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View Full Version : 80's vintage imports vs new?



gellfex
01-05-2009, 10:53 PM
I've heard folks say the imports have come a long way. So if I saw an 80's Jet tool new, I'd still prefer a new one? That does run against the usual HSM view that old is generally better if not worn out.

My 80's Jet mill/drill is pretty nice, but I don't have a good comparison. I ran across a used 80's Jet 12x40 lathe for $1500, and wondered why I would do that rather than a similar new Grizzly for $1000 more.

wierdscience
01-05-2009, 11:13 PM
In my experience some machines made in Taiwan during the 80's are as good if not better than some Chinese machines built in 2008.

Like any new-vs-old decision,if the used machine is in good working order is $1,000 a fair price for adding a 90day/1year warranty?

lazlo
01-05-2009, 11:15 PM
I've heard folks say the imports have come a long way.

Personally, I think that's an Urban Legend. I bought a brand new Enco Mill/Drill from Wholesale Tools in Houston several years ago. It was Made in Taiwan by Rong Fu in the early 80's, and then got lost in WTool's inventory system for 20 years. It was quite a bit nicer than the round column Mill/Drills I see for sale now: it had turned aluminum pulleys, and UL-listed motor,...

http://i164.photobucket.com/albums/u15/rtgeorge_album/RF-31/IMG_0077.jpg

quasi
01-06-2009, 12:11 AM
I have worked with 2 JET tools made in the 70's. A 17" drill press and a good sized Mill drill, both made in Taiwan. Both were very nice machines, much nicer finished and much heavier castings than are use now.

RobbieKnobbie
01-06-2009, 12:20 AM
I have an Enco 8x36 knee mill from the late 80's and I've been pretty happy with it (had it for about a year now). It looks as though it had an easy life: the ways are in good shape, the leadscrews are tight...

It really all depends on how the machine was used in its previous life. There are plenty of top-rate american machines that have the snot beat out of them and are barely worth their weight in scrap iron, while there are lots of oriental made machines that are in very good condition.

For home shop (non-production) use, I think just about any machine will last a lifetime... in which case the make/model selection comes down to what's available when your in the market, and how impressive a name plate do you want to pay for.

J Tiers
01-06-2009, 12:33 AM
Some older units may be nice, but have oddities..... Apparently some have English dials, but metric feed screws that are "close" to correct...... I have heard them referred to as "4MM english"......

obviously that would be relatively easily checked....

I have an old Jet arbor press. Bought used many years ago.

One fine day the notched platen exploded..... it was CAST IRON !!! Some dummy over in "chasia" didn't realize it should be made of something ductile.

JCHannum
01-06-2009, 10:45 AM
I sort of agree with Robert. I think an actual attempt was made early on to manufacture quality machines. When the chicoms found out they could dump junk on a largely unsuspecting public that went out the window.

MickeyD
01-06-2009, 11:13 AM
From what I have seen the Taiwanese stuff has improved greatly over the years. I used to have a little Select turret mill that was made in Taiwan around 1975. The fit and finish on it were nice, and the ways were hand scraped, but it was still a fairly crude design. The newer Taiwanese equipment feels like where the Japanese stuff was 20 years ago - mechanically very competent, nice finish, but the documentation could use some work. The Taiwanese seem to have the Meehanite casting process down well, and have a good grasp of quality control. I think that a lot of it comes from many of their engineers having gone to school here in America and other western countries and have a good grasp of what is acceptable and what is not. My brother has a racing bicycle store and he has some of his frames made in Taiwan because the hand work and attention to detail surpass the Japanese.

The Chinese stuff seems to be a total crap shoot. It is really hard to take a peasant rice farmer who has worked with nothing more complicated than a Russian tractor and a hoe and have him turn out consistently high quality machine tools. They don't have enough young engineers trained in western methods, and their old ones (at least the ones who survived the cultural revolution) were used to designing for the communists, and nothing says quality like a communist car.

I guess in another generation or so the Japanese will not make anything because their population has aged so much, Taiwan will be where Japan is now, China will be able to turn out consistently good stuff, and we will all be griping about poor quality of the latest doodads at Harbor Freight from Sri Lanka or Zimbabwe.

gellfex
01-06-2009, 02:57 PM
Well there's a variety of opinions. Just what's you'd expect on HSM!

2 questions come to mind:

Which lines are currently made in Taiwan rather than China?

Can anyone point to a primer on how to determine whether a used lathe or mill is whipped or not? I'm sure there's some article or thread somewhere...

wierdscience
01-07-2009, 12:52 AM
Well there's a variety of opinions. Just what's you'd expect on HSM!

2 questions come to mind:

Which lines are currently made in Taiwan rather than China?

Can anyone point to a primer on how to determine whether a used lathe or mill is whipped or not? I'm sure there's some article or thread somewhere...

Well the first question is easy,you have to ask.Grizzly and KBC on the machines that are Taiwanese advertise it as such,it is a selling point.

Grizzly as an example,notice "Made in Taiwan" near the top of the page-

http://www.grizzly.com/catalog/2009/Main/546

Also this lathe,middle of page over the specs-

http://www.grizzly.com/catalog/2009/Main/528

Second question,take along a DTI,a ground shaft or dowel .

Use the DTI and dowel to check spindle/chuck runout and also backlash in the feed and crosslide screws.

When checking the runout lift on the dowel and see how much deflection if any shows in the spindle.

If the lathe is under power,ask the owner if you can make a few test cuts,this will tell more in a few minutes than can be said in days.

gellfex
01-07-2009, 12:13 PM
At least at Grizzly, none of the smaller lathes are Taiwanese.

As for testing, doing those tests is useless without knowing what DTI readings would be unacceptable. No machine, even brand new, is perfect.

I've also heard about testing the ways for wear by placing the DTI over a chucked test bar and running the carriage back and forth looking for a vertical drop.


Well the first question is easy,you have to ask.Grizzly and KBC on the machines that are Taiwanese advertise it as such,it is a selling point.

Grizzly as an example,notice "Made in Taiwan" near the top of the page-

http://www.grizzly.com/catalog/2009/Main/546

Also this lathe,middle of page over the specs-

http://www.grizzly.com/catalog/2009/Main/528

Second question,take along a DTI,a ground shaft or dowel .

Use the DTI and dowel to check spindle/chuck runout and also backlash in the feed and crosslide screws.

When checking the runout lift on the dowel and see how much deflection if any shows in the spindle.

If the lathe is under power,ask the owner if you can make a few test cuts,this will tell more in a few minutes than can be said in days.

38_Cal
01-07-2009, 01:50 PM
Ran across this a while back...looks like good information on buying used machinery: http://www.mermac.com/advicenew.html.

David
Montezuma, IA

lazlo
01-07-2009, 02:37 PM
That's a great article David. He also wrote one for the mill:

Advice On Inspecting a used Milling Machine (http://www.mermac.com/freemill2.html)

wierdscience
01-07-2009, 02:55 PM
At least at Grizzly, none of the smaller lathes are Taiwanese.

That's pretty much what you are going to find,all of the small machines will be Chinese.


As for testing, doing those tests is useless without knowing what DTI readings would be unacceptable. No machine, even brand new, is perfect.

I've also heard about testing the ways for wear by placing the DTI over a chucked test bar and running the carriage back and forth looking for a vertical drop.

Use common sense,a machine with .020" runout in the chuck would be a red flag right off the mark,at a bear minimum it would be new chuck time.

Things like visable damage to the ways,rounded over V crests,dents and dings,rust pits all can be trouble.

The Mermac page David posted is a good start and like he says,take your time they made more than one lathe.

alanganes
01-07-2009, 05:59 PM
My experience echos some of the other opinions here. I bought two used Jet 1024 lathes about 15 years ago. They were Taiwanese manufacture in 1982 and look like shrunken versions of the 15" Colchester we have at the place I work. Almost copies. They are quite heavy and stout for small-ish lathes. All in all, they are not bad machines, much nicer fit and finish wise than the equivalent Jet versions that were made in China that I saw a few years later. The biggest shortcoming I saw was that the steel in the gears seemed pretty soft, and they were not likely super high precision.

Decent serviceable machines. All that said, if you close your eyes while using them, you will NOT mistake it for the Colchester.

Both had been in a school, and had stripped gears in the QC boxes. I had enough parts to make one complete machine, and used it to make* replacement gears for the other. When I got my Sheldon, I sold the second JET for 80% or what I paid for the pair. I still have the first one and use it regularly, though I REALLY like my Sheldon.

-Al

*I made these 2 gears, a first for me, with the sage advice & tutelage of Mr. John Stevenson, back when he was a frequent poster on RCM. The example given in his classic "Gear cutting with form tools" article, that still lives on the metalweb news site, is one of my gears. Thanks again, John!!