Sheldon ks990 lathe?

tobnpr

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Did a little digging for ya- found this:


Definitely a real oldie- but does look to be serviceable. The top oilers for the bearings have been replaced with large cups- which leads me to think there may be significant wear on the bearings to need to replace oil from a large reservoir like those. It's a good idea to check spindle play on any used lathe- a steel/aluminum rod near spindle ID placed inside with about 2' left sticking out towards the tailstock. Place an indicator on the spindle nose, and pull up with about 50 lbs of force, and see how much play exists in the bearings.

According to the info in the link above-spindle bore is 4MT with 1-3/4"-8 tpi spindle nose, so you're looking at just over an inch ID for the spindle bore, which will be too small to chamber in the headstock. It has the steady so you can work between centers, but you really need an honest 36" between centers to comfortably handle typical 26"-28" barrels. That's an oddball spindle nose thread- so you'll probably need to machine your own backplate(s) for a 4-jaw or set-tru which you'll need (3-jaws are about useless where riflesmithing is concerned). Lack of a chip tray means you need to build/add one- or you'll have piles of chips and puddles of oil on your shop floor (maybe that's OK...)

Riflesmithing is all about threading- which means the change gears may be a pain in the a**- maybe not so much. See what's involved with typical thread pitches (16-32 tpi more or less) used.

IMO, $2K is more than that machine is worth despite it being in good condition. No tooling other than the QCTP and holders worth a couple hundred- IMO that's a $500-$1K at most machine.
Owning several, I'm a big fan of old 'Merican iron- but...
I don't see this lathe as being particularly well suited for your intended purpose, if you could snag it for $500 it'd be a good machine to cut your teeth on. If it turns out there's any worn/broken parts needing replacement, they will need to be made- there are many stories out there for "great deal" lathes that quickly turn into money pits.

JMO, good luck with it should you move forward with it. Unless you're in a really big hurry, I'd keep looking. Took me a while to find my machines, but the wait was worth it.
 

isaaccarlson

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Thanks. I appreciate the info and the pricing advice.

I think this one is a 36" lathe. The bronze bearings are slotted for adjustment. Where an Imeasuring and how much play is allowable? Am I pulling up on the 2 ft bar and measuring the chuck or pulling up on the chuck and measuring at the end of the bar?
 

Coyote Shadow Tracker

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Did a little digging for ya- found this:


Definitely a real oldie- but does look to be serviceable. The top oilers for the bearings have been replaced with large cups- which leads me to think there may be significant wear on the bearings to need to replace oil from a large reservoir like those. It's a good idea to check spindle play on any used lathe- a steel/aluminum rod near spindle ID placed inside with about 2' left sticking out towards the tailstock. Place an indicator on the spindle nose, and pull up with about 50 lbs of force, and see how much play exists in the bearings.

According to the info in the link above-spindle bore is 4MT with 1-3/4"-8 tpi spindle nose, so you're looking at just over an inch ID for the spindle bore, which will be too small to chamber in the headstock. It has the steady so you can work between centers, but you really need an honest 36" between centers to comfortably handle typical 26"-28" barrels. That's an oddball spindle nose thread- so you'll probably need to machine your own backplate(s) for a 4-jaw or set-tru which you'll need (3-jaws are about useless where riflesmithing is concerned). Lack of a chip tray means you need to build/add one- or you'll have piles of chips and puddles of oil on your shop floor (maybe that's OK...)

Riflesmithing is all about threading- which means the change gears may be a pain in the a**- maybe not so much. See what's involved with typical thread pitches (16-32 tpi more or less) used.

IMO, $2K is more than that machine is worth despite it being in good condition. No tooling other than the QCTP and holders worth a couple hundred- IMO that's a $500-$1K at most machine.
Owning several, I'm a big fan of old 'Merican iron- but...
I don't see this lathe as being particularly well suited for your intended purpose, if you could snag it for $500 it'd be a good machine to cut your teeth on. If it turns out there's any worn/broken parts needing replacement, they will need to be made- there are many stories out there for "great deal" lathes that quickly turn into money pits.

JMO, good luck with it should you move forward with it. Unless you're in a really big hurry, I'd keep looking. Took me a while to find my machines, but the wait was worth it.
tobnpr
That was an HONEST answer. I wanted to comment, but afraid to be too honest and discourage someone from DYI equipment for projects. I have had several lathes over 40 years learned the old saying "Buy once Cry Once".
Isaac depending on what your skill level is and what your intended use for metal working machines could cost a small fortune. If you are going to get a lathe to chamber/thread your own barrels you still need a QUALITY lathe, doesn't matter how old, just the quality. When we decided to renovate our shop, we sold our last lathe with all the tooling and measuring instruments as a package to someone that wanted to start making their own rifles.
Every rifle chamber should be done as a custom competition chamber. There is no "Hunting" grade chamber. Sure, there are different Reamers -SAMI and Custom, but the machining is all the same-BEST or NOT. We recently (this past year) purchased all new machines with tooling and instruments so that it would be the latest in technology and hopefully the most accurate.
A long time ago an old Gunsmith told me "If you are looking to make a million $s in a gunsmithing business-make sure that you have two million to start with".
Just be informed when purchasing any machinery & equipment. There are good deals (and also money pits) on metal lathes/mills/saws through several websites and auctions. Just need to have the time to look, money in your pocket and patience for what you really need.
Good luck and machining metal is very addicting!
 

isaaccarlson

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I do not plan on doing gunsmithing as a full time endeavor. I just want to be able to do my own work because none of the local ones have been able to satisfy. They either get upset that I am asking questions, tell me they bill it out, or say "most people are happy with my work" as if that means something. Most people don't know the first thing about guns to begin with, let alone working on them. I would be happy to pay someone to do the work if I knew it was being done right and in a timely manner. I would love it even more if they were local. I just don't know anyone like that.

I took my air compressor head to the local machine shop to get it skimmed to clean up the gasket surface. He was just finishing a job on the mill, so I asked if he would mind fly cutting the head real quick. He said he would have to chuck it in the lathe and turn it and that the mill was not for that kind of work. I turned around and left. The price he quoted for the lathe was about 6 times what it would have been for most shops to fly cut it. I took it home and used my poor man's surface plate (pool table slate that is within .001" over 2 ft) and adhesive sandpaper to clean it up. Saved myself a chunk of change and possibly a wrecked head.

If I could thread barrels, possibly chamber one every few years, make cans, and do other miscellaneous machining on it (hydraulic cylinders, pins, screws, thread adapters, impeller turning for my jet boat and the neighbor's boat, etc...) I'd be happy. I don't want to over pay for a machine, but I don't want to buy a cheap money pit either. A friend of mine said his father just bought a brand new lathe cheaper than the one I looked at last night, so he is going to get me info on it. Probably a china import, but if it has the features I need and is a good price, I can't really gripe.
 

Coyote Shadow Tracker

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I do not plan on doing gunsmithing as a full time endeavor. I just want to be able to do my own work because none of the local ones have been able to satisfy. They either get upset that I am asking questions, tell me they bill it out, or say "most people are happy with my work" as if that means something. Most people don't know the first thing about guns to begin with, let alone working on them. I would be happy to pay someone to do the work if I knew it was being done right and in a timely manner. I would love it even more if they were local. I just don't know anyone like that.

I took my air compressor head to the local machine shop to get it skimmed to clean up the gasket surface. He was just finishing a job on the mill, so I asked if he would mind fly cutting the head real quick. He said he would have to chuck it in the lathe and turn it and that the mill was not for that kind of work. I turned around and left. The price he quoted for the lathe was about 6 times what it would have been for most shops to fly cut it. I took it home and used my poor man's surface plate (pool table slate that is within .001" over 2 ft) and adhesive sandpaper to clean it up. Saved myself a chunk of change and possibly a wrecked head.

If I could thread barrels, possibly chamber one every few years, make cans, and do other miscellaneous machining on it (hydraulic cylinders, pins, screws, thread adapters, impeller turning for my jet boat and the neighbor's boat, etc...) I'd be happy. I don't want to over pay for a machine, but I don't want to buy a cheap money pit either. A friend of mine said his father just bought a brand new lathe cheaper than the one I looked at last night, so he is going to get me info on it. Probably a china import, but if it has the features I need and is a good price, I can't really gripe.
If we can help you out in any way, please PM us and we can talk.
Thanks
Len & Jill
 

GRG

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I'm watching this as I would like to get a bigger lathe next spring. I have a small Hobby lathe and a drill/mill with a larger and much better mill and lathe to have for more indepth work. I watch quite a bit to see what used lathes go for and I would have to agree that the one your looking at seems high especially when it will be a challenge to do the things you want to do. Having to deal with the switch gears and the small bore are the things that really jump out.

I have a good friend as well as a family member that are very good machinists and know equipment, when I buy one I will make sure they are with me to check it out. If you have somebody like that you may want to explain the operating parameters that will guide you and have them help keep your path on course. I thought my small lathe would actually do more than it can but I only paid $350 for it and loads of tooling.

Used lathes are out there but you have to watch, know what to check as described earlier and be patient. If your willing to spend $2000 or more for a better machine you may want to see what else you can find. If you go ahead and buy it I'm sure you can work around the issues but do you want to?

Good luck whatever you do as I'm sure the biggest thing is to be able to do as much of your own work as possible. There is a sense of pride you have when holding and shooting a rifle that you have done all the work on yourself.

Edit: your last entry came in while I was typing. Sounds like you are on the right track. These guys know so much more about lathes/mills than I do and that you have someone that can help you is great. What you want to accomplish is also how I use equipment. I don't build a lot of guns, 5 or 6 a year maybe but I still use my equipment for a lot of other things. My son and I were working on his vehicle thus weekend and had battled removing some bolts costing us a lot of aggregation and time. I spent 10min on my mill making a tool that turned it into a 2 minute job! Why did I not do that earlier.
 
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isaaccarlson

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Switch gears don't bother me at all, and the bore is not a big concern either when I can just use a spider/cathead. I would be nice to have a bore to stick a barrel through, but not a mandate.

I got on a sheldon fb group and they said it should have a 2.25x8 spindle thread.
The price is the only thing that gets me I think.
 

shortgrass

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Why not have a caliper with you when you look to measure spindle bore (on the outboard end) and the to measure the OD of the thread on the spindle nose? OR, ask the seller! Measure for yourself if he doesn't know! A tape measure isn't a bad idea, either. I've been machining since the mid '70s and I've worked (and bought and sold) machines with "war production" tags and machines that are brand new. Ya' have to investigate the wear and parameters for yourself. And remember, as of recently the cost of a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk have increased sharply (right along with most everything else!). Looking at the pics, man that's an antique!
 
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ButterBean

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Why not have a caliper with you when you look to measure spindle bore (on the outboard end) and the to measure the OD of the thread on the spindle nose? OR, ask the seller! Measure for yourself if he doesn't know! A tape measure isn't a bad idea, either. I've been machining since the mid '70s and I've worked (and bought and sold) machines with "war production" tags and machines that are brand new. Ya' have to investigate the wear and parameters for yourself. And remember, as of recently the cost of a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk have increased sharply (right along with most everything else!). Looking at the pics, man that's an antique!
I'm betting that its good to go myself
 

shortgrass

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I'm betting that its good to go myself
No offence, but there in lies the problem. You can 'bet that it's good to go' and get responses off the web, but ya' don't know without having eyes (and hands) on! For the novice, I'm almost inclinded to say buy a new Precision Mathews , Jet, or Grizzley made in Taiwan. But that might not be such a good idea either, especially after the Chinese take over that island. Ya' really have got to be in the know and go over any used machine tool in person to know what you're getting into.
 
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ButterBean

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No offence, but there in lies the problem. You can 'bet that it's good to go' and get responses off the web, but ya' don't know without having eyes (and hands) on! For the novice, I'm almost inclinded to say buy a new Precision Mathews , Jet, or Grizzley made in Taiwan. But that might not be such a good idea either, especially after the Chinese take over that island. Ya' really have got to be in the know and go over any used machine tool in person to know what you're getting into.
None taken and I agree it needs to have eyes put on it but I'm still betting for what he's gonna do with it that it's good to go , we have gotten 3 of them in the last year in action deals that looked way worse than that and they were fine, if its under 2 grand the tooling, motor and the price of scrap at the current time he can probably make money
 

spladi

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I am going to look at a lathe (11×36) tonight. It's an older one, but is supposed to have few hours on it. It was owned by an older gentleman for decades as a hobby lathe and then was bought by the person I am going to see tonight. He said his part-to-part repeatability was .001", so I am pretty excited. I was told it has bronze bearings. Not sure if that matters or not, but I don't plan on using it all day every day.

It has a pile of tool holders, tooling, quick change holders, change gears, micrometers, steady rest, face plates, boring bar holder, 2 3 jaw chucks, but no 4 jaw.

I figure I can make a spider for the chuck end and a cathead for the steady rest.

Any thoughts? Is it worth looking at for gun and general home shop work?
the 36" dimension usually includes the bed under the headstock , so if you want to thread and chamber barrels it may be a little short for steady rest work, not many bench top lathes have spindle bores large enough to pass through barrels either, regardless, if it's a sweetheart I would buy it in a heartbeat.
 

spladi

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What Shortgrass said.

I have a Sheldon that is dedicated for chambering work. 11 x 36, known as the Mobile Machine Truck lathe. Used in the military (mine is circa 1950, engraved USAF), light use, no wear ridge, short headstock perfect for barrel work.

The 11/12 Sheldons all had 1-3/8" spindle bores far as I know, most with 2-1/4-8 spindle noses- same specs as the SB Heavy 10's.
Bronze bearings- if in good shape- are perfectly fine. Old ones have top oilers (which I'd be more concerned about due to age).
More recent ones have front oilers, and the latest models had Timken roller bearings.

Since it was apparently a hobbyist machine it's whole life I'd DEFINITELY give it a serious look. Not familiar with the KS990 model...
There is also a Sheldon owners forum that has a lot of info (old-timer moderator was a manager at Sheldon and is a wealth of knowledge). Parts aren't as easy to come by as they are with SB's (mine can be seen behind the Sheldon), but they are remarkably similar in operation and construction. These old lathes can last **** near forever with light to moderate use and care, OIL....

Happy to help, PM me if you like. Here's mine:

qosbMGH.jpg
This is one of the best examples of a well kept shop and tools I've seen ! !
 
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