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View Full Version : Just for fun, what's the next step up from...



tony ennis
02-07-2008, 12:26 AM
...an Atlas/Craftsman 12" lathe?

I have no intention of replacing mine. But if I got more serious, what would be the next lathe?

BobWarfield
02-07-2008, 12:46 AM
1) A Grizzly 16x40: http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/showthread.php?t=149387&highlight=grizzly+lathe

2) A Hardinge HLV-H

3) Monarch 10EE

4) Mori Seiki or one of the Korean clones: Hwacheon et al

5) Nardini: Wait for a "green" model rather than a "gray"

6) Exotica: Schaublin, Rivett, et al

Choose your favorite, there are many others, but any one of those from that list could be a considerable step up. On the used lathes you'll have to make sure they're either in good shape or be prepared to restore them. I assume with the Atlas Craftsman you are used to old iron though.

Best,

BW

tyrone shewlaces
02-07-2008, 12:46 AM
After my 12" Atlas I got a 15" Leblond Regal. Still have it to this day.

But to truly step up, might as well go for a Monarch EE or Hardinge HLV. Oh yeaa.

Oldbrock
02-07-2008, 01:24 AM
minimum should be a 14 x 40 with a decent size spindle hole and a camlock spindle nose. I you are going Chinese do good research before you buy. Peter

Forrest Addy
02-07-2008, 02:08 AM
I don't men to offend anyone but the Atlas Crasftman latje line was pretty basic, targeted to the entry level. Threy were a good entry level machine for the time. place, and price and good work can be done on them but more care is needed and there is the limited stock removal inherent in their design/HP.

So the next step up is practically anything that isn't an Atlas Craftsman. Better means beefier and has a roller bearing spindle with an unthreaded spindle nose. I would not include HF's weenier offerings as a better alternative.

The next whole step up would be a nearly new 13 or 14" geared head lathe with a roller bearing spindle, cam lock spindle nose, 2 or 3 HP motor, V/flat ways, etc whose minimum weight is 800 lb.

There are mountains of acceptable machines new and used between and the selection would greatly depend on the work you have for it plus what your crystal ball says about the future workload in your shop. A Monarch EE might be overkill but it's a hell of a machine and they are plentiful enough that you might stumble on one.

JCHannum
02-07-2008, 11:12 AM
When selecting a lathe, the first order of business should be to define what work is to be done on it.

An Atlas/Craftsman lathe, particularly the final iteration Atlas 12" lathe, is more than capable for most HSM applications.

Bigger is only bigger, not necessarily better. Moving up to a 14" or 16" machine can be a mistake if most of the work anticipated is model engineering, watchmaking or other projects that will involve small work close to the headstock and high spindle speeds.

While the Monarch 10EE is a beautiful machine, it appears to be a hobby unto itself with many owners, and the dated electronics are problematical and prone to failure. Without the benefit of the electronic features, it is only an accurate lathe with a very short bed.

BobWarfield
02-07-2008, 11:51 AM
While the Monarch 10EE is a beautiful machine, it appears to be a hobby unto itself with many owners, and the dated electronics are problematical and prone to failure. Without the benefit of the electronic features, it is only an accurate lathe with a very short bed.

Somebody help me out on the 10EE's. I know there are several owners here.

Let's put aside restoring the original electronics that came with the lathe. I understand why that's hard--the electronics world has moved on from that type of design.

But if you get past wanting an original machine as a restoration showpiece, why is it a problem to just put a quality VFD and suitable motor on the machine? You could even add a DRO with CSS capability if you wanted to get fancy.

Doesn't that get you past "an accurate lathe with a very short bed?"

Second, I think size is a big issue, but maybe that's just a personal shortcoming (LOL). Most people start with a small lathe. The choice of where to go next can be a function of:

1) A better small lathe: Hardinge, Monarch, Schaublin, Rivett, et al are this category.

2) A bigger, but high quality lathe: Hence my suggestions for the Grizzly, Mori Seiki, or Nardini.

Given that one already has a serviceable small lathe, my temptation is to try to get a greater range of operations from choice #2 and keep the small lathe at the same time.

If you want bigger, but not necessarily a high end lathe, then there are certainly tons of other 14-16" machines. In addition, as some have mentioned, the spindle hole seems one of the most limiting factors on the size front. But, when I made my list, I made the assumption that given a perfectly serviceable and reasonably sized for the home shop lathe, the desired step up would be large, not small. Hence I didn't go down the path of almost any 14" or 16" machine.

Sometimes one even sees really big lathes that are extremely nice, but I just can't see how one would fit in a home shop. Watched this good looking Mori Seiki go on eBay last night:

310018371460 (Type the item # into eBay search)

Price was not cheap, but for that lathe it seemed a real deal. But what the heck would you do with such a thing at home?

Cheers,

BW

BadDog
02-07-2008, 12:14 PM
The 10EE incorporates the back gear mechanism into the drive motor. If you replace with a common 3ph and VFD, you would need something like 30hp (WAG) to break even and have the same power on the low end while still spinning all the way to the OEM top end.

And nothing gets past "very short bed" in my opinion. ;) Well, nothing except the very rare and expensive 30" bed.

And I happen to be looking at lathes the size of the Mori (including L&S 1408, etc.) for a home shop. Capable on the small stuff, but bale to run a 40"+ x 2" DOM (or ChroMo) rock crawler suspension link through the spindle to thread for rod ends. Lots of auto (particularly hard core 4x4/crawler stuff) needs the bigger lathe...

HTRN
02-07-2008, 12:40 PM
The 10EE incorporates the back gear mechanism into the drive motor. If you replace with a common 3ph and VFD, you would need something like 30hp (WAG) to break even and have the same power on the low end while still spinning all the way to the OEM top end.

There are people who are adapting the back gear mechanism somehow to a VFD controlled motor - Apparently, Monarch planned for this eventuality: linky (http://www.practicalmachinist.com/vb/showthread.php?t=100608) And Monarch themselves have a solution to the problem, but it isn't cheap
7.5HP base mounted (1961 and newer) (http://www.lucasprecision.com/monarch/PACKAGE1.HTM)
7.4HP Cabinet mounted (http://www.lucasprecision.com/monarch/PACKAGE2.HTM)


HTRN

BadDog
02-07-2008, 01:00 PM
It's been a long time since I was researching lathes in that range, but I recall that given the price these things sell for, and adding time/cost for the retrofit (paying Monarch, or spending weeks cobbling something up to form an adapter/seal plate with bearing and transfer shaft) put it WELL beyond what I thought it would be worth. However, at about that time, I saw a (supposedly) "good" bed and headstock, minus electronics and drive (including back gear, so one would need to be found to retro), for around $500 down in Texas. If a fella could find one like that, and it really WAS good (spindle/bed), preferably including the back gear and motor, all for around $500 local, then it might be worth the touble...

rkepler
02-07-2008, 01:18 PM
Having both an Atlas 12x36 and a Monarch 10EE I think I'm qualified to offer an opinion.

Certainly the 10EE is a "step up" from the Atlas in a lot of ways - a *lot* more power to the spindle, more repeatable action, more speed at the top end and a lower bottom end, etc. But really all that adds up to is that you get your work done faster and with less uncertainty. On the Atlas I have to take lighter cuts while roughing and sort of sneak up on finish cuts, on the 10EE I've cut .400" from the diameter of 2" A-2 and then dialed in a finish cut at maybe 1/5 the time it would take on the Atlas. The 10EE has a wider range of threads and feed than the Atlas, has some nice features for threading (particularly blind inside bores), etc. But then you'd expect that.

As for the 10EE drive - I spent some time to get the original tube drive working (C16Js and 3C23s) because a DC drive is the next best thing to a servo spindle drive. Loads of torque at low speeds and capable of 100:1 speed changes without belts or gears. The original dive has a 6:1 backgear hung off the motor so its gear noise doesn't transmit to the spindle, so the bottom end of the range is really low (but only reached when I approach the 12.5" maximum throw).

But for the 10EEs with an unrepairable drive I've suggested to folks that they replace the DC motor with a similar horsepower 3 phase AC motor with a sensorless vector drive. The sensorless vector drive will give a torque curve similar to the DC drive but without the same 100:1 range. Monarch replaces the existing drive with a 7.5HP drive with backgear or a 10HP drive w/o backgear, others have been perfectly happy with 5HP with the sensorless vector drive (and this in a production environment). I do know one fellow who rebuilds with a 10HP servo drive w/o a backgear.

Parts for a 10EE can be pricey. Monarch's main business is large business and government, and their prices show it. At the same time they often have used parts at reasonable prices (and their "used" often overlaps my "new") and there's a pretty active group supporting the 10EEs.

I've never regretted the 20" c-to-c on the 10EE, but it is one reason I keep the Atlas around. I'm thinking that if/when I get enough shop space I'll be looking for something in a 16x50 and maybe retire the Atlas to my son. It's served me very well over the years (heck, the 10EE wears some parts made on it) and I don't regret buying it.

HTRN
02-07-2008, 02:23 PM
With the 10EE with a bad drive, but a good motor, there is also the option for a modern AC to DC drive... Sabina controls (http://www.sabinamotors.com/DC_Drives_s/20.htm) have been used for this purpose..

Lathes.co.uk also mentions using Baldor "Smart Motors"..


HTRN

BobWarfield
02-07-2008, 02:39 PM
Having both an Atlas 12x36 and a Monarch 10EE I think I'm qualified to offer an opinion.

Certainly the 10EE is a "step up" from the Atlas in a lot of ways - a *lot* more power to the spindle, more repeatable action, more speed at the top end and a lower bottom end, etc. But really all that adds up to is that you get your work done faster and with less uncertainty. On the Atlas I have to take lighter cuts while roughing and sort of sneak up on finish cuts, on the 10EE I've cut .400" from the diameter of 2" A-2 and then dialed in a finish cut at maybe 1/5 the time it would take on the Atlas. The 10EE has a wider range of threads and feed than the Atlas, has some nice features for threading (particularly blind inside bores), etc. But then you'd expect that.

As for the 10EE drive - I spent some time to get the original tube drive working (C16Js and 3C23s) because a DC drive is the next best thing to a servo spindle drive. Loads of torque at low speeds and capable of 100:1 speed changes without belts or gears. The original dive has a 6:1 backgear hung off the motor so its gear noise doesn't transmit to the spindle, so the bottom end of the range is really low (but only reached when I approach the 12.5" maximum throw).

But for the 10EEs with an unrepairable drive I've suggested to folks that they replace the DC motor with a similar horsepower 3 phase AC motor with a sensorless vector drive. The sensorless vector drive will give a torque curve similar to the DC drive but without the same 100:1 range. Monarch replaces the existing drive with a 7.5HP drive with backgear or a 10HP drive w/o backgear, others have been perfectly happy with 5HP with the sensorless vector drive (and this in a production environment). I do know one fellow who rebuilds with a 10HP servo drive w/o a backgear.

Parts for a 10EE can be pricey. Monarch's main business is large business and government, and their prices show it. At the same time they often have used parts at reasonable prices (and their "used" often overlaps my "new") and there's a pretty active group supporting the 10EEs.

I've never regretted the 20" c-to-c on the 10EE, but it is one reason I keep the Atlas around. I'm thinking that if/when I get enough shop space I'll be looking for something in a 16x50 and maybe retire the Atlas to my son. It's served me very well over the years (heck, the 10EE wears some parts made on it) and I don't regret buying it.

Oh good, the vector drive was going to be my next thought for the Monarch. They do indeed have an amazing range of torque. Modern VMC's cover a big range with vector drives and 2 speeds.

In any event, we digress, but I don't see why the Monarch has to be so daunting in that respect if you really want that work envelope.

Cheers,

BW

camdigger
02-07-2008, 03:21 PM
Hang on, let me put on my asbestos undies.... OK here goes.:D

IMHO, the next step depends on which way you're facing and where you want to go... Anything mentioned so far are all manual machines. You looking for another machine for more accuracy? more capacity/power? bigger spindle bore? if so, fine, the previous replies deal with that, but if the question is because you're just bored with the old Atlas, How long will it be before you are bored with manual processes in general? How about a CNC lathe? Home grown CNC conversion? a 4 or 5 axis machine center?

Alistair Hosie
02-07-2008, 04:12 PM
what about my lathe the smart and brown 10 24 vsl its a beauty.Alistair

japcas
02-07-2008, 04:26 PM
[QUOTE=HTRN]There are people who are adapting the back gear mechanism somehow to a VFD controlled motor - Apparently, Monarch planned for this eventuality:

We have two 10EE's in the shop I work. One was rebuilt by Monarch and the other has an in house conversion to a VFD. We made an adapter so that we could retain the back gear feature. I believe it has one of the vector type drives on it. I still like the Monarch rebuilt version better but the converted one works very well and still has a full range of speeds although it doesn't seem to have the bottom end torque of the other one. If they were giving it away I'd be happy to take it.:D

lazlo
02-07-2008, 06:06 PM
But if you get past wanting an original machine as a restoration showpiece, why is it a problem to just put a quality VFD and suitable motor on the machine?

It's not a problem Bob -- the final drive system that Monarch built for the 10EE's was a 7 1/2 or 10 HP, AC motor with a VFD. They also offered the VFD package as an upgrade to existing 10EE's.


Doesn't that get you past "an accurate lathe with a very short bed?"

If the short bed on the 10EE bothers you, then get the 30" bed. Or go for broke and get the 13EE -- both are very common lathes ;)

lazlo
02-07-2008, 06:20 PM
a DC drive is the next best thing to a servo spindle drive.
...
But for the 10EEs with an unrepairable drive I've suggested to folks that they replace the DC motor with a similar horsepower 3 phase AC motor with a sensorless vector drive.

A true flux vector VFD, with an encoder on the motor, is really an AC servo.


The sensorless vector drive will give a torque curve similar to the DC drive but without the same 100:1 range.
...
Monarch replaces the existing drive with a 7.5HP drive with backgear or a 10HP drive w/o backgear, others have been perfectly happy with 5HP with the sensorless vector drive (and this in a production environment).

I thought the Monarch VFD retrofit kit was a flux vector and not a sensorless vector?
I've got a sensorless vector on my 2HP mill, and I haven't really noticed a huge improvement in low-end torque.

Most of the sensorless vector VFD's (including my Hitachi) can be converted to true flux vector with ~ $100 encoder module. For a high-end toolroom lathe like a 10EE, seems a shame not to add the motor feedback.

Of course, when you're replacing the stock motor with a 7.5 horsepower motor, you've probably got more torque at low RPM than you're ever going to need anyway...

BadDog
02-07-2008, 06:25 PM
The original dive has a 6:1 backgear hung off the motor so its gear noise doesn't transmit to the spindle, so the bottom end of the range is really low (but only reached when I approach the 12.5" maximum throw).

But for the 10EEs with an unrepairable drive I've suggested to folks that they replace the DC motor with a similar horsepower 3 phase AC motor with a sensorless vector drive. The sensorless vector drive will give a torque curve similar to the DC drive but without the same 100:1 range. Monarch replaces the existing drive with a 7.5HP drive with backgear or a 10HP drive w/o backgear, others have been perfectly happy with 5HP with the sensorless vector drive (and this in a production environment). I do know one fellow who rebuilds with a 10HP servo drive w/o a backgear.

The problem is, with a comparable sized motor, you are loosing the 6:1 multiplication. So if 5hp was standard, even if you got NO loss of torque from the SV-VFD going down sufficiently low, you would still have only 1/6 the torque (assuming simple system). Just to break even, again assuming the VFD would go low enough without loss of torque, you would need at least a 30hp motor (in round numbers for discussion).

Now, if you want to build the support/seal/isolation plate and keep the back gear, now THAT is a reasonable approach if you get it cheap enough and want to invest the time and money. Or, as mentioned, a different DC ($$$?) drive if the DC motor is good.


It's not a problem Bob -- the final drive system that Monarch built for the 10EE's was a 7 1/2 or 10 HP, AC motor with a VFD. They also offered the VFD package as an upgrade to existing 10EE's.

But the simple "conversions" I saw seem to generally ditch the back gear. Which is fine if it's going to be a dedicated chucker I guess. But Monarch kept (I think?) the motor mounted oil splashed back gear even on the VFD machines. No?


Oh, and back to the original, I would think just about any non-import (and even including many of them!) 10" or larger HSM grade lathe would be a step up in my opinion...

Spin Doctor
02-07-2008, 06:26 PM
The whole idea of a "step up" is rather a loaded question. Just what kiond of capabilities are you looking to improve? Stock removal? That means rigidity and HP. Overall size of the work envelope? That means a bigger machine. Greater ease of doing close work? Well that can mean a smaller machine but one that is built to a higher standard. That means somethiong like a HLV-H or 10EE for example. For me the anwser would be a Graziano SAG 12

http://www.lathes.co.uk/graziano/index.html

BadDog
02-07-2008, 06:30 PM
The whole idea of a "step up" is rather a loaded question. Just what kiond of capabilities are you looking to improve?
Does it really matter in the context of "step up from an Atlas"? What would NOT be improved? ;) <ducking>

Spin Doctor
02-07-2008, 06:35 PM
Does it really matter in the context of "step up from an Atlas"? What would NOT be improved? ;) <ducking>

This

http://www.lathes.co.uk/teckno/

Or this

http://www.lathes.co.uk/metalmasterusa/

BadDog
02-07-2008, 06:38 PM
Ok, I'll give you that. <grin>

But I did qualify it with "larger than 10" in my earlier post. I'm sure there are worse lathes out there (like that converted Shop Smith?) that are 10" and larger, but it's not run of the mill.

lazlo
02-07-2008, 06:42 PM
Oh, and back to the original, I would think just about any non-import (and even including many of them!) 10" or larger HSM grade lathe would be a step up in my opinion...

I agree with BadDog. Just about any 10"+ SouthBend, Sheldon, Clausing, Colchester, Rockwell, .... would be a step up.

But suggesting stepping up to gigantic, quirky, expensive, ultimate precision toolroom lathe like a 10EE (3,250 lbs), or a Mori (5,000 lbs) seems like vast overkill for the typical home-shop machinist.

lazlo
02-07-2008, 06:43 PM
Ok, I'll give you that. <grin>

Dang, you guys are harsh! I'd rather you insult my wife than my lathe ;)

rantbot
02-07-2008, 07:44 PM
A strange question. You can go up in capacity or quality.

If you want to work on bigger parts - truck axles, say - then there's no substitute for a bigger lathe.

As for quality, though - why? If you have mastered the art of making good parts on the Craftsman/Atlas, then you will be able to make the same quality of parts on a Rivett or a Levin. The difference is that you won't have to work as hard at it when using the fancier lathes. You can also work much faster with more rigid and more powerful lathes, hogging off more material per pass. In an industrial or commercial setting, you'd definitely want the more expensive machine, for economic reasons alone - you won't expend so much expensive machinist time on each part. Time is money, etc. For hobby or home shop use, though, that doesn't enter into it.

We often lose sight of the fact that the machinist makes the part, not the machine.

lazlo
02-07-2008, 07:57 PM
As for quality, though - why? If you have mastered the art of making good parts on the Craftsman/Atlas, then you will be able to make the same quality of parts on a Rivett or a Levin.
...
We often lose sight of the fact that the machinist makes the part, not the machine.

Well said.

I'm fascinated by the exotic toolroom lathes too. But I'm just as fascinated with the Lamborghini Reventón (650 horsepower, 487 ft/lbs of torque, $1.6 Million), and I don't envy the Lamborghini, because I'd just kill myself trying to open it up. I'd probably do the same with a 13EE :D

tony ennis
02-07-2008, 08:07 PM
I'd just like to re-iterate that I'm not replacing or supplanting my Atlas - I'm just curious. I hear a lot about Chicom 9x's, mini mills, Sherlines, Taigs, South Bend 9" or heavy 10s. With the exception of the heavy10, none of these are particularly superior to the Atlas. And the Heavy 10 is 3 to 8 times more expensive so it's certainly a "you get what you pay for" thing.


If you have mastered the art of making good parts on the Atlas

Ha, in no way. My Atlas doesn't even run yet. I've been tinkering for 2 months as time and money permit. I'll complete the headstock this weekend.

Usually in hobbies there is a progression of equipment from beginner -> intermediate -> advanced. I've watched my wife climb the ladder with her sewing machines. I've done it with guitars, camping gear, and computers. Yet I had heard nothing similar about lathes. You start in the "9x" class and seem to step directly to a Monarch! There's no discussion about anything in between. Maybe there isn't anything in between - you buy what you need or can afford, and you stick with it.

So I thought I'd start that discussion and fill in some taxonomy.

BadDog
02-07-2008, 08:37 PM
I went from an Griz G4000 (9x19/20), that was my first machine tool (well, more serious than a drill press or band saw). I liked it a lot, but very soon found myself "bumping my head" constantly, needed something bigger. Told myself not to get too "gung ho!" (which I'm prone to do). So I did the "smart thing" and tempered my dreams to a moderately heavy HSM sized lathe; a Rockwell 11x37. Easily 4 or 5 times the lathe that the Grizzly was, but now I find myself bumping my head again. <sigh> However, now I *know* what I want, exactly what I want, and that's what I'm shopping for. Unfortunately it's a bit of a rare bird so I may be shopping for a while. Luckily, I was just talking to my friend (I call "Mr. Mori Seki") who thought he found me a lathe (but didn't pass muster) and he re-iterated that I can use his Mori 1250 any time I want, so I can take my time for now (even though I'm terrified I'll screw up his lathe :eek:)...

Just a short version of my 2 year journey from beginner to whatever I am now. For me, it's been mostly about searching for a smooth operating and powerful machine that is both precise and a joy to operate. After all, this is supposed to be challenging AND fun, not challenging and frustrating. My problem was ever putting hands on the Mori 1250 and the like. I'm still quite fond of it, but the Rockwell will never feel quite the same again after that...

lazlo
02-07-2008, 10:07 PM
Usually in hobbies there is a progression of equipment from beginner -> intermediate -> advanced. I've watched my wife climb the ladder with her sewing machines. I've done it with guitars, camping gear, and computers. Yet I had heard nothing similar about lathes.

I think that's a very apt comparison with machine tools. There's no point in a novice running a 10 EE. I started with a POS 9x20, and I'm on my third lathe (a Clausing 5914 -- an entry-level toolroom lathe). I figure I've got several years before my skills are ready for the next step up :)


You start in the "9x" class and seem to step directly to a Monarch!


Bob W. was the only one suggesting that, and he runs an Asian 9x30. If you read through the responses, many were surprised at the recommendation to go from an Atlas to a 10 EE :)

J Tiers
02-07-2008, 10:48 PM
I agree with BadDog. Just about any 10"+ SouthBend, Sheldon, Clausing, Colchester, Rockwell, .... would be a step up.

Or Logan, Standard-Modern, etc, etc.

In fact, nearly any larger-than-9" Grizzly, Jet, etc. would also be better.

The Atlas 12" is the lightest-duty 12" lathe I have ever seen up close. Fairly easy to see that its basic genetic structure is "1930's wood lathe".

The 9" Atlas is OK, not really much lighter than a 9" SouthBend, although not featured-out like some.

Putting it on stilts to make a 12" was a "stretch"............ :D

RobbieKnobbie
02-09-2008, 10:36 AM
I had a 12" Craftsman for a few years and was kindof frustrated by it's lack of rigidity. I recently went and picked up a grizzley 4003 12x36 (geared head/cam lock spindle). It's much bulkier in person than it looks in the pictures and is a few levels of magnitude sturdier than my craftsman was.

So far I'm very hapy with it and it doesn't take up my whole garage like one of the big 14x40's would.