Got this lathe last winter from my good bud Mike Goni's shop. It's a bitchin old Sheldon from around the mid 40's. I've been slowly getting everything working perfectly over the year. Fuck man, you think a bike motor is complicated? Jebus - this beast has more gears, shafts, bearings, pins, shims, set screws, cotters, keyways, grease fittings, thrust washers, clutches, springs & every other goddamn mechancial thing you could think of. All in the name of making round metal things. When I got it, the quickchange gearbox was missing most of its parts so all the autofeed stuff was non-functional. I didnt think it was a big deal until I started making some more complex & larger parts with it. It was also missing some teeth from the bull gear.
I spent a long time trying to find some parts for it but unfortunately the old Sheldon's are one of the more rare American machines. South Bend & Atlas parts are everywhere; not the case with a Sheldon. I ended up finding a Yahoo group dedicated to the Sheldon Lathes & Mills & got some really great info from those guys. I got a service and parts manual, along with a users manual. I also found a guy who was willing to repair my bull gear. Amazingly enough, I also found a guy who had a complete quick change gearbox from a '57. He sold it to me for a great price & it bolted right up. You can see the different color of the gearbox in the pics. I'm not really sweating the asthetics as I really dig the old reliable workhorse look. Old machines with chipped and peeling paint that are covered in grease are pretty in their own way. As for the bull gear, I sent it out and the guy actually 're-ringed' it. Where they shave all the existing teeth off the gear and press on a new ring. It came back good as new.
Now changing out the gearbox was not too crazy of a job but goddamn, getting that bull gear off and back on was a chore. Had to pull the spindle out of the headstock which involved a lot of 2 x 4s, a B.F.H. and a lot of sweating and swearing. While the headstock was all apart, I pulled all the end gears off, cleaned & rebuilt them all, along with the remaining parts of the headstock. Once that was all done, I rebuilt the apron. Man, I thought the headstock was tricky - the apron was pretty intense in comparison. The autofeed knob has a clutch not unlike a motorcycle with all the plates and springs.
Once all the work was done and I got to run the machine, it was surely worth it. Its really rewarding to get your mind around something new, dig in elbows deep & come out with something insanely useful, not to mention a machine that can easily pay for itself by making some parts for folks. I'm looking forward to getting a mill attachment for it so I can also machine some flats when needed. Super stoked on the beast. I use it almost every time I go in my shop so it has surely been a worthy investment of time & effort.