View Full Version : Thoughts on a Grizzly 12 x 36 Metal Lathe

01-09-2005, 01:44 PM
It was with a bit of hestiation that I placed my longbed Sherline lathe and accessories for sale on Ebay a couple days ago. I finally decided that I have the need for a larger lathe and since I recently inherited a six inch Dunlap metal lathe I felt I didn't need the Sherline anymore. My problem now starts with selecting a larger lathe. I've been reading the posts here on this board and also doing some research, right now I'm looking at one of the Grizzly 12 x 36 lathes to move up too. My problem is that I keep reading about the work that is necessary to make these "kit" lathes perform well. I'm not planning on building rocket ships, but I would plan on doing some barrel work, ie, chambering jobs with it. Is it really necessary to completely strip these machines down to the last gear to throughly clean and re-oil, debur, and replace parts before you have an opperational lathe? It's not that I'm adverse to this kind of work, I just got done overhauling my Dunlap, though that's about 10 times smaller, but I'm a little nervous about pulling a geared head lathe apart, since I'm not all that familiar with them yet. A website showing the steps with photos would be helpful if anyone knows of one. I'm also wondering a bit about accessories, how hard is it to find a collet set and drawbar which will work in this lathe, the other consideration is that now that I am selling my sherline lathe with its mill attachment, I would need to have some form of milling attachment for the lathe, are they available? I know it's a lot of questions, and beleive me I have more, but this seems like a good forum and I think it will prove an excellent place to get opinions and information before I make this major purchase. I won't be buying until spring as I'm having a garage built and wired and so I won't have any space until that time, but I felt it's a good time to start looking. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

01-09-2005, 02:03 PM
I'll only relate my personal experience with my 12 x 36 gear head Enco that I purchased around 1997. I did not have to completely strip it down at all. Once it was wiped down of some cosmoline (not a lot) - it was more or less ready to go. Some things to look for are some chips leftover in the headstock before you refill with oil. Also, one of my switches stuck - just spray with contact cleaner. I know others here had more trouble than me - but I also know others had similar experiences. It's sometimes the luck of the draw.

Good luck with your purchase,

01-09-2005, 03:17 PM
I have the Grizzly G4003 gear head 12x36 lathe. I bought it about 3 years ago. I did not do anything but wipe the grease off of it, it has worked fine for me. I kept looking for all of the sharp edges I heard about, couldn't find any. I did take the lid off of the head to find these "metal chips" I kept hearing about, none in mine. Another poster here, DONB, bought one a few months ago. I helped him install his DRO and he sure seemed pleased with his lathe.

Paul in NE Ohio

01-09-2005, 03:58 PM
I heard the same thing about mill/drills. I bought a Busy Bee machine (supposed to be same as a Griz but sold in Canada). I spent a lot of time taking it apart to find all the casting sand, rough feed screws etc. It was a waste of time. I couldn't find anything wrong with it. Was a good learning experience though...didn't even have any spare parts left over.

01-09-2005, 04:18 PM
My experiences parallel those stated above. I would look the machine over carefully for problems and take the few minutes required to look in the gearbox to make sure that it is clean. You are also going to want to get the bed fairly level and check the alignment of everything soon after you get it. Run it through all the speeds and feeds and make sure everything works properly. If you have any problems with the machine, make the seller correct the situation.

I think that some of the people who say that the import machines are “kits” are relating experiences gleaned from the smaller, cheaper, and less carefully built machines. Perhaps the biggest problem with some of the Asian machines is that the end purchaser must act as the quality control department.

01-09-2005, 04:32 PM
I bought a grizzly 12 x 36 gear head about 9 months ago. Only complaint was terrible smell when I got it . Cleaned off grease and oil. Changed grease in gear boxes after a few hours as reccomended (no sand or chips). Smell went away. Made a barel of chips, no complaints.

01-09-2005, 06:53 PM
Much of the Griz stuff is the same as BB , I heard the same family owns both chains ?? , can't confirm for sure. My experience with asian equipment has been positive , a few minor quirks not worth whining about , and yes the aroma when uncrated , pretty foul . A thorough cleaning helped . Some of the fasteners are questionable , easily remedied too. Have not observed the casting flash , sand and chips in gearboxes , I've seen mentioned here before ?? . It's worth mentioning , the main gearbox was noisy initially , I ran it in all speeds and feeds , as suggested , it began to run more quietly after being in used for a short time , now it runs with an acceptable level of gear train sounds. Initially it worried me , not anymore.

[This message has been edited by JeffH (edited 01-09-2005).]

01-09-2005, 07:25 PM
I purchased a Chinese lathe (Jet brand) just a year ago. Set the machine up with no problems. Everytime I would use it I was half expecting something to go wrong. Nothing has gone wrong. For my hobby needs I am very pleased with it. I do have a small headstock oil leak I want to get at sometime, but it is no big deal.
Whenever I see a comment about that "Chinese Crap" I would ask that person to go to their nearest Chevrolet dealer and look at the new Equinox SUV. Engine country of origin: CHINA!

01-09-2005, 08:02 PM
You will be sorry that you got rid of your Sherline equipment.
The Grizzly 12 x 36 is OK for barrel work and general gun smithing.

Be safe http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

01-09-2005, 08:57 PM
I have the HF 12x36 lathe. No problems.
The only thing I had to do was true up hte tailstock. Decent bench lathe for the money. I use magnetic back indicators for carriage movement so I don't how accurate the dials are.

Grizzly sells a lever operated 5C closer for them about $300.

01-09-2005, 09:11 PM
What may have taken place, over time they have addressed som of the issues that they were plagued by. I have noticed this with other imported items, they improve over time.(Renaults and Yugos excepted)
Over one the Yahoo 12X36 site, everyone seems to be a happy camper.

[This message has been edited by PSD KEN (edited 01-09-2005).]

01-09-2005, 11:35 PM
I had nothing against the sherline lathe, it taught me the rudiments of machine tool work, but as time has gone on I feel I have developed needs that are beyond the capabilities of my sherline equipment. I've taught machine tool classes at the university and have had many opportunities to work with the bigger lathes and I realize that they lack the finese that I grew accustomed to with my sherline, but for that reason I have the above mentioned Dunlap lathe which is also a longbed version, has a similar headstock bore size, plus it has thread cutting capability, compound rest, and power feed, all of which my Sherline lacked without expensive accessories. There is also the fact that it is made of cast iron, instead of aluminum. Yes I'm sure I'll miss the Sherline, but only for nostalga reasons, the Dunlap will still do everything that the Sherline will do and I'll continue to use it when I get the bigger lathe. Thankyou very much for all the suggestions, they do a lot to ease my thoughts on the subject. Does anyone know how hard it is to find collets and drawbars that will fit these lathes. Also, where would be good sources for milling attachments? Thanks again for all the help.

01-10-2005, 12:32 AM
Hi 44-henry,

I have the HF 12 x 36 lathe and have had only one problem. One of the bearings in the gear housing had a piece of metal or grit. I took the unit apart and changed the bearing and have had no more problems. I did align the lathe.

I made a milling attachment for the carriage and it worked very well on light cuts. Don't use it any more as I got a stand up mill.

The attachment that I made is like the one Varmint Al made for his 7 x 10 lathe. I used a larger angle plate, with his idea.


milling attachment

Hope this helps and good luck on your new lathe, which every you get.

01-10-2005, 12:25 PM

The grizzly 12x36 uses standard 5C collets. Grizz sells a lever collet closer for 299.

Paul in NE Ohio

Steve Steven
01-10-2005, 03:42 PM
I have the HF 12 X 36 gearhead lathe, I just wiped it down and began using it. It has a small oil leak from the apron, but I just live with it. I made a 5C collet adapter from a MT5 - MT3 adaptor, it was not hard. The closer and handwheel are easy, used 1 1/4" pipe for the draw tube and a piece of 1 1/2" bar stock to make the threaded piece. Used a Torrinton roller thrust bearing on the handwheel adaptor. Works fine, but the cheap colsets I bought are not quite true and I have issues with them.

J Tiers
01-10-2005, 04:43 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by 44-henry:
I have the above mentioned Dunlap lathe which is also a longbed version, has a similar headstock bore size, plus it has thread cutting capability, compound rest, and power feed, all of which my Sherline lacked without expensive accessories. There is also the fact that it is made of cast iron, instead of aluminum. Yes I'm sure I'll miss the Sherline, but only for nostalga reasons, the Dunlap will still do everything that the Sherline will do </font>

Having recently sold off my 6" craftsman 109, which is basically the same thing as your Dunlap, I would have swapped it for a Sherline in a second.

Dunlap has uncalibrated dials, that can't BE calibrated because the screw pitch (24 tpi) isn't an even # of thous per turn. It won't turn at the speeds of the Sherline for small work.

Mine was major noisy as to the "back gears" which were a planetary setup. Any chuck sticks out a mile on that tiny half-inch spindle.

The Sherline has a much stouter spindle. You can get parts easily. It is much tighter and easier to use for small work IMO (having only used one once). I would just plain call it a better machine for most things aside from threading.

I have a 10" lathe, and I figure to get a small one like a Sherline for things that are inconvenient on the bigger machine. The 6" Craftsman 109 didn't fill that need.

I'd pretty much advise reversing the process....keep the Sherline, and ebay the Dunlap, unless you never do small sized parts. Your mileage may experience settling in transit....

01-10-2005, 10:23 PM
Hi 44, I too am looking at the 12 x 36 Grizzly gear head G4003. I have been researching all the available lathes for the past 4 months and the grit and sand issues only seem to apply to the small import lathes, 7x10's, 7x12's, 9x20's. Ck out this really great site.
They must figure that if someone is willing to spend a couple thousand bucks on a lathe they better do a little better QC. work before shipping.
I got to go look at a new G4003 my neighbor just bought at thanksgiving and he is really happy with it. Hope this helps..

01-10-2005, 11:58 PM
I have had my HF gear 12X36 lathe for almost 3 years. I like it. Only problems are a sticky relay switch that needs as shot of contact clean once in a while and the saddle leaks a bit if I over fill it. Have a new relay ($39) to replace it if it gets worse. I would buy one again. Gerry

01-11-2005, 12:05 AM
You know, forget China, India makes the worst crap of all. I got a divider today, and it smelled like death. I scratched myselfwith it, hope I dont turn into a werewolf.

You know, I dont recall any sand inside my Mini lathe, I believe this sand grit crap has some basis, but is one of those things one guy hears, repeats it on the net, and everyone on this and other boards has heard of it, and they all keep repeating it.
Like others have mentioned, I have yet to hear one bad thing about any 12x36 lathe. Heard 1 bad story of a larger import lathe, but that was the only one.

01-11-2005, 12:39 AM
I have had a 12x36 Hafco (Australian Company) branded version, has been fine for my needs - but then I don't terribly know what I am doing...

Only problem I had was last September, I was relying on it to finish a flyreel and it spat the start capacitor on the motor. The time I lost repairing it meant I had to use a crummy old flyreel instead of a shiny new alloy one...

01-12-2005, 07:57 PM
Grand Forks, we are almost neighbors.
Do you shoot the 44-henry? Make the shells? Reload rimfire shells?
For milling attachments, you could make one. You could get one from
Enco Model #240-2941 If you are going to do much milling ???
get a mill If/when you can.

Be safe http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif

01-12-2005, 09:26 PM
I'll be chambering another barrel on a grizzly lathe this week. If it's like my friends lathe, it is a good one.

The only thing I don't like about it is the degree markings for the compound are placed where they are hard to see. The dial on the tail stock is wonderful. It's so close we don't bother with a dial indicator to feed the reamer.


01-13-2005, 10:16 PM
Tinker, where do you hale from? Nope, I've never shot the 44 henry, though I've shot a couple reproductions in 44-40, which is quite close ballistically. I'll probably end up making a mill vice like you say, I see one link listed on this site that shows castings that look promising, it is my intention to buy a mill/drill when I get a bit more money and space. I ended up selling my Sherline tonight for quite a bit more than I thought I would get, I did have some hesitation, especially after reading the posts on my Dunlap, I'll probably end up selling it as well to help finance the bigger lathe, I'm sure I'll end up looking for a smaller lathe like the sherline in the future, but finances won't let me keep it now. I just hope that the Grizzly will be capable of doing some fine work as well.

01-13-2005, 11:11 PM
I own an Enco 12x36. I bought it ten years ago so my reply may not be relevant. I did find shavings in the headstock and in the saddle. I had problems with the tailstock staying put. The gib on the cross slide is giving me fits. I have corrected all the problems except the gib with little effort. The gib problem is fixable; I just have not had time to do it yet. All that said, the machine is pretty straight and runs good. The headstock and the tailstock line up within 0.0005" and the spindle runout is within 0.0002". In that department I feel lucky, better than I expected. In my opinion, the quality control on some of the Chinese brands is getting better. Look it over when it arrives, clean what needs cleaning, and use it. I would run it through all the gears, feeds, etc. ASAP so if there is a problem you can have the importer address it. I feel they are a good value.

Good Luck


01-14-2005, 07:35 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by 44-henry:
Tinker, where do you hale from?

Pierre, South Dakota That’s neighbors to me when it comes to machinists.
If you make a milling attachment, you could skip the castings if you wanted.
This sight sells plans. Most of them you could build by just looking at
the pictures on their web page.

Your Dunlap lathe is not all that bad, it just wouldn’t be my first or
second choice. A lot of what we own was not our first, second or third
choice, it is what came along at the time. If it works for you, great.

I don’t see any reason that the Grizzly would not work for small things.
From looking at your profile, I see that you are into black powder guns.
Me too.
Do you go to any gunshows?
Be safe http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//smile.gif