View Full Version : Geared Head ? Lathe ? Mill?

11-07-2004, 11:45 AM
First off i want to say that i am going to be purchasing machine tools (Sweeeeeet!). And i need a bit of advice.

But the problem is i live in Canada!!! (hardly any tools stores heres)

Right now im considering buying a geared head milling machine with dovetail column. Some of the dealers are: industrialhobbies.com , lathemaster.com , use-enco.com , grizzly.com . Does anyone know anyothers that sell this?

As for the lathe i have seen the geared head lathe from busybeetools.com. Which is very nice, ive seen it in person and it is very ridgid. Its the 9x 18 one, the one with no back splash on it and sells for 1000$

I would buy a knee mill but the only one that fits in my basement is the bench knee mill (busy bee tools also sells them) but they are not geared head...

What i plan to purchase must be geared head and not to big. I would only purchase otherwise if i found a really really nice deal.

Any suggestions/ comments??? Thanks http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

Also i plan to eventually retrofit these machines for a bmx business http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//eek.gif

11-07-2004, 01:14 PM
I'm curious - why the emphasis on geared-head? I've been considering up-sizing my lathe, and one of the choices is geared vice belt drive. Other than convenience, is there any other difference?

11-07-2004, 01:31 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Elninio:
dovetail column. Some of the dealers are: industrialhobbies.com , lathemaster.com , use-enco.com , grizzly.com . Does anyone know anyothers that sell this?

Just cause you asked.

I have had great service from Wholesale tool.

Not gonna get into the "why drill/mill and not knee mill" type discussions. It's been burned up on this and many other forums. JRouche

11-07-2004, 02:37 PM
I'd rather spend the time to change belt positions than to be spending time replacing broken gears that I may not be able to find or afford later down the road.

11-07-2004, 03:28 PM
Where do you live in Canada??

Depending on your location you can do MUCH better than a BusyBee POS.

Sudbury ON.

11-07-2004, 04:16 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by BillH:
I'd rather spend the time to change belt positions than to be spending time replacing broken gears that I may not be able to find or afford later down the road.</font>

The industrial hobbies mill has hardened gears in the head I guess the others (mine) don't. He just started selling them. JRouche

11-07-2004, 05:40 PM
Why geared head? , well in a lathe, the belts have tension in them which doesnt always keep a constant speed and doesnt give a good finish. Also the gears are in a bath of oil and are more performant. The lathe from busy bee that sells for 1500 has the most crapy belt imaginable, ive seen it in person its as small as the belts in the printers. the gears dont always brake and you dont have to change them always, unless you are doing threads and such, some machines have the motor with "infinitly variable speeds"

I live in toronto ontario, more specifically markham.

11-07-2004, 05:42 PM
Do you know if the wholesale tool geared head milling machine has the tilting head?

Also that is another reason why i like the geared head mill better =-)

11-07-2004, 07:03 PM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Elninio:
[B]Why geared head? , well in a lathe, the belts have tension in them which doesnt always keep a constant speed and doesnt give a good finish. Also the gears are in a bath of oil and are more performant.

What are you trying to say? This doesn't make much sense. There is nothing wrong with belt drive lathes or mills. Practically all lathes have a belt somewhere if only between the motor and the gearbox that drives the spindle. Bridgeports have belts... are they bad?

11-07-2004, 07:40 PM
What im trying to say is that a belt can always slip, but a gear wont. If you are turning some hard steel on your lathe and you take off too much material at a time for your belts to handle, your motor speed may be constant but the rpms of the peice that you are turning will be reduced and you will not have constant surface speed, which will give a bad cut. This is more common in lathes than mills

Also gears give more momentum. but they are also harder to stop, which is why the bigger lathes have brakes. However this isnt really a problem on the hobby sized lathes.

Does anyone know any store that sells servo motors?

11-07-2004, 08:12 PM
The wholesale tools mill does have the tilting head. I bought mine two years ago.
It has been fine for what I do, no problems.

Paul in NE Ohio

11-07-2004, 08:14 PM
hey paul thats awsome!, can you send me some pictures? iv never seen someone with a geared head machine w/ dovetail column before. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

11-07-2004, 09:05 PM
lathemaster.com and industrialhobbies.com both have very nice mills. Also wholesale tool has nice price, but what about border taxes??? remmber, i liv in canada

11-07-2004, 10:06 PM
Where have you looked for machines? There are several good suppliers of quality used machines in your area, but it depends what you what you want to achieve.

For a good quality finish on small parts, it is hard to beat a lathe like a South Bend, or Logan etc, provided you can find one that is not too worn.
Up scale from that a used Standard-Modern 1120 is a gear head lathe that you could hand down to your grand children.
Both of these could be had for less than or equal to the price of a Busy Bee. Look in the Tri-ad paper, there were a couple of them there in the last issue.

I bought a nice South Bend from a place in Burlington called Mainway Machinery. www.mainwaymachinery.com (http://www.mainwaymachinery.com) There is also Marks Machinery in Ottawa www.marksmach.com (http://www.marksmach.com) He deals in King machinery which is MUCH better than the busy bee import stuff (equal to Jet in the US)
Cowan and Stevens sells used machine tools, they are in the area of Pearson Airport.
There are lots of machine tool dealers in the GTA, just look in the phone book.

I don't have any great dislike for Busy Bee, but their machinery is not very good quality, probably equal to Grizzly in the US (there is some family association I believe)

Also check out KBC tools in Mississauga.

Milling machine are quite reasonably priced at the moment. The best of the imports is the A1S series ( often called other things) They are a step above the mill/drill fiasco. I have a friend who has one and is very happy with it.

If you look around you could find good machinery without getting stuck with an import 9x20 lathe that you will not be happy with.
I could even sell you a 9x36 model "A" south bend with lots of tooling for less than a busy bee. ( I've upgraded)

Regards the import of machines from the US, I hope you have a big budget, unless you are prepared to pick-up in the US, you can expect to pay double the sticker price to get anything landed at your door, by the time you pay purchase, shipping, brokerage, duty and taxes.( avoid UPS shipping at all cost!!)

Finally, I disagree with the statement you made in your first post, "(hardly any tools stores here)"
You're just not looking in the right places, there are lots of machines for sale here in Canada, and at good prices too!!

Good luck

11-07-2004, 10:26 PM
El Nino, have you machined anything yet?

11-07-2004, 10:47 PM
hey pete thanks for the advice, you say you have a 9 x 36 lathe you could sell me? can you send me a picture or two?

Yea ive machined a bit of stuff. I made bar ends for a friend on a lathe and im to make a cnc bmx hub but im teacher at school broke the small boxford and now he says hes got no time to fix it. Ive used a mill at a friends a bunch of times.

11-07-2004, 11:12 PM
When I worked production and someone else owned the machines I preferred the gear head stuff. Now that I'm collecting my own machines and repair/upkeep is on me I prefer belt drive. Of course I'm buying used stuff so it's easier to check out belt drive machines. If a gear head mill took a dump on you it could cost some $$...

Hoffman in Warner Robins Ga

11-07-2004, 11:19 PM
What you need will depend on what you plan on using the machines for. I own a geared head round column mill/drill.

I find the geared head heaps better than the belt drive as I use this mill more for drilling than anything else. The sort of uses this mill gets is when I had to drill 72 30mm holes in 20mm plate. A belt drive mill would not have been up to this task. If you are only going to do light work then a belt drive should be sufficient.

A big drawback for the geard head mills is lack of speeds. they all seem to be stuck at 6 speeds.

As for lathes, smaller lathes are backgeared belt drive and this seems sufficient. All the larger ones are geared head anyway.

11-08-2004, 09:17 AM
Please contact me at "shapeaholic at yahoo dot ca"
I can send you some pictures.

The South Bend lathe is very similar to a Boxford (Boxford started as a South bend built in UK under license)


11-08-2004, 01:04 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Ringer:
I had to drill 72 30mm holes in 20mm plate. A belt drive mill would not have been up to this task. If you are only going to do light work then a belt drive should be sufficient.</font>

Hmmm, dunno, my Bridgeport variable speed belt driven head does alright. http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif JRouche

11-08-2004, 01:17 PM
Try House of Tools. They have many location in Western Canada.


I think this one is a gearhead mill with dovetail column.


11-08-2004, 03:12 PM
Here you go Elnino
That picture is before I put the DRO on it.
You can see more pictures of it at:

Meant to say before the z axis dro was installed. The one you see on it here is one of the caliper type.
Paul in NE Ohio

[This message has been edited by PHiers (edited 11-08-2004).]

Spin Doctor
11-08-2004, 05:42 PM
One reason for belt over gear drive is noise levels should be lower especially at the higher RPMs small hobby work would entail. But if one is concerned about gear breakage some where in the drive train it should be possible to employ a slip clutch that would prevent you from over stressing the machine

11-08-2004, 06:40 PM
My Humble opinion of Pros and Cons of Belt vs gear drive:

A)Given that your use will be in the home shop, consider the following; belt driven equipment has been used in heavy indusry for well over a century. It has been used to drive machinery from steam engines through line shafts when machines were taking what would be considered huge cuts in the home shop. Those were flat belts, today we have V belts that are much less prone to slippage and transmit power quite efficiently for our home shop needs. Bridgeport mills and others, drill presses and lathes which do machining that is quite demanding, maybe even using 3 to 5 HP motors are belt driven.

B)As mentioned above, belt drives are quieter, a real advantage in a home shop, particularly if shop noise may disturb other occupants. Still another advantage is that, for home shop machinists that are new to the field, belt drives are more forgiving. The will slip when pushed too hard or the machine is crashed, preventing damage to the machine or operator.

C) When you do have a crash, (and you will eventually) the availability of parts may be a problem. A broken gear on an imported or even old domestic machine that is no longer made might be hard to replace short of making one. If a belt breaks or wears out, replacements are readily available.

D) Belt drives require less maintenance, no oil seals to be concerned with or leaks from here or there. Belt drives have simplicity on their side, fewer moving parts/fewer breakdowns. IF, after years of heavy use, a pulley should wear out, a replacement may be found in stock drive parts catalogs or a new one made with much less trouble than a gear, particularly in the small home shop and particularly if worm, helical or gears other than spur type are used.

E) You may find that a belt driven machine operates more smoothly since the belt dampens vibrations. This may be particularly on small machines with low mass. Vibration can cause finish problems in your work under certain circumstances.

I'm sure there are many here that would praise gear drives just as highly as I praise belt drives, but I fail to see any major advantage in the home shop arena.

11-08-2004, 07:39 PM
I was wondering when someone would chime in about the nice finish you can get with a belt drive machine. Just check out some of the beautiful (and complicated) work that Evan has produced with his "high tech" 9" SB. I only wish I could make stuff that nice...with ANYTHING! And don't forget...at one time some VERY heavy iron (locomotives, huge steamships,etc) were built with mostly belt driven machinery. In fact where I live...if you need something REALLY big turned you have to go to a shop that has a huge old belt driven lathe. I've seen the swarf that comes off that thing and I think you could make culverts out of it.

11-09-2004, 12:15 PM
well, ive seen these hobby lathes and they have real small weak belts, better check it out, the bb 9 x 19 lathe belt is 1-2 mm wide by 1-2 mm high, maybe because it has a high rpm motor??? better investigate http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif

11-09-2004, 03:55 PM
El Ninio, many people who own a chinese 9x20 lathe have stated in the past that that little belt although looks very pathetic, does a great job. Quite frankly, I wouldnt put too much emphasis on the belt, others things more important.

11-09-2004, 09:37 PM
Ive decided to go with a dovetail column geared head mill such as the one from houseoftools.com, but 1 problem, i dont gots 3499 dollars to spend on this type of a machine, does anyone know a place that sells for cheaper??

11-09-2004, 09:45 PM
A lot of guys are doing nice work with the round column mills. In the US they can be had for around $500. I've looked at them and they look pretty solid and plenty of guys work around the limitations. It just depends on what you want to do. As far as lathes go check this out:
It'll answer a lot of questions.
I have a habit of wishing I had the next step up on anything I get. Problem is that there will always be a step up from anything...

[This message has been edited by hoffman (edited 11-09-2004).]

11-09-2004, 09:51 PM
Looks like only the BB lathe 9 x 19 is worth the money, and maybe the one from samual machinery (still gota check it out) ive seen the same model as the grizzly & others at BB, they look very flimsy. anyways tnx though, ive still gotta finish reading, also dovetail is necessary since i need lots of z travel!!! http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

11-09-2004, 10:23 PM
What exactly are you planning on making? I think I read something about BMX parts. I havent rode BMX since I was kid but I dont recall there being alot of custom parts to make for a bike that are not available for much cheaper than the cost of machines and material. Just curious.

11-11-2004, 08:27 AM
Im trying to start a bike business... sorry i didnt reply earlier i was busy checking out some used machinery. Me and a friedn want to start a business