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Big or small lathe, my head can't decide yet!

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SSage

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#1
Man these threads make my head hurt. The go bigger comments are making me think about going to a larger lathe than I had planned. Lots of great points on this forum, love the positive vibe here.

I started out thinking I wanted a Grizzly 12x36 like most folks that don't know much, then I got to researching what was big enough for making mostly small punch dies and ammunition reloading stuff. I figure my minimum probably should be the PM-1127VF-LB size lathe, thread cutting is not a priority for me. At $3,098 I'm tempted to just wait on one of those. I mostly use a max diameter 2" round bar of A2 and bore holes to 1" max, mostly under 1/2". But, that PM-1236 is rattling around my head. Its so tempting for $550 more than what I think I really need to cover my scale of work. The foot brake is the main attraction, never used one before.

Any comments on the preferred package? Is the accessories all usable, I see it even includes a clutch on the feed screw like the industrial lathes. I doubt I would use the coolant pump, but the value of the package seems excellent. Is the drill chuck decent? The built in VFD on the smaller lathes appeals to me, never had one of those either, always used old iron. I'm putting in another 200 amp main service soon, my lights have been dimming in the home shop when my 80 gallon 2 stage air compressor cycles. My home service is barely adequate with the shop machines. So, I will have the power for more 220 machines if needed. I'm looking forward to adding another Air Conditioner!

I guess I'm trying to convince myself I need a 1,2000 lbs lathe after wanting to get something easy to install. That PM-1127VF-LB is listed at 575 lbs though, it seems heavy for its size anyway and I think the wait will be longer on one.

Any thoughts on the 1 hp AC inverter drive verses the 1228 DC set up at 2 hp? I compare the 1127 and the 1228 and they seem so close, just more threading range and the 2 hp DC motor I guess is the plus on the 12". I like the idea of the lower weights, easier to move in and I have to travel a dirt road with a small tractor. I gotta bring it in via 40 hp farm tractor and 2 ton shop hoist. Have to unload big trucks out on the asphalt road, they can't make it down my chert rock path.

These threads have given me lots to think about.
 

jer

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#2
I brought my 3Ø PM1440GT in my shop with a 53hp Case and a 2 ton cherry picker from HF. I think it weighed around 2000 lbs. in the crate.

As to your problem concerning which lathe and "just how big do I really need?" I started with a PM1030V, it was great for about a year then I decided to get a PM1236, which I thought would "surely be big enough for anything I would ever do/need". Well, some friends here helped me get a more "properly sized machine" to fit my present and future needs and totally destroyed my budget. They are laughing right about now reading this post, but they were right. Take this from a guy that was just there three months ago. Go as big as you can afford and fit into the space available, you will thank "us" later. If there is a Taiwanese machine in your size and budget get it they are worth it. If you need a good laugh read about my help deciding which lathe in the PM forum.
 

SSage

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#3
Yeah, I read on here that the pm-1236 is main land China. I wonder if thats still the case. I rather not stretch the budget anymore, already added thousands of dollars on other equipment this year. I've been looking for a used lathe, but the clean ones are too close to new prices for me.

I have a Kubota L4330 with the Kubota loader, with the 6' bush hog on its "fun" with the rated 1500 lbs on the forks. I probably could handle unloading the 1236 with no drama. I hope. Probably throw some extra weight on the bush hog. I'm getting close to making an order, trying to decide if I really would use the 12x36. Mainly I work on kinda small items in steel.
 

Bob Korves

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#4
Small lathes for small work, large lathes for large work. There is overlap, but small lathes turn too fast and do not have enough power for larger parts. Large lathes do not go fast enough to get a good surface finish on small diameter aluminum parts. So, you really need several lathes to cover all kinds of work, depending on the actual work that you do or plan to do. ;) Reality strikes, and you have to do the best you can with the money and space that you have available. Try to be brutally honest with yourself on what kinds of projects you really see yourself taking on. Then, pay your money and take your chances... You also are not required to buy new lathes, and do not forget that the tooling costs will probably catch up with the lathe cost. The most important thing for a hobby machinist is having fun!
 

USMCDOC

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#5
Lets re-phrase that .. get the biggest spindle bore you can afford! So far i am happy with the one that i have.. just wished the spindle bore was larger! What really got me is that the chucks that came with the PM lathe i have.. the through bore of the chucks are only an inch as well.. it is kinda sad so to speak.. so i am on the hunt for some more chucks with a larger center bore to them.. i would like at least 1.5 inches if i can find one.. that i can put on it..
I brought my 3Ø PM1440GT in my shop with a 53hp Case and a 2 ton cherry picker from HF. I think it weighed around 2000 lbs. in the crate.

As to your problem concerning which lathe and "just how big do I really need?" I started with a PM1030V, it was great for about a year then I decided to get a PM1236, which I thought would "surely be big enough for anything I would ever do/need". Well, some friends here helped me get a more "properly sized machine" to fit my present and future needs and totally destroyed my budget. They are laughing right about now reading this post, but they were right. Take this from a guy that was just there three months ago. Go as big as you can afford and fit into the space available, you will thank "us" later. If there is a Taiwanese machine in your size and budget get it they are worth it. If you need a good laugh read about my help deciding which lathe in the PM forum.
 

SSage

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#6
Spindle bore size made me look at the PM-1127VF-LB. I've been looking at some used Grizzly 12x36's made in the early 2000's, but the prices are too high for me to haul one home. I'm factoring in the time and money to haul one. I have the truck and trailer, just need the will power. Already tore my rotator cuffs in both shoulders last year a few months apart pushing myself too hard. I'm middle aged, but I feel older.

I bought one of those Harbor Freight 2 ton shop cranes with the folding legs, works okay. I lifted a 1,000 lbs press up with it, I had to replace the cast legs. It lifts nice and high, not bad for $179.00.
 

Chipper5783

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#8
Lots of good advise above. Bob's right, you need several lathes! As others have said, think about what you are intending to do, and how big a lathe you would need to do that - then get one that is at least one size larger. I do very general machining - vehicles, model trains, house repairs - some of this & that. My first lathe was (is) 15x60 with a 21" gap. Sure it is a bit big to drag around (with every move I have to hire a crane truck) and getting the power sorted out again is a pain (meaning hooking up the phase converter) - but for the work I do, it is very rare that I get defeated. It will run up to 2000 rpm, which works okay on some pretty small pieces, and over the years I have used every inch of the bed or every inch of swing. For general work, I'm really glad that I got a larger lathe than anything I could have originally imagined. I still have that first lathe, it is now pretty well kitted out and it is still a key part of, what has become my "fleet". A 15x60 is certainly not a "large" machine.

That 12x36 lathe would be a very handy size. I really doubt that you'll find that it is too big.

My opinion of the PM-1236 is that the low speed (65 rpm) is too fast. The top end of 1800 rpm I could live with. I find I use the lowest speed far more often (like about 100x more often) than I use the highest speed.

Sure, it would be cool to play with a 20" (or larger) lathe, but I can't see any advantages and a number of disadvantages (in the jobs I have done over the past 30 years).

A few years ago I got a very sweet 11x24 lathe, it is well accessorized and I enjoy using it (although the work envelop is small, it is a heavy pattern industrial machine - it actually out weights the 15x60 machine). That PM-1127 is a bit larger, but one would have to melt down 5 of them to get enough metal for one S&B 1024! However, even on modest size jobs, I often find myself going back to that 15x60 machine - sort of a "first love".

So why did I buy the 11x24? Can you say "Smart & Brown"? I guess I bought it because I had the opportunity. I thought it would be a nice companion to the 15x60 machine: same spindle mount, spindle bored for 5C collets, smaller chucks, speed change on the fly, lower slow speed and faster top speed, quieter operation - yes a nice machine.

Lots of people thought I was crazy, at 21 years old, to buy a 2500# lathe - just for fun. Of course I blew my cash, I had no tooling and couldn't plug it in. It took a few more pay cheques and I had it running, then tooling one piece at a time for years (no e-bay back then). Looking back over the past 34 years, that was one of the best purchases I ever made. Any regrets of paying too much (and I did overpay - no haggling on price, the salesman said a number to a kid (me) who looked about 18 - and I said "sure") - are long since forgotten.

Go for the larger machine and get all the lathe specific attachments right up front (steadies, TTA) - getting those items later is usually difficult because the lathe is not quite the same or they will be disproportionately more expensive. The spindle attachments, QCTP, DRO, etc - those can all be added later - so only get the very basics of the non-lathe specific items that you actually need right away (max out your spending on the actual machine - you can buy another chuck later - it is harder to buy another inch of swing).

Let us know how you make out. David
 

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#9
I went with a pm 1440gs, it still has the hobby sized ways seen on the hobby end, but it has the big bore spindle, bigger motor, and the weight is in the 1800lbs area. These machines are a trade off, really they are not a perfect fit in this price range and class, find the one that offers what you perceive is the most value for your money.

There are some that think because all of these machines in the 12-14" class are all just the same basic frame, that they feel the 12" machines are the stiffest... ymmv. Unless the extra 2 inches or so are really important...
The larger bore was for me, I just could not pull the trigger on any machine that was in the 1 1/2" spindle range, this included some commercial machines...

My machine should be in about 3 weeks, still cleaning the garage, and making room
Hth
Rich
 

SSage

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#10
Well, I've thought out the options till I'm tired of thinking. My budget has been increased 3 times now as I read the forums like many have commented.

I put an order/deposit in for the PM-1236 with the preferred package. The wait starts, but I gotta run 220 power over to the spot overhead surface mounted and figure out where the spot is. It came down to the PM-1127 or the PM-1236 for me. Right now I have no projects needing a 12x36, but who knows what may come up. The 1236 cost about $550 more with the stand, the foot brake, cooling, feed clutch etc. And its a better speced than a G4003G and the 3 year warranty is a plus.

We just finished mounting a new 200 amp main panel outside and a large inside panel out of an old house. Its a nice D Square box full of breakers, can't beat the free price. Just need to pull mains in the new 2" conduit and install the interior outlets. Thankfully my "local" electrical supply has good prices and I have lots of left over free conduit from other jobs. At least I have plenty of time to clear out a spot and plenty to get done before it arrives. Hey, it comes with a LED work light, that sells it right there. :)

What type of coolant do lathes use?

I don't know if its right, but I use cheap hydraulic oil to cool my horizontal metal band saw. Makes the blades last about 4x longer, it came with a coolant set up on a home made bench. Works good, just messy.
 

Bob Korves

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#11
12x36 is a good general purpose hobby lathe size.
 

Chipper5783

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#12
Coolant? Most of my machines are set up for coolant. I don't use it. Coolant is another maintenance item and makes a heck of a mess and you can get most of the benefit with various squirts & sprays, or slow down a bit.

I have a heavy duty power hacksaw and I run coolant on it. The coolant system is well set up to drain back into the sump (not all over the floor) and even operating on the lowest speed (6 speed machine) it seems to really benefit from coolant.

For starters, I recommend you try working without coolant (just squirts & sprays as needed) and see how it goes.
 

SSage

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#13
Yeah, I doubt I would need coolant on the lathe for what I plan on. I looked at some of that stuff and they sure don't give it away.

I picked out my spot to put the lathe in, I'll be busy moving stuff around for a while. I think its time to clean out some "household" items, amazing how much "good" stuff you can accumulate.
 

richl

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#14
Knowing the location is the first big step
Congrats on the lathe, sounds like a great machine!!!

Rich
 

bfd

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#16
started with a6" atlas went to a 12x36 frejoth and now have a 16x60 enco whatever size you start with you don't have to stay there bill
 

SSage

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#17
Hopefully I won't have that size issue, I know what I'll be making and it will consume my time too much for bigger things anyway. Most of my recent parts were made on a Logan 840, a well worn Logan of a backyard machinist. Time to get my own lathe. He retired and sold off his shop, I was tempted to buy it all. But, I have enough projects, I want something that doesn't need restoring.
 

tmarks11

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#18
I put an order/deposit in for the PM-1236 with the preferred package.
Good move. Going with at least a 12x36 lathe gets you the following:
1. Cam-lock spindle. A huge deal in my opinion.
2. A real QCGB. The smaller lathe QCGB is so gimped that it might as well be non-existent.
3. Power cross feed (of course the 1127 you were considering does have cross feed, but most small lathes don't).

Coolant on a manual lathe is a PIA, and you can easily get by without it. Just have to be careful parting large diameter aluminum.
 

navav2002

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#19
Another thing I like about the 1236 is that it's a gap bed lathe!! So your swing over gap is 17 11/16"!! You may never need it but the added capacity is just a few bolts away...

Congratulations on your choice!! I want one too...It seems to be the most practical machine for my needs...Sure the 1340gt is pretty dang sweet but a lot more money!! I really can't justify (afford) it...The 1236 is an awfully nice lathe and after looking at "darkzero's" thread plenty capable of some nice work!!

Darkzero's Thread: http://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads/my-pm1236.11475/
 
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mikey

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#20
Another thing I like about the 1236 is that it's a gap bed lathe!! So your swing over gap is 17 11/16"!! You may never need it but the added capacity is just a few bolts away...

Congratulations on your choice!! I want one too...It seems to be the most practical machine for my needs...Sure the 1340gt is pretty dang sweet but a lot more money!! I really can't justify (afford) it...The 1236 is an awfully nice lathe and after looking at "darkzero's" thread plenty capable of some nice work!!

Darkzero's Thread: http://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads/my-pm1236.11475/
You gotta' watch that @darkzero guy or you'll be buying more tools than you thought you would. Covet, that's the word I'm looking for ... :)
 

ttabbal

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#21
Another thing I like about the 1236 is that it's a gap bed lathe!! So your swing over gap is 17 11/16"!! You may never need it but the added capacity is just a few bolts away...

I've been reading up as I would like to get a lathe. I started looking at mini machines, $600 or so. Found this forum, then decided I would like a PM-1127. Now I see this and am back to considering the 1236. It sure looks like a good value. I think I might miss the variable speed, but I don't think it's a huge deal.

How workable is using a 1236 as a horizontal mill? I have a few projects in mind that would be nice to mill a little as well. Ideally, I'd get both, but I don't see that happening soon.
 

Bob Korves

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#22
I've been reading up as I would like to get a lathe. I started looking at mini machines, $600 or so. Found this forum, then decided I would like a PM-1127. Now I see this and am back to considering the 1236. It sure looks like a good value. I think I might miss the variable speed, but I don't think it's a huge deal.

How workable is using a 1236 as a horizontal mill? I have a few projects in mind that would be nice to mill a little as well. Ideally, I'd get both, but I don't see that happening soon.
You can do milling on a lathe, but it is not very close to ideal. Line boring is an exception, though that is not really a milling job.
 

SSage

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#23
I've been reading up as I would like to get a lathe. I started looking at mini machines, $600 or so. Found this forum, then decided I would like a PM-1127. Now I see this and am back to considering the 1236. It sure looks like a good value. I think I might miss the variable speed, but I don't think it's a huge deal.

How workable is using a 1236 as a horizontal mill? I have a few projects in mind that would be nice to mill a little as well. Ideally, I'd get both, but I don't see that happening soon.
I guess the same as the 11x27, about the same cross travel of 6". I'll probably use a milling attachment on mine for some small 2"x3"plates I make. But, I'm keeping an eye out for a smallish mill. I'm trying to figure out where I would put a decent mill though. The variable speed is nice of course, it can be added later. The 11x27 has the features I "need", but no growing room. It was just big enough to handle my projects. Haven't used a VFD lathe myself, so I don't know what I'm missing really.

The 12x36 with preferred package is about $550 more with shipping. Plus you add in the $200 upgraded cast stand and its really in a hobby class of its own, much better than what Grizzly offers in their version. Its about twice the weight with a gap bed than a 11x27, you might want to turn a brake rotor or something. A 220 volt 2 hp motor is really not big, but better than a 110 volt 1 hp, Much less gear and belt changing and then you have a foot brake too with the preferred package. You really get a lot of value with the 12x36 alone, then add in the preferred package with the feed clutch/stop, the coolant system the brake and its a unique offering at this price. Anything with these features in a 12" or bigger is much more expensive. I looked for months, its the best value I could find. I finally convinced my self a 12x36 was the way to go.

The 11x27 is a great package if your staying with 110 volt machines. The 110 volt 12x28 is better if your going to thread often, less gear changes, just costs a few hundred more equipped the same as the 11x27. The 1127 AC inverter set up is different too, most in this class use DC motors. And remember the PM-1236 comes with the stand even with the base model. I started out thinking I could get by with the 10x22 or 10x30, but I realized I needed more power. I really didn't want to move a 12x36 into my shop, but I think if I had gone with a 11x27 it would have been worked too hard. I figure a 12x36 will be more durable, better for cutting threads with the foot brake?

I like the idea of a separate VFD. I can always pull it and use one of my 3ph converters if it breaks. I doubt I'll add one really fast, I have other extra things to get first. You know, Priorities.
 
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ttabbal

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#24
The 12x36 with preferred package is about $550 more with shipping. Plus you add in the $200 upgraded cast stand and its really in a hobby class of its own, much better than what Grizzly offers in their version. Its about twice the weight with a gap bed than a 11x27, you might want to turn a brake rotor or something. A 220 volt 2 hp motor is really not big, but better than a 110 volt 1 hp, Much less gear and belt changing and then you have a foot brake too with the preferred package. You really get a lot of value with the 12x36 alone, then add in the preferred package with the feed clutch/stop, the coolant system the brake and its a unique offering at this price. Anything with these features in a 12" or bigger is much more expensive. I looked for months, its the best value I could find. I finally convinced my self a 12x36 was the way to go.
.

Thanks for the info. I think my reasoning is following yours. The 1236 is a lot bigger than I had intended, but it does offer room to grow with larger projects and a few I hadn't considered like brake rotors. I would want to go with the preferred package, maybe even the DRO depending on how the budget looks when I order, which is likely toward the end of the year.

Space and 220V are not issues for me. My issues are more about budget and if I think I would actually use the added capability. I think the added rigidity would be useful, particularly with the cast iron stand. Of course, it also means that my budget for the machine jumped from about 600 to about 4000. That bit isn't going to be an easy pill to swallow. :) I'm also not in a rush and maybe a good deal will pop up for a used machine locally. I haven't seen much worth even bothering to look at in person though.
 

SSage

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#25
I tried to buy used, couldn't find anything decent for the money. One old Grizzly, the guy wanted $3,000 for, I can get a new one for less than $3600 shipped. It was very clean and like new though, but I rather have it shipped to my door. Lots of old Atlas, Logan, South Bend and Asian's around here. I wish I could have found a decent one priced okay. There is a never used base model Bolton 12x30 on a stand here in Alabama for $2000, that's the best deal I found. Those Boltons are cheap though, so look at the specs closely, there is a reason why they are cheaper.

If money is the deciding factor, a PM-1022 or PM-1030 is a great value at the $1899/$1999 range. Its a 10" variable lathe with the power cross feed, QCTP and the chucks. Thats what I started looking at when I saw this older review here: http://markswoodchips.com/precision-matthews-1022v-lathe/.html

The small spindle then had me looking at the PM-1127V-LB with the 1" 1/2 spindle bore. But, the PM-1030 is $1999 and it comes with the accessories lacking in so many others of the same size.

For a little less, Little Machine Shop has their little 8" with a decent brushless DC motor. But its bare bones compared to the PM-1022, it does have the power cross feed for $1799 last time I looked. Add in shipping and there is very little different in price compared to the PM-1022 though that comes with more accessories and capabilities.

Grizzly sells a 12x24 for around $2800 with accessories. I was thinking seriously about a 12x36 Grizzly, the G4003 for just over $3K shipped with some tooling included. But, the G4003G is only a litte more and it comes with a stand, a spindle spider and the QCTP with insert tools. These lathes are too close in featured for me, it makes sense to save up and get a full featured lathe. With Precision Mathews there is a wait time, but the value of the package features win out IMO. The PM 3 year warranty is also a big selling point.
 
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benmychree

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#26
Small lathes for small work, large lathes for large work. There is overlap, but small lathes turn too fast and do not have enough power for larger parts. Large lathes do not go fast enough to get a good surface finish on small diameter aluminum parts. So, you really need several lathes to cover all kinds of work, depending on the actual work that you do or plan to do. ;) Reality strikes, and you have to do the best you can with the money and space that you have available. Try to be brutally honest with yourself on what kinds of projects you really see yourself taking on. Then, pay your money and take your chances... You also are not required to buy new lathes, and do not forget that the tooling costs will probably catch up with the lathe cost. The most important thing for a hobby machinist is having fun!
You can do small work on a large lathe, but not the reverse.
 

BGHansen

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#27
I started with an Atlas 12 x 36. Made a lot of small things with it and learned a lot. Biggest project was turning shoulders on a riser block (8" round) for a Jet mill.

Picked up a Rockwell 10 x 36 which became the "go to" but still used the Atlas. Then picked up a Clausing 12 x 24 which became the "go to", sold the Atlas for more than I paid for it; still used the Rockwell. Then picked up a Grizzly G0709 14 x 40 which is the current "go to" but use the Clausing a lot also (leave a collet chuck on it).

You're going to be hard pressed to find one machine that will do everything from small to large, high speed to slow. My Clausing 12 x 24 top speed is something like 1500 RPM, slowest speed is <30 RPM. The Grizzly G0709 has a range of 70 - 2000 RPM. I really like the Clausing for single point threading and the ~28 RPM minimum speed. I recently threaded a 6 tpi job on the Grizzly and stayed really focused to not crash at the 70 RPM speed; the carriage is moving at about 1" every 5 seconds at that speed.

I'd have to guess the most popular sized lathe is the 12 x 36 size. South Bend sold a lot of 9" and 10" lathes back in the day, plus tons of Atlas 10" and 12" lathes out there. If you pick up a lathe of that size and decide to add a second one you'll still use both. Or if you decide to sell a lathe that you picked up used, you'll likely get your money back. As long everything is working, time doesn't devalue the machine.

Bruce
 

oldhank60

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#28
easy solution,, go with the biggest and best lathe you can afford.
it must fit in location you want it, that's a must. don't spend more than you can afford or you could start hating the cost and sell machine at a loss, it has to be able to do more than what you need it for at time of purchase, if you have to up grade that is more cost that could of been avoided.

bought the PM 1340 -GT because it was best PM offered at the time, I wanted lathe made in Taiwan because I don't like china steel, the larger 14-40 lathe from Taiwan was not available when I made purchase or I would of purchased it. That being said the PM 1340 GT is a nice lathe I have had a few problems but nothing major yet, I don't think you will go wrong purchasing a Precision Mathews machine of any type, I also have the PM 935 TV Mill I use it more than lathe
 
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