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  • Part 4 South Bend Lathe is Finished

  • Tags: metalworking

    South Bend Lathe

    The South Bend lathe is complete. There is nothing like getting a new piece of equipment, taking it apart and putting it back together again to develop an appreciation for it.

    This post covers the final results of painting and assembly. We will start with the headstock and motor, move to the middle, the carriage, and finally look at the tailstock.


    Headstock Headstock with chuck The headstock was reinstalled onto the bed. Still pretty heavy. One aspect that made it more ticklish is that turning the bed on its side, and then negotiating the placement of the headstock means it is more likely that the new paint would get dinged before it could be used. On the right, is a picture showing a chuck installed.

    Headstock with gearing Motor and headstock On the left is a picture showing the gearing attached to the headstock.

    Getting the motor installed was a challenge. There was not really enough room to hang it farther off the back of the workbench in my workshop, so getting the angle just right and holding it place was a challenge. Here is the motor is shown with a temporary block as I wrestled with the options.

    I finally made another wooden block to fit under the motor with little lip that enabled the motor to overhang the edge of the workbench.

    Here is the headstock with motor in place. It also shows the leather belt that transfers the motive force from the motor to the spindle. Headstock with motor

    Gear stack

    Finally, this version of the South Bend Lathe uses replaceable gears to control threading and feed speeds. So, it is helpful to have a stack of gears, ready to be installed or removed. The variety of gears available are shown in this picture.

    Behind the gears, you can also see the final block for the motor. Bolts in the motor mount extend through the workbench and hold that in place. Because the lathe mounts via bolts in the workbench, and the workbench top is about 2 1/2 inches thick, the whole assembly is fairly stable.


    Here is the carriage being reinstalled onto the bed. What shows is the apron and saddle.


    This next picture is more complete. Showing the cross-slide and compound installed as well. On top of that is the tool-post, which holds the cutters. In order to install the carriage, the tail stock is removed, and the carriage is slide on the back, threaded by the leadscrew.

    Here is the carriage with the cross-slide and compound installed as well. Carriage

    Here is the carriage fully installed with the tool post on top. Carriage


    Here is the tailstock, fully painted and assembled.



    Trying out the milling attachment Steady rest

    On the right is a picture of the milling attachment.

    Since these pictures were taken, I have used the milling attachment quite a bit. While you wouldn't confuse it with a milling machine, I have found that it is very useful, especially if you remember to take light cuts.

    On the left is the steady rest.

    That completes my posts about refurbishing the South Bend Lathe. It has been an interesting project. Perhaps this will help inspire you to take on an old piece of machinery and give it new life as well.

    While a lot of manufacturing has moved away from the United States, there is a lot to be said for having the visceral understanding of how to make things out of real materials.