I'm looking for a small metal lathe. 8-10" swing by 10-15" stock length or so.
Less than $1500. Any of you guys have a recommendation?
I've looked at Harbor Freight's $500 and it seems like a toy.
The Bolton units look more robust. Any suggestions?
I'd look for an older Southbend.. or Atlas.. Will be easily in your price point..and a real lathe.. Oh.. don't leave out the Logan either.. There's a pile of 9X24 or 10X24 stuff out there cheap because of the short bed..
I bought a 1954 year model cinn. 15x54 in 1982.. it has ran almost daily..stills turns like a new one.. I have been in shops that bought new chinese shit lathes and they wouldnt last until the water gets hot.. I own 6 lathes now from the cinn.. to a 20" x 72" cnc that cost more than my first house..lol.. buy a older used AMERICAN and you wont be disappointed.. please dont buy a import..
If you can afford the time, Shop locally for one of the above mentioned older lathes, Hopefully with a lot of tooling you may not need or think you need but some day may use. ie: 4 jaw chuck,Bits,Holders,Steady rest.Collets,Drawbar and anything else.
I have an old Logan now and will some day have the first chance to purchase a slightly larger Atlas.
If your not familar with them,Find a machinist (Maybe from your club,Church ect.) to help you find a good tight machine. Richard
You guys have very good advice, and I've been checking Craislist and Ebay. There are lots of good, reasonably-priced BIG lathes available. But, I am relegated to one that is small enough to fit in the space I have allotted to it (48" wide/long) and is light enough that I don't have to have a forklift to put it on my trailer then into my shop.
Big lathes are available, good small ones seem to be scarce. I'll keep looking, though!
Edit: Bob, I just checked out that Blueridge website. The M1049 looks like a winner! I especially like that it comes with a live center (most of the other new small lathes do not) and with both a 3-jaw and 4-jaw chuck. I'll be calling them shortly to get dimensions, weight and shipping costs.
Many of the small lathes have flat "Ways" as opposed to "V" ways. There will be much wear of the ways near the chuck and out about 6" with less wear as you get further from the chuck. Unless the ways have been scraped by a professional and are uniform from end to end, it will be impossible to adjust the gibbs and take the play out. Cuts will be very rough due to the chatter and slack in the tool holder and you will not be happy with the machine. Threading with a loose lathe is a nightmare, especially if there is wear on the feed screw. Buying a used lathe can be a mistake if you do not know what to look for. You can wind up with a boat anchor. Look around and buy a new machine for a little more money and buy your tooling used.
Don't be concerned about getting it into your shop because a pair of furniture dollies will allow you to roll it close to your mounting location, then use a engine hoist (rent from Auto Zone) to lift it up on the stand.
I was looking for a lathe a while back, mostly imports, but I found an Axelson 16X54 that is one of the best I've ever run, but you don't have the space, and it weighs 8200 lbs, so it isn't too portable
As far as the Shop Fox, myself I would steer away from them I know alot of people have used and liked them, but I bought a 4 ft 12 ga box and pan brake from them, because of a sales spiel, it was quite a bit cheaper than a Chicago or Tennsmith, but it was sprung from the factory, and the only was they would warranty it was for me to repack in in its original crate, that was destroyed unpacking it and shipping it back to them prepaid
I spent $5000 and got a Tennsmith, and it works perfect
But if you look around and find a good american built lathe that is three phase, I can show you how to make a rotary phase converter quite easily
Do you want a good deal on a 4 ft Box and pan brake, the MFG says it's fine
The Enco is sufficient for light duty. I was in the custom cue business for over 30 years and the lathe of choice for me was the Clausing. They have a 12 x 36 and a 12 x 24. Now they were used for schools, some of them are just wore out. I believe the last ones were made in the mid 70's. They are more common than you would think. I replaced the hydraulic drives with electronic drives and put on precision 3 jaws. If you stumble across one and you want to know more about parts, email. This may be more work than you want though. Like I said at the beginning, the Enco will do it too. Nubs Wagner
Something that is also nice to have on a lathe or mill is a Variable Frequency Drive, or a VFD, Teco makes a 50 series that you can use single phase power to power a 3 ph motor up to 3 HP, gives you alot of flexibility, with out changing gears or belts, they're under $200 and easy to install
If you are going into the older used lathe market the one most important things I can add is to look very carefully at the condition. The cleaner a machine is the more likely it has been taken care of, and none of the American Lathes mentioned above have benn made in 40-80+ years. A machine that has sat for 40 years unused is new after you clean it, however there are very few quality machine tools that have NOT been used and used hard. Usually maintainance is lacking.
The problem with Atlas, Craftsman and Southbend, and Logan lathes is they were built as "light duty" machines from the get go, and they were designed in the 20's. As a result they are difficult to obtain a decent finish even if they are new. They do not have the rigidity of heaver machines, and rigidity is what yeilds good finishes, and repeatability. A machine that won't repeat is an annoying POS and virtually useless! It is much harder to learn how to use a weak machine tool than it is to learn how to use a good machine tool, becuase the good one is much more forgiving of your mistakes. A good machine is a joy to use, bad ones drive you nuts!
Most Southbend and Logan lathes were used in Job Shops and not taken care of, every once in a while you find a good one,( the one pictured above is a nice one!) but they are the rare exception. I have an Atlas in my shop which is the best one I have ever seen, and has every attachment known to man. It is still a very marginal machine to get a decent part out of and I actually know how to operate it.
Myford(english) makes a really nice Southbend Pattern Lathe that is used by many guys building model steam engines, clocks and stuff like that. They are of excellent quality and are not cheap, and for the money the next machine is a much better bargain.
The machine that is miles ahead of any of the above mentioned machines are Hardinge HLV Toolroom Lathes. A really good used one will cost you $5K, and a well used one can be had at or below $1500. A completely worn out Hardinge HLV toolroom lathe is light years better than all of the above mentioned machines are when brand new! Usually they can be disassembled, cleaned and reassembled into a good running garage machine.
Also the Hardinge HLV has the absolute best threading system available on a manual machine. An absolute moron can make perfect threads with an HLV with 5 minutes of instruction. You can too.
A used Hardinge Chucker is another good machine for home use especially if you aren't going to be threading barrels or doing between centers jobs. I have one that was built in 1962 and has been rebuilt twice. It will repeat to .0001's easily and cost me $2300 20 years ago. They are a little different to use than an Engine lathe type of machine, but once you get used to them they are much faster than an engine lathe. You can leave 8 different tools set up on the turret, and do most anything you want with minimal changeover. Very quick to set up. Many used ones available for less than $1000.
All parts for Hardinge Machines are readily available from the factory in Elmira NY.
These machines are plentiful and are available on the used machine market and Ebay all the time. Also tooling for Hardinge machines is readily available on Ebay also.
If you are not going to use the machine very much then a new Grizzly, or Jet is probably your best bet and you'll be able to get your money out of it when you are done with it, especially if you keep it covered and clean.
If you are going to use it alot then the used Hardinge is the way to go, it is a production quality machine,designed to be used day in and day out for many many years, and is one of the best machine tools ever built on this planet, the rest are just hobby shop tools by comparison. A new Hardinge HLV Toolroom Lathe last I heard was $75K!