Shooters Forum banner
1 - 20 of 38 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
58 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have noticed quite a few of you are gunsmiths on here. What lathe are you using, can you recommend a good one for a reasonalbe price that will be able to do just about everything. I have looked around but there is one made by FOX that is designated as a gunsmithing lathe. I would like to get into something like this, and dont want to buy something cheap in quality that will frustrate me.

Thanks
UNV
 

· The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
Joined
·
39,105 Posts
Hmm. Good question. My dad, who lives about 2 miles from a Grizzly distribution center, says they can't keep their "gunsmith" model in stock. He's asked, and told that there is a waiting list. So, I suppose that might answer the question as to whether it is a reasonable machine......

Having said that, I think the best bargains are in the used equipment market. Southbend (what he has), Clausing, Myford (?), Logan, et al. Clausing now distributes parts for some of the old marks so they can be rebuilt. I have an old Atlas which was a pretty cheap lathe in it's day.... but it will work if the bed is good. If the bed and bearings are good then the rest of the parts can be replaced or rebuilt.

As an example, on my old Atlas the lead screw was worn out. Found a supplier for the correct pitch of acme thread and good to go with a little help cutting the keyway slot.

I'd go Grizzly if I had to start f rom scratch. Get a mill too. Hope this helps.
 

· Inactive account
Joined
·
315 Posts
I learned on a Smithy 1340. Lathe/Mill/Drill all work fairly well once you know how to minimize runout & understand how the cut is made. A high-quality machine is much easier to use - but a good machinist, taking his/her time, can do good work on just about anything....
 

· Inactive Account
Joined
·
459 Posts
If you have 3phase power you can save an arm, leg and your firstborn on the price of equipment, larger 3 phase manual equipment often goes for scrap prices even in perfect working order, also like everyone else has said get one a bit bigger than you think you will need as long as its a good machine you can still do the smaller stuff. look for one with a Collete system if you can find it, tho that will drive up the price a bit. Maybe I'm old school but I can't stand the look of lathes today I prefer the old cast iron! Curvy and beautiful!

I'm currently limping along on a south bend (great lathe) that's a little small for me and it is very frustrating being unable to turn barrels over 22 inches.

On the other hand i have a 7000lb cincinati mill that i picked up for $125 at an auction. She is way to big but I don't tell her that.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
58 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I got a line on a mammoth beast at one of the plants I work at. But like previously said it is a 440 volt but I could turn the driveshaft of a kenworth on it. In mint shape just getting beat by mice. Will be checking on a phase converter for shop. Nieghbours lights may dim a bit when I turn it on though.
 

· Inactive account
Joined
·
865 Posts
Some broad advice: stay away from the chinese made stuff, esp such things as Harbor Freight and a bunch of others. You'll spend more time fixing and hunting parts than working. Best thing is to hold off and find one of the older American made lathes, even a worn one is usually worth rebuilding. I use an old Atlas and the only thing I can't do is pass a barrel thru the headstock, and there are often ways around that depending on the job.

MikeG, where did you find the lead screw stock? My old lathe screw is badly worn close to the chuck, as most are and it's awfully inconvenient.

Goatwhiskers the Elder
 

· Registered
Joined
·
58 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
This is another one I was checkin out. I cant find a whole lot of info on it though. The thing looks brand new. for 1300.00. In Canada. Here is the ad.

This Atlas F10-54 metal lathe has been doing a great job in the shop for years. It has been upgraded with a quick change gear box and cuts threads very well. Several tools are included with the lathe - included are a three jaw chuck, a four jaw chuck, a face plate with a dog set, a quick change tool post and the original lantern tool post, drilling chuck, and several bits.

Any opinions would be appreciated and if it a good deal I will start driving now.
 

· Inactive for over a decade
Joined
·
1,398 Posts
Might check with a machinery jockey on used lathes and mills. Bought my mill from local one who picked it up and delivered too my shop. Machine was virtually new because it was only used for R & D work. Has air chuck and digital read out but three phase motor. Next project is getting proper phase converter and installing both.
 

· The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
Joined
·
39,105 Posts
Some broad advice: stay away from the chinese made stuff, esp such things as Harbor Freight and a bunch of others. You'll spend more time fixing and hunting parts than working. Best thing is to hold off and find one of the older American made lathes, even a worn one is usually worth rebuilding. I use an old Atlas and the only thing I can't do is pass a barrel thru the headstock, and there are often ways around that depending on the job.

MikeG, where did you find the lead screw stock? My old lathe screw is badly worn close to the chuck, as most are and it's awfully inconvenient.

Goatwhiskers the Elder
Good question. It's been a while, not even sure what year. Someplace in the northeast. Mine is 3/4" diameter and 8tpi. Standard Acme thread works. At the time I think I just put the info in a search engine and came up with something. Bought a 6' rod.....

If you get stuck, let me know. I may have the contact info, but I'd have to dig.
 

· The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
Joined
·
39,105 Posts
By a small miracle, I found the source:

Dependable Acme Threaded Products
167 School Street
WEstbury, New York 11590

(516) 338-4700

That info was from mid 2003, so .... good luck. Keep in mind this wasn't a completed lead screw, just a big acme threaded rod to make one.
 

· The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
Joined
·
39,105 Posts
If it's the same ad I saw, it looks pretty good. You'd want to inspect the ways if possible, the lead screw, and how much play there is in the cross-feed screw.

No idea on canadian prices. If it has to be shipped, that's gonna ad some.

The 4-way tool post is an improvement over the lantern type, but I'd save up for an Aloris, or similar. Oh and for gunsmith work, you'll want a steady rest (for barrels). There are 6-jaw chucks on the market, get one when you can. Very handy.

Best of luck.
 

· Banned
Joined
·
70 Posts
I'm currently in machinist school and I've use 3 and 4 jaw chucks quite a bit and was wonder what the advantages of a 6 jaw are.

Are they self centering like 3 jaw, or just for shapes that a 4 jaw can't grab very well?

Sorry not trying to steal thread just curious.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,909 Posts
FWIW, I do a bit of service work on a couple of machine shops and if what I pick up is accurate, there is a ton of machinery for sale out there at good prices due to many shops closing down. (I'm pulling hard on the thought-brake to keep from a political rant.....)
 

· The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
Joined
·
39,105 Posts
I found a little 6-jaw scroll chuck a few years ago. The nice things I like about it are that it is much smaller than my 3-jaw and therefore the lathe spins up faster, and also, for gripping thin pieces of work there is less pressure on each individual jaw.
 

· Inactive account
Joined
·
315 Posts
Some broad advice: stay away from the chinese made stuff, esp such things as Harbor Freight and a bunch of others. You'll spend more time fixing and hunting parts than working. Best thing is to hold off and find one of the older American made lathes, even a worn one is usually worth rebuilding. I use an old Atlas and the only thing I can't do is pass a barrel thru the headstock, and there are often ways around that depending on the job.

MikeG, where did you find the lead screw stock? My old lathe screw is badly worn close to the chuck, as most are and it's awfully inconvenient.

Goatwhiskers the Elder
Reverse the lead screw (if possible) - then the worn end is furthest from the chuck. I do most of my cutting 4-6" from the chuck to minimize flex, and dress over the entire length of the ways by hand with a draw file when finishing....

When I used to flip my spockets on my Harley, I would IMMEDIATELY start shopping for new sprockets and a chain, so - the above advice is a big, fat, BAND-AID....
 

· Registered
Joined
·
58 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I hoping to go look/buy this lathe tomorow after work. I know I have a pile of learning to do. I wont be making pieces for NASA right away but with a little time and lots of error I think this will be a good starting lathe for me. Luckily I have lots of scrap metal at work to ruin before getting into the "I am going to build this" stage. Thanks for the good reading guys. Again you have steared me in a few directions to look and compare
 

· Registered
Joined
·
153 Posts
I probably will get a lot of disagreement on this but the Chinese machines are not to be confused with cheap junk Chinese hand tools. While the Chinese imports are definitely not the same quality of the "old iron" they are nevertheless very much an adequate alternative for a home shop. Grizzly gunsmith lathes sell so fast they are back-ordered for months and the Grizzly, Enco, Birmingham, etc imported lathes all have a decent reputation and in most cases are a much better buy than an old worn out industrial machine. Buying a really good old American or European lathe at a decent price is still the best way to go IF you can find a good one at a decent price which is becoming increasingly harder to do. The Chinese imports from 12"x36" on up are not what some people seem to think they are and in spite of the "urban legends" you will not spend all your time hunting parts for the things, they actually are dependable and there are literally thousands and thousands of them out there and most folks who own them are quite happy with them. I have a 14"x40" import that I bought new after spending a small fortune in both time and money trying to resurrect and old South Bend which I finally did only to realize the capacity was just simply to small for my needs. I bought the Chinese 14"x40" to use until I could find a "decent" machine but I was pleasantly surprised and stopped looking, I have been running this thing daily for 4 years now with zero problems and it is as accurate as I could hope for. My story is common and a look at one of the import lathe groups on Yahoo will reveal just how common (and mis-understood) these machines really are. The point about all this is don't discount the import lathes/mills on the basis of "Chinese is only junk" because there are some really good machines available at very attractive prices, these are ready to run and are a lot better than some people realize.

From the 12"x36" and larger machines they are decent but the smaller machines however are a different story and they seem to be built with the usual Chinese lack of quality and those machines are generally junk, from 12" on up they seem to be built to much better standards. Stories abound about good deals on old iron being bought at really good prices and people will say to stay away from Chinese as if you could just run out and pick out the used American/European machine to fit your needs. The truth is they are not as plentiful as most want to think and finding just what you need is more a matter of luck than anything else, good used machinery that does not not need rebuilding to bring back to spec is getting very hard to find these days as home machining is becoming a VERY popular hobby, ironically mostly due to the Chinese imports making it affordable. Because of this good used machinery gets snapped up in a hurry and a machine that makes a good gunsmithing lathe usually will boil down to three choices, buying a very expensive "good" industrial lathe, buying worn out iron at Chinese or higher prices or buying a Chinese machine ready to run. If a GOOD "old iron" machine that fits your needs can be found at an affordable price then by all means go that route but good luck finding one.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
58 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks oldred for the info. I did end up buying the atlas one I had mentioned. It is 30 years old and solid. I asked the questions that were suggested and checked out the condition of everything. I was there with the guy for 2.5 hours and he showed me some of the incredible work he has done on this thing. As far as accuracy goes on this unit I was amazed at the intricate parts he has made for the old cars he restores. Tiny little threaded pins for dash components to front end parts for his model N Ford. The extras that came with it were worth the money because I check on ebay and other sources to see what it would take to buy them all and found that I dont need to get another thing for it. I have read bad and good about the atlas machines but this thing seems very solid and great condition. The quick change gearbox and all other pieces that were part of the deal have almost zero wear. He ran through every function and tool that comes with it and all messhed perfectly and the machine is very quiet. The gearing is a little overwhelming and put the fear of god into me but when he had it running there wasnt a chatter or sound from any of them.

I appreciate the input you guys have put in for me and with any luck I can hone my skills on this thing. It is my very first lathe and think it will be great to learn on. It doesnt have all the fancy digital things on it but I always say if you learn on the hard ones then you will only be better off in the long run.

With any luck this thread will help people that have the same question in the future. Have a great one guys.
 
1 - 20 of 38 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top