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  1. #1
    Alpo is offline Junior Member
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    I’m new to the site and have been gleaming all the info I could for the past few days. Here’s the deal. I’m broke. Bottom line. Three kids, two new cars, yada yada. This post isn’t intended as a poor mouthing exercise, but I needed to make a point. Within the next several months I intend to purchase a lathe for gunsmithing work. At this point, I am only looking for a lathe to use for about 5-6 hours per week, but I don’t want to waste my hard earned cash. I would love to be able to purchase a used US or English lathe, but I couldn’t tell you if a used machine was worn out by looking at it if my life depended on it. My question is, are the Chinese lathes truly pieces of junk? I have read most of the Chinese vs. American posts here and quite frankly have gotten very confused within the past two days. Some folks wouldn’t touch ‘em with a 10 ft. pole others just love ‘em to death. If I have to go Chinese in order to start making chips what brand and distributor has the best reputation for service? I know this horse has been beaten to a pulp already and I apologize for bringing it up again, but…….

  2. #2
    wilbilt is offline Hot Rolled
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    Do you really need 2 new cars?

    Maybe sell one and buy a lathe? I'm not trying to be a smart**s, but I have 3 kids, OLD cars and still can't afford a lathe...

  3. #3
    jamscal is offline Hot Rolled
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    Buy the Chinese lathe. If you read the HSM magazine you'll notice in the pics how many people are using that 'junk' to good effect.

    Also if you surf the web, you'll find no end of hobbyists do great stuff with no end of cheap, imported, homemade or improvised tools and equipment.

    I agree with wilbilt, though: Go the used car route. Buying a new car is one of the worst financial decisions you can make. I thought about buying a new truck two years ago, and then said wait! I can buy a used car and truck for half the price. And I did.

    Good luck,

    James

  4. #4
    Dualkit is online now Diamond
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    Hello, DO NOT BUY Chinese!!!!!!!!! This is
    a case where spending $2500 for good used
    will serve you better than $2500 new Chinese.
    Strangely enough when it comes to manual lathes American iron is unmatched, when it comes to used CNCs buy Japenese/Taiwanese. I have an
    old Hardinge that's no newer thab 1960 and may
    be as old as 1951 (Serial #'s gone) I bought
    it for $1200 7 years ago and it still holds
    .0001s and has been hard used. That was the
    first machine I bought, now I have a dozen or
    so more. I don't know Georgia but many members
    are there, you might find someone in here
    local to you that for the price of a pizza and
    beer lunch may help you lathe shop. If your
    broke (I have been there before) your first
    machine purchase is pretty much life or death.
    I made a bad machine purchase on a larger
    scale and it stalled my business progression
    out for 2 years till I threw the pair away and
    bought another one. So don't buy Chinese,
    or you will regret it,............Bob

  5. #5
    jim rozen is offline Diamond
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    If you're broke, don't buy machine tools.
    Save for your kids' educations.

    The import lathe will be toast before they
    have to go to college. Invest in them, they'll
    buy you a monarch 10EE to pay it back.

    [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Jim

  6. #6
    randyc is offline Stainless
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    If you've read ALL of the threads about chinese lathes, why would you expect to find illumination now by starting yet ANOTHER thread about chinese lathes ?

    (In other words, nothing has changed since the last time this topic was run into the ground.)

  7. #7
    Milacron's Avatar
    Milacron is online now Diamond
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    Funny randyc, I was wondering the same thing [img]smile.gif[/img]

    Re "broke", if you're able to travel some, start paying attention to auctions within say 4 hour drive. You can sometimes get a perfectly good used lathe for 500 bucks if it's a little ugly (but still in good condition) Also consider a small used turret lathe for a first one...much better than nothing and can do some simple production work for profit if overhead is nil. Sometime "odd" turret lathes, that are actually top notch machines, like a Weiler (German), can be bought for 200 bucks at auction.

  8. #8
    dsergison is offline Diamond
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    How can you "get into gunsmithing" buying a lathe if you are unqualified to assess one?

    that says you have no tooling, no experience, and no money.

    youre screwed.

    Feel free to approach it as a hobby. Have fun, learn, but don't expect any return on investment.

    not for a long while.

    you can have plenty of fun with an import.

  9. #9
    Art K is offline Aluminum
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    I would not buy Chinese, but I would and did buy Taiwanese. Now I'm a hobbyist and I bought a Birmingham Lux-Matter. I checked and it is built in Taiwan and the quality is quite good in my hobbyist's opinion.

    Now the 13x40 Lux-Matter was not cheap. I think I paid around $6,800 including trucking charge, but it was a lot cheaper than a wonderful Nardini that at around $11,000 I could not afford.

    I thought about buying a used lathe, but I did not want to spend my time learning to rebuild the machine rather than learning to turn metal. Nothing at all against tool rebuilding, but that is a separate hobby!

    Regards,
    -Art K

  10. #10
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    Enco and Grizzly

  11. #11
    DocsMachine is online now Stainless
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    Well, I bought a Grizzly 9X42" vertical mill- a Taiwanese product- two years ago, and I now have a fair number of hours on it. Bottom line? I'm quite happy with it. It's holding up well, has needed zero repairs and the only maintnence I've had to do is give the "one shot" lube handle a yank- probably a little more often than necessary, but Vactra is lots cheaper than a rebuild and rescrape.

    I've also dealt with two 13" Grizzly lathes. I think the 13"x36" and the 13"x40". One's a hobby machine, the other is used in a tool repair shop. I don't know all the details about their setup and life so far, but in my limited experience they've worked well and accurately.

    The fact of used machine tools, whether American or import, is you need to be able to both see it in person before buying, and if you see it, you need to know what you're looking for.

    Yes, people have gotten tight, clean, low-miles American iron for a relative pittance. People have also gotten worn-out, sloppy 'scrap iron' for way too damn much money.

    A decent Taiwanese import handled by a reputable dealer is a fine choice. You'll get a good machine, that may or may not need minor "clean up", you'll get it for a decent price, and you'll have some pretty decent customer service and parts supply to back it up.

    Doc.

  12. #12
    Ox's Avatar
    Ox
    Ox is offline Diamond
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    Do you really need 2 new cars?

    Maybe sell one and buy a lathe? I'm not trying to be a smart**s, but I have 3 kids, OLD cars and still can't afford a lathe...
    Dare I agree? I get sick to death of all the "I want to buy a ___ but I can't afford ____" statements!

    We can "afford" what we want to. To have one thing - we must sacriface another thing.

    You could just buy a clean used one owner gun? Might be cheaper.


    If you honestly did much of a search aboot the Chink toys - I am sure that you have already seen my view on the "import" subject.

    Think Snow Eh!
    Ox

  13. #13
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    I couldn’t tell you if a used machine was worn out by looking at it if my life depended on it.
    I can't either. Turn a test bar & look for tight & loose spots on the bed. You can get info on the test bar here.

    -Matt

  14. #14
    Alpo is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks to all that have responded thus far. As far as the bottom line question, I just simply thought that someone could steer me in the correct direction with regards to used American or Chinese. For example "I bought a used Leblond for $X,XXX at Mr. Smiths used Machinery" or "I'm in the southeast, drive to Blank and talk to Jim". At this point I'm beginning to be sorry I brought the whole subject up.

    As far as my finances are concerned. I really wished I'da kept quiet. [img]smile.gif[/img]

  15. #15
    toolmakerjim is offline Titanium
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    Alpo;
    do you own your house?
    not paid off but have equity in it?
    maybe a second mortgage will get enough capital for a USED AMERICAN LATHE AND MILL because you will also need a mill for gunsmithing unless your a die hard muzzle loader that does everything traditionally.
    if you dont own your house.
    do you have a life insurance policy with cash value built up so you can borrow off it?

    last can you pick up a part time job and bank all the money for a "machine fund?"

    what im getting to here is there are ways to accomplish your goals. some may require belt tightening or some effort but hey there isnt a free ride unless you win the lottery.

    use your brain man!
    get a second job at the very least.
    go to a busy machine shop and ask for some part time work in the evenings. a couple years will go by quickly you'll get some experience and make some money.

    to quote one of my heroes
    "Git er done!" Larry the Cable Guy.
    Edit;
    having read you last reply try these guys they are in Cincinatti but hey thats just a little drive north on I-75.

    www.mohawkmachinery.com

    they have a lot of stuff and lots of it is make offer.

    dont get disillusioned or downhearted. thats not what machinist' are made of.
    take a challenge. do the best you can.
    your from Dixie the South didnt lose the war Uncle Bobby Lee gave a junior officer of his,Useless S Grant,his sword to clean and was too much of a gentleman to ask for it back.
    How far are you from Terminus (Atlanta)?
    get on some mailing lists. go to some old machine shops on day trips.
    there are plenty of ways to find used machines use you imagination...jim
    jim

  16. #16
    carla is offline Stainless
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    Well, Alpo, you have a choice.....you can get plenty of second-hand experience here....and be told that you will lose your money and experience any amount of frustration with the generality of cheap oriental equipment....or you can choose to pay for some first-hand experience of your very own....

    There might be one way in which you could get some first-hand experience without losing a lot of money, tho....

    Unless you are located in a really remote area, your area is likely to be served by the new internet programme 'Craig's list', a sort of internet bulletin board and free advertising service.

    You could run a 'wanted' advert for a lathe, and see what becomes available to you.

    You may be able to get an oriental toy lathe for scrap value, or maybe for simply hauling it away, after someone else has had the first-hand experience of investing in one.

    As for whether an oriental lathe would be worthwhile for hobby level gunsmithing, well, yes, no, and maybe....it all depends on what you'd like to do with it.

    Consider this.....if you were to have a few of the generality of cheap oriental lathes, remodel them a bit for lineshaft drive, and know a science fiction writer well enough to borrow/rent a time-machine.....were you to go to, say, the 1820's, and take those machines to Henry Deringer's shop in Philadelphia, he'd probably be overjoyed to get them.

    Conversely, were you to go to 1939, and take a group of cheap oriental lathes to John Garand's shop at Springfield, what do you think he'd have to say about them?.....probably not anything you'd like to hear, right?

    Have you seen some of the photos of the 'native artisans' of Afghanistan and similar places making copies of Enfield rifles with coal forges, files, and primitive lathes?...have you seen any of the hand-made rifles themselves?....I've seen some of those on display at gun shows, along with crude Chinese copies of 98 Mausers....and got a good chuckle looking at a rough Chinese copy of a Mauser maschinenpistole marked....and I'm not joking....'WAUSER'...!!!

    Are the Afghani Enfield copies or the Chinese imitation Mausers safe to fire with regular issue ball rounds?....I don't know, but I wouldn't care to have 45kpsi near my face with one of those....

    Well, the oriental machine tools are basically the same idea.....I've been told that the Afghani tribesmen armed with crude pseudo-Enfields were a dangerous enemy.....and I'm sure that some usable work could be done with a crude oriental machine tool....but if you really had to go fight a war, wouldn't you really rather be armed with, say, an American M14 or M16, or even a Thompson?

    cheers

    Carla

  17. #17
    Norman Atkinson is offline Titanium
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    Somehow at the age of 75, I disagree.
    At that age, one is a grumpy old fart!
    What's the smell?

    We have bought new cars for years- more years than most, I suspect. We have 3, a Merc 270CD1 Estate,a Merc 230 SLK, a Skoda Fabia 1.2 and an ancient Seat Marbella- with Spanish plates. The last is all of 9 years.At this point, any remedial work has been free on warranty.
    One does 50 plus to the UK gallon- and that isn't the Seat, it's the biggest Diesel Merc.
    We intend the cars to see us to the end when we get our last 11 minutes at the crematorium.
    The SLK will be still wanted by the family!
    What is the reason? The new cars are built with far greater standards of quality control and are inherently safer having all the safety devices.
    Forget the Seat in this! When you come to drop a car of a cliff at 6500 feet on black ice, fall 50 feet vertically and roll 5 times, you can get out!!! Not included to emulate us- you reckon?

    OK, so lets do the lathe thing.If you are a beginner, you won't know one lathe from another.
    It could be a basket case, ex one titled family AKA the Dukes of Hazard. It may be like the the port prostitute who has had enough to make a handrail around an ocean liner. My early lathes wouldn't turn bananas. I had bought pups- and they cost bundles.
    On the other hand, a cheapo Chinese may have all the scars and blemishes of a US Marine but it will be reasonably accurate and the worry about having bought rubbish that somebody else rejected is eliminated.

    Not having to worry about anything other the job which is turning in the chuck is something for the beginner to appreciate.

    Others will disagree but these posts are from the experts who can weave magic out of mangles!

    Norman

  18. #18
    jim rozen is offline Diamond
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    "As far as my finances are concerned. I really wished I'da kept quiet."

    LOL. Don't take it so hard. I think every
    person on this board has way much cast iron
    than they can *really* afford.

    What you want is a lathe for free. Or, maybe
    realcheap, anyhow.

    Those exist. You won't be able to predict what
    kind it will be, or what kind of condition it
    will be in.

    You can't say "but I don't want to spend all my
    time learning how to re-build machine tools."

    You can't say "It's too far away."

    You can't say "it doesn't suit my purpose."

    You can't say "I need it *now*."

    All you can do is go and look at it, and decide
    on the spot if you want it. If so, say thank
    you and load it up and haul it away. If not,
    say thank you for thinking of me, but no thanks.

    You are looking for a 'target of opportunity'
    machine which means you have to be patient and
    try to get plugged into a network of other like
    minded metalheads. This means haunting dealers,
    talking with folks, and maybe finding out if
    there's a local adult ed program for machining
    nearby.

    I've nearly had to *beg* folks to haul machinery
    away, and some of it sorta worked even!

    Jim

  19. #19
    Milacron's Avatar
    Milacron is online now Diamond
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    Carla, good post but would take issue with you blanket term "oriental" machines, as even Japan is "oriental" and makes some of the finest machine tools on the planet (Mori Seiki, Okuma Howa, Makino, Matsuura...) In fact in some genre's, such as CNC turning centers, THE finest machine tools on earth.

    And as Dualkit pointed out, there can be vast difference between Tawainese and Chinese machines. Some Tawainese machines (Victor, Acer...) are better than some American machines (like Logan, Rockwell, Sebastian....) ever were.

  20. #20
    Alpo is offline Junior Member
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    Oh, I'm not taking the "broke" comments hard. I'm thicker skinned than that. It's my situation, I got me there and I intend to get me out. I simply should've listened to some of my own advice "Seperate personal and business". Some of you have given me a ton of things to think about. If I can find a decent used American, I will definitely go that route.

    RE: Gunsmithing. Yep, I am definitely a neophite. However, I have a couple of invitations to learn barrel work from a couple of guys who I think are class acts. Also, I am young and intend to take it completely as a hobby until....

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