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

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  • #31
    Originally posted by rickyb View Post

    For me a 109 was my upgrade from my first latte. I learned on a Small Machines Inc, DuoLathe. Tiny die cast monarch ee looking thing about 10” long. Sold order the name Manson also. Probably worth more than my Logan now.
    Very cool. I remember seeing (online) one of those years back and thought it was a neat lil lathe. Never knew of anyone that had one. And yeah, prob. worth some cash these days. Its a cutie, whatcha expect, cute sells. JR

    http://www.lathes.co.uk/mansonduo/



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    • #32
      Originally posted by The Metal Butcher View Post

      Yeah...

      I heard that's why people consider jig grinders.

      Or repair Sidney lathes.

      Ouch, that hurts.
      But it hurts soooo good.
      I never said I was immune to nostalgia.
      But let's just say I was in love with the machine
      and the history was a bonus for me.

      That being said
      I wore out the polisher
      polishing the turd crap that
      is my Colchester 17" lathe.
      Yes it is a gap and yes it has
      3" spindle hole. But the power
      feed was totally dicked from the
      day it was new. Colchester engineers
      dropped the ball on that design. I put
      hours and hours and hours of work into
      re-designing that power feed to make it
      not bind up the rocker bushings.
      Every one of this model was this way,
      and they all wore out the feed in the apron
      in only a few years use.
      But it was the sexy looking round head model
      and I just wanted to fix it. I should have sold it
      off to some poor sucker, like it was sold off to me.
      Oh well. It was a super fun project and it made
      some good video content. And now it works like
      new money. The pride I feel when I throw in the
      power feed lever is immeasurable. Smarter than
      a Colchester engineer? Absolutely.

      --Doozer
      Last edited by Doozer; 04-28-2022, 01:27 PM.
      DZER

      Comment


      • #33
        Originally posted by Doozer View Post

        Ouch, that hurts.
        But it hurts soooo good.
        I never said I was immune to nostalgia.
        But let's just say I was in love with the machine
        and the history was a bonus for me.

        That being said
        I wore out the polisher
        polishing the turd crap that
        is my Colchester 17" lathe.
        Yes it is a gap and yes it has
        3" spindle hole. But the power
        feed was totally dicked from the
        day it was new. Colchester engineers
        dropped the ball on that design. I put
        hours and hours and hours of work into
        re-designing that power feed to make it
        not bind up the rocker bushings.
        Every one of this model was this way,
        and they all wore out the feed in the apron
        in only a few years use.
        But it was the sexy looking round head model
        and I just wanted to fix it. I should have sold it
        off to some poor sucker, like it was sold off to me.
        Oh well. It was a super fun project and it made
        some good video content. And now it works like
        new money. The pride I feel when I throw in the
        power feed lever is immeasurable. Smarter than
        a Colchester engineer? Absolutely.

        --Doozer
        Hey 10-4. I'm in the same boat. Just pointing at that we are all turd polishers here, some of use just polish bigger and more useful turds.
        21" Royersford Excelsior CamelBack Drillpress Restoration
        1943 Sidney 16x54 Lathe Restoration

        Comment


        • #34
          If a turd is really big, sometimes it doesn't look like a turd.
          Or it is harder to tell it is a turd. Big things just look more
          useful.

          -D
          DZER

          Comment


          • #35
            Hi Folks,

            Some folks just like fixing stuff up. Some folks enjoy seeing how much they can tweak something. Some folks can't afford 17 inch swing lathes. Most of the folks bragging about how big theirs is have machines that are completely useless to people who do watch, clock, and other quite small scale stuff. These machines also are just non starters for smaller shops and wood floor buildings. We got three kids through college while I restored clocks. Many of the clocks were old, worn, "turds" to some here. They certainly didn't have all the features of your cellphones clock, but somehow people wanted them working and looking good. My Taig and Sherline machines did the vast majority of machining for my clock business, occasionally it was nice having mid sized machines (SB10/ Mill Drill) for larger bits. Some folks seem to think along lines of why repair a wobbly old Stickly Morris chair when stools are at Harbor Freight for $30. I just restored a broken up shaving chest that was my great great grandfathers. It's not something of great financial value, and I don't shave looking in it's mirror. But it looks good and doing it made me happy.

            Now for turds that are really hard to polish, we could talk about my 1st lathe, a PRC 9X20. I didn't realize how bad it was until I started making the same small parts on a Taig of all things. The Taig was that much better in surface finish and rigidity. Once I knew it was the machine not me that was misbehaving I was able to fix up a number of things, but not all. Sadly that was pre internet days, so I didn't know about some mods that became common to make the 9X20 a more useful if not delightful machine. I did some good work on it, but sure was glad to get a hold of an old SB workshop C in good mechanical shape and get rid of the PRC 9x20.

            We won't speak of the SB13 with a seven foot bed we skidded out from under a collapsed barn, other than to say I learned a LOT getting it back to a wee bit better than shuffling zombie life. It did make some good telescope piers and brick saw sector arms, but it sure was good to have the shop space back when I passed it on to another guy for his rougher work. That was when I had a concrete floor in my shop, unlike now. Young, dumb, still strong, overly confident in my abilities to resurrect the dead, not enough money to do much better back then. All apply. As Doozer said, big things just look more useful...

            Good for the gent who fixed up his old 119 for the pleasure of it, and many karma points to George for doing the flips and twists needed to get the article to press so the author can see it.

            Cheers,
            Stan

            Comment


            • #36
              Nah.....

              It's perfectly fine to fix stuff up because you want to. I'm fixing an old toy steam plant up for/with a friend of mine. It's utterly useless in virtually any practical way, but who cares? Fixing a 109 when you DO have the large lathe to do it with (as the article author did) with is OK as far as I am concerned, if you are doing it "just because you want to".

              I had a 109. I did fix it up as much as I could at the time, with only the 109 to work with. At that time, my goal was a better machine to actually use. And, some of what I did in fact resulted in a better machine. The most effective improvement was a traveling steady, which substantially eliminated the chance of bending the spindle. But I never could get it to be what I wanted.

              I replaced it with a 10" Logan that I still have. When I did that, my eyes were opened in a new way to what the 109 "was not". I decided very soon that fixing up the 109 could never result in a nice smaller lathe. The basic "bones" of the 109 were not capable of the sort of improvement that I wanted.

              With regard to turds that are hard to polish...... You mentioned a 9 x 20.

              IMO, as a machine TO ACTUALLY USE, I would be DELIGHTED to accept a 9 x 20 in place of a "109". It is a very usable machine, lacking only a back gear setup. However bad it is considered to be, it is very significantly better than the 109. I have messed with a 9 x 20 just enough to know that is very true. And the 9 x 20 can be improved in ways that actually improve it.

              I expect the same is true of the widely hated "minilathe". There is enough there to make improvements reasonable, and likely to result in a nicer machine.

              A Sherline or Taig would be very much better than a 109 other than basic swing capability. One can do very good work with either, although I think a Sherline is the nicer of the two.

              Many of the "issues" with a 109 are at least somewhat fixable. Fixing them might be pretty tough to do if the 109 is all you have, but they would make it more usable. However, the biggest issues with the machine cannot be "fixed" in any way other than replacing the bed of the machine, after which it is no longer a "109".

              The article is what it is. It includes such things as putting the entire headstock of the 109 on the larger lathe for modifications, which are fine, but obviously not open to an owner of just a 109.

              As such I am fine with it as a "because I want to, and I can" project. Just like repairing a steam toy.
              Last edited by J Tiers; 05-02-2022, 11:04 AM.
              4357 2773 5647 3671 3645 0087 1276

              CNC machines only go through the motions

              "There's no pleasing these serpents"......Lewis Carroll

              Comment


              • #37
                Originally posted by Stan Stocker View Post
                Hi Folks,

                Some folks just like fixing stuff up. Some folks enjoy seeing how much they can tweak something. Some folks can't afford 17 inch swing lathes. Most of the folks bragging about how big theirs is have machines that are completely useless to people who do watch, clock, and other quite small scale stuff....

                Cheers,
                Stan
                No one said you had to have a big machine.
                What I said was.....
                If a turd is really big, sometimes it doesn't look like a turd.
                Or it is harder to tell it is a turd. Big things just look more
                useful.
                --D

                No one commented on what someone can afford.
                No one commented on what work they do on their machine.
                I stated my perceptions of what constitutes a TURD or not so much.
                I am not trying to put on you the postulate that you should buy a big
                TURD of a machine, so people won't see it as a TURD, even though
                it actually is. I said nothing of the sort. Yet you lead some argument
                or rebuttal saying I implied something that I absolutely did not.
                Do you have a point or goal ? We are just having fun here.
                Why are you offended when I talk about a 17" lathe?

                -Doozer
                DZER

                Comment


                • #38
                  I am new here and at a disadvantage as I've not read the article. I just subscribed and bought the last 3 back issues so at some point I will get caught up.

                  I just recently got in to machining (er back into). I last ran a lathe back in 1968 in high school so it's been a while. I repair and restore electric guitars, lap steel guitars, and pedal steel guitars.

                  I am working on some 1950's Fender Stringmaster steel guitars and need some simple parts that are not available. One part is an aluminum round spacer 1/2" thick, has a 0.250 hole through it, and is about 0.75" long, and tapers from the middle. Another part is 7/8" thick aluminum, round, 2.5" long, and has a 1/2" x 13 threaded hole in one end. How big of a lathe do I need to make parts like this?

                  I did the research and the best lathe for me is a Craftsman 109.20630 or a 109.0703, or a 109.21270. Wait you say, that's a horrible lathe! It would be horrible if I were trying to make a 6" stainless steel part for a NASA rocket but I am not.

                  Reading through the posts here, I didn't see any specific issues raised with the 109 lathe that would not meet the author's needs and what he was trying to do with it..

                  Here's what I've read about the 109 lathes (on the net, not to say here):

                  1. The spindle bends
                  2. The nose is 1/2" x 20 or 24 TPI
                  3. They are not accurate.
                  4. They do not have a DRO.
                  5. They are old.
                  6 They are ugly.
                  7. No parts are available
                  8. Real men use South Bend Lathes (or Logan, Atlas, or Mori Seiki etc)
                  9. I've never used one but they are terrible etc.....

                  The biggest problem with the 109 lathe is never mentioned. Drum Roll................ They are too FAST. Let me explain.

                  The biggest complaint is that the spindles bend easily. And they do. Why do they bend? If you are using an 80 year old spindle that by design is weak, what do you expect? It is a 0.550" OD hollow spindle with a 0 MT in the nose and a 0.250" hole through it. That's over 50% of the mass removed.

                  Now add speed. The slowest speed that the 109s can go with the 4 step pulley is 600 RPM. With the back gear unit it drops down to 120 RPM. Can you cut steel threads at that speed?

                  Now add a novice operator who chucks up a piece of 2.5" CRS (well, it is a 6" lathe with a 3" chuck after all) and jams the tool bit in it at 600 RPM, what happens? Or at 120 RPM? With those speeds it should be classified as a WOOD lathe.

                  It's easy to fix the spindle. A new spindle made from 4140 steel that are SOLID can be bought for $120. There is NO evidence that anyone has ever bent a 4140 109 spindle. OK, problem solved. Also get new bearings with the new spindle. They are cheap at $90.

                  What about the 1/2" x 20 TPI Nose? Don't like it? Get a different thread. 4140 spindles for the 109 are available in 1/2" x 20, 3/4" x 16, and 1' x 8. I have one each.

                  Now how about speed? Easy. Add a counter shaft and/or a VFD with a three phase motor. I am adding a cut down counter shaft from an Atlas 9" lathe. Yesterday the digital tach arrived so I will know exactly how fast my 109 is running.


                  Accuracy. As any lather operator knows with ANY used lathe set up in a new location you have to go through them and follow the mfg set up procedures. How many 109s have had the chuck back plates pulled and trued to the spindle (especially if it's a new spindle)? Adjust/replace the gibs, ect. Measure run-out and determine if it is within what your needs are. Yada yada yada.

                  Anyway, I am enjoying my return to using a lathe after 53 years.


                  Last edited by aoresteen; 06-23-2022, 04:33 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    I am working on some 1950's Fender Stringmaster steel guitars and need some simple parts that are not available. One part is an aluminum round spacer 1/2" thick, has a 0.250 hole through it, and is about 0.75" long, and tapers from the middle. Another part is 7/8" thick aluminum, round, 2.5" long, and has a 1/2" x 13 threaded hole in one end. How big of a lathe do I need to make parts like this?
                    No reason that a 109 lathe couldn't be used to make those. I personally would want a slower speed for single point threading, but the part you described has internal threads and you'd likely use a tap any way. (You might start the tap in the lathe, for alignment.)

                    You've covered how to deal with most of the described shortcomings. I have no opinion myself, having never used or owned a 109, but my reading of the comments is that people are suggesting that by the time you pay for the lathe itself, new spindle, new bearings, vfd and 3 phase motor or counter shaft, etc, you might have been better off just investing in a different machine in the first place.

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

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Cost is a factor of course. I paid $100 for my 109.0702 and $400 for my 109.21270. Both needed rebuilds so I went with the 4140 spindles and new bearings. Both came without motors so I have to buy a motor. The cost difference between a single phase and a 3 phase motor was $ 20 - not signigficant. The VFD is portable - should I get a larger lathe it can move up.

                      Space is an issue for me as I do not have room for a full size lathe right now.

                      Any used lathe is going to need maintenance and parts & repairs are going to come up. A new 12" lathe is way out of my budget. I did look at getting a used Atlas 10F but spindle bearings are $250 and the footprint is more than I can give up and still have room for a small BenchMaster mill. The bigger the lathe the bigger the maintenance costs.

                      We are considering building a new home and having a separate shop building but that is on hold for now given the economy.

                      And I do not have a legitimate need for a larger lathe. Would I like one? Yep, a 12" Southbend would be nice. I am just one lotto ticket away from getting one and a shop to put it in.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by aoresteen View Post
                        .......................................

                        I did the research and the best lathe for me is a Craftsman 109.20630 or a 109.0703, or a 109.21270. Wait you say, that's a horrible lathe! It would be horrible if I were trying to make a 6" stainless steel part for a NASA rocket but I am not.

                        Reading through the posts here, I didn't see any specific issues raised with the 109 lathe that would not meet the author's needs and what he was trying to do with it..

                        Here's what I've read about the 109 lathes (on the net, not to say here):

                        1. The spindle bends
                        2. The nose is 1/2" x 20 or 24 TPI
                        3. They are not accurate.
                        4. They do not have a DRO.
                        5. They are old.
                        6 They are ugly.
                        7. No parts are available
                        8. Real men use South Bend Lathes (or Logan, Atlas, or Mori Seiki etc)
                        9. I've never used one but they are terrible etc.....

                        The biggest problem with the 109 lathe is never mentioned. Drum Roll................ They are too FAST. Let me explain.

                        The biggest complaint is that the spindles bend easily. And they do. Why do they bend? If you are using an 80 year old spindle that by design is weak, what do you expect? It is a 0.550" OD hollow spindle with a 0 MT in the nose and a 0.250" hole through it. That's over 50% of the mass removed.

                        ..............................................
                        Far be it from me to impugn your research. However, I find it hard to understand the idea of the 109 being "the best". Perhaps "the only one I can get at a reasonable price", that I can understand. Since I have seen them for sale at up to $650, even that is questionable. There are better lathes in the same size range, so that cannot be the issue.

                        However, concerning the "list of complaints":

                        Numbers 9, 8, 6, 5 are not valid complaints. Number 7 is not even true, as the things are parted out on Ebay. Number 4 is silly, since large numbers of other lathes haven't got a DRO.

                        Number 3 is also not true. It is perfectly possible to do accurate work on a "109", it's just a lot more trouble than with almost ANY other machine you could buy.
                        Number 2 is true, but not a limitation, just something to take into account.
                        Finally, number one is a consideration, but one more of a problem in that so many are already bent, not that you may bend it.

                        One real, actual problem is actually the feeds. They are not an even and reasonable number of thou (or mm) per turn, since the thread is 24 tpi, not 25 or 20, either of which was possible and useful.and it is a difficult proposition to change that. And, as a consequence there are no dials supplied. Yes, of course you can "simply" use a micrometer to measure the size, but if you actually try to do that, you may discover how much of a pain it really is.

                        Another is that it is built extremely lightly. As a result, it twists, squirms, chatters, and has other bad habits which affect the work. It does those things cutting steel, of course (which I did on a regular basis, successfully). It also does those things cutting aluminum. It does them less, but it still does them. To avoid having chatter etc, you must take far smaller cuts. I have seen pack-thread larger than the chips I had to be satisfied with when I used mine.

                        The back gear of the 109 makes an immense amount of ringing noise. I was never able to make it stop, and I tried a number of remedies. It was an absolutely maddening noise.

                        You can expect the same job to take between twice as long, and perhaps 6x or even 10x as long, on the 109 vs almost any other machine. I have never used a Sherline, or a Taig, which are similar in size, so I cannot judge if they do as much chattering etc.

                        Before you call out reason number 9 on me, I HAD a 109, unlike most who talk about the problems it has. I had a 109.20630, which is probably the best of the models. I made parts with it, I made parts for it, I made tooling for it, and I used it as "the" lathe in the shop. I got good work out of it, and knew no better for a while. Then I began to fix issues it had. I made a better toolpost, I made a follow rest, I re-cut the worn bearings so that the spindle would run better, I made a crossfeed dial, etc, etc. I cut threads with it, and just "used it".

                        I came to the conclusion that it was not worth the trouble to fix everything that was a problem. I'd have had to make every part of it new, and some things were so much trouble to fix that there was no point. I started looking for another lathe.

                        Then, I had the opportunity to buy a 10" Logan. When I had done that, I found out what I had been missing. The Logan actually worked well, it had very few "yes but" things about it. It did not "chatter", it did not twist and squirm and cut tapers., and I was not limited to removing tiny threads of metal with it.

                        I think I would advise getting almost any of the "MiniLathes" as an alternative to the 109, although I have no experience with them personally. A reasonable 9 x 20 import, which is not a great lathe, will run rings around a 109, and will be a much more useful and usable machine, and I DO have some experience with them.

                        Since you are considering a used "109", which has not been made for 60 years or so, you might want to consider a used Minilathe, 9x20 lathe, Sherline, or Taig. There are other small import machines that come up used as well. I would frankly expect any of them to do better for you than a "109".

                        Buying used would allow you to get a better machine for a similar cost. For some reason, probably the "old-timey" look, the 109 machines seem to be offered at a premium price. I mentioned the one at $650, which is, by the way, more than I paid for the Logan.

                        That is my advice. You are not obligated to take my advice, or even bother to read it, if your mind is immovably made up. As Doozer says, "you do you".
                        Last edited by J Tiers; 06-24-2022, 12:56 AM.
                        4357 2773 5647 3671 3645 0087 1276

                        CNC machines only go through the motions

                        "There's no pleasing these serpents"......Lewis Carroll

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          There is another motivation for sinking more time and money into a turd than it's worth. Pure, unadulterated, spite. Sometimes it's satisfying to get even with the mfg of such, by making the thing you are raging at simply work.
                          I just need one more tool,just one!

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            True.

                            But, in some cases, the basic frame of the machine makes it virtually impossible to make it work in a satisfactory manner. And, there is such a thing as cutting off your nose to spite your face..... Do you want to do what you need a lathe to do, or do you want to dick around with a machine that never will be what you actually want it to be.
                            4357 2773 5647 3671 3645 0087 1276

                            CNC machines only go through the motions

                            "There's no pleasing these serpents"......Lewis Carroll

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              When I was 17, I got a small old lathe that Dad let me put in a corner of his garage. You lot wouldn't give it house room. Between that and metalwork lessons at school, I learned a lot, traded up to a bit bigger lathe (not much better, just bigger), rebuilt that, traded up again, eic etc . The thing about small awful lathes is that in order to get them to do anything at all, you learn very rapidly the necessity for sharp tools, and you learn patience - they will get the job done, just multiple passes of 10 thou a time, instead of one cut of 100 thou.

                              That first small lathe gave me a lot of pleasure at the time, and pleasure is valuable, don't you think?
                              'It may not always be the best policy to do what is best technically, but those responsible for policy can never form a right judgement without knowledge of what is right technically' - 'Dutch' Kindelberger

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Originally posted by J Tiers View Post
                                True.

                                But, in some cases, the basic frame of the machine makes it virtually impossible to make it work in a satisfactory manner. And, there is such a thing as cutting off your nose to spite your face..... Do you want to do what you need a lathe to do, or do you want to dick around with a machine that never will be what you actually want it to be.
                                Why not both? It's not an either-or situation. And a further reason: I wholeheartedly agree with what weirdscience says about spite, I think you have to work in maintenance and repair to understand that feeling. I see horrible cheap bodges at work every day while my mind is screaming that this is a 50-100 million $$$ company that is doing things in a stone-age third-world style. And I make improvements to *everything* I touch, if possible.
                                25 miles north of Buffalo NY, USA

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