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Considering An Atlas Lathe In Bedford, In

Discussion in 'GENERAL DISCUSSIONS' started by gearhead, Jan 2, 2017.

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  1. gearhead

    gearhead United States Active User Active Member

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    I looked to try and find the best place to post this, apologies if I missed the mark.

    I've been wanting to get a lathe for some time now. I create kinetic metal art in my home shop, and I need a lathe to help me produce various parts and jigs. I received a little Christmas money, so in addition to more general lathe research, I've been combing ads. This Atlas lathe just showed up on Craigslist, and I'm wondering if it's worth the drive to look at it (I'm roughly two hours away, north).

    http://bloomington.craigslist.org/tls/5940235487.html

    I don't see that it comes with any tooling other than what is listed. That's a fairly good-sized lathe, and I know that Atlas lathes are good pieces when cared for. This one obviously has been sitting, with some rust on surfaces. Based on photos, is this even worth looking at, or should I just forget it? Or, might there be someone closer with some experience (I've never owned a decent lathe) who might be able to check it out for me or go with me to look at it?

    Many thanks in advance for the responses!
     
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  2. ELHEAD

    ELHEAD United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    With the steady rest , follow rest, 4 jaw chuck, QC tool post, and with quick change gears, in my area I would class it as a decent buy if it runs. Don't sound like you will require extreme accuracy. Let us know what you decide.
    Dave
     
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  3. gearhead

    gearhead United States Active User Active Member

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    Thank you, Dave. That's at least enough to let me know that I should email him and ask a few questions, that it might be worth a look-see. I've emailed him. I'll keep you posted on what I find out.
     
  4. JPMacG

    JPMacG Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    You might post your question in the Craftsman/Atlas forum here: http://www.hobby-machinist.com/forums/atlas-craftsman-aa.86/ There are experts on Atlas lathes there who can possibly tell you what to look for.

    Offhand, you should examine the spindle and quick change gears for damage. Damage to the spindle assembly can be costly and time consuming to repair. You should also examine the bed for damage and wear. It would be a good idea to take someone familiar with Atlas lathes with you.

    Tubal Cain has a Youtube video on how to buy an Atlas lathe. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=tubal+cain+how+to+buy+an+atlas+lathe
     
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  5. Joncooey

    Joncooey Canada Active Member Active Member

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    Zamak Gears. I own an Atlas 10-48 that is around that year. Make sure that you check all of the gears in the drive (under the covers on the left; bring a good flashlight). Mine had a piece of something get in and you'd be surprised how far that it can travel through the drive train. The gears are made of a pot metal called Zamak and are not very durable. Also, check the cross feed; Zamak gears again. There is one small gear that runs it; mine is roached. Check the drive belt. In order to change it ($15), you have to remove the whole assembly. Some are Babbit Bearings some are Timken tapered bearings. One of my roller bearings was shot; cost $200 to replace the pair. You can buy parts but, that being said, the Atlas isn't top of the heap as far as lathes go. You do have a quick change gear box which is good and the proper stand. I paid $450 for mine; $1200 seems high for an Atlas. His shop looks professional, though so he might have taken good care of it and should be able to demonstrate it for you.
     
  6. BGHansen

    BGHansen United States H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    The CL ad says it's a 10 x 48; pretty sure it's a 12 x 36. I used to have a similar model (bench top version) and was able to turn a lot of decent stuff with the lathe. The Atlas uses the half-nuts for longitudinal feed, so you may take a look at the wear on them also. The Atlas also has flat ways and like most lathes the bed tends to get worn more at the head stock. See how easily the carriage moves with the longitudinal crank at the head stock end, then see how different it is at the opposite end. I looked at a number of CL ads for Atlas lathes in the Midwest and the seller is below what others are asking (up to $2900 . . .), so the price seems reasonable.

    There's a 2015 Grizzly G4003 for sale in the Cincinnati area for $2600 that looks good as an alternative. Lot more money for a lot nicer lathe. Of course, it's always nice to spend someone else's money! Good luck on the hunt!

    Bruce

    http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/tls/5924327951.html
     
  7. gearhead

    gearhead United States Active User Active Member

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    Here is what the seller has emailed to me: "what you see is pretty much it. I have owned it since 1996 it was in a truck repair business that I bought then. used it occasionally to turn a pin. Sold the facility in 2004 kept a lot of equipment. It has been stored up till recently so I really don't know that much about it."

    So, either he knows and is being cagey, or he really knows very little. I suppose it's fair to say that it might be a combination of the two. I'm not scared off just yet. It might be worth a look, but from the information you've all generously provided, it seems like the very best plan would be to take someone with me who at least knows lathes, best case scenario someone who knows Atlas lathes.

    I would love to spend more, but $1500 is about my limit at this time. I live in central Indiana and am not afraid of traveling a few hours for a good machine, as I consider that a very worthy investment of my time and energy. I do have family in Cinci, making that a nice coincidence should a machine show up there. If y'all know of a good machine near-ish to central Indiana in my general price range, don't hesitate to let me know! Meantime, I'm going to see if I can research this machine a bit more and find someone who might be willing to go check it out with me.

    Question for Bruce: How do I tell if it's a 12"x36"? Do you measure from spindle center to the ways surface? And is that length indicating between centers, or lathe bed total length?

    Thank you Joncooney for Atlas-specific info!
     
  8. gearhead

    gearhead United States Active User Active Member

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  9. Rob

    Rob United States Active Member Active Member

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    That is one of the newer and better Atlas Lathes. It is a 12X36 and has 1/2" ways and Timken bearings. As others have mentioned check out the gears for damage and the ways for wear as well as other obvious mechanical problems. The gears in the QCGB are steel gears and the ones that feed it are the ZAMAK ones. The ZAMAK ones are readily available. Parts are available both from the original manufacture and on EBay. With the items that come with it that would be a good price.

    WA5CAB should be able to give you a lot more information on this model.
     
  10. BGHansen

    BGHansen United States H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Hi Gearhead,

    As you mentioned, measure from the center of the spindle down to the bed. In the case of this lathe, I could tell from the head stock cover and back gear knob. I had the same basic lathe until I gave it to my father-in-law 25 years ago. It's a nice machine, they sold thousands of them so parts are readily available. Naturally, a lot depends on what you plan on doing with it. I struggled with parting on mine using a lantern style tool holder. At the time QCTP's were out of my price range (the Chinese had not starting producing them yet, also it was pre-internet). I ended up making a block of steel that held a 5/8" tall HSS cut off blade that bolted directly to the compound. That worked pretty well, could easily part a 2" piece of CRS.

    One thing about buying older machines is they hold their value if everything still works should you decide to "part with it (pun intended)" at some point. Craig's List Atlas' in the Midwest are going for $2000 on up with comparable tooling. I don't know if they're selling at $2000, but that's what the current batch of sellers are asking. If you pick this one up for $1200 and everything is working, you'll have no problem getting your money back if you decide to upgrade.

    Enjoy the hunting!

    Bruce
     
  11. gearhead

    gearhead United States Active User Active Member

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    Thanks so much for all the replies. The seller has indicated to me that I would be able to run the lathe should I wind up going to see it. Another member here has told me he has a 10x54 Atlas for sale with the same tools as listed with this lathe plus a milling attachment and other tooling for a bit more money. I'll be looking into that one as well. More to report in the coming days, I'm sure.
     
  12. wa5cab

    wa5cab Downloads Moderator Staff Member H-M Supporter-Premium

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    gearhead,

    See my reply to your post in the Atlas, Craftsman & AA forum.
     
  13. BGHansen

    BGHansen United States H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    FYI, this Craftsman Atlas 12" x 36" lathe showed up on CL today in the Toledo, OH area: $950. Comes with a lantern style tool holder, 3-jaw, 4-jaw, face plate, centers, dogs, etc. Looks to be missing the little knob on the head stock cover for lifting it to access the spindle pulley.

    http://toledo.craigslist.org/tls/5950654189.html

    Bruce
     
  14. gearhead

    gearhead United States Active User Active Member

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    That looks like a nice one. Thanks, Bruce. It looks like it's been well cared for. Where should the missing knob be? I was looking in the photos for evidence of it being broken off, but I don't know quite what to look for. Sure does look clean. I have found a local guy who may be able to help me look at the lathe in Bedford next weekend if it has not sold by then. Sure hope it is still around when next Saturday rolls around.

    I was able to make it to the shop of a friend of my father's yesterday. His machines are CNC, but he was at least able to tell me about the basics and give me a little more info on what to look for. Every bit of info I can get at this point helps.

    Thanks to everyone for all the replies. I'm learning what I need to learn!
     
  15. gearhead

    gearhead United States Active User Active Member

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    IMG_3144.JPG As requested, here is some follow-up on that Atlas lathe in Bedford.
     
  16. gearhead

    gearhead United States Active User Active Member

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    IMG_3176.JPG Man, it's been killing me that it took so long to set it up, but here's a proper pic of the lathe installed in my basement. I still need to bolt it down to the stand and put belts back in place. Then it will need some light cleaning and oiling, but I'm really close to running it! Thanks to all for the advice here!
     
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  17. ACHiPo

    ACHiPo China H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Congrats! Looking forward to reading (and seeing) your progress. I've got my eye on a Craftsman Commercial--same lathe with Timken bearings and the heaviest ways that Atlas made.
     
  18. willthedancer

    willthedancer United States Active Member Active Member

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    Very nice!

    Sent from my MotoE2(4G-LTE) using Tapatalk
     
  19. gearhead

    gearhead United States Active User Active Member

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    Thanks! So the Craftsman Commercial is the same thing? I do know this Atlas has Timken bearings, but do not know about the ways. Those ways, I actually need to get mine cleaned up. They have some of the expected dirt on them, but there is light rusting. Looks like I need some mineral spirits and green Scotch Brite and maybe an India stone to dress any raised areas from some slight rust.
     
  20. ACHiPo

    ACHiPo China H-M Supporter - Premium Content H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Can no longer see the CL ad, but I'm pretty sure your Atlas and the Craftsman Commercial are the same with Timken bearings and thicker ways.
     
  21. gearhead

    gearhead United States Active User Active Member

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    I looked up some images, and the Craftsman Commercial looks to be the same as the Atlas 12". I'm sure there is more accurate reporting on it on the web, but I couldn't scare it up at the moment.
     
  22. wa5cab

    wa5cab Downloads Moderator Staff Member H-M Supporter-Premium

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    All of the 12" Atlas built lathes with 1/2" thick beds are the same whether they have Atlas or Craftsman badges. Or to be more specific, each of the 12 Atlas models except for the two Metric ones (AFAIK, Sears didn't sell the metrics) has an exact duplicate except for having a Craftsman badge. On the "Commercial" or "Craftsman Commercial" subject, those badges didn't appear until 1972. But the same machines had been in production since 1967 and almost the same since late 1957.
     

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