Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Weighing the merits of a lathe in the shop


Recommended Posts

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).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • Replies 51
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Since I started this thread quite a while back,  I'll share what I wound up with.  I started out with an 18" Greaves & Klussman that was a project lathe.  It had no countershaft, no transmission and was quite worn.  I worked on it for a while and then came across a 20" leBlond.  It was turn-key, but it was a gap bed which had real limitations since 99% of my work would be up close to the chuck.  It was also far more lathe than I needed.  Ultimately an 18" ATW lathe appeared at my local salvage yard.  It was all disassembled, but I was able to trade my Greaves & Klussman for it.  It has a QC gearbox, a countershaft motor mount, double back gears and much less wear.  I have it mostly assembled and all parts appear to be present.  

It's taken a while to wind up with the right lathe.  I did save a good lathe from a sad fate, though I resigned another one to the same.  The big LeBlond ways will become a mighty workbench.  It took some patience until the right one came along, but all three were nearly free.  


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...