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Old 03-06-2011, 05:05 PM   #1
Zengineer
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Default Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

Looking at a number of metal lathes for home/personal use. My uses will include aluminum and steel, as well as plastics. I may even DIY CNC it at some point if I'm looking for an added hobby.

My budget is around $4000. Looking for 2hp, 220v single phase, gear head, etc. Looking in the 12-14" swing and 24-40" between centers range.

So I've looked at some North American made ones, and some offshore ones as well. (Sold through Craftex, KBC, General, etc) The 4 I have in mind are:

http://www.busybeetools.com/products...GEAR-HEAD.html

http://www.kmstools.com/magnum-13-x-40-metal-lathe-2942

http://www.general.ca/site_metal/m_produits/25-400.html

http://kbctoolsandmachinery.ca/product/show/6-660-010#

Any comments on what to look for, and what to avoid in this price range and lathe type range?
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:14 PM   #2
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Default Re: Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

Ugh...if you only have $4000 to spend and want a manual lathe that won't give you too many troubles, look at Grizzly.com...they aren't the greatest, but better than the alternatives you listed.
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:23 PM   #3
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Default Re: Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

also look at ENCO
if you have 4K to sped you may find a really bitchen used one that is not worn out.
look at some local used machinery dealers

bob
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:36 PM   #4
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Default Re: Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

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Originally Posted by rsanter View Post
also look at ENCO
if you have 4K to sped you may find a really bitchen used one that is not worn out.
look at some local used machinery dealers

bob
ENCO (not EMCO), Jet, and Northern Tool are complete & utter crap...the QC is horrible and getting parts is a nightmare.

Grizzly ain't the greatest ever, but QC is MUCH better and parts are always available.
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Old 03-06-2011, 09:19 PM   #5
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Default Re: Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

Take a look at precision matthews brand. http://precisionmatthews.com/PMLatheIndex.html. I've heard good things about these. They're imprted for what it's worth...

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Old 03-06-2011, 10:08 PM   #6
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Default Re: Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

keep in mind that most of the chineeeeze machines with different names on them are all the same and made in the same place by the same people.
most of them are good enough for general work but if you want a high precision machine then you will need to spend more money or get a screaming deal on a used one

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Old 03-06-2011, 10:13 PM   #7
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Default Re: Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

I think Grizzly now handles South Bend lathes. I am not sure of the price but the SB 10K might be in you budget.
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Old 03-06-2011, 10:42 PM   #8
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Default Re: Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

If'n you buy used, this is MANDATORY READING:

http://www.mermac.com/advicenew.html

My rule is, if you haven't been using lathes regularly for the past decade, don't try to buy a used one without the help of an experienced guide.

Grizzly is hit and miss, depending on who their supplier is. However they have excellent customer service and will "make it right." But that might entail a lot of pain on your part, just the same.
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Old 03-06-2011, 10:49 PM   #9
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Default Re: Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

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Originally Posted by Zengineer View Post
Looking at a number of metal lathes for home/personal use.
My budget is around $4000. Looking for 2hp, 220v single phase, gear head, etc. Looking in the 12-14" swing and 24-40" between centers range.

Any comments on what to look for, and what to avoid in this price range and lathe type range?
Since you have 220V single phase, I would not shy away from a nice used 3 phase machine. A lot of folks are wary of three phase - which is fine with me as that leaves more to choose from. Rotary phase converters are simple to build and most variable frequency drives (VFD's) will also generate 3 phase.

My preference would be a nice used US/Canada/Taiwan built lathe.

Weight is a good measure of how a lathe is built - more is better. for example, this 14" x 28" Cadillac (aka YAM) lathe from Taiwan weight 2300 lbs or so.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/30788922@N07/2904879527/

A lot of the lower grade lathes of similar size weigh half of that.
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Old 03-06-2011, 10:52 PM   #10
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Default Re: Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

My recommendation is be patient and buy a used machine made in a first-world country such as America, Canada, Germany, England, Switzerland, etc.

Your budget is more than enough to purchase a high quality machine tool instead of a Chinese-made machine tool shaped object produced to a inadequate or completely undocumented standard of quality.

KBC calling their machine a "tool room lathe" is a farce at best. Weeks of hand fitting are involved in building a tool room lathe, as it is assembled selectively from the best components produced by the factory to fulfill the order of an individual customer. Real tool room machines come with multi-page accuracy reports and the lead screws are mapped and corrected for lead error.
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Last edited by A_Pmech; 03-06-2011 at 10:54 PM.
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Old 03-06-2011, 11:00 PM   #11
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Default Re: Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

Thanks for everything so far guys, keep the comments coming. I just missed out on a Standard Modern (made in Canada) 13x36 this weekend, just couldn't meet up with the guy as his schedule was challenging... turned out it sold tonight, and I was going to go get it tomorrow. He said no deposit was necessary, and then called me to say he took a deposit on it today from someone else... Argh.

Used Pratt & Whitney model "C" with DRO kicking around my parts too, I might check it out tomorrow...

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Old 03-08-2011, 11:11 PM   #12
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Default Re: Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

Yup, the P&W was a beast. Buuut.... working on details to get it to a new home now. Lots more info, but not until the deal is done.



May have taken the earlier weight comment a bit too seriously... I think we're looking at about 6,000lbs for a 12"x30" here!
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Old 03-09-2011, 09:17 AM   #13
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Default Re: Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

6000 lbs for a 12x30 sounds a bit much.. not impossible, though.

What's the max spindle speed on that? Aren't they really low speed?
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Old 03-09-2011, 11:40 AM   #14
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Default Re: Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

Sounds like the inspection trip went well.

The 14x54 Model C weighed 4325 lbs in the November 1943 circular 448-1 according to John Oder on Practical Machinist. I would say 4,000 lbs for your machine would be a good and safe estimate.
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Old 03-09-2011, 12:02 PM   #15
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Default Re: Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

You might find this of interest:

http://pounceatron.dreamhosters.com/...athes-1936.pdf

It lists the 12x30 @ 2700 lbs + motor.
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Old 03-09-2011, 01:07 PM   #16
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Default Re: Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

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Originally Posted by lametec View Post
You might find this of interest:

http://pounceatron.dreamhosters.com/...athes-1936.pdf

It lists the 12x30 @ 2700 lbs + motor.
Another interesting item in the above quoted doc is that the 'B' model is a 525rpm top speed machine. That is perty slow for todays tooling. I do not know the speed of the 'C' model so you should check that it turnes up fast enough to do what you want to do. Otherwise that looks like a fine old piece of machinery that I would love to own.

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Old 03-09-2011, 02:21 PM   #17
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Default Re: Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

Ah crud.. For some reason I was thinking he was looking at a Model B.. Well, that changes everything!

Operators manual:
http://www.rgr8family.com/Manuals/P&..._Operators.pdf

Parts manual:
http://www.rgr8family.com/Manuals/P&W_Mod_C_Parts.pdf


Model C lists speed ranges as 14 to 1500, which is a whole lot more acceptable than 525rpm top!
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Old 03-09-2011, 02:48 PM   #18
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Default Re: Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sonexer View Post
I think Grizzly now handles South Bend lathes. I am not sure of the price but the SB 10K might be in you budget.

the south bend lathe's they sell are imports also


Quote:
from the sb1002 spec sheet

Other
Country Of Origin Taiwan
Warranty 1 Year
Serial Number Location ID Label on Bed
Assembly Time Approximately 2 Hours
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Old 03-09-2011, 04:22 PM   #19
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Default Re: Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

If you want to buy new, Grizzly is pretty much your best bet. As others have said, there's occasional issues- being Chinese or Taiwanese make- but Grizzly has better QC than most of the other importers (especially BusyBee or Harbor Freight, which have effectively zero QC) has a very good warranty, and actually stocks repair or replacement parts.

There's better makers (like the aforementioned Standard-Modern) but they cost considerably more (like twice to three times as much) and there's cheaper makers, but Griz is the best balance between cost and quality I've found.

If you want to buy used, the sky's the limit. $4K can get you a really nice heavy-duty machine. But the used market is a minefield- if you don't know what you're looking at, you can pretty easily buy a pig in a poke.

The vast majority of used lathes in this country are ex-factory-production machines. Meaning they came out of an environment where somebody used it to make literally millions of parts over decades of sporadic maintnence and repair.

You can still find as cherry with minimal wear and maybe even a recent rebuild, but statistically you're more likely to wind up with a worn-out clunker with bad spindle bearings and a swaybacked bed.

Personally, I'd much prefer a used American- in fact, that's what I have; an 11" Logan and a 10" Sheldon. Both have mild wear, but both were also lightly refurbished by a previous owner. They're fine for my applications.

But if I needed to get right into production, as I did several years ago when I bought a Grizzly lathe, I would have no problems buying an import, wiping off the cosmoline, and going to work.

Doc.
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Old 03-09-2011, 09:02 PM   #20
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Default Re: Buying a Metal Lathe: Tips?

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Originally Posted by A_Pmech View Post
Sounds like the inspection trip went well.

The 14x54 Model C weighed 4325 lbs in the November 1943 circular 448-1 according to John Oder on Practical Machinist. I would say 4,000 lbs for your machine would be a good and safe estimate.
I used the 6000lbs number to ensure the crane operator knew what to bring for equipment... not a bad guess while trying to remain on the high side.

Inspection went quite well. I know the entire history of the machine since new, which is pretty remarkable! Original manuals are included as well, that was unexpected from a machine this old. A few oddities here and there, but nothing I didn't feel I could overcome. Ways, headstock and gearbox all checked out great.

Best bet at this point is another week until I can line up delivery, but that's ok. I need to make some room for a 12x30"... a lot more room than I thought I would for a lathe with those specs!

14-1000rpm speed in low range, and 21-1500rpm in high range. I believe it has the low range drive pulley installed.
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