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post #1 of 5 Old 08-11-2008, 11:01 AM Thread Starter
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old lathe

I have the opportunity to purchase an old craftsman lathe, model 103.23180 that I'm unsure of whether it's a good deal. The asking price is $130 and I'll probably offer $100 unless it's in pristine condition when I see it tonight, but I don't know if it would just be better to buy something newer. Typically I would expect that's a very reasonable price for a working lathe, but I haven't turned anything since 7th grade and obviously didn't use my own lathe at that point.

The manual I found at old wood working machines says it's a 9" swing with a 30" bed (Link to pdf here: http://www.owwm.com/MfgIndex/pubdetail.aspx?id=856 ) but they also have a picture on that site that says 9" swing 40" bed.
(Link to picture here: http://www.owwm.com/photoindex/detail.aspx?id=3095 ).

I did find an interesting page about restoring one of these, which I'll also link to, in case any one is interested:
http://theoldmachine.com/journal/craftsman-30-lathe/

So my questions are the following. Would it be worth it to save a few hundred extra and buy a new model which may have a shorter bed and probably a smaller swing (in the low price range I'm looking) or is it worth it to buy an old machine? Second, what should I look for in an old machine. The original Craigslist ad for this says it's a working machine, but I don't know exactly what that means. I plan on trying to power the thing on and see if at least the various speeds actually make any difference, but what else should I look for in the head stock, or tail stock for example to determine if it's worth the money?

Thanks for any information you folks can provide.

Frank
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post #2 of 5 Old 08-11-2008, 11:39 AM
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Frank, I am a fan of old tools, but there are a few things to look out for...I just gave away an old craftsman lathe. It was the one with a solid bar for the bed. Could not keep the tail in-line with the head. Also, the tool rest was not flat...that I fixed. I`m not a pro tuner by any means...but would prefer a cast iron flat bed. The head stock or wheatever...should have a morris taper #2 I`ve heard. The one I gave away had a 40" base and a 12" swing. Check for bearing play... NSK Bearings are good! Rick

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post #3 of 5 Old 08-11-2008, 11:45 AM
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Looks like a nice one in the picture! Rick

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post #4 of 5 Old 08-11-2008, 12:42 PM
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old lathe

Hi I have only been turning for a few yrs,but have yet to here to many good things said about these old craftsmen.You may have a hard time finding parts.I don't know what kind of turning you plan on doing,but unless you plan on starting on big stuff,I would recommend saving your bucks and getting a mini lathe.Jet has one with a 10" swing and Ricon has one with a 12" swing which I have and love it.They both sell for about 325.00 and have a pretty good rep.
Ken
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post #5 of 5 Old 08-30-2008, 12:49 PM
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I had an old craftsman that i couldn't even fine a model number on. I ran on a seperate motor with belts and you had to move the belt to change the speed. I used it just to see if I would like turning and got a new one as soon as I could! I would say if your going to actually produce something, get a new lathe, but if you plan to just piddle around and not care if the project turns out perfect, look into the old one. Good luck!

Come check out some of projects available in my store at http://jenspens.etsy.com
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