Owner/User Experiences With Okuma LS Lathes?
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  1. #1
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    Default Owner/User Experiences With Okuma LS Lathes?

    Hello everyone, I'm glad to be on the forum. Lot's of great info here, which has already helped me in my quest as an aspiring home machinist (emphasis on "aspiring" ). As per usual, I have too many questions, and probably some unrealistic expectations, but that's why I'm here

    I am scoping out manual lathes for, at first, general gunsmithing work (profiling barrels and reamers, threading, boring/reaming) and then branching into more diverse needs as my skills improve. I settled on 15x36 being the size range to shoot for, since most anything gun-related will fit, the spindle bores are usually a good size, and it seems like the machines themselves begin to get sufficiently massive (they become referred to as "decent" lathes around here, rather than garbage mini-lathes ).

    Initially I limited my machine budget to <5000$, but I found, as I'm sure y'all know, that my options were very limited for new machines, and the few used machines that come up down in Texas seem to be in rough shape or not sized/featured for my needs. I'm sure someone versed in machine appraisal and repair could score killer deals, but not me

    So, I decided to expand my budget, using the extra time saving pennies to learn even more, and try to get a feel for what to expect. I'm now trying to stay under 10,000$, and suddenly these Okuma lathes from the '60's pop up on my radar.

    They seem like exceptionally well made products, and unlike many of the machines I see from more famous brands, the features look superior. The LS lathes in particular trip my fancy, and I've found several examples for sale within 500mi that *appear* to be in decent condition, for ~$8000. The size is a bit larger than what I was looking for initially, but the footprint doesn't seem hugely different (width is more important in my garage than length). The bore diameter is over 2" which is huge for gunsmithing, and gives me plenty of room to grow. Lots of ratios, well-designed carriage and base controls (even a lever that halves feed rate). And the things are heavy; about 5800lbs.

    Sounds like a winner to me, but as I said earlier, I'm a lathe/machine neophyte, who doesn't know a worn bearing journal from his own hind end . If anyone here has experience owning or using these lathes, please post your knowledge. I'm sure the machines have their quirks and problems, and hopefully I can make a better decision knowing what they are. I'm especially interested to see if their design is has been cloned by others, so that broken and unavailable parts could be adapted for a replacement.

    I've read up on the major points for assessing overall quality, like condition of the ways, carriage/headstock damage, looking for signs of recent use, and avoiding gear noise/vibration (I'll definitely be buying a running lathe), so hopefully I can avoid the big pitfalls. But even if I find an Okuma with ways that appear okay, smooth and tight spindle, and no pieces missing, I assume I still have to do some work to ensure it's ready for operation. I found a site that sells what appears to be a pretty comprehensive set of bushings, wipers, seals, gaskets, and O-rings for the LS series, but would anything besides replacing the fluids and soft/wear parts likely be needed for a lathe in running condition (at least in the near future)? I am reticent to mess around with 50 year old machinery, but the lathes I've seen look in good enough shape to "tempt" me

    Okuma LS lathe rebuild kit

    One last question (and the most important); the LS lathes came with a 10HP 3 phase motor, which is both unnecessary for my needs and impossible to power in my current facilities (garage with 110VAC, and 220VAC available via 50ft extension cord ). So, I figure a motor-downgrade is in the cards, at least for the time being. Most of the new (Grizzly) lathes I had been eyeing were in the 2HP range, which is within the limits of the 220 connection. A high efficiency 1.5HP could probably work with the GFCI connection unless I really bog the motor down. Obviously I'd be limited in my gear-ratios and cut depths by the weaker motor, but would such a steep downgrade be harmful to the lathe/motor, or even worse, wholly impractical (could the "little" motor even start the spindle )? I suppose the upside could be that the spindle won't even notice a 1HP newbie-crash

    Many thanks for sifting through my questions; I anxiously await your wisdom

    TCB

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    I sure have a knack for settling on obscure items . I take it there are no Okuma Manual LS owners around here these days?

    TCB

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    The registry above ^^^^ has someone with the clone of the Okuma!

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    Never owned one, but ran one in the early 1990s. First rate, heavy duty machine. Parts may be tough to find.

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    I don't suppose anyone has tips for hiring an inspector to...inspect machinery on the other side of the country? I'd have no problem going there myself, if I thought it would do any good, but I'm just not qualified for this, yet . Pretty sure a 20+ hour drive would start to make any lathe look good, too .

    TCB

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    Where is it located? Might help possible inspectors

    Abraham

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    I have run a couple of them and worked on them as well. They are as nice a lathe as I have ever used and I have run crap loads of them. I worked for a machinerey dealer. They are super nice machines, but there is no way you will power one of those with a 1.5hp motor you wont even turn the spindle in low. You need the 10hp, they are big and heavy. The ones we sold went for 6 grand but they had seen a rough life. I would jump on one in a second if I needed a lathe. the LS was one of my choices when I got my mint condition L&S.

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    It's located in Fullerton, Ca. I'm waiting on some dimensions from the seller before I go much further, since I think it's on the ragged edge of what I can fit, let alone power.

    It really takes that much juice to turn one of these? I was hoping I'd just lose some top end gears and the ability to split of 1/4" chips... I'll have to see how much my 220VAC connection can generate--that might be able to do it

    TCB

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    I would consider a Mori or Hwacheon if I were you but I would put the Okuma in the same class as those also. I am selling my Nardini because I bought a nice Hwacheon I am in NE Oklahoma and gunsmith also, if you are be interested contact me I would be glad to help you out.

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    If it's less than ~35" wide I may be interested. I got some dimensions on the Okuma back from the seller, and it is just barely too big for my space. Even with that giant power box on the back moved. It's my machine or my car, and we get hail over here! If it really takes a minimum of several horsepower to even turn these guys over, I'll probably have to forego the old-n-heavy set for the time being, since I just don't have a strong enough power connection. Next move will be to better facilities, but that probably won't happen soon, so I'm stuck with what I got for the time being.

    I'll be sure to check out some of the other companies' offerings out there, and see if they have what I might be looking for and can fit

    TCB

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    It is the MS1440 do some searching on it and you should be able to find specs.

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    I own a Graziano Sag 14 basically 16 x 40. It was originally equipped with a 5.5 hp 575 3 phase motor. I replaced this with a 3hp single phase motor and it works just great. I have a 12 gauge cabtire extension cord that i made up and run it from a 15 amp 220 volt circuit.
    If you buy the Okuma, you can certainly drop down to a lower hp motor and it will run fine. For gunsmithing work, you will probably spend more time measuring and setting up than hogging huge amounts of metal anyway.

    Lots of Okuma CNC's, but I haven't heard as much about their manuals.

    And BTW, you should be able to pick up a decent machine for 2-3K IMO.

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    There are some smaller Okumas. Probably not more than 5hp. I had at one time an LK-P variable speed version, but they were incredibly rare.
    I may know of one or two here, but I'm not sure if that is valuable to you or not, considering I am in New England.

    regards,

    Jon P.

    p.s. They are excellent machines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by barnbwt View Post
    If it's less than ~35" wide I may be interested.
    I have measure my LS540 I have just obtained for you...

    The two items at the rear that protrude the most are the electric box and swarf tray lip.(if you V cut the swarf tray you can still use it)

    You can remove the electric box but you cannot alter the swarf tray lip as its part of the main casting.

    From the swarf tray lip to the micrometer rail is 31 ins and the cross feed handle sticks out a further 11 ins giving 42 inches from rear to front.

    The motor: Most of the current required for starting is to overcome the inertia of the gear train and chuck. If you use an inverter to ramp up the speed over 5 or 10 seconds you could easily get away with a 3Hp motor (so long as you dont expect to reduce the diameter the way the 10hp motor will allow).

    If you were to fit a 5hp motor and inverter you'd have a very capable lathe. Using an inverter will allow you to reduce the initial current rush to acceptable limits. I have and will run mine with a 240vAC 30A single phase supply and inverter running the original motor.I tried 5mm radius test cuts (that were limited by my carbide tooling) and at no point did it slow or cut out.

    They are a top notch machine not easily matched by anything else.

    Rob

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    Okuma sounds great. That's a heavy lathe for gunsmith work. Many Okumas were equipped w/A-1 spindles which are great but slow to swap to face plate, collet chuck, etc. I don't know what your garage, driveway and floors are like but the last time I moved three 4500# machines I know I would have been better off hiring one of those construction rigs that can set the load down inside a garage door without entering the building. I would look at TOS(Poland) and Whacheon(Korea). They are both in production and also have excellent reputations. They are usually equipped w/D-1 spindles and smaller horsepower motors. I know it sounds simple to switch motors but foreign machines are ISO/metric which are electrically very similar but have different dimensions, shafts, pulleys, belts, etc. What I've done is mount the phase converter near the house power panel and then run the three phase out to the machine. Since my machines don't run unattended I sometimes bypass the contactors and simply use a magnetic switch. Some or none of this may apply. Have fun!
    Larry

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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry on Lake Superior View Post
    Okuma sounds great. That's a heavy lathe for gunsmith work. Many Okumas were equipped w/A-1 spindles which are great but slow to swap to face plate, collet chuck, etc.Larry
    You have to be quite fit to operate the larger lathes. (changing chucks,using the steadys , using the tailstock ,etc).

    The LS540 has large heavy chucks and the fixed steady and tailstock .....especially the tailstock are heavyweights. (enough to need a engine hoist/crane to take the weight for removal).



    The bore through the fixed steady is 5 1/2 inches and you can see the size of it sat on my 2.5ton pallet truck.

    They are fantastic to use...and a real good workout.

    Rob

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    I have an LS I use for mostly for hobby work and love it. It's a great machine and I like just about everything about it. It has a 10hp motor and I decided to run it on a VFD from a 50a 1ph circuit, no problems there. If you have any specific questions about it feel free to send me a PM.

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    I've had an Okuma LS for the past 15 years and can say it is one of the best lathes I've ever run. Have run and owned SB's LaBlond and a Shipley, but pound for pound have found the Okuma to my liking. Mind you all used lathes are subject to amount of wear and abuse over it's life so far. The motor downgrade could limit the potential of the machine. I don't think I'd drop below a 5hp single phase motor for this size of machine. You will find that most of the switching in the electrical panel runs through a transformer that reduces it to 110 volts, bypass the transformer and plug into wall receptical. Many people are prone to bypass these type of heavy weight machines for home shop , after you use one and have had the pleasure of a good rigid setup and near bullet proof design, you will never go back to light flimsy inferior machines . As said before, you can do light work in a big machine, but you can't do heavy work in a small machine .I'm thinking of being buried with my Okuma P.S. I am speaking of the original Okuma made in Nagoya Japan . I know nothing of it's clones.

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    I ended up with the lathe that the OP was looking at. Buying lathes from 1000+ miles away is nerve wracking at best! at worst it calls for medication.
    Rohner Machinery sent me video, answered questions, assured me that the family name is something that is kept untarnished at any cost.WRONG
    In this case the old Get out of jail free card that they use, you know " the, well it's a used machine" is not gonna get it.
    I know it's a used machine, there are a lot of used machines out there, but being flat lied to is where I no longer just shrug my shoulders and say" well it's a used machine from a machinery dealer"
    I expected some issues, but I was told, yup, good to go. Set it up and go to work.
    I got this last fall, no more than unloaded it, set it up, nothing, no way, contactors for reverse junk. The list is long, at that point I have been fighting health issues, surgery, radiation, little things like that.
    So I'm finally able to get back to the shop and this is what has been waiting for me, Rohner Machinery- our family name means everything to us, nothing to our customers. Rohner Machinery, when you think of us, the next stop is the confession booth.Rohner Machinery, the quickest way to a psychotic episode to date.
    Was some of this my fault? Yes. Did they lie to completely cover up things I specifically asked them, that is the point of which I'm ranting.
    Rohner Machinery, Chris, and the rest of ya, you have the social graces, and the moral compass of a drooling goat, and a freshly neutered dog.

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    I own an okuma LS 540 for more than twenty years now, and it is still in exellent condition.
    I run it without a DRO, the double dial reading is so accurate i can easely work within the range of 0.015 mm
    When you have the possibility of buying one of the machines, in good condition then dont let it slip trough your fingers.
    You will hardly find a machine that last so long and stay so accurate. It's weight is aprox. 2.5 metric tonns.
    that wheigt makes it super stable for its size.
    but be sure you buy the original, not the clone, mentioned above, manufactured in nagoya japan.


    My Machine was build in 1964. so today it 55 years of age.
    And it is not for sale.

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