What's new
What's new

help with Reed-Prentice lathe valuation/purchase

The polite term for this situation the OP could have been in is "buyer's remorse". I.E., after making a major purchase, it is not uncommon for the buyer to chew himself/herself up imagining ( or worse yet, realizing) they overpaid, did not get what they really wanted, or similar mental anguish. Anyone who has ever bought a car from a dealer or bargained with a seller of a used car has likely experienced this. No matter how good a deal a person thinks they dickered for with the dealer, by nightfall, the buyer is almost always thinking they did not get the best deal. Interestingly, Minnesota has a crazy law pertaining to the sale of new cars: buyers pay sticker price. No dickering, and getting the car from something less than sticker price.

The art of dickering and knowing when to take a deal or when to walk away from it is a good skill. It is all too easy to be mesmerized by good machine tools or tooling. The siren song of "they aren't making 'em anymore" reverberates in your mind when looking at used US (or English, German, Japanese, etc) machine tools or tooling.

On other threads on this 'board, we discussed the oldtime used machine tool dealers in NYC. These guys likely had ancestors who were horse traders in the old country. The NYC used machinery dealers were a mixed lot. A common practice was to buy a worn lathe or mill as part of a shop liquidation. The dealers had a crew of 'mechanics'. These guys would wash the machine tools down with gasoline, clean them up thoroughly. They would go over ways and milling machine tables with emery cloth and oil stones. Then, they'd 'flake scrape', putting on the 'fish scales' or 'crescent moon' flake scraping on ways, dovetail slides, milling machine tables and similar. Problem was, in many cases, the flake scraping was done on worn surfaces with no effort to rescrape to get things flat, true, square, parallel nor did it restore accuracy. These same guys would polish every handwheel, crank or lever, and apply a smooth, thick coat of glossy enamel on the cast surfaces. Needless to say, seeing those used machine tools under the lighting in the old dealer's stores, glistening with a coat of oil, it did turn a person's head. The dealers were expecting some inspection on the part of the prospective buyer, and some dickering ('hondeling", a NY term from the German or Yiddish for 'business") was absolutely expected. I will say the sight of fresh flake scraping and the smell of oil and enamel (along with cigar smoke from the dealer) was a heady combination when I was a young fellow. Learning to inspect, check, and test machine tools rather than being dazzled by fresh flake scraping and glossy handles and smooth enamel is an important skill. Learning to hold your cards close, make a good bargain if things are right, so that you and the seller can shake hands and both feel good about the deal is the bigger lesson.

In the OP's case, the seller put an unrealistic price on that R-P lathe. The OP did right in making a realistic offer. The seller may be waiting a long time for someone to make him an offer anywhere near his asking price. FWIW: I bought a LeBlond 13" x 42" Roundhead Regal lathe, with taper attachment, chip pan, coolant pump, 3 & 4 jaw chucks, faceplate, drive (dog or 'catch') plate, steady rest, follower rest, micrometer carriage stop, threading stop, centers, a couple of toolholders (lantern toolpost), and odds and ends of tooling for the sum of $ 700.00. This was in 2012. I used that LeBlond lathe today, hogging out a part that I'd fabricated by welding A 36 bar and plate together. That LeBlond lathe was built in 1943, and was used by a manufacturer of specialized filters and pharmaceutical process equipment for making penicillin. I've never heard of the 'provenance' (fancy word for history or similar) of a machine tool doing much to add to its value. The old fable about used cars was that the cars were "owned by little old ladies who only drove them to church". In the world of used machine tools, the equivalent is: "this lathe (or mill, etc) came out of the toolroom and was only used by one German (or Swiss) toolmaker for gauge work..." Seeing the Navy anchor acceptance stamp and a date during WWII on a machine tool's nameplate may conjur up visions of shops aboard aircraft carriers, repair ships, or battleships in the Pacific theater, That's about all it's good for. Does nothing to increase the value of the machine tool except in the minds of people who appreciate old US iron.
 
Thanks. I appreciate your advice. (Incidentally, any ties to Salem, given your username?)
Got an MIP there once, in my misspent youth :D but other than that, I just stop in for some good Thai food downtown if I'm passing through to Eugene or Cali etc.
 
I see red flags in that offerup posting. "was used as parts for others" means that this lathe was at one point considered essentially scrap and people would scavenge parts off of it. So where did the parts come from that were removed?

I doubt anyone would scavenge parts off of a minty old "sat in a Navy barge forever" machine. What the seller is presenting is a cool-looking old machine tool with a paint job.

I wouldn't touch that machine with a ten foot pole.
 
I see red flags in that offerup posting. "was used as parts for others" means that this lathe was at one point considered essentially scrap and people would scavenge parts off of it. So where did the parts come from that were removed?

I doubt anyone would scavenge parts off of a minty old "sat in a Navy barge forever" machine. What the seller is presenting is a cool-looking old machine tool with a paint job.

I wouldn't touch that machine with a ten foot pole.
At the time I read the listing, I didn't know what I didn't know. I touched it for sure, but in the end I did happily walk away. I understood that the lathe was a donor machine during the war whilst on the barge. During that and following eras, I have no idea how many parts were scavenged, but I certainly was aware of some missing pieces that evidently never came back (e.g., compound crank handle, some taper attachment parts).
Anyway, I since moved another direction toward a far better machine.
 
If the feed doesn't work because of a sheared pin or key, OK, but if it is a a broken part or gear with mission teeth that might be another matter.
 








 
Back
Top