View Full Version : 12"x36/37" Gap Bed Lathe?

08-13-2005, 11:10 PM
Hey guys - need advice on purchasing a 12" x 36" or 37" Gap Bed Lathe. I have looked at Enco, Harbor Freight, Wholesale Tool and Grizzly models. At this point I favor the Grizzly model 12" x 37" Belt Drive Gap Bed Lathe with the 2HP motor. I already have a 9" x 20" Bench Lathe but it is too small for some of my larger projects. The Grizzly Lathe can be had for $2205 shipped to my address. Are there some of you out there that have this lathe and would you be willing to give me a rating on this machine before I make the commmitment to purchase. I have until Sept. to buy it at the summer discount price. Are there any other lathes that you would recommend over the Grizzly that would be in the same price and size range. I don't really want a used lathe unless I would be able to verify its condition. Thanks for your time.

Steve Steven
08-14-2005, 04:07 PM
I bought a HF 12 X 37" GearHead Gap Bed lathe for $1800 delivered about 4 years ago. Its been very good, It had a few problems but I either fixed them or worked around them. Have not removed the gap and don't intend to unless absoultly necessary. I don't really need utmost precision, this lathe is great for what i use it for.

08-14-2005, 07:39 PM
I bought the Grizzly 12x36 gear head lathe four years ago. I have been happy with it, I use it for small steam engines like this one.


I almost bought the belt drive but the gear head came with a quick change toolholder. I do like the gear head for the quick speed changes also. I have several grizzly tools and have been happy with them.

Usual disclaimers apply.
Edited to add: From all I hear NEVER remove the gap bed on these lathes! I can't imagine I would ever need to anyway

Paul in NE Ohio

[This message has been edited by PHiers (edited 08-14-2005).]

08-14-2005, 09:02 PM
Bruce...A post that may be of use to you.



A thread about G9249 12x37 Grizzly lathe

[This message has been edited by MMurphy (edited 08-14-2005).]

Bill Pace
08-14-2005, 10:06 PM
Have had the Birmingham 12x36 gear head since April and have nothing but praise for it. Expecting the usual teardown and fix/tighten/clean/replace, etc, etc with the Chinese machines, I was dissapointed, couldn't find a thing........so, I'm just using and enjoying it.

Came from Bills Tool at $2200ish sitting in my drive. I also took about a month to read, read, read, study, study, etc all the choices, and there certainly are alot of them, to sort through.

Good luck


08-14-2005, 10:10 PM
I echo the sentiment on not removing the gap. In my opinion, a gap bed in a machine of this class sacrifices rigidity to much too great an extent. Unfortunately, it has become quite difficult to find a moderately priced machine without a gap bed these days.

08-15-2005, 02:07 PM
I happen to own an Enco 12 x 36 gear head - been using it for hobby and occasional part time jobs. I've had it for 7 or 8 years and no major problems. A sticky switch and a small oil drip all easily corrected. The cabinet stand is a bit flimsy but still functional. I'm very happy overall with my purchase. No it's not a Monarch - but it does everything I need it to do. I never removed the gap as I never had the need to.

BTW - I never worked on a Grizzly lathe - but I'm very happy with their small knee mill and was given good service in resolving a delivery problem.

Good luck with whatever you choose.

08-15-2005, 08:45 PM
Thanks for all the advice. Still not sure what I will pick as the Birmingham 12" x 36" is now my favorite with the gear head drive. Any pros or cons on the difference between a threaded spindle and a cam-loc? Best price I can come up with for the Birmingham model I want is $2675 delivered. Anyone know of a place that might offer it for less? Thanks again for the replies.

08-15-2005, 09:05 PM
I'd go with a cam lock. After fitting two threaded chucks to my sb9, cam locks seam like a much nicer expirience.

08-16-2005, 06:43 AM
I bought a similar lathe (I'm sure) from MSC in 1996, called Nova Tool. It's a 12x40. I replaced the stands with a home built stand that weighs more than the lathe! Had to align the tailstock both vertically and horizontally, replaced the four position tool holder with a quick change, new live center. I installed a Shooting Star DRO. It has done very well for me.

08-16-2005, 02:01 PM
I would always go with a camlock chuck if you have the choice. Not that it's common, but you don't have to worry about the chuck coming loose in reverse with a camlock. BTW: consider getting a DRO - you'll never go back to dials or gaging. I've usually seen gear head lathes come with camlock chucks. It's the belt driven lathes that have threaded chucks - though I'm sure there are exceptions.

08-16-2005, 03:31 PM
I bought the gearhead Smithy and it came with the threaded chucks.

I like the Smithy and have had very good results with it. I had it shipped next door to me for a round $2700. It's the same size as the one you are looking at. They have been very easy to deal with and have a technician you can talk to anytime a need arises.

08-16-2005, 09:31 PM
Thanks again for the replies. After much consideration I am going to order the Birmingham 12" x 36" gearhead lathe. I found one for $2542 which included delivery. The salesman said Jet is already going up on the price of their equipment and the Birmingham would follow possibly as soon as next week. If anyone wants to buy equipment now apparently is the time to buy as the prices will go up in the weeks to follow due to the higher transportation costs.

Michael Moore
08-16-2005, 10:22 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by tomb:
I would always go with a camlock chuck if you have the choice. Not that it's common, but you don't have to worry about the chuck coming loose in reverse with a camlock.</font>

The A1 mounts (like the A1-6 on my Mori Seiki) also eliminate that problem.

I think you'll find that most or all lathes with a spindle brake will have a mount that eliminates the possibility of having the chuck unscrew when you tromp on the brake.

Having a 12" chuck remove itself could cause some excitement.