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Live center and dead center quality and prices

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porthos

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#1
i like my equiptment to be better than i am; but, the prices of centers from low to high is very large. what would be the difference between a $ 20.00- $30.00 dead center and a $200.00 dead center or a $50.00 dead center and a $300.00 + live center. accuracy?? durability?? what would i be gaining by going to the high end centers (which i won't be doing ; but, very curious?)
 

T Bredehoft

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#2
Dead centers are for slow revs. If they are carbide, they can be used at higher speeds. With this exception, a live center is far preferable to a dead center in today's usage., There are uses for dead centers, but the average hobbyist won't encounter them. Exceptions probably will follow.
 

benmychree

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#3
Probably accuracy, concentricity, and long life are the differences, add to that, "Made in USA".
 

markba633csi

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#4
Dead centers can be useful for supporting the end of a tap handle when tapping a workpiece in the chuck or collet
Mark
 

benmychree

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#5
To my experience, a drill chuck works much better, as the tap wrenches do not really hold a tap entirely concentric or angularly accurate; I do have a tap wrench with the pilot at the back end to hold in a drill chuck, but seldom use it.
 

P. Waller

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#6
If you spin a loaded live center 4-6 hours per day 5 days per week at 2000 RPM's the difference will quickly become obvious.

For rude and crude work I use cheap live centers <$200.00, for important work Royal centers >$500.00. The cheap ones rarely last 1 year and are thrown in the scrap when done for. You can buy 3 or 4 for the cost of a good one that will live through several years of use. When the low cost ones begin to make clicking sounds and chatter marks on the work, toss them and buy a new one, repeat as required.
 

Ray C

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#7
The most expensive live centers I own are probably about $100 (MT-3 size) and have had them for about 7 years. They are "medium duty" units capable of holding pieces up to about 350lbs as I recall. Heavy duty units are made to handle several hundred pounds more. A typical hobby lathe will never see anything that heavy and a light or medium duty live center will be fine.

The body diameter of a medium duty live center in MT-3 size is about 2 to 2.25". If the stock piece is very short, the body can get in the way of the tool post so, it's good to have a dead center around if you ever end-up in that pinch. An extended point live center is handy to have. When using a dead center at the tailstock, carbide tipped is preferred. It needs to be lubricated generously. Some folks use graphite. White lead was common but not available anymore (as far as I know). Keep an eye on the temperature. If the lube dries up, that tip can get really hot, really fast.

Dead center with carbide tips cost a little more than those without. The carbide tip is much more durable when used at the tailstock end to hold a piece. If you're spinning between centers, the dead center at the spindle end does not need to be carbide tipped because there's no friction there.
The price difference between the two is not all that much last time I checked.

Ray
 
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