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  1. #1
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    Default Lathe choice questions

    Owner of a LeBlond Regal 13" lathe. 3 phase machine, running on real 3 phase. Circa 1947.
    Three issues: 1) Top speed of 500 RPM 2) Tail stock spindle is loose. Have to way over tighten the spindle lock in order to not have a center drill drift. 3) Cannot run in reverse due to threaded spindle.

    I see two choices (but this group will lead me to more). Swap out the lathe for something that has higher RPM available (would like to use carbide insert tooling). Being in the machine starved northwest I am sure I can get my $750 back, the amount I paid 20 years ago.
    Choice 2 would be to hold on to the lathe and buy a new, smaller (9-10") more modern lathe with a safer chuck mount system. In this case I would end up with two lathes, with the smaller one being used 90% of the time.
    I am a mere hobbyist, making small tooling and stuff for my Tree mill, small 10" shaper and ancient Brown and Sharp surface grinder.

    All thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    Ivan Vegvary, Sandy, Oregon

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    I used a South Bend lathe with a threaded spindle for 40 years without spinning the chuck off. You just need to use some sense about it. The worst problem was the opposite, I did some metal spinning and the large forces tightened the faceplate so tight that I had to rig a cutoff tool to cut away the hub. I am no lover of threaded spindles but I got a lot of use from one, including running in reverse occasionally.

    It sounds like you need to sleeve the tailstock. You might bore it or line hone it and build up the spindle with hard chrome, then grind it to fit or make a new spindle. A lot of work for an old machine.

    500 RPM is very slow for modern tooling.

    Bill

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    While I personally love the older machines, if you plan to do serious work, if I were in your shoes, I'd sell the Regal and pick up a more modern 13" or 14" if at all possible. Even buying something new, like a Precision Matthews, or one of the quote-unquote "better" imports.

    It'll cost ya a few grand, but a decent import 13x32 or 14x40 should give you a top speed of close to 2K RPM, a camlok chuck, a big enough bore for collet use, and so on.

    And I say this as a guy currently piling way too much into an old antique wartime lathe. I love the size and power (or think I will, I still have yet to use it in anger ) and like I said, I have a soft spot in my had for the old iron, but really, for what I have and eventually will have, put into it, not even counting the time, I could have called up PM or Griz or whoever, and ordered a nice, well-tooled gear-head machine new in the crate and been done with it.

    Doc.

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    I concur with Docs end goal, and will be moving that direction for my next lathe (from a belt drive 12"), hopefully I can find something used here in the northeast though. I'm not ready to pull the trigger on a machine over 1000lbs yet but I do keep tabs on whats out there. There was a great looking 80s/90s Doall 13" (Romi) with DRO that was listed for $2k down in New Hampshire. Currently a 17" SB Turnado for $2k here. I've also seen Yam, Takisawa, Webb, Cadillac and a hand full of others that would meet the need for under $5k. I want gear head, lubricated QCGB and apron hopefully, camlock chuck, and at least 1500 RPM. They are out there, at least here.

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    Bill and Docs, thank you for your thoughts. I'm leaning toward a new PM or Grizzly machine.

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    I personally wouldn't't buy anything from Grizzly. If your going to invest your hard earned money. Look at a new LeBlond. I've got a Makino Regal here I wouldn't trade for the world. Work horses.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MC Parts Kid View Post
    If your going to invest your hard earned money. Look at a new LeBlond.
    -What did it cost?

    I can't speak for the OP, but it didn't sound like he was really looking to set up a high-production job shop, or needed to work on 100-pound parts.

    Nor did it sound like he had unlimited funds to play with. I'd be surprised- very surprised- if the smallest new LeBlond was less than $25,000, and I got the feeling the OP was looking for something more in the two or three thousand range.

    Doc.

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    Tailstock fit is easily restored by hardchroming and grinding,and some hardchromers offer a service of fitting the barrel by honing the tailstock ....they offer a similar service for hydraulic valves with tight fit elements.

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    Quote Originally Posted by john.k View Post
    Tailstock fit is easily restored by hardchroming and grinding,and some hardchromers offer a service of fitting the barrel by honing the tailstock ....they offer a similar service for hydraulic valves with tight fit elements.
    John,
    Two points, the first is that service like that is expensive. Is the machine worth it? The second is that the base will be inevitably worn and the quill center will be below spindle center. You can not replace the missing metal economically, if at all.

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    3) Cannot run in reverse due to threaded spindle.
    There are ways to lock a threaded spindle to the chuck. My huge French "Sculfort" lathe has a split collar tightened with an allen cap screw, the face against the back of the chuck has a key radially cut in it, and the back of the chuck's back collar has an identical key seat, the chuck is run onto the spindle as far as needed and then the split bolt tightened up.
    The fit between the key and both seats is critical though, which means careful machining.

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    Tailstock height is easily restored by inserting a suitable shim between the base and upper ,provided the tenon is rectangular which most are......Other wise ,one can install pieces between the base and lathe bed ,a somewhat more involved process....

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    Or, if one has to machine the bore anyway, due to bellmouthing or the like, it can easily be machined to be in line.

    And really, it's often easier, and less expensive, to turn a new spindle and have them ground to match, rather than have ten thou of nickel applied and then ground back down.

    Doc.

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    All of those repair actions may be possible, but I'm pretty sure the economics are not there.

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    My first lathe was a leblond, belt drive, threaded spindle, built in the 30's. Made lots of stuff on it. Cylinders, driveshafts, pins, bushings, shafts by the dozens. Mostly repair type work. Used a lot of carbide tooling, even though the top speed was only 495 rpm. Its all about knowing how to run it in spite of its shortcomings. Still have it, didnt run it much after getting a Monarch.
    Paid $1600 back when lathes were hard to get. Probably cant get $250 for it now, so it will stay where it is. Its the perfect lathe to learn on, if you make a mistake, the belt will slip and save the machine. Dont ask how i know that. As far as buying a lathe, look in Milwaukee, Toledo, or Cincinnati craigslist, find one or a few to look at, fly there, rent u haul truck and trailer, buy lathe, load and go home happy.

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    Thanks PocoLoco, that makes a lot of sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Vegvary View Post
    Bill and Docs, thank you for your thoughts. I'm leaning toward a new PM or Grizzly machine.
    Either of those can easily BECOME a "hobby", and not a rewarding one. The stouter "Tiawanese generic" would be bottom, a South Korean Wacheon far the better deal amongst the "common" ones.

    The US "old iron" with carbides-friendly RPM is out there, but expect a project, too. Just a more rewarding stays-fixed-once-fixed one than a Piss-is-onyah, Matthew or a Grisely.

    Monarch 10EE, Hendey Tool & Gage. Sheldon S or R. SAG Graziano, a select few of the Hardinge tribe as are "toolroom" or general-purpose, not collet--widget machine guns, and several more, European or Japanese.

    Even a NEWER Regal with higher RPM?

    Left coast, you might even find a Cazeneuve-Japan HBX-360 nominal 14" X 30" and 3500 RPM or so.

    And about the same body-mass in lbs, Avoir.

    Good news is that manual lathes with all-around handy swing and reach seldom run much under 2500 - 3,000 lbs, Avoir.

    Bad news is that some outright trash aren't any lighter!


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    Seems like there is a lot of room between an old lathe that the OP is not happy with and a Precision Matthews import lathe.

    500 RPM is pretty slow. I"m not sure how this lathe is driven, but perhaps some simple tricks may up that speed (VFD, gearing, pulleys, etc).

    I say all this, but your tailstock issue sounds like this lathe is clapped out. That, plus the cost/time in upping the speed, and the fact you are not thrilled with the spindle, makes me think a new (old perhaps?) lathe would be the ticket.

    Import vs domenstic, new vs used, all of this is very subjective. What I can tell you is for my random jobs, 0-1500 RPM and 12" of swing suites an overwhelming amount of the work I do. About the only want I occasionally have would be Metric + SAE threading.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gundraw View Post
    Seems like there is a lot of room between an old lathe that the OP is not happy with and a Precision Matthews import lathe.
    "It's only a G-Damned REGAL!" was a LeBlond executive speaking. The LeBlond "heavy duty" line was the one they were proud of.

    Even so... better and higher-RPM Regals certainly still exist. The company is still around. Sort-of. LeBlond-Makino, lo these many years. Not ALL parts are "unobtanium".

    The "Taiwanese Generic" is a fairly close look-alike and workalike, actually. Parts? Not so great.

    For most folks, it comes down to opportunity, proximity, condition-ity, and money-itty-bitty.

    Then there is support..

    No gots a LeBlond, but should be but a phone call or email to ask if a specific purchase contemplated has support.

    Monarch have "some" goods for my 10EE's. The most needed wear-outable/consumable stuff, actually.

    Caveneuve parts have to come outta France, but they are set up to JF DO that, pretty comprehensive coverage.

    "Famous Brand"-names with NO support might be best left to wishlist-dreams?

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    I have a Webb/Whacheon lathe (made in Korea), it is a well made lathe that can handle anything I throw at it. It compliments my 15" Leblond Regal and my South Bend 10L. The Webb/Whacheon is the best and my favorite of all three. It is a very capable lathe that should not be considered a hobby class. I know some may disagree but it is a great lathe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbacc View Post
    ..should not be considered a hobby class. I know some may disagree but it is a great lathe.
    Well. given that some "hobby" folks rebuild - or build from scratch - full-scale steam rail, "museum demo" partial restorations of once staggeringly massive basic STEEL mills, four-engined BOMBERS, or full scale armoured warships ... and still have more money and resources left-over than many an industral firm?

    "Hobby class" could be an empty label?



    Even so, "well known" that the Wacheon began life as a fully legal, original blueprint, AND NOT "cheap copy" clone of Japan's well-regarded Mori-Seiki lathe.

    Long years have passed. Wacheon will surely have made changes. But that doesn't mean "cheapened". Some will be improvements toward better durability and easier service and maintenance as well. Common sense to do so, and with China on one doorstep, Japan the other, the South Koreans were never given the luxury nor time to be anything BUT hard-ball pragmatic and deadly serious about their game.

    Bottom line, a Wacheon was never a single day in its long life anything LESS that a good value-for-money industrial class lathe.

    In a heavily CNC'e world, it has become one of the gradually vanishing class of "all manual" lathes still in new production AT ALL and serviced with standard parts as well.

    Anything "nicer" is probably going to have to be a manual/CNC hybrid "teach in" lathe.

    Lovely kit, those can be.

    But you might want to be already on a gurney with an IV hooked up and a medical team standing by with defib gear before you even ASK the price difference of any decent "teach in" hybrid vs an all-manual Webb/Wacheon, used OR brand-new.

    "Sitting down" will not be quite good enough!



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