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Emco Compact 5

Serious machine or toy?

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Kiwi Bloke26/12/2018 09:43:26
461 forum posts
1 photos

I've been wondering about a small lathe. The Emco Compact 5 looks attractive, and is about the right size, but is it a dressed-up toy or an accurate machine, capable of sensible work (in steel)? A certain G Meek uses one: should that be recommendation enough? Any available will be fairly old by now - how do they wear? Also, is the milling unit worth considering?

The restricted speed range, alloy headstock, saddle and tailstock, and the rudimentary fine feed for the milling unit's quill don't inspire confidence. What do users think?

JasonB26/12/2018 10:11:14
18868 forum posts
2069 photos
1 articles

Not had a 5 but did have a Unimat3 to start with, made a Stuart 10V (steel and cast iron) on it as well as lots of other things. As long as you don't expect it to remove metal at the same rate as a M300 or master they are capable machines in the right hands.

The worm and wheel arrangement for fine feed is no different to what you get inside the head of most of teh imported machines and good work is done with them too.

Graham Meek26/12/2018 10:29:27
262 forum posts
184 photos

I would not be without my Compact 5. I am just in the process of doing a few upgrades on this machine. The gear train for screw cutting and fine feeds is a big plus. As is the induction motor and bet drive. I was fortunate in obtaining an "old stock" Austrian machine that had never been out of the box. I doubt you will experience any signs of wear provided the machine is used with some degree of care and respect.

The milling head is a worthwhile addition, (still looking for one), but it is much better to have a stand alone machine if possible.



Chris Trice26/12/2018 12:11:02
1362 forum posts
9 photos

I'll second what Graham says. I have a Compact 5 as I needed a portable machine I could take from job to job. It's also whisper quiet in operation which is handy if you work indoors or have neighbours nearby. I've just bought a Compact 8 so might dispose of the 5 soon.

Emgee26/12/2018 12:30:11
1709 forum posts
225 photos

Hi Kiwi

use the Emco 5 cnc which is the same mechanically as the manual 5 except for ball screws in place of the normal threaded leadscrews.
As others have said great little lathe as long as cuts and feeds used are adjusted to suit the machine size but very capable of accurate work.
I did originally have the Milling attachment fitted to the lathe and did several trial pieces with the vice fixed to the cross slide, I used the Emco ER25 milling chuck screwed direct to the mill head spindle and found it very accurate in use,I did mill a slot in the column to use a key in to allow head up and down adjustment without losing the setting, other wise the tool position needed resetting.
Long parts could be worked on but width of travel was limited to 50mm, the total travel of the cross slide.
The fine downfeed was modified to show DOC in 0.10mm increments.
As with the lathe function when milling even greater care needed with DOC and traverse speed.


Graham Meek26/12/2018 12:45:36
262 forum posts
184 photos

With regard to the alignment of the milling head on the U3 and the C5. Neil Hemingway was selling during the 1980's an Alignment Attachment made for these machines. I designed and manufactured the attachments which needed no modification to the machine at all. Unfortunately I don't have a photograph of the attachment, but I think it does appear in one of the Model Mechanics available on this site. I do have the sketches I used at the time. Provided there was sufficient interest I could make them into drawings and maybe provide an article.



Chris Trice26/12/2018 19:17:41
1362 forum posts
9 photos

While you're here Graham, I noticed (in one of your books) you have (had) the Emco Maximat tool post grinder that appears to have the same motor as the Compact 5? Is this the case or is it one of the smaller ones as used on the vertical milling attachment, thanks?

Martin Hamilton 126/12/2018 19:29:35
182 forum posts
Posted by Chris Trice on 26/12/2018 12:11:02:

I'll second what Graham says. I have a Compact 5 as I needed a portable machine I could take from job to job. It's also whisper quiet in operation which is handy if you work indoors or have neighbours nearby. I've just bought a Compact 8 so might dispose of the 5 soon.

Chris just a few questions on your Compact 5 lathe, what sort of condition is it in & does it have extras with it. How much would you be asking for it if you decide to sell it & what part of the country are you. Thanks Martin.

Neil Lickfold26/12/2018 20:49:34
636 forum posts
102 photos

The compact 5 is a home hobby mill. Not an industrial power house. But many fine parts have been made on one for sure. It's more set up time to mill stuff etc, but great fun, and very easy to set up from turning to milling. Like a lot of thing the accuracy comes from preperation and thinking about how you do the job. Depending on the accessories you get etc, but on a friends one, he can turn a part, transfer the chuck to the rotary table and then do the milling work, then back onto the spindle and part off the workpiece with everything done at the same setup. So some advantages there for a small number of parts. Like any machine if looked after will last many many years.


Barrie Lever26/12/2018 21:22:39
688 forum posts
76 photos

Kiwi Bloke

The Compact 5 is a very capable lathe and will turn steel.

I have a brand new one (NOS) bought last year, I jumped at the chance to aquire this lathe, I already had a Compact 5 but being able to get a new one was too good an opportunity to pass by.

I have always been pleased with EMCO lathes, I had a Maximat 10 VP at one stage, slightly better than a Myford Super 7 IMO, I had a Super 7 as well so can provide a fair judge.

I also have a Unimat 3 which I use in a similar manner to Chris Trice in that it is a field lathe, I take it to big model aircraft competitions that I take part in, now those Unimat 3's really do punch above their weight.

You will not be disappointed in a Compact 5, expect to pay circa £500.00 for a good usable machine and you will easily sell it for £500.00 if you want something bigger in a few years time. You will have to pay extra for a milling head, although as mentioned earlier try and have a stand alone milling machine if possible.

For the record I have never lost a single penny buying EMCO machines (bought and sold 7 over the years). They are not expensive when you look at total cost of ownership, that is not a subject very often broached in this forum.

Best Regards


Edited By Barrie Lever 1 on 26/12/2018 21:23:43

Bazyle26/12/2018 21:51:16
5464 forum posts
206 photos

It appears to have a fixed leadscrew nut. Not a big fan of that. I think you would be better off filling the empty machine space with another mill.

Barrie Lever26/12/2018 22:04:26
688 forum posts
76 photos


In a small lathe I find the fixed leadscrew nut a real bonus, you always know where the tool is and the handwheel is not too far away due to the size of the lathe.

Granted I would be quite as keen with a fixed leadscrew nut on a larger lathe but could live with it if needed.

What is your dislike based upon?


Danny M2Z27/12/2018 02:32:55
892 forum posts
283 photos

Many years ago I used to compete against an expert with my Free Flight models.

John L, always had the custom turned venturies, needle assemblies and shut-off's for his power models and the most exquisite ball raced folding propellor hubs and Montreal stops on his competition rubber powered models. They were like the one's that I read about in overseas magazines.

One day I was invited to visit my friend's house and he showed me his secret weapon, an Emco Compact 5 lathe.

Of course John was too modest to admit that he knew how to get the best out of it but it was it was inspiring to see what was possible and a bit depressing to realise how much I needed to learn.

Still learning btw but it's a nice little lathe (Emco C5), you could do much worse.

* Danny M *

Douglas Johnston27/12/2018 09:26:20
703 forum posts
34 photos

I started off with a compact 5 and used it for many years. It is a lovely machine and very well built but I did not like the fixed leadscrew. I built a Quorn grinder with it so it can handle reasonable sized jobs.


Graham Meek27/12/2018 12:07:16
262 forum posts
184 photos
Posted by Chris Trice on 26/12/2018 19:17:41:

While you're here Graham, I noticed (in one of your books) you have (had) the Emco Maximat tool post grinder that appears to have the same motor as the Compact 5? Is this the case or is it one of the smaller ones as used on the vertical milling attachment, thanks?

Hello Chris,

My apologies for not responding earlier, I have only just read your post.

It is true I do have an Emco SOD toolpost grinder for the Maximat Super 11. The motor on this attachment is much smaller than the C5 main motor. However the C5 Milling attachment motor is I would say one in the same. Cross checking the Emco part numbers there are a great many similarities between the last 4 digits and the voltages/frequencies. I would in general expect the main part numbers to be different, as usually these first digits apply to the machine type. Also they would need to be supplied in green or yellow colours depending on application.

I had just better add the Maximat V10 uses a derivative of the Compact 8 toolpost grinder which has an AC motor with brushes and not an induction motor as on the Emco SOD. The method of holding the grinding wheels is also different on the V10/C8. This is based on the 8 mm draw-in collet. I am convinced, but not sure, the spindle used in the V10 grinder was the original spindle, supplied as an accessory, for using collets on the Unimat SL.



Chris Trice28/12/2018 01:54:35
1362 forum posts
9 photos

Thanks for the info Gray. It's appreciated. I'm a big fan of your stuff and writings, and I've got one of your screw cutting clutches on my Super 7 courtesy of yourself and Kwil. In fact it was your workshop projects book where I saw the tool post grinder that piqued my interest. Is there a plate on the motor stating the motor power? Pro Machine Tools offer a motor that I could make use of if the specs are similar. Thanks again.

Graham Meek28/12/2018 17:03:27
262 forum posts
184 photos

Hi Chris,

I will have to take your word for it as regards the S7 screw cutting clutch. My memory is shot these days.

The motor plate reads, 1 phase, 240 v, 0.185 kW, 1.5 A, 2600/Min and 6 Micro F 400v DB.



Bazyle28/12/2018 17:59:03
5464 forum posts
206 photos

My dislike of the fixed leadscrew is based on my Hobbymat which is 1mm pitch so takes an age to move the saddle out of the way. Mostly therefore I only use the topslide unless threading or needing a true const dia workpiece. If the pitch is courser it might be less of a pain. Every now and then I look at the Hobbymat and wonder if it is worth making a regular leadscrew for it but it's tiny bed means the comparatively hefty leadscrew is actually part of the structure.

Graham Meek28/12/2018 18:21:15
262 forum posts
184 photos

As one of the upgrades planned for my Compact 5 I have always intended to make a new carriage with a pair of clasp nuts for the leadscrew. The rapid traverse would be similar to the Myford ML 10 which uses the leadscrew as a rack. In my version this rapid traverse is geared down to make moving the carriage easier, and more sedate. A dial on the pinion engaging the 1.5 mm pitch leadscrew acting as an indicator to aid closing the clasp nuts during screwcutting.



mike T28/12/2018 18:27:45
173 forum posts
1 photos

The carriage of the Compact 5 does not have adjustable gibs like a conventional lathe, instead it has a pair of plastic keep plates which clamp ((loosely) the carriage to bed ways. There seems to be no provision for adjusting the play between the keep plates and the bed ways. As a result the carriage can rock slightly spoiling the accuracy and surface finish.

What do you guys do to reduce the free play between the carriage and the bed ways?

Have any of our Compact 5 experts found a better way of providing adjustment for the carriage to the bed ways?


Edited By mike T on 28/12/2018 18:45:52

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