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Old 12-29-2012, 08:04 AM   #1
Ricardito OP
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small metal lathe

Guys,
need some advice and pointers on the purchase of a small metal lathe for my home garage. It'll be used for simple (at least at first) jobs such as thread cutting, polishing, resizing metal (mostly aluminum) parts, fabricating uncomplicated pieces such as odd sized wflat wahers, etc. What brands are ok, how old can it be, what basic features should it have? Where should I look for one in good condition? My only criteria are that it should be a 110 v motor and cost me somewhere between $500 and $1,000.
Any and all (constructive) comments, derived from your own experience are appreciated.
Happy New Year.
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Old 12-29-2012, 09:06 AM   #2
hayasakiman
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Craigslist is where I find deals on such equipments.

There's a machinist on the airport I work. He gets calls from other machinists who may be retiring and selling stuff/equipments, from time to time. You may want to go and see your local machinists and get some information like that.
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Old 12-29-2012, 09:13 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricardito View Post
Guys,
at first) jobs such as thread cutting, polishing, resizing metal (mostly aluminum) parts, fabricating uncomplicated pieces such as odd sized wflat wahers, etc. how old can it be, what basic features should it have? Where should I look for one in good condition? My only criteria are that it should be a 110 v motor and cost me somewhere between $500 and $1,000.
Here's my take on this.

Thread Cutting being mentioned I would determine if you need metric or not on those threads - Metric can be... Problematic - Not to the point of impossiblity, but the older American Lathes that are so common/available/awesome are usually best suited for cutting standard threads.

Which brings you to features - The minute you say threads/Lathes in one sentance you are talking about a lathe equipped with a leadscrew, and gear box. As well as a threading dial. Those features are required. If you want to thread often you should look for a quick change gear box instead of a swap gear varient.



The quick change gear box lets you select threads rapidly.


Other than that I would be looking for the following as must haves.

Chuck - 3 jaw
Face Plate
Tail Stock
Powerfeeds - on the cross slide if possible, but atleast on the carriage.

As optionals that will save you lots of money later -
Tool Post quick change - Aloris or similar.
Centers - for headstock and tailstock
Chuck 4 Jaw
Collets for headstock and draw bar for same.


Which brings me to what to buy/age. You'll need to put a number on how large of parts you want to work with, lathes have a number like 6" 10" or 12", which represents how large of an object can be swung. Also look for how long you want to be able to work - some lathes are 3' beds, some 6' - bear in mind that this number is the length of the bed, the part it can turn may be far shorter if you need to use the tailstock to support the end, or a drill in the tail stock, or if it cannot fit through the throughbore on the headstock of the lathe - which is another good thing to identify.

Age - Older to me is better so long as it is good condition.

http://www.lathes.co.uk/page21.html

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


Personally I would be buying a Southbend - I would want it to be in good shape, with lots of extra goodies. Having a south bend and an atlas, I would go for a worse shape SB over a better shape atlas, it just has far better features.
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Old 12-29-2012, 01:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P B G View Post
Problematic - Not to the point of impossiblity, but the older American Lathes that are so common/available/awesome are usually best suited for cutting standard threads.


Personally I would be buying a Southbend - I would want it to be in good shape, with lots of extra goodies. Having a south bend and an atlas, I would go for a worse shape SB over a better shape atlas, it just has far better features.
Finding an older American lathe is so location dependent that the recommendation verges on BS. Doesn't hurt to check Craigslist though.

I've got the Grizzly G0602 and it's been pretty good. It comes with some basic little hand tools and a set of change gears. Whatever you buy, mount it to something very, very solid.

Another bit of advice. You'll eventually want something a little larger. While the 0602 has been pretty good for tasks here and there, I wish I could turn brake drums and discs. Not something that's possible on a lathe with only a 10" swing. My next lathe will be larger.
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Old 12-29-2012, 03:22 PM   #5
crazydrummerdude
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P B G View Post
Here's my take on this.
+1 to everything you said.
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Old 12-29-2012, 04:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P B G View Post
Here's my take on this.

Thread Cutting being mentioned I would determine if you need metric or not on those threads - Metric can be... Problematic - Not to the point of impossiblity, but the older American Lathes that are so common/available/awesome are usually best suited for cutting standard threads.

Which brings you to features - The minute you say threads/Lathes in one sentance you are talking about a lathe equipped with a leadscrew, and gear box. As well as a threading dial. Those features are required. If you want to thread often you should look for a quick change gear box instead of a swap gear varient.



The quick change gear box lets you select threads rapidly.


Other than that I would be looking for the following as must haves.

Chuck - 3 jaw
Face Plate
Tail Stock
Powerfeeds - on the cross slide if possible, but atleast on the carriage.

As optionals that will save you lots of money later -
Tool Post quick change - Aloris or similar.
Centers - for headstock and tailstock
Chuck 4 Jaw
Collets for headstock and draw bar for same.


Which brings me to what to buy/age. You'll need to put a number on how large of parts you want to work with, lathes have a number like 6" 10" or 12", which represents how large of an object can be swung. Also look for how long you want to be able to work - some lathes are 3' beds, some 6' - bear in mind that this number is the length of the bed, the part it can turn may be far shorter if you need to use the tailstock to support the end, or a drill in the tail stock, or if it cannot fit through the throughbore on the headstock of the lathe - which is another good thing to identify.

Age - Older to me is better so long as it is good condition.

http://www.lathes.co.uk/page21.html

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


Personally I would be buying a Southbend - I would want it to be in good shape, with lots of extra goodies. Having a south bend and an atlas, I would go for a worse shape SB over a better shape atlas, it just has far better features.

Great post. I think you missed the OP's budget though. He won't even get a beat-up Southbend WITHOUT all that tooling for $500-$1000.

I disagree about a faceplate being a "must have" for his intended purposes though. I use faceplates maybe a few times a year and I do purely prototype work. Plus, if he wanted to, he could make some small ones that are held in the 3 jaw.

I'd say he needs a 3-jaw, a set of cheapy collets and whatever hardware is necessary to use those collets on his machine.

To the OP...lathes are among the more dangerous machine tools. Make SURE you understand what not to do before you start "messing around with it." NEVER LEAVE THE CHHUCK HANDLE/T HANDLE IN THE CHUCK! EVER! Make it a habit to use it and remove it immediately. When I was in trade school, the instructors duct taped the T-handles to the hands of those unfortunate students who ignored this rule Be very wary about dangly clothes, long hair, rings, watches, etc -- anything that can get pulled into the chuck or rotating feed shafts or leadscrew on the front of the machine.

Single point thread cutting takes quite a while to get proficient at and create a smooth functional thread that is actually the correct pitch diameter. You may well be better off with taps and dies and the tooling to hold them/align them to the tailstock.
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Old 12-29-2012, 05:09 PM   #7
P B G
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I got my Atlas for free... So I think it just takes patience and putting out the feelers.
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Old 12-29-2012, 06:15 PM   #8
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I'm a rank amateur with a lathe but I've owned one for 2 years now. I'm glad I did not get a smaller one. I have a 13 x 40 Enco, Quick change, metric threading. It came with a face plate (never used it), 4 jaw (used maybe once), 6" 3 jaw (use every day), nice ball bearing center (a must).

Just learning on a lathe, here's what I would want/need the lathe to come with

Lathe
3 jaw chuck & key
Tailstock
Center
Cutoff tool holder
Tool holder
HSS tool blanks


Things that it doesn't need to have but you are really going to want almost immediately.

drill chuck with taper for your tailstock
measuring tools like calipers mics
taper shank drill bits but you can probably get by with a nice drill index and chuck
aloris type tool post holder (look for an enco sale on PhaseII and find a 20% coupon)

As far as finding a lathe, if you are searching where everyone else is searching, you're going to come up with crap deals. Or you need to be Johnny on the spot with cash.

Don't waste money on a crap mini lathe, sorry but they are an exercise in frustration. Don't think of it as spending money, it's an investment in a quality tool. That's what I tell me wife at least

Go to school auctions, auctionzip.com, irsauctions etc and find a deal on a good machine. Don't be put off by three phase, and here's why. You want three phase because all the heavy industrial machines are three phase and there are reasons for it. We won't get into those, but we'll instead talk about how you are going to make that work for you.

No one else in your shoes wants three phase tools either because they don't have three phase in my garage. neither do I, until I make it myself Accomplished two ways. A VFD or a rotary phase converter. You want a VFD for a lathe. They cost $130, and I can easily explain how to wire it. Takes 110v or 220v coming in, and outputs 3 phase 220. You get access to a whole range of machines that other hobbyists are turning away and you get instant variable speed, soft start, braking etc. You can even wire in a simple rheostat from radio shack for $10 that will allow you to change speed with the turn of a dial. Sweet.

So anyways, you have a budget which is reasonable of $1000 lets say. I have been to numerous industrial auctions where a 14" Clausing with an Aloris toolpost sold for $400 and the auctioneer had to beg for that. The toolpost is worth more than that. And it came with chucks etc. Unless you are lucky with clist, everyone else will get those deals faster. Start going to live auctions where commercial businesses are liquidating and you will find deals that will make you slap your forehead I promise.

http://www.factorymation.com/Product...M50-101-C.html

here's an auction 10 miles from my house next week. These are the ones to go to to get machines and especially tooling which is very expensive buying one at a time. Based on auctions past, I doubt that lathe will get more than $1500...

http://www.auctionzip.com/cgi-bin/au...232&category=8
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Old 12-29-2012, 06:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LuciferMutt View Post
You may well be better off with taps and dies and the tooling to hold them/align them to the tailstock.
Anything up to 1/2"-13mm,taps are the way to go.taps/dies are cheap up to that point I think.
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Old 12-29-2012, 06:12 PM   #10
smilin'Ed
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chuck key left in the chuck and getting thrown out is a common story. Make a cover over the on switch that only the small end of the key will fit through. Then you need the key to turn it on and can't leave it in the chuck.

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Old 12-29-2012, 06:34 PM   #11
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I got this small Altlas given to me
It needs some work and Im trying to figure out how to make it run in the correct direction
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Old 12-29-2012, 09:09 PM   #12
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Yellow island you just turn that red knob the other direction!

Good practice with the chuck is that whenever you use the chuck key, you need to make sure you turn the spindle by hand to make sure that the jaws of the chuck don't smack the bed, or the carriage. Just a quick turn ensures no interference, and no chuck key issues.


In the MC world the centers let you turn things like fork tubes slowly and use dial indicators to read deflection.
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Old 12-30-2012, 06:02 PM   #13
Ricardito OP
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what an education I'm getting for free! (I ought to know a good deal in this regard since I'm a prof at CU Boulder). Thus far, I'd jump at the chance of buying, among a few others, either the "Myford 7" given to Chobro by his dad or the blue "Smithy" suggested by pvangel in his post. Also please know that I am very very mindful of how dangerous these machines are. I plan to hang a large red lettered sign on the wall above the lathe so that I never forget to operate it with ample caution and never in a hurry.
Again, I'm grateful for all of the great advice offered here. And, also again, if anyone knows of one or has one for sale, please PM or email me landeira@colorado.edu
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Old 12-30-2012, 09:40 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Ricardito View Post
what an education I'm getting for free! (I ought to know a good deal in this regard since I'm a prof at CU Boulder). Thus far, I'd jump at the chance of buying, among a few others, either the "Myford 7" given to Chobro by his dad or the blue "Smithy" suggested by pvangel in his post. Also please know that I am very very mindful of how dangerous these machines are. I plan to hang a large red lettered sign on the wall above the lathe so that I never forget to operate it with ample caution and never in a hurry.
Again, I'm grateful for all of the great advice offered here. And, also again, if anyone knows of one or has one for sale, please PM or email me landeira@colorado.edu
Keep an eye on Craigslist. I got a 1936 Atlas 8 inch that will do all that you've listed, along with a ton of tooling for $400. Just needed some belts. Use the Denver CL as well and look for items in Commerce City and that area. You could also try ebay and craigslook.com, but you'll need to arrange for transportation from those sellers. And even with all the tooling, i ended up dropping another few hundred on tooling (3 jaw chuck, live center for the tail stock, precision measurement tools, etc). With an older machine you're going to end up getting really familiar with it as you try to get it level and lined up. My tailstock and headstock were different heights, it took me about a week to discover that and then figure out how to fix it.

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Old 12-30-2012, 06:51 PM   #15
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I can tell you what not to do

The mistakes I've made

Crib notes: big specs on cheap tools will generally buy you chatter... and you don't want chatter. That said, you can do a lot with cheap Chinese tools... might take a little longer, might have to deal with a few issues (like chatter), might really piss you off a few times , but, yes, you can get a lot done. Oh, and +1 on tooling costing more than the machine. Yes, you can do a lot by improvising rather than having the right tooling, but that's also a fast way to buy frustration and waste a whole lot of time.

David...

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