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Looking to buy my first lathe

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GerryG

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#1
Have been retired for a while and recently got interested in metalworking. I have done some research and I have narrowed it down to the Busy Bee Craftex CX708, successor to the Craftex B2227L. I would like your opinions on this lathe and/or its features, pros and cons. If someone owns one of these, please let me know your likes and dislikes. Thanks
 

Uglydog

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#2
I don't know anything about these lathes.
However, please check back at HM.
Many here have expertise in many things.
Everything from purchasing, trailering, unloading, setting up and even using the blessed machines.

Looking forward to your active participation here at HM!

Daryl
MN
 

7milesup

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#3
Hello GerryG and welcome. I believe the busy bee line or the Craftex are the same as the Precision Matthews line here in the US. I own the Precision Matthews 1022 lathe and if I remember correctly, I downloaded the Craftex manual because it was a better manual. I like my PM for what I paid for it.
 

darkzero

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#5
Hello GerryG and welcome. I believe the busy bee line or the Craftex are the same as the Precision Matthews line here in the US. I own the Precision Matthews 1022 lathe and if I remember correctly, I downloaded the Craftex manual because it was a better manual. I like my PM for what I paid for it.
PM machines are quite different when comes down to the detail & features. Busy Bee/Craftex is actually closer to Grizzly with many of their machines in the past identical but of course not all. Don't know the truth in it but it is said the owners of Busy Bee & Grizzly are brothers that parted ways.

I don't know anything about those models though. Grizzly doesn't seem to have a variant of it & it doesn't seem to be a base style lathe that is popular in the US.

I agree, 7 TPI leadscrew does sound odd if that's what it really has.
 

umahunter

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#6
If you haven't decided look into the grizzly g0602 I love mine and there are a bunch of documented mods on many sites and on youtube
 

GerryG

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#7
Thank you for the welcome and comments.

The 7 TPI had also caught my eye and wondered if that would be a problem. I think the lathe is mostly if not all metric. Don't know if that would make it unsuitable for imperial threads, or cause problems with the dials.

I have some other concerns as well, such as the bed length and the short 1" travel for the compound. Don't know if those would be too restrictive as an all purpose lathe.

The Grizzly 602 and PM1022 would be nice alternatives, but unfortunately, our lower dollar puts them over my budget.

On the other hand, I only want to buy once.
 

7milesup

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#8
Sorry about my assumption that Craftex (all models) were the same as PM. However, the Craftex CX706 is nearly identical to the PM1022.

As far as length of lathe, I purchased my 1022 because it was in stock and would have had to wait for the 1030. Of course 20/20 hindsight I wish I would have gotten the 30 inch. Like you, I am new to metalworking so my 1022 has served me fairly well. The 1" spindle hole is somewhat restrictive for me though too. Some day, I may upgrade to the PM1340GT, but a larger mill is at the top of my list at the moment, like a PM932.
 

mikey

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#9
The 7 TPI had also caught my eye and wondered if that would be a problem. I think the lathe is mostly if not all metric. Don't know if that would make it unsuitable for imperial threads, or cause problems with the dials.

I have some other concerns as well, such as the bed length and the short 1" travel for the compound. Don't know if those would be too restrictive as an all purpose lathe.
I would see if the manual is downloadable and see if a change gear set is available. You can then calculate the available thread pitches using that 7tpi screw to be sure it meets your needs; if not, then that's a deal breaker. I've seen reference to a 7tpi lead screw on other Chinese lathes but it is unusual.

All the travel limits on this lathe are short, not just the compound. With only 1" of compound travel, if you ever have to cut a Morse taper on your lathe you won't be able to do it because a taper attachment probably isn't available. With a 1" spindle bore and only 18" between centers, you are limited to fairly small or short work. Depending on the kind of stuff you do, this may or may not be a problem.

They do not list the spindle/chuck mounting pattern. If it is the typical 3 bolt attachment thing then that limits your choice of chucks to some extent. Many asian lathes mount chucks this way but if you want a high quality chuck then you may be looking at backplate mounts.

The motor is only 3/4HP, not a real powerhouse. Max speed is 1626 rpm - okay for most steels and smaller work. For aluminum, its on the slow side.

Overall, judging from the specs and capacities, I would say this is a very light duty lathe. They do not say what is included with the lathe. Steady rest, follow rest, dead/live centers, drill chuck, tool post - all should be included in the purchase. A FULL change gear set should also be available; if not, then I would walk away.

There is enough here to make me, personally, wary of this lathe. I know economics comes into play but a lathe is a "major" purchase that you don't want to do often. If I were you, I would call Matt at PM and talk over a lathe with him, along with shipping costs. If he has one that will better meet your needs then that might be the best option in the long run, even if you have to save a bit longer. Service and support after the sale is also really, really, really important and from what I've seen you would be hard pressed to do better than PM for an asian lathe. I don't have any idea what kind of support Busy Bee provides, though.

Sorry if the tone of my post seems negative; that is not my intention. Just wanted to give you an opinion as food for thought.
 

GerryG

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#10
@mikey Thanks so much for your insights, words of wisdom and recommendations, very much appreciated.

I guess, I need to save a bit more, do more research and look at more expensive lathes. :encourage:
 

7milesup

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#11
I looked at a map GerryG and see that you are only about 6 hours away from Matt at Precision Matthews. I know it would be a long day but maybe you could run down and have a look at what he has. I know that is what I would have done had I been closer to him.
 

ChrisFromCanada

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#12
I'm not usually one to pipe up on these threads, however I can't help it since you are on the same path I was on just a couple months ago.

I kid you not that I was originally looking at the cute little CX704 to try out this hobby. Figured it would be the best way to cheaply get my foot in the door. I was also religiously checking kijiji for a decent deal on a used one. I quickly realized the size was way too small and looked briefly at the CX708 before settling on the CX706 as it had the 1hp motor and a bit more capacity. One thing I noticed was that decent lathes never lasted on Kijiji despite being priced high for a used item.

My buddy then picked up a Travers C4 with the brushless motor and loved the torque. Made me realize that I really needed to pay more attention to the power. Loads of forums reading followed and made me realize the importance of not skimping on the lathe itself, both on power and size.

Fell in love with the LMS 3540 as it was a similar size with the brushless motor so almost 30% more power at 1 1/3hp. All was good. Didn't have the threading dial but I figured it would be ok. Decided the extra money was worth it on the deluxe model and started saving. Not being one to stand idle at this point, I kept researching and learning about lathes and the important points when buying one. I kept hunting around to see what was available and what provided the best bang for my money.

Then I stared going through the Precision Matthews site. This turned out to be a blessing and a curse. My wife gave me grief about the researched and asked for a rundown about what I was looking at. She then asked how long the "little" lathe would last until I wanted something larger.

At the end of the day, I take delivery of a PM-1228 this week... I realized that the added capacity and 2hp motor means that it is the last lathe I buy until I have access to a 208v circuit in my garage/workshop. The extra power in my mind means I can practice and learn on cheaper steel stock rather than spending money on aluminum to cater to the power limits of the smaller machines. It also has a number of great benefits for the long run like a larger through spindle bore at 1.5" and the use of the standard D1-4 spindle so you can always find accessories. That feature is only offered by Busybee on their $8k ct042. All in all I also realized that Busybee really hasn't been keeping their lathes up to date. I don't think they offer a single brushless motor unit right now.

Yeah, I went from a $1k starting point to a $4500 point in the last couple of months. This way once I get it setup I am good to go. No need to swap machines in a year when I outgrow the little one and losing money on each step. Plus, worst case scenario I do believe selling a better featured machine like this will be much easier and more likely to recover the majority of my costs.

The only initially confusing part about the order was the whole clearing customs thing, however I ended up using a broker in BC that Matt suggested. Made things effortless and added maybe $140 to the total shipping costs.
 

GerryG

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#13
@7milesup I had taught about that. I've done it before towing a camper on my way south, but it's really an 8 hr trip one way, what with crossing Toronto and crossing the border at Buffalo. Can be done, but really an overnight affair, not as young as I used to be.

@ChrisFromCanada Wow, that's exactly the situation I'm in. Thank you for sharing that. I also started out thinking about spending just $1000.00C. Not sure my wife would go for $4500.00 though. As you mentioned, the cost of materials also needs to be factored in as I'm finding out that metal has gone up a whole lot in the last 10 years or so. PM is certainly at the top of the list as of now. Just curious, was there any duty charged on the lathe?
 

ChrisFromCanada

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#14
No duty just the tax, in my case 13% HST. I did have to pay a company a service/admin fee to handle the customs clearing however after digging into self clearing the shipment it was worth it to avoid a headache. I do admit that the pm-1228 was way beyond what I was even considering before I started. At the end of the day I really didn't want to be jumping through all the hoops in a year or two, losing money on resale, and then paying for shipping and tax again on something bigger.

One factor that was pointed out to me when selecting a lathe (beyond the buy the biggest you can afford) was to really consider what you are going to use on it. The example given to me was end drilling. Figure on losing 4 or 5 inches of capacity for the chuck, another 3 or 4 inches on the drill. Just like that 9 inches of your capacity is gone. If your workpiece is just 9 or 10" long you suddenly need at least a 20" bed.

Another really nice option is that Little Machine Shop 3540. 1000watt brushless motor and an 8.5 x 20 inch capacity. Only thing on it is the lowest RPM is 100.

Of course, take this all with a grain of salt as it is just based on my research. Other than playing on the lathes at Busybee the limit of my knowledge is being able to tell the difference between a lathe and a screwdriver with roughly am 85% success rate...
 

GerryG

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#15
@ChrisFromCanada Thanks Chris, that helps a lot. I don't have a Busy Bee nearby to kick the tires so to speak. Please let us know how the delivery goes. Best of luck. PS - post some pics.
 

mikey

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#16
@mikey Thanks so much for your insights, words of wisdom and recommendations, very much appreciated.

I guess, I need to save a bit more, do more research and look at more expensive lathes. :encourage:
There are no perfect lathes. All of them have shortcomings in one form or another. I suppose they're like people in a sense - you have to live with it to really know it. That's why I suggested speaking to Matt; he knows his machines and what they will do. He will also back those machines up in the event something is not right. I have not dealt with him personally but have heard enough that I'm convinced he is honest and will deal with you fairly.

Best of luck in your search, Gerry.
 

Wheresmywrench?

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#18
Keep your eyes open for a good used lathe. You could also check the Canadian Government surplus web site now and then. They had an Emco Maximat V10-P Mentor for sale a while ago in like new condition with a starting bid price of $500 it was like new. I didn't go after it as I had one identical to it given to me just before it was posted on the site.
 

scwhite

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#20
I would see if the manual is downloadable and see if a change gear set is available. You can then calculate the available thread pitches using that 7tpi screw to be sure it meets your needs; if not, then that's a deal breaker. I've seen reference to a 7tpi lead screw on other Chinese lathes but it is unusual.

All the travel limits on this lathe are short, not just the compound. With only 1" of compound travel, if you ever have to cut a Morse taper on your lathe you won't be able to do it because a taper attachment probably isn't available. With a 1" spindle bore and only 18" between centers, you are limited to fairly small or short work. Depending on the kind of stuff you do, this may or may not be a problem.

They do not list the spindle/chuck mounting pattern. If it is the typical 3 bolt attachment thing then that limits your choice of chucks to some extent. Many asian lathes mount chucks this way but if you want a high quality chuck then you may be looking at backplate mounts.

The motor is only 3/4HP, not a real powerhouse. Max speed is 1626 rpm - okay for most steels and smaller work. For aluminum, its on the slow side.

Overall, judging from the specs and capacities, I would say this is a very light duty lathe. They do not say what is included with the lathe. Steady rest, follow rest, dead/live centers, drill chuck, tool post - all should be included in the purchase. A FULL change gear set should also be available; if not, then I would walk away.

There is enough here to make me, personally, wary of this lathe. I know economics comes into play but a lathe is a "major" purchase that you don't want to do often. If I were you, I would call Matt at PM and talk over a lathe with him, along with shipping costs. If he has one that will better meet your needs then that might be the best option in the long run, even if you have to save a bit longer. Service and support after the sale is also really, really, really important and from what I've seen you would be hard pressed to do better than PM for an asian lathe. I don't have any idea what kind of support Busy Bee provides, though.

Sorry if the tone of my post seems negative; that is not my intention. Just wanted to give you an opinion as food for thought.
I would not buy it
 
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