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What? New issue has an article on fixing up an AA / 109 lathe?

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  • What? New issue has an article on fixing up an AA / 109 lathe?

    That unit is probably the second most useless lathe ever made. (there must be one worse). I am surprised that it got article space. Maybe desperation as far as filling an issue? Some articles in the mags have been a bit dubious in recent years.

    OK, a little extreme. And, full disclosure, I HAD a 109 at one time. And, I actually did some of the same things to mine.

    However, I rapidly realized the basic crappiness of the thing, and got another much better lathe (the Logan). And, I also realized the basic futility of doing anything extensive to the 109, so I moved it on to another person and avoided the "fix it" rabbithole..

    I had to tell a couple potential customers that it was not what they wanted, as they explained what they wanted to do. The ultimate purchaser was not talkative, he simply inspected it, and handed over the money, so I have to assume he got what he was after.
    CNC machines only go through the motions

  • #2
    I had a 109 I picked up at a yard sale for pretty cheap. The only thing I ever made on it was some extra cash parting it out on eBay.

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    • #3
      Yes, but.

      Everyone starts somewhere.
      There a lot of 109s out there.
      Sometimes you have to do the best you can with the tools you have.
      Not everyone is as brilliant or experienced as you are.
      "A machinist's (WHAP!) best friend (WHAP! WHAP!) is his hammer. (WHAP!)" - Fred Tanner, foreman, Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering machine shop, circa 1979

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      • #4
        Originally posted by oxford View Post
        I had a 109 I picked up at a yard sale for pretty cheap. The only thing I ever made on it was some extra cash parting it out on eBay.
        Similarly. Except mine was given to me by a neighbor who got it at the dump & I sold it whole. Around $300 IIRC.

        If you absolutely cannot spend more $300, there wouldn't be anything else you could buy.
        Last edited by Bob Engelhardt; 04-26-2022, 11:40 AM.

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        • #5
          About 20 years ago, while looking at something else a guy was selling, he mentioned he had one, so I bought it ($50 as I recall.) I already had a 13" LeBlond at that time, so I bought it just out of curiosity. After a few months, when the novelty wore off, I sold it for $75 or so.

          While I have no interest in owning one or doing the modifications, I did find the article interesting. ...as much or more so than many that have been published, to me at least. But then I don't expect things to be catered to my exact taste.
          Lynn (Huntsville, AL)

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          • #6
            Easy problem to fix, use it as a small boat anchor

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            • #7
              I think perhaps you guys are missing the gist of the article. The featured lathe was the author's first lathe, received as a gift in his teens. It's what started his machining hobby and career, but had been gathering dust for decades as his skills and equipment moved on. The modifications address most of the lathe's shortcomings and will allow it to be used as a second lathe in the shop. It's more about giving some life to a sentimental item that wasn't going to get tossed than trying to make the 109 into something it's not.

              There were tons of these things made and the author is not the only one to feel it might be an enjoyable project to tackle. I heard from a reader who had the same lathe inherited from his dad that he couldn't part with. He intends to fix it up with hopes that it will at least get some use in the shop.

              Guys build things in the shop all the time that just end up sitting on a shelf. Yes, it's not much of a machine, and the author admits as much, but spending some time fixing up something that is full of memories doesn't seem to be that silly of an undertaking.

              At least that's how I read it. As to being desperate for articles, no, that's not the reason. We have enough on hand that this article was likely going to take two years to make it into the magazine. However, after one year I heard from the author that he was going blind and was hoping to be able to see the article before he couldn't. So, I moved some things around and bumped up the date.
              George
              Traverse City, MI

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              • #8
                Originally posted by George Bulliss View Post
                I think perhaps you guys are missing the gist of the article. The featured lathe was the author's first lathe, received as a gift in his teens. It's what started his machining hobby and career, but had been gathering dust for decades as his skills and equipment moved on. The modifications address most of the lathe's shortcomings and will allow it to be used as a second lathe in the shop. It's more about giving some life to a sentimental item that wasn't going to get tossed than trying to make the 109 into something it's not.

                There were tons of these things made and the author is not the only one to feel it might be an enjoyable project to tackle. I heard from a reader who had the same lathe inherited from his dad that he couldn't part with. He intends to fix it up with hopes that it will at least get some use in the shop.

                Guys build things in the shop all the time that just end up sitting on a shelf. Yes, it's not much of a machine, and the author admits as much, but spending some time fixing up something that is full of memories doesn't seem to be that silly of an undertaking.

                At least that's how I read it. As to being desperate for articles, no, that's not the reason. We have enough on hand that this article was likely going to take two years to make it into the magazine. However, after one year I heard from the author that he was going blind and was hoping to be able to see the article before he couldn't. So, I moved some things around and bumped up the date.
                Commendable; that was very nice of you.

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                • #9
                  Class act, George. As usual.

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                  • #10
                    Emotional attachment and nostalgia has lead to more good money
                    spent for bad result than any motivators known to man.


                    -D
                    DZER

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                    • #11
                      Emotional attachment and nostalgia has lead to more good money
                      spent for bad result than any motivators known to man.
                      One of "Mickey's (several) laws of Money":

                      "Money is replaceable."
                      "A machinist's (WHAP!) best friend (WHAP! WHAP!) is his hammer. (WHAP!)" - Fred Tanner, foreman, Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering machine shop, circa 1979

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by J Tiers View Post
                        That unit is probably the second most useless lathe ever made. (there must be one worse).
                        Never even seen a 109 but I did twist the handles on a harbor freight 7x10 and not sure if it was because it was a display but it was awful. And I know many folks make the 7 inchers work, so there is potential. It was a lil scary

                        But when I was first starting out I believe I would have liked the 109, till I was hamstringed. But still, for an inexpensive first lathe? Yup. Oh, the HF 7x10" is $780 now if anyone cares.. Used to be in the 4-5 hundred range I think.. JR

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                        • #13
                          I can appreciate the point of view, and I guess I don't really disagree with using the article. Moving publication up was definitely a good thing to do.

                          Originally posted by mickeyf View Post
                          Yes, but.

                          Everyone starts somewhere.
                          There a lot of 109s out there.
                          Sometimes you have to do the best you can with the tools you have.
                          Not everyone is as brilliant or experienced as you are.
                          I had one. I had no experience at the time, and it did look like a lathe when I decided to buy it. It's where I started, and I am probably only brilliant if I am holding a lamp and remember to turn it on. I was just bright enough to finally wake up and consider that the machine was not ever going to do what I wanted.

                          As far as doing the best with the tool you have, I've certainly been there. I still am, as we all are. But, many of the mods described, require use of a larger lathe, which rather disposes of the "with what you have" idea. You cannot do the mods I saw in the article, unless you already have a bigger lathe. And if you do, well............????

                          I did some reasonable work with the 109, and put a good bit of work into improving it, before realizing it was just not worth the effort. That may be rather distorting my view of the whole deal.

                          When I moved up to a "real" lathe it was a stark revelation of what I had been missing, and I really kind of resented having spent the time on the little POS. When I saw the article, it seemed like encouraging folks to throw money and time at a probably fruitless improvement project.

                          Looking back at my own experience with a 109, it was actually very useful time spent. I really had to work at it to get the good results I wanted, which means I learned a lot purely because it was so bad. Kind of like being assigned to the oldest and most worn machine in the shop.

                          And I should not look at projects as "unworthy". If the article is just looked at as improving something, it seems to be perfectly good shop work. I can understand that, and will take it as that. My grumpy response I can put down to the result of a 3 day tussle trying to line up all the paperwork when buying a used car from a private seller ( Or to just being a "G.O.M"). That's my story, and it's sticking to me.
                          Last edited by J Tiers; 04-26-2022, 08:27 PM.
                          CNC machines only go through the motions

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                          • #14
                            I happen to have a 109, I don't use it as I have two other much more capable "real" lathes. The 109 was given to me by a good friend when he sensed his health was declining and after he got in a rush one day using it and dug a tool into his workpiece and caused the textbook bent-spindle syndrome that 109's were prone to. I got him another spindle and we installed it, but a short while later he gave me the lathe.

                            He was among other things a gunsmith and a really good one. He made loads of firing pins and other such small items on that silly little lathe over many years, used it to polish and tweak parts, make small custom punches and tools etc., and it made him a fair bit of money in doing so. He never had the change gears so never even bothered trying to thread anything with it, but there was no need to do so in his case. Was it an awesome lathe? I don't think so and neither did he. But it was good enough for what he was using it for, cost him nothing, and took up little space.

                            I read through that article out of interest. I won't be making any of those mods to the 109 I have. But in light of the guys motivation and GB's explanation I don't see this as any different than making a model steam engine or restoring your first car, etc. We all have stuff we like to do that probably makes little logical sense to other people, and vice-versa.

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                            • #15
                              I also have a 109 it was the first lathe I ever owned given to me by a machinist friend who is now past on he is the one that got me into the hobby I have since then bought a larger lathe and mill
                              ​​​​it also helped me with my job just the other day I dragged it out and I am going to get it back up and running why because I have a great nephew that is 5 years old who wants to do what I do follows me around like a tail when he is here hopefully he will stay interested in the hobby by letting him use this old little lathe with some guidance he is a smart boy and always asks to use my large machines this will be his to use hope to keep him interested and off the streets wish me luck

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