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  1. #21
    Gold Member RedDirt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Compare Chineese Lathes

    Thanks for all the input.

    I spent some time at the home machinist site specifically searching the comparison issue and with a few exceptions the general consensus is that if it looks and specs the same then there is no difference between the quality of various "brands". I read nothing that said "Oh yeah, XXX is consistently a far better machine than YYY". I was surprised to see that even Jet lathes fell into the same category as they historically have a better reputation than the cheaper brands. I was also surprised to see how many thought their Harbor Freight was every bit as good as the others. But like mrennie says, they'd likely feel differently if they ever experienced a truly quality machine.

    This said, I can appreciate JMC's point about the higher rated companies, Jet, Grizzly, etc, paying high dollar and getting the first run machines. This makes sense and I suspected this was the case but the other machinist sites do not back up this theory so it is still a guess.

    The combo machine that EE-Bota posted is what I have recently been considering. His experience with the ways as well as his other comments and comments by others have me waffling again.

    I do understand a low end new Chinese machine will not hold a candle to old USA iron that is in good shape but the caveate is that old iron needs to be in good shape. There are a lot of used machines to choose from and it would be very easy for a novice to buy an old dog.

    I also understand certain limitations of a combination machine but my workspace and pocketbook have limitations too. I probably mislead by mentioning "precision" in my original post. I am a fabricator not a machinist. I am looking to fit pins, bushings, cut a shaft keyway, build sliding mounting plates and other "close" tolerance stuff rather than what a bone fide machinist would call truly precision components.

    I had been looking at a local 12x36 Craftsman/Atlas this past week for $400 with the milling attachment and a little tooling but I got cold feet when I began discovering a multitude on "little" things. This lathe belongs to a friend I've known for thirty plus years and I know for a fact the machine has had only sporadic use and relatively little use since he bought it second hand in the sixty's. I don't think it's even been fired up in over ten years. But I also know that Don tends to be a bit heavy handed, not too meticulous, and not very maintenance concious. With almost thirty "daily" lube points I fear some of them haven't been lubed since he's owned it.

    I am looking for a lathe to do work, not a lathe to work on. For starters the Atlas has a broken lead screw bearing. It is replaceable but for $100 new or be patient on ebay for about $40-$50. But without the bearing I can't run the feeds and see how they feel or sound. I found the half nut housing very loose and discovered one of the two housing nuts was missing. Who knows how long it was run with it missing. Besides those things, everything moves very stiffly (it needs a serious clean up), there are some minor dings and some (maybe) signs of wear on the ways, some small dings in the head and tailstock tapers and then I discovered a slight bow in the ways. Besides considering the half nuts may need replacing along with the leadscrew bearing, the bow was what scared me the most even though the operator manual says the feet can be shimmed to take out a concave or convex bow in the (flat) ways. I'm not knowlegable enough to tell whether the bow is from wear or misalignment.

    I think most of these things could be fixed and the lathe would probably be at least as good (probably better) than a new import. But at what cost in time and dollars? Passing on the Atlas got me rethinking a new import that I could put to work with relatively little fuss. Now, reading this and Home Machinist posts, it seems the imports are likely to need tweaking too.

    Time is on my side. This is a "want" tool not a "need" tool so I can afford to wait. I have another friend that is a fine machinist and maybe I can enlist his help finding American iron (or "other") in good condition.
    Last edited by RedDirt; 01-17-2010 at 01:25 AM.

  2. #22
    Super Member mjncad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Compare Chineese Lathes

    I know my model-maker's Unimat SL-1000 is a toy; but it's a 3-n-1 type of machine and is frustrating to use because it can only do everything in a mediocre way instead of one thing very well. The milling machine setup is the worst since it uses a round post to hold the power-head with no lead screw to accurately move it up and down. I added a lead screw; but without a key-way or other method to keep the head aligned, it shimmies like a belly dancer when one turns the lead screw.

    KennyD and a friend/ex-coworker have Grizzly mill/drills and their biggest frustration is the round column. It has a similar problem of staying in alignment as my Unimat or a conventional drill-press. There are square column mill/drills out there. They're not as good as a Bridgeport style mill; but may suffice for your needs.

    I suggest you buy a decent lathe whether new or used, and then go after a mill at a later date. If multi-purpose machines are so good, ShopSmith would be a major player in the woodworking tools market. I understand the $$$$ and space issues; but you're looking to make a significant purchase.
    Paraphrasing Douglas Adams - So long and thanks for all the bacon.

  3. #23
    Elite Member czechsonofagun's Avatar
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    Default Re: Compare Chineese Lathes

    I bought Logan 10" while ago and for the price you can't beat it. Thread cutting is a hassle and the price for replacement gears is almost prohibitive and it is also warn out in some position.

    Conclusion: I am happy with it, I learned a lot and done a lot with it I would otherwise had to outsource. If I had to do it all over again, I would find some package with tooling and lathe with a gear box for more money - Chinese or not - but more complete than the Logan.

    My $0.02 only of course.
    Regards,

    Prokop


    I was put on Earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Now I'm so far behind, I'll never die!

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Compare Chineese Lathes

    Quote Originally Posted by RedDirt View Post
    Thanks for all the input.

    I spent some time at the home machinist site specifically searching the comparison issue and with a few exceptions the general consensus is that if it looks and specs the same then there is no difference between the quality of various "brands". I read nothing that said "Oh yeah, XXX is consistently a far better machine than YYY". I was surprised to see that even Jet lathes fell into the same category as they historically have a better reputation than the cheaper brands. I was also surprised to see how many thought their Harbor Freight was every bit as good as the others. But like mrennie says, they'd likely feel differently if they ever experienced a truly quality machine.

    This said, I can appreciate JMC's point about the higher rated companies, Jet, Grizzly, etc, paying high dollar and getting the first run machines. This makes sense and I suspected this was the case but the other machinist sites do not back up this theory so it is still a guess.

    The combo machine that EE-Bota posted is what I have recently been considering. His experience with the ways as well as his other comments and comments by others have me waffling again.

    I do understand a low end new Chinese machine will not hold a candle to old USA iron that is in good shape but the caveate is that old iron needs to be in good shape. There are a lot of used machines to choose from and it would be very easy for a novice to buy an old dog.

    I also understand certain limitations of a combination machine but my workspace and pocketbook have limitations too. I probably mislead by mentioning "precision" in my original post. I am a fabricator not a machinist. I am looking to fit pins, bushings, cut a shaft keyway, build sliding mounting plates and other "close" tolerance stuff rather than what a bone fide machinist would call truly precision components.

    I had been looking at a local 12x36 Craftsman/Atlas this past week for $400 with the milling attachment and a little tooling but I got cold feet when I began discovering a multitude on "little" things. This lathe belongs to a friend I've known for thirty plus years and I know for a fact the machine has had only sporadic use and relatively little use since he bought it second hand in the sixty's. I don't think it's even been fired up in over ten years. But I also know that Don tends to be a bit heavy handed, not too meticulous, and not very maintenance concious. With almost thirty "daily" lube points I fear some of them haven't been lubed since he's owned it.

    I am looking for a lathe to do work, not a lathe to work on. For starters the Atlas has a broken lead screw bearing. It is replaceable but for $100 new or be patient on ebay for about $40-$50. But without the bearing I can't run the feeds and see how they feel or sound. I found the half nut housing very loose and discovered one of the two housing nuts was missing. Who knows how long it was run with it missing. Besides those things, everything moves very stiffly (it needs a serious clean up), there are some minor dings and some (maybe) signs of wear on the ways, some small dings in the head and tailstock tapers and then I discovered a slight bow in the ways. Besides considering the half nuts may need replacing along with the leadscrew bearing, the bow was what scared me the most even though the operator manual says the feet can be shimmed to take out a concave or convex bow in the (flat) ways. I'm not knowlegable enough to tell whether the bow is from wear or misalignment.

    I think most of these things could be fixed and the lathe would probably be at least as good (probably better) than a new import. But at what cost in time and dollars? Passing on the Atlas got me rethinking a new import that I could put to work with relatively little fuss. Now, reading this and Home Machinist posts, it seems the imports are likely to need tweaking too.

    Time is on my side. This is a "want" tool not a "need" tool so I can afford to wait. I have another friend that is a fine machinist and maybe I can enlist his help finding American iron (or "other") in good condition.
    The difference between a tool operator and a machinist is the the machinist takes care of his tools and knows how to overcome the machine's shortcomings. A machinist with a worn tool can still get as good a result ( within reason ) as a tool operator with brand new tools. For a lathe, a rigid, true running headstock and good ways are the most important. You can overcome a worn leadscrew. For a mill, you need a rigid column, head, and table while still being able to move them as needed. You can even mill with a drill press if you understand its limits.

  5. #25
    Elite Member czechsonofagun's Avatar
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    Default Re: Compare Chineese Lathes

    Well put, SlaDon.
    Regards,

    Prokop


    I was put on Earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Now I'm so far behind, I'll never die!

  6. #26
    Silver Member akpilot's Avatar
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    Default Re: Compare Chineese Lathes

    Red Dirt

    It's true US built (anything ) is usually better than an import and that is certainly true with the Lathes and Mills, however Price and availability have to be figured in.

    A few observations from the research I've done

    1) I looked a long time for a Lathe in our area, all I found was junk or one that the owner thought they were made of gold I found one in the states that "looked good" (taking the owners word for it is a little scary) but the shipping was almost the same as buying a new one and having it delivered. If you live in an area that US made lathes are readily available, I definitely look around, I would find someone who knew what they were looking in an attempt to weed through the junk!

    2) 3-in-1: I started off looking for the same thing, however most people that have used one of these are hesitant to endorse the idea. I was told on more than once the "yes they are three in one, however they don't do any of them very well" This all depends on the size of your shop, if you have very limited space than this may be the only option.

    3) Size: As other have said, I would buy as big as practical.

    4) And I think most importantly it depends what your going to do with it, sounds like you are in a similar situation as I am, wanting to do some tinkering and a little home R&D If your looking for ultra precision then may want to look a little deeper.

    After what I think is sound advice I didn't buy a 3-in-1 I bought a Lathe and still looking and saving for the Mill. Since I'm novice and not doing highly precision work I chose to buy a Grizzly 12x36 (Gunsmith model) I figured that would increase it's accuracy. I'm very pleased with it so far.

    Good Luck
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Compare Chineese Lathes-dscn0420-jpg   Compare Chineese Lathes-100_0364-jpg  

  7. #27
    Veteran Member GuglioLS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Compare Chineese Lathes

    Red Dirt PM'd me and and Scotty asked the question about my harbor freight multi tool on Brads Grapple thread. Here are the compilation of my response with some additional thoughts...

    Scotty - I thought it more appropriate to answer your question here on a PM rather than hijack Brads grapple thread talking about my H/F multi tool.

    RedDirt:
    Okay so here goes....

    Overall I'm quite pleased with the H/F multi tool. Some of the pros are:
    1. Low cost, fits a budget for a miser like me.
    2. The Lathe works great for turning, boring, threading, and drilling out the center of round stock.
    3. As a drill press it's fantastic, especially for drilling large holes. I have drilled many 1" holes and as large as 1.5". The lowest speed setting I think is 120 RPM, for large drill bits and using hole saws that slow speed is really great. It also works just as well drilling smaller holes with the higher speed settings.
    4. Boring with a boring bar works quite well too.

    5. Small size to fit a small shop.

    Cons:
    1. As a milling machine it sucks, it chatters really bad with the larger mill bits, although I have been able to mill, I just have to go slow and make very small passes and .02" to .04" depth at most (time consuming). Don't expect too much from the milling machine function. Also do not expect to cut too many key slots in shafts, it's not going to work all that well for doing that. Although I did cut some key slots it was a pain and time consuming.

    2. The "T" slots in the table are non standard so you have to search to find metric or odd "T" nuts or make your own or like I did mill down some standard "T" nuts to fit. Perhaps they fixed that? I got mine about 3 years ago and it may be improved now?

    3. It does not come with a stand, it's a "Bench top" but setting it on a bench would be way too high, so I made a steel stand that's about 2' high and bolted it to that.

    4. When using it as a drill press expect to be creative clamping the work piece with the use of 123 or even 456 blocks. To some this may seem a PITA but I find it a fun challenge. I own a dedicated drill press, but for larger holes I prefer the power and slower speed on my multi tool.

    5. Threading rod HaHaHa, it can be done but your better off buying threaded rod or bolts because figuring out the gears to use even with the chart to change the gears is not a no brainier (for me anyway). To overcome that I just use a die and run it on the rod to thread the end.

    Be advised you have to purchase a ton of tool bits, mill bits, boring bars, boring bar holder, 123 blocks, carbide bits, clamp sets, vice(s), rotary table etc. if you want to use the machine to make anything worthwhile. The machine as is, is just the machine, it comes with one tool post. Expect to shell out at least another grand or more tooling it up. But that can be done in stages as the need arises, thats what I did.

    Overall it's a good buy for a home shop hack like myself on a low budget and limited shop space. You must also understand it's limitations and work arounds.

    For those of you who have checked out any of my threads, Obviously I have been able to use it to fabricate quite a few projects on my own. I'm especially pleased (proud) of the work I was able to perform with it making my dump trailer, Landscape rake from scratch, FEL upgrade for my 1953 ford, Grapple Jaws, 360* rotating back blade project (with allot of help from Rob (3RRL), and on and on....

    If I had to do it all over again, sure I would. It's a great starter tool for a low budget and limited space. Someday I might spring for a good used full size milling machine and then a lathe. But then again I would need a place to put big machines like that. And can you really justify the expense and space for a tool you might use once in a while? I suppose you have to decide what it is your going to use it for. If you expect to do allot of milling, save your money and get a "real" milling machine. If you want to tackle smaller home shop stuff like I have then it's a good buy. Especially if you want to get started right away and not save up for a larger unit or the time (years?) waiting for just the right local deal.

    If your looking for justification to buy, the heck with it, just go get the darn thing and live with it. Thats pretty much what I did. If you find it's a piece-O-crap, take it back.

    Now that I have a taste for "machining" I have an appreciation for what a "real" machine with a DRO might be able to do and with less effort. But lets face it, I've already completed many of my "must have" and really wanted to do projects with that el-cheapo machine.

    Hope that helps answer your questions.

    Best regards,

    Larry
    My Fortune cookies:
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    Life is short, especially if you forget to wake up the next day.
    He who hurries wastes time.
    If you must select between two evils, choose the one you haven't tried before.
    Tractor hydraulics is not rocket science.

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Compare Chineese Lathes

    Guglio you mentioned needing to get a rotary table as an accessory for the mill, just so happens I got a 8inch rotary table for Christmas. I haven't got to use it yet but when I started to put the little positioning key steel in their slot on the rotary table the predrilled holes in the key still matched up with the predrilled holes in the table in three locations but on one of the slots it seemed off center. The casting of the slot in the rotary table had a bur on it and I took it off and the key steel would fit the slot but the drilled hole needed to go over more in the direction of the bur. I have thought about sending it back but then again I have a milling machine. I am thinking that the slot in the table needs milled over just a little but when I got my try square to check it I checked for the square's accuracy { supposed to be a machinest square import ]. When I get an accurate square to see for sure which peice needs to be milled I believe I can do it. Would you have sent the rotary table back or would you have challenged yourself to correct this piece yourself just for the experience? The slot that I am talking about is used when you have the rotary table in the vertical position. Also is it necessary to use both of those key slots to align it and hold it in square position? I would appreciate your opinions on that or anyone else that might have an opinion on it. I will be getting an accurate square soon hopefully.

    I don't get much time to mess with it, but I know that it will be an enjoyable hobby. I also got the indexing plates to go with it but I never got to get them out of the box to check them out yet. Thanks for any replies.

  9. #29
    Super Member mjncad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Compare Chineese Lathes

    Quote Originally Posted by akpilot View Post
    After what I think is sound advice I didn't buy a 3-in-1 I bought a Lathe and still looking and saving for the Mill. Since I'm novice and not doing highly precision work I chose to buy a Grizzly 12x36 (Gunsmith model) I figured that would increase it's accuracy. I'm very pleased with it so far.

    Good Luck
    Please enlighten me to the differences between Grizzly's regular lathes and their gunsmith ones. Are the gunsmith ones more accurate than their regular lathes, or are there specific features catering to gunmakers?

    I notice Grizzly offers toolroom lathes, which I suspect are their versions of highly accurate Hardinge lathes.

    Has anyone else noticed that Grizzly is marketing 'South Bend' lathes, mills and bandsaws? Based on the pictures they appear to be rebadged Grizzly's since a friend told me South Bend went belly up in the 70's due to labor squabbles.
    Paraphrasing Douglas Adams - So long and thanks for all the bacon.

  10. #30
    Super Member mjncad's Avatar
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    Default Re: Compare Chineese Lathes

    Larry:

    Thanks for posting your experiences with your 3-n-1 machine as you are the only one I know who does a lot of work with one.
    Paraphrasing Douglas Adams - So long and thanks for all the bacon.

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