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  1. #1
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    Default new to forum, looking for advice on these tools

    I just registered so this is my first post on the forum, been reading here off and on for a few years and have always found the forum helpful.

    I was recently blessed to receive a decent amount of small-shop size metalworking equipment as part of a larger business deal. It is all set up in a roughly 12x24 space off my existing shop and I want to use this opportunity to gain a functional level of machining/gunsmithing knowledge over the coming years. I have always wished I had the ability/means to work with metal, particularly as it relates to firearms, and with this blessing in my life this is the time for me to learn it.

    I wanted to list off what I have and make sure it is appropriate for my goals before arranging the workspace. I'm not too inclined to replace anything until I know how to use these things, but I also don't want to learn all the quirks of fussy tool only to find that it won't do what I need it to in the end.

    The main tools that came with the package are:
    1) Sheldon (vernon?) #0 milling machine with vertical milling attachment mounted (horizontal on the shelf) and 150-200 or so cutters.
    2) Atlas 36" lathe (10" I think), bearing style, no quick change box
    3) Atlas 24" lathe (12" I think), bearing style, no quick change box
    4) A good amount of tooling for the lathes: (2)3 jaw chucks, (2) 4 jaw chucks,a tool post grinder, taper attachment, countless "lantern" type tool holders and accessories, multiple quick change tool holders, various tail stock attachments, a steady rest, (2) complete gear sets and a bunch of cutting bits.
    5) 2 bench mount drill presses (old atlas and an 80's taiwan)
    6) Various small gunsmithing-oriented fixtures and hand tools

    My general plan is to gradually develop my basic metalworking ability doing simple low-tolerance/low-risk tasks (have a tractor and sawmill so there is always something) and use that work to eventually refine my ability to where I can get into firearms related tasks.

    So, what do you guys think of the equipment I have as it relates to that plan?

    In particular: Would I be better off selling the two lathes and getting one higher quality lathe?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobflange View Post
    I just registered so this is my first post on the forum, been reading here off and on for a few years and have always found the forum helpful.


    In particular: Would I be better off selling the two lathes and getting one higher quality lathe?
    1. Welcome to the forum.
    2. Delete the lathe and drill press brands from your post as those specific ones are not permitted here.
    3. Yes sell the home grade set of lathes and get a better one

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rock6.3 View Post
    1. Welcome to the forum.
    2. Delete the lathe and drill press brands from your post as those specific ones are not permitted here.
    3. Yes sell the home grade set of lathes and get a better one
    The rules on what machinery may/may not be discussed are relaxed in the gunsmithing forum.

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    Well that stuff is crap just not up to the task

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    Am I wasting my time to try to learn on this machinery? I know the lathes are not top shelf so I am genuinely asking what I should do here. I'm not going to be a one-post and leave guy, I own this stuff now and really want to learn to use it, or sell it and replace it with something more suitable if that's what I should do.

    I had hoped to learn on this, help that teach me what I really want, then sell it in a few years and buy whatever it is that I eventually want to end up with. Am I misguided there?

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    You might want to try here first, better suited for beginners. The Hobby-Machinist

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    I'd keep the lathes for a while since they seam to have an assortment of accessories. You can experiment and get a little time in while you look for something more sutible to your needs. The lathes you speak of are very light weight making them flexible. However they are lathes and can get you that first experience. After a while you will know first hand their shortcommings, knowledge that can help in your move up.

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    Trying to learn machining on an Atlas lathe is handicapping yourself so much that the detriment far outweighs the saving in cost. Stay away from South Bend light 10s and 9" Logans also and save yourself a lot of misery. This is not opinion on my part but the results of long experience with these machines. Perforce I had to run some of these machines in my early days and wondered why I couldn't do things others did. Eventually I found out that the limitation wasn't me but the lousy lathes I had access to.

    Bill

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  13. #9
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    You should clean up and sell the lathes and tooling as they are obsolete machines. If your going to be cutting threads all you need to do is switch a 2 or 3 of handles instead of looking on a chart, looking in the box of gears, loosening nuts, installing gears, setting them for clearance and pray you got the right combination. They have value for someone who is a collector or green rookie.

    Use what you can get for them and buy a good professional domestic or imported machine with a quick change hardened bed, etc. etc. Be very careful buying a machine made in China, in the machine tool business you get what you pay for. Happy New Year! Rich

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    I'm not sure why we have so many people who think it's part of their jobs to enforce various PM requirements in the Gunsmithing forum. We have gone over this many times and the answer has always been there is no limitation to the machine brands that may be discussed in THIS FORUM.

    I have never used a small Atlas lathe so I cannot speak from experience. Their beds are pretty light which makes them relatively flexible which prevents accurate heavy cuts.

    I get the impression you have close to zero machining experience. So I would say these machines would be adequate beginner machines if you limit your choice of materials to the softer stuff like aluminum or small diameter pieces of mild steel. You will find you have to take light cuts but you will be able to get some basic experience.

    Once you start to recognize the limitations of the Atlas lathes, you will be ready for a better one.

    For a lot more info regarding Atlas lathes, visit http://www.lathes.co.uk/atlas/index.html.

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    Well GGaskill if you don't understand that an Atlas LSO is a piece of shit barely worthy of boat anchor status then the real question is why are you a moderator? These things don't even pretend to have ways beyond a piece of flat bar, have die cast zinc change gears, and are barely able to work to more than fractional tolerances. Maybe spend the time you waste defending this junk culling the clowns who claim to work to tenths and millionths on slightly less junk machines and keeping the few who actually make a living at it like Speerchucker and you'd have something to be proud of.

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    There is nothing wrong with learning lathe work on an Atlas. That was my first lathe and I could do anything on it that I can do on a good lathe. If you can't do quality work on a junk lathe then you are no machinist.

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    Thank you for the responses so far. I am the kind of person who appreciates knowing the "why" behind the advice I am given and I want to say thank you to those of you who took the time to give me your opinion along with an explanation of why you felt that way. I particularly valued the info in 9100, richard and ggaskill's posts.

    I don't mind someone telling me the machine I have is not that great, I like to get honest advice however it may come.

    I felt that the gunsmithing forum was the most appropriate place to post this, as gunsmithing is my eventual "most demanding" application for the machinery. Also, I generally find fellow firearms owners to be helpful and friendly toward each other and like to associate with them wherever I can.

    What's the best value out there for a lathe that would be appropriate for my eventual goals (gunsmithing tasks). Should I be looking at a grizzly or should I be looking for certain name brands of used lathes in my area? Some of the name brands/models mentioned as not being good were ones I had previously thought were good so I think I really do need some more advice on this one.
    If I sold both lathes/tooling I would be well along the way toward a lower end grizzly gunsmithing lathe, is that the way I should be looking?

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    There is nothing wrong with learning on one. But we should not pretend that it is remotely comparable to a real lathe, even cheap Asian crap. Yes a machinist can work to a machines limitations but a machinist would know that to be productive you must have capabilities and quality that permit that productivity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobflange View Post
    Thank you for the responses so far. I am the kind of person who appreciates knowing the "why" behind the advice I am given and I want to say thank you to those of you who took the time to give me your opinion along with an explanation of why you felt that way. I particularly valued the info in 9100, richard and ggaskill's posts.

    I don't mind someone telling me the machine I have is not that great, I like to get honest advice however it may come.

    I felt that the gunsmithing forum was the most appropriate place to post this, as gunsmithing is my eventual "most demanding" application for the machinery. Also, I generally find fellow firearms owners to be helpful and friendly toward each other and like to associate with them wherever I can.

    What's the best value out there for a lathe that would be appropriate for my eventual goals (gunsmithing tasks). Should I be looking at a grizzly or should I be looking for certain name brands of used lathes in my area? Some of the name brands/models mentioned as not being good were ones I had previously thought were good so I think I really do need some more advice on this one.
    If I sold both lathes/tooling I would be well along the way toward a lower end grizzly gunsmithing lathe, is that the way I should be looking?
    I would say first learn to use one. What one will want in a machine will depend on what it is required to do and probably equally, personal preference. You should learn on a reasonably capable, quality machine. Otherwise you will spend most of you learning time trying to overcome the limitations of a POS and will likely be frustrated and discouraged. A student needs to see some level of quality and craftmanship in their work with a reasonable input of effort.
    As to what machine? Get the one that serves your purposes and preferences. You won't know which one that is until you get some experience.

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  23. #16
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    IF you can readily part with the two lathes that you have, AND replace them with a larger, more capable lathe, I would do so. If that opportunity is not present in the moment, then go ahead and learn on the lathes you have (maybe pick one to learn on and sell the other to seed the fund for your next lathe). You didn't mention whether you had change gears for either lathe - such that you can set differing thread pitches. If you cannot, then they are of very limited utility in gun work. If you persist, and particularly if you do much barrel work, you will want quick change thread gears and a larger spindle bore (I'm guessing, I can't keep the Atlas models straight, but I don't think I've ever seen one with much of a hole through the spindle).

    GsT

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    People have learned to run poor lathes, but I agree with TD in that you will spend so much time and frustration trying to do things that are routine on a good machine that the whole idea is counterproductive. Since you have them, I suppose it would be a good idea to do enough projects to get oriented. As to the statement that a good machinist can do good work on a junk machine, I conditionally agree. I still have the 9" Logan my father bought me in 1948, but I never use it. After 66 years of learning the trade, I could make a part on it that would compare favorably with something I can make with my Sheldon R15 or Monarch 10EE, but why, other than to prove a point? I would spend far more time and probably invent a few new words in the process.

    Bill

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    Those lathes are great for a beginner as they usually do not have enough power to hurt you. ..much...

    We saw a commercial version the other day that was from 1960 or do and it was a nice machine and we also have seen commercial versions in industrial facilities where they are used for maintenance work.

    If you break one no big loss either.

    Cleaned up well depending on market yiu can get from $150 to $600 for one as they are great for small hobby use as small size and power is sometimes the need.

    Larger suitable machines can be found for good price but learning on what you have will allow you to know what to look for in the next one.

    They came with great owners manual for learning how to use them so eBay for that or local library for general stuff.

    Do visit the hobby machines forum as they have more users at your level with similar machines that can give more detailed information for them but use this one for best advise for next machine but please read the posting rules so you can better post your inquiry.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SGH-I337Z using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobflange View Post

    What's the best value out there for a lathe that would be appropriate for my eventual goals (gunsmithing tasks). Should I be looking at a grizzly or should I be looking for certain name brands of used lathes in my area? Some of the name brands/models mentioned as not being good were ones I had previously thought were good so I think I really do need some more advice on this one.
    If I sold both lathes/tooling I would be well along the way toward a lower end grizzly gunsmithing lathe, is that the way I should be looking?

    I wouldn't get a grizzly if you can help it. You can find a good used American, Taiwan, or Japanese lathe for about the same price that will probably out last the grizzly and won't leave yout with regret a few yeas down the road.


    I somewhat went through the same thing you are going through now. I bought a South Bend 10L (heavy 10), which was a good lathe to learn on. I quickly realized it's limitations and couldn't wait to get something bigger and more powerful. I skipped a whole class of lathes and went to a 14" lodge and shipley and I'm glad I did. Just to give you an idea, it weighs 6500 lb's, actually swing 18", and has a 7-1/2 hp motor.

    I also have a takisawa (maxturn) and enjoy using it. It's a fairly stout machine (for its size) and can remove metal at decent pace. I know gunsmithing doesn't require a lot of metal removal, but it's nice to have a nice, ridgid machine.

    So that's what I have experience with and would say do what you have to do for now to at least get some experience. Down the road you can decide what you want. With your tractor and sawmill I have a feeling you are going to want something that you are not going to have to stand there all day and watch it struggle to peel off .015 at a time.

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  28. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdmidget View Post
    Well GGaskill if you don't understand that an Atlas LSO is a piece of shit barely worthy of boat anchor status then the real question is why are you a moderator?
    I have pondered the same thing, but if you look at this forum from the 64,000 foot level, there is very little usage, and this is partially why. A good moderator would help this forum greatly.

    I see very little interest in this Gunsmith forum, unlike other places on the net that have much higher usage.


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