New guy looking at buying - but what the heck is this?
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  1. #1
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    Default New guy looking at buying - but what the heck is this?

    Hello and nice to meet you all. Long time lurker, first time poster here.

    I'm looking at buying a good metal lathe for my gunsmithing shop, but money is somewhat tight. Two options have appeared within my reach: The first is a nice condition Central Machinery 44142 3-in-1 unit with a bunch of extras for a thousand bucks. My partner and I were about ready to shake hands on it when a fellow selling a South Bend popped up on our radar.

    The problem is that I can't make heads or tales of this lathe. I know a bit about lathes, having learned to smith with one of the big Grizzly units about 8 years ago. On the end of the lathe it specified it as a 9" swing, 4' lathe, and the manual is dated 1946. But it has the included base that looks like the SB heavy 10, has 1-1/2hp motors, and the endplate lists its catalog number as "159A". The ways are fairly worn and dinged up pretty damned good near the headstock, but not to the point of the lathe being shot I don't think. They're bad but I've seen worse. Everything else has been lovingly cared for and she runs like butter, and the owner is a retired machinist himself who used it for precision work for many years. Or so he says. The thing is, he wants over a grand for it with some extras (three chucks, a couple milling modules, a rack of collets), and is pulling the old "high pressure" sales tricks on me. "Oh I had another guy here just yesterday thinking of buying it! Nope, I won't come down a penny on the price! Got three or four people looking at it now! Aww don't mind those dings in the ways, she'll do anything you want her to do!" To access the gearbox and see the gear condition requires taking off the left side end cap, which is bolted down and not a convenient door like some of them, so I haven't seen them directly. But I ran the lathe for a couple minutes and there was no unusual noise/heat/smoke or other indicators of trouble coming from the gearbox. Everything else is clean (minus a little garage dust from where its been stored) and well oiled.

    I just don't know what to think. I can't find anything on a catalog number 159A lathe and the guy is pushy to sell it. Its very tempting, but then again a screw job isn't a good screw job if it isn't tempting. What do you folks think?

  2. #2
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    Price is not important $1000 or 500 makes not much difference if it can not do what you need.
    and buying a 2000 or 3000 machine that cam do what you might be the better choice..

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    How important is spindle bore size to you?
    I have an exc condition 9" SB a bit newer, in exc condition and I've used it chambering between centers with excellent results- but, it's a 4-1/2' bed, so I can do that. This is bare minimum for all but the shortest barrels. I can work a 28"- but barely. A bed that's 6" shorter won't cut it for you.

    I also have a larger bore Sheldon now that's used if I want to work through the headstock instead (and another one as well).

    Seems to me, the bed is too short to do barrel work between centers- and the spindle bore isn't large enough to take barrels. For gunsmithing- with most lathe work being barrels- I'd recommend passing on this SB, and get a large-bore and/or long enough to work between centers machine.

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    I feel you on that. This lathe is about perfect for what I want, mostly for barrel threading on rifles, *if* it runs as well as I hope she will. Thing is its hard to know just what I'm looking at when I can't find anything out about this particular lathe.

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    looks like it is 31" between centers and 1" through bore.
    http://images.harborfreight.com/manu...4999/44142.PDF

    The whole lathe is 50" long.

    31" would do all/most of the smithing I have done but the 1" bore I would not like.

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    That's the HF combo, yeah. What I'm posting for is the South Bend. If anyone knows anything about a SB Cat No 159A that looks a heck of a lot like a heavy 10: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/79/a2...e34ada44ed.jpg

    I'd sure love to know more about it. For all the stuff with it, its a pretty fair price considering its within driving distance. But I need to make sure its not going to be some odd-duck lemon that I can't get parts for.

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    endplate lists its catalog number as "159A"
    Heavy 9L 1" collet machine from late thirties

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wehrlikon View Post
    I feel you on that. This lathe is about perfect for what I want, mostly for barrel threading on rifles, *if* it runs as well as I hope she will. Thing is its hard to know just what I'm looking at when I can't find anything out about this particular lathe.
    Specific model info is pretty irrelevant IF the lathe is complete. Post a pic if you can, odds are it's a typical double-tumbler 9A from that era. Parts are readily available from those getting scrapped out (but they are getting more pricey)- but if there's nothing that needs replacing nothing generally breaks unless you crash the lathe. The fact that they're utterly simple, accurate (provided they're not clapped-out)- and light enough to dismantle to place in basements, etc. makes them attractive to home shop guys; any QCGB one that's complete (steady and follow rests)and in running condition is worth a grand in parts value.

    Again, while I'm a SB fanboy- I don't think this one has a long enough bed for gunsmithing. But if you choose to go that route, take a long brass bar, and an indicator and run it under power. Check for spindle play and runout, do a two collar test to see if it will turn without taper. Dings, etc mean nothing (mine has a crapload in front of the spindle- stone them and the saddle/tailstock won't know the difference- but visible bed wear is cause for concern.

    Gunsmithing is working to tight tolerances- and the lathe is useless if you can't hold a thou or less with it.

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    yes, as Mr. Oder noted, 9" SB 1" collet lathe, the predessor to the "heavy 10"

    It has the 1.375" bore...and other than the swing and swing related accessories shares most parts with the heavy 10

    Pg 5 of this scan courtesy of SBlworkshop-

    http://www.wswells.com/data/catalog/...cat_bl_29b.pdf

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    Hot dang, that's the one! Specifically the 9" underneath belt drive version.

    Looks like the only way I'm going to be able to be sure about her is to chuck up a piece of tubing and put a dial indicator on it. For me its a relief just being able to see exactly what kind of lathe I'm dealing with, so thank you all very much for that.

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    QT: chuck up a piece of tubing and put a dial indicator on it.

    Tubing is not very good.. a long reamer might tell perhaps 10" between centers.
    Good to ask a guy all the simple questions.."Is there anything wrong with this machine?"..
    and good to buy from a guy who used the machine / not just a machine flipper.

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    With the large spindle and oversized motor, you should have no problem stuffing a 1.250" barrel blank through the spindle and turning it, but does the lathe come with a steady rest and follow rest to use when profiling? If not, finding the right one (for a 9" WIDE BED) might be like searching for "hens teeth". A late model 10L or 13" with hard bed and a good tooling package would be a better investment. Leave the "wide 9" for the collectors. My .02 cents worth. PB

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    Didn't think SB was still making that model in '46.

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    I would choose a 10-36" or better, with having a steady / 4jaw /taper attachment
    1 1/2 or better bore / metric and SAE threading / QC gears.
    Choosing a better machine likely cost $3,000+ but not needing any repair and could be sold..

    but my gun smith uses an old time Logan and does most anything.

    You can make a spider with choosing a gear that would give 4 places as you turn the chuck around, finger off that gear and with long bed travel scribe 4 lines with a tool bit on a hollow and thick wall tube/pipe, then make a cross mark again with a tool bit and turning the chucked part to locate 8 drill and tap holes ...and then drill and tap on the drill press.

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    I have nothing against a lot of HF tools but their machine tools are just junk. If the "Heavy 9" (Not the correct name but that what is what a lot of people call them) doesn't come with a steady rest you could get one for a Heavy 10 and it will work.

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    Quote Originally Posted by garyphansen View Post
    I have nothing against a lot of HF tools but their machine tools are just junk. If the "Heavy 9" (Not the correct name but that what is what a lot of people call them) doesn't come with a steady rest you could get one for a Heavy 10 and it will work.
    I was just going to ask about this. I called the owner and it comes with a 12" milling adapter and assorted toolposts, but no steadies. If the rest from the 10 will work we might be in business. I dug out my magnetic dial indicator this morning and will be heading over there tomorrow to do some testing.

    You guys are pretty fantastic people, by the way. I've been lurking on here for 6 or 7 months, fiddling with things and getting ready to expand my shop and I've already learned a lot I didn't know. I just wish good shop tools were more available in the heartland. I see decent deals from time to time, but its always "Used Grizzly 9729, nice shape, $1200 bucks. Located in central GA, pickup only."

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    Gary is correct...a heavy 10 rest will work as the bed diminsions are the same...but it will sit about 3/8" or so higher so will have less capacity....no big deal as I doubt you plan on supporting anything over 2" or so.

    If you need a follow rest one from a 9" workshop series will work.

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    "Cetral Machinery" now, and "Central Machinery" from the '80's machine tools are two, completely different animals IMO.

    I have a "green machine" drill press that's a tank, and I wouldn't hesitate to consider any machine from that area. The older CM equipment was made in Taiwan- which is where all the decent Asian machines.

    But I'm still having a problem with the 1946 date as I'm near positive they were only made for a couple of years around '38-'39 before being replaced with the Heavy 10 from what I've read.

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    He just has a 1946 copy of HTRAL


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