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EMCO Compact 5

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William Wood 110/05/2019 22:15:24
2 forum posts
2 photos

Hi I’ve recently acquired an EMCO Compact 5 lathe - see photo. I’m not an engineer but a retired pen pusher and know nothing about lathes. Is the EMCO Compact 5 a good lathe ? What’s an approximate value? What sort of work can it achieve? Thanks01bfe434-b606-43d7-a521-4160fa1da1e3.jpeg

Thor 🇳🇴11/05/2019 07:55:17
1630 forum posts
46 photos

Hi William,

Congratulations with your "new" lathe. I have got an old Emco Compact 8 lathe (a bit bigger than the Compact 5) and it has served me well for decades, if the Compact 5 is not worn/damaged you should be able to achieve good results. I don't know if you have the manual, if not it seems it can be downloaded here.


Michael Gilligan11/05/2019 08:09:51
20183 forum posts
1053 photos
Posted by Thor on 11/05/2019 07:55:17:

I don't know if you have the manual, if not it seems it can be downloaded here.


... noting that it's for the PC version, and therefore includes a lot of additional information.

[superfluous, or interesting, according to taste]


Douglas Johnston11/05/2019 08:39:11
767 forum posts
34 photos

Great little lathes and very well made, I used one for years. Value is very difficult to say since condition is the main thing, but one in very good condition could fetch £500 I would think.


SillyOldDuffer11/05/2019 09:11:22
8694 forum posts
1967 photos

Never seen let alone touched one but EMCO were a popular make. (The company is still active, but they don't sell this sort of machine any more.) With old lathes condition is everything; many are cosseted, others were thrashed, abused, worn-out or stored in a puddle. They can be anything between 'as new' and scrap.

The best single advice I ever got from the forum was to buy the biggest lathe you could afford. It's because a big lathe can do small work, but a small lathe can't do big. But there are strong arguments against if the lathe is only needed for small work and you need a quiet unobtrusive machine. The EMCO is dinky: think clocks and model railways rather than motor bikes!


Kiwi Bloke11/05/2019 10:25:47
666 forum posts
1 photos

Hi William, I guess it all depends on what you mean by a 'good' lathe. My view, as an owner of one, and several other lathes, is that it's well made, but is very limited. It has a limited range of speeds, the slowest making screwcutting a bit frightening, and making turning large diameter ferrous pieces difficult. Also, the saddle and cross-slide are not particularly well-designed. Having said that, used within its limits, it can be accurate, and a pleasure to use. A lot of users are well pleased with them. I think that if you learn to turn with one, you will gain skills that stand you in good stead for when you get a more grown-up lathe. Sharp tools required!

You probably know they are no longer made. However, can provide some equipment and spares. have a larger range of spares. You might consider the auto-longitudinal feed attachment.

Good luck. Enjoy!

Mick B111/05/2019 10:39:58
2192 forum posts
122 photos

Since you've also got the Myford Super 7 you mention in another post, if you intend to do any machining with either of them, the Myford is *probably* the more versatile and flexible to keep - assuming you can get it running and have the space.

There was a time when I had the Compact 5's smaller cousin, the Unimat 3. That was also a well-made machine, though tiny, and I wished I had the space and cash for a Compact 5. Now I have a Sieg C0, a Unimat 3 clone, for when I have a small turning job and don't want to disturb a setup in my main machine. I don't know that clones of the 5 were ever made, though it's a well-regarded machine for its size.

A couple have gone on the Bay this spring for prices of £302 and £330, though dealers would probably charge more.

Edited By Mick B1 on 11/05/2019 10:44:29

Emgee11/05/2019 11:35:41
2426 forum posts
290 photos


If you are able to lift the saddle from the bed you may need to fit some new gib plates, or just remove and refit the existing ones by turning over end to end to use the unworn surface.
This will normally improve the performance of the lathe and is best to stand the lathe on end to gain access to the M5 socket caps retaining the gibs.

Did you get the chuck key ? if not a Jacobs K3 will fit if you turn the spigot to fit the chuck, also you need to extend the length to give working clearance.

I guess you know the chuck jaws are reversible, the relation of chuck jaws is the numbered sheet on the lathe headstock.


Edited By Emgee on 11/05/2019 11:38:13

Jouke van der Veen06/06/2019 21:37:29
174 forum posts
17 photos

I own an emco c5 which was built in 1982, including milling attachment. This means that the thread for the cross spindle is direct in the longitudinal slide, there is no adjustable nut for reducing backlash. In 1985 an adjustable nut was introduced.

I hardly used the lathe but when using I had alway problems with the worn out thread causing a non reproducable backlash of approx. .3mm.

last week I was able to by an extra lathe bed, longitudinal slide, cross slideand top slide, indeed made in 1985.

So my main problem is solved. But now I have the luxury of having a spare bed with slide which could be used for a separate milling equipment.

Therefore, I wonder if somebody has found a solution for introducing some kind of adjustable nut in the old design slide (1984 or earlier, year of manufacture is engraved in the bed).

Who has a solution?



Jouke van der Veen27/06/2019 13:26:43
174 forum posts
17 photos




Emgee27/06/2019 13:59:28
2426 forum posts
290 photos

Get a cnc bed, saddle and crosslide with ballscrews fitted, I can supply if you PM me.


Jouke van der Veen27/06/2019 15:21:34
174 forum posts
17 photos

I am sure your proposal will work. But it is a radical solution.

I am looking for something more simple.

As said before, I bought already a second bed + saddle with anti backlash nut for my lathe. The original bed + saddle with worn thread is now available for a stand-alone milling equipment. I wonder if the thread could be repaired with a Time-Sert bushing. I have no experience with Time-Sert..

Neil Lickfold28/06/2019 07:29:47
862 forum posts
195 photos

Emco are great little machines and quite accurate as well. Lots can be made with them, especially if you get the 4 jaw chuck and the milling attachment etc.

Jouke van der Veen28/06/2019 08:15:56
174 forum posts
17 photos


This may be true. But there are many (non-)users with a different opinion.

My problem was the bad accuracy of movement of the cross slide on the original saddle. I hope to solve this some time for my milling stand-alone.

Former Member28/06/2019 09:22:41

[This posting has been removed]

Jouke van der Veen28/06/2019 10:33:06
174 forum posts
17 photos

I all agree.

But it is not nice to work with a cross slide spindle moving in a worn out thread in a Zamak saddle.

The spindle does not only have axial play but also in the perpendicular direction. This results in a non-reproducible backlash. The spindle always finds a different position in that thread when it The saddle is from before 1985. Emco improved it in 1985 by introducing an adjustable nut. Please, have a look in the manual. I hope to find a solution to reduce backlash and to get it reproducible.

Jouke van der Veen28/06/2019 10:42:26
174 forum posts
17 photos

I tried to say: The spindle always finds a different position in that thread when it pushes against the work piece. It depends also how far the spindle is in the saddle.

Kiwi Bloke28/06/2019 11:04:02
666 forum posts
1 photos

Same problem here. My early-model, second-hand Compact 5 arrived with an excessively free-running cross-slide feedscrew. The cross-slide feedscrew bearing in the alloy plate is also worn. The lathe shows no other evidence of significant wear or abuse. The nett result is that the un-balanced handwheel will rotate because of machine vibration, and the cross-slide will withdraw, unless the gib is adjusted more tightly than I like. The screw-nut backlash is not excessive. I have not used the machine for milling, but would expect to have to lock the slide after each feed adjustment. The worn feedscrew bearing makes it impossible to get a smooth rotation without allowing additional backlash at this bearing.

The idea of making a machine with no provision for replacement or adjustment of the feedscrew nut is ridiculous, and leads me to suspect that Emco never really expected the machine to be taken as seriously as it has been. The later modification - to provide for adjustable and replaceable cross-slide feedscrew nuts - is an admission that the original design is defective. But that's no help to owners of earlier machines. As far as I know, new saddles, and all the other bits which would be needed to revamp old-spec machines (except the nuts) are unobtainable new. Pity, although, knowing Emco prices, they would make an upgrade very expensive. One day, I might get around to re-engineering the thing. Until then, it remains in storage - a reminder that it's not only the Orient that can produce disappointing machines.

Former Member28/06/2019 12:33:01

[This posting has been removed]

Jouke van der Veen28/06/2019 12:44:23
174 forum posts
17 photos


I expect from your reaction that you understand now that there exists no adjustable nut for an Emco C5 saddle produced in 1982.

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