I've been examining my lathe. Fundamentally, it's sound. However, practically, Houston we have a problem :-D
This is probably a common situation when you don't really know what you're buying, you can't really inspect what you're buying (ebay), your funds are limited so you can't just go buy a showroom piece, and the item must be within a reasonable drive.
The issue is that as far as I can tell, it's been dropped. There are too many cosmetic issues to chalk it up to happenstance or age. Here's the score of defects:
1. The tail stock has a non-original handle, a chip out of the casting, and works oddly.
2. A bracket holding the lead screw has been welded.
3. The handle on the cross slide has been replaced with a faucet handle (remarkably, it's very comfortable to use.)
4. The pot-metal carriage traversal mechanism is broken. The seller did give me replacement parts, however. I don't know if they fit!
Those issues are cosmetic, really. I probably need to rebuild the tail stock and see what's going on inside there.
The other issues are
4. The motor's bearings are shot. This is a 1 1/2 hp Baldor. If I can replace the bearings I'll have a prize. This motor isn't original and is about 4 times more powerful than the original motor. I'll probably put a spare 1/2 hp motor on it and proclaim victory. And sell the Baldor.
5. The counter shaft isn't original and the cone pulley was slipping. I could make it work pretty easily. However, this is a key part of the lathe. I can't use the lathe to make this part. I need to make this right since the rest of the lathe depends upon it.
6. The back gear shaft is also not original. Chances are, there's some damage to one of its mounting bracket castings. I'll remake the shaft, should be easy. The problem is the back gears won't stay engaged. I get conflicting reasons why from the web. I expect I'll be making a new part that will keep the arm engaged.
7. All the bearings need to be inspected. The babbitt bearings look good, thank goodness.
8. I need to replace the lost-to-time gear cover as a safety issue.
So the lathe is indeed a project. But not everything needs to be done at once. Once the counter shaft is repaired and I strap on a new motor I can run the lathe.
This lathe, an Atas/Craftsman 101.07383, is pretty old, and as it turns out there isn't much information on the web about it. Clausing was kind enough to send me a 1941-ish parts list, however, and it is posted here with permission.