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[4]

EMCO UNIMAT 3 Austrian built Mini Lathe

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Micke S

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#1
This is a small Austrian built mini lathe with milling equipment that I use from time to time. It is probably around 30 years old but appeared to be unused when I got it 2 years ago. I paid 700 dollars for it and it has a huge amount of accessories and a quick change tool post with several tool holders. http://www.lathes.co.uk/emco/page3.html

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Jamespvill

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#2
Please tell me that those came with that awesome little cabinet in the link you provided!

Those are in pristine looking condition for being 30 years old. Apparently no one has mistaken them for being 2000 lb machines and ripped them to shreds.

I bought a little harbor freight lathe a few years ago, it treated me well for its life. Unfortunately a bad motor resulted in a short life span and it has since been returned to the store. I'm gonna have to buy another little lathe one of these days, there is something intriguing to me about something so small being able to cut metal...

Care to show off and parts made on those?
 

Micke S

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#3
The wooden cabinet with all good stuff didn't come with my machine ...But I'm happy the milling unit was in and the fine tool post etc.

I couldn't find a lot of pictures from my use of the lathe, and it hasn't been used much yet. I've not done any real precision work on it. The picture below is a little press fit cap I did for a transmission axle on a 80 CC 2T engine.

The lathe is a well balanced little machine. Your worry for such small machines not being strong enough for turning metal is motivated - You need to be light on the cross feed to not lock the work-piece with the steel or get a ribbed surface. The tendency can be seen on the second picture...I wasn't aware of it until I looked on the cap in a high res picture but could heard a humming sound during the cut when I put some pressure on the tool.

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Bishop

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#4
There are nice lathes and capable of some precision work. I have the mill attached to the lathe bed where it is basically a drill press. I can't see milling with it in that setup being very productive. I like the separate milling table you have and have thought about buying a micro mill table for mine.

Shawn
 

Jamespvill

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#5
The wooden cabinet with all good stuff didn't come with my machine ...But I'm happy the milling unit was in and the fine tool post etc.

I couldn't find a lot of pictures from my use of the lathe, and it hasn't been used much yet. I've not done any real precision work on it. The picture below is a little press fit cap I did for a transmission axle on a 80 CC 2T engine.
Heck, who says it has to be precision? Or even functional for that matter! Anything made has it's place even if that as a paper weight. Regardless, it's good to see functional parts being turned up too!
 

Rick Leslie

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#6
Very clean little lathe, especially for the age. I've got the same lathe, bought new in the early 80s for light gunsmithing. They are great and very convenient. Unfortunately mine isn't nearly as clean, but it still runs great. If this is your first mini, you'll wonder how you got by without it.
 

Chips4Lips

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#7
For those who might still be looking for a small lathe to get started with or one that is just smaller in size and capability, these are a surprisingly decent machines. There's not a lot of "smoke and mirror" claims about extreme accuracy from the original Emco/Unimat literature but as the old phrase goes, the aspect of "accuracy" is still in the hands of the person operating the machine. With some machines you may be able to buy "more capability" but the accuracy more likely comes from the experience and knowledge of what you know and are able to determine about the machine and what you're able to accomplish with it. These Mod-III's have a long list of accessories and at times on the "Ebay" listings, you'll find someone selling something that their Dad or Uncle invested in some years ago and will have about everything you can wish for with a price that you won't believe! Most of the packages sold there have a minimal range of accessories and the ones that are apparently in higher demand yet, will still command a price that you might wonder about, but as with many things that are "out of production," finding the replacement may be more than half the battle and sometimes partially justifies the prices.

Some of the accessory parts are strictly die cast items and as such don't always permit the long life needed with hardened surfaces but with some care and attention to measuring to qualify the capabilities of the machine, you can still manage to achieve some "decent" results in steel if needed. "Decent" means that your expectations are staying in line with your results. When those two things get out of sync with each other, then you'll likely have a totally different range of experiences. When these machines were first sold, they offered a good deal of accessories for use with wood more than metal. From all the options available, there is a sense of a company wanting to sell a totally "one-stop-shop" that won't take up much space on the kitchen table and they pulled it off. The optional vertical post permits it to become a drill press or even a mill if you exercise extreme patience and caution with those various collets, chucks and other means of holding sharp tools while they're rotating. There may be a tendency to compare these lathes with a range of "watchmakers lathes" that are built for a more specialized type of use and there really is no comparison. If conditions of the equipment were considered as "excellent" in both cases, the Emco-III will still fall short in some respects for the final accuracy however it was really never made as a comparable tool system even though a less experienced operator might think so given the approximate range of sizes and capabilities in both types of lathes. There is a significant range of parts and "spares" available today from a wide range of companies that can all serve to improve on the general capabilities from this lathe. While there were definite areas of quality with some components, others were lacking in either the controls established for their manufacturing or the final quality signoffs established ... or both! I don't believe that Emco/Maximat actually manufactured all of the accessories and as such brought in the results from a range of vendors - all capable in different aspects of their work. Another consideration that impacts what we see in these lathes and their components today is that the overall volume of parts produced might be considered "small" by some standards today. Even if there were process controls that might have been utilized (via a range of various European vendors) their ability to provide consistently tight ranges of dimensions on their parts would likely have been compromised to some extent by the needs for "smaller than usual" production orders and possibly by the general "pricing restraints" that likely existed for a system to be manufactured in Austria and then shipped and sold in the U.S. with a mix of sources.

I have something of an on-going project (meaning it's "well underway" but just not finished yet) with this same lathe right now and its conversion to becoming a CNC lathe with quite a number of changes and modifications to the original bed as well as some of the attachments sold with this system. For me, it's more about the enjoyment of taking a fairly "encrusted" machine that I picked up in a pawn shop for a good price - and making it considerably more useful in either my shop or "yours" (if you're the lucky bidder) when it's done. It's destined to be a "one-stop-machine" with far more accuracy and repeatability than originally was there and with capabilities that were never found on machines of this type for many reasons like "chuck indexing, variable speed motor with no pulley changes and a far more extensive range of chucks and collet systems that will provide more flexibility in the holding methods to obtain the optimum accuracy." It's all going to run from a stand-alone computer running Mach-III and is all contained within one stable and still easily movable work-table for the shop. When this project gets closer to being wrapped up, I'll post some photos and further details about the capabilities it will offer. Until then, maybe these ideas will prompt some others to look at the opportunities available with these small lathes (you should also consider the "V and VII" versions from the same manufacturer) to increase their capabilities and add a useful and valuable tool to your shop, not to mention what you'll learn along the way of accomplishing these things. The lathes from "Emco/Unimat" in a range of sizes all appear to offer a lot of options to make them even more useful today if you're willing to investigate and learn how to make it happen. Fortunately there are enough of them in the hands of the general public to be able to "pick and choose" those that have either been taken care of along the way OR as many will advertise, "Dad bought it for some reason and it's been packaged in this original box in the closet for all of those years since!" In that case, you'll probably end up paying a bit more, but with some of the components that are cast instead of machined, the question of "useful life" is a subject to pay attention to. Once the castings become worn excessively, there may be options to insert and recover those necessary surfaces to their original sizes but that's something you'll have to decide after some further analysis. Many people try to define the "quality of the machine" by some relative statement of "how much accuracy can you expect to get out of the machine" and if I were to offer an opinion in this manner, I would suggest that the original new lathe with the appropriate equipment might have been able to work within a range of +/- level of .002" to .003" - and with some additional attention to other details that would likely impact this figure, I believe it could be improved to about half of that figure or +/- .001 to .0015" with some care and attention to the methods used. This is not to say that everyone will get that level of performance using the current dials and foil taped indexing schemes that these lathes were sold with. What I am saying though is that there's enough residual quality in the main bed, headstock, tailstock, bearings, etc. to permit an experienced person to achieve that level of work in general out of this lathe. With the addition of the controls via CNC instead of my fingertips, that potential is further increased slightly - but here too, we're not "making the silk purse ... sows ear" example here, we're just trying to qualify the potential for this small lathe to be a viable and reasonably accurate addition to your shop. If we can't at least accomplish this, then we're just talking about a machine to make chips instead of parts.

It's all about keeping a reasonable perspective of what you're likely to pay for what you're likely to get! Good luck in your searches and your purchases. Thanks.
 

manfredv1

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#8
I have a recently purchased an Emco Compact 5 that I am cleaning up - refurbishing. It has some issues with the lead screw being loose - shifting forward and backward in it's mountings. No help in manuals. Any suggestions as to where I might be able to find some help?
 
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