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Hafco AL900A lathe, is anyone able to identify what it really is?

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dgrev

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#1
Hello all.

I have bought a lathe in Outback Australia and would like to try and identify it and get a handbook.

It claims to be a HAFCO AL900A, which could mean it is a Shun Shin (Taiwan) lathe circa 1980 to 1985.
The same manufacturer also appears to have supplied nameplates in a dog's breakfast selection of
brands. Possibly Herless, Pacific, Enco etc. But I have yet to find any with those name plates that have
the same appearance, close yes, the same no.

See photo attached. Noteworthy is the main hand wheel located on the RHS.

I seem to be able to find various lathes on line which look similar, especially with the the 2 view glasses on the headstock,
but they all have the traditional tumbler gear lever over on the LHS, but this lathe doesn't?

Apologies for the poor quality photo, but it is all I have until next weekend when I can collect the lathe.

Regards
Doug
 

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Mitch Alsup

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#2
I can tell you the Norton Gearbox, the thread versus drive, and the forward/backward levers are in the same place as my Grizzly G4003G.

What I don't see are the spindle RPM selection gear controls.
 

dgrev

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#3
Hello Mitch

The spindle speed has me puzzled too.

On the lathes I can find online, there are many that appear similar, but have a definite "step" or shelf in the area immediately above the thread/speed selector handles. Some have data plates on there others do not. See attached photo of a Jet 1236 which I found online last night. I have found photos of the Grizzly 4003 and am downloading a manual for it from the Grizzly site as I type, thanks for the info!

I am told that the main hand wheel being on the RHS side is an alteration for the English market, I think they actually mean "British" or
probably most correctly "British Commonwealth" market.

Once I can get access again next week I will take decent photos.

Regards
Doug
 

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dgrev

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#4
On the bed of the Hafco lathe are 3 rods:
1) Lead Screw
2) Feed shaft
3) ? What does it do?

Also have found out that the actual manufacturer may be "Chizhou Jousehold Machine Tool Company" - note their spelling of "Household"!

Yet another brand name it may have been sold under is "Rex-Cut".
Seems like the maker supplied a wide choice of name plates or by request whatever naming the seller/importer wanted.
 

Mitch Alsup

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#5
The third shaft has a lever on the carriage that turns the lathe forward, off, and reverse.
The shaft runs over to a switch near the norton gearbox.
 

dgrev

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#7
Mitch. Thanks for that, it now makes sense as to why there is no forward/reverse lever on the head stock and no power on off buttons mounted above the feed rate handles.
Regards
Doug
The third shaft has a lever on the carriage that turns the lathe forward, off, and reverse.
The shaft runs over to a switch near the norton gearbox.
 

dgrev

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#8

NortonDommi

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#9
Spindle speed is directly below the HAFCO logo. Just about everything Hafco sell now has apron wheel on right. Much easier to use than on left.
Hafco now sells an AL-900B that still looks very similar - have a look at their website and download the manual it will bee nearly the same, in fact they advertise that they have been selling this model for over 20 years.
Hope that helps.
 

dgrev

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#10
NortonDommi

That's the weird thing about it. I have done repeated web searches for the HAFCO website and can never find it.
I keep getting re-directed to Hare and Forbes and they do not list an AL-900. When I emailed them, they said they
had never stocked it.
Do you have a link please?

Regards
Doug

Spindle speed is directly below the HAFCO logo. Just about everything Hafco sell now has apron wheel on right. Much easier to use than on left.
Hafco now sells an AL-900B that still looks very similar - have a look at their website and download the manual it will bee nearly the same, in fact they advertise that they have been selling this model for over 20 years.
Hope that helps.
 

dgrev

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#11
I need to ask some dumb questions as it has been a long time since I was last on a lathe, which was Hercus and Myford stuff at school about 4
decades ago!

A) Because this lathe does not have a "tumbler gear" handle like the lathes I learnt on, the direction change lever is the on/off lever on the far right of the carriage?

B) In the various manuals I have found online for very similar (but not the same) lathes the following seems to be the case:
1) Fitted with a control rod (3rd rod) as above description and thus direction and on/off control.
2) Only 2 rods and with tumbler gear handle for direction control.
The closest manual I have found is a Chizhou PL300-1 CZ 1234 & CZ 1237 which has a confusing set of photos which depicts a 3 rod lathe with a tumbler gear setup and the stepped Norton gearbox.........

C) Does this type of lathe mean that to change between metric and imperial thread cutting requires cog swapping ie. take a cog off and install a different cog or is it a case of reversing the orientation of the cogs?
If cog swapping is the case, then there are no loose cogs with the lathe.......

The chuck and face plate are screw on style. Is it normal to have a reverse direction facility with a screw on chuck - isn't it going to come off?
 
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NortonDommi

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#12
Hi Doug,
It's nearly 1.30 here and just packing in for the night. My apologies, I had a quick look at the catalogue with wrong glasses on and got the number wrong. I'm looking at page 27 of the latest catalogue which has the AL-960B on it. I've just had a look at their site and downloaded the brochure etc. which I attach below. By the look of it it is very similar. I hope that helps.
As to Hare & Forbes I have found that they will say anything to make a sale, don't stock parts and have very little information. I dropped close to 14K with them and though I'd still buy from them if they had what I want at a better price than elsewhere I'd be checking everything carefully before I left the shop.
If you got that lathe at a reasonable price you shouldn't have to many problems and the Taiwanese stuff is pretty good quality.
I bought a new lathe just because I could and I wanted something new for once in my life. Previous was a 1920 Thornton flatbed that I rebuilt from scrap that was to big,(42" swing), for the garage when I bought the house. Lathes I'd used in the workplaces were all old to latest being around 1970 vintage. Just remember every machine is different and has it's own idiosyncrasies.
 

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dgrev

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#13
Hello NortonDommi
A relative by marriage used to live in Takapuna, but now lives in Brown's Bay where my family comes from.
Thanks for your thoughts and the brochures. I know the glasses problem too!
There is certainly a lot of similarity between that lathe and the one I am getting. I am having to assert a lot of patience in that area as it is an estate
scenario and a friend of that family is handling the matter. It has to be moved across the workshop to below a strongback where it can then be lifted.
The event will require Pyramid style technology of 1" water pipe rollers!

Once I can get it to my shed, I can then clean it and report back here, it has a lot of dust and fluff on it.

Regards
Doug
 

NortonDommi

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#14
Hi Doug,
Small world aye? Brother has a place in a spot called Emerald but is shacked up in Sydney at the moment due to mining downturn and sister in Melbourne. I have a bin of bits of pipe specifically for moving stuff and would be lost without them.
I'm sure that lathe will be a good one and look forward to seeing some more pictures.

All the best,
Barry.
 

dgrev

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#15
Barry
I am exercising patience till Tuesday or Wednesday when I can hopefully see it again and get those photos.

The relly who was at Takapuna was a LAME on Air New Zealand. He started off as an Appie with them
on Sunderland/Sandringham flying boats. Retired 5 to 10 years ago to Browns Bay. I would have loved to have had a
ride on a Sunderland, but before my time. He said the corrosion was horrendous.

Regards
Doug
 

NortonDommi

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#16
Hi Doug,
My brother in law is an aircraft engineer but what I know about planes is they have wings. I can remember the flying boats in the harbour when I was young and always wanted to go for a ride, amazing to watch taking off or landing.
I was just looking for info on the AL-900A as my interest is piqued!
Hare & Forbes indeed did sell a HafCo AL-900A lathe as I found a number of references to them. I know that there is a machine tool manufacturing company called Hafco from when I was researching my lathe for information that Hare & Forbes could not supply. At this time I found out that H&F used to be the Australasian agents for Hafco and used the name for their brand name,(it can also be argued that it is a combination of Hare And Forbes COmpany), which I think may have been before they had a falling out.
The machines they sell now they brand as HafCo but are not made by Hafco and apparently not quite as good.

Anyhoo here's a couple of screen shots that date back to around 2012 which prove that Hare & Forbes sold a lathe marketed as a HafCo AL-900A
so next time you talk to a Hare & Forbes salesman ask him if he has his pipe handy.
 

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dgrev

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#17
Barry

Excellent thank you.

I note the user "Iron bark" and have tried to contact him through that site, but for some reason, despite having registered and got approval I am not allowed to make any posts or make any contact? Weird way to run a forum.
I see he says in that attachment you sent me that he has a manual for a Hafco AL-900A, which is the reason I want to contact him.

Regards
Doug
 

Downunder Bob

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#18
Doug, firstly congratulations on buying your lathe. It looks remarkably like an earlier version of mine, which is Liang Dei 1216 from Taiwan. At least if yours is Taiwan madec you should have a fairly good machine. It looks ok for its age and quite modern for that time.

Hafco is the trade name for Hare and Forbes. they sell all sorts of machines mostly made in china but a few from Taiwan. your lathe does have that Taiwan look so you look to be in luck. Prior to buying my lathe I looked at Hafco and got so many confusing stories. It appears that they sell both chinese and taiwanese machines under the same model numbers if the specs are nearly the same, I heard so many bad reports I ended up buying from Modern tools in Melbourne and they only have taiwan lathes. Quite happy with my purchase.

The saddle handwheel on the right is a British / Australian convention, actually I prefer it, you tend to get less hot chips on your hands.

The extra gears for cutting metric may be already mounted under the cover at the left end of headstock. A 120 x 127 gear on same shaft.

the 3rd shaft under saddle is def a fwd stop and reverse switch, although if you have screw on chuck I'd be pretty wary of using it unless there is some locking device.

More pictures will help, especially some close ups.

What size is the lathe and do you have a gap.

I hope that helps.
 

dgrev

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#19
Hello Bob

Thanks for the detailed email.

Heck, another brand name to add to my list!

I will have a look under the cover for the gears. Has to wait until Tues/Wed when the bloke is back in town who represents the estate. Patience lesson for me......

It looks to be a 12 x 36, however I am only assuming that from the 900 in the brand name.

I will attach some phone snaps I took inside the stand. The 4 jaw chuck and faceplate show the screw on. I could detect no other retention
means when I was looking at the 3 jaw insitu. Which puzzled me at the time.
The bloke said he has effectively the same lathe but with Herless brand. Ho
20180606_164005.jpg
20180606_164014.jpg
pefully he may know more.

Recollection is fuzzy, but I seem to recall a gap piece insitu.

Regards
Doug
 

dgrev

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#20
Bob

Would you list the gears that came with your Liang Dei please?

Don't go to the trouble of counting teeth, only if the gears are listed in your manual? I see from the advertising flyer that a "standard accessory" is the change gear set, whatever that includes?

Regards
Doug
 

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#21
Be a couple of days Doug, I'm away at the moment but heading home tomorrow. You'll also need to check if yopurs is imperial o`r metric lead`screw, the do make both, I specifically ordered imperial but of course I can still cut metric with the 120 x 127 gears. the norton gearbox gives a wide variety of pitches in both. I hope your pitch guide is good enough to read when you get it.

Interestingly yours is painted the same green as mine, and most Hafco machines are grey. The cabinet stand looks almost identical as well.

When you get some better photos we'll know a lot more.
 

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#22
G'day Doug, I got home a couple of hours ago had a quick look in handbook for lathe it just lists change gears, but doesn't itemise them I'll have a look tomorrow when I get out in the shop.

From memory I don't think there are any loose ones, just the ones set up on the lathe, which do include the 120 x 127, for metric, but they can be changed around in their configuration to get different ratios there is a chart on the front of the machine. Mostly all the feeds and speeds come from the Norton box.
 

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#23
Bob.

Thanks for that.

I will wait for your reply tomorrow.

Regards
Doug
 

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#24
G'day Doug, see pics below my lathe is set up with 40T driving a 40T via the 127 as idler. there is also a 30T and a 23T in the box. This set up is for imperial gears. the metric set up uses the 120 x127 in the same position and some gears from the norton box also setting it up with the 30 and or 32 T will give more metric gears. The chart is self explanatory. sort of. Hope these pics help.

DSCN8093.JPG
DSCN8094.JPG
DSCN8095.JPG
DSCN8096.JPG
 

dgrev

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#25
Bob

Thanks for that.

I phoned today and should be able to get access (all going well) tomorrow arvo. Hopefully get some pics and get back to you.

Also to go on a missing gears hunt!

Regards
Doug
 

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#26
Hopefully you'll find them under the cover at headstock end.
 

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#27
Bob

Got access to the lathe today at lunchtime.

See attached photos. I forgot to get one of the plate above the
feed levers, but it was pretty damaged and not really readable.
Would you mind taking a clear photo of yours please as the
one in your post above is all blurry?

Also, the bronze coloured plaque on the gear cover has been
damaged as has the main plaque to the left of the L/R lever
(feed/thread lever).
Can I have a photo of yours too please?

There looks to be a 120/127T gear and 2 x 40 T gears currently on
the lathe with the 120 aligned. The family's agent says that he
has never seen any additional gears for the lathe. So looks like
I will have to try and source them.

Can the lathe do any metric threads at all without the 30T and 32T gears?
Or is it 30T and 23T?

Regards
Doug
 

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#28
G'day Doug, sorry about the blurry pic of the thread chart. I'll get another one tomorrow, Car is in the way at the moment. Looks like the gearing is the same. You can cut about half the metric range using the 120 x 127 gear, without using the 30 or 32 T gears, you will need them for the remaining pitches. It will be clearer when I get you a better pic of the chart.

Speaking of Hafco and Hare & Forbes. I have been told by one of their reps that it is one and the same. Hare & Forbes is the name of the company and Hafco is the name of the product. I can't say it's true but that's what they told me. It appears that the bulk of their products come from china with a few of the better ones from Taiwan.

If Hare & forbes can't supply you the gears it looks like the LD ones will probably fit And i'm sure I can get the parts form the dealer in Melbourne. Juist check your lead screw is it 4TPI or 4mm pitch. Also the graduated collars on the cross slide and other handwheels are they calibrated in inches, mm or both

Your lathe looks to be in fairly good condition, needs a bit of a clean but not too bad considering its age. So when do you move it in. can we ask what you paid for it? Do you get any tooling with it or do you have to start from scratch. Is there a decent tool shop in the Hill?
 

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#29
Bob
Interesting, the rep tells a different story to H&F. Doesn't surprise me.

I will check lead screw, but thought that 8TPI was standard on most lathes?

It certainly needs a clean. No indication of there ever being a cover used. The agent said the owner mainly only used it for armature refacing, so hasn't done much work or hard work. Sounds good, but time will tell.

When I have it in my custody, no problems about letting you know the price.

Tooling:
Some taper drill bits.
Both types of steady rest.
4 jaw chuck.
Face plate.
Live centre - how do you internally clean one of them?
Chuck for tail stock.
Knurling tool.
Several micrometers, inside gauge set (forget the name) that you use with a micrometer - telescoping dodads that are shaped like a T and have a screw lock?
Magnetic base with dial indicator. 2nd one that is just the dial, suspect it is broken.
Boring bar and tool holder set - both carbide insert type.
So has the advantage that other than no materials what so ever, is ready to cut metal, after I clean it and level it.
Noticeably absent is conventional tool steel, I saw none at all!

Broken Hill has only Black w--ds for anything remotely close to lathe supplies. Not exactly bargain shopping......

I just noticed you are in Adelaide. Please advise best place to buy material stock?

Regards
Doug
 

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#30
Hi Doug,
I'm following your progress with interest, a new tool acquisition is always exciting. Sounds like basically ready to go.
Snap gauges is the name of the internal gauges. Live centres are usually sealed but if you want access to the bearings most have a screw in retainer at the back of the head. Insert tooling is great but HSS is just as great and better for some things so you may want to keep an eye out on auction sites.
For inserts pretty hard to go past Ebay. I can buy a packet of 10 inserts for less than one locally and they will get delivered faster!
Stuff out of Hong Kong 2 days. Other side of Auckland a week if they arrive.
Looking forward to your pictures.
 
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