View Full Version : Import vs Used lathe

02-06-2009, 12:25 PM
OK, so I'm a bit discouraged and testy. :mad: But here goes.

I have been looking for a small lathe (9-12"ish X 36"ish). I have looked at every blasted one for sale within ten counties of here. My eyes are bleeding from searching the blasted internet for both new and used. I've run out of anti depressants, and Iíve pulled whatís left of my hair out. Iíve even considered punching a few guys in the face for advertising Ďperfect conditioní, only to drive an hour and a half to look at a broken down rust ball in their back yard.

Oh, and Iím not made of unlimited money. Wife has even threatened to divorce me if I try to bankrupt her just one more time. :eek:

But now Iím leaning towards a new machine to eliminate hurting someone who lies to meÖ but it would have to be an import (see the part about my financial situation). So my inquiry centers around the most bang for the buck. HF, Grizzly and several other importers have offerings, but they are a bit different in things like accessory packages or stands. And the big question is whether you owners of your import think (or know) that one brand or the other is or would be of better quality?

And if there is a way to find a GOOD used machine within my $$$, how in hell am I supposed to find it?

This may have been talked to death earlier, but Iím new, and hopefully get to plead ignorance at least one more time.


02-06-2009, 12:49 PM
Don't get depressed -- we've all gone through the same thing. The way Machine Karma works, the "right" machine will drop into your lap at the absolute worst possible time, as defined by finances, spouse acceptance, and/or space :)

For your requirements, you might consider the Grizzly 12x36 "Gunsmith" lathe. I think it's part of Grizzly's free shipping deal right now. Run that for awhile, and if a good Western machine drops in your lap, you can re-sell the Grizzly for a large fraction of what you paid for it.

Just Bob Again
02-06-2009, 01:02 PM
You find them when and where you find them. My first lathe back at the dawn of time was a nice SB toolroom machine. From a dealer. Couldn't move it and was without one for a while. Next was a clapped-out-piece-of-junk-SB on which I made many precision parts. Bought from a local shopper magazine for cheap and invested many times it's cost in tooling. Next a bigger machine, a new import. Looked for a used one and couldn't find any local. When I was looking for a mill, looked for a year on Craigslist and saw two. Then 6 in one week. You never know.

New, they're mostly similar. Harbor Freight a cut below and Jet maybe a cut above. Drive up to Grizzly and have a look. Throw one on the truck and you're done. Drive up to Philly and a few dealers there. Quality Machine Tool is good. Sometimes a used one, but new start around $1500.

A really GOOD used machine for cheap, stand in line behind the other 90,000 people looking. Good ones at a fair price on Craigslist around here are sold before you can you can even get there. I've had several sold while I was on the way over with cash even though I called and said I was coming.

tony ennis
02-06-2009, 01:04 PM
This is the standard low-cost 9x20 lathe (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=45861).

I've used one, I like it. I am a beginner newb.

You can find lathes around but as you're finding out it can take time. Hit EBay and plug in your maximum driving radius into a search. Ebay will send you a daily email. Remember, the tooling that comes with a lathe runs the price up. But tooling is good. You want tooling. You need tooling.

If you must have a low-cost lathe with long ways then you're probably looking at a low-end South Bend or Atlas/Craftsman. The former is held in high regard. The latter loses points because some parts are cast from a metal called ZAMAC to reduce costs. Discussing this lathe in general and ZAMAC in particular generally starts a religious war on forums. Just watch.

I have a 12" Atlas/Craftsman lathe. Mine is an abused wreck - I didn't know what I was buying. I am confident, however, that it will eventually do everything I need it to do.

Another thing - 12" lathes are enormous and expensive*. There's a world of difference between lathes with a 9" swing and those with a 12" swing in terms of mass and expense. Which were you needing?

* My Craftsman is a 12" lathe but only by a limited definition. It doesn't have the mass or rigidity to truly be categorized as a 12" lathe. It should be considered a 9" lathe with a great swing!

02-06-2009, 01:28 PM
I just recently went through the same thing and I know EXACTLY what you are talking about! I bet I spent enough on gas driving to look at what you correctly described as "Broken down rustballs" to have paid a good chunk on my lathe. I did some serious research on this matter before buying and this is what I found. Most of the imports are pretty much the same thing regardless of what some might say, not all are the same but most are. I know for a FACT that the Harbor Freight 9x20 is the same thing as the Jet version (I have used both machines and the JET is not built any better than the HF version) even though the Jet costs twice as much and comes with FEWER accessories such as a splash guard and live center that the HF version includes. I wound up buying a HF 14x40 because after researching it I found that, like the Jet 9x20 vs the HF 9x20, it was the same machine except for the color that ENCO sells for around $1000 more. Using a 20% off coupon I saved $639.73 off the (still current) $3199 price tag with no shipping charges to the store, pick it up there. I have a friend who is very familiar with the Enco 14x40 and after looking at my new HF lathe he agrees that they are indeed the same machine except for price and color, apparently the same is true for the 12x36 outfits also. I have not looked at a Birmingham YCL1440 except for pictures in catalogs and on the net but it too APPEARS to be the same as the HF/Enco, it looks identical except for the color but again I have not actually inspected one close up, I am however still stinging over paying so much for that Jet when I could have gotten the HF model so much cheaper. I have been using my HF 14x40 for a month now and I am delighted with it as it is doing a really good job and has done so "right out of the box", all I had to do was wire it in and level it up-well I did change the oil in the gear boxes and I would recommend doing that before running any import because of cuttings that may be left in it. All in all I am delighted with my new lathe and do not regret for a second not finding an old used one especially when I look at the cost of less than $2800 for a new 14x40 set up and ready to run. I looked at the 12x36 "Gunsmith" lathe at Grizzly and it was my first choice for a while but I found I could have the bigger 14x40 for almost $200 less. I do however still think the Grizzly "Gunsmith" lathe is a super nice outfit for a good price, depends entirely on what you want to do with it.

02-06-2009, 01:41 PM
Alright, I found one more zanax in my briefcase, so I am sane again for a few minutes.

Thanks for calming me down again. I just get hot when an ad in the local rag exclaimes a cherry, when in fact it is a cherry pit. I ask all the right questions, and I get the right answers, and damned if they aren't full of s*** when I get there. Thus the 'new' thinking.

I have indeed looked at the Grizzlys. They have two machines that would suit the bill for a long time to come (I am not the kind that will use a tool for a while and then trade up. Once I have it, I usually keep it for a long time unless I hit the lottery).

Question: Two of the Grizzly models I am considering are http://http://grizzly.com/products/12-x-37-Belt-Drive-Gap-Bed-Lathe/G9249 and the http://http://grizzly.com/products/12-x-36-Gear-Head-Cam-Lock-Spindle-Gap-Bed-Lathe/G4003.

What is the difference, other than belts vs gear drive? They are the same cost.

No, these are not set in stone. Read original post about divorce. I'll have to work her into this slowly if I can pull it off.

Remember, I am only a hobbiest. I know I could 'get away' with a smaller machine. I just have the Tim Taylor syndrome. So I'm still listening to you all.

02-06-2009, 01:41 PM
This is the standard low-cost 9x20 lathe (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=45861).

I've used one, I like it. I am a beginner newb.

Oh, please don't tell him to get a 9x20 -- you'll turn him off of machining forever! :)

I think, like Mill/drills, we've all had a 9x20 at one point, and they're terribly frustrating. The 9x20 topslide mount is so flimsy that the machine chatters badly on even the lightest cuts. So nearly everyone does the 4-bolt compound fix first thing...

Some other critical deficiencies of the 9x20 that even the most basic lathe has:

No back gear (130RPM minimum spindle speed!)
No tumbler reverse
No bearings on the crossfeed or topslide
Tiny (5/16"!), whippy little leadscrews on the crossfeed and topslide

If you want to go down a price point from the Grizzly 12x36, consider the 8x14, which addresses most of the 9x20's weaknesses.

02-06-2009, 01:59 PM
I would hold out for a nice used one. Used often come with tooling, and getting one tooled up normally costs more than the machine itself. With the economy like it is, more and more machines are going to pop up and need a good home. The big one for me is that old machinery seems to almost be alive, where the new chinese stuff is more like a washing machine or toaster.

02-06-2009, 02:00 PM
now now Robert, easy does it on the 9x20. I had one, did a ton of mods to it and made some beautiful parts with it.
Out of the box it has err... ahem...cough...a couple issues.
But these parts were made on my 9x20-
Stirling cold and hot side- stainless and aluminum-
The stainless top cap was turned from solid and is only .020" thin in the neck. No chatter issues when properly setup.

This 1144 ER collet chuck was made on the 9x20.http://i109.photobucket.com/albums/n48/S_J_H/39x4gearsetup009.jpg

Sorry, but just had to defend that machine a little.
I understand your point that it might frustrate a noob with it's short comings though.

Course, if I showed all the mods I did to that lathe you just might think I was insane,lol..muwhahhhhaaaaaaa ha ha ha! yeah..

Ahh the good ol' days of the yahoo 9x20 group. Made some friends and enemies over there!

02-06-2009, 02:04 PM
Found this one a HF http://http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber=33274

Doesn't look too shabby, as compared with, well nothing. I have nothing to compare to, but I have a Harbor Freight store in my town. May go over and talk to them and see if shipping would be different if going to their store.

Keep em coming guys. This is fun when I'm stoned on pain killers. :D

02-06-2009, 02:06 PM
Oh, please don't tell him to get a 9x20 -- you'll turn him off of machining forever! :)

I could not agree more and whenever I used my Jet I was constantly scratching my head and asking "Now what the hell were they thinking when they built this thing?" I only mentioned the Jet to make the point that the bigger HF machines are not to be confused with the other tool shaped lumps of scrap metal they sell. When I bought my Jet I was told "Oh but the HF lathe is just a cheap copy or is just a reject that Jet would not accept from the factory" but I know now that is BS! I could have gotten the HF version for $599 at the time and it still comes on sale for that but I instead paid $999 for the "Better built" Jet, better built- yeah right! I since have used both machines a bunch and there is exactly NO difference between the Jet 9x20 and the HF lathe except the price, color and the fact HF throws in a few more accessories and a splash guard and for less money! Apparently the same is true for the larger lathes or at least it is with the Enco versions vs the HF lathes. Sorry for ranting about the Jet vs HF again but somehow it makes me feel better after getting stung by paying an extra $400 for a "Brand name".

dan s
02-06-2009, 02:12 PM
If your going to buy new, you need to research by model, and not brand, as all the big resellers have multiple suppliers.

The following small machines are all of good quality, and made by the same factory in China.
HF 8x12 (really 8x14) (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=44859)
Lathemaster 8x14 (http://www.lathemaster.com/LATHEMASTER8x14Lathe.htm)
Lathemaster 9x30 (http://www.lathemaster.com/LATHEMASTER9x30Lathe.htm)

For larger lathes, I have read good things about Precision Mathews.

I'm pretty sure the PM12x36 (http://www.machinetoolonline.com/PM1236.html) is made by the same manufacture in China as the 8x & 9x30.

02-06-2009, 02:15 PM
My view on the matter is simple buy what you can afford remembering that you also need some cash left over for all the bits and pieces you need to do jobs. Not everything is just a bit of turning and when you are learning the best lathe in the world wont stop the mistakes that will sure as eggs is eggs will occur.
In the past all my maching was done on a Myford but I just could not afford to buy one, well not one that looked good anyway as the affordable ones looked like rejects from the ark!
So go for the HF or whatever and if you ever have the need get something better and keep the other for the rough jobs(well thats how mine end up!)


02-06-2009, 02:18 PM
Found this one a HF http://http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber=33274

Doesn't look too shabby, as compared with, well nothing. I have nothing to compare to, but I have a Harbor Freight store in my town. May go over and talk to them and see if shipping would be different if going to their store.

Keep em coming guys. This is fun when I'm stoned on pain killers. :D

For whatever reason I can't get any of your links to work?:confused:

There is a link to a current 20% off coupon at HF on the board right now and they will honor it on items from the special order catalog at the store. This catalog is for larger items that they don't have room to stock but they will ship them in at no extra cost, for some reason it is much cheaper to order from the in-store special order book than the web prices- for example the 14x40 was (and still is) $3199 at the store but $3399 on the web site. For the next 4 days you can get the 20% off of the $3199 for a substantial savings or for the 13x40 I think is only like $1999 or the 12x37 belt drive for $1799 and these prices are BEFORE taking off the 20%!

Bill Pace
02-06-2009, 02:21 PM
That HF actually has quite a lot of avid followers..

Im a long time visitor at the yahoo 12x36 lathe group and there are several/many owners of the HF there and across the board they have very good reviews, in fact there were a couple guys put them into work shop situations and proclaimed they were pleasantly surprised.

And....if you call in the next 10 min ----:rolleyes: ,As we speak there is a 20% off coupon good through mon, and if it happens to be on sale, (it often is at $1799) and take the 20% off --- that aint a bad deal.

They probably wont have one 'in store' but it seems most of the managers will honor the coupons on the store orders ... be worth asking!

Heres the link to the coupon....

Radkins beat me to it!

02-06-2009, 02:22 PM
I'm another of the "buy it once, if at all possible" persuasion, so I understand your motivation there. Even if the up-front cost is a little steep, amortized over 20 or 30 years it's not so bad, and you'll have the satisfaction of having what you really want (one hopes). It's really frustrating to be vaguely dissatisfied every time you use a piece of equipment that was bought only to save a few bucks.

I'm personally a fan of belt drive, since flat belt slippage on my South Bend 10K has saved me from disaster several times. I'm not sure it would apply to the Grizzly -- it undoubtedly has a V-belt and probably wouldn't slip enough to matter.

Belt drive may be a little quieter than gear drive.

I've never seen a Grizzly lathe "in person" so I can't comment on the quality. I would encourage you to actually go and see any lathe you contemplate buying.

02-06-2009, 02:23 PM
There is a link to a current 20% off coupon at HF on the board right now and they will honor it on items from the special order catalog at the store.

HF also sells the 8x14, and I've been told you can use the 20% off coupon on that as well. I've never seen the HF 8x14, so I can't comment on the quality compared to the other 8x14's, or the Sieg C4.

02-06-2009, 02:32 PM
Found this one a HF http://http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber=33274

Doesn't look too shabby, as compared with, well nothing. I have nothing to compare to, but I have a Harbor Freight store in my town. May go over and talk to them and see if shipping would be different if going to their store.

Keep em coming guys. This is fun when I'm stoned on pain killers. :D

Ok, I checked that number and it is 12x36 but even though the web site there lists the 13x40 for $2399 if you order from the special order book at the store it is only $1999!

This is a listing of the special order items at the store and the 13x40 lathe is about half way down the page.


That is a 13x40 vs the 12x36 (The 12x36 I was told at the store is being discontinued BTW) for only an extra $100 but with the coupon the finial price is a few cents less than $1600, and that's for the 13x40!

dan s
02-06-2009, 02:51 PM
HF also sells the 8x14, and I've been told you can use the 20% off coupon on that as well. I've never seen the HF 8x14, so I can't comment on the quality compared to the other 8x14's, or the Sieg C4.

check out this site.


Bill Pace
02-06-2009, 02:52 PM
Radkins has some VERY valid points on the HF 13x40, that is a very good deal.

A year or so ago the manual for the 13x40 that you could pull up on the HF's web site was obviously just scanned off the pages of it and the funny part was that on the first page it said it was for a Birmingham:eek: (dunno about now, havent looked in some time) And IMO, the Birmy is one of THE top ranking 12 & 13" import lathes. Im a bit partial, Ive got a 12x36 Birmy...

Thats the thing about these 12 & 13" Chinese lathes, there aint spit for difference in them! You may as well go for the best deal

02-06-2009, 04:09 PM
I can not say with absolute certainty that the YCL1440 Birmingham is exactly the same as the HF lathe that I bought but I am sure that the $1000 higher Enco is and that Birmingham is an exact, except for paint, twin in the pictures I have seen of it. I have been told that the Birmingham has better electrics than the HF and maybe it does but I was also under the same impression about the little Jet 9x20 I bought and that turned out not to be true. I have to admit that I am not a "Pro" and I make no claims to be and that is the reason I had that other guy I mentioned come over and inspect my new machine before I used it. He went over everything including the motor and he assured me it was built every bit as good as the Enco and all the parts were the same, including the motor. In any case I really like mine and even though it has only been used a few weeks now I am confident that there is no more lack of quality than the more expensive similar brands, if any issues do crop up I will not be at all reluctant to post them for everyone to see.

Steve Steven
02-06-2009, 04:29 PM
I have had a HF 12 X 36 gearhead (the 22374 you linked to) for 8 years, it is good. Mine has a leak in the apron oil resivour, oil is cheap and I haven't fixed it yet.

Mine cuts well, I haven't had any major issues with it. Put the 6v lights in to stop burning out the 12v ones, had to modify my 4-sided tool post as it was set for 12mm not 1/2", a few things like that.

I am just a hobbyist, don't push mine hard, works fine for me.


02-06-2009, 05:26 PM
Funny how things sort of happen when they are good and ready...a few years ago, when I wasn't looking for a lathe, a friend got a new Chinese model and asked me if I was interested in his 11x24" Rockwell which I had used in the past. After some back & forth, I ended up with it in trade for a Martini Cadet rifle. Still using the same machine. Another friend is looking to move from Iowa in a couple or three years, and will be giving me first refusal on his Enco 13x40" lathe and his MSC 9x42" mill. I'll be able to move the Rockwell to a second operation machine and the MSC mill also as a second, since I picked up a used Enco 10x54" mill a year ago on an EvilBay auction. D@mn, that means I'll have to insulate and wall the rest of the garage! <VBG>

Montezuma, IA

02-06-2009, 05:40 PM
Oh, please don't tell him to get a 9x20 -- you'll turn him off of machining forever! :)

Ahem! I have one and I'm far from turned off machining! :)

I do agree there are better machines. If mine hadn't also come with a mill I'd have not bothered and probably would have no metal working machinery at all now.

02-06-2009, 08:39 PM
When considering a machine smaller than the import 12x's, I personally don't think the 8x14's or 9x30's are all that great an improvement over a 9x20. Still the same basic spindle speeds as the 9x20, no back gears,no power cross feed and no threading gear box at all. At least the 9x20 has a semi QC gear box.
Also the 9x20 has a worm and key carriage feed as well as half nuts for threading. The 8x14's just use the half nuts for feed.
The 8x and 9x30 are little beefier but not that much.
Remove the compound and use a solid plinth and right away the 9x20 pulls .125" DOC( .250" off the diameter in aluminum without chatter. The grizzly 10x22 seems to be a nice improvement over the 9x20 an can also be considered.

The SIEG C4 is probably the nicest of the smaller import hobby lathes right now IMO. Power cross feed!, variable speed 1000 watt motor, much more refined. Digital display with membrane controls. But it's a lot more expensive at around 1700$


02-06-2009, 10:07 PM
The original question was about 9 to 12" swing by 36" between centers, guys. The point I was trying to make in my post at #23 was that good used machines are around, you just have to keep your eyes and ears open and alert for them. Another way out is to look for used machinery dealers and auctions in your area. I found my mill at a dealer on EvilBay, but he was in the Chicago area and a machinist/gunsmith friend who lives there checked it out for me before I bought it.

Montezuma, IA

02-07-2009, 06:28 AM
so what all do you want to build on a lathe 9x20 is a good size so is 10x18 not really alot of difference there but some ,, nothing worne with made in china stuff most all my tools but a few are made in china and my lathe and mill both are and both have been serving me well , now i did buy form busy bee tools so i might be getting better quaility stuff for sure over HF and a few others out there as i have not had to do any mods to my stuff other then remove al the saftys off my Mill cause they were to annoying..
I find for small to medium stuff my 10x18 is great i can make all kinds of parts and just did and axel for a guy and soon very accurate to even still with the 3 jaw chuck iam defently goping for the 4 jaw ones soon as iam finding i need them now cant put if off anylonger..

shop around as much as you are able features are just as importante as well as parts access for the machines and the rep of the machines as well is very much a large issue,,

example Canadian tire " mastercraft welder vs lincon arc or mig lincon wins master craft loses,, master craft grinder vs job mate ,, jobmat wins,, dremeal master craft vs job mate jobmate wins ,, master craft sockets vs jobmate mastercraft wins..

the list is pretty endless

i read and write alot of reviews on tools amoge other stuff ,,
i never had the opertunity to see a HF or grizzly tool up close but i have seen them online and we have some suppliers that you would swear are carring HF and grizzly but they have there own name like metalmaster and so on , the first lathe i bought was a metalmaster 7x12 it was the cats mewo dead accurate and so on but 2 months later it up and fried, but i was not impressed after blowing 800.00 so 200.00 buck more and got the 10x18 and 4 years of tourcher later and she still runs like a top and only had a 1 tail stock sleve go bad that was a factory thing from the start they replaced it and i blew that sleeve 3 years later and put on a new one a few months ago so now iam alot more careful... other then that the machine has treated me well..

any how sorry for the short book here i know iam bad for it but iam one that likes to get into details alot im not much of the sort story type...

im my honest opnion if you go and buy a tool and have to mod the hell out of it before you can even make use of it then its not much of a tool at all..

there is also low end china stuff and hi end china stuff and yes the medium as well and your budget can play a large roll in what you get that or save up for an extra month or 2 and get the better one thats the med to hi range.

the 3 in 1 mahcines also have there good points and bad points as well, some day i want one just to really see for my self if they are really any good and id like a compact system like that for some other uses as well ..but who knows right now i need a bigger shop first before i buy any more toys

02-07-2009, 08:03 AM
going back to the question of witch grizzly, the g9249 of the g4003, i would go with the g9249 given that it has back gears, and more speed steps. also comes with a stand where the g4003 the stand is extra.

Paul Alciatore
02-07-2009, 11:25 AM
I went through the exact same thing a few years ago.

Some points I learned:

1. Small used lathes can be more expensive than larger ones. This has limits as a 3' X 20' will cost a bit more than either of us wants to pay. Really big ones can be had for a song, but the shipping will eat you up and you will need a new building to house them.

2. Imports are considered "kits" or "projects". Old domestics are well worn. Either will likely need work. You pick.

3. Patience! It took me over a year to find a used US made lathe at a price I could afford and near enough to pick up instead of paying shipping. I used E-Bay and it turned out OK. About three states away but I made it over and back in one day. He met me part way.

4. You can judge a lot by pictures and should not waste your time and gas looking if the seller can not supply good quality photos. Be very wary of fresh paint, especially if it is on the ways.

5. I looked for features. I definitely wanted tumbler reverse and the cheapest imports just didn't have this. I also wanted manual change gears. Many want the QC gear box but I find it limiting. You need to decide on which features you want/need.

6. As for import brands, I have visited HF and Grizzly showrooms and can tell you there is absolutely no contest. Grizzly wins hands down. I have purchased several Grizzly machines for myself and for my employer and have not been disappointed. I have no experience with Jet but my impression is that they are also good.

7. Consider the availability of parts in case something breaks. The popular imports and companies like Grizzly and Jet will have parts available. Perhaps some wait, but available. Also some popular used US equipment is easy to get replacement parts for. I have a second compound for my SB and many other parts are offered on E-Bay every day. Also Leblond sells SB parts. But less popular old equipment and brand X imports may be a problem.

02-07-2009, 11:54 AM
Way smaller than what he was asking about but I just came across this and thought it looked like a really good deal for a small machine.


02-07-2009, 12:01 PM
I just came across this and thought it looked like a really good deal for a small machine.


That's a wood lathe.

02-07-2009, 12:04 PM
im my honest opnion if you go and buy a tool and have to mod the hell out of it before you can even make use of it then its not much of a tool at all.

But you need to make a lot of mods to the 9x20 before it's usable...

patty boy
02-07-2009, 12:37 PM
I have a Grizzly 4003 and am happy with it. It's not the most rigid machine in the world, and its table locks are inconvenient, but it suits my hobbist gunsmith needs. It does not do well on big cuts, as the quick-change tool holder is neither massive nor particularly well connected to the rest of the machine. I put a DRO on it, and that makes all the difference in the world. I'd go with a smaller/cheaper lathe with DRO over the opposite without a DRO. The quick change toolholder is also an essential as far as I'm concerned.:)

02-07-2009, 12:49 PM
I'll go for old iron all the way.

My lathe isn't particularly big (11" swing) but it's well-made, has back-gear, belt drive, tumbler, metric QC box (72 ratios with one changegear), splash guard, coolant tray & pump, cabinet, camlock chuck and mt4 spindle and mt3 tailstock. British built from the '80's and I'd rather it over a new chinky machine any day even though it was never a top quality machine. It replaces an atlas 10 which to be frank I'd never own one of again.

My mill is from the 1950's weighs a shade under half a ton and is the perfect size for my workshop and only let-down by the odd collets it uses. I think I'll re-make the spindle on it to accept a more modern type.

I'm not allergic to imports but there's no way I could justify buying a new machine that needed extensive modifying to make a 'nice' machine out of it. If it's poor out of the box then I'll leave it alone unless it's a give-away price.

02-07-2009, 02:14 PM
That's a wood lathe.

Yikes!:eek: Well that's what I get for jumping the gun, I had a brief (his) description and the link in an E-mail from a buddy of mine who is trying to sell this thing for someone he knows. I did not even look at the pics, guess that was just plain dumb. Well that's my embarrassment for the day!:o

Mark Hockett
02-07-2009, 02:39 PM
going back to the question of witch grizzly, the g9249 of the g4003, i would go with the g9249 given that it has back gears, and more speed steps. also comes with a stand where the g4003 the stand is extra.

A geared head lathe does not need back gears as they are built in to the gear train. Back gears are specific to a belt drive lathe as it gives the lathe a way to get more speeds with minimal pulley steps. I personally would buy the gear head lathe over the belt drive. I make many speed changes on my lathe. I use a slower speed for roughing and speed up the spindle for finishing. I use different speeds for threading and parting off. So on many parts I might change the spindle speed 5 or more times per part. The belt drive lathes I have owned were all much more difficult to change the spindle speeds on than my gear head lathe. Most beginners I see with belt drive lathes set the belt on the slowest speed and it stays there. They might go between the back gear and direct to change speeds but the pulleys are usually rusty or unused on the higher speeds. Then they wonder why their part finish looks like crap.

SGW recommends the belt drive because the belt will slip if you crash the lathe. A gear head lathe has a belt from the motor to the gear train that can be loosened to allow for slippage when learning. If you are worried about stopping the lathe during a crash I would recommend buying a lathe with a foot brake like the PM1236 that dan s mentioned, http://www.machinetoolonline.com/PM1236.html
That lathe also has an enclosed carriage feed gear train that the Grizzly and HF 1236 lathes don't have. The enclosed gear box is much quieter and chips can't get caught in the gears, which can happen on the open gear boxes. That being said I wouldn't base the purchase decision on the feed gear box, if you get an enclosed box that is nice, but if you don't it not a big deal for a hobby lathe.

The Grizzly G9249 also has a threaded chuck mount where the G4003 style lathes have the cam lock chuck mounts. With a threaded spindle nose it can be very hazardous to reverse the spindle and you will not be able to turn parts in the reverse direction such as cutting left hand threads toward the chuck with the cutting tool on the back side. I have also had a chuck with a threaded spindle nose get wedged on so tight I had to machine the back plate off of the spindle. Threaded spindle noses are a hold over from the 1930's, I would stay away from them on any lathe larger than 9".

dan s
02-07-2009, 03:19 PM

What kind of old lathes have you been looking at? I ask, because a lot of people tell newbies to get an old lathe and don't tell them what brand/model.

for example: a 12" atlas is not in the same class as a 12" Clausing or Monarch, or an import for that matter. The same can be said for 9" South Bend's.

Bill Pace
02-07-2009, 04:12 PM
Kudos to Mark Hockett for that VERY sensible description of gear vs belt....

I have to wonder if the proponents of the belt drive have had the good fortune to operate a gear head, especially through some of those operations you describe Mark. Just no way that messing around with belts is easier than having a gear shift.

Then theres the usual "gear heads are noisy" Well, I guess thats in the 'ear' of the beholder. And yes, across the board any given group of gear heads will be a bit more noisier than the belt, but it sure aint much, the differences are minor in the decibels. In the typical home shop there will be several other tools that will far 'out-noise' a lathe, That old SB I had was one noisy SOB, with it being as clapped out as it was.

I also have wonder at the usual comment about the belt drive will help prevent a crash with belt slippage --- theres a belt on the gear head, along with the other features you mention.

I started out with a 9A SB, and I would find myself slogging along with a piece, in that same 'middle' position of the flat belt, and thats probably one of the easiest of ways to switch a belt.

And back gear! goodness, I dont know all the low speeds on those lathes, but how much better can you get than the under 50-100 or so rpms on the gear heads,-- and to get it just move that lever.

And a threaded chuck! NO thank you!