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Thread: Southbend Model A Lathe

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    258

    Southbend Model A Lathe

    Guys,

    I have the opportunity to buy an old but good shape Southbend model "A" Lathe. I think it is a 12X30. Price about $1200.00.

    This will be a hobby lathe. Just want to thread, cut ,crown and chamber some barrels for my own amusement.

    Would the Southbend be a good deal or should I spend a lot more and go for a new Grizzly?

    BTW: I've also enrolled in a Intro to Machine Shop course so hopefully I don't end up like that horrible picture I saw.

    I would like to hear from you guys with the experience, before I plunk down my money.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Montana
    Posts
    319
    Keith
    The 9A is a nice little lathe but doesn't lend it's self very well to gunsmithing.( kinda like a kiss on the check from a pretty girl, always leaves you wanting more) The spindle bore is 7/8" so you can't slide a barrel through the headstock, using the chamber through the headstock method. And the 30" between centers is a little short to chamber using the steady rest method.

    If you can find a South bend Heavy 10 is a lot better choice. The Grizzly "gunsmith" model lathe are getting good reviews.

    Hal

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    23
    I recently sold my Southbend 10K and bought the Grizzly 4003G...........buy the Grizzly.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Redmond OR
    Posts
    9
    You know what, I used to be completely in the old iron camp but nowdays, unless somebody who knew what they were doing has rebuilt it, (not at the price you quoted!) or you have the skills, I'd lean toward the new Grizzly machine.

    JMHO

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Monrovia, Ca
    Posts
    120
    Be careful you can buy an old lathe to do hobby gunsmithing and before you know it fixing the old lathe becomes your hobby. Buy the Grizzly or something like it. I bought a Birmingham, looks like it came from the same factory, and have been happy.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    86
    The 9" South Bend is not a chambering lathe as already stated but the later model 13" South Bend is a very rigid and fine lathe. My mid-late '70's South Bend 13s weigh ~1800 lbs with the 2 speed motors, over three times a 9A. I own several lathes but only American iron after being disappointed in every China built lathe that I've owned or used. A good 13" South Bend is easier to find then the Heavy 10" SB and will do a better job IMO. The six foot bed 13" model gives you 42" between centers, smooth running and when properly adjusted very accurate. I own three 13" SB as well as a nice 11" Rockwell and 12" Logan that is as new. The Rockwell is a fine gunsmith lathe but parts are hard to find. South Bend parts are still available, as aftermarket and used, where some modern Asian models are no longer supported!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Shelbyville, KY.
    Posts
    17

    Roger

    How short of a barrel can you chamber through the head stock of your SB 13"

    Thanks
    Todd

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    WA State
    Posts
    102
    Keith,
    In my shop I have a Southbend 9A with the shorter bed about 24" between centers; this is a great lathe and used all the time. It was built just after the Korean War and saw very light service in an instrument repair shop before I purchased it used in 2000. With that said about 8 steps away I have my re-barreling and action truing lathe, a Colchester. I wanted Gamet spindle bearings and the Colchester had some other options that I liked too. I bought it brand new shipped from England in 2003. 8 steps from that resides my Clausing Kondia Mill purchased new in 2002. With all this great stuff I still turn to my 9A for certain jobs, it is very accurate and forgiving.

    When you are starting out you WILL CRASH your lathe, it is not a matter of if but when, it will happen. You can set up the belt a little loose on the spindle and save ton of expense after the crash. A geared head lathe like the Clausing or the Grizzly will cause very expressive damage when you crash.

    You need to get started learning how to operate a lathe and make accurate parts before you ever attempt to re-barrel a rifle. The dials on the 9A read radius or depth of cut that will help with the learning curve because all of the dials are the same on that machine. I say buy the Southbend, learn to operate it and make accurate parts and when you are ready step up to a geared head lathe you will have the skill and knowledge to make proper use of it.

    Be forewarned the cost of the lathe you are looking at is very small compared to the tooling you will end up purchasing. When you purchase tooling, purchase good stuff that you can transfer to your new lathe, or between lathes. DO NOT DO AS I DID. I have an Aloris tool post on each lathe but two different sizes, an AXA and BXA. The result is about 10 tool holders for each. I can justify this because I have work in both lathes at the same time, as in bushing a bolt face or sleeving a bolt body.

    Jump into the pool, get started and donít look back! Developing your machining skill is very rewarding and you will be amazed how you can apply your new craft.

    Play Safe!
    Nic.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    86
    Quote Originally Posted by ACArms View Post
    How short of a barrel can you chamber through the head stock of your SB 13"

    Thanks
    Todd
    Todd,
    I'd need to measure to be sure but I think the ones with the D1-4 spindle are just under 20" across. Depending on how the spiders/catheads are designed that allows most barrel work without bushings.

    There is a 15"x40" Nardini tool room lathe with Newall DRO on eBay, ending in a couple days, no bids yet for the starting bid of $2500. Problem with it and many nice lathes like the LeBlond Regals is the long headstock. The Nardini spindle measures 31" to the face of the chuck.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Greenwood, SC
    Posts
    68
    Keith at $1200 if that South Bend has any tooling at all included it is a hell of a deal. The machine is quite capable and much better than most any Chinese lathe of comparable size. Parts are readily available, and you can always get your money back out of a South Bend. I would say, "Go for it!"

    Yes, I have a 13" South Bend, but the Gunsmithing school here has 4 of the 9 inch South Bends, and they are fine little lathes.

    Clemson

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    66
    I've got a 9" Southbend as well as a Kent TRL-1340. I use the little Southbend more than my bigger chambering lathe. It's a sweet little machine. Too small for chambering though. I don't have the metric threading gears for it so all metric work I have to do on the big machine. I know I could get by with just the Kent, but the little lathe is great for smaller stuff. It's also on a much taller stand and I don't have to bend over to run it. I've got about $400 into my 9". If you want the little lathe try and beat them up on price. This guy has about 5 of them for sale and truckloads of extra parts. Very slow on shipping.....
    http://www.plazamachinery.com/files/metal1.pdf
    gunmaker

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