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Chinese lathe good enough for my needs?

drummerdimitri

Aluminum
Joined
Feb 23, 2020
Location
Beirut, Lebanon
So I'm looking to buy a new lathe, preferably something Taiwanese however, they are not readily available here in my country but dealers can order one for me if I wish.

That being said, I've always tried avoiding buying Chinese tools and machinery but I've found this one for sale locally and the dealer is asking 4,700 $ for it and that includes a 3 jaw and 4 jaw chuck.

He says that it is a high quality unit and is built similarly to a Taiwanese unit that costs around twice the price.

The unit has been rebranded by the dealer, however I am pretty sure it is this exact model as they used to sell lathes from the same company in the past without stamping their logo on them:


Not sure if a picture is useful when judging the quality of the unit, however as I am not a machinist and have never used a lathe before so maybe some of you can help me identify what to look for to judge the build quality of the lathe.

I am considering it for my metal fab shop to complement my CNC plasma cutter and welding activities so it will not be used in a machine shop and maybe it is good enough for non critical parts.

There are lots of used European lathes here but they are usually very old and because I am new to this, I am not able to tell if the unit is in good working condition or not so I prefer avoiding them.

I'm thinking maybe it's worth getting something cheap to start with now and if my business grows, I will eventually invest in a quality CNC lathe.

What are your thoughts on this?




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Looks close to this Grizzly lathe which is a D1-5 spindle not the smaller D1-4. Do you have any need of English threads or is it all metric for your work? Water pipe may be English thread count.
Bill D

358mm = 14 inches
1016mm = 40 inches
 
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The lathe on the bench in the photo is just one of tens of thousands of machines that look identical and are miserable to use. The gears are noisy and either soft or over hard, the slides are too short and narrow to transfer a cut to the ways, the motor contactor will last 6 months, the tailstock locks feel disgusting and lack any sort of clamping power, and on and on. A lathe shaped object.

$4700 is a bad joke. There’s nothing high-quality about that machine. Anyone here will tell you to get a decent used machine.
 
What are your thoughts on this?
There are thousands of shops out there using lathes like this to make money. Before I was given a Pacific that I have just sold I used a smaller version on one of these lathes and it made me a lot of money. As others have said the gears can be noisy. If they are used within the limitations of the machine they are more than capable of holding .01 mm. Personally I would just see if you can contact a Chinese manufacturer directly and buy it instead of paying the markup. According to a lot of people on this site the Chinese can't manufacture quality equipment, that is total BS, as someone who has been in a large number of Chinese tool rooms the lathes that they make are excellent. Obviously as in all countries there is crap you just need to avoid it so do your research.

Here is a link to a company selling an excellent lathe called the CY (China Yunnan). The lady who supplied me with a spare part is no longer there so I don't have a direct contact.

 
Been running a similar lathe since 2018.

It's not very rigid, which forces you to take smaller cuts. These lathes will run ok with CCMT inserts for roughing, and TCMT inserts for finishing. Ideally, they prefer HSS, but a small radius TCMT will do almost as good...........just don't push it.

The spindle bores are relatively small, but it's a small lathe(shrug).

The gap bed is, IMHO, useless. I'd sooner take a bath in boiling oil than even consider removing, and replacing, the gap. My seller allowed me to open the crate before leaving with it. I checked the gap bed joint, and found it to be ok.

The gearing is a bit noisy, but I don't find it intolerable. Changing speeds is reliable, with pretty accurate transmission throws.

The tailstock is adequate. I've not found any issues with clamping, or locking.

I had one issue.................. The spindle bearings were probably not set properly, and promptly ate themselves up. The outfit I bought the lathe from paid for a new set of P5's. I did the work. I found a ton of crap in the headstock sump...........if you buy one, check the sump to see if it's full of trash. I was able to use a magnet, and a couple of flush outs with kerosene to clean it out.

The motor has been reliable, and no problems with any of the relays. I work in an environment that can range from 50* to 120* Farenheit. Any issues would probably have presented themselves by now.

The controls are fairly crisp. Not Space Shuttle crisp, but it ain't a Cadillac.

In 2018 these lathes were in the $3K range. I'd not like to spend what they're going for today.....but everything goes up with time.

The thing makes good parts. It's paid for itself quite a few times over the 6yrs I've owned it.

Would I like a better lathe? You betcha, but I'm not a snob...........and my money is spread over livestock, and related farm equipment. The budget has to be parsed out over a wide range of stuff.

Bottom line............I'd buy it again. Keep it well oiled, and it'll treat you right. Just don't push it. I have many hours on mine,, and so far it hasn't let me down. These are about the smallest lathe that you can get by with, and do decent work.

Try to get a commitment from your seller that covers problems that crop up within a reasonable amount of time. I hadn't thought of it, but luckily I had the good fortune to deal with a good outfit. I did not purchase the lathe from Grizzly, but another dealer that's been in the biz for many years.

One closing remark..................... These are splash oiled headstocks. I run the lathe in neutral for a few minutes to get oil up on the trough that runs around the top of the headstock. This allows oil to flow through the hole in the trough to the spindle bearings to pre-oil them before I spin the chuck. Then I run the chuck at 70rpm for a few minutes before running at speed. In the Winter I don't fire it up until the heaters take the chill out of the shop. Nothing worse than running a cold machine IMHO. Regardless of the season.......warm your bearings up before using the machine..........takes a little time to run them till they're warm, but it's cheaper than ruining your machine.
 
Thanks for all the replies thus far.

It is obvious many of you have strong negative feelings about import lathes. It's understandable specially if one has only been using name brand lathes all their lives and know what a good lathe feels like.

That being said, my options are limited even in terms of the weight of the machine as my workshop is not on ground level so I would not sleep easy knowing there is a 4000 pound lathe sitting on top of someone's roof.

I'd like to stick to one that is no heavier than 2,000 pounds for this reason so even though my dealer sells some decent looking Bochi lathes, they all start at 4,400 lbs which is too heavy to begin with.

I will keep looking for other options however maybe a used quality lathe that is reasonably new and in good condition would be my best option but even then I doubt that its weight wouldn't be an issue.
 
Ok so I found another brand new Chinese lathe that seems to be way more heavy duty and robust than the previous. The Baoji BJ-1640GD.

The dealer is asking 10k $ for it and it is a beast of a lathe at 1700 kg.

Should I for this one instead if my ceiling can support the weight?
 

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For making wooden drum sticks?

Not quite but good guess!

I really need it to assist me in making parts for some machines like a hydraulic press, wood chopper, belt grinder, press brake etc.

Will be using it also to design custom made feet for tables and machines, square off parts prior to welding, make tools for my welding table etc.
 
I have no issue with import machines, just the machine that you showed in your original post. I have worked with a very similar lathe and it was not a pleasant experience. The cross slide was just to flimsy for me to do anything useful with it in a reasonable amount of time. the second one looks to be a little more robust, and would probably meet your needs a little better. Though at 1700 kg you may want to reinforce the joists where you're going to install it, if it's on a upper level.
 
Not quite but good guess!

I really need it to assist me in making parts for some machines like a hydraulic press, wood chopper, belt grinder, press brake etc.

Will be using it also to design custom made feet for tables and machines, square off parts prior to welding, make tools for my welding table etc.

So it doesn't sound like you're looking for toolroom precision and something with maybe a 14" swing will do.

With your $5,000 or so budget I would first look for a good used Euro or US machine but if non are available then find a used Chinese or Taiwan unit for 1/2 the price and spend the other half on good used tooling. When you need to upgrade dump the China LSO and get a better one.

There must be some used machines in eastern Europe or the middle east?
 
The OP directly mentioned “Chinese” lathe. I don’t think any of the responses have dissuaded him on the basis of country of origin. The bench lathe above is an objectively poor design and execution.

I’ve got a Bochi lathe, 20” over the cross-slide, 80” centres. Something like 38” in the gap. It’s no DSG or American, but it’s less than 20 years old and is tight/accurate. It’s hilarious in the sense that the design is a giant 7” x 12”.

Whoever designed the rapids should get life imprisonment though. The wiring to the carriage has broken multiple times shorting 600 VAC to the machine. I’ve opted to go without for safety’s sake.
 
I’ve got a Bochi lathe, 20” over the cross-slide, 80” centres. Something like 38” in the gap. It’s no DSG or American, but it’s less than 20 years old and is tight/accurate. It’s hilarious in the sense that the design is a giant 7” x 12”.

Whoever designed the rapids should get life imprisonment though. The wiring to the carriage has broken multiple times shorting 600 VAC to the machine. I’ve opted to go without for safety’s sake.
I hope that the machine frame is solidly grounded to the power system safety ground.
 
I've been looking around for used lathes but they all seem to be very old and in bad condition.

Shame the market here is so small that I can't even find a nice American or EU made unit.

That being said, I will most probably get the Baoji lathe.

I am also looking for a milling machine and found this one.

Also Chinese made but seems to be highly spec'd with a DRO on 3 axes and power feed on the table and knee.

The head of the unit tilts, rotates, nods and slides backwards and forwards.

The seller is asking 8 k $ for it. It's a bit much I think but I don't think I will find anything better new here.

What do you guys think?
 

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