Need advice for buying a small lathe

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  #1  
Old 06-16-05, 08:01 PM
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Need advice for buying a small lathe

I'm considering the purchase of a small metal lathe. I have always wanted one for my home workshop but I don't have any experience with a lathe (other than in school a million years ago).

I'm thinking about something approx. 30"x12" ????

Can any of you guys offer some advice on what to look for and what to watch out for?

Thanks.
 
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Old 06-16-05, 10:15 PM
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12" x 30" (12" swing x 30" between centers).

Get one that can make, metric and standard US threads.

Are you looking for a new or used one ?
 
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Old 06-17-05, 10:23 AM
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I think for my purposes a used one would be OK. However if the price is right a new one would always be an option.
 
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Old 06-18-05, 01:34 AM
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12" x 30" is just about right.
You do get what you pay for.
You will need a, 3 Jaw chuck, 4 jaw chuck, tail stock, All the gears for threading, and a face plate.
For a start.
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I would stay away from the ones that use the wide leather belts.
and stay away from the ones that use brass bushings that hold the main spindle.

I did not like the chucks that screw onto the spindle. If you need to run the spindle in reverse the chuck may unscrew.
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Its unfortunate that the cheap imports come with most if not all the extras.
And cost less then a good used one without the extras.

Look at all the gears I seen a lot with broken teeth, on the ones that have a quick change lever.
use a small mirror some times you can get a look behind or under the front cover that hides the gears.

look at the ways on the bed and cross slides for any unusual wear, compare it with the far ends that don't get a lot of wear.
if it don't look right don't buy it.
 
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Old 06-18-05, 05:21 AM
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GWIZ - you say to stay away from the screw-in chucks. How are the better ones attached to the spindle? Keyed with setscrew?

When I'm checking the ways for wear, is it just a visual inspection that tells the condition or do I need to use some type of measuring device?

Thanks for the info.
 
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Old 06-18-05, 06:06 PM
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" GWIZ - you say to stay away from the screw-in chucks. How are the better ones attached to the spindle? Keyed with setscrew? "

No, not stay away, but I don't like them.
Looking for a used lathe you may have no choice for the price.

A screw on chuck is my last choice, but if the lathe is in good condition with all-all the extras I would buy it.
You may never have to run the spindle in reverse but for left handed threads, a left hand nut on a saw or grinder you will.

They do have keyed ones.
They have cam lock. pins that inner-lock with the spindle.
chucks that bolt on to the spindle.
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" When I'm checking the ways for wear, is it just a visual inspection that tells the condition or do I need to use some type of measuring device? "

Generally the visual inspection will tell you only if the machine has been abused or excessive wear.
If you can see the wear its not a good buy.
For most lathe work the parts are 3" long (from the chuck) look for the wear in that working area on the bed.
If your carriage is 6" wide the wear area will be 6"+ 3", so about 9" wide.

You can use an Indicator with a magnetic base attached to the carriage, and run the indicator across the ways looking for any change. But without any experience using an indicator can be more confusing.

So Visual inspection.
ask the people if it was used in a school or machine shop, auto parts shop...
If it was used for personal hobby's its a good chance it did not get a lot of use.

One more thing, Look for Cracks, they will not let you know if it has been dropped.
 
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Old 07-15-05, 10:32 AM
camcompco
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Need advicw for buying a small lathe

I own a couple of old lathes, An Atlas and a Logan. They are both nice but the Logan is much sturdier (has a wide belt by the way..have had no complaints… don’t know the reason GWIZ said to stay away from (no offence GWIZ). I also owned a JET 9x20 and you know what…I gave it to my brother.

I was very skeptical when I purchased my first “older” machine (it was a Bridgeport 9x42 mill), it was 30 years old and cost more than a new Chinese mill…But, 2 years later, I can’t tell you how happy I am with all of my old American Iron.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I drive a BMW, I’m not a pro USA guy for patriotic reasons, some stuff we make better (Bridgeport Mills) and some stuff Germany makes better (Cars). Net net, go used American, Do a search on Ebay, go into “advanced search” but in a restricted search area within 100 miles of your zip code….depending on where in Ohio you won’t have to wait long to find a lathe on sale that is working. Go see it in action, talk to the fella selling it, see what his shop is like, see some of the stuff he makes….nothing like shaken a hand and talking shop with a guy before you bid.

Just my two cents…..


John
 
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Old 07-18-05, 01:14 AM
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I had and seen problems with the flat belts.
You have more vibration problems and chatter.
using a parting tool is more difficult.

You get a back lash that can chip the tools.
I did have good luck with a large engine lathe, the weight of the chuck 150 lbs helped reduce back lash from the belt.

If the flat belts are not assembled just right they break, tracking becomes a problem.
replacing the belts can be costly I seen the lacing tool go for about $120.00
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I agree as a general rule the older US made machines are better.

Its buyer beware.
Bridgeport in a machine shop I worked in, you square the head tighten the 3 large 3/4" bolts, take a cut and the head would move 3 degrees. it was about 30 years old and worn out.
It would grind gears due to a loose screw just above the head. it was the shop joke, to yell at the next person that woke up every one from the grinding noise.

Bridgeport is a good machine, this one served its time.
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