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Diy lathe or cheap ancient lathe

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Camnefdt

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#1
Hi everyone!

I am an absolute novice to machine work with the least amount of work time on a lathe and even less on a milling machine.

I have an opportunity to swap some of my belongings for an old britannia colchester lathe which i have managed to identify as one made in like 1920-1930.

There other option I am toying with is going the DIY route which i understand would take time and patients. But I have access to most of the materials i would need for free, and I have the knowledge and capability to do all the construction and precision work myself.

What would you guys recommend? Should I attempt making it myself or should I rather go for the old lathe and work my way with that one for now?
 

Charles Spencer

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#2
It depends. Are you really going to miss whatever you're swapping for it?
 

Camnefdt

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#3
Well we all like our toys haha its a road bicycle and a couple rc planes.

Also considered not the cheapest of things to replace here in south africa.

To be honest i am sort of leaning more towards the diy lathe but just worried about the accuracy.
 

Moderatemixed

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#4
You can alway sell the lathe later, probably for more than an “old bike” and an RC plane that you are likely to crash next week (ask me how I know that this is likely). There is a reason everyone isn’t making their own lathe. That said, use the Colchester to “rebuild” itself. You’ll get the machine time and have a project at the same time. Do the trade and don’t look back. (I got into RC heli’s. Put $5000 into setting myself up, turned it into about $800 4 years later. Machining is costly but nowhere near as costly as some hobbies.). Cheers from Canada!!


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Camnefdt

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#5
Ive been the rc heli route before, those went off to pay for my first car haha.

Does anybody have knowledge or experience with the Britannia colchester lathes? Will try get a pic of the one I'm l can get
 

pontiac428

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#6
The smaller Colchesters are a lot like the South Bend lathes in construction; that should give you an idea about what to expect out of them. The larger Colchesters are pretty nice machines. Either way, you could clean up the lathe, set it up right, sell it, and leverage your next purchase with the proceeds, right?
 

Moderatemixed

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#8
Do the trade. That’ll clean up beautifully. If nothing less, you are moving from depreciating dust collectors to one that is appreciating, lol.


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Camnefdt

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#9
Well I guess thats it, time to start investing my life savings on tools and mesauring devices
 

Nogoingback

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#10
Hi everyone!

I am an absolute novice to machine work with the least amount of work time on a lathe and even less on a milling machine.

I have an opportunity to swap some of my belongings for an old britannia colchester lathe which i have managed to identify as one made in like 1920-1930.

There other option I am toying with is going the DIY route which i understand would take time and patients. But I have access to most of the materials i would need for free, and I have the knowledge and capability to do all the construction and precision work myself.

What would you guys recommend? Should I attempt making it myself or should I rather go for the old lathe and work my way with that one for now?

In your post you indicate that you are an absolute novice to machine work, yet you have the knowledge and capability to do the construction
and precision work yourself. Not questioning your skills, but it's a bit difficult to assess your abilities based on this post. Building a decent lathe
from scratch is a pretty significant task. I'd go with the Britannia: you'll learn a lot from getting it back in shape and using it, and you can always
build a lathe later if you choose to. Here's some information on Britannia's:

http://www.lathes.co.uk/britannia/
 

Nogoingback

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Downunder Bob

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#12
That little lathe looks like it will clean up nicely. Go for it.
 

markba633csi

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#13
Check carefully for broken gear teeth- that's about the best piece of advice I can give, and it's something that would be hard to fix
Everything else is just normal wear which you can accommodate
Mark
ps put aside the idea of building your own lathe
 

Camnefdt

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#14
In your post you indicate that you are an absolute novice to machine work, yet you have the knowledge and capability to do the construction
and precision work yourself. Not questioning your skills, but it's a bit difficult to assess your abilities based on this post. Building a decent lathe
from scratch is a pretty significant task. I'd go with the Britannia: you'll learn a lot from getting it back in shape and using it, and you can always
build a lathe later if you choose to. Here's some information on Britannia's:

http://www.lathes.co.uk/britannia/
I have experience with alot of hand fabrication, never had the proper machinery though so I am confident in my skills and patients to achieve a level to which I could build the lathe to start making its own parts.
 

Brian Hutchings

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#15
There's a good source of information about machinery on this site 'http://www.lathes.co.uk/', I'm sure Brittania is mentioned.
All the best,
Brian
 

ericc

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#16
If you can find yourself a basket case lathe, it is much easier than starting from scratch. I hear of a lot of people getting stuck on casting the Gingery lathe bed and aligning the ways so the saddle does not bind. If you have a bed and saddle that move smoothly, you are ahead of the game. I started trying to build my own machine tools, and I have a fully stocked blacksmith shop. It didn't work out so well. First, these weren't quite the correct tools, and second, it's a lot of work.
 

derf

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#17
Trying to build a lathe without a lathe is like trying to produce eggs with no chickens....:dejected:
 

Camnefdt

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#18
Haha, yea i was considering keeping it absolute basic as possible to start and when i get to a point of turning, make it more and more 'complex' and refined
 

Camnefdt

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#19
But I'm driving through in the morning to go fetch the colchester, its about a 4 hour drive to go get it
 

ericc

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#20
If that lathe even works a little bit, you will find out that it can start making its own parts pretty quickly. When I started out, the little lathe I got was not quite at this stage. It is now there. And, it was able to make parts for the basket case South Bend that I just got. The South Bend is just now at the point that it can start making its own parts. Eventually, it will be at the point that it can do this for another machine (another basket case).

A friend of mine told me that I think too much like a blacksmith. He said that it doesn't work that way for machine tools. I don't see much on the Internet saying he's wrong, but the bootstrap method seems to be working. And, my from scratch efforts have all failed.
 

JC54

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#21
Been in your position, bought an old basket case lathe off "fleabay" and rebuilt it. Never used a lathe in my life but am now learning more than I ever thought I would and just starting to turn out reasonable parts. Have used it to make some new parts to renovate it, and improve the lathe and my accuracy and skill levels. Now proud of what I achieve with a 1910 lathe that most people said was only good for scrap... Just started on my list of engines that I wish to build...
 
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