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New Owner Of A Compact 8...I have an odd question!

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The Fishing Hobby

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#1
Hello! I'm new to the forum and I know it is going to be a useful resource to me. I'm working on a project and was in need of a larger lathe than my very old 7x10 Harbor Freight lathe. I found an Emco Compact 8 through Craigslist and ended up bringing it home with me for $425. It ran really good but it looks like a well used machine that hasn't been babied. It isn't pretty but it is a much nicer machine than what I have been using! I couldn't believe how much more rigid it is and it feels like a really nice machine. I am going to start cleaning it up, but I don't think I will be doing any repainting for now...I need to put it to use.

My odd question is this, how do you open the door on the factory Emco base cabinet??? Is there a locking mechanism in the hole or is it some sort of recessed latch? I asked the guy who I bought it from and he said he never was able to open it and it didn't come with a key when he bought it from a community college machine shop. I'd like to be able to use the cabinet for storage but I am not having any luck getting it to open.

Back to the lathe itself, as much as it looks like it has been used...I couldn't find even a small ding or mark on the ways! Must have been some really nice cast iron they used on these! The spindle seems to be good and tight as do all the cross feed and compound feeds. The biggest issue with the machine (and I noticed it when I inspected it) is that the lever for the half-nuts won't move. I looked at the half-nuts as much as I could see and they look to be in tact and I can see threads in them, they just aren't moving. I'll figure out what is going on there when I start cleaning everything up I'm sure.

Really excited about this lathe. It cuts so much better than my little HF model, no comparison really. I will post some pictures of it when I start the cleanup process. If anyone has any tips about this model they would like to share, I'd really appreciate them!

Thanks everyone and I'm glad to be a member of the group!
 

Ulma Doctor

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#2
congrats on the new to you lathe!!!
emco imported some very nice lathes from Austria, you'll have lots of fun getting to know her.

you may need to disassemble the apron to find out what is binding the half nuts.
it could be they are frozen from not being used, but the cause should be apparent upon takedown

good luck, let me know if you have difficulty, i'd be happy to share any knowledge i have
 

The Fishing Hobby

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congrats on the new to you lathe!!!
emco imported some very nice lathes from Austria, you'll have lots of fun getting to know her.

you may need to disassemble the apron to find out what is binding the half nuts.
it could be they are frozen from not being used, but the cause should be apparent upon takedown

good luck, let me know if you have difficulty, i'd be happy to share any knowledge i have
Thank you, I'm sure I will have lots of questions!
 

Latinrascalrg1

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Not sure of the type of lock you atre dealing with but im going to gonout on a limb and assume its not some class ten high security time safelock .....with that said do a google search for lock picking of the type of lock you have on the cabinet and then get to work picking it. Once again Im betting that you will have it open within 15 minutes it you pay attention to the instructions and actually try.
 

lordbeezer

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Half nut lever might have a lock out if power feed is engaged..
 

mikey

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I helped a good friend refurbish an Emco Compact 8 a few years ago. Came out like this:

Lathe-2.jpg

I am attaching the user's manual and parts breakdown below; they can be difficult to find.

Like most manual Emco lathes, Emco no longer supports these lathes so any parts you need will probably need to be sourced on ebay. The number one eBay seller is now called "emco_hobby-shop". The seller is a good guy and responds to emails. You will find that when he finds a lathe, he'll part it out so if you can't find something now, keep checking. He doesn't always list stuff that he has so an email is a good idea, too.

Occasionally, you can find new parts here: https://www.emcomachinetools.co.uk/index.php?route=product/category&path=5_71. The owner does not always list parts he has so an email is always a good idea, even if you don't see it on the site.

The Compact 8 was actually built to a tool room standard and is very nicely put together, like a Swiss watch. Everything fits, nothing needs to be forced. It is a change gear lathe so you must have the full gear set to really use this lathe or cut threads. Here is one but like all parts Emco, it will cost you because they are no longer available new: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Emco-Compa...=item5b400d65d6:g:cWQAAOSwiHpZ-LbP:rk:10:pf:0

There is a thread dial indicator that fits both the Compact 8 and Maximat 7. These are not that common so if you see one, grab it. Here is one right now on ebay for a good price: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Emco-Maxim...h=item3d6a0e28b4:g:x7kAAOSwkyxbLC59:rk:7:pf:0

There is no factory made carriage stop; you will need to make your own.

The spindle is quite accurate. The one in the pic has 0.0001" TIR. The cross slide and compound have zero backlash so it is quite a nice lathe.

I suggest some spare belts. The belts run under quite high tension and are considered consumables.

An OXA qctp fits quite nicely on this lathe. You will need to mod the tool post stud but it is well worth doing.

Sorry, I have not seen the OEM cabinet for this lathe so I have no idea how to open it. Most Emco cabinets have a turn key lock, though.

Congrats on the new lathe and welcome to HM. If you have other questions about the Compact 8, let me know and I'll ask my friend to have a look at his lathe. He loves it!
 

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The Fishing Hobby

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I have seen your friend's lathe all over the internet :D
That is a real beauty! Mine will have to remain ugly for now but I may repaint somewhere down the road. Thanks for all of the great information. I have seen these lathes called a toy on a lot of forums but it kind of makes me wonder if they have actually had their hands on one. It feels like a really well made piece of machinery. Very smooth controls and very rigid for its size. Maybe they are referring to the size of them and not the quality. I think I have a full set of change gears for it. It had 7 or 8 gears total I think.
 

mikey

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Emco lathes, including the Compact 8, were built to very high standards by Austrians, not Chinese. It is not a toy; it is a well-made precision lathe that is capable of anything within its envelope. I have used this lathe myself so I know exactly what it can do. In fact, other than painting it, I restored most of that orange beauty so I know how well it is made. You have a good lathe there and it is worthy of a teardown and a paint job.

You will find that this lathe, like most in this category, works best with HSS tools. Learn to grind some good tools and I suspect you will be very happy with it.

I've seen some guys criticize it because it is a change gear lathe but these lathes can cut more threads than most lathes with a quick change gear box. Moreover, almost all Emco lathes can be adjusted to run with almost no backlash in the carriage and compound; find another lathe in this class that will even come close. I have parted stainless steel without a hint of chatter and have turned parts with tolerances in the tenths so toy ... no, I don't think so.

I usually don't listen to what other folks say, especially if I suspect that they've never used the machine and are just another source of BS. I prefer to use the machine and form my own opinion. In the case of Emco lathes, I think they are among the finest small lathes in their class. It should also come as no surprise to you that many Chinese lathes are clones of your Compact 8.

Ignore the ignorant and rest assured that you done good!
 

The Fishing Hobby

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I really like it, infinitely better than what I've been using!
 

The Fishing Hobby

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I'm going to do some painting to the lathe as suggested by mikey. I'm going to be taking it apart anyway, so...:)
I think I'll start a separate thread with some pics and progress. If anyone has any tips or pointers as I go along, please let me know!
 

mikey

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I suggest you leave the headstock intact unless there is excessive spindle run out. The rest of the lathe comes apart without much difficulty. Keep the parts breakdown handy and it will be much simpler than you think. Try to group your parts in separate zip locks as they come off. Remember that nothing needs to be forced or pounded on with Emco lathes. Ask if you are not sure how to do something.
 

markba633csi

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All the Emco-Maier lathes are excellent. They also made a milling machine, the FB-2 which is also quite desirable and rare.
Several of their lathes (including the Compact 8 I think) had a provision to mount a milling head at the rear of the bed
Sears also sold a Craftsman branded version of the Compact 8 back in the 70s
mark
 

The Fishing Hobby

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All the Emco-Maier lathes are excellent. They also made a milling machine, the FB-2 which is also quite desirable and rare.
Several of their lathes (including the Compact 8 I think) had a provision to mount a milling head at the rear of the bed
Sears also sold a Craftsman branded version of the Compact 8 back in the 70s
mark
Thanks for the affirmation of the quality of these machines. I have only used one other metal lathe but this one is hands down a much nicer machine. It feels like what I would think an industrial lathe would feel like but scaled down to a hobby sized machine. Very happy and excited with my purchase, no doubt about it!
 

mikey

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The milling attachment on the Compact 8 is the same one used on the Compact 5. Very small, very light duty. Not recommended but if you want one, I may know someone with one for sale.
 

markba633csi

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Agreed. Small and light, but gives added capability, including drilling. Usually rather pricey to add if not included with the lathe.
Coolness factor high, however. :D
m
 

The Fishing Hobby

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The milling attachment on the Compact 8 is the same one used on the Compact 5. Very small, very light duty. Not recommended but if you want one, I may know someone with one for sale.
I could get good use out of one for sure. Most of the things I make are in plastic or aluminum so that would probably work out well in my case. I don't know that I could afford one right now though, but I would definitely be interested in obtaining one. I have a need for one right now for some drilling in plastic (pvc and hdpe) that I have been doing on a drill press.
 

markba633csi

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Blue Ridge (www.blueridgemachinery.com) used to have a fair amount of Emco stuff, not so much now but you might check with them anyhow
mark
 

mikey

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I could get good use out of one for sure. Most of the things I make are in plastic or aluminum so that would probably work out well in my case. I don't know that I could afford one right now though, but I would definitely be interested in obtaining one. I have a need for one right now for some drilling in plastic (pvc and hdpe) that I have been doing on a drill press.
Let me see if my friend would entertain the idea of letting his go. It is essentially unused and is complete. I do not know what kind of price he would have in mind but I'll ask and you can decide if you can handle it.

For the materials you're working with, that little milling attachment would work well.
 

The Fishing Hobby

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The locking mechanism on the base cabinet was unlike any lock I've ever seen. Not sure what a key would look like that would fit it. I spent about 2 hours trying to pick the lock. I am at the point on the lathe overhaul that the bed was removed from the base and I was able to unscrew the locking mechanism from the inside so that is no longer an issue. I will probably just install a latch with a handle or use a magnetic door catch for it. I will need to build some shelves to put in that area because their aren't any in there.
 

plunger

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#23
The emco 8 can cut many more threads than what is shown in the manual. If you need photos or dimensions of that cotter for the tailstock let me know.
emco8.jpg
 
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