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Why no small high-quality lathes?

keithd

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Active Member
#61
I have an Enco 1024 which is just like that Jet. they also made a Jet 12x24 (and Enco).
Quite a few of those around. taiwanese, and they have the 2nd feed shaft, plus a true QCGB. It's a real lathe.

Be careful buying any new lathe under 12" swing. I haven't seen one that has a true QCGB. I was about to buy an 11" PM when I found out what looks like a QCGB is really some sort of hybrid that uses change gears. Deal-killer for me.

I'd be looking at the G4002 or G4003 Grizzly.
Sounds like solid advice.

There are several things to like about the 4002/3, but a couple things are very troubling to me. The first two may be show-stoppers

One is a top speed of 1400 RPM. That is not fast enough for turning aluminum or for using carbide tooling.

Another is that some gear changes are still required. That in itself is not a problem other than it requires access to the gearbox on the left, just like other gear-change machines. This adds 18" to the operating footprint of the lathe. Unless I put it on casters, which I hesitate to do with a half-ton lathe. And the lathe is already 53" long, which is at my upper limit even without the extra 18" access requirement.

And a pet annoyance is that it cannot turn an 11.5 TPI (garden hose) thread.

--
Keith
 

keithd

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Active Member
#62
If you think you can build one and market it in that price range go for it. But most people looking for all of those features also wan't something bigger. And there is 14x40's out there. So I think you would be hard prest to sale enough to recoup the start up cost.

Just my thoughts.

Marty
Well, I wasn't seriously considering going into the business of building lathes.

I was just saying that a company in this business could put all competing lathes out of business by simply designing the lathe I have in mind and offering it at whatever price allows a profit margin no less that what they currently get on the sub-par lathes they currently offer.

While many people wanting the features I want may also want larger size, I'd bet there are many people with space constraints like mine. I don't see any reason why people with space constraints would be inclined to want fewer features.

--
Keith
 

7HC

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Active Member
#63
If a company built a lathe like Keith is describing (and some of them have come close) they would get my money in a heartbeat. After seeing some of the options I'm already convinced the PM1127VF would be the next lathe I buy because as far as I can see it's the best value for my dollar. I think the problem is people would still buy other brands of lathes for various reasons. If everyone was as specific about what they wanted and expected from a purchase as Keith was, this holy grail of lathes would already be available.

Shawn
If such a comprehensively featured lathe existed, then I expect that there would be a small number of people who would purchase one because they would pay whatever it took to get the features they wanted.
i also think that the majority of other potential customers would look elsewhere for a similar quality lathe that lacked some of the top of the line features, because it would be considerably cheaper and would represent, for them, a much better value.

Most people would like the features that Keith actually requires, but Keith is prepared to pay a much higher price to get what he wants, whereas most people can't justify that higher cost, hence the lack of 'holy grail' specification lathes in the marketplace.


M
 

kd4gij

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Active Member
#64
The major factor here eny of the lathes mentiond here can me CNC'd and give every thing Keith is looking for and alot more. That is the trend these days. Just look at Bench top machines on CNC Zone and see what people are getting out of these smaller machines.
 

george wilson

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#65
The WT lathe linked to very early in this thread is the same as my Jet 1024. Except,mine was Taiwan. The WT is no doubt Chinese. It means 10" swing,24" between centers. Most Asian lathes have numbers that indicate swing and length between centers.
 

MSD0

Active Member
Active Member
#66
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.
I was looking a Wabeco D6000E from MDA (also in Bay Area), but had a hard time justifying the price and ended up with a PM1127vf-lb. The Wabeco was going to be close to $12K vs $4K for the PM with options (DRO, collet chuck, etc.). I'm sure there's a big difference in fit and finish, but the PM does everything I need it to do.
 

Wreck™Wreck

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#68
There are high quality small lathes available, they are simply well outside of your price range, as I have mentioned in the past there is no middle ground.
You have the choice of a $25,000 lathe or a $2500.00 lathe, make the choice. There is no market for a $10,000 12 X 24 engine lathe with all of the bells and whistles that you require in the hobby/home market, if you on insist on a very high quality manual lathe at all costs just ignore the cost and buy a Hardinge Tool Room lathe.

I just solved your problem.

This would fit the bill perfectly. Hardinge HLV made in 1977, 10 X 18, $18900.00

https://www.machinetools.com/en/for...sZS9tYWNoaW5lcy90eXBlL3ByZWNpc2lvbi1sYXRoZXM=
 
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Tony Wells

Former Vice President
Staff member
Administrator
#69
Just a general observation. If there was indeed a viable market for such a machine, the Holy Grail of small lathes, at a low price, rest assured it would exist. The fact that apparently it does not tells me that there simply isn't a market for it. People who have the job of sitting around crunching numbers around design constraints are professionals at their own craft. If there was profit in it, they would be in a position to know. Since again, no such lathe is on the market, even with access to the lowest cost of production of machine tools the world has likely ever seen, I believe the demand is just not there. It's a simple business decision, and sorry Keith, you lose on this one. Besides, the number of individuals like Keith who says he would pay additional for these niceties has to be minuscule, or the marketing people would know. It's their job to know.

Bottom line, you have to compromise somewhere. There are no perfect machines. Close maybe, close enough, of course.....but perfect, no.
 

Wreck™Wreck

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#70
Well stated Tony, in a nutshell no enterprise can make a profit in a market that does not exist.

If the hobby machinist community wanted quality equipment someone would exploit that market, however it doesn't so others have stepped in to fill the gap between the high end and the dirt cheap, the dirt cheap won this battle lasting the last generation or two. One unfortunate consequence of this is that many people younger then say 60 will have never seen a high end manual lathe let alone run one. Time passes.
 

Chipper5783

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#72
The OP, Wreck and others raise many good points. I too wanted a good, small lathe and spent several years looking. A big part of that was educating myself in what a "good" little lathe would look like, and what trade offs would be necessary. I am sure the OP understands that you can't get everything in one package. He originally talked about going up to 11x24 and up to 1000# to 53" long. He also wants it to be new, and under $5000.

There are a bunch of things there that simply do not line up.

Things have really changed over the past several decades. There always has been and still is a whole category of machines that are built entirely to price, Keith doesn't want one of those (which I totally get). There is still a small market for machines which are build to a very good quality - obviously, with a small market the price will be disproportionately high.

Back in the day, you could get a decent little lathe for the price of a mid-priced car. For a top end machine, it would be twice that amount. I suggest, that price relationship is still about the same. I think you can get an HVLH knock off in the $20K range (it will be nice). Keith's price point is out of whack.

Generally, the better machines are going to be bigger and heavier than the low end machines. I was successful in tracking down a "good" lathe. The work envelop is 11x24 - right on what he had in mind. The only problem with the limitation he identified is that it is #2700 and 68" long. Perhaps there is a good solid little machine (as in a 9" or 10" ??), but Keith has put forward some very demanding constraints.

My suggestion is that anyone looking for a higher end little machine needs to forget about what make / manufacturer it is (unless they have lots of $$, then they probably won't be interested in this thread - they can just go buy what they want). In the $5000 price range, that is going to be a used machine, probably with some issues. If you double that, and are patient, you should be able to get a nice used machine.

I know machines reasonably well (bought my first machine 33 years ago - and have used it plenty). For the smaller lathe I spent a couple years looking and learning. You are doing the right thing by asking a question here on HM. Learn what is possible and what matters in your situation.

When a Smart and Brown 1024 showed up at the local government surplus auction I went for it. I had never heard of Smart and Brown - that didn't matter because it was fitted the way I wanted.
http://www.lathes.co.uk/smartbrown/page5.html

The size, weight and power were not issues, because I had already sorted that out (in other words, get ready). The machine could not be test run and there was obvious damage. That was actually a good thing, because it brought the price down. I paid $1700 and spent about a year fussing around and fixing it up.

http://www.hobby-machinist.com/threads/smart-and-brown-1024-lathe-another-trip-to-the-auction.30870/
The quest for a "good" little lathe is well worth it. The S&B is a joy to run. Sure it is 50 years old, but a nicer set up than my gear head machine that is 20 years newer. The S&B has the controls that are arranged better, it has 6 speeds of change on the fly (very nice when threading into a shoulder or when ramping out at the end of a thread), in the high speed range the final drive is a wide belt (which is supposed to be a good feature for those who get fussed over gear patterning coming through to the finished item), a wide speed range (30-2500), collets direct into the head stock, D1-4 spindle mount (same as my other machine), fairly quite (compared to the other machines in the shop).

Of course there are other "good" little machines - some of which have been mentioned by other respondents, there are many other makers of good little lathes. Get your details sorted out (transport, cash) and learn what you want in a machine. Learn what the manufacturer's provide in a machine. Forget about what brand - you will come across nice little lathes, but you will only have one choice take it/leave it and wait for the next one. I suggest that you don't be too concerned with not being able to test the machine. If it has been dropped or looks really, really bad - then don't go for it. Good quality machines have always been expensive, and were generally well taken care of (at least for the first couple decades of their life). Also, a top little machine was probably not in production service (i.e. in a tool room). Also they were generally very well made (which is what made them top end and expensive) - they don't get trashed easily.

Another consideration is that nice little lathes are hard to find (the point of this whole thread). To an extent this is an investment. I already have a line up of folks wanting to buy the S&B. Selling it is not going to make me rich, but I sure won't lose money on it. If you buy a quality little machine in good used condition at market value price (whatever that is, it does not really matter), and look after it, you will be able to sell it at market value price. Remember, that anybody looking for a quality little machine has the same problem - there isn't much to choose from.
 

Keith Foor

Active Member
Active Member
#73
Ahhh, you are not thinking outside the box. You are wanting absolute accuracy, in a small footprint.
Easy answer. Go find a Hardinge HLV with the threading option. They are a 5C collet lathe but you can get a small chuck that uses the 5C backplate and you are off to the races. If they are in good shape they are ridiculously accurate, and if they are reasonably worn they are still better than a 80's import.

Now they ain't what you would refer to as cheap... But you are not going to buy a lathe that accurate as a Hardinge for $3000 or even $10000 if it's in good shape. Figure that you are going to invest about $35000 or $45000 into the lathe. Of course for that money you could put an addition on the garage and buy a 13X40 or even a 14X60 and make the room for the lathe. But you need it to be a certain size, a certain level of accuracy, so forget about the price, break out the check book and spend till the wife screams. Accuracy don't come cheap. Cheap is cheap. Accuracy costs money. Accuracy coupled with odd requirements of ant sort including space constraints costs LOTS of money.

And BTW, those numbers are for a used rebuilt HLV. New ones are no longer available. They build them in groups of 50 and require 50 be on order for a run. If they are getting close to that number, you might get a deal and end up with a brand new one for under $75000 but I would hold my breath.
 
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Keith Foor

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Active Member
#74
The other option is buy a Sherline tabletop lathe and be happy with it. They are accurate as well and if you look at the number of guys running them and the projects they turn out they seem to do good work.
 

Keith Foor

Active Member
Active Member
#75
Another option would be to contact a machine rebuilder and see if they can take something with the swing you want and cut down the bed and ways to the length you need to get the machine in the location you desire. See if they have done it before and what machines they feel that are better suited to be shortened. I have seen so odd stuff like that listed at auctions. As long as the ends of the guide rods, lead screw and the like were held on the Tailstock end with brackets, I see no reason that the bed and ways could not be cut down, the oil pan cut and channeled for the length change and the machine be shortened.
 

hanermo2

Active Member
Active Member
#76
This is the lathe the OP wanted, back in 2012 ..
Chester Craftsman, 12x24.

I bought one new from Chester, circa 2014.
http://www.chesterhobbystore.com/craftsman-lathe-3978-p.asp
2200£.

The effectively same one is available in the USA, in the heavy-lathes series, from importers.
It´s also available as a 24" or a 32" long lathe.

Here is one from the USA,
Charter Oak Automation.
http://charteroakautomation.com/12-x-24-gap-bed-metal-lathe/
About 900 lbs mass, == 400 kg.
2595 $.

Here is one which is NOT COMPARABLE.
618 lbs shipping weight, so HALF the rigidity=mass.
Bolton 12x24.
http://www.boltontools.net/12-x-24-gear-head-bench-lathe-cq9332

My chester is a test bed for an industrial CNC refit ..
and is probably one of the highest-end 12x cnc refits ever made.
 

george wilson

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#77
I read somewhere a very bad experience with Charter Oak,for what it's worth. Can't recall details,but definitely the correct place.

I would mention that the Craftsman lathe AND the Wholesale Tools lathes are BELT DRIVE,which gives a much better finish than gear heads. Not as easy to shift speeds,but gears in cheaper lathes leave "echoes" of the gear teeth on the work,which are annoying. I have run high end lathes like Dean Smith and Grace which do not,but they are in a totally different class altogether.

I am sure that all these lathes are Chinese. If they were Taiwan,they would have mentioned it for sure.

My first DECENT lathe was a Jet Taiwan made 10 x 24". It was the same lathe as the Wholesale tool,in layout(The WT lathe is a 10" with riser blocks under the headstock and tailstock.) It would leave such smooth finishes on steel,it looked nickel plated.

I emphasize TAIWAN MADE. They will cost more,but you get what you pay for. These days it is hard to find Taiwan made machines. If you do,the Taiwan origin will be stated CLEARLY. Grizzly sells some Taiwan made machines,and they cost MORE.

I will mention that even on Taiwan made machinery,parts that OUGHT to have been made from STEEL BAR STOCK,will be found to be CAST IRON,if you go altering them. I know this from personal experience. It is amazing what they will CAST!!! And,such parts will BREAK OFF more easily!!! I had this happen on my Taiwan made Jet lathe,and found out that a part I had to alter on my TAIWAN made 1986 Bridgeport clone was cast iron, too. But this particular part was not one that could break off. I had to alter it to accept a Servo power feed(I think,it's been many years).

The short stud that a gear was mounted on in the Jet lathe broke off. I was still able to hand feed the lathe(LUCKILY!), and make a STEEL shaft for that gear. It never broke again.
 

Cadillac STS

Active User
H-M Supporter-Premium
#78
Is there a smaller lathe with a good set of upgrades people do to improve quality? Not sure but I thought there were a couple that have several upgrades and if the right one bought new with plans to add the upgrades it could get a small good quality lathe. Grizzly?
 

samthedog

Active User
Active Member
#79
Another option would be to contact a machine rebuilder and see if they can take something with the swing you want and cut down the bed and ways to the length you need to get the machine in the location you desire. See if they have done it before and what machines they feel that are better suited to be shortened. I have seen so odd stuff like that listed at auctions. As long as the ends of the guide rods, lead screw and the like were held on the Tailstock end with brackets, I see no reason that the bed and ways could not be cut down, the oil pan cut and channeled for the length change and the machine be shortened.
This would be my suggestion. I think even a little Colchester Chipmaster would do everything he wants but he'd need to import it from the UK. A bed regrind and a scrape in of the carriage and he'd be golden. They can be had quite cheap:

https://www.gumtree.com/p/lathes/colchester-chipmaster-straight-bed-centre-lathe/1177493796

And Tony Griffiths seems to like them too:

http://www.lathes.co.uk/chipmaster/

I have a Schaublin 135 and a Chipmaster and the Chippie keeps pace at a fraction of the price.

Paul.
 

george wilson

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#80
The PM 1228 mentioned above has NO POWER CROSSFEED,I think. When you look at smaller lathes,look at the carriage and see if there's a lever for engaging a power cross feed. The PM model only has the half nut lever. I don't know what that lever on the side of the carriage is for. Is that a power crossfeed lever?

I recommend that you consider a lathe like the Wholesale Tool 12 24. It has a complete q.c. gearbox with a very wide thread range,a power crossfeed,an oil bath carriage,and is belt driven,which makes for smoother finishes. It is like my Jet 1024,which was a really good lathe. The drawback is it's Chinese. So,I'd give it a THOROUGH checking over when rec'd,looking for stray casting sand or sloppy workmanship. I hate buying Chinese,but it seems to be the only way of getting this desirable lathe model.

I would not buy from Charter Oak. From what I read,they have bad customer service.
 

MSD0

Active Member
Active Member
#81
The PM 1228 mentioned above has NO POWER CROSSFEED. When you look at smaller lathes,look at the carriage and see if there's a lever for engaging a power cross feed. The PM model only has the half nut lever
I'm not sure how the feed lever is set up, but you can see that it has a separate feed rod in the pictures. Even the smaller PM1023v has power feed.
 

george wilson

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#82
The bed of that machine seems small looking. The tailstock casting seems weak. Why is there just a single thickness "wall" of iron connecting the upper and lower parts of the tailstock. It seems like a weak design. I still like the Wholesale 1224 lathe design better.
 

george wilson

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#85
This is a newer HLVH than my 1964 model. You can tell by the narrower control box on the tailstock end of the bed. Mine is about 2x as wide.

The lathe looks like it has been used pretty hard. Less than 8 grand is indeed a VERY low price,and thee is probably a reason for that low price,meaning something significant is wrong with it. I'd be careful and ask lots of questions before buying. Hardinge parts are terribly expensive.
 

george wilson

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Staff member
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#88
That is a nice little South Bend 9" model A lathe. It has power cross feed and quick change gearbox. If the bed is in good shape,a very nice little lathe that will cut a very wide range of threads.

I would like one myself,though I have 2 lathes already. My Hardinge only cuts 27 threads,unless you buy their VERY expensive extra out board change gears. Like,$500.00 a pair!In reality,the thread range of the Hardinge has been sufficient for my needs for many years. I am the kind of person who always wants to be able to do whatever comes along.
 

eeler1

Dang, buggered that up too!!
H-M Supporter-Premium
#89
I check CL pretty regularly, there's been 2or3 emco v10 or super 11's in the Bay Area over the last couple months, yes used, but in budget. Really, your budget is the limitation, more than the machines. I had a super 11 for a while, great little lathe.