Gornati Leopard lathe - any thoughts/experience?
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  1. #1
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    Default Gornati Leopard lathe - any thoughts/experience?

    Hi folks! I don't know if this is in the right forum, as the lathe in question is European but I don't have any idea if it's "toolroom" or not. The lathe in question is a Gornati Leopard 1 lathe out of Italy. 12" x 30"ish The only info I can find is here: Gornati. One thing I like, the spindle through the bore looks like at least 2", which I think is pretty big for this size of lathe? (I'm new to machining, sorry if any of these are dumb questions/assumptions.)

    It's a little rusty, but I think clean-upable. All I know is what's written on it. It's a gear head, and the writing on the front looks like it can thread fractional, metric, and acme(?) It's in Italian, so I'm doing my best to interpret.

    I'm in West Africa, the lathe made it's way down from Europe as a donation to a mechanical school, which now isn't going to happen, so they're selling the lathe. It's been sitting for two years, but I think the ways are cleanable.

    Is it worth the effort if the price is right? They want $1600, but I think we can do a bit better. (Equipment prices are a LOT higher here than I'm used to back home near Detroit where a new factory closes every month.)

    Anyway, anyone know this brand? Is this going to be nicer than a grizzly lathe? Is it mid-level, or was this a pretty nice one? It's heavy, a big cast body.

    Thanks!

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    I went back and got some pics. Sorry they're so bad, it's shoved up next to a wall so it's pretty tough to get pics of the face of it. It's 12"x32". Any opinions now that we've got some art?

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    img_1466-medium-.jpg
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    Maker plate: Attachment 66508

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    I'm sorry I don't know anything about the manufacturer of the lathe, but as always, it's interesting to see/hear about more machine makers. I hope someone replies to you with some knowledge about the maker.

    That said, from the last photo you posted, that machine looks to be in ROUGH shape. I myself have been tempted in the past to buy dirty machines thinking, "oh I'll be able to fix that up, and it'll be a great bargain find!" The people who buy worn machines are usually least able to assess what needs to work properly on an old machine, and thus end up spending money they would have been better off saving for something in better condition. An experienced machine tool person can understand what needs to work properly, what can be rescraped, what parts can be made/found reasonably. A person just beginning their machine tool training cannot usually make such judgements properly, as they just don't have the experience (and there is nothing wrong with that, it's just the way it goes). In my experience, when I have bought worn machinery, I have spent more money getting them up to snuff, than if I had just bought a nice condition machien in the first place, with some exceptions. I would be wary, even if the machine has characteristics that you like (like the large through-hole). Just some thoughts to consider, you may be aware of this already.

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    No tail stock? That should be enough of an answer for you.

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    Wow! That thing's a rust bucket! You'd have to throw it in a swimming pool full of washing soda and leave a battery charger on it for a month!!

    My vote is it's scrap.

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    First of all, thanks a lot for the replies! I really appreciate the feedback. Your point is well taken about my inexperience in machine tool restoration. I've learned a lot of things by myself, but it's certainly true that I don't have experience knowing just how much rust is still fixable and how much tips the scale past being restorable.

    The room behind the lathe is full of a bunch of crap, including three other lathes and a couple of boring mills. It's totally disorganized - my interest in the lathe was contingent on the hope that the TS was in that storage room. I did find the 3 jaw in there, and a few other things for that lathe. We didn't tear it all apart, but so far I haven't found the tailstock, or a steady. We did find a dead center though, so it's possible the TS is still in there somewhere. There's another lathe in there, a monster, probably a 20" swing, that has three chucks, a steady, and looks like it used to be a beautiful machine. Unfortunately, when it was unloaded from the shipping container they dropped it, bent a bunch of handles and who knows what else. These poor machines have had a hard trip to and life in Africa.

    I took a razor blade with me today when I went to see the lathe for the second time and was able to scrape off some surface rust from the ways. I think with some careful rust dissolver and scotchbriting, the surface could be recovered. That's my completely inexperienced opinion though. My standards here are lower than they would be if I were still in the States. As I said, I'm from Michigan and lots of great equipment goes for pennies on the dollar there because of the economy. And there's lots of equipment for sale. Here in one of the poorest countries in Africa, there's no glut of old South Bends to choose from. So, I'm willing to spend more time on a restoration here than I would be for the same purchase price if I were in the States. The time doesn't bother me so much, what I wanted to know (and maybe now do know) was whether this machine could ever be put back to being a precision machine like I think it once was.

    I do think the lack of a steady and tailstock is a killer though. Even with a 2" (I measured) through bore, how much useful stuff can you turn with no support and no centers? It doesn't seem like that much.

    I offered them $400 which they were insulted by, but I think in the condition it's in with no TS or steady, I'm not even sure it's worth that. The problem in my world is the alternative. We wait for a good deal to pop up in Michigan and then spend $7000 to get a shipping container shipped over here. I was hoping I could get this serviceable now, for a lot less. Maybe not though, huh?

    On a related note - if the ways could be fixed, anyone ever have success making or adapting a steady or TS? I have access to another lathe and a mill at a friend's shop.

    Thanks again for the opinions - if anyone has anything else to add, I'm all ears!!

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    I have seen people build steady rests, or modify others to fit. There are a number of posts on this site regarding the issue even.

    Regarding the rust removal to restore precision:

    It isn't just rust that's the problem - if the machine has been neglected this badly, it's quite possible that there isn't the geometric accuracy left in the ways/carriage/saddle to provide precision, once the rust is removed. That's not to say that it's not possible, but you'll need to know what to look for in order to ascertain the true condition. If all you want to do is low-precision work, it might not be that big of an issue, assuming you can remove the rust, get the lube system working (if there is one), and get all the mechanical stuff working (including the possibility of headstock gear or bearing issues).

    You can assess and restore geometric accuracy, but you need to know how to do that, and that comes from a lot of study, specialized tools and measuring equipment, and experience. It's not something people just pick up on their first go -REALLY.

    I can see your predicament, based on your location. I can also see why you wouldn't want to pass on something that might be one of a small number of options. That said, if the machine is not reasonably fixable, will you be upset spending that money? If you can't fix it, are you ok spending the money anyway? If you are, you'll probably be alright. If that money is essentially "the money" you have for such a machine, I'd make darn sure that it will do what you want, and make that decision when you aren't feeling overly optimistic about how things are going to turn out.

    If you are really gung-ho, would it be possible to find a machine in Spain, Germany, etc. and have it trucked to you (I don't know what the transport situation is over there)? Just curious. In general, sounds like an interesting place to be (not really knowing much about it).

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    I'm assuming you have already come across Tony's site, and the information on Gornati there. Just in case:
    Page Title

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    Thanks again for the replies. Tony's site was the only scrap of info I could find about this model, and even then it's mostly about the bigger ones. Shipping from Europe is cheaper by ocean container than truck, a truck would cross the straight of Gibraltar, drive down through the Saharah, and cross about six corrupt borders all requiring bribes to pass on the way. The ocean route is expensive, but at least it's direct.

    Your analysis is just about where I had landed as well. I was kind of going to let the price make up my mind. If they were willing to let it go cheap, I'd pick it up and do the best I could to clean it up. If in the end it couldn't get back to any accuracy, it'd be a lathe for my students to practice on or when we need to hog. If not, I'd walk away. The seller doesn't know anything about machine tools though, other than what he's been told, and he still thinks he's got a great machine there, so I don't think we're going to get together on the price. The lack of TS is a killer though. We could probably make a bad one, but still.

    They had a matched pair of other 12x32's they were willing to let go cheaper. Looks like they were missing change gears, one a tailstock and the other a compound. I think other than the gears, the pair of them might be able to make one machine. I might offer them a little for the pair and see if they bite. I couldn't find a make and they looked like simpler machines (1" through bore), but at least they'd been stored inside. Still rusty, but not as bad. Again, might be a good student lathe if nothing else.

    I appreciate all the input, I love learning new things. I picked up metal work a couple of years ago and am now trying to expand from fab to machining. I have a computer background, so the precision of this kind of work appeals to me. It sure is expensive though! ($100 for a level, etc, haha)

    One question - this machine appears to have a threading selection for acme threads - I watched some tubalcain videos yesterday and got the impression that acme threading was no different except the way the tool was ground. I.E. a 6tpi acme thread and a 6tpi regular thread would use the same gearing just a differently ground tool and different compound angle. Did I miss something?

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    I have a german tooling and machine catalog from 1972 where the Gornati Leopard is pictured and some little data is given. Since all the products in that catalog are good to very good, I would presume that the lathe is also of good quality. I would probably prefer that lathe in new condition over a new Grizzly. BUT the lathe in your pictures does not appear to be complete or possibly even in running condition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonPAtkins View Post
    One question - this machine appears to have a threading selection for acme threads - I watched some tubalcain videos yesterday and got the impression that acme threading was no different except the way the tool was ground. I.E. a 6tpi acme thread and a 6tpi regular thread would use the same gearing just a differently ground tool and different compound angle. Did I miss something?
    You mean the picture marked "Modulo"? Module threads. Used to make worms that will fit with standard gears. One of those features that you may never need, but if you do, nothing else will do! You are correct, Acme threads are not any special pitches, simply a different shape and angle of feed for the cutter.

    Cheers
    Trev

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    Did you end up picking up the lathe?

    I own this exact lathe, albeit in a working state. It is a nice piece of macinery, the large bore is nice but not all chucks offer a bore large enough to really make use of it, and then the spindle (at least on mine) is made for camlock D1-6 chucks which are pretty uncommon.

    I have the 40-something page manual with schematics of the tailstock, bearing arrangement, oil requirements etc. if you are interested.

    Greetings

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    Accuracy and precision is highly over rated!

    Especially when the option is a forked tree and a truck axle. ! ;-)

    Depending on your situation, A good share of your work may be less than 75 mm long. I know mine is. Not that the shaft, hub, sleeve or whatever is only that size, but the part that needs precision will likely be inside a small envelope. Almost any machine can be made accurate and precise over small travels! Dial Travel Indicators can work wonders, and they are cheap and easily shipped at small cost.

    No tails stock is a hamper, but there is no tailstock with a Hardinge chucker factory fresh! Plus, a mounting adaptor block is not rocket science. and that about all it takes to mount someone elses TS on your machine.

    Drilling holes in work placed in a jaw chuck is a frequent operation that suggests a TS. That can readily be done from the tool post.

    Steady rest? Blocks of wood and metal will answer for most any job you might need in a poor country.

    Plus, You would have a Leopard! How fitting!

    Go for it!

    Opps, Sort of an old thread, I'm sure what has happen has happened. Oh Well....

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    Hello,
    I am new owner of Leopard 150.
    Unfortunately table is in bad shape and I do not have a manuel for use.
    Can someone help me?
    Regards, Milan

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    Hi Nebze Plastic
    I am interested in the manual if you still have it?
    thanks


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