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Why no small high-quality lathes?

keithd

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Active Member
#1
I currently have an old Jet 9x20 that needs replacing. My problem is that I have very little room in my shop, so I am limited to a 9x, 10x, or maybe 11x24. 12x is just too large, as is x36.

The problem is that I can't find a quality full-featured lathe in that size range. The Chinese lathes I can find are generally in the $1,000 range for a 9x to the $1,600 range for an 11x. But these are not quality or full-featured lathes. Usually no VFD, usually a combo threading/turning lead screw, often no reverse power carriage feed, usually no power cross feed, usually limited thread pitches, usually no Cam Lock chuck, often too slow of a top speed (1,500 RPM or less), usually too fast of minimum turning feed rate, never a brake, ..., etc.

The closest thing I've found to approximately what I'm looking for is the Southbend 8K (8x18) (South Bend Lathe Co.) for about $3,000. But it is a step down in size from what I want, and I'd rather stay at 9x or go a step up.

The next closest thing I've found is the Precision Mathews PM1127VF-LB (PM1127VF Lathe). But it has some threading weirdnesses, is hard to get, and has a bit too large of a footprint for my space.

I want a new lathe, not a used lathe or old-style lathe. I'm willing to pay in the range of $3,500 for a 9x and $5,000 for an 11x, i.e., two to three times the price of standard Chinese lathes from Grizzly/Enco/Jet ...

Does no such thing exist, or have I just not found it? I find it hard to believe there is no market for such a machine.

Any pointers to a new, small, high-quality, full-featured lathe would be appreciated. Or even confirmation that none exist would help.

Thanks, Keith
 

george wilson

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H-M Supporter-Premium
#3
What threading wierdnesses are there on the PM 11" lathe? I cannot access the owner's manual,and wonder why they just show the cover?? And,when you try to see the 18 x 60" lathe,it shows a 16 x 60" instead.
 

Tony Wells

Former Vice President
Staff member
Administrator
#5
Don't rule out some of the European machinery. Better than Chinese, any day. Of course, finding a US distributor would probably be the most difficult, but surely some would ship direct if you were willing to go through all that hassle.
 

Cheeseking

Active User
Active Member
#6
New? Forget it. Could be wrong but yer probly s.o.l.

Used there are two right off I can think of that meet your req.

Emco Maier Super 11
Colchester Bantam Mk2 11x30

Both are rare but do pop up once in awhile. About 900lb +/-machines.
 

keithd

Active User
Active Member
#7
What about the SB 1002? Seems about perfect for you.
Too long of a footprint. Anything beyond x24 is just too long for my space. The SB1002 is only x28, but its headstock is extra wide making the footprint 56" wide. Other than that I would definitely be considering it. Especially since I have a SB1027 (9x48) vertical milling machine, which I love.

Thanks, Keith
 

keithd

Active User
Active Member
#9
I looked at it, but it is a x36, which is simply too long for my space. Unfortunately, x24 is about as wide as I can go. Grizzly offers a 12x24 that looks similar to the wttool 12x36 only shorter. But at 12x even a x24 has a 53" long footprint, which is just too wide.

I might be able to make a 53" long lathe work if it was on wheels so I could pull it out for gear changes. But the 12x lathes are all over 1,000 lbs, which I am reluctant to put on wheels. I guess it could be done if I made my own custom stand, which I might have to do.

Thanks, Keith
 

keithd

Active User
Active Member
#10
I dont know where you are but there are deals out there
this is in tampa fl.
steve
http://tampa.craigslist.org/hil/tls/3399190461.html
It looks nice and looks to be a good size for me.

But the top spindle speed is only 1,000 RPM, which is slower than I like for aluminum.

But the big problem is that I live in California (Bay Area). Buying used machines long distance is a challenge, which is one reason I prefer new.

I've been watching used lists out here, but haven't yet run across anything suitable.

Thanks, Keith
 

keithd

Active User
Active Member
#11
What threading wierdnesses are there on the PM 11" lathe? I cannot access the owner's manual,and wonder why they just show the cover?? And,when you try to see the 18 x 60" lathe,it shows a 16 x 60" instead.
I read someone's review that explained the threading issue here: Need advise on lathe for $2000 or less.

Plus I noticed that you cannot, for example, cut an 11.5 TPI thread. That is the standard for US garden hose. Not that I expect to cut that many garden hose threads, but I noticed it because I just made an adaptor for a friend's HVLP that uses garden-hose thread. My 9x20 Jet had no problem with it. I couldn't have made it with the PM.

I have read many reviews of the PM 11". Some good, some bad. Not sure how to net it out. But I've seen enough bad comments that I'm suspicious. I'd rather have a lathe with fewer negative reviews.

Besides, it has a 56" long footprint, which is above my space limit. Quite a bit longer than other 11x machines. The Grizzly 11x26, for example, is 5" shorter.

Thanks, Keith
 

7HC

Active User
Active Member
#12
I want a new lathe, not a used lathe or old-style lathe. I'm willing to pay in the range of $3,500 for a 9x and $5,000 for an 11x, i.e., two to three times the price of standard Chinese lathes from Grizzly/Enco/Jet ...

Does no such thing exist, or have I just not found it? I find it hard to believe there is no market for such a machine.

Any pointers to a new, small, high-quality, full-featured lathe would be appreciated. Or even confirmation that none exist would help.

Thanks, Keith
I don't know whether one exists or not, but I suspect that there's little market for a $4K-$5K non-Chinese/Taiwanese 11x when perfectly serviceable machines from those countries are readily available at much lower prices. The machines supplied by PM/Grizzly/Enco WT etc. are much higher quality than those supplied by Harbor Freight for instance.


M
 

Tony Wells

Former Vice President
Staff member
Administrator
#13
Check out some of the Prazi and Wabeco machines.

http://www.ismg4tools.com/products.html

They're not going to be cheap, or easy to get, but they are out there.

You might also look for Japanese machines. Not many out there I would think, but would be good. Even now, S. Korea builds some clones of
old Japanese names and are pretty decent, for a fair price. Overall, though, not that much to choose from in small lathes of high quality
other than very small, like watchmakers lathes.
 

12bolts

Global Moderator
Staff member
Active Member
#14
Keith
Are you happy with your jet? Could whatever reason it needs to be replaced be overcome with repair/refurbishment at reasonable cost?
How old/worn is it?

Cheers Phil
 

lens42

Active User
Active Member
#15
If you live in the Bay Area, you should consider Wabeco. There is a very reputable dealer in Gilroy:
http://www.mdaprecision.com/

I was in the same situation as you (though I see many more nice looking used machines on Craigslist now than I did when I was shopping), and bought a new Wabeco D3000E from MDA about 6 years ago. It wasn't cheap (over $3k) but the thing that pushed me over the edge was that I could drive to Gilroy, look at my new machine, and take it home (or not). No shipping and no uncertainty about what condition a freighted tool will arrive in. There is also A Wabeco board on Yahoo hosted by MDA. MDA is great, but I should also say that just sold my D3000E (for about half what I paid for it) after finding a nice Maximat V10P in Oakland.
 

Cheeseking

Active User
Active Member
#16
2000 rpm
Geared head, Threading, D1-3 camlock,
Foot brake

This ones on ebay now. Way too much $$ in that condition IMO but maybe they will deal. Make it fit. You wont regret it.

Clausing Colchester 11" x 30" Engine Lathe

http://bit.ly/Tc4GzI
 

george wilson

Global Moderator
Staff member
H-M Supporter-Premium
#18
The Craigslist lathe is a 10x24" lathe,just like the first DECENT lathe I had,a Taiwan made Jet. Taiwan is the key word. The Jet would leave beautiful finishes on steel,and had an oil filled apron. I wonder where the follower rest is. It has the steady rest. At $1100.00 I think it is a good buy being made in Taiwan. I don't care for mainland Chinese lathes. Taiwan has been at it longer,and I understand they had good advisors to get them going. I don't think the Chinese had the same guidance.

I often regret selling my Jet,but didn't have the space. I liked the great range of threads it would cut. My present 16" doesn't have a range approaching the 10" Jet,though I have found extra gears and can make them if necessary by doubling or halving the range on the QC box. Likely the 3 jaw chuck that came with the used 10" lathe above started out .003" concentricity. No telling how close it is now. Long ago I got Bison chucks that are .001" accuracy.
 

keithd

Active User
Active Member
#19
I haven't seen one in person but South Bend is making lathes... http://www.southbendlathe.com/products/lathes/SB1001

How about this or something from their line up??? It looks pretty nice and well put together. The manual states that the country of origin is China. Wow there are some cool features on this.
Yes, a South Bend lathe would be great, since I already have an SB1027 9x48 vertical mill.

Unfortunately the SB 8K is a little too small and the 10K is a little too big. If they had one in between my problem would be solved.

Thanks, Keith
 

keithd

Active User
Active Member
#20
2000 rpm
Geared head, Threading, D1-3 camlock,
Foot brake

This ones on ebay now. Way too much $$ in that condition IMO but maybe they will deal. Make it fit. You wont regret it.

Clausing Colchester 11" x 30" Engine Lathe

http://bit.ly/Tc4GzI
That looks great. But it also looks too big. They don't provide footprint specs but it looks to big. Making it fit isn't an option. The space I have is the space I have and growing it is not an option. Unfortunately.

The other problem is that I'm in California and the lathe is in Ohio. Buying a used lathe sight unseen at long distance is not a desirable situation. I would certainly check it out if it were closer.

Thanks, Keith
 

keithd

Active User
Active Member
#21
If you live in the Bay Area, you should consider Wabeco. There is a very reputable dealer in Gilroy:
http://www.mdaprecision.com/

I was in the same situation as you (though I see many more nice looking used machines on Craigslist now than I did when I was shopping), and bought a new Wabeco D3000E from MDA about 6 years ago. It wasn't cheap (over $3k) but the thing that pushed me over the edge was that I could drive to Gilroy, look at my new machine, and take it home (or not). No shipping and no uncertainty about what condition a freighted tool will arrive in. There is also A Wabeco board on Yahoo hosted by MDA. MDA is great, but I should also say that just sold my D3000E (for about half what I paid for it) after finding a nice Maximat V10P in Oakland.
Interesting. The D6000E looks like a nice machine. A bit pricy, but nice. I downloaded the user manual and noticed that it has very limited thread cutting. Surprising for a lathe that otherwise looks so nice. Still probably worth a trip to Gilroy to talk with them about it.

Thanks for the tip. Keith
 

keithd

Active User
Active Member
#22
Keith
Are you happy with your jet? Could whatever reason it needs to be replaced be overcome with repair/refurbishment at reasonable cost?
How old/worn is it?

Cheers Phil
I was hoping for a higher quality machine.

Mine is not in great shape. I got it used for next to nothing. Most everything (gears, bearings, etc.) is worn or been damaged by rust. I put it back into operating condition and made a few modifications to beef it up. That made it usable, but not great. It would take a lot of work to bring it back to like-new condition and after that it would still be a marginal machine. If I were really happy with it I would buy a new one of the same thing and work on it from there to boost its quality, precision, and features. I'd rather just skip all that and buy one. If I could find such a thing.

Thanks, Keith
 

keithd

Active User
Active Member
#24
I have a Jet 9X20. I have made many improvements to it. It will run along side of any lathe in its class including the ones you are looking for. Go here and make up your own mind. If it were me I would think twice before I got rid of the Jet.

http://bedair.org/9x20camlock/9x20project.html

"Billy G" :thinking:
Well, it's hard to disagree because I'm not sure what you mean by "in its class." If you mean low-end Asian 9x20 lathes, then you're probably right. But if the "class" is broader than that, I would disagree.

The Jet is the one of the best brands of this type lathe, but the basic design leaves a lot to be desired and the manufacturing is far from high quality. The spindle bearings are pretty cheesy, the bed casting is not strong, the gears are rough, the cross feed is not smooth and has a lot of backlash, etc. Yes this can all be fixed, but by that time it is no longer a Jet 9x20, it is some custom lathe. I have made some of the mods on Steve's site, but to bring the Jet 9x20 up to top notch would take a lot of work. I mean a lot. The base design is just not very robust.

I'm looking for a small lathe (up to 11x26) that is a step up from the Jet 9x20's "class" in size, weight, strength, quality, precision, and feature set.

Thanks, Keith
 

7HC

Active User
Active Member
#25
Well, it's hard to disagree because I'm not sure what you mean by "in its class." If you mean low-end Asian 9x20 lathes, then you're probably right. But if the "class" is broader than that, I would disagree.

The Jet is the one of the best brands of this type lathe, but the basic design leaves a lot to be desired and the manufacturing is far from high quality. The spindle bearings are pretty cheesy, the bed casting is not strong, the gears are rough, the cross feed is not smooth and has a lot of backlash, etc. Yes this can all be fixed, but by that time it is no longer a Jet 9x20, it is some custom lathe. I have made some of the mods on Steve's site, but to bring the Jet 9x20 up to top notch would take a lot of work. I mean a lot. The base design is just not very robust.

I'm looking for a small lathe (up to 11x26) that is a step up from the Jet 9x20's "class" in size, weight, strength, quality, precision, and feature set.

Thanks, Keith
You might at least take a look at the Grizzly 11 x 26 (http://www.grizzly.com/products/11-x-26-Bench-Lathe-w-Gearbox/G9972Z)

or the similar model from Wholesale Tool (http://www.wttool.com/index/page/pr...with+Stand+(WT)&update_continue_shopping=true)


M
 

george wilson

Global Moderator
Staff member
H-M Supporter-Premium
#26
The WT lathe has power crossfeed. I mis spoke earlier. Don't know why. The WT is identical to my first decent klathe,a Jet 1024,except my Jet was made in Taiwan,and the WT is very likelky made in China. There may well be quality issues. I hate buying Chinese stuff.

I can't tell if the Grizzly has power crossfeed,either,or if that lever just engages long. feed. Then,there seems to be a lot of gear replacing to cut different threads. Both questions bear calling these companies and asking questions. There's a better chance of getting a tech at Grizzly who knows what he's talking about than getting one at WT. I've been to both places (to the WT in Charlotte and Grizzly in Pa.) Just a bunch of country boys at Charlotte. Better organization at Grizzly for certain.

My first mill drill was a WT,and it was o.k.,but was made in Taiwan. This was in the 70's. I just don't trust what they are selling now as they don't have the same marketing clout as Grizzly,or the tech support,and likely not the spare parts,either.

If you order 20 machines,the Taiwanese would put your name on them back in the 70's. It doesn't take a large commitment to have the WT name on a machine,(or Grizzly). But,I know Grizzly is well organized. I went there and bought 2 16" lathes in 1986. They were very nice and helpful,and very responsive when
I THOUGHT I was having a problem with the new lathe I took home. Turned out,I just needed to slightly isolate the gear head lathe from the concrete floor with little oak wedges. Discovered this by accident while leveling the lathe. As soon as the base of the lathe was a teeny bit off the concrete,it quieted right down,and quit the bad harmonic chattering. Now,my lathe is on adjustable rubber pads. Mason brand. It makes the lathe taller,too.

I hate these lathes that you have to change gear arrangement 3 or 4 times to cut all of the possible threads the lathe can do. The 10x24" Jet above,on Craigs' list isn't like that. Mine was wonderful. Very rigid and powerful.

I made a cast bronze steady rest of larger capacity for my Jet in 1982,when we were building a repro 18th.C. fire engine in Colonial Williamsburg. I was the pattern maker for 30 castings. At night I took the castings home,threaded them where needed and otherwise machined them. I had to have a larger steady rest to thread the hose couplings,which had "ears" sticking out either side for tightening with a spanner. Now,I don't have a lathe that fits it.

P.S.: The 12x36" WT lathe illustrated above CLEARLY has a gap bed. I can see it in the enlarged picture. No mention of it. ALSO,they list "spindle travel,18 1/2"." WHAT is that???? The spindle DOESN'T travel. It looks like a nice,useful lathe,though 99% sure it is Chinese. It is a belt driven lathe,which does leave much smoother surfaces than any low priced gear head. A little more trouble to change speeds,but I really liked my belt driven 10x24" Jet. It made really nice,smooth finishes that looked nearly nickel plated on free cutting steels. My Hardinge HLVH will,too. It is belt driven,but mechanically variable speeds.
 

keithd

Active User
Active Member
#28
Have you looked at LatheMaster? He has a small 9X30.
Yes. Looks about the same quality/capability as my Jet 9x20.

I would prefer a larger diameter and shorter bed to fit my space. An 11x24 probably fits my space better than a 9x30 and probably fits my turning needs better too. It is length that is my biggest constraint.

I tried to find a manual for the 9x30 Lathemaster. There was one on his site but it is the worst manual I have ever seen. Doesn't even give the footprint size, so I'm really just guessing it wouldn't fit as well.

Thanks, Keith
 

keithd

Active User
Active Member
#29
Yes, I've looked at the Griz 11x26. It might be what I have to settle for, but I was looking for a higher quality lathe in about that size. Something with a CamLock chuck, VFD, etc.

Major problem with it is that it doesn't have a reverse feed for left-hand threads or threading away from the chuck. That's almost a show stopper, although I guess I could jury-rig something like people do with the 9x20s.

Thanks, Keith
 

keithd

Active User
Active Member
#30
I don't think the WT lathe above has power cross feed at all. No lever for it on the apron. I wonder if you have to use the leadscrew for all longitudinal power feed.

I can't tell if the Grizzly has power crossfeed,either,or if that lever just engages long. feed. Then,there seems to be a lot of gear replacing to cut different threads. Both questions bear calling these companies and asking questions. There's a better chance of getting a tech at Grizzly who knows what he's talking about than getting one at WT. I've been to both places (to the WT in Charlotte and Grizzly in Pa.) Just a bunch of country boys at Charlotte. Better organization at Grizzly for certain.

My first mill drill was a WT,and it was o.k.,but was made in Taiwan. This was in the 70's. I just don't trust what they are selling now as they don't have the same marketing clout as Grizzly,or the tech support,and likely not the spare parts,either.

If you order 25 machines,the Taiwanese would put your name on them back in the 70's. It doesn't take a large commitment to have the WT name on a machine,(or Grizzly). But,I know Grizzly is well organized. I went there and bought 2 16" lathes in 1986. They were very nice and helpful,and very responsive when
I THOUGHT I was having a problem with the new lathe I took home. Turned out,I just needed to slightly isolate the gear head lathe from the concrete floor with little oak wedges. Discovered this by accident while leveling the lathe. As soon as the base of the lathe was a teeny bit off the concrete,it quieted right down,and quit the bad harmonic chattering. Now,my lathe is on adjustable rubber pads. Mason brand. It makes the lathe taller,too.

I hate these lathes that you have to change gear arrangement 3 or 4 times to cut all of the possible threads the lathe can do. The 10x24" Jet above,on Craigs' list isn't like that. Mine was wonderful. Very rigid and powerful.

I made a cast bronze steady rest of larger capacity for my Jet in 1982,when we were building a repro 18th.C. fire engine in Colonial Williamsburg. I was the pattern maker for 30 castings. At night I took the castings home,threaded them where needed and otherwise machined them. I had to have a larger steady rest to thread the hose couplings,which had "ears" sticking out either side for tightening with a spanner. Now,I don't have a lathe that fits it.

P.S.: The 12x36" WT lathe illustrated above CLEARLY has a gap bed. I can see it in the enlarged picture. No mention of it. ALSO,they list "spindle travel,18 1/2"." WHAT is that???? The spindle DOESN'T travel. It looks like a nice,useful lathe,though 99% sure it is Chinese. It is a belt driven lathe,which does leave much smoother surfaces than any low priced gear head. A little more trouble to change speeds,but I really liked my belt driven 10x24" Jet. It made really nice,smooth finishes that looked nearly nickel plated on free cutting steels. My Hardinge HLVH will,too. It is belt driven,but mechanically variable speeds.
None of the small Grizzly's have power cross feed.

And I agree completely. One of the things I hate most about these small Chinese lathes is the gear changing. That is a real pain. It also increases the footprint of the lathe because you have to be able to open the gear-cover door. That either adds a foot to the length or requires the machine be on casters so it can easily be pulled out for access. But that is a problem with a 600-1,000 lb lathe that would better be solidly mounted.

What is a Jet 10x24? I didn't know they made one. A simple search doesn't turn it up. Can you give me a pointer?

Thanks, Keith