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The perennial question...

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Howard Lewis23/05/2022 16:37:38
6104 forum posts
14 photos

A new machine will not not have the wear that will be present in a machine that is 70, 80 or more years old.

I started with a used Myford ML7, but despite spending money and time on it, it did not always do what I wanted, so it was replaced by a new, larger, Chinese lathe. I have been happy with it for 20 years, but have never used it to its full capacity, nor never will, probably.

Smallest item, 10 BA bolts; largest cast iron just over 6" diameter. Threads 4 mm pitch down to tapping 5 x 0.5 mm

NOT portable, at 300 Kg.

Don't use my mini lathe that much, but have yet to break anything. Powered through a surge protected mains lead!..

There are now many mini lathes being used by model engineers, without problems. Properly treated they do what the owners require. Most are sold as "Only for Hobby Use"

Some very good work be done o Chinese machines. (I have seen at least bone wrecked by ignorant abuse! )

A 400 watt motor and the gears to match it are not meant for taking 1/4" deep cuts in steel, any more than a 850 cc Mini was never intended to pull a 15 ton load...

If you want Industrial durability, you pay for it, AND HOW compared to hobby machines.

A SC2 or 3 is portable, just, by one man at about 35 Kgs.

A SC4 is not at about 125 Kgs.

As always, the advice on "What lathe should I buy?" has to to be "Think carefully about what you want it to do", subject to space and budget available. And perhaps, "What are your capabilities?"

What is produced is very much dependent on the operator. Any fool can produce rubbish on an excellent machine. Making good work on a worn machine requires skill and knowledge, but it can be done.

(Very probably, not by me! )


Alec Gunner23/05/2022 19:39:47
12 forum posts
4 photos

Thanks All for taking the trouble to respond.

Firstly, to clarify, I am not suggesting that all Chinese lathes are poor quality, but I would anticipate that anything bought new within my price range would be. A quick look on Ebay finds a brand new machine which claims to be capable of 180mm swing over bed, 350mm between centres with screwcutting for £338 delivered. If someone can tell me they are good quality machines then I would be delighted, but I fear not.

The problem with selling the South Bend is not sentimentality but practicality. It has the capacity for the occasional larger job which I cannot hope for in a bench top machine that I can move out of the way. To a large extent, that is the point - I have a space constraint which cannot be addressed, so I am looking for the best option which fits within that constraint. Identifying a brilliant 100kg+ machine simply doesn't address the requirement, regardless of how nice it may be or what it may cost. So far, I haven't found anything which requires a higher budget that meets this constraint, so am looking for views on whether I have missed something. To put it another way, say I had an unlimited budget, does that open up any good options which can be moved on and off the bench?

The need to move it fundamentally defines size and, in general, how heavy a cut I can take. I am not worried by this - 1/4" deep cuts is a luxury I have never had - more than 0.25mm would be nice but that's what I am used to as a best case. I am less worried by accuracy per se (i.e. run-out is not an issue) but slackness in non-adjustable parts becomes an issue with tool chatter as I do tend to machine some materials which are prone to grabbing (Monel, titanium alloys etc). I would rather have a belt slip than strip a plastic gear when that happens.

The Sieg SC2 or SC3 is another possibility I hadn't considered which I presume is similar to a Hobbymat or Emco with similar limitations? The Drummond/Myford M looks like the most attractive option of the older machines as it has proper back gear for low speeds. I can probably arrange to mount the motor and drive shaft on the wall so they don't have to be moved, either on a heavy enough shaft that the pulleys can be mounted outboard of the bearing for easy removal of the belt, or with a demountable outer bearing. If the headstock and tailstock are easily removed then the whole thing is moveable in a reasonable timeframe.





Edited By Alec Gunner on 23/05/2022 19:43:42

Hopper23/05/2022 23:58:20
6393 forum posts
334 photos

Sounds like going back to the traditional overhead line shaft independent from the lathe! Good idea.

I can lift my Drummond single-handedly if the motor and countershaft are not included and the chuck, cross slide and tailstock are removed. But I would not want to do it too often or too far. Sliding/dragging would be safer for the old back. I think theSC3 might be more practical in the long run.

Nicholas Farr24/05/2022 09:08:52
3360 forum posts
1542 photos

Hi Alec, I can't vouch for the lathe you have seen for £338.00, but my Chester one cost £350.00 from their stand at a show price which claims 180mm over the bed and 350mm between centres and although I would need very short centre in both the head and tailstock, it would be possible, but it will certainly hold 180mm over the bed. It is a very capable machine within the realms of a hobby machine. The photo shows a 160mm 2 Kg weight which I did spin fairly fast and it only shook the machine very slightly, which is expected from a very unbalanced piece of metal. If I was turning a flywheel of 180mm diameter on a faceplate or a mandrel, I would expect it would do it without any problems.


Regards Nick.

Alec Gunner30/05/2022 00:24:10
12 forum posts
4 photos

Just to round out this thread, I contemplated a Clarke combined lathe/mill which came up at £600 and thought about modern secondhand machines but in the end a Myford M turned up at a good price so I will see how I get on with it. If it does what I want then I will need to find a 4-jaw chuck for it. If not I should get my money back.


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