you guys are great. this is excellent advice and I mean to learn from all of the posts. As to my realistic budget, I'd like to spend around $1K--give or take--since I know next to nothing about possible uses. There are times, especially weekends or when I'm working on one of my toys (cars as well as bikes), when I'm sure I could figure out how to make or modify a piece of metal. Little by little I mean to learn, by playing with the lathe, by reading a manual or by watching others. My grandfather back in Spain was a machinist and so was his brother. Sure wish I could have spent more time with them.
So, is around $1K enough for starters or am I not being realistic? I think I'd rather have a small lathe rather than a mini lathe, now that one of you has pointed out the differences. The idea of doing brake drums or rotors is something that I'd forgotten about, but sure does have its appeal
For now I'll start watching CL in the Denver area and see what shows up. In the meanwhile if someone reading this knows of something suitable for sale, please, by all means let me know.
again, many thanks to those who've chimmed in.