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Thread: Grizzly Gunsmithing Lathes... Any Good?

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
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    Toledo, Ohio
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    9,117

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    Grizzly has three lathes it calls gunsmith lathes. They have a couple of added features for gunsmithing. The owner of Grizzly is active in benchrest shooting, so he does have some experience in what would be appreciated. While they are typical chicom machines, the combination of features and an attractive price make them appealing for gunsmithing.

    This is the 13" machine, there are also 14" & 16" machines;

    http://www.grizzly.com/products/13-x...or-Lathe/G9036

    Just myself, but I would prefer a belt drive machine for the better finish provided. The main things to look for are enough room through the headstock for a barrel to pass full length and 5C capability so that you have 1-3/8" through the headstock.

    A Heavy 10 is an excellent machine for gunsmithing as are most 13" machine. I have a 13" Sheldon which will do anything I need. I think anything over 13" would prove too large for most, a smaller lathe would be needed for small work, and most gunsmithing beyond barrel work is small work.
    Last edited by JCHannum; 04-27-2010 at 08:01 AM.
    Jim H.

  2. #12
    MuellerNick Guest

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    Exactly that lathe (except the smal settop cabinet for switches) was sold to me (= idiot) as a "toolroom lathe". It's a POS-lathe. I discussed that in a thread about two months ago.


    Nick

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Mo
    Posts
    334

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    I bought the G0554 about 6 years ago, they upped the price about $1000 and now call it the G0554Z.

    Used strictly for smithing

    The best that I can say about it is that itís not a bad lathe (notice I didnít say it was a good lathe). After only 6 years of useÖitís getting worn, Iíve had to shim the cross feed gib, yes wore that quickly, Had to modify the cross slide nut, the nut was only held in by a little metric screw, which quickly wallowed out. Now I have a problem with the tailstock, wonít stay put when clamped.

    All bearing surfaces (besides the ways) looked like they were hand scraped with a brickÖfelt that way too.

    Screws were cheap Chinese junk, soft as butter.

    Headstock bearings have held up though, runout is still less than I can measure, ways show little to no wear..so I guess that they are hardened as advertised.

    Would I buy another Grizzly latheÖsimple answer is no, too many issues. My next lathe would be a lightly used NardiniÖ. Anybody out there selling one?

    Mike Hunter
    Hunter Restorations

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Mercer Island WA USA
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    82

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    Grizzly lathes are built from the same Chinese parts as other Chinese lathes.
    It is just like Chinese riflescopes.

    You want your own brand of Chinese lathes?
    You fly to China.
    You meet with these people:
    http://www.made-in-china.com/manufac...t/Lathe-1.html
    You pick the features from the catalog.
    You make up some model numbers.
    You pick some colors.
    You tell them the name of your brand.
    You hire a local QA man in China to represent you.
    You fly back to the US.
    You set up here in the USA, a sales, receiving & inspection, and customer service facility where you install DRO or other add ons.


    Here are some names already taken in China: Jet, BSA, Grizzly, Mueller, Birmingham, Burris, GMC, Millet, Precision Matthews, Sightron, Sharp, Redfield, Enco, Bushnell, Turn-Pro, Simmons, Clausing, Pentax, South Bend, Weaver, etc.

    Any name you pick, it will still have parts interchangeable with a Grizzly lathe.
    If corporal punishment for women and children is domestic violence, then gun control is domestic spying.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    2,155

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    Quote Originally Posted by CLARKMAG
    Grizzly lathes are built from the same Chinese parts as other Chinese lathes.
    It is just like Chinese riflescopes.

    You want your own brand of Chinese lathes?
    You fly to China.
    You meet with these people:
    http://www.made-in-china.com/manufac...t/Lathe-1.html
    You pick the features from the catalog.
    You make up some model numbers.
    You pick some colors.
    You tell them the name of your brand.
    You hire a local QA man in China to represent you.
    You fly back to the US.
    You set up here in the USA, a sales, receiving & inspection, and customer service facility where you install DRO or other add ons.


    Here are some names already taken in China: Jet, BSA, Grizzly, Mueller, Birmingham, Burris, GMC, Millet, Precision Matthews, Sightron, Sharp, Redfield, Enco, Bushnell, Turn-Pro, Simmons, Clausing, Pentax, South Bend, Weaver, etc.

    Any name you pick, it will still have parts interchangeable with a Grizzly lathe.



    I was not going to say anything this time but I wanted to respond to your reply, I have found what you are saying to be exactly the case! I had a few things to say about HF lathes (the 14x40" in particular) and basically that several of these brands are the same machine except for color and price. First I owned a POS Jet 9x20 which was EXACTLY the same machine as the Grizzly, Enco, HF and a number of other brands, I know from "hands-on" experience with both the Jet and HF that they are indeed the very same. I paid nearly twice as much for the Jet as the HF machine cost because everybody said HF machines were just rejects and complete junk, that may be so but the Jet was junk also! There was not any difference between the two in quality or anything else except color and price and I am finding that the same is apparently true for the larger 14x40 machines. I have the HF 14x40 and have access to an Enco 14x40, they are the same stinkin thing!! The Enco cost a heck of a lot more than the HF but after a year around both machines I KNOW that one is no better than the other which was exactly the same experience I had with the little 9x20, this time however I didn't fall for the "name" and saved a bunch of money. I posted links to pics of the HF 14x40, the Enco 14x40 and the Birmingham YCL14x40 and outwardly they all appear to be exactly the same, I have only gotten to look at the Birmingham without running it but I am sure the parts are interchangeable with my HF and maybe I am wrong but they damn sure don't look to be any better quality. Some may argue that Grizzly or Enco has a lot better service than HF and that may be true but HF does offer parts replacement and the thousands a person will save by buying form them will sure ease the frustration of lesser service if it is required. Others have told me that HF machines are just rejects that other companies turn away but I have seen no evidence of that and the people who told me were talking only from hear-say or opinion and had no proof of any kind. I joined a Yahoo group of HF lathe owners and those guys convinced me to buy from HF, it did not take much convincing after the Jet 9x20 fiasco! These guys are owners of these machines and they too are convinced that the HF lathes are the same as some other more expensive brands, are we wrong about that? Maybe but then maybe not and after over a year of searching for a good used "name brand" lathe and researching the ChiCom selections I honestly see no reason to spend the extra money for a supposedly better name if a person is going to buy Chinese. Certainly a good used American or European machine is going to be a lot better but if buying Chinese don't expect a brand name to be synonymous with quality, you could very well be paying a lot more money for a catchy paint job. I have been running my HF 14x40 for over a year now and I couldn't be happier with it.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    NH
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    170

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    Let's assume that the Grizzly lathes are just adequate then. So who makes a really good lathe now?
    Sometimes the professional is hidebound by tradition while the skilled amateur, not knowing it can't be done blazes a new trail. -JCHannum

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Mercer Island WA USA
    Posts
    82

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    In 2009 I sold my 1967 Clausing 12x36 5914 and I bought a Precision Mathews 12x36 lathe with foot brake for $3K delivered in Oct 2009 with the $1k DRO additional.

    The only thing wrong was on the bottom of the steady rest.
    It is the exact same type of steady rest as on my brother's 10 year old Jet 13x40 lathe.

    The customer service at Quality Machine Tools is excellent.

    I think I could have got better change gears with J levers for less money from Harbor Freight.

    My brother is a super machinist and everything he makes is ultra precision and looks like jewelry. He hates foreign stuff, but says his Jet has never let him down.
    Everything I make is inaccurate and sloppy.
    If we traded lathes, out outputs would not change.

    Having paid for 5 lathes in 10 years for amateur gunsmithing, I don't like Chinese lathes, but do not see any economical way around it.

    Old American lathes that are worn out an never were as functional as the Chinese lathes is not the fast path to building accurate rifles, even if it is more aesthetic.
    If corporal punishment for women and children is domestic violence, then gun control is domestic spying.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    NH
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    Quote Originally Posted by CLARKMAG
    Old American lathes that are worn out and never were as functional as the Chinese lathes is not the fast path to building accurate rifles, even if it is more aesthetic.
    This describes our dilemma in a nutshell. I am beginning to draw the conclusion that buying a Chinese lathe from a reputable reseller is the best we can get then.

    This gives me a great idea to start a business buying lathe components from China, and building quality lathes here in the US, reworking the components into usable assemblies. Offer the public chinese machinery that is already reworked and ready to roll.
    Sometimes the professional is hidebound by tradition while the skilled amateur, not knowing it can't be done blazes a new trail. -JCHannum

  9. #19
    MuellerNick Guest

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    reworking the components into usable assemblies.
    That won't work!
    You would need so many machines (horizontal borer, bed grinder, ...) and it would involve so much work (bring the headstock's bearing seats into alignment and get the required surface roughness; completely re-bore the saddle's axes; mill off conventional bearing surfaces and coat with Moglice; ...) that you could also start making a new one out of good material.

    As soon as you start to improve them, you'll be faced with two new problems after fixing one. Almost no part is properly aligned.


    Nick

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Mercer Island WA USA
    Posts
    82

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kibby
    ..
    This gives me a great idea to start a business buying lathe components from China, and building quality lathes here in the US, reworking the components into usable assemblies. Offer the public chinese machinery that is already reworked and ready to roll.

    They can sell a 2000 pound Chinese lathe delivered to my residential door for $3k.
    It costs all most that much to SHIP a 2000 pound lathe won on Ebay.

    If anything does not work, I have called Grizzly about a bad lathe part and I have called Precision Matthews Quality Machine Tools about a bad lathe part.
    They ship a replacement part for free... pronto.
    If corporal punishment for women and children is domestic violence, then gun control is domestic spying.

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