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PM1340 - the Best & Jacobs Full Custom Edition


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It’s been several months since I took delivery of, and posted about my PM1340 lathe. It's time for an update since I’m nearing completion of what started as a straight forward VFD conversion project, and then took on a life of it’s own and led to a substantial customization of the stock PM1340 lathe.

I’m forever grateful to Mark Jacobs in particular for his thoughtful advice, council and helpful suggestions, and especially for the new electronics control package he developed to my specifications. Without Mark’s fine contribution, this project would never have taken off. I’m also grateful to this Hobby-Machinist group – I’ve received - even stolen or copied - some very interesting and useful upgrades described by other users here. Great inspiration.

In a nutshell, I started out wanting to do a VFD conversion and needed help with that aspect. I also did not like the stand offered by QMT for the 1340 because it did not offer drawer storage below the lathe. I also wanted a lathe with a chip/coolant pan that could be easily removed for cleaning. I decided to design and build my own stand, and the project evolved from there – first learning to weld, acquiring welding equipment, making a welding table, and on and on. Turns out, the stand building part of this project was one of the least time consuming aspects.

As the project evolved, I harkened back to the mid-1960’s when I did a customization of a 1957 Chevy, and the more I got into this, the deeper I dug the customization hole.

For those who are inclined, the full saga of the customization, including photos and selected videos of the machine under power is documented at this link: http://tinyurl.com/m2zavnl

Here’s a summary of some of the elements that went into the Best & Jacobs Full Custom Edition:

  • Designed and fabricated a welded steel stand for the lathe that provided drawer storage below, and a removable chip/coolant pan under the lathe.
  • Upgrade of the motor to a vector-rated Baldor unit capable of high torque and HP throughout a wide speed range.
  • Working with Mark Jacobs who designed and fabricated a new control system, all the electronics in the factory-supplied lathe were replaced.
  • I like this lathe a lot, and appreciate the refinement of a Taiwanese made machine to that of mainland China. That said, one thing they haven’t mastered in Asia (to my satisfaction) is how to paint the machines with a durable finish. So I said to myself “as long as you’re replacing the electronics, might as well repaint the thing.” Wow – what a path-setting decision that was.
  • And then “as long as you’re taking it apart to paint . . .” came the decision to replace every fastener on the machine with hardened stainless steel equivalents (thank you McMaster).
  • I decided to upgrade other basic elements of the machine including incorporation of real glass and metal oil level sights, a quick and easy oil drain system for the headstock, all new front panels, new stainless steel knobs and levers, a single-point oil pumping system for the quick change gearbox, new carriage stop with micro-adjust and proximity sensor mounting, and many other minor improvements and embellishments.
  • Installed DRO-Pro’s magnetic scale system with customized mounting and drag chain to organize the cables, and a Mitutoyo scale on the tailstock. Also built a MachTach kit for the machine, came up with custom case and panel for it as well as incorporating the mounting into the structure to support the DRO display.
  • After the stand was built and the lathe installed on it, I decided to build a tool racking system and for the BXA tooling collection I was accumulating, and that evolved into a second support bracket system for the light (which I converted to LED), and a jumbo dial indicator setup for indicating-in 4 jaw fixturing, swivel tool trays for the stand, etc.
  • Added an MQL coolant delivery system from FogBuster.

Here are a few photographs that chronicle the evolution and where things stand today. Enjoy, and thanks for the inspiration and for viewing, with special thanks to Mark Jacobs for his consistent and thoughtful support throughout the project, and to Matt at QMT for his helpful and timely support throughout.

The custom lathe stand - "what do you mean, I have to learn to weld too?"


The removable chip tray:


VFD enclosure:


Tear-down and preparation for stripping and painting:




Replacing all the fasteners with hardened Stainless Steel:


New controls and front panel:


Electronic control package from Mark Jacobs:


New Baldor motor, pulley and belt system:


New oil level sights:


Dorian BXA tool post:


Single Bijur oil pump for quick change gearbox:


New quick change gearbox oil distribution platform:




Spider and tachometer sensor mount:


ER40 collet chuck with D1-4 mounting:


All new stainless steel levers and knobs:


Spindle-aligned chuck saddles:


Tailstock DRO:


Quick, no mess oil change system for headstock:


Cross slide DRO:


Carriage position DRO with drag chain for cable and coolant/compressed air plumbing:


FogBuster coolant system:


Flexbar LatheGuard safety shield:


Custom mounting for DRO and MachTach display:


Quick change gearbox oil drip pan:


New, tool-less re-positioning and removable carriage stop with proximity sensor mounting:


Spider run-out adjustment indicator system:


Extensive tool rack:


As she sits tonight:


And there's much more here for those who are interested, including several videos in addition to four pages of photos: http://tinyurl.com/m2zavnl

Thanks for viewing, sorry for the long post, and much appreciation to you all for inspiration.

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I second the Wow & Awesome!

One of the nicest setups I have ever seen! If that were mine I'd be afraid to use it & get it dirty!


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Beautiful job, David! Well thought out and well executed. Kudos to Mark for his generosity on this project - what a cool collaboration!!!

Great job, David, great job!!!


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Great job David! Your attention to detail is incredible. Some real innovative ideas there.

Mark has helped many of us here and we are lucky to have him as a great asset to the forum. I can't say that I have looked at enough machines to declare that PM machines are best in class, however I can say with confidence this PM forum, ideas, and support here are absolutely priceless.


Active User
Active Member
Great job, that is really impressive. My 1340gt showed up yesterday, I'm really excited to get a stand made and start working.

Did you get the taper attachment for yours? If so, have you used it at all or have any pictures/videos of using it?


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Really like the Bijur oiling system. Got me thinking about my Grizzly G0709. I have to pull a cover to manually oil a few spots. It'd be much easier in the long run to drill/tap some fittings and run some lines to them. Thanks for sharing!



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Very very nice! You have a good eye for the mods you have done to make an already nice machine great. Can you use the lathe or will it be enclosed in a glass case for viewing? just kidding!


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Active Member
Excellent craftsmanship and many really well thought out design ideas!
I look forward to shamelessly copying you on a few... :)


Registered Member
So how much do you charge for everything? I want exactly the same everything, but in my garage. I will let you know when my PM 1340 arrives. I will buy you a round trip ticket and provide room and board. Just make it like the ones in photos... PLEASE!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro


Registered Member

Absolutely over the top, best I've ever seen. congratulations!

Maybe I missed it, but where did you get the tool boxes for the stand?
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Wow you really did it up real nice over the original lathe. Some very good improvements which should make this lathe a pleasure to use. Congratulations on the build and hope you enjoy using it as well.


Active Member
Active Member
Thanks everyone. This project was indeed a labor of love. Here are some additional details and answers to questions:

where did you get the tool boxes for the stand?
If you look at the photo of the stand at this link, you will see a description of the tool boxes: https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidpbest/28702542893/in/album-72157683014913836/

Can you buy a mill and do the same to it, so I can steal your ideas.
I am considering upgrading from my existing Rong Fu-45 (the original, not a clone) to a PM935. If I do that, I will get the non-variable speed model (never liked mechanical variable speed, plus do not have headroom in my basement for the extra height), and I will work with Mark Jacobs on a control package including VFD (assuming Mark is willing).

So how much do you charge for everything? I
I am attaching drawings for a lot of the enhancements, including the stand, the carriage stop, the gearbox oil drip plate, DRO/Tach mount, the T-slot dimensions for the QCTP, and drawings of the basic lathe for planning purposes. They can also be downloaded here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/dm21o1fzv...rawings - Best Jacobs Custom Edition.pdf?dl=0

Did you get the taper attachment for yours?
I considered it, but in the end I decided against it. For the amount of taper work I do, using the compound or offsetting the tailstock will be just fine. My understanding is that the taper attachment requires re-positioning of the splash guard further to the rear, and that it attaches to some of the carriage points I used for the DRO encoder bracket on the Z-axis. It also does not come with a telescoping cross slide screw system which would drive me nuts.

Can you use the lathe or will it be enclosed in a glass case for viewing?
Several friends have asked the same thing - even one curator at a museum asked about this. But no, I'm going to keep it here and use it.

Did the upgrades cost as much as the lathe?
Here's how the numbers break down:

  • Lathe, and all the upgrades to the machine itself including DRO, VFD & motor upgrade, new controls, chuck, bracketry, anodizing, paint, SS fasteners, etc: about $10K
  • Tooling including QCTP, holders, insert tooling and inserts: about $6,500
  • Welding equipment and table to make the stand: about $8K
  • The stand materials: about $600
For kicks I'm also attaching a spreadsheet that lists most of the fasteners on the base machine that I replaced with stainless steel. Lots of other SS fasteners were employed with the bracketry, DRO mountings, etc.

Hope this is helpful, and thanks again for all you feedback and kudos.



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David thanks for sharing your drawings. I am defiantly going to incorporate some of your mods into my machine, especially the QCGB lubrication system.



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Hi David, what outstanding work, photos and write-up. About the oil level sight glass, are those homemade or are they available commercially?
Very clean and functional mods, looking forward to following your next project.
Thanks for sharing.


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Active Member
About the oil level sight glass, are those homemade or are they available commercially?
Most of the photos at the link I posted originally have descriptions of what you're looking at and a myriad of details about the specifics if viewed with a web browser - just click on the image to see the text associated with it below. Here are the specifics about the oil level sights.

I decided to replace the oil level indicators for two reasons: (1) the originals are plastic (uck), and (2) I pretty much trashed the originals as part of the disassembly and paint stripping process. Getting to replacements was definitely a treasure hunt.

The hole in the headstock casting is stepped and un-threaded, and designed for a press-in-place fluid level sight. Photo of that hole: https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidpbest/34335484345/in/album-72157683014913836/ I debated threading the hole for conventional oil level indicators, but the stepped nature of the hole and it's size made this infeasible.

The version of oil level sight I settled on is metric and fits the larger (outer) step of the hole in the headstock (28mm). I wanted stainless, but no metric press-in stainless level sights are available in the USA, so I settled for aluminum. It's available from JM Winco, their part number RD2/B. http://www.jwwinco.com/products/section12/gn537/index.html

This level indicator has an aluminum body with an integral rubber gasket that expands as the two parts of the body are tightened together with a spanner wrench, and has a glass lens. There is no practical way to hold the inner ring of the aluminum housing to expand the rubber gasket with the indicator in place in the hole, so I expanded it before inserting it in the hole and used a small amount of silicon caulk to make doubly sure it sealed properly and would not leak.

The oil level sight that was installed in the apron at the factory was a plastic press-in thing 16mm in diameter. Photo of that hole: https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidpbest/30172174384/in/album-72157683014913836/

I could find no metal replacement level sight that size, so I decided to re-drill that opening and tap it for a conventional 1/2-inch NPT tapered pipe fitting (extra deep) and use a replacement stainless steel and glass level sight similarly threaded from McMaster ( https://www.mcmaster.com/#1079k12/=17el6nj ). Anyone attempting to thread stainless steel NPT (like this level indicator) into a tapered NPT threaded hole in cast iron should apply a copper-based anti-seize compound to the stainless steel part first, otherwise the stainless will gaul and seize to the cast iron as the tapered fit tightens. Trust me on this - learned the hard way. I used Loctite LB N-1000 anti-seize on most of the stainless to cast iron tightly threaded interfaces, sometimes in conjunction with a Permatex gel where oil was present behind the fastener (belt and suspenders).
Hope this helps.