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Is it reasonable to buy a Colchester Dominion 13 without a "test drive" / powering up test ?

The head gears are pretty much the same as Bantam gears .....which unfortunately makes them even more expensive as spares...The gears are hardened ,but not very hard ,probably so they didnt chip when shifted under power .........a not uncommon form of lathe abuse ,especially with piece rate work............Another fault was the rack attachment to the bed .....its simply not secure enough .........this fault cured with the Bantam and later lathes ..........In fact ,if you want a really nice early Colchester ....find a Long Bed Bantam........ultra rare and tightly held ...they are out there......somewhere .
 
having run Colchesters back in the UK, I wouldn't buy one, and wouldn't take one if it was free. Much better lathes out there.
I’ve got say I’m a bit of a fan myself. I worked on one like that as a kid and then later in my working life and I had no problems. I wasn’t doing production work on them, just one offs and very small batch work, but I thought they were a pleasant little lathe.

Regards Tyrone
 
I’ve got say I’m a bit of a fan myself. I worked on one like that as a kid and then later in my working life and I had no problems. I wasn’t doing production work on them, just one offs and very small batch work, but I thought they were a pleasant little lathe.

Regards Tyrone
Pleasant is a fair description if it's in good order. Similar the Harrison, which I actually like a little better. Both were built to be appealing to the operator, with good functionality and nice control layout.

However, neither the Colchester or the Harrison were ever high quality machines, and as a result it's rare to find one that isn't totally shot. Even if you do somehow happen across one that's in good shape, it's difficult to keep it that way if it sees any amount of use.

And running a worn out colchester is a miserable experience, plain and simple. I've put a few of them out of their misery over the years, and not shed a tear about it.
 
Pleasant is a fair description if it's in good order. Similar the Harrison, which I actually like a little better. Both were built to be appealing to the operator, with good functionality and nice control layout.

However, neither the Colchester or the Harrison were ever high quality machines, and as a result it's rare to find one that isn't totally shot. Even if you do somehow happen across one that's in good shape, it's difficult to keep it that way if it sees any amount of use.

And running a worn out colchester is a miserable experience, plain and simple. I've put a few of them out of their misery over the years, and not shed a tear about it.
Let’s face it they were designed and built with training schools, colleges, small prototype shops in mind. Kept in that environment they were fine. I could take biggish cuts by having a good depth of cut and feed rate and dropping down a speed or two.

Regards Tyrone
 
I have one ,and its my favourite lathe ......doesnt mean it hasnt got a lot of faults ,though............there is no way I would pay a lot of money for one at this point in time,and consider the OPs quoted price as excessive by a long chalk ......and crazy for a lathe he cant see ---and hear---going...(mine was free)
 
Not seeing oil in the headstock's oil sight glass got me concerned, I'm suddenly less in FOMO !

The seller is "kindly" offering the accessories shown in the second photo (4 jaw chuck, tool post, etc), for an extra $350.

I assume the motor (3rd photo) is not the original (I might be mistaken). I'm wondering, does it even have the right RPM for the lathe, or did a previous owner just put this motor because it was available ?
 

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If I may add to this discussion, I have a dominion 13 in Colchester lathe, just like the one in the picture that you posted. Now I got mine for about $400 a number of years ago, but it runs good, I cut threads with it even though they're just standard threads. I even got the original taper attachment with it, and a few other odds and ends that they threw in. I have been asked if it's for sale, I've said "you know what I use it for one off things mostly, and I probably wouldn't sell it as it does come in very handy". I would not give no $2,000 for one, but one of the advantages that I found with mine is the 1-9/16 through hole, also, as far as the apron goes the bronze bushings were wore out but they were pretty simple to get new ones from McMaster car and change them out. One thing to point out in the event you get yours, be careful as I went to fill the sump up with coolant in through the door under the bed in the cabinet, and as you can guess what I found out it was tiny pinholes from the years of the soluble oil/ water. So right now I just have a soup can with cutting oil in it. I like mine, but like I said it doesn't get used every day but when I need it, it's fine. Mike
 
Not seeing oil in the headstock's oil sight glass got me concerned, I'm suddenly less in FOMO !

The seller is "kindly" offering the accessories shown in the second photo (4 jaw chuck, tool post, etc), for an extra $350.

I assume the motor (3rd photo) is not the original (I might be mistaken). I'm wondering, does it even have the right RPM for the lathe, or did a previous owner just put this motor because it was available ?
There is probably plenty of oil in the headstock, glass may be dirty or the oil level a little low but I doubt there is damage from running with no oil. You do need to double check that a little more closely now though.
$350 for the chuck and other misc stuff sure looks like top dollar for stuff that should be included with the lathe....
Maybe if the 4 jaw is a top brand in excellent shape it might be worth that, but still should be included with the machine.
 
Not so,I would have at least a dozen 3 point steadies for these lathes ..........the hard one to find is the one for the Bantam,and I cut the roundtop ones down to fit Bantams.
John, I have to disagree here. At least they are hard to find in North America. When they do show up they want stupid prices for them.
 
There is probably plenty of oil in the headstock, glass may be dirty or the oil level a little low but I doubt there is damage from running with no oil. You do need to double check that a little more closely now though.
$350 for the chuck and other misc stuff sure looks like top dollar for stuff that should be included with the lathe....
Maybe if the 4 jaw is a top brand in excellent shape it might be worth that, but still should be included with the machine.
Yeah, that stuff should be included with the lathe. If the seller is not willing to include them, maybe time to turn down the deal. How bad does he want to get rid of the equipment? If you bought just the lathe, the seller would be stuck with the chuck and accessories. He wouldn't get squat for what's left IMO.
 
If I may add to this discussion, I have a dominion 13 in Colchester lathe, just like the one in the picture that you posted. Now I got mine for about $400 a number of years ago, but it runs good, I cut threads with it even though they're just standard threads. I even got the original taper attachment with it, and a few other odds and ends that they threw in. I have been asked if it's for sale, I've said "you know what I use it for one off things mostly, and I probably wouldn't sell it as it does come in very handy". I would not give no $2,000 for one, but one of the advantages that I found with mine is the 1-9/16 through hole, also, as far as the apron goes the bronze bushings were wore out but they were pretty simple to get new ones from McMaster car and change them out. One thing to point out in the event you get yours, be careful as I went to fill the sump up with coolant in through the door under the bed in the cabinet, and as you can guess what I found out it was tiny pinholes from the years of the soluble oil/ water. So right now I just have a soup can with cutting oil in it. I like mine, but like I said it doesn't get used every day but when I need it, it's fine. Mike

If I decide to drive there, will I have enough with a set of Allen keys to open the head stock to check the gears, or should I bring more tools ?

I also plan to evaluate bedways wear by tightening the saddle while near the headstock, them moving it towards the tailstock to see if/where it refuses to move further.

Is the tightening of the saddle done with an allen key ?
 
Not seeing oil in the headstock's oil sight glass got me concerned, I'm suddenly less in FOMO !

The seller is "kindly" offering the accessories shown in the second photo (4 jaw chuck, tool post, etc), for an extra $350.

I assume the motor (3rd photo) is not the original (I might be mistaken). I'm wondering, does it even have the right RPM for the lathe, or did a previous owner just put this motor because it was available ?
That motor is not original. Be very easy to change out for another motor with the right voltage you need.
 
Yeah go check it out, but those accessories that he's showing for an extra 350 bucks I'd say if they don't go with it it don't go with me. And that 2000 bucks or whatever the amount was I'd be whittling him down the best you can. Check the tail stock too. Check the barrel. Take a 3MT drill bit or something or anything and make sure it's not real sloppy. I don't remember in the pictures if there a steady rest? The follower rest? I throw all that at him and say you know if this is just bare bones then we got to really talk about the price. And this thing does have some weight. You ain't going to just throw it in the back of a pickup truck and drive off with it. Then again I don't know what you look like. Maybe you're built like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
 
In my case, there is an extra concern: the owner has told me that powering it up for testing would be "not impossible, but complicated".

The guy is a machinist (so he says), he bought the lathe for "restoration project" about a year ago, now realised he will not have time for the restoration in the foreseeable future. He has also recently moved his shop to a smaller one, and decided to leave the restoration project for the next owner.

The lathe is currently in a warehouse, does not have the 600 volts current for testing.
From post #1 you said this about the guy, it is also possible that he got it intending to restore it and even started to but realized it either had broken parts or was too badly worn to easily repair. I would do a really close inspection of things if he wont hook it up to run. If not running offer him $1000 canadian including all the extra bits, only after you check everything moves in all gears and none are broken.
Is it hard to find lathes in your area? You may be the only one interested in it.
 
Here's what mine looks like in as a matter of fact. I just used it 20 minutes ago. And the serial number, for some reason I'm thinking mines from 1963, and I don't remember if I read that somewhere or was told that or what. I don't know. Also, here is the tool block that I got with it but I'm not using it at the moment, and I got the steady rest and followers rest and all the happy goodies. I'm not trying to rub it in on what I got with mine for 400 bucks, please don't take it that way. I'm just saying these are all things that think about.
 

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Here is another lathe for sale in Pa. usa. An older Monarch for $750. even though it is to big for you use it to work the guy down on his price. Tell him something like: That Monarch I am looking at is a way better machine that has all the extra bits with it for $750 and the fuel to go get it will be $200? so how about I give that money to you instead?
Show him the facebook add.
 
I'm not trying to rub it in on what I got with mine for 400 bucks, please don't take it that way. I'm just saying these are all things that think about.

I'm not at all taking it the wrong way ;-) I'm actually thankful that you and others are taking time to give me valuable information. In fact, I'm benefiting from the deal you got, because as a result, I now have the information you gave me !

Question: are the bedways on your lathe hardened ?

In an earler post, someone wrote that "my" prospective lathe was an early 1960s Master, another poster estimated 1950s.... The date might tell me if the bedways are hardened or not.
 
Well all I can tell you is I haven't put a file to the bed, but it seems to be pretty straight and true and not really worn down but I haven't done a bluing test or anything to it. I'm sure it's got some wear but I don't think it's a lot. I think mine was either taken good care of or not used that much or maybe both. And I don't know what kind of information you can get from my serial number, like I said I was told or read it's a 1963. I do have about a thousands of difference in 2 ft, so I don't think that's a big deal and I'm not sure how much of that has to do with the barrel being worn down. Also, I drill with it and things like that. I know there's wear in the barrel, but I don't think too much.
 
Is it hard to find lathes in your area? You may be the only one interested in it.

I'm in Quebec, they are neither rare nor abundant, but the good and decently priced ones get sold pretty fast. It's also not like the rust belt, where there seems to be a vintage machine tool for each inhabitant !
 
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