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Buying and using metal working machinery

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Doodle

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#1
Don't make the mistake I did looking for that used old lathe , milling machine, or what ever. I waited and searched for years for the good deal I could afford with the idea I would learn my way into rebuilding the equipment into something useful. That's a good scheme if you want to learn how to rebuilt someone's worn out, rusted, missing pieces, used up, treasure they thought was worth more than scrap price. I've already done that with antique cars and it was fun doing it with my Dad. But I went years without the fun of making things with a good lathe or learning how to run a milling machine. With time running out for me on this planet I was fortunate to get discount coupons in the mail to the new outlet in town selling China made machines. For next to nothing I bought a little 6x11 or something sized lathe with 3 and 4 jaw chuck ready to plug in and use. I learned a lot making it into a better machine and launched myself into a 9x20 lathe. It was no prize until I learned how to stiffen the tool post, tighten up the adjustments and I have made some parts I am really proud of. I have added one of those mini mills to my shop and it is a joy to use it right out of the box.
 

Ken from ontario

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#6
With time running out for me on this planet I was fortunate to get discount coupons in the mail to the new outlet in town..........
We just don't know how long we have on this earth but isn't it funny that now that we are getting older we realize there's no point in waiting for something better to come or save something so it still looks or feels "new".
I find myself looking at life like enjoy what you have ,while you can, that's my motto, this way I won't have many regrets.
 

core-oil

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#8
Sixty years ago, at evening class, I learned the basics of turning on an old belt driven lathe (6" Centre Height) I guess now my first turning examples were not wonderful, approx one year later, after the family had moved from a somewhat out of the way country town to a large industrial town, I saved up my pocket money and purchased an old beat up small lathewhich my dad & I built up using anything we could lay our hands on, The countershaft supporting "girder work" was constructed from old right angle bed frames, which we scrounged from the refuse collectors, Well we ended up with a usable small machine tool, Accuracy was obtained in many cases by the judicious application of various shims applied especially in the tailstock alignment.

Fast forward to nowadays, I am older and certainly more grey, Wiser ? Doubt it ! I am still playing with my machines , Pretty good machines, Not too modern, I frequently think back to a simple little steam engine I turned out on my first lathe, It went surprisingly well , I also think on the folks who gave me encouragement, Freely given, An old wood patternmaker, a ships engineer , an old brass moulder and last but not least a very decent old Jewish tool dealer in Glasgow , who steered me through the various essential tools I would require , Frequently stopping me from spending my money in a reckless manner and saying "Buy this tool its cheaper and will be more useful" I still treasure the tools I purchased in his little shop, In fact one day I was in his shop, no doubt wasting his time , talking hot air, When in came an old English shipyard fitter I knew , He looked at the tooldealer and said "Isaac You keep that young man right , We are expecting a lot from him, & to me he said You Listen to everything Isac says, I have frequented this shop since he was helping his father, & he could just look over the counter"

Well in these modern times, I think folks have lost the plot, I mix with folks who want to rip the metal off on super sonic machines as though there is not a tomorrow, Amongst my machine tools possibly the only really modern machine I own is my far eastern metal cutting bandsaw , A wonderfull tool, & my 3&1/2" centre lathe built in 1970, Well silly old me has decided to go back down memory lane by purchasing a small mid 1950 belt driven lathe , which I now have overhauled and I am building up , Guess I will have a go at another little steam engine shortly, The old boys in the western worlds industries made us great by frequently using machines which were less than perfect,

Doodle you have got the right approach to craftsmanship, you have graduated up from something beat up to your nice new machine which I think you really love, and I feel your skill base has grown, The other guys who have subscibed to this post all have given very wise council , on this journey through life.
 

randyjaco

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#9
I make most of my money these days restoring fine old American Iron with my Chinese machines. People pay good money for my work, but never ask what I want for my Asian machines. Good Asian machines turn out good work and are very cost-effective. But they can be a ***** to get parts for in a pinch.
Randy
 

tcarrington

Making miscellaneous parts for years now
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#13
It is the machinist or craftsman who makes the part. I have seen some wonderful things made with the simplest and crudest of tools. Good going and keep at it.
 

projectnut

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#14
I am also in the "Buying old American Iron" camp. Not that I don't have an Asian machine or two, I just prefer "Old American Iron". Keep in mind there is a difference between "old" and "old and worn out". I like to stay away from machines that look like you could invest more time and money bringing it back to life than you would on the projects they're supposed to help create.

I started with a 100+year old belt driven lathe I inherited from my wife's grandfather. Even at its advanced age it was in remarkable condition. Her grandfather made a living with it in a prototype shop for over 40 years. When he retired the machine was retired at the same time and given to him as a retirement present. He kept it in pristine condition and used it regularly until his passing. I've had it going on 20 years and it still puts out quality parts.

Finding old American iron in good condition takes time, patience, and perseverance. There are many more old and worn out machines up for sale than there are old machines in good shape. I find the best places to look are high schools, technical schools, universities, and shops either downsizing or upgrading equipment. Many machines are retired not because they are worn out but rather because they can't produce at a rate needed to be profitable. A friend of mine runs a job shop mostly dong work for auto manufacturers. A few years ago he had to upgrade some machinery for fear of losing contracts.

The old Brown & Sharp screw machines he was using to make brake bleeders were in good condition and still worked fine. The problem was that they couldn't produce fast enough to meet the demand. His old machines could take a piece of raw stock and turn it into a finished bleeder in 2.8 seconds. He needed to bring that time down to 1.8 seconds to meet the demand and still make a profit. He replaced 10 of his 12 machines with considerably quicker CNC machines (I don't know the brand) but he saved 2 as a backup "just in case". The machines he did replace aren't retired. They went to other shops where their speed was sufficient to create other products.
 
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Downwindtracker2

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#15
A 1340 Standard Modern came up at sealed bid auction. Oh , how I wanted it. It had been run out of oil, so that was why it was there. My bid of $2500 was third highest. It went for $2800. The gears would have been fine, but I wouldn't bet on the bearings. Fast forward a few months and a lathe and mill showed up on Craig's list. I jumped on it at $1700. A fair bit less then he asked. They were a '92 DF1224g lathe and genuine '02 RF-45 mill drill. Both are Taiwanese. They not perfect, they do need work. Grizzly has been good for some of the parts But at least I'm able to use them. The mill has about paid for itself in two projects at the $1500 I valued it at. Would it have been nice to have $20,000 lathe , it was well equipped , for $5000. Sure. Bearing would have gone over $2000 at least. But both of these 1100# bench top machines only take up the floor space that the Standard Modern would. Old iron isn't common around here, so I would be still waiting. The hearse would have arrived first. I ended up with the perfect pair. Messy, though, all those chips.
 
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Reeltor

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#16
Anything that is for sale is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. With machines whether they are old vintage or more recent used ones, you need to know when to pass and wait for another one to come along. In many cases the decision rests on what you can buy the machine for. If the price is right, the risk of picking up a worn out one is worth it, at least it is to me. I've been very lucky picking up used machines, but I'm sure glad I didn't buy the first lathe that I found. A worn out turret lathe and I didn't really know what I was looking at.

Mike
 

jhuston

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#17
I'm a power tool repairman by trade; I spend six days a week repairing tools and equipment made on the other side of the world as cheaply as possible. You couldn't pay me to put a foreign made machine in my shop ( with the exception of English or German products). I know a lot of folks who do great things with Chinese machines, and with some fine tuning/ upgrades many SE Asian machines do just fine, but I honestly don't see much difference between investing time doing fit and finish work the factory overseas should have done, and rebuilding an older, but still functional American machine that still has it where it counts.
In all fairness, my machines aren't used for production, although they are money makers for me, and I enjoy rebuilding machines and prefer running a machine I know intimately from a complete restoration.
Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

-James Huston
 

brino

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#18
I also think on the folks who gave me encouragement, Freely given, An old wood patternmaker, a ships engineer , an old brass moulder and last but not least a very decent old Jewish tool dealer in Glasgow , who steered me through the various essential tools I would require , Frequently stopping me from spending my money in a reckless manner and saying "Buy this tool its cheaper and will be more useful" I still treasure the tools I purchased in his little shop
The world needs more Isaac's.
-brino
 

Scruffy

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#19
Plus one brino. I have Been very fortunate to have met some great people to help me along. Pre 2012 I had never even seen a lathe operated.
The only reason my machines are large is they were cheap and I had the space and means to move them.
Thanks scruffy ron
 

Mr Mike

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#20
Don't make the mistake I did looking for that used old lathe , milling machine, or what ever. I waited and searched for years for the good deal I could afford with the idea I would learn my way into rebuilding the equipment into something useful. That's a good scheme if you want to learn how to rebuilt someone's worn out, rusted, missing pieces, used up, treasure they thought was worth more than scrap price. I've already done that with antique cars and it was fun doing it with my Dad. But I went years without the fun of making things with a good lathe or learning how to run a milling machine. With time running out for me on this planet I was fortunate to get discount coupons in the mail to the new outlet in town selling China made machines. For next to nothing I bought a little 6x11 or something sized lathe with 3 and 4 jaw chuck ready to plug in and use. I learned a lot making it into a better machine and launched myself into a 9x20 lathe. It was no prize until I learned how to stiffen the tool post, tighten up the adjustments and I have made some parts I am really proud of. I have added one of those mini mills to my shop and it is a joy to use it right out of the box.
If I would have known from the start what I know now about the 9 X 20s, I would have just bought one new and fixed the Tool Post Issue. Oh don't get me wrong, I still would have been hunting for an older American lathe.

Don't wait months or a year looking for that great lathe for a cheap price. You will get it, when your not looking for it - It will creep up and smack you right in the head, and mean while you have a reasonable starter machine thats capable. If anyone ever asks me hey Mike what should I start with, thats exactly what I would tell them. Not everyone should or can take on rebuilding machines but everybody should and can have fun on a cheap capable small lathe.

It doesn't matter if its made in China, or Dertushie - After you had some fun, sell it for one you want... Because now you'll have first hand knowledge of what you want.

I would say to probably pick the Grizzly - G4000 its a 9" x 19", its the same basic machine as the old Central Machinery and Jet 9" x 20". its capable and cheap and may have the same tool post issue, but if / when you decided to try to sell it.. you can get most of your money back to put towards another machine - as opposed to buying an even more expensive piece then trying to sell that.

My reasoning is that most people, like me that want start out but know nothing about lathes, Are looking for a place to start and a machine that will be usable. smaller machines are fine but come with small everything and for just a few dollars more you can literally get double the machine and usability...
 
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jhuston

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#21
Mr Mike, that's a good point. One of the things I like most about this site is the lack of machine snobbery- You know, the kind of thing where someone asks what their starter lathe should be, or if they can do certain work on , say, an Atlas lathe , and are immediately told that anyone who doesn't own a dialed in Hardinge or Monarch shouldn't even bother trying to learn to machine. I've seen it on other machining sites and it's sad to see someone be discouraged before they even start.
Sometimes it does pay to get a lathe or mill to get your feet wet with the idea you'll probably trade up once you have a better feel for what you want out of a machine. I know I went through a few lathes figuring out what I wanted, and the experience was invaluable.

-James Huston
 

ezduzit

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#22
...Sometimes it does pay to get a lathe or mill to get your feet wet with the idea you'll probably trade up once you have a better feel for what you want out of a machine...
Perhaps an inexperienced guy can't quite get it right on his very first lathe purchase. But I think he should at least try...do his own due diligence...shop around...be patient...learn what he can before committing to his first lathe (or other major machine purchase). He'll probably wind up with a sizable investment in tooling and accessories, much of which may not be suitable for his "next" machine.
 

jhuston

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#23
It also depends on where you are. I'm in the heart of the rust belt, and lathes and mills abound in Northern Ohio. It's a lot easier for a Mid-Westerner to pick and choose.
I can definitely relate to selling lathes with more tooling than when I bought them...sigh...
-James Huston
 

Mr Mike

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#24
Perhaps an inexperienced guy can't quite get it right on his very first lathe purchase. But I think he should at least try...do his own due diligence...shop around...be patient...learn what he can before committing to his first lathe (or other major machine purchase). He'll probably wind up with a sizable investment in tooling and accessories, much of which may not be suitable for his "next" machine.
The person that I'm thinking of is a person that feels handy would like to learn to make stuff with a lathe but never has, May or may not even have a purpose in mind for it.

Thats the beauty of the 9" x 20" your not going to invest heavily in tooling or a machine, You have a decent lathe to start learning on, you could spend a year getting familiar with operation and safety - Crafting your own cutters out of blanks, Learn proper setup, example --> as your facing you will inevitably have a tit left on the face, you just got your first challenge of figuring out how to solve that. backlash OMG is this normal how do I work with it... the starters learning list goes on and on.
I see your perspective and yes its not the law they have to buy a 9" x 20' lathe but its a reasonable suggestion for someone that has no idea what they need.
 
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ezduzit

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#25
...Thats the beauty of the 9" x 20" your not going to invest heavily in tooling or a machine, You have a decent lathe to start learning on, you could spend a year getting familiar with operation and safety - Crafting your own cutters out of blanks, Learn proper setup, example...
It was the same with my 12" x 35" (except for the investing heavily in tooling :) ), but I'm not facing the need to upgrade immediately, if ever.
 

Mr Mike

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#26
It was the same with my 12" x 35" (except for the investing heavily in tooling :) ), but I'm not facing the need to upgrade immediately, if ever.
The same, In what respect.. I would love to hear how you got your lathe.. How long were you searching and what not.
 

ezduzit

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#27
I searched very diligently for many months after searching halfheartedly until I was ~70. :) My lathe and mill were purchased together for $2,000. Though several boxes of tooling came with the lathe I still had to buy stuff like steady rest, taper attachment, threading dial, scrolling 4-jaw chuck, a bunch of QCTP holders, collets, etc.

Photos show the condition of these machines as they were being moved into my shop and also where they presently reside.

mill-2.jpg
shop-5.jpg
 

Fallriverbryan

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#28
My Atlas lathe was donated to the South Wayne, Wi FFA [Future Farmers of America) yearly fundraising auction. It came from a gentlemans garage. He was sent to the home and his lathe was sent to the auction. I was able to plug it in and see that the motor turned, but that was it. I had been waiting for 3 years to find something for the wife/accountant to complain about taking up space in the garage. It went something like....[YOU PAID HOW MUCH]. Tailstock wouldn't move. Cartridge was stiff but it fit the bill. $350 and it was ours. I've cleaned and oiled it to get it operable. Did some horse trading for a newer motor. (I burned the old motor up during the refurbishing) and rewired it. The grandson likes it. I hope he gets it when I'm sent to the home.
PhotoPictureResizer_170903_075250133-1008x756.jpg

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core-oil

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#30
Would you be happy with British or German? I don't have American but I do love my Colchester Chipmaster and my Deckel FP1.

Paul.
Sam,
A Colchester and a Deckel, The windows of heaven have opened up and dropped them down on you Nirvana -- Absolutely heavenly machines!
 
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