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  1. #1
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    Gentleman,

    As some of you may know, I sold off my last SB 13" lathe, with the sole intent of upgrading to a 10EE, thus finally acquiring my "Dream" lathe of many years...

    Anyhow, I have actually held off, in hopes of finding the "Right" lathe for me, but I have recently been thinking about getting into some Gunsmithing, and taking on all the challenges of this fine form of metalworking.
    Enough personal drama!

    Back to the lathe.
    My questions are in regards to WHAT makes a good gunsmithing lathe? Simply put, WHICH lathes would make good gunsmithing lathes????
    I'm interested to hear about any and all lathes, in any price range, but I'm actually most interested in lathes that fit a budget of somewhere between $1000 and maybe $3000.
    Granted, I realize it's all about the "Three C's" (Condition, Condition, Condition)!

    I just want to know what makes a good gunsmithing lathe, and what you guys prefer to use for smithing...???

    Finally, would it be safe to assume that most ANY lathe would be GREAT for handgun work, as the barrels/parts are always SHORT, to say the least?
    In other words, when it comes to finding a good gunsmithing lathe, it's really only critical, when working with long barrels/long guns/rifles?????

    Thanks so much guys...

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    depends on where your intrest lies and the methods you want to use. A 9 inch SB and the right set up is all you really need. Depends on alot of which school of thought you follow, between centers or through the headstock. One requires long bed, other needs a big spindle hole. both have advantages and disavantages.

    IMHO, unless you want to turn barrels from a basic blank, a 10L or simular is good (as long as it is accurate and you understand it) I do not know much about the 10EE but I am sure with the right methods it will be a good "gunsmithing" lathe. The only reason I use the 10L is it was available and I undrestand it ( I learned to run a lathe on 9" so I was familure with it) and it is paid for. If I had a choice, give (key word here) me an HLV and equal tooling and I would be happy.

    I think the key is the man not necessaryly the machine.

    just my $0.02

    Roger

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  4. #3
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    I would love to have a 10EE, but it is not practical for barreling work. The headstock is too long to do work in the headstock and with 20" between centers won't let you do it in the steady rest. Go to Benchrest.com and do a search. Several threads on this.
    Butch

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    "The [ 10EE ] headstock is too long to do work in the headstock ..."

    The through hole is 1-3/8", but the 5C drawtube is an astonishing 25" long.

    Yes, a VERY long headstock.


    "... and with 20" between centers won't let you do it in the steady rest."

    30" models were made, but are very rare.


    In other respects, the 10EE is more at home machining plutonium pits for thermonuclear bombs, than it is threading barrels for smokeless power rifles.

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    Gunsmithing involves relitively small parts with close fits and lots of threads.
    So - tool room size lathes are what your after.

    SBs and similar older lathe designs that still have banjos befor the thread feeds offer the ability to slip an extra gear or two into the gear train and cut almost any thread, if you can do the math.

    EE's have an excelent range of threads and feeds as well, but the distance between centers and lenght of the head stock is an issue. Also, the range of threads is a little restricted on the WWII vintage machines with round thread selection boxes. These machine are less expensive, and not as refined as the later ones.

    Having run all the lathes discussed in this thread, I think you may have parted with one of the better gunsmithing lathes when you got rid of your 13" SB

    Currently I have a EE, and a SB10L. I also have my brothers 10L and 13" SB.

    The EE is unquestinablely my favorite machine. Its easy to adjust speed and has plenty of power.

    I will keep my 10L for chambering because the head stock is shorter, and I keep trying to talk my brother out of the 13" that he loveingly restored.

    Franky the 13"SB is rigid enought for my needs. It has enough length between centers and a relitively short head stock and footprint for a lathe its size. Its only draw back is that the EE has spoiled me for power and speed.

    In my opinion the 9" SB is a fine machine, but was intended to be a hobby/ student/ tool room machine. Its just a little to light for my tastes. The 10L is a significant improvement over the 9" and with a long bed it would be a fine gunsmiths machine. Especialy if it were equiped with a 5C collet set, steady rest, tapper attachement and other accessories.

    The EE's shortcomings are its short bed and long head stock. This makes a lot of barel work difficult.

    Its also HEAVY compaired to the other lathes discussed. Amost 3000 lb and electricaly complex.

    If you want to do a litte hunting, the large Rivet (I forget the model #) that was built as a competitor to the EE is probably worth looking for. Its even heavier and has more distance between centers. Its reputation is good and its not as electricaly complex. If you intend to work on english guns, it will probalby have a better selection of threads. I have not played with this machine personaly, but it was one of three that came up when asking what is the best tool room machine made.

    Another option is a Hardinge HVL. Its not as heavy as the EE or Rivet, but they are well known for precision and bed length and head stock lenght are probably better suted for gunsmithing. It wont put chips in the pan as fast as an EE, but thats not the point of gunsmithing.

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    I looked at many different model lathes and spoke to a number of long-time full-time gunsmiths before I purchased. Based on what some of them use and their advice I purchased a JET 1340GH and installed DRO. This lathe will thread any barrel I need to, either through the headstock or use the steady rest. It's long enough to contour barrels as well. It is all the lathe a gunsmith will need and is very cost-effective.

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    Well guys,
    Thanks so much for the response.
    Well, I WOULD have kept the SB 13", but in all honesty, I was just hoping to finally get set up with another lathe, a "step up" from South Bend machines.
    I also really wanted a lathe with a higher top end speed, than the SB's 900-ish rpms.
    As I said, it seems like forever now, that I've been lusting after an EE, and it WAS my plan to acquire one, as my next lathe. However, I really have started leaning towards other options, and one such option (as you guys have recommended), just so happens to also be an HLV.
    Granted, it's no EE, but I have always been drawn to this lathe, and it's precision. It just looks like a sweet machine, that would be perfect for gunsmithing.
    Of course, one day I WILL eventually acquire an EE, and I surely wouldn't turn one down if I found one in good condition that I could afford.
    Thanks for all the replies, and if anyone cares to share any other gunsmithing/lathe info, I'm very interested to hear from you!
    I sure WISH I had a gunsmith buddy to hang out with in my area! It still seems I'm the only guy in the state of GA, who's into this kind of thing...

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    Uh, you sold it I'm afraid.

    I believe I could chamber a barrel with a steady in a 10EE, problem is I'd have to have a longer lathe to prep it with, and now we're down the road to pointless.

    I keep a 10L SB around for this sort of stuff.

    Discussion at the benchrest site seems to center around newer asian stuff, and from some of the guns that get built it must be working. Seems to be a little different opinion than you usually get here.

    Rob

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    The EE is a good machine but to say it is electrically complicated is an understatement. They can be very accurate. It would not be my first or tenth choice. (BTW. I run one most every day)

    SB 9 is a great little machine. Not for someone in a hurry though. I had a chance at one but it was the short bed and not of much value for gun work (bore is too small). It is also not really heavy.

    The Hardinge is accurate as all get out. Threading is an issue. It requires an accessory to be able to thread. I have used them, they work but…. On my want list, it is below a EE.

    I have run the Jet. It is reasonably accurate. It has a nice heavy feel like the EE. I think it would be in my top three for gun work. One model (I don’t recall the number) has a gap (yes, there are issue with removing and reinstalling the gap), but if you are like me you were raised on lathes there is a great deal you can do with it.

    All that said. I am a fan of belt driven machines. It is not hard to change out the pulleys and get any speed range you wish (providing the spindle bearing will handle the speed).

    For what ever my opinion is worth.

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    I am currently using a Rockwell 11" that I think is just about perfect. Plenty heavy, solid smooth and accurate.

    Speed range is good, 36" bed 16" through the head with a 1 7/16 bore. You want a good 36" usable bed bigest headstock hole you can get, a slow slow and a fast fast.
    After that just get to know your machine.

    SamD

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    I agree that the HVL is a nice machine, and if you can find one set up for inch and metric threads, so much the better.

    I believe have also seen an import copy of that machine in recent years. I know nothing of the quality, but they are out there.

    Personaly, I think very highly of the EE and think there is nothing wrong with having a couple of lathes if you have the room. An EE for general work and a 13" SB for barrel work would be a good combo.

    Yes the SB is slow, but the plain journal bearings and lack of gears in the headstock keep the vibration to a minimum.

    Inexpensive bearings and gears can cause problems with fine surface finishes. Take a hard look at that if you buy an import lathe.

    Headstock length is also the issue with most 14" or larger engine lathes. The gear train creates a long spindle hole. Large spindle bore/ short spindle is a restricting requirement.

    The other option not listed is a Logan.
    There are quite a few out there, but not as popular as the SB, and very similar in design.

  13. #12
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    I like the Clausing colchester 8000 series in a medium lathe. This series has a d1-8 and a 3" thru hole so you have no issues with any size barrel until you get into serious artillery. front clamping collet chucks work well for small work and it still goes 1600 rpm.

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    There was a post over on BRC about lathes that mit interest you. http://www.benchrest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=38232

  15. #14
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    Actually, the HLV and HLVH are lathes fully
    equipped with leadscrews, QC gearboxes, and
    the ability to thread, right out of the box.

    (the thought that a special threading attachment
    would be required probably involves a mix-up
    with the DV-59, a non-leadscrew machine)

    Indeed the HLVH is a dream to thread with.

    It uses a single-point dog clutch so there is
    no threading dial to contend with. The halfnuts
    are left closed at all times, and the lever that
    engages the leadscrew in forward or reverse
    is used to set the carriage in motion. It can
    be started or stopped at any point, and re-enaged
    at any time in perfect sync with the thread being
    cut. Indeed the threading lever can be set to
    disengage with a stop operated by the carriage,
    so that threads can be cut in a highly automated
    fashion.

    The saying is that most threads can be cut on
    that machine, at 1000 rpm.

    Jim

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    10EE is a poor choice for gunsmthing... the first time you have a barrel with a front sight on it, or a classic german full rib and sighted barrel, you will curse the day you bought it.

    gunsmithing is precise, but it's not .0001. read a "true" case drawing, and be FLOORED at the +/- ...

    look for a lathe that you can still get parts on. lablonde for example, with 1.5 or larger through spindle hole. a taper is good, but not required, and you can make one later.

    if you go for an import, go ahed and buy ALL the threading gears train, for spares. you might get them remade from your spares, and keep your spares, but i'll tell you from experience that getting it RIGHT is a PIA.

    my next lathe will be a 15" lablond, if i can find one for the right price

    jeffe

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    logan mod. 1957.............................

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  19. #17
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    I have a Grizzly 12x37 which for the money is an excellent lathe. I would get the gear drive if I had to do it over again.

    One adavantage of a new import is cheaper and available repair parts

    I have had zero issues with parts breaking, and the lathe is well made where it counts(spindle and ways)

  20. #18
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    One thing I haven't seen mentioned is metric threading right on the gear box - thats a big plus in my neck of the woods...

  21. #19
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    I've a got a 13.5 x 40 Grizzly that I've built several guns with.

    I know that many here destest the Asian lathes as being good enough for anything, but fact of the matter is they do what they are supposed to do.

    I have had no issues with mine. Its got a hole thought the spindle that will accomodate anything short of a .50 BMG. The headstock is short enough that a chuck can be made that attaches to the spindle on the backside of the headstock that will support a fairly short barrel and keep it from flexing or wobbling and risking a bent barrel.

    It has metric/standard threading capability and it cuts threads easily. It has good speed range and its very easy to change.

    Ive built a 15 inch taper attachment and a collet closer that serves me very well. The 3 and 4 chuck are large enough to do whatever I want,yet small enough to easliy change by hand.

    It has a foot brake that stops the spindle instantly, although I rarely use it, its there if I need it.

    I've gotten some exellent finishes with various barrels...so there are no issues there.

    The main thing is the Asian lathes are AVAVILABLE. They arent hard to find and there are a multitude of parts and enhancments for them.

    Yes, I know that they are considered light duty by American standards...but how many NEW American built machines are there now ?

    AS for light duty, cna anyone tell me what porcess in gunsmithing is considered heavy duty?

    I've chambered barrels,chucked up the action and taken the barrels off,built recievers,blueprinted actions and pretty much done everything that you can do on a rifle including building them from scratch..with no issues whatsoever.

    Using a bigger lathe can make some things on a gun harder to do.Although I love heavy iron and I work with them everyday, the Asian imports can and do the job as well as any.

  22. #20
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    Jim Rozen;
    Is there a 800 rpm limit on threading? Its been a long time, so it might have been a shop policy,
    but what a dream to thread on!!


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