South Bend Lathe - Harrisburg PA - Seeking Assistance
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  1. #1
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    Default South Bend Lathe - Harrisburg PA - Seeking Assistance

    Greetings,

    This is my first post, and probably a long shot. I am looking for my grandfather's, John C. Nettling, South Bend Lathe that was sold after his death. My parents sold it to a man who worked for Wings N Things Aircraft Repair in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania around 2000-2002. We have searched through old files, and contacted the owner of Wings N Things, but have had no luck in finding the lathe, or the man who bought it. We have heard rumor it went to a museum in southern Pennsylvania.

    My grandfather, and his father, both worked as Machinists in the Bethelhem Steel Plant in Steelton, PA. I have old photos of him machining parts for rail car axles, and the axles themselves at the plant. There seemed to be nothing that my grandfather could not make or repair with the South Bend in his basement, (except gears, he had a friend with the ability to cut gearing). I can see that man's face and remember his model A Ford but not his name. They both lived in Oberlin Gardens / Enhaunt near Steelton.

    If anyone can help, or by chance the buyer would be on this site, I cannot explain what this lathe would mean to me at this point in my life. When my father and I spoke of selling it, I had a young family and I never imagined I would have the time to learn the trade. Now my children are grown and I have a strong desire to learn how to operate a lathe and make things like my grandfather did. It would mean the world to me to have his lathe.

    If I remember correctly it was a South Bend #9 with a four foot bed.

    If anyone can help, my email is [email protected]

    Thank you,
    Tom Nettling
    Cogan Station, PA

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  3. #2
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    All I can do is wish you luck. I would think posting here gives you the best chance. Maybe some other member will have an idea where else to search.

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  5. #3
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    I too wish you the best of luck. An ad on the Harrisburg Craigslist may also help.

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  7. #4
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    I also wish you luck on your quest. If you by chance had the serial number of the machine, that would help.

    Having said this, I would suggest that *any* lathe you would purchase, and put into use would be, for all intents
    and purposes, your grandfather's legacy. To put it another way, it isn't the exact machine that matters. What
    matters is you, carrying on what your grandfather started.

    Just a thought.

  8. #5
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    From a young age I can remember my grandfather teaching me about tools, tooling, and using the right tool for the job. I remember us using steel wool and chrome polish to shine the wheels on my bicycle when I was about 5 or 6... (1977)... I remember him machining the spark plug hole on the cylinder of my Honda Trail 70 motorcycle after I stripped it, and I still have the piece he made, the cylinder head, and the motorcycle. Right now my 20 year old son has the engine torn down and is rebuilding it with his own money.

    I have all of my grandfathers, and great-grandfathers taps and dies, and many twist drills, down to sizes I cannot see without my reading glasses... I saw one the other day marked "80" ... it is about the size of a very small needle. Not sure if this is .080 or perhaps #80. It is very small.

    I have good mechanical skills, mostly heavy diesel stuff. I have an idea for some marker lights I would like to make for a vintage Kenworth I am restoring. The kind of lights that were popular in the 70s, but no longer produced today, and the quality of what is there is marginal at best.

    I have some money saved for the right lathe, and a spot in my truck shop for it. I know I want a South Bend... just because that is what he had. I plan to continue the search, at least for a little while, then I guess I will give in and move on to my own machine. Perhaps I will find one that a man has used and is ready to part with, or perhaps his estate is parting with. I'm sure either way my grandfather would be quite proud to see the first chips fly.

    Thank you for your help and comments.

    Tom
    Cogan Station, PA

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  10. #6
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    was your GD the original purchaser? If so do you know approx purchase date?

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  12. #7
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    There is only one family member still living that might know that information. I will reach out to him and get back to the thread with the answer.

    Tom

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  14. #8
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    An admirable and noble journey for sure but as others have stated, get yourself a lathe and continue the search meantime. Your Grandad will be smiling not matter what machine your turning on. Good luck!


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