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South Bend 9c vs 13?

richr19

Plastic
Joined
Sep 5, 2023
I'm new to forum and not a professional machinist. Hope this is an ok question to ask. I googled the SB 13, but there was surprisingly little info out there in forums or in the old catalogs.

I'd like some advice from the SB experts in the forum on these two questions:

1) How much of an upgrade would a 1920's South Bend 13" with 6' bed be over a 1948 South Bend 9c with 3' bed? Should I upgrade? (see details below)
2) If I get the South Bend 13", what should I look for beyond making sure it is in decent shape (check spindle runout, wear on lathe, test cut to see how much taper, etc)? Any items, if not included, that are expensive or hard to find (e.g., chuck backplates, steady rests)? Anything special to check for? I googled and saw people mention different models (O vs . N?) and QCGBs (1 vs 2 handle), but I was unsure why they mattered (if at all).

To help you answer my questions, I'll provide some background (sorry for long post). I'm setting a home machine shop. I took a couple of classes at a local community college (De Anza) and used Bridgeports, LeBlond lathes (can't remember size, but probably 13-15" swing; both geared and variable versions) and some smaller Haas VMCs. I'm not entirely sure what I will do with the lathe, but I will probably create small EDC items with it, so size is not a real problem (at least at first). I just want a home lathe that is reasonably accurate (1-2 thou) and easy to run.

A couple of months ago, I bought a 1/2 size mill (vs a Bridgeport) and South Bend 9c with 3' bed. I am almost finished cleaning up the mill. My next project is to build a heavy duty steel table for the 9c. But I saw the SB 13" with a stand (see attached picture) at a good price. So I am debating whether to buy the SB 13 (eliminates need to build a table for 9c) and sell the 9c OR just keep the 9c (and invest time to clean it up and build a steel table).

I have not seen the SB 13 yet (this post will help me decide if it is worth it to investigate more), but it looks be in very good shape (seller says that gear box for threading and cross slide are both super smooth). I am not sure what it exactly what the SB 13 includes, but I am assuming just a 3 jaw chuck and not much else. But the price is good (under $1000) so I am ok buying a few extras. So for my question, you can assume that price (at least for base unit) and condition are not a big factor.

I have heard the old adages on "buy once, cry once" and buy as big as you can afford. That is one reason I am thinking about getting the SB 13 now before I invest a lot more time fixing up the SB 9c. However, I don't want to inherit a big project to get it to work or get a machine that would be too tricky to use as a relative beginner. Here are my pro/cons:

SB 9c
  • Pros - small (only 4' long), easy to move around (300-400 lbs) and was easy to use (when I tested it out before buying)
  • Cons - relatively small and less rigid, and it does not have a QCGB and no power cross feed. I am not sure if I will cut threads (might do them manually), but it might be nice to have a power longitudinal feed (which might be a huge pain to change the gears out) for smoother cuts.
SB 13
  • Pros - work on bigger pieces, more rigid, has a QCGB and includes a stand (don't have to build a table like for 9c). Do they have power cross feeds (unclear looking at SB catalogs from the 20s)?
  • Cons - heavy and harder to move (1200-1400 lbs). Also about 6.5' long so takes up a lot more space in my small garage/shop - might be on the edge of being too big. I am concerned about cost/availability of parts (I assume SB 9s way more common than SB 13s) and maybe harder to use (per my questions above).

Again, sorry for the long post. As a relative beginner, feel free to correct any misconceptions or mis-statements I have made.

Let me know if you need more info to answer my questions. Looking forward to hearing your feedback.

Thanks,

Rich
 
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Here is a picture of the SB 13 I am looking at.
 

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The Series O SB has quite the small spindle bore - some later 13 machines take 5C collets
Thanks - I checked out the link (I had seen a different version before). I did not see a mention of Series O in it. How is Series O defined? Certain years?

Would later series (like Series N?) have the 5C collets? Are larger spindle bore and 5C compatibility the main advantages of a later series?
 
Thanks - I checked out the link (I had seen a different version before). I did not see a mention of Series O in it. How is Series O defined? Certain years?

Would later series (like Series N?) have the 5C collets? Are larger spindle bore and 5C compatibility the main advantages of a later series?
Here is Steve Wells list of catalogs


Bascally nothing but Series 0 from the beginning - and phased out in late thirties. There is a note in the Series N catalogs stating they were now building both 0 and N. N had some nice improvements compared to O, but they did not include larger thru bores.

I'll assume that neither O or N were built after about 1939 - wholesale replaced by later series.
 
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Bascally nothing but Series 0 from the beginning - and phased out in late thirties. There is a note in the Series N catalogs stating they were now building both 0 and N. N had some nice improvements compared to O, but they did not include larger thru bores.

I'll assume that neither O or N were built after about 1939 - wholesale replaced by later series.
John - this is really helpful. How do you know if a lathe is Series O or N? By serial number? This link does not have O on it: https://www.southbendlathe.com/older-machines/serial-numbers . Or do you have to literally go through features to decide if Series O or N? Sorry for all the detailed questions. Just trying to learn - not great info on internet (at least that I have found).
 
John - this is really helpful. How do you know if a lathe is Series O or N? By serial number? This link does not have O on it: https://www.southbendlathe.com/older-machines/serial-numbers . Or do you have to literally go through features to decide if Series O or N? Sorry for all the detailed questions. Just trying to learn - not great info on internet (at least that I have found).
Easy - you read all about them in the dedicated pubs. The catalog 94 - for instance - deals exclusively with the O. Notice the differing aprons (mounts controls and hand wheel) from O to the N pages in those catalogs. Neither of these two aprons were carried over into later series. O was a single wall apron design and N was a double wall apron design.

You are going to have to have enough "mechanical appreciation" to notice such detail. Serial numbers date things- and that is all they do
 
DeAnza collage used to have a very good inter program with Nasa Ames out by Moffet Field . I knew several guys that went through the program one of them landed a full time job at Ames . Some of the others went on to be ME's at some pretty big companies . I helped my dad cut many trees in the orchards where the Collage is & across Steven Creek . They also had a top notch auto shop program .
animal
 
that question depends in part on how much tooling you have for the 9c vs what comes with the 13 and the condition of both (plus price to some extent). All things being equal, I'd rather have an SB13 than a 9c (or a or b) if I could fit it in my shop. It doesn't take much to reach the turning limits of a 9" lathe and when you do it's a royal pain in the arse. The amount of fiddle farting around I had to do when I made my 6" OD mill riser block was incredible.
 
13 has a quick change gearbox. 9c has no gearbox, manual change gear feeds and threading. Unless it comes with all the gears, avoid that lathe.
This is my first reaction. All other issues aside, if it doesn't have a QCGB it's not a candidate.
 
I'm new to forum and not a professional machinist. Hope this is an ok question to ask. I googled the SB 13, but there was surprisingly little info out there in forums or in the old catalogs.

I'd like some advice from the SB experts in the forum on these two questions:

1) How much of an upgrade would a 1920's South Bend 13" with 6' bed be over a 1948 South Bend 9c with 3' bed? Should I upgrade? (see details below)
2) If I get the South Bend 13", what should I look for beyond making sure it is in decent shape (check spindle runout, wear on lathe, test cut to see how much taper, etc)? Any items, if not included, that are expensive or hard to find (e.g., chuck backplates, steady rests)? Anything special to check for? I googled and saw people mention different models (O vs . N?) and QCGBs (1 vs 2 handle), but I was unsure why they mattered (if at all).

To help you answer my questions, I'll provide some background (sorry for long post). I'm setting a home machine shop. I took a couple of classes at a local community college (De Anza) and used Bridgeports, LeBlond lathes (can't remember size, but probably 13-15" swing; both geared and variable versions) and some smaller Haas VMCs. I'm not entirely sure what I will do with the lathe, but I will probably create small EDC items with it, so size is not a real problem (at least at first). I just want a home lathe that is reasonably accurate (1-2 thou) and easy to run.

A couple of months ago, I bought a 1/2 size mill (vs a Bridgeport) and South Bend 9c with 3' bed. I am almost finished cleaning up the mill. My next project is to build a heavy duty steel table for the 9c. But I saw the SB 13" with a stand (see attached picture) at a good price. So I am debating whether to buy the SB 13 (eliminates need to build a table for 9c) and sell the 9c OR just keep the 9c (and invest time to clean it up and build a steel table).

I have not seen the SB 13 yet (this post will help me decide if it is worth it to investigate more), but it looks be in very good shape (seller says that gear box for threading and cross slide are both super smooth). I am not sure what it exactly what the SB 13 includes, but I am assuming just a 3 jaw chuck and not much else. But the price is good (under $1000) so I am ok buying a few extras. So for my question, you can assume that price (at least for base unit) and condition are not a big factor.

I have heard the old adages on "buy once, cry once" and buy as big as you can afford. That is one reason I am thinking about getting the SB 13 now before I invest a lot more time fixing up the SB 9c. However, I don't want to inherit a big project to get it to work or get a machine that would be too tricky to use as a relative beginner. Here are my pro/cons:

SB 9c
  • Pros - small (only 4' long), easy to move around (300-400 lbs) and was easy to use (when I tested it out before buying)
  • Cons - relatively small and less rigid, and it does not have a QCGB and no power cross feed. I am not sure if I will cut threads (might do them manually), but it might be nice to have a power longitudinal feed (which might be a huge pain to change the gears out) for smoother cuts.
SB 13
  • Pros - work on bigger pieces, more rigid, has a QCGB and includes a stand (don't have to build a table like for 9c). Do they have power cross feeds (unclear looking at SB catalogs from the 20s)?
  • Cons - heavy and harder to move (1200-1400 lbs). Also about 6.5' long so takes up a lot more space in my small garage/shop - might be on the edge of being too big. I am concerned about cost/availability of parts (I assume SB 9s way more common than SB 13s) and maybe harder to use (per my questions above).

Again, sorry for the long post. As a relative beginner, feel free to correct any misconceptions or mis-statements I have made.

Let me know if you need more info to answer my questions. Looking forward to hearing your feedback.

Thanks,

Rich
Rick,
I too am a relative newcomer to machining, taking it up as a hobby after retiring from commercial employment.

I have a SB 9C and love it. Mine came with most or all of the change gears, although I have not tried to cut any threads yet. My understanding is the longitudinal feed can be used for standard turning but for me at least it is a little too fast, even with the slowest gear train that I have. I'm sure there is a way to slow it down some more (shooting for .002" to .004" per rev) but I have not figured that out yet.

A quick change gearbox would be 'nice', but changing the gears is not hard, and I am not doing anything like real 'production' work, so for me the gears are fine. I did swap out the original motor for a 3 phase VFD setup and I like the variable speed. At the same time I doubled the countershaft speed (and therefore all the mechanical speeds) and that seems to help with some of the smaller diameter stuff, especially in aluminum. It would be nice to fit a DRO type readout on the longitudinal axis, but that will have to come later.

I mounted the lathe on a piece of 10" C channel atop a fairly stout laboratory table, and that seems to make it fairly rigid.

So far, lacking a power cross feed has not been an issue for me, and I kinda like trying to get a 'feel' for how things are cutting. Makes me feel like a 'real' machinist, although I know I won't live long enough for that to be true, there is just too much to learn. The folks on this site probably know and have done anything either one of us will ever want to try. They have already helped me out a lot with my Toolmaster mill.

Good luck,
Russ
 
I'm new to forum and not a professional machinist. Hope this is an ok question to ask. I googled the SB 13, but there was surprisingly little info out there in forums or in the old catalogs.

I'd like some advice from the SB experts in the forum on these two questions:

1) How much of an upgrade would a 1920's South Bend 13" with 6' bed be over a 1948 South Bend 9c with 3' bed? Should I upgrade? (see details below)
2) If I get the South Bend 13", what should I look for beyond making sure it is in decent shape (check spindle runout, wear on lathe, test cut to see how much taper, etc)? Any items, if not included, that are expensive or hard to find (e.g., chuck backplates, steady rests)? Anything special to check for? I googled and saw people mention different models (O vs . N?) and QCGBs (1 vs 2 handle), but I was unsure why they mattered (if at all).

To help you answer my questions, I'll provide some background (sorry for long post). I'm setting a home machine shop. I took a couple of classes at a local community college (De Anza) and used Bridgeports, LeBlond lathes (can't remember size, but probably 13-15" swing; both geared and variable versions) and some smaller Haas VMCs. I'm not entirely sure what I will do with the lathe, but I will probably create small EDC items with it, so size is not a real problem (at least at first). I just want a home lathe that is reasonably accurate (1-2 thou) and easy to run.

A couple of months ago, I bought a 1/2 size mill (vs a Bridgeport) and South Bend 9c with 3' bed. I am almost finished cleaning up the mill. My next project is to build a heavy duty steel table for the 9c. But I saw the SB 13" with a stand (see attached picture) at a good price. So I am debating whether to buy the SB 13 (eliminates need to build a table for 9c) and sell the 9c OR just keep the 9c (and invest time to clean it up and build a steel table).

I have not seen the SB 13 yet (this post will help me decide if it is worth it to investigate more), but it looks be in very good shape (seller says that gear box for threading and cross slide are both super smooth). I am not sure what it exactly what the SB 13 includes, but I am assuming just a 3 jaw chuck and not much else. But the price is good (under $1000) so I am ok buying a few extras. So for my question, you can assume that price (at least for base unit) and condition are not a big factor.

I have heard the old adages on "buy once, cry once" and buy as big as you can afford. That is one reason I am thinking about getting the SB 13 now before I invest a lot more time fixing up the SB 9c. However, I don't want to inherit a big project to get it to work or get a machine that would be too tricky to use as a relative beginner. Here are my pro/cons:

SB 9c
  • Pros - small (only 4' long), easy to move around (300-400 lbs) and was easy to use (when I tested it out before buying)
  • Cons - relatively small and less rigid, and it does not have a QCGB and no power cross feed. I am not sure if I will cut threads (might do them manually), but it might be nice to have a power longitudinal feed (which might be a huge pain to change the gears out) for smoother cuts.
SB 13
  • Pros - work on bigger pieces, more rigid, has a QCGB and includes a stand (don't have to build a table like for 9c). Do they have power cross feeds (unclear looking at SB catalogs from the 20s)?
  • Cons - heavy and harder to move (1200-1400 lbs). Also about 6.5' long so takes up a lot more space in my small garage/shop - might be on the edge of being too big. I am concerned about cost/availability of parts (I assume SB 9s way more common than SB 13s) and maybe harder to use (per my questions above).

Again, sorry for the long post. As a relative beginner, feel free to correct any misconceptions or mis-statements I have made.

Let me know if you need more info to answer my questions. Looking forward to hearing your feedback.

Thanks,

Rich
After reading thru the replies, and knowing that this thread was not all that long ago, hyou may not have bought yhour SBs. I would like to mention something that I never saw mentioned.;

that is, the drive mechanism for cutting threads vs the drive mechanism for regular cutting. IMNSHO, you should make absolute sure that yuou have two separate drives. Look on the front of the lathe and you will see a rack up under the bed, then below that going into the saddle will be one or two rods (sometimes three), one of which will be threaded all the way from the headstock to the tail stock.

If you have only one, then it will be a screw thread. If that is the case, this screw will run both your threading AND your cutting. This wears the threads out faster than otherwise.

This is the case with small hobby lathes. If you are an absolute beginner, then . . . OK, I guess. But if you are a serious hobbiest, I advise against it. These small hobby lathes often will not do LH threads and have other serious problems. Generally they are too fast for making threads.

NOw with a SB, I doubt you will have that problem.
 








 
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