buying parts for a South Bend Lathe

I started looking for the parts I need to convert the Model C to a Model A. As with most things, there is a lot to learn about buying on ebay. I spent some time watching without bidding, and looking at the prices of completed auctions. Then after I thought I had a handle on what I needed to spend I ran across what looked like a great deal. The seller had an quick change gear box with the keyed leadscrew and associated gearing. The only thing was that it was for a longer bed. That did not seem like such an issue since I have a lathe, and turning it down at the end would be pretty straight foward even for a novice like me. He also had a complete apron and a cross feed screw. Basically all the parts I needed at good prices from one seller! The description in each case claimed that the parts were "in great shape". So I paid, and then I waited.

It too him a long time to ship (red flag #1) and when I inquired he said that he "had to find bigger boxes", eventually I got tracking numbers so I let it go and waited again.

On the appointed day, I got home to find 2 large boxes on my stoop. One of them looked like this:

And when I unpacked it I found:

broken south bend Model A lathe apron

The handle for the power feed selector was cracked off. I sent the seller an email, and hoped for the best.

In the mean time I unpacked the other box with the gearbox, banjo, gearing, cross feed screw, and leadscrew. To my delight the cross feed screw had the large direct reading dial instead of the small dials that came on my machine. Unfortunately the bushing that the cross feed screw runs in looked like it had been removed from the lathe by tightening the threads until they stripped. The rest of the parts were at least all in one piece, and I dumped the gear box into my lye tank to strip and clean it.

A few days later I pulled out the now clean gearbox, and immediately knew I was in big trouble. It was so worn that all the shafts were loose in their bushings, and the gears were worn almost to points. Closer inspection of the leadscrew revealed that the headstock end  was pretty worn as well, and a second look at the apron indicated that the lathes owner had never heard of lubrication. I sent the seller yet another email, and waited.

Nothing happened for a while. Eventually I sent him a nasty email and he replied with apologies and gave me his phone number. I called. We talked. Nothing was resolved. He wanted to give me a discount on the gear box and said he would send a new handle for the apron. I replied that it was all so worn as to be useless and that it was in nothing like "great shape". He hung up. I filed a claim with ebay, and he got in touch and said he would refund my money minus shipping. I pressed the claim and he said "keep the crap" and refunded all my money.

So I was faced with trying to decide if this "crap" was worth using, or should I go shopping again. Given how much work it was looking like I figured that it was better to start with parts that at least matched the condition of what I was starting with. The lead screw looked like I could cut it off and reverse it to get the less worn part up near the headstock where it would get used the most. The cross feed screw looked like it would work, and worst case I could graft on a new piece of acme threaded rod at a later date.

I would keep looking for a gear box and apron.