Author Topic: Metalworking lathe recommendations?  (Read 2872 times)

Offline Starhead

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Metalworking lathe recommendations?
« on: June 20, 2019, 11:28:45 AM »
Hi folks, I am considering buying a used metalworking lathe, any tips on what to look for/avoid? It seems to me that the favourites are Boxford and Myford, are these the best? How do they compare to modern lathes such as Clarke? Any common faults I should watch out for?

Initially I want to turn aluminium and plastic up to 6" diameter.

Offline John Rudd

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Re: Metalworking lathe recommendations?
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2019, 11:38:45 AM »
Firstly, what is your budget?

When looking at second hand machines, see what tooling it comes with, if any.

Issue with older machines is the cost and availability of spares if required.

What to look for: Wear is the biggest issue.....slideways wear, check the fit of the saddle up and down the bed, if the lathe has done a lot of close up work, there will be more wear towards the chuck end...
Check the crosslide, should be smooth with minimal backlash, same with topslide....

Drivetrain, is it noisy? Worn bearings or something else....

Some of the other guys will chime in with their thoughts, these are mine off the top of my head...

Generally buy a machine that is in good condition if you are starting out....or if you can stretch to it a new one...but be warned a new machine will mean buying tooling too.
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Offline Starhead

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Re: Metalworking lathe recommendations?
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2019, 12:36:06 PM »
Thanks John, very useful thoughts and tips.

I think my budget will be somewhere between 500-1000, but not just yet. I am currently trying to weigh up between a used Myford or Boxford lathe or a new cheap Chinese mini-lathe. I've seen a few Chinese ones around with a 2-axis DRO which I think I would find useful.

I guess one of the reasons to choose an older style lathe would be the auto feed for thread cutting, which often isn't included on the modern mini lathes, but this is a feature which I don't think I'll be needing.

One thing which I do need to be able to do is ball turning with a rotating toolpost.

Offline PekkaNF

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Re: Metalworking lathe recommendations?
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2019, 01:20:58 PM »
Problem is that when you buy about your third lathe, you know enough what are your needs, how you like to work and what do you want from lathe.

My first lathe was Minilor TR1 bought from UK, before EU. Paid freight, customs, VAT and all the works before EU benefits (cost more to import that 50 kg lathe than last year 300 kg milling machine).

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

Looks good on the picture and spesification, truth is that lot of parts are zink/aluminium or such mystery metals or plastic and the accesories I bought were next to useless. Any modern minilathe is uglier but better, there is nor comparision.

Cost all up tooled about the same than Myford Diamond 10. I later used a little Myford diamond 10 and owend chinese copy of and both were superior to that first lathe.

Most afordable Myfords here were old imperial and overpriced for a MT2 spindle bore and capacity. It is very light weight lathe after all.

So I bought my third lathe. I insisted of inspecting and trying it on person before I buy it and seller agreed. It was chinese again, because new ones are here industrial size or you need a second morgage and then German products are better anyway.

Just after buying of house I was "a litle lean on green". I bought CQ9325 (very generic name and lathe)

http://phelum.net/info/CQ9325/



Spindle bore is 26mm and the taper is MT4, pretty good for this size lathe. Chuck is unusual 130 mm diameter and 100 mm register.

V-belts were crap, shed rubber and vibrated, refused to died, but needed replacement.

Tailstock is MT3, very good because I have two milling machines with MT3 taper spindle (see where this goes?). The guill store is closer to 25 mm that advertized 50mm, the thread just will not push any further....chinese specks.

Don't get me wrong, it does pretty much all that it is asked to do, least after a little tweaking and coaxing. Cost me about 1000 with minimal toolsing (most notably rotating centre on tail stock and MT4/MT3 centres).

Good news is that spindle bore is good and I have made the tooling I need and was missing or hard to get for this one. bad news is that it is a semifinished product when it arrives.

Myford seems to have many accessories of different quality and price, but lot of plans and accessories looks outdated. I might have a different take if I were building Hemingways kits, most of them seem to cater Myfors, but I don't.

Screw cutting is very essential part of tha lathe. I really would have liked to have a screw cutting gearbox. I was about to buy a lathe with a norton threading gear box, but the importer didn't mannaged to order one - price was right they sold out.

My next lathe most likely will not be chinnese and most likely 400 - 1000 kg, used but good, when I'll mannage to get one.

That's my story, everybody has different story and different tint on glasses.


Offline Joules

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Re: Metalworking lathe recommendations?
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2019, 01:29:24 PM »
6" is quite a swing for a mini lathe and ball turning is going to put some load into that small carriage.   I would opt for your older machines, Myford tends to be overpriced, but you can still buy overpriced parts for them  :D

You might fall lucky on a machine with some tooling if it's a private sale.  Expect to spend the same again tooling it up.

LOL as mention, I bought my fourth lathe for making plastic parts, but it ended up being a Warco 1236 as I needed the rigidity even for small parts and a spindle bore I can pass stock through.  The Myford Spindle bore out back is only 15.8mm, the Warco 38mm.
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Offline Fergus OMore

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Re: Metalworking lathe recommendations?
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2019, 04:24:06 PM »
I've just spoken to another modeller with TWO almost new Myford Super7B's but the going rate is 3000+ whereas a new Sieg 4 is 1.6K and you add the bits new to make it do something- but mine arrived at 350 and I bought chucks and steadies to get somewhere with perhaps a 600 or 700 all told.
 A decent- well my Myford ML10 with chucks etc, fancy dials etc might bring 5 or 6 hundred.

Of course, you have to buy or make tooling and tools but you would get a lot for a grand all up.

OK both lathes are relatively unworn and you don't want to get a 'basket case' which might turn bananas and little else.

If you follow current articles there are tales of woe about Myfords with 8thous slack in the cross slide and you have to ask the question of whether you can accept or correct to get more peace of mind.

Others may offer different advice but the question of why people are getting rid of things must remain  uppermost in your mind.

I hope that this helps a bit

Norm

Offline awemawson

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Re: Metalworking lathe recommendations?
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2019, 04:31:52 PM »
Here is a copy of my reply to a similar request on another forum:

A big lathe will make small parts, a small lathe will only make small parts !

Check spindle bore - a big hole 'up the spout' is essential for long shafts and such, this is a BIG failing of Myfords.

A screw cutting gear box personally I'd consider essential.

A full set of tooling will cost almost as much as the machine so if a used machine comes well tooled it's a huge bonus when starting off.

A three jaw chuck, a four jaw chuck, and a tailstock chuck are pretty much essential. Fixed and moving steadies a bonus. Taper turning attachments a luxury. Ainjest threading attachments very nice but imply it's been used in production so beware of wear.

Don't choose something 'oddball' that you can't get accessories for - it's a bit like choosing a car - Ford bits are everywhere and cheap(ish) whereas Porche may be nicer but not so easy to find or afford bits.

In my view you can't go too wrong with a Colchester Student 1800 or Master 2500 if in decent condition. The older Student and Master 1000's and 1200's are good solid machines as well but again you need to assess their state of wear.

Nice as it may be to have a Dean Smith and Grace or similar tool room lathe, accessories cost a fortune and are as rare as hens teeth.
Andrew Mawson
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Offline John Rudd

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Re: Metalworking lathe recommendations?
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2019, 05:06:29 PM »
I mentioned earlier about your budget, as others have mentioned different machines all varying in size....

But how much room do you have?.....you could probably shoehorm an ML7 into an 8 x 6 shed but summat like a Colchester might need a bit more support.....

I have 3 lathes, a mini lathe, a Chester 9 x 20 and something that resembles the Warco wm290 that is approaching 300 kg....
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Offline hopefuldave

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Re: Metalworking lathe recommendations?
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2019, 08:28:51 PM »
I couldn't see a location, so I'll give an English perspective...

My first was very cheap (70), a 1940s Challenger (http://www.lathes.co.uk/challenger/) as I wanted something a bit bigger than a minilathe (my interest is "full scale", motorbikes) - it was a piece of junk, but it did teach me what I wanted and all the tooling that came with it (but didn't fit...) turned out to fit my next, which I still have and won't be parting with, a Holbrook C13 (http://www.lathes.co.uk/holbrook/page7.html) which has all the features I could want, apart from the dog-clutch leadscrew reverse its bigger brothers have.

It' not a lot bigger than e.g. a Colchester Student, but weighs three or four times as much, and is in a whole other league. It cost me less than a secondhand minilathe, but needed some work getting it fitted with a VFD and modern (read safe, not exposed high-voltage parts) electrics. And hiring a plant trailer and 4x4 to move it home (scaffold pole rollers to load and unload)!

As has been said, oddballs are hard to find parts for - I've spent several years looking for genuine steadies, for instance, and gave up and have the CAD drawings awaiting Circular Tuits, some of the flanged roller bearings are "unobtainium" (but can be safely replaced by affordable commodity bearings in "top hat" carriers). Worth it though!

Older industrial / toolroom lathes, as long as they aren't already worn out, are a joy to use, have a lot more features to make using them easier and quicker, if you can accommodate them? Don't be scared off by 3-phase motors, a rotary converter's fairly simple to build or a ready-made VFD can be bought for less than a meal for 2 with drinks and a cab home, will give you variable speed, rapid stops, all sorts of useful features from a domestic socket (unless you go a bit over the top...)

Dave H. (the other one)
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Offline Starhead

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Re: Metalworking lathe recommendations?
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2019, 08:11:14 AM »
Thanks folks, very useful to hear your experiences, would be glad to hear any more. I am going to spend quite a while looking, and hopefully save up a bit more in the meantime.

I've just been eyeing up a new 10x30" model from Amadeal which looks like a peach, well above my current budget :
https://www.amadeal.co.uk/acatalog/AMA250AVF-550-Lathe-10x22-Variable-Speed-with-2-axis-DRO-AMA250AVF_550DROWE.html

Offline John Rudd

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Re: Metalworking lathe recommendations?
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2019, 08:47:31 AM »
Just so you are aware, that machine features a 750w DC motor.....

I'm not tarring all imports with the same brush, but the dc drives are a weak point. Motors tend to overheat and fail taking the speed control board with it..

My SPG lathe ( warco wm290 is similar) came with a 1.5kw dc motor, which I swapped out for a 3 ph motor and vfd....sold the removed parts to cover some of the conversion cost

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