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

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  • #46
    Originally posted by Richard P Wilson View Post
    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?
    I have made that point a number of times. That 109 taught me a lot about running a lathe, simply because it was so bad that every normal fault of every lathe was multiplied many times. So it showed almost every possible common problem every time I turned it on. Learning to work with it was the very best training.

    And, it WAS a "lathe". Perhaps more of a "lathe shaped object", but it functioned, and I used it. Yes I got pleasure from using it. Yes I learned a lot.

    HOWEVER.... I am not sure that the OP is looking for that. He says he has determined that the 109 is the best choice for what he does. It is to be assumed (pretty much actually stated) that he thinks it will be good for his indefinite use. It does not appear that he wants "a learning experience".

    I do not know his experience level. If he is very familiar with lathes, has long experience, well, he can get the best it is capable of doing. I am surprised in that case that he would select it, but he has to "do him".

    Say or think whatever you want.

    Having owned a 109, and having used it over a considerable period of time, I would advise him to get a used minilathe, 9 x 20, or similar, and avoid the 109. Those others are clearly not without faults, many shared with the 109. They are about the same size, but with somewhat more capacity.

    However, the 109 is functionally incomplete, lacking basic functions. The minilathe and 9 x 20 are functionally complete, with essentially all the basic functions of a lathe present. Yes the 109 "can be used". The minilathe etc are far easier to use, with many fewer problems and issues affecting every single use than the 109 has.

    The 109 has many deficiencies which come out in daily use, in terms of no dials, fast speed, limited tooling, general weakness, very limited capacity, and the probable need for rather extensive repair before practical use (mine required a lot)....... Yet it is considered the best? One has to ask "WHY?".

    It seems that for similar money one can obtain a used import machine that is better built, better designed, and better featured, with considerable support from a user-base. Why go for a machine that is much older, generally in bad shape, less well designed, less well featured, with minimal support? One frankly designed only to look like a lathe and be as cheap as possible (THAT design goal was spectacularly achieved).

    Again.... do you want to dick around with a machine that not only may require repairs, but also, by it's basic design and quality, does not justify spending time and money to do the repairs? Or, do you want to do the work for which you need a lathe?

    Why not both?

    Well, you do you, I'll do me. But having actual extended experience with that particular machine, not just armchair theory, I think I have very valid comments. And opinions. Note that I tried for the best accuracy I could..... I was not "just aiming to get close". I found it so different from a more "complete" machine as to be night and day.

    I sold my 109. But, I refused to sell it to a couple potential buyers. Why? Because I KNEW it would not do what they stated they wanted. The ultimate buyer simply looked at it, never turned it on, and paid me on the spot. He gave no idea what he wanted to do with it, so I had to assume he knew what he was doing.

    We do not know what the OP really wants to do. He mentioned aluminum.... If he is ONLY making small pens, maybe... but even there I expect that he will run into basic limitations very quickly. The minilathe and the 9 x 20 both can easily accept a pen body in the spindle, which the 109 cannot. And one need have no fear of using the chuck, their spindles will not bend.

    AS I said, I do not disagree about the "learning experience". However, the 9x20 and minilathe can give much the same, and have vastly improved capabilities. Once you learn, you can continue to use them productively without inordinate compromise.

    I hate to see someone heading for a collision between his expectations and reality, one possibly affecting his continued enjoyment of a nice hobby. Especially when there are many choices that appear far superior per the info we have, yet need not cost more or take up more room.
    Last edited by J Tiers; 06-24-2022, 12:55 PM.
    CNC machines only go through the motions

    Comment


    • #47
      Originally posted by Richard P Wilson View Post
      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?
      Man you are totally right.
      It is all about fun.
      Small lathes are fun for a while.
      For some, a good long while.
      It is a growth thing too.
      You might be satisfied for months
      or years are decades.
      But then you have a mid life crisis
      and buy a Corvette. I mean, buy
      a better lathe. And it is more fun.
      Lots more fun. You might buy an
      even better lathe, and it is tons
      more fun. Just like if you drive the
      Corvette for a few years and trade
      it in on a Maserati. And like your
      latest greatest lathe, it is tons more
      fun. Maybe you ditch your micro mill
      for a Bridgeport or a Gorton or a
      Moore. The fun never stops.
      Sure you can make due with a crappy
      lathe and be frugal and wash your
      paper plates and use them again.
      But did it ever occur to you to buy
      a better machine and have more fun?
      If you keep crying money, you are in
      the wrong hobby or just not trying
      hard enough. People who cry the
      poor house are just annoying.
      You can be poor, but if you don't
      mention it, no one will know.
      If your hobby is so expensive that
      you have to complain to someone
      else about it, because misery loves
      company, maybe misery is your
      real hobby. Some people are not
      happy unless they are complaining
      and bringing everyone else down to
      their level. Their hobby is to spread
      misery. That is how I interperate
      people complaining that a crappy
      lathe is all they can afford. And if
      you choose to live like a pauper
      because of some moral quest,
      you really need to step back and ask
      yourself, what are you fighting for?
      Certainly not yourself, because you
      are making yourself miserable on
      purpose. In such case, spend you
      money on therapy, because a metal
      working hobby is not working for you.

      -Doozer
      Last edited by Doozer; 06-24-2022, 04:44 PM.
      DZER

      Comment


      • #48
        Hey! Washing my paper plates is how I saved up enough to buy my Maserati!
        "A machinist's (WHAP!) best friend (WHAP! WHAP!) is his hammer. (WHAP!)" - Fred Tanner, foreman, Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering machine shop, circa 1979

        Comment


        • #49
          An interesting thread. Kudos to George for printing the article! Nostalgia can be a fine read with a good whisk(e)y, (or cuppa of Jasmine Green tea), at the end of the day. And who knows, perhaps someone will read it and get some inspiration and do something similar some day. Either to another Craftsman or other machine.

          What I'm most interested by is the dogging of that poor 109. I thought you guys liked and preferred "Good ole American Iron" no matter how worn out or poorly made. To hear J Tiers state the a Chinese 9x20 and perhaps even a 7x12 is a lot better machine than a "Made In the US" Craftsman 109 may be an indication the world might be ending. Or not.

          And the complaints about "polishing a turd" and wasting time and effort for little to no gain is pretty funny too. Particularly since it's neither anyone else's time, money, or effort to do the polishing.

          I've been lucky over my career to have used some of the very best machine tools this planet has to offer. And I've used some of the poorest pieces of junk that wouldn't even make a good door stop. Never once did I let it stop me from making the best parts I could that fit whatever purpose that was required.

          Name plates don't equal skill. And how big a machine or where it got made don't make it better or worse. I've made junk on the finest and perfection on the worst. It was never up to the machine what got made or how it got made.
          If you think you understand what is going on, you haven't been paying attention.

          Comment


          • #50
            Originally posted by dalee100 View Post
            ........................

            What I'm most interested by is the dogging of that poor 109. I thought you guys liked and preferred "Good ole American Iron" no matter how worn out or poorly made. To hear J Tiers state the a Chinese 9x20 and perhaps even a 7x12 is a lot better machine than a "Made In the US" Craftsman 109 may be an indication the world might be ending. Or not.

            And the complaints about "polishing a turd" and wasting time and effort for little to no gain is pretty funny too. Particularly since it's neither anyone else's time, money, or effort to do the polishing.

            ....................................
            Heh........................

            I'm all for "good" , or even just "decent" old machines, US, Canadian, european, Brazilian, Japanese, whatever. As a former owner and user of a 109, yeah, I feel qualified to suggest, strongly, that one of those imports is going to be more satisfactory for nearly anyone.

            I've polished some turds in my time..... Sometimes it "can be done" and the result is good. Sometimes it "can be done" and the result is still not good. The latter case is my "call" on this one.

            The article is OK.... I guess.... It does show how much effort, and use of other machines, is necessary to make a 109 come up closer to your basic minilathe or 9 x 20, neither of which I am a fan of, but both of which I will admit are "real" lathes.... Small, with their own significant issues, sure................but "real".



            CNC machines only go through the motions

            Comment


            • #51
              I am not going to knock the Atlas 6" lathe. But there is one common failing not mentioned above. The gears are made of Zamac and can disintegrate over time.

              My ex father-in-law worked for a time as a tool and die maker for Dodge. He was an exceptionally brilliant man who taught me many things. He has an Atlas 6" lathe and has done good work on it.

              He just had his 100th birthday party. I'm pretty sure my kids are going to ask me to sell his shop tools. I'm looking forward to the challenge of selling a 6" Atlas lathe.

              metalmagpie

              Comment


              • #52
                Dunno, my policy is to simply get the best I can afford in any given market segment, and be happy with it when the timing is right.
                On the other hand I do believe the poverty thing is valid, although it gets old to dwell on it.

                Originally posted by Doozer View Post

                Man you are totally right.
                It is all about fun.
                Small lathes are fun for a while.
                For some, a good long while.
                It is a growth thing too.
                You might be satisfied for months
                or years are decades.
                But then you have a mid life crisis
                and buy a Corvette. I mean, buy
                a better lathe. And it is more fun.
                Lots more fun. You might buy an
                even better lathe, and it is tons
                more fun. Just like if you drive the
                Corvette for a few years and trade
                it in on a Maserati. And like your
                latest greatest lathe, it is tons more
                fun. Maybe you ditch your micro mill
                for a Bridgeport or a Gorton or a
                Moore. The fun never stops.
                Sure you can make due with a crappy
                lathe and be frugal and wash your
                paper plates and use them again.
                But did it ever occur to you to buy
                a better machine and have more fun?
                If you keep crying money, you are in
                the wrong hobby or just not trying
                hard enough. People who cry the
                poor house are just annoying.
                You can be poor, but if you don't
                mention it, no one will know.
                If your hobby is so expensive that
                you have to complain to someone
                else about it, because misery loves
                company, maybe misery is your
                real hobby. Some people are not
                happy unless they are complaining
                and bringing everyone else down to
                their level. Their hobby is to spread
                misery. That is how I interperate
                people complaining that a crappy
                lathe is all they can afford. And if
                you choose to live like a pauper
                because of some moral quest,
                you really need to step back and ask
                yourself, what are you fighting for?
                Certainly not yourself, because you
                are making yourself miserable on
                purpose. In such case, spend you
                money on therapy, because a metal
                working hobby is not working for you.

                -Doozer
                25 miles north of Buffalo NY, USA

                Comment


                • #53
                  Originally posted by metalmagpie View Post
                  ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, I'm looking forward to the challenge of selling a 6" Atlas lathe.

                  metalmagpie
                  Shouldn't be an issue. They work, and a person can use them perfectly well. Considerably better than than a 109. In some areas, they go for a premium. Around here, cheapest is maybe $300, and they can go up to double that.

                  They are "fully featured", much heavier and more useful than the 109. Nicer than many newer minilathes, which have electronic speed control and lack low speed power because of it.
                  CNC machines only go through the motions

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    I fully understand that a particular brand of machine makes hobbyists giddy with joy.

                    However why not simply buy a machine that will do the work required regardless of Country of Origin, quality of manufacture or Brand name? You have done so

                    Have at it

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Originally posted by Bented View Post
                      I fully understand that a particular brand of machine makes hobbyists giddy with joy.

                      However why not simply buy a machine that will do the work required regardless of Country of Origin, quality of manufacture or Brand name? You have done so

                      Have at it
                      Because to do so would kill all the fun they have in arguing about the "best" and "worst" when talking about tools you should have.
                      If you think you understand what is going on, you haven't been paying attention.

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Originally posted by Bented View Post

                        However why not simply buy a machine that will do the work required regardless of Country of Origin, quality of manufacture or Brand name?
                        That makes perfect sense, from a business perspective.
                        I'm not in business (yet).

                        One thing that fills me with anger is buying stuff that *used* to be made domestically, providing jobs *here* where they are needed.
                        If I was machining for money, those considerations go out the window, and I simply buy what will do the job at the best value given all the parameters and constraints.... no feelings attached. At work we have a couple Mazak mill-turn centers out in the back scrap pile waiting their turn to get melted down again. We supply one of the larger mills with their remelting stock

                        Eventually, everything comes to us and gets melted down again.
                        25 miles north of Buffalo NY, USA

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          Originally posted by Bented View Post
                          I fully understand that a particular brand of machine makes hobbyists giddy with joy.

                          However why not simply buy a machine that will do the work required regardless of Country of Origin, quality of manufacture or Brand name? You have done so

                          Have at it
                          Most do. Except that they may ignore the "will do the work" part, and focus on the "looks like the other one, but is cheaper to buy" part. Ther may be some of that here, I can't say for sure.

                          Many buy what they can afford, many buy what they think is "just like the more expensive one, only cheaper". Purchasing agents and hobbyists do that. The PA may be over-ruled sometimes. By doing that they may find they are buying worse quality, and that may affect the "will do the work" part.
                          CNC machines only go through the motions

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Sorry for the delay. Been very busy fighting with the VA.

                            Thanks all. I appreciate your input. My main interest are guitars. Right now I have over 100 of them. As I stated I need to make some small parts for vintage Fender steel guitars in low quantities. I explored having "short run" shops make them. The cost for 100 units was very, very high, high enough to explore buying a lathe and making them myself.

                            I think that I identified all the shortcomings of the 109 lathe and how to fix them in context of what I am making, not what others would want to do with the lathe. I also stated that I have limited space for a lathe as what I would really like to have is a vertical mill (to make guitar bridges of my own design). So,

                            J Tiers wrote: .......

                            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.
                            You misunderstood what I wrote. I said that the complaints about the 109 that I listed as 1 to 9 was what I READ (as in written by others, not me). So we agree that there is little truth in what I encountered and that the internet is full of errors about the 109.


                            J Tiers wrote: .......
                            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.
                            That's why I replaced the spindle with a new solid 4140 steel spindle and new spindle bearings right away so that I was starting with a known, new condition. Bearings were $88, spindle $120.

                            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.
                            Valid issues. The feeds was the hardest issue for me to get over. I'll have to use the lathe for awhile to see if it really matters in what I am making or not. As to the noise, 3D gears are supposed to be much quieter than the OEM gears. I'll have to see if it bothers me a lot. I wear hearing aids and if it bothers me I can just shut off my hearing aids. If it still bothers me, then I can try the 3D printed gears:


                            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.
                            That is why I appreciate your comments. Your comments are based on actual experience. As to which model is best, I have the beds of a 109.0702, a 109,20630, and a 109.21270. IMHO the 21270 is the best of the bunch .It has 4 ribs in the bed as opposed to the 20630 that has 3. Except for the very hard to find 109.21280 that the bed is heavier still.


                            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".
                            I did look at the other mini lathes. I came to a different conclusion than you did. All small lathes have issues. I just can not justify a full size Southbend/Atlas/Logan lathe at this time.

                            Perhaps in 6 months I will change my mind and dump the 109 for something else. Before I do that I am going to give the 109 a fair test and see how it does. I suspect that the biggest problem with it will be the operator.

                            Last edited by aoresteen; 07-01-2022, 09:46 PM.

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              I understood your list as one of the stuff folks bring up. No worries there.

                              it's your choice. My input was just a user perspective. I'm not here to dump on it, just to make sure that the real use issues get mentioned.

                              Like many, when I got it, it "looked like a lathe to me", and it took me some use to understand the problems. I went into it thinking I had a good tool. And it did work for many things that I did make with it.

                              Let us know what you think when you have used it. It could work fine for you. it depends what you do with it.
                              CNC machines only go through the motions

                              Comment

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