parts available. The downside is that it is unlikely we'll see tools like that made again.

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    There was just a post and very long discussion about this...

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    Despite the widespread misuse of the word, vintage means about nothing without coupling it to a time frame. Its perfectly correct to say 2019 vintage for example, vintage doesn't mean old. So what era are you thinking? 2010, 1960, 1890 and so on

    Secondly start defining "best". Best at making rolls for a steel mill or a watch balance staff?

    Maybe what you are after is a list of the better lathe manufacturers? Monarch, DSG, Schaublin, Holbrook, Smart Brown, Hardringe, Pacemaker and on and on...it would be a such a long list it doesn't mean much unless you've got one your looking at or can narrow what you need
    Last edited by Mcgyver; 11-19-2020 at 01:51 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mcgyver View Post
    Despite the widespread misuse of the word, vintage means about nothing without coupling it a time frame. Its perfectly correct to say 2019 vintage for example, vintage doesn't mean old. SNIP
    Nonsense! Tell that to a collector of *anything*. Vintage = old = collectible = (try to) sell for 10-100x actual worth.

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    When selecting a vintage unit I prefer something with a CRT, the old single line nixie tube displays were far more difficult to run

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    Not SB.

    Better to decide from what's actually available to you, what you can get parts for, and what you can afford.

    The old P&W lathes are very nice. Need a bearing for one and you are sol. Me personally, the odds of an ancient lathe needing a bearing is pretty high. Plain bearing easier to deal with. But some guys don't care (or don't know) that their visually stunning lathe is useless for anything buy nasty ass roughing cuts.

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    Characteristics of a good vintage lathe, in no particular order:

    1) nearby.
    2) less than $250.
    3) nothing broken.
    4) really large hole in spindle.
    5) quick change gearbox.
    6) comes with lots of tooling.
    7) grandpa had this old motorcycle, it's out in the barn, would you haul it away for a hundred bucks?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mcgyver View Post
    Despite the widespread misuse of the word, vintage means about nothing without coupling it to a time frame. Its perfectly correct to say 2019 vintage for example, vintage doesn't mean old. So what era are you thinking? 2010, 1960, 1890 and so on
    True enough, but for the purposes of defining age of an item, using the term vintage as a classification category generally means more than 40 years old, where antique would mean anything more than 100 years old. So vintage items are between 40 and 100 years gone by since they were new.

    As for the OP's question, I'd say there's a fair bit of old iron out there yet, and as long as you stick to the names that have already been named you will find that current condition and tooling included will matter more than which of those names is on it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hardplates View Post
    When selecting a vintage unit I prefer something with a CRT, the old single line nixie tube displays were far more difficult to run
    -You young'uns an' yer newfangled electronics. It ain't a real machine unless it's runnin' paper tape! [spits tobacco]



    Doc.

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    Impossible question to answer.

    What you are asking is: I want to replace my current car with a vintage car. Vintage what? A car made in 1920 or made in 1980? Do you want a Ford Model T for which lots of part are available or a Cadillac with a V16 motor for which very few parts are available? Are you gonna drive it or just polish it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by DocsMachine View Post
    -You young'uns an' yer newfangled electronics. It ain't a real machine unless it's runnin' paper tape! [spits tobacco]



    Doc.
    Tape *what*?



    Hollow state electronics or bust.

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    The best lathe ever made, vintage or otherwise,
    is the one that you own outright,
    or have a clear plan working to that end,

    that does the job asked of it,

    when it’s asked.



    Everything else is arbitrary.



    It doesn’t matter:

    Who made the lathe or where

    How slow or fast the machine spins

    How big

    Heavy

    What you paid for it



    Honestly it really doesn’t matter whether the job pays or not

    We all have lathes we aspire to.

    We may be forced to either turn down jobs, or be limited in a personal project, because our machine just isn’t big enough.

    Maybe we sign on here, KNOWING we can’t mention the machine we’re using.

    Or bad-mouth the one we use for our boss, (me!) when we’ve used better ones for other bosses or in the shop we’ve made for ourselves.

    There’s no better lathe than the one you’re standing at, that’s doing a good job doing the job it’s supposed to do.





    Be safe and stay healthy



    Jeremy

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    The bore of the spindle is what moved me from a Hendey 16 X 30 to a Mazak 18 X 60. The Mazak has same footprint, so quiet and 2.060 inch spindle bore. However I do miss the threading capacity and function as well as the taper attachment of the Hendey.

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    One old lathe I always wanted and not well known is a Lehmann Hydrotrol headstock lathe. One in a 18"-20" size would be a perfect size for my needs. Used to have a Lehmann gear head lathe which was okay. Their hydraulic operated headstock allowed you to change speeds without stopping the spindle except for running in back gear. Yeah, they are a nightmare to work on the headstock that never stopped me. Ken


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