Weighing the merits of a lathe in the shop

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One of the machine shops where I work, specifically the one in the building I work in, has half of a monstrous old LeBlond lathe. The bed is easily 12 feet and, I'm led to believe, is only half of the machine - the rest is in another building. The chuck that's in it is easily four feet in diameter and I'd guess the swing is probably two-and-a-half feet, or so. I'm fairly sure you could turn railroad wheelsets on it. 

The machine shop in a different building has some of the largest machines I've ever seen. Though they were not intended for such, I could easily imagine them building the parts and pieces for Sherman tanks or artillery pieces. Unfortunately, most of it is never used. The plant employs only a few full-time machinists, and only a couple know how to operate equipment that old. 

Back on topic: I'd love to have a good lathe to play with. I think you'll spend some time dreaming up things to do with your new capabilities and capacity, and before long you'll wonder how you ever made it without (or with a smaller version).

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