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    Default Best budget CNC lathe

    Hi,
    I'm looking to update my workshop and move on from my 70s Harrison 15" lathe and into the world of CNC. (Already got rid of the AJAX knee mill for a Haas Vfoe...)

    So, what would anybody recommend as the best bang for buck lathe?

    Old or new, well known vs. unknown, I'm all ears and would be interested to see if there is any concensus in the response!

    I'm probably in the game of £10grand cash or seeking out the best value loan / finance deal and most importantly want to edge towards something not too costly to repair. It's no good if it lasts a week and there's no parts left in the world...

    Capability. Not sure, my work has ranged from model engineering parts to as big as my lathe can handle, so it's a job narrowing the requirement down. I'm thinking Field of dreams - If you "own a cnc lathe", "work will" come.

    I know, this machine may not even exist but as above, let me know your thoughts either way.

    Thanks, Tom.

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    Something used, nothing new within the £10k budget is worth having really.

    Most of the responses you'll get are going to be asking what you plan to use it for in terms of part size, batch sizes, materials, having 3 phase and how much space you have.

    £10k can get you something reasonable in the UK if you watch all the machine dealers and wait.

    As an example I got a used Hardinge CHNC which had been retrofitted with a Fanuc 21i-T control in 1999 just over 5 years ago for £5000 including delivery and siting exc VAT.

    I also got an Emco Turn 325 made in 2000 with a Fanuc 21TB control in very good clean condition for £8000 delivered exc VAT a couple of years ago.

    Both are small lathes, the CHNC weighs 1250kg and the 325 is about 800kg and as such they have pretty limited capacities but are able to do the majority of the parts I want to make one way or another. Said limited capacities are likely to be why they didn't cost too much, I did get offered another 325 for about £4000 last year but due to space and not looking in amazing condition I passed on it, I was told it was fully functioning with all the manuals and could be viewed running though.

    The Hardinge CHNC has broken down once every year since I've had it without fail but so far most of the repairs have been quite cheap, most expensive being £200 and the cheapest being about £0.80 for some new electrical connectors on the turret, loss of production time is the killer though and if you have to call a service engineer in that'll cost you ££. I wouldn't advise a CHNC anymore either as Hardinge no longer support all the turret parts, I needed a new encoder board at the start of the year and was told they don't have any in stock and will not be having any more in stock, ended up fixing it myself for about £50.

    When it comes to looking for a used CNC lathe I have a few simple rules,

    It has to be a Fanuc 18 or newer control (Much older Fanuc controls are still very well supported I should add).

    Must have all the manuals with it, or I must be able to obtain them easily straight away.

    The original MTB must still be operating, or in the case of the Emco the main part builders which are Emco, Fanuc, Rohm and Sauter.

    I must be able to view the machine under power and see all elements operating.

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    Thanks Rob.

    You're not the first one to suggest the hardinge. I had been looking at the Haas CT1 since it's all over YouTube but then someone mentioned that it's much like the hcnc but with a bigger headstock bore.

    HARDINGE CHNC1 CHUCKER AND BAR CNC LATHE WITH BAR FEED | eBay

    Wouldn't be too bothered by such a small bar capacity either, it could still do runs of small model engineering parts so that could justify it's existence, and for bigger stuff I obviously wouldn't begrudge opening the door and putting in the material myself!

    Not clear on what the fixture thing is on the headstock is though...anyone?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hend.engineering View Post
    Thanks Rob.

    You're not the first one to suggest the hardinge. I had been looking at the Haas CT1 since it's all over YouTube but then someone mentioned that it's much like the hcnc but with a bigger headstock bore.

    HARDINGE CHNC1 CHUCKER AND BAR CNC LATHE WITH BAR FEED | eBay

    Wouldn't be too bothered by such a small bar capacity either, it could still do runs of small model engineering parts so that could justify it's existence, and for bigger stuff I obviously wouldn't begrudge opening the door and putting in the material myself!

    Not clear on what the fixture thing is on the headstock is though...anyone?
    Those things have serious rigidity issues. It is basically a Hardinge HC with a CNC control retrofitted to it.

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    We make our daily bread with a TL1. It runs on single phase, its well supported (at least where I live), if you have a Haas mill you will have 0 problems learning how to program it. I've seen used ones for $15k and up, a little over the OP's budget but still very reasonable. Spindle bore is 2-1/16" or 2-1/8". And it is designed for CNC from the get go, its not a retrofit frankenlathe.

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    I was going to say an older Okuma LB-15 or Cincinnati Hawk for 10 grand would be a good choice. But, then remembered the Cinci was made in UK then did a google search. Plenty of them in your area. Built like a tank, most rigid tailstock I've ever used on a general purpose turning center. never has to be leveled, and the A-2100 controller is still years ahead of most things out now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hend.engineering View Post
    Thanks Rob.

    You're not the first one to suggest the hardinge. I had been looking at the Haas CT1 since it's all over YouTube but then someone mentioned that it's much like the hcnc but with a bigger headstock bore.

    HARDINGE CHNC1 CHUCKER AND BAR CNC LATHE WITH BAR FEED | eBay

    Wouldn't be too bothered by such a small bar capacity either, it could still do runs of small model engineering parts so that could justify it's existence, and for bigger stuff I obviously wouldn't begrudge opening the door and putting in the material myself!

    Not clear on what the fixture thing is on the headstock is though...anyone?
    The part ontop of the headstock is the hydraulic cutoff/partoff slide, I think that was an option on them as mine still has original paint on the mounting area, potentially pretty useful but also something that'll add a chunk of weight and load of extra potential seals to fail.

    I've had my eye on that CHNC and imo I think the price is still too high, they started it at £8000, I'd start to consider it at £4000 exc VAT and I'd want to know if the spindle drive and motor are Fanuc parts as well, if they are it'd be worth a bit more to me.

    If you went the CHNC route you'd need a fair bit of compressed air, the collet closers on their own are air hogs and the turrets on all but the newest ones are air driven and can be very tempermental at times, I've more or less given up using the turret on mine and run it as a gang tool lathe most of the time to save the hassle, it's not reliable enough to be able to walk away and let it run using the turret to do tool changes.

    I have rejigged the air hose setup on mine so only the collet closer is using air constantly and my Swan 1hp low noise compressor can cope but it has to work hard, really it needs a 3hp compressor dedicated to it, that one on eBay is much newer so I would hope the collet closer would use less air.


    Haas CL1 wise from what I understand the price is really quite high for what it is, I got a quote on the OL1 some years back and the Haas rep told me I'd be better with a TL1 which costs less running a gang tool setup. If I wanted a small lathe with 1" bar capacity for the kind of money they want for an OL1 or CL1 I'd go to Emco and buy an E25 (the current version of my 325) and be done with it, I don't think they're much bigger but you get a tailstock and conventional turret on a slant bed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by theperfessor View Post
    .....its not a retrofit frankenlathe.
    That one caught me off guard.....
    Good thing I didn't have my coffe cup at my face.

    But I agree, a used Haas will be better than an old beatup retrofitted machine.

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    Your budget means used, and old used, and probably limited to ebay. Very few dealers are going to have anything in that price bracket.

    There are some not terrible options though, but there are also some things to avoid at all costs, so I'll go through those first.

    Hitachi Seiki - lots of those around and within your budget, and very nice machines so they are very tempting. But! HS no longer exists so if anything goes wrong with it it's retrofit or boat anchor. *

    Cincinatti - as mentioned by g-coder above. Solid machines for sure, but the acramatic control is abandoned and the kollmorgen motors/drives are expensive to source or repair. *

    Anything with an Anilam control - again lots of these around in the UK. Completely obsolete and unsupported. **

    Old Mazaks are very poorly supported in the UK. *

    Old Gildemeister lathes are not uncommon in the UK, and are nice machines, but old Siemens servos and motors are expensive to source or repair, and control parts are sort of available from one place in Germany at substantial cost. **

    Within the confines of your budget, I strongly recommend you stick to something with a Fanuc control. Generally the worst user experience of all available options, but by far the least likely to leave you dead in the water with no chance of recovery. Parts are plentiful and less likely to break the bank if you need them - to be clear, I'm talking about control/electronic parts. Mechanical parts are a different matter and you'll need to do your own homework on that.

    The offerings on ebay right now are pretty much limited to these two:

    Colchester CNC 2000 Lathe Machine with Fanuc OT Control + Duplomatic 4xTurret | eBay

    CNC Lathe | eBay

    there is a CHNC1 too, but they are not general purpose lathes.

    * Second hand information to me, no direct experience.
    ** From personal experience.

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    Must say, thank you ever so much everybody for the brilliant input! Last thing I was expecting was to end up bewildered with choice.

    Thoughts as it stands...
    1. Apparently you can legitimately live and earn that bread and butter from the most simple CNC machine such as the Haas TL 1.
    Bar feeds, auto chucks, multi station turrets, y-axis, driven tools - All can be lived without.
    2. That said, to what degree would I be limiting my capability once up to speed by going for a simple CNC conventinal lathe like the Colchester 2000 VS perhaps the Emco or a Hardinge fully enclosed machine with a few more bells and whistles?
    3. Am I over thinking it, and there's no shame or great problem in walking before I can run? (Particularly since I can always sell and move up a notch when the time comes.)

    I do also wonder whether I should stay well within my means or borrow and push the boat out but anyway...

    Cnc lathe machine | eBay

    Thoughts?

    Thanks again,
    Tom.

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    Sorry, of course, dodge the Seiki!

    It looks good in some respects, tool setter is a definite plus but if it's one fried circuit from being a boat anchor, it is a little offputting.

    My VFOE as supported as it is had an issue with a main board, which cirularly killed / was killed by a drive card and then something else and I've been nearly in tears with how quickly and expensively things can go wrong.

    So yeah, unsupported is lost sleep I could certainly do without.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gregormarwick View Post
    ......Hitachi Seiki - lots of those around and within your budget, and very nice machines so they are very tempting. But! HS no longer exists so if anything goes wrong with it it's retrofit or boat anchor. *.......
    Quote Originally Posted by hend.engineering View Post
    Sorry, of course, dodge the Seiki!

    It looks good in some respects, tool setter is a definite plus but if it's one fried circuit from being a boat anchor, it is a little offputting.......
    The smaller Hitachis from the 90s (HT20SII for example) were a bit too lightly built for my tastes. Fast tho...

    Not many Japanese machines from that era that I would avoid, but Hitachi is at the top of that short list.

    The bulk of the control was Yaskawa and the drives all Yaskawa so replacements for that stuff is pretty easily had. The firmware was Hitachi and had all sorts of coolness but also all sorts of special non-user documented procedures for clearing errors and setting data. Divine help or someone that had loads of HS experience from 20+ years ago will be needed to keep one going long term.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gregormarwick View Post
    Your budget means used, and old used, and probably limited to ebay. Very few dealers are going to have anything in that price bracket.
    Kind of true, dealers such as Percy Martin don't seem to have much in that price bracket anymore although I got my CHNC from them and generally I think the asking prices for a lot of used machines is on the high side but there are dealers who ask more sensible prices and offer some machines at the cheaper end of the scale.

    Some examples,

    Colchester Tornado 200 - Machining Solutions

    MHP MT80 | traceymachinery

    KiaTurn 15LMS - Machining Solutions (Over £10k but not half bad for a 2005 machine with Fanuc control and live tools)

    Machines for sale – Prime Machine Tools (Takisawa TC20 at the bottom, £8k)

    None of those may be a good fit for you but there are machines out there, I check most of the machine dealers in the UK every few days incase something good comes up because there are good deals to be had if you accept that you'll spend some of your savings against buying new on repairs, I check eBay almost daily.

    One thing I have noticed is Haas and XYZ Proturn machines have daft asking prices used, so high it's really questionable why you wouldn't just get the extra cash together and buy new sometimes.

    Gildemeister lathes do look nice but the service tech I used to use before he moved too far away said to avoid them at all cost, Hitachi Seiki also look very nice but unless it is one of the rarer ones that had a Fanuc control I think they're too much of a risk unless you get it so cheap in working condition that you can run it for a while then part it out as spare parts to recoup the purchase cost.


    On the note of the CHNC being a frankenlathe it is true to some extent, the way the enclosures are designed means the swarf goes everywhere and they take an age to clean, I've not had any issues with rigidity though, it's all pretty beefy for what it's intended for.

    My Emco Turn 325 was clearly designed to only be a CNC turning centre and all the swarf is contained in a very small area, the chip evacuation is straight down into a huge tray and the coolant return is very well thought out. Still, for a simple small part that only requires a small number of tools or 2nd op work the CHNC is the lathe of choice.

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    You're not going to get anything that's close to "state of the art" but, I make very good parts on 30+ year old CNCs and they still have lots of life left in them.

    Someone mentioned an Okuma LB-15. I own one, a 1983. Basic 2 axis with a tailstock and an OSP 5000 CNC. It's built rugged, the OSP is powerful and fast, and it can really chow metal and make money. They're plentiful on ebay and used machinery sites. My dad bought this one brand new, I took it out of the box, and it still makes good parts and holds tenths.

    You might also want to look at an old Mori Seiki. I have a 1986 SL3-H and it's also built rugged and a great money maker. Fanuc controlled and bullet proof. Another inherited machine, I also took this one out of the box new and it also still holds tenths.

    Both of these machines and their controllers still have parts and support even after all these years.

    One thing to look out for is that lathes have a propensity to incur more collision damage than mills. It seems to look like that to me anyway. I looked at a LOT of CNC lathes and I've seen some real WRECKS. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

    I agree with another poster on certain requirements on a used CNC.
    A) No orphans, the builder must still be in business
    B) The control must still be supported.
    C) Older is ok, if you just need a 2 axis/tailstock lathe.
    D) Manuals, tool holders and schematics must be provided or available. Be careful, some of these cost more than the machine!

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    For your price range I would stick with Fanuc controls, you can still get parts and repairs for 40 year old models. Yasnacs aren't too bad either for that and Yaskawa has a pretty good collection of manuals for free download. You don't want to buy something with a rare unsupported control, no matter how low the asking price.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob L View Post
    Some examples,

    Colchester Tornado 200 - Machining Solutions

    MHP MT80 | traceymachinery

    KiaTurn 15LMS - Machining Solutions (Over £10k but not half bad for a 2005 machine with Fanuc control and live tools)

    Machines for sale – Prime Machine Tools (Takisawa TC20 at the bottom, £8k)


    One thing I have noticed is Haas and XYZ Proturn machines have daft asking prices used, so high it's really questionable why you wouldn't just get the extra cash together and buy new sometimes.
    Tempted with the CHNC, but for an extra few quid, the choices above do seem quite attractive. XYZ, Harrison etc. all seem silly money for their basic abilities and poor swarf and coolant control, it's still a machine that needs attending practically full time.

    Picking through the list,
    1. the MT-80 is just too big - 8.5tons! I'd never be able to move it into my workshop!
    2. The Kia, that thing has a high bang for buck coefficient. Should I save up?
    3. The Tornado and the Takisawa - Can someone help me pick through the spec and differences? I must say, for the money the Colchester really does seem a good deal, it's not too big, not so small that it isn't flexible either. (Best place to find a spec sheet, or do I just call the dealer / Colchester themselves?!)

    Can anyone chip in with some Pros and cons between takisawa and the Colchester? Colchester does seem very good value.


    HELP!

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    2. The Kia, that thing has a high bang for buck coefficient. Should I save up?
    I had several of the 15's and 21's. Absolute wonderful machine until you have to do maintenance. They hold tenths all day, loads of power, A "C" axis break that's not budging. The sub spindle has a whopping amount of axial thrust if you need to use a center

    Drawbacks
    The Hydraulic return tubing is garbage and you start fishing that thing through all those tiny spaces you'll start rethinking child labor.
    The turret Has to be loaded with weight distributed evenly. It will let loose and swing freely during a tool change.
    The code can be a bit tricky
    The manuals are poorly translated with a little fat kid pointing to pictures trying to explain stuff.

    I was also the Takisawa dealer when Powermatic in Mcminnville. TN was importing them for a short time. Heavy built, A bit slow on travels, didn't like the manual position tailstock, Super accurate with lots of torque. I would put one side by side with the Okuma LB's any day.

    Takisawa is not much on giving support for older machines so if you call you may wait a few days while they deal with newer customers.

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