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Birmingham YCL - 1340GH info... same OEM as a PM 1340GT? Taiwanese or Chinese?

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Fallon

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#1
I'd resigned myself to getting a new Precision Mathews PM1236 (Chinese, but pretty decent) as I couldn't justify the expense for a PM1340GT (Bigger, heavier, better tolerances, Taiwanese build quality instead of Chinese). However a "2004 BIRMINGHAM YCL - 1340GH LATHE" has shown up on Craigslist recently at a half the price of a new PM 1340GT. I'm wondering if anybody knows anything about the quality, specs or what not on the Birmingham or how it compares to the pretty decent reputation of the PM 1340GT. I can't seem to find to much about the YCL1340GH online. A few sites selling them, but no reviews or community stuff. Most specs match up, but some like through Hole thru spindle are a little less favorable on the YCL.

I figure if it's going to be a used machine with a similar fit & finish of a PM1340GT I'm better off going with the Tiawanese quality. If not I'm likely to just go back to plan A of a new known quality PM1236.
 

mksj

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#2
Firestopper (one of the hobbyist member's in this forum) has the YCL-1440GH which is the same base model as the YCL-1340GH, both are from mainland China. I have attached a copy of the manual. There are a number of other lathe distributors that still carry the same machine under their brand name, they all appear to have identical specs. You can compare the used one to the attached manual to see if it is the same. Some companies may have different versions with the same designation, and may be built by different manufactures.

I have used his YCL lathe, a very nice machine. I have the 1340GT, so there is definitely a qualitative difference between the two lathes as far as fit and finish, but both get the job done. It really depends on the condition of the YCL1340GH you are looking at, and sourcing parts can be a problem. It seems distributors are happy to sell new machines, but getting parts is often difficult. On the used YCL1340GH if there is a lot of wear and everything is loose, then I would suggest buying new, if it is been lightly used then might be a good deal. There is also the PM 1236GT to consider. I ended up with a Taiwanese lathe and mill, the qualitative difference for me was worth waiting a bit longer and saving my pennies, just my personal preference after having had a Chinese mill for several years that was just OK.
 

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Fallon

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Thanks for the info, but thats what I was afraid of. Probably gonna check it out to see what kind of shape it's in. Was hoping it was out of the same factory as the PM1340GT, which would have meant higher quality & a source of parts.

My budget tops out at a PM1236 as I need to get tooling & what not as well. The PM1236GT is tempting, but Pushes me at least $1k over budget. I'd likley just wait longer & go the $1500 over budget for the PM1340GT. But I was looking for $5k for a machine & tooling here for something sooner than later.
 
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#4
Like Mark wrote, I purchased a YCL 1440GH new back in 2001. It was 5K and came with what many now consider optional equipment. I also purchased a taper attachment at the time for another $500. The machine has done everything I have required from it with tolerances to my liking from the start. It was supplied with a tolerance sheet that proved to be accurate. I use quality measuring tools that verify every operation I preform with this machine. It changes gears, engages /dis-engages feeds and still runs like it did when new. The bed has remained true with no evidence of wear as is the lead screw and feed rod. It has developed a slight drip on the feed rod coming from the lower gearbox but only when running/turning (o-ring). The spindle (1.5") runs true and I run quality chucks. The only issue is the tailstock clamp that requires adjustment when doing heavy (over 1") drilling but that is a common issue with this style of side clamp found on many machines including some PM machines. You can find this issue on several manufactures on this site. I will say its hard to beat the weight comparison of this style vs the 1236GT and weight matters once setup correctly. I have never had any vibartion or finish issues but I will add I use a CXA setup with quality tooling. The overall robust design has served me well for the past seventeen years and the same model is still made/offered with different badging.
The machine weigh in at 2000 lbs. and the motor mount design is the same found on industrial machines. My machine has been upgraded with Mark's system, new motor and lighting that makes it a joy to run, but the machine was solid prior to this modification.
Like many things coming from China, one never knows but my lathe was apparently made on a "Wednesday" as I never found casting sand in the gear train, problems engaging/dis-enguaging, crappy runout, vibration/finishing issues and so forth and so on.
As far as replacement parts and support, I have not needed support, but have read nightmare stories on many Chinese machines. PM machines have a phenomenal customer service reputation as I have personally read Matt's reply to issues/concerns so thats really more important than any story I can share with your purchasing questions. The machine will prove to be your inexpensive purchase compared to quality tooling required for any lathe/mill regardless of its origins.

One thing that bothers me on many entry level import lathes are the cross feed, compound, carriage and tail stock dials. Even a quality $8K Taiwanese machine has cheesy dials and pointers. I'm saving my pennies for a larger/heavier machine with a bigger spindle bore hopefully made on a Wednesday.... Oh, and nice quality dials:)

I hope this helps Fallon. (not all Chinese machines are junk).
 

Fallon

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Thanks. I definitely know "Chinese" means probably just the lowest bidder. Usually but not always reflects quality. The Chinese can make really high end stuff, but more often than not it's sourced there for minimum price over middle to high quality. The PM 1236 I was kind of expecting to get has a pretty decent reputation despite being Chinese.

Was hoping the YCL340GH would turn out to be Tiawanese, but I'm still gonna go check it out & think about it hard if it's in decent shape. I don't anticipate having any huge precision requirements for a while. If that ends up not being the case I'll at least have enough hands on experience to figure out what I need & move up from there.
 
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