mini lathe or lathe advice and recommendations needed
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    Default mini lathe or lathe advice and recommendations needed

    I am at the point with my shop and racing where I have on demand needs for small, one off parts to be made. A spacer here, a washer there etc.

    Mostly I would be handling nylon or delrin and aluminum, with occasional steel. And sometimes i will need to cut threads. Mostly metric.

    The length of material would probably not be more than 6 inches long.. However, maybe longer at times. Diameter of material probably not more than two inches. But sometimes turning the OD down to certain sizes.

    SO I need something that is relatively easy to use and setup. Something that is mostly accurate and repeatable. And also something that is not a pile of crap.

    And no, I have zero tooling.

    Any help or insight would be appreciated

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    A good used Hardinge HLV-H-EM would do what you describe, or a new Taiwan copy (Hardinge stopped making them).

    There are cheaper machines, but few better machines. If you buy a $2000 lathe to learn on, you will eventually wish you had something a lot better. But if you wreck the cheaper lathe you are learning on, you will be glad you did not wreck a good lathe. Your choice.

    Larry

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    A decent HLV EM isn't going to come cheap. I'd think any decent SB or Logan, set up with transposing gears, would do just fine. Spend what you saved on chucks and tooling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by L Vanice View Post
    A good used Hardinge HLV-H-EM would do what you describe, or a new Taiwan copy (Hardinge stopped making them).

    There are cheaper machines, but few better machines. If you buy a $2000 lathe to learn on, you will eventually wish you had something a lot better. But if you wreck the cheaper lathe you are learning on, you will be glad you did not wreck a good lathe. Your choice.

    Larry
    I googled those. Indeed out of my budget range. Like I said, These are small one off pieces that are usually needed at 11pm at the night before a race. I don't need a $25,000 plus machine for that. Just a bit overkill. Unless I was a baller... Which I am not. Which thank you, for assuming that I might be. lol

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    Fuck it I'd go with the harbor freight mini lathe.

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    This will prolly get locked so don't be offended, see the stickies at the top.

    Emco (Austria) made some very nice small lathes that are very accurate and not cheap import "crap".

    Emco Lathes & Millers

    I have a Super 11 and love it, they come up on Fleebay, Craigslist etc.

    There's fairly active groups at: [email protected] | Topics [email protected] | Topics

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    Are we talking Formula 1 racing, or just low budget rally/roundy round type racing? I'm guessing low budget, so that is where my advice comes from, just about any 12" x 36" lathe from USA or foreign sources will do as long as its not a beat to death POS, and even if in less pristine condition, to a point, will work. Search CL/FB daily, watch for auctions in your area, be ready to jump when a nice one pops up. Do you want plug and play (you will most likely pay$$), or are you open to a project/clean up? If open to a project you might want to stick to Southbend or Logan, both were plentiful (spare parts and tooling) and have at least some support. What is your price range?

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    I think dalmatiangirl probably gave the best and most balanced advice.

    I work in a semi truck and heavy equipment shop, and we do everything with a old Jet 12x24 lathe, and a chinese round-column mill. The boss found them on craig list last summer for 2k for the whole package with tooling.

    At home I use a 1945 South Bend that came tooled up for less than 2k and it included all the metric gears.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Keeley View Post
    This will prolly get locked so don't be offended, see the stickies at the top.

    Emco (Austria) made some very nice small lathes that are very accurate and not cheap import "crap".

    Emco Lathes & Millers

    I have a Super 11 and love it, they come up on Fleebay, Craigslist etc.

    There's fairly active groups at: [email protected] | Topics [email protected] | Topics
    I hope it doesn't get locked. I already used the search feature before I posted to see of there was any pertinent postings. If there were, they were buried. There has been some good information posted here so far. I have no desire to get a cheap asian import if the 4th time I use it , it breaks. Then what was the point. But I have no point of reference with them. And while I am an expert in lots of areas, Lathes are not one of them. So I ask the people that are experts. If the experts here can help me narrow down to brands and models to looks for, then when one becomes available, I will be prepared to purchase.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dalmatiangirl61 View Post
    Are we talking Formula 1 racing, or just low budget rally/roundy round type racing? I'm guessing low budget, so that is where my advice comes from, just about any 12" x 36" lathe from USA or foreign sources will do as long as its not a beat to death POS, and even if in less pristine condition, to a point, will work. Search CL/FB daily, watch for auctions in your area, be ready to jump when a nice one pops up. Do you want plug and play (you will most likely pay$$), or are you open to a project/clean up? If open to a project you might want to stick to Southbend or Logan, both were plentiful (spare parts and tooling) and have at least some support. What is your price range?
    We are talking motorcycle racing. Everything from road racing to flat track to supermoto. I really don't want a non working project. I need working. Dirty is fine. Being able to cut metric threads is a deal breaker. If I know what to narrow my searching for, Brand and model. Or what specific accessories need to be with it, that will help me out immensely. Heck, even what to stay away from helps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mdr14 View Post
    We are talking motorcycle racing. Everything from road racing to flat track to supermoto. I really don't want a non working project. I need working. Dirty is fine. Being able to cut metric threads is a deal breaker. If I know what to narrow my searching for, Brand and model. Or what specific accessories need to be with it, that will help me out immensely. Heck, even what to stay away from helps.
    Metric Emco Maximat 11 if you can find one. With D1-4 spindle ideally but I'd take the earlier one rather than wait.

    Not going to be super cheap but more than capable of doing what you want. You'll not likely ever need to buy another machine in this size range.

    They had the transposing gears available so the metric one could cut a wide range of inch threads and vice versa.

    I have one so I know what I'm saying. And I do quite a lot of stainless steel on it without dramas so the softer stuff is a piece of cake.

    PDW

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    I think something like the JET lathe would be pretty good, covers all the basics.

    JET GHB-1236 GH Bench Lathe

    But pay attention to the tooling you would have to buy separately to make it useable for your application. With proper care it should last for decades. We've got something similar in my shop (older model)

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    Quote Originally Posted by mdr14 View Post
    We are talking motorcycle racing. Everything from road racing to flat track to supermoto. I really don't want a non working project. I need working. Dirty is fine. Being able to cut metric threads is a deal breaker. If I know what to narrow my searching for, Brand and model. Or what specific accessories need to be with it, that will help me out immensely. Heck, even what to stay away from helps.
    Keep an eye out for a Standard-Modern 1334, you throw a lever to switch from Imperial to metric, no fussing with swapping gears. Lots of these were used in schools and can be found on the used market, a year ago they were going for 3-5K used with minimal tooling, not sure about today. Note, you can spend as much, or more, on tooling as you can on a bare machine, so if you find something well tooled at right price, jump.

    New
    Standard Modern Lathe Model 1334, 13" Swing - SM-1334 - Penn Tool Co., Inc

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    One thing I didn't realize about an inch machine cutting metric threads is that you have to leave the half nut engaged until the thread is completed,at least my S11 is this way. You can't disengage and pick up the thread again on a thread dial, you have to stop the machine, retract the feed and reverse direction. Without a three phase motor and VFD to control the speed to a crawl this is tricky, especially threading to a shoulder.

    So don't shy away from three phase, VFD's can be had pretty cheap these days. ABB Low Voltage AC Drive ACS55-01E-01A4-2 | eBay

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry Keeley View Post
    One thing I didn't realize about an inch machine cutting metric threads is that you have to leave the half nut engaged until the thread is completed,at least my S11 is this way. You can't disengage and pick up the thread again on a thread dial, you have to stop the machine, retract the feed and reverse direction. Without a three phase motor and VFD to control the speed to a crawl this is tricky, especially threading to a shoulder.

    So don't shy away from three phase, VFD's can be had pretty cheap these days. ABB Low Voltage AC Drive ACS55-01E-01A4-2 | eBay
    This is true but it also applies to a lot of the metric threads on a metric lathe unless you want to fuck about with a bunch of different indicator dials on the indicator. Unless it's a natural fraction/multiple of the leadscrew I leave the half nuts engaged.

    Yes this makes life interesting threading to a shoulder... Makes me appreciate the single tooth clutch on my Monarch CY lathe.

    PDW

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    Quote Originally Posted by plastikdreams View Post
    Fuck it I'd go with the harbor freight mini lathe.
    That's surely sorts the "f**k it" part anyway.

    Now what's yer plan for making a plastic washer?

    ??

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    I'd be going for a metric machine with a metric Ainjest threading attachment.
    40mm spindle bore minimum, with an 8" chuck, and you can cut threads highspeed all day, without worrying about hitting a brake and reversing etc.
    UK choices would be a Colchester Master, (with gap bed), or a Harrison M350.

    If you have more money available, a Prototrak 1630

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    Quote Originally Posted by mdr14 View Post
    I googled those. Indeed out of my budget range. Like I said, These are small one off pieces that are usually needed at 11pm at the night before a race. I don't need a $25,000 plus machine for that. Just a bit overkill. Unless I was a baller... Which I am not. Which thank you, for assuming that I might be. lol
    Money would go further. Time would expand if.. you invested in a bigger "Hell Box" of one to three of all manner of oddball washers, shims, spacers, fasteners, and-then-also... comprehensive sets of taps, dies, and thread-restorer files.

    ...then planned better.

    So you could take a sketch to someone - a "machinist", mayhap.. or even a talented hobbyist... who was already equipped ... and experienced.. so as to have a part - plus a spare, if it made sense - made for you.

    Before it ever became an 11 PM 'emergency'.

    Folk who haven't done a LOT of setup & machining to the point where it is second-nature, (job shop.. repairs, particularly..) GROSSLY underestimate the cost in space, power, tooling, METROLOGY, a stash of materials.

    And TIME.

    Not always easy to even clearly understand what they need to do to prevail, to what, with what, and in what sequence.

    Then end up fiddle-farting around "making" stuff for long, long hours ... often more than just the first attempt at it..

    ...instead of doing whatever their PRIME directive HAD been WITH it for lesser hours.

    That they (used to) enjoy.

    To the good.. being owned by a new hobby is likely to cure you of the former one, if only off the back of the distraction.

    To the good... you might stand better odds of keeping both ankles functional going into old-age.

    You do know about ankles and pushing the limits at two-wheeling? Starting to make "parts" yah shudda already had handy at 11 at night is a good way to not be at yer best when yah straddle the bike.

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    I can't mention the name outright due to forum rules but the USA-made long bed S******e could handle parts of that size and is accurate enough for such work. Equip it with some aftermarket tooling such as a QCTP and a real 3-jaw chuck, plus keyless drill chucks and it would be more convenient to use than awkward stock setup. These are quite common in engineering labs and work surprisingly well on small parts.

    They come in inch and metric models and have full factory support for spares.

    Major PITA on these is no quick change gearbox or half nut on lead screw, but for small parts the optional hand crank (with motor unplugged) works surprisingly well for threading.

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    For an occasional user as you plan to be ease of operation and minimising the chances of messing up parts at "hurry-up its nearly midnight" are an important consideration and pretty much independent of machine.

    Whatever machine you get a DRO system makes life much easier for the inexperienced. Generally its a bit of a squeeze fitting the scales onto lathes smaller than 10" swing which pushes you towards the more industrial sized machines rather than the bench school-hobby sizes like the common SouthBend 9".

    Not such a bad thing as a heavier machine is much more "just walk up and do it" than the smaller ones which tend to need a bit of care and sympathy to get the best out of them. The Jet suggested by pavt looks an adequately hefty machine if you need new or nearly new. The Emco machines suggested by Terry and PDW are decent but, to my mind, somewhat on the lightweight side.

    Hobby size machines in any sort of decent condition tend to be expensive for what you get.

    Assuming you have floors of adequate load carrying capacity a small industrial rated machine takes up only marginally more space than something like a bench mount SouthBend. At first glance aSouthBend, Emco or similar looks usefully smaller but all you really gain is shelf space under the bench! My "small" lathe a 10" x 24" Smart & Brown 1024 toolroom machine sits in the same corner as was once occupied by a SouthBend 9". Cost me bout 6" of floor space both ways for enormously greater capability.

    If you have a VFD drive feed / screw-cutting up to a stop will be much easier if you can arrange a microswitch device clamping to the bed and connected to the VFD stop control. This will switch off the VFD at the same point each time. Given a short deceleration ramp time setting the over-run after switching will be both short and very repeatable so can easily be compensated for. The switch actuator device will need to accommodate the over travel. A VFD also makes it easy to arrange slow feed / fast return for screw cutting without disengaging the half nut. Basically two switch selected speeds and a forward reverse switch on a single lever. Best done with the lever fixed to the apron with flying wires to the switch or, better, sliding along a rod connected to a fixed switch like the third rod clutch control on many industrial machines. Thse sort of refinements take a bit of sorting out in the first place but make life far easier for the occasional user.

    For parting off duties invest in a decent carbide tip and blade system. Vastly easier to use and far more effective than any HSS system.

    Ainjest and similar systems as suggested by barbter are great but somewhat overkill unless you are doing lots o threading. Not quite as easy to use as the experienced folk think.

    Clive

    PS +1 for what Thermite says about set-up costs and stash needed to do "anything" that might surface at 10-30 pm. Let alone the time needed to learn another "hobby job". Now I'm officially retired I'm the local guy folk bring things too. Even with the thick end of £100,000 at new replacement kit in the workshop (cost me lots less) I still haveto be creative to do some jobs.

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