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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:

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.

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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.
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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!

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