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If you bought this lathe what would you do?

oh dear Chinese lathe

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Men Ifr11/12/2018 22:00:08
118 forum posts
10 photos

So after turning down a nice Colchester as it was too big for me I bought a Chester 920 lathe however I'm not too happy with it at the moment - Do I persist trying to sort it or send it back?

Probably the biggest thing I can't fix really are the bed was not cast properly - the rough area is upto 0.2mm deep. Will it make much/any difference though.. I don't know. I've ran the slide up and down with dial against a reference block and that seems good however that's with no load .

There is not much contact between the slide and bed even where the bed is not pitted but I think that is normal for a Chinese machine and can be improved via scraping/lapping.

Another view of the ways

Plenty of grit in the gearbox - but it does have a 9sp gearbox which I like!

More grit/casting sand

Other issues - The half nuts are stuck open

Grit in most ways and between top/cross slide

leadscrew is slightly bent maybe 2-3mm in the middle

Some surface rust, I don't think critical but needs cleaning/oiling

Safety switch for the chuck cover does not allow cover to be opened.

So it's not great - I know it would not be.. but was not expecting it to be this bad. I'll email Chester and see what the say, maybe I'm unlucky and they can swap for a good one.. who knows!

Bazyle11/12/2018 22:27:14
4647 forum posts
185 photos

A long way below acceptable. The dip in the ways is a problem as it will quickly gather dirt and swarf to grind at the saddle and be carried along to gouge scratches. Take a note of the serial number and put it on the forum so it can be traced if let back into circulation. I tis not up to you to scrape it true, even a shaper could do a better job if not ground and nowadays there isn't much excuse for things not being ground in the factory.

Pete Rimmer11/12/2018 22:30:07
367 forum posts
12 photos

Lathe ways should not have marks from a free-hand grinder. You got what you paid for but I'd still be sending that back.

Michael Gilligan11/12/2018 22:32:50
13547 forum posts
586 photos
Posted by Men Ifr on 11/12/2018 22:00:08:

... I bought a Chester 920 lathe ...

So it's not great - I know it would not be.. but was not expecting it to be this bad. I'll email Chester and see what the say, maybe I'm unlucky and they can swap for a good one.. who knows!


That would certainly seem the best approach

... Surely this cannot be typical of their offering, and must be a dud that slipped through.


John Haine11/12/2018 22:34:16
2573 forum posts
133 photos

If you bought it new from Chester, it has a bent leadscrew and the half nuts stuck open, there's no question, it is not of merchantable quality. Reject it with even attempting to fix any of the problems.

And I suggest that you insist on a refund.

Edited By John Haine on 11/12/2018 22:35:17

Roger Baker 211/12/2018 22:46:48
14 forum posts

The half nuts are probably stuck with a waxy goo. Pull the apron apart and give it a good clean will probably fix that issue.


Mark Rand11/12/2018 22:52:30
729 forum posts

That lathe might be ok as a worn out, second hand fixer-upper project. As a new machine, it's not fit for purpose. Send it back.

You could possibly drive up to Syston and have a look at ArcEurotrade's SC4 as an alternative.

Hopper11/12/2018 22:54:16
3651 forum posts
72 photos

Wow that's disappointing in a new lathe. I promise not to mention Myford, or Boxford, or Raglan...

What would I do? Get my money back. Absolutely not fit for purpose.

Edited By Hopper on 11/12/2018 22:58:23

Paul Kemp11/12/2018 23:43:31
285 forum posts
9 photos

Send her back and then see if the Colchester is still available and extend the shed! Even a worn Colchester will do you better than that.


Men Ifr12/12/2018 00:15:17
118 forum posts
10 photos

Well thanks for the replies, I'll see what Chester say tomorrow. I'll have a look at the arc website to see what they have got.

Kiwi Bloke12/12/2018 01:15:40
220 forum posts
1 photos

Good grief! It's junk! Demand a full refund, including all out-of pocket expenses incurred in undoing the deal. You have the law on your side.

Let the forum know what happened. If retailers peddle such rubbish without shame, they need to bear the consequences, including adverse publicity.

Sadly, this illustrates the problem of unreliable quality control, which appears to extend all the way from manufacturer (rather an optimistic term in this case) to retailer. With so much stuff being imported from unknown sources, often sporting 'reliable' brand names, you just can't buy on trust any more. And it's probably going to get worse, before it gets better...

Chris Trice12/12/2018 01:29:34
1362 forum posts
9 photos

China's equivalent of scraping the bed no doubt? I'll just go and Auto Glym my Super 7 again before lovingly patting its little belt cover and tucking it in for the night.

John McNamara12/12/2018 01:31:58
1298 forum posts
113 photos

I am speechless, that machine is one of the worst new imports I have ever seen.

Well almost speechless, however the invective I would use for the vendor is not in polite use.

Back it goes all expenses paid by the vendor.
And only a full cash refund including any bank feed paid by the purchaser.


Tony Pratt 112/12/2018 06:49:02
874 forum posts
2 photos

Money back!!!!!


Iain Downs12/12/2018 08:46:27
478 forum posts
361 photos


In 3 or so years on this forum I think this is the first time the posters have ALL AGREED!

Whilst I claim no expertise in the matter in hand, I must agree just to keep this (unusual) solidarity.

Junk! Send it Back!


JasonB12/12/2018 09:12:06
15740 forum posts
1646 photos
1 articles

Considering your other posts about the accuracy you seem to be chasing I am really surprised you went for a 920 which is probably one of the more dated and agricultural designs of Far Eastern machine on the marketcrook

not done it yet12/12/2018 09:52:51
3144 forum posts
11 photos

I wouldn’t buy it. Simple as that. If I am shelling outvseveral hundred quid, I would want to know what I was getting. That is not what I would look at twice.

SillyOldDuffer12/12/2018 10:18:49
4520 forum posts
971 photos

I agree Men Ifr needs to have a conversation with Chester but I'm not sure he's played his cards well.

The lathe has a number of faults that should have been noticed during first inspection. It has other faults, like the stuck half-nuts, that become obvious as soon as the lathe is operated. Assuming it's new I would have rung Chester almost immediately. Judging by past experience, Chester would simply have exchanged it.

When a new lathe is found to have trivial faults that can be easily fixed at home, I'm all for minor DIY repairs. But it's not a good idea to strip machines down and go looking for trouble. Dismantling a new machine will void the warranty, and Men Ifr now depends entirely on Chester's good will rather than his discarded legal rights.

From Chester's point of view, it would be a concern that a mill has been 'improved' slightly unwisely by the same owner. They would want to avoid the sort of extremist customer who wants to dismantle and return machines until he finds the one he wants!  (I'm not suggesting that Men Ifr is that sort, only that it might look that way.)

If I was Chester, or any other business faced with this complaint, I would remove the machine, give the customer a full refund, and decline to sell him another one. Not because I'm in business to dodge responsibility, but because it's not worth the hassle of dealing with customers who ignore the Terms and Conditions.

There are five ways of buying hobby machine tools. You pays yer money and takes yer chances:

  1. Buy a new high-end lathe from a 'quality' maker. This greatly increases your chances of the purchase being trouble free but expect to pay 6 to 15 times the cost of a similar Far Eastern machine. Very few hobbyists put their money where their mouth is by buying this way!
  2. Buy a new Far Eastern machine from an established UK supplier. Do not expect an immaculate tool-room lathe! Rather, you are buying a year's solid protection during which time a dud can be replaced, or your money refunded. You are financially protected, not given a guarantee that the machine will be perfect.
  3. Buy a new Far Eastern machine from an unknown vendor. Good way of getting a bargain at risk of considerably more trouble if you get a dud. Even if you get your money back, it's likely that you will have to pay to return the machine.
  4. Buy a second-hand high-end machine from a dealer. This de-risks your chance of buying a dud by providing a thin layer of consumer protection and a limited warranty. Dealers with a reputation to protect add considerable value to the transaction because they know what to look for in pre-used machinery, and are likely to be honest about condition. The down side is cost - the dealer has overheads and he has to make a living. And there are always a few rogues about in any trade!
  5. Buy second-hand privately. Cheapest way to buy expensive kit but you are on your own if things go wrong!

I don't see any harm in buying a new Chinese machine with the intent of stripping it and making everything wonderful. But don't expect to change your mind half-way through and expect to make a warranty claim!

My approach to new machines is rather different - provided it works I don't care much about minor imperfections. After a visual inspection, I put the machine through it's paces - I would rather worry about faults that matter in practice than blemishes. So far I haven't found much wrong that mattered. Whilst Far Eastern kit suits what I do very well it's not for everyone. Others enjoy owning and using expensive tools in perfect condition; buying Far Eastern is unlikely to make them happy, even if the machine is fully functional.

I hope Men Ifr gets a quick resolution to his problems and is able to get back to having fun!



Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 12/12/2018 10:27:56

Ian S C12/12/2018 11:11:48
7425 forum posts
230 photos

Don't touch it, send back. It's possible that the lead screw was damaged in transit by someone hoisting the lathe with a strop around the bed and lead screw, this could have been done anywhere between the factory in China and your place.

Ian S C

Men Ifr12/12/2018 12:53:28
118 forum posts
10 photos
Chester have been quick to respond and we have agreed they will send another machine out Friday and collect mine at the same time. I'm happy with that and will wait and see what the next machine is like. Thanks to all for the replies

Edited By Men Ifr on 12/12/2018 12:59:32

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