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Anybody know anything about lathes?


Troddenmasses
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I have been thinking for some time about buying a smallish lathe so that I can make small pieces. I am really a little bit lost. I have a few options at the moment, and was hoping that somebody could help me through the maze. I have about £800 to spend, so was thinking about the following

Clarke CL500M- £763 inc. Reasonable size (I don't have much room in the garage), parts available, milling head - I know it won't be fab, but have no room for a separate milling machine. Quality not particularly good

Chester UK model B super 3 in 1 £725 inc. Pretty much the same size as the machine mart one - parts possibly more difficult to get hold of as less popular but definately better quality. Still has the milling head, but don't really know whether I'll use it

The other options are a few different older types on ebay - was mainly thinking of the Myford ML7. I understand that it doesn't have a milling head, and that they are popular. Is this because people used them at school, and so know how they work? Also, I wouldn't really know if was buying a knackered one.

The only other option that I have at the moment is the local machining place (between Stroud and Nailsworth) sells machine tools. They have a 3 phase Boxford lathe for sale for £700 at the moment without any extras. I could get the price down to about £650, but would then have to either spend £100 on a single phase motor, or about £200 on an inverter. I think that these old types are probably better quality, so I could take a bigger cut each time. Would I be able to use the newer machines for the same thing, if I took my time?

This is my first metal working lathe, and so I don't really know what I want. I hope to learn how to do simple jobs on it, and use it for a bit of fun really.

Help please........

LR content - want to make some bits for the 90, of course....

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Same situation as I was in a while back. I had an even smaller budget than you in mind initially.

First decision for me was whether to go for the older Boxford, Colchester type or to buy a new Chinese made one. Decided in the end to go with new because I at least knew it was new and if somthing was not happening right then it was probably down to me and not wear in the lathe. Also a lot of the 2nd hand brand name stuff is well and truly worn out when it is offered up for sale.

Then I kept looking at all the extra bits that were nice to have such as a screwcutting gearbox, large enough swing to face a 300mm brake disc, good HP motor, back gear function for low speed etc. etc. What I didn't want was to buy a lathe and then find i wanted to do something too big which wouldn't fit on it.

Basically I kept upping my budget and eventually decided on a Warco BH600 (about £1200 I think but I don't think I will grow out of it too fast. (see www.warco.co.uk) I was really happy with the decision to go with this lathe in the end. I know I would have been frustrated if I had compromised on a smaller unit.

Warco also do a lot of cheaper lathes - one to suit any budget really. I have found them very good - delivery to Ireland was relatively cheap as well.

Other snippets

All advice I came across said to stay away from the Lathe / Milling head combos.

I saw a lot of negative stuff about the Clarke unit as well so decided to stay well clear of that.

There are also two very distinct shools of thought - "old English brand names are the best & all Chinese stuff is carp" or "Why pay rip off prices for old stuff when the Chinese stuff is now as good and in some cases better"

I found that Myfords were way overpriced - and very small anyway. Undoubtaby they were good quality but not worth the extra cash in my opinion.

Have a look at Lathes.co.uk (older schools of thought here but a good general buying guide)

also do a search of this forum http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=155

for "which lathe" & "Chinese lathe & mill" etc.

Keep in mind as well that you will probably spend a lot extra on tooling - it's amazing how addictive buying this stuff is.

I have been thinking for some time about buying a smallish lathe so that I can make small pieces. I am really a little bit lost. I have a few options at the moment, and was hoping that somebody could help me through the maze. I have about £800 to spend, so was thinking about the following

Clarke CL500M- £763 inc. Reasonable size (I don't have much room in the garage), parts available, milling head - I know it won't be fab, but have no room for a separate milling machine. Quality not particularly good

Chester UK model B super 3 in 1 £725 inc. Pretty much the same size as the machine mart one - parts possibly more difficult to get hold of as less popular but definately better quality. Still has the milling head, but don't really know whether I'll use it

The other options are a few different older types on ebay - was mainly thinking of the Myford ML7. I understand that it doesn't have a milling head, and that they are popular. Is this because people used them at school, and so know how they work? Also, I wouldn't really know if was buying a knackered one.

The only other option that I have at the moment is the local machining place (between Stroud and Nailsworth) sells machine tools. They have a 3 phase Boxford lathe for sale for £700 at the moment without any extras. I could get the price down to about £650, but would then have to either spend £100 on a single phase motor, or about £200 on an inverter. I think that these old types are probably better quality, so I could take a bigger cut each time. Would I be able to use the newer machines for the same thing, if I took my time?

This is my first metal working lathe, and so I don't really know what I want. I hope to learn how to do simple jobs on it, and use it for a bit of fun really.

Help please........

LR content - want to make some bits for the 90, of course....

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Also depends on price, and how much accuarcy you wnat ?

I use mine for basic turning, does the jobbie, and was a cheap SP Boxford CUD with a load of extras, hardly state of the art but £350 inc all tooling steady 3 and 4 jaw chucks, face plate bag of blunt cutters, tailstock cabinet etc

Bits for these are plentyfull, and they hold there value

Myford Super 7 are expensive, they are regarded as the best of the small stuff, and I'd agree, but I don't need that level of quality

If you have the space a industrial unit can be had for little money

But it will be three phase...

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Mine is positively ancient, but does the job I need, came from a model maker and had loads of bits.

He even had some bits to lift the head, tailstock and toolpost, home made but OK for facing brake discs or similar.

If you want accuracy to the nth degree you have to pay for it.

Using a vertical slide you can do some milling in a lathe but better to have a mill, I use a large pillar drill and it mills what I need, I have a mill table on it to allow movement both ways.

If anyone has a small rotary table unloved and unwanted that is my next purchase.

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Kier,

Some random points, in no particular order:

There are a good few people on here with lathes and other machine tools. Personally I have a Myford ML7 and a separate Milling machine. You can mill on the lathe, without the milling head, so don't let that sway your decision.

Chinese or Old English is a long and old debate. I went for Myford because pretty much everything I had read at the time, the author was using a myford. Also you can get pretty much any accessory you might desire for it. I also had a space issue, so couldn't fit anything much bigger in. The Chinese stuff is getting better and better, but I think I would still go for an older branded machine of a known quality if I was buying again.

A lot of the different branded import machines are made in the same factory, but painted different colours etc. Warco, Chester and a number of others do the preparation diffentely though, so it is worth shopping around.

If you get offered an older machine, Three-phase and an inverter can give you a much better range of speeds (they are infintely variable) which can be very useful. If you go to the right place, the inverter will probably be about the same price as a single phase motor...

A lot of stuff gets advertised on www.homeworkshop.org.uk so it is worth keeping an eye out on there.

There are a couple of engineering exhibitions on in the new year, I belive one has been postponed, but the London Model Engineering Exhibition (alexandra palace) is still on I believe, and might be a good opportunity to try new machines out.

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A place very close to my place has a couple of lathes that came from a school toolrool. They've been outside for a month or so, but it was breaking my heart so much seeing them rust that I made the bloke put a tarp over them!

He wanted about £400 for each one, with three phase motors, and when I asked him they were sold - but the buyer had vanished!

I'm sure a bit of bartering and a handful of £20 notes and they could be yours.

In fact, I'll nip round now if you like and ask him!

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Righty Ho, here we are;

First one is a Colchester Bantam, good lathe IIRC. Missing the gearbox for the screwcutting / power cross feed facility, but this could be replaced (maybe costly?) or left off. Not a massive drama not having a power cross feed for more 'rough' Landie type engineering!

Best bit of all, he's only asking (pre-negotiation!) for £150.

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Second didn't have any olbvious manufacturer's markings I could see, but it's clearly a good quality British made piece of kit. Appears complete and is in good order apart from the surface rust. Motor three phase (I think) and belt looks like new.

Asking for £400.

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And seeing how we're talking lathes, here's my pride and joy in her current state of restoration. Smart and Brown Model M, Circa 1950, free in exchange for one of Mrs SiWhite's cakes and a pot of jam!

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If anyone's interested, drop me a PM. Maybe Kier should get first refusal as he started the topic?

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Ahhhh, the old Coly Banty, god Ive spent some hours on one of those (usually for punishment duty for being late during my apprentiship, ive de-burred more stuff than I care to remember on one of those).

I personaly am old school, I would go for a full cast bed, named make, these lighweight things are ok for a little light use but it dont take much to hurt them. At the engineers I worked at, a little old Colchester Student and Ward DB7 (turret lathe) and a Harrison M800 (larger lathe) saw out at least 3 cheap lathes each.

Be careful when purchasing though, if it is an old one make sure the headstock gearing can cut metric as well as imperial threads.

The last lathe I worked on before becoming a drafty had a 23' swing and a 50' bed :o (things that big get scary even at 15 rpm! we used to turn down ship cranks and had a milling cutter (ø5') as the cutting tool).

One thing that a lot of people tend to disregard is the importance of siting the machine correctly, you would be amazed how inaccurate a poorly installed machine can be, the same machine sat level and correct would seem like a new one.

When looking at used machines, if you can, take a few simple tools and a DTI to test the wear and possible take up of wear with the gib strips.

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A few questions spring to mind, is there any lifting gear at your end, I have a pick up or trailer but it doesn't have a lift?

Also I assume the motor is present, only the screwcutting gearbox missing.

Can I get a look at the weekend or next week, will allow me to make a definite offer.

I'm sure these questions will help others anyway.

I will be giving my old lathe away.

Thanks NigeT

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Man it breaks my heart to see stuff like that left out in the rain... :(

Well done to you guys for rescuing it!

For your info, I have a Colchester Bantam, and it's just shy of 400kgs (375 ish, I think).

If whoever gets it wants I can photocopy my original manuals for you - if you can wait a few weeks? They have lots of data on wiring and mechanical diagrams etc in. Pretty comprehensive.

I may not check back, so PM may be best. Al.

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I suppose for the sake of anyone wanting input on the original question, I'll throw my 2 pence in.

I've used all sorts of lathes, from teeny little unimats with a few centimetres of swing up to some reasonable sized industrial stuff - say a max of 20 foot bed and I guess 2 or 3 foot swing (radius), sorry never bothered measuring it exactly.

It's fair to say I haven't used anything new (built in last few years) from China, but I have used Chester lathes which would have been built around 2000, and various other hobby type lathes of similar age.

With that in mind, I would never put my money into a new lathe like one of these. I constantly have problems with the toy-sized handwheels (I never understand why they think small lathes are built for small people to use?!? - it's still for a human with human sized hands, right? So why the dinky freakin' wheels?). All lathes I have used of this type have had problems with lack of rigidity and vibration. This alone is enough to kill the deal for me. I think a lot of it comes from simply not having sufficient mass of metal.

Anyway, that's my input - I'd always go with a used Colchester, Southbend or whatever, the biggest you can find that fits (ok, mine isn't huge, but my dad wants it :rolleyes: and I can always upgrade...). Check runout on everything / bedways all that stuff - I think there is actually a guide on lathes.co.uk for what to check on a used lathe. It's a good site.

Good luck. Al.

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I too would go for an older lathe. Myford, Boxford, Harrison, Colchester - something well kown. You'll be able to get parts & accessories more easily that way.

Agree that Myfords are expensive - but to some extent with good reason. It's a small lathe, but it's surprising what you can do with it and how many of them are to be found in big machine shops. It is more versatile than it's size would suggest.

I have a Myford super 7 - but have been thinking about chopping it in for a small CNC copy lathe or possibly a short, gap bed colchester just so I can turn slightly bigger stuff - but it will be a wrench to loose it!

Si

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A few questions spring to mind, is there any lifting gear at your end, I have a pick up or trailer but it doesn't have a lift?

Also I assume the motor is present, only the screwcutting gearbox missing.

Can I get a look at the weekend or next week, will allow me to make a definite offer.

I'm sure these questions will help others anyway.

I will be giving my old lathe away.

Thanks NigeT

Nige,

Yup, motor is present, 3 phase from what I can make out. Good range of speeds on the lathe, meaning a single phase replacement would be better than an inverter.

The Lathe is at a place called Haynes of Challow, off the main road in East Challow, just to the west of Wantage in Oxfordshire. They're open everyday IIRC. Drop me a line if you are coming over this way and we can have a cup of tea!

Si

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Totally agree on the Myford stuff, my old man started his working life as a fitter/turner, about 30 years aog he bought a wee ML10 for his workshop, it's paid for itself countless times over, and is only now about to replaced with a Myford Speed 10, for no other reason than the speed 10 goes faster, which is useful as he's turning more and more small stuff these days. He's got the Myford milling attachment for it, which is a bit of a faff to set up, but it never ceases to amaze me what a skilled old school machinist like my dad can turn out on a small machine like the ML10

Boxford and Colchester! Takes me back to high school metal work classes, I can still almost smell the Rocol.

I was passing my old school a couple of years back and witnessed what looked like every machine tool the metal bashing department had being put ona low loader, bumped into an old techy teacher at a vintage car show and he told me they were all gone, what little machinery they have now is CNC. If I'd had the space at the time....

http://www.lathes.co.uk/myford/ interesting informative site.

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  • 1 month later...

A somewhat late reply, but here goes; the second lathe is a Denford Viceroy, which turns 5" x 24". I've got one just like it; the one in the picture is more or less equivalent to a Boxford AUD; power feeds both ways and a norton type quickchange gearbox. The going rate on ebay for one with some tooling is about £500, but I stole mine for the price of a good curry and a night out. http://www.lathes.co.uk/ will tell you all you need to know.

cheers,

david

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