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Considering a TRAK or manual engine lathe

Legdoc

Aluminum
Joined
Dec 14, 2009
Location
Texas
I sold my virtually unused ROMI C420 and am looking for a replacement. I am considering a new TRAK 1845 RX or a slightly used Hwacheon manual machine. This will be for mostly one off's, no real production. I understand the advantages of conversational CNC control and don't have the desire to learn CAD. A manual machine will certainly do and I acknowledge it's limitations.
My question is are there any members that can comment about the TRAK unit and any recent SWI customer service experience? There was little to no support from ROMI. I did not want to be held hostage with electronic repair coming from out of state.
Any reply would be appreciated!
 

Dan from Oakland

Titanium
Joined
Sep 15, 2005
Location
Oakland, CA
A buddy has a Trak lath e in the model shop he works in. They inherited it from a sister division. It was like new when they got it . After getting it powered up, he could see why it had little use. Iron was nice and shiny, coolant sump was unaccessable and difficult to clean- little things kinda funky but it seem to "work". The programming is pretty bizarre if you know anything about programming a conventional CNC. If ya dont want to learn any CAD how would this be a better solution? Suppose it all depends on what you are used to. Its not his favorite machine, but he makes parts on it.
 

Joe Miranda

Titanium
Joined
Oct 19, 2004
Location
Elyria Ohio
I have two Trak lathes and I think they are priceless for one offs and low production (although we have made some 50+ piece runs of tow motor shafts on one of them). I love the "Do One" feature on them for cutting chamfers and radiis. Also, the newer one has a thread chasing cycle that works very good for repairing threads. I use CAM for all of our mills but I have always only used the machine's control to program the lathes. I love them and have helped several others get started with them when they got one so if you move ahead with one let me know and I will do what I can over the phone.

Some of the negatives are the way they made the sheet metal it is hard to get at the chuck to tighten it up so I made a super long key that makes it much easier. On the older machine, the position of the lube pump was stupid; you needed a 2 foot long funnel to fill it (I ended up moving it to the front of the machine like it should have been in the first place). Probably a couple other dislikes if I thought about it but that's all I can come up with right now.
 

M.B. Naegle

Titanium
Joined
Feb 7, 2011
Location
Conroe, TX USA
I have two Trak lathes and I think they are priceless for one offs and low production (although we have made some 50+ piece runs of tow motor shafts on one of them). I love the "Do One" feature on them for cutting chamfers and radiis. Also, the newer one has a thread chasing cycle that works very good for repairing threads. I use CAM for all of our mills but I have always only used the machine's control to program the lathes. I love them and have helped several others get started with them when they got one so if you move ahead with one let me know and I will do what I can over the phone.

Some of the negatives are the way they made the sheet metal it is hard to get at the chuck to tighten it up so I made a super long key that makes it much easier. On the older machine, the position of the lube pump was stupid; you needed a 2 foot long funnel to fill it (I ended up moving it to the front of the machine like it should have been in the first place). Probably a couple other dislikes if I thought about it but that's all I can come up with right now.
We did the same "mod" with our chuck key, cutting and welding a bar in to lengthen it.

In general, I think their concept and quality is good for what they are. They are not meant to go to toes with a full G-code CNC lathe and are perfect for simple ops or onesy-twosy stuff that you need to put together on the fly. My biggest gripe with them is their overall physical design is poor IMO. It strikes me that they took a CAD assembly of a manual conventional lathe, and just started stacking all the CNC bits onto it. It's almost like their lead engineer had no clue how CNC lathes are built, but had experience with Windows based automation and manual machining. It's ergonomic for the operator to a point, but sucks for chip removal, maintenance, or even finding parts that fly off who knows where. Tool change turret is an option on the bigger lathers (I think over 14" swing?), but it's super "added on" with poor integration physically or control-wise. They are also messy as they are not fully enclosed (which is odd given there's so much sheet metal in the way). We added some long bristle nylon brush strips around the door and some extra plexi-glass on the right to help the splatter. They could help their product out so much by doing a full redesign, but based on putting their conversational control on a standard slant bed platform and having better integration for the turret.

If you have a CNC shop with CAD/CAM capability already, a teach machine like the Trak stuff isn't that great, except for maybe a 2nd op machine (which they do tend to market a bit towards that. If you have a manual shop and are looking for a quick way to get automated, they are perfect for that. We're looking forward to upgrading ours though (have a Doosan Lynx quoted) as we outgrew it's novelty a long time ago. If we had the space though, it would stay in the shop for what it does.
 
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