Re-grinding the bed on my South Bend 13
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  1. #1
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    Default Re-grinding the bed on my South Bend 13

    I recently retired and am in the process of setting up a small shop at my home. Something to keep my hand in.
    Part of this has been a South Bend 13x36 lathe. Serial numbers indicate it’s a 1937-1940 model. And the ways have seen better days. Badly worn in the area of most of the work. Obviously not lubricated properly.
    So, what I need is a shop that can regrind the bed for me. I’m in central Texas, so closer is better.

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    Commerce comes to mind...ain't cheap tho.

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    Quote Originally Posted by iwananew10K View Post
    Commerce comes to mind...ain't cheap tho.
    Ok. Enlighten me. Commerce?

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    There used to be somebody in Fredericksburg doing this. Anybody know if they still exist?

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    Commerce Grinding in Dallas....if you go to the rebuilding part of the forum and ask there are a few guys from your area that might have some leads.

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    Steve Watkins in Navasota Texas that is NW of Houston can Plane the bed if it is soft. I would bet he is 1/2 price or less of what Commerce charges. He can also do the saddle, cross slide, compound. If you have time. He is talking about hosting another Scraping class next February and I will show you how to scrape and fit the parts.
    Steve's email is [email protected]

    If it is soft after you grind the bed it will need to be scraped or 1/2 moon flaked or the soft ways will get stick slip and scratch or the ways will gall up sooner then later.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gorrilla View Post
    I recently retired and am in the process of setting up a small shop at my home. Something to keep my hand in.
    Part of this has been a South Bend 13x36 lathe. Serial numbers indicate it’s a 1937-1940 model. And the ways have seen better days. Badly worn in the area of most of the work. Obviously not lubricated properly.
    So, what I need is a shop that can regrind the bed for me. I’m in central Texas, so closer is better.
    SB's are not worth even the setup costs of a full regrind.

    WHEN we ran them in production, we just bought NEW beds & such now and then. They were cheap by business standards, back in the day, but those factory spares are essentially all-gone-now.

    Planing would be more cost-effective, as Rich points out.

    Also more than good enough with the scraping-touch up, then flaking for lube.

    Hobby use, that could do yah a lifetime, yah keep it CLEAN and well-oiled.

    Factory use, not so much. Day Job would actually have been money-ahead to have switched-over to Hardinge 20 years earlier than they finally did. They discovered years too late (new Plant Manager) they'd have needed but a fraction of the labour and spindle-count for the higher throughput of a Hardinge over a lineup of lovingly tuned and custom-tooled-to-the walls but FUTILE Iron-bearing SB 9.

    So yes, SB's got used in "Industry", but no, they very often should NOT have been. False economy for any sort of volume production. Better for odd-job repair work.


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    Quote Originally Posted by thermite View Post
    SB's are not worth even the setup costs of a full regrind.

    WHEN we ran them in production, we just bought NEW beds & such now and then. They were cheap by business standards, back in the day, but those factory spares are essentially all-gone-now.

    Planing would be more cost-effective, as Rich points out.

    Also more than good enough with the scraping-touch up, then flaking for lube.

    Hobby use, that could do yah a lifetime, yah keep it CLEAN and well-oiled.

    Factory use, not so much. Day Job would actually have been money-ahead to have switched-over to Hardinge 20 years earlier than they finally did. They discovered years too late (new Plant Manager) they'd have needed but a fraction of the labour and spindle-count for the higher throughput of a Hardinge over a lineup of lovingly tuned and custom-tooled-to-the walls but FUTILE Iron-bearing SB 9.

    So yes, SB's got used in "Industry", but no, they very often should NOT have been. False economy for any sort of volume production. Better for odd-job repair work.

    You have received good advise from both Bill and Rich. Be advised though, the cost of resurfacing and scraping that lathe, which must also include carriage and compound will cost about the same as a new lathe. You cannot make an economical case for this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve-l View Post
    You have received good advise from both Bill and Rich. Be advised though, the cost of resurfacing and scraping that lathe, which must also include carriage and compound will cost about the same as a new lathe. You cannot make an economical case for this.
    No retiree / hobbyist HAS to make an economical case for this. It's about scratching our own itch, not earning revenue, and we expect to PAY for that affliction.

    With that said.. there is greater satisfaction - even more "bang for the buck" - if one puts the same time and money into a far better starting platform than a South Bend.

    Sort of like restoring Timex watches when one could do Grade Five watches for less spend and have better results the whole time of it as well.

    They were built to last an incredibly greater span of time from the outset, so they NEED less to put back right, then reward one with far better timekeeping. Even a measure of prestige.

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    Take Richards advise, contact the man with the planer!

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    Quote Originally Posted by thermite View Post
    No retiree / hobbyist HAS to make an economical case for this. It's about scratching our own itch, not earning revenue, and we expect to PAY for that affliction.

    With that said.. there is greater satisfaction - even more "bang for the buck" - if one puts the same time and money into a far better starting platform than a South Bend.

    Sort of like restoring Timex watches when one could do Grade Five watches for less spend and have better results the whole time of it as well.

    They were built to last an incredibly greater span of time from the outset, so they NEED less to put back right, then reward one with far better timekeeping. Even a measure of prestige.
    I cannot argue about the hobby thing, but there is no way a 1942 SB 13 can compete with a modern 13 even in perfect factory specs. So, when the OP decides to take this on, his eyes better be wide open. He will be in for a lot of cost, frustration and labor for a result that is dubious at best.

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    I think the folks pointing out the poor return on investment for restoring a vintage South Bend are missing some key points.

    Point 1: The OP owns it already and is familiar with its operation. He's comfortable with this machine.

    Point 2: Conehead flat belt lathes are safer than gearheads. Crash the chuck, or worse, your body, and they will usually stop. Not so with gearhead machines. They will turn you into a bloody pulp for your wife or kids to find if you're careless or just inexperienced. Just search YouTube for "lathe safety" for graphic illustrations of this point.

    Point 3: A vintage SBL is simple. It's simple to understand, simple to diagnose when there's a problem, and simple to fix once you find the issue.

    Point 4: Try finding online support for other hobby machines like we enjoy here. Don't bother, you won't.

    If he wants to regrind the bed and mill/scrape all the mating surfaces, it will be expensive, maybe as much as $5K to pay a skilled restorer to do the whole thing. Knowing what I know now, I'd first invest $2K on travel costs and Richard King's class fee and learn the fundamentals of scraping and way build-up material choices for the sliding surfaces.

    Regardless, if it makes him happy and confident to keep machining in retirement, I say go for it and damn the torpedoe[r]s.

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    IMO, There are 2 perspectives.
    The Immediate Liquidation view: If you were to buy a wore out lathe at an appropriate price, then turn around and fully rebuild it (grinding ways, scraping and fitting, etc.) you will of course spend way more than you can ever hope to get out of it selling it back on the market. The fix for this is not to bother with it. If you want a like-new lathe, buy a new lathe every time it's wear "totals" it.

    BUT

    The other perspective (that I foolishly subscribe to): Buy a well used lathe that has payed for itself countless times, dream about restoring it, maybe do some cosmetic improvements and necessary repairs, and all the while the lathe goes to work. It doesn't matter if it's hobby stuff or production (both cost money and both give you something in return), it starts to literally earn its keep, and eventually pays itself forward so that you actually could afford to give the machine some well earned TLC, just to follow up with MORE work and eventually sell it off to someone else who continues the same cycle. You're not ever going to be able to add-up all you put in and charge someone to balance the check-book, because so much has already gone out the door.

    I'm obviously no economist and don't profess to be, but IMO the price model of immediate liquidation governing a tools value is only appropriate if you actually plan to immediately liquidate. Otherwise, you have to consider the practical value of the lathe over time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve-l View Post
    I cannot argue about the hobby thing, but there is no way a 1942 SB 13 can compete with a modern 13 even in perfect factory specs. So, when the OP decides to take this on, his eyes better be wide open. He will be in for a lot of cost, frustration and labor for a result that is dubious at best.
    "New" SB? Thot that was just another Asian-sourced Grisely with lockwashers and a different paint-code?

    Well.... it be a South Bend forum. That will always mean "made in Indiana" to me, so I'd prolly best shut up and go scrape some more grunge off the French expat Cazeneuve or whichever of the Best Buckeye Iron 10EE I can actually GET to.


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    So, when the OP decides to take this on, his eyes better be wide open
    Plus 1

    Like things I'll bet are not thought about until there they are, waiting to be part of the deal

    Such as carriage saddle ALWAYS wears more than the bed - made to happen that way

    So - you are taking material OFF BED and OFF SADDLE

    You don't just plop the one down on the other and go to town

    YOU MUST FILL UP THE GAP YOU MADE. If you don't reestablish CORRECT HEIGTH things don't line up anymore - like the lead screw passing thru the apron

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    Plane the bed and saddle. Calculate for material removed, lost height.
    Record how much is removed from bed V and flat.
    Review trig, wear liner comes in .015, .031, .046, .060......
    Apply wear liner and recut as needed. Scrape to fit and for oil pockets.
    John

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    This is much like restoring cars. Better to start with one in good original condition or one that someone else has restored (let them take the loss). Starting with a basket case is, by far, the most expensive way to get where you want to go. You have to decide whether you're in it for the project or you want a tool to do other projects. If the former, go for it. If the latter, start shopping for a better machine. Even if you don't count what you already have in this machine, you will spend more to restore it than to buy a machine in decent usable condition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by johnoder View Post
    Plus 1

    So - you are taking material OFF BED and OFF SADDLE

    You don't just plop the one down on the other and go to town

    YOU MUST FILL UP THE GAP YOU MADE. If you don't reestablish CORRECT HEIGTH things don't line up anymore - like the lead screw passing thru the apron
    This is true for most lathes, but not necessarily for vintage SBLs. I wouldn't say one MUST fill the gap, at least not in the sense implied above re: sliding surfaces. The gap can be filled below the bed on non-sliding surfaces and work just fine.

    My 16" is back making parts after a major regrind/scraping. Total of 0.115" vertical carriage drop between bed wear (0.050") and saddle wear (0.065"). It's cast iron on cast iron sliding surfaces same as it left the factory. It required shimming [downward] of components such as the gearbox, rack, and leadscrew bearing down to meet the new apron height/leadscrew centerline. This approach requires shimming UP the sliding surface of the rear carriage gib under the bed and the tailstock at the split plane.

    The revised geometry has no effect on the drivetrain because the banjo rotates up to compensate the gear mesh.

    None of this would be possible on a gearhead machine without a banjo. For those machines, building the sliding surfaces back up to original height with materials like Rulon, Turcite, etc., is the only practical option to maintain alignment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thomasutley View Post
    This is true for most lathes, but not necessarily for vintage SBLs. I wouldn't say one MUST fill the gap, at least not in the sense implied above re: sliding surfaces. The gap can be filled below the bed on non-sliding surfaces and work just fine.

    My 16" is back making parts after a major regrind/scraping. Total of 0.115" vertical carriage drop between bed wear (0.050") and saddle wear (0.065"). It's cast iron on cast iron sliding surfaces same as it left the factory. It required shimming [downward] of components such as the gearbox, rack, and leadscrew bearing down to meet the new apron height/leadscrew centerline. This approach requires shimming UP the sliding surface of the rear carriage gib under the bed and the tailstock at the split plane.

    The revised geometry has no effect on the drivetrain because the banjo rotates up to compensate the gear mesh.

    None of this would be possible on a gearhead machine without a banjo. For those machines, building the sliding surfaces back up to original height with materials like Rulon, Turcite, etc., is the only practical option to maintain alignment.
    True as far as it goes, BUT... the work is FAR less, and materials to raise the saddle back to "as built" are not all that dear.

    Restoring saddle height - with Moglice, for example - remains the better option as NONE of that shimming of rack, rear hold-down/gib, gearbox, leadscrew bracket and related work has to be done at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thermite View Post
    True as far as it goes, BUT... the work is FAR less, and materials to raise the saddle back to "as built" are not all that dear.

    Restoring saddle height - with Moglice, for example - remains the better option as NONE of that shimming of rack, rear hold-down/gib, gearbox, leadscrew bracket and related work has to be done at all.
    No argument here, BUT it's one more learning curve challenge for someone like the OP. Rulon, Turcite, Moglice (and their respective catalyzed adhesives in the case of the two solid materials) are, in fact, fairly expensive -- several hundred dollars per machine if you don't have leftovers lying around.

    To be clear, the next time I restore a machine, I will build it back up to stock height. It's the right way to do it, but there are viable alternatives that can keep a resto/rebuild moving toward a happy ending on a limited budget.

    BTW, now that I know...I'd much prefer to scrape Rulon or Turcite over scraping metal. Ha.


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