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Buying Equipment - What is Good what is Crap ?

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  • Buying Equipment - What is Good what is Crap ?

    Building my shop from the ground up. Want to buy a solid accurate lathe and vertical mill. I also want to buy machines that are as big as I can afford and/or have space in my 20 ft x 20ft garage. I see not small number of manufactuers, and machines that are from 50+ years old all the way to brand new stuff. What is good? What should I stay away from ? I have $5k-$10k to spend. How would you suggest I spend this money ? thanks
    Last edited by mark mccurdy; 08-28-2006, 07:18 PM.

  • #2
    It's taken me years to say this but with all the crap out there on the used market, unless you are in an area with a good selection of used machine dealers, I'd go for a good quality Taiwan built lathe in the 13" / $7k range. Use the remaining $3k to find a nice clean Bridgeport.

    One of Grizzly's Taiwan built, "precision" series of lathes might fill the bill but I have no direct experience with them. Den

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    • #3
      Not an easy question to answer and your potential field for advise runs from a rigid "buy American" and "old American iron" to "buy only Asian" from many who bear powerful prejudices.

      I will go this far: if you can find pristine (or nearly so) estate sale American made machine tools at a price you can afford then go for it. If you can distinguish subtle levels of quality in new import tools then shop carefully.

      Do not rule out machine tools purely on account of country of origin. The same basic design is often sold under a half dozen labels built to differing standards. So far as I can tell, many models of Jet, Grizzly, and TurnPro machine tools are made from the same basic designs and castings yet sell for differing prices. I've bought several TurnPro machines and had good service from them. From this experience, I don't know how Jet justifies 30 to 50% higher price than TurnPro. OTH I can see how Harbor Freight make their money and for that reason would never purchase maching tools bearing their name.

      Buy in haste, repent in liesure as the saying goes. The best solution is to take no-one's advice except in the form of tips or words to the wise. Form your own experience and knowledge base. Take a couple of months to study what is on the market both used in your area and on eBay, and the potential new or used import machine tools may hold for you. In the end you will be better informed on machinery in general and you will have made a number of contacts in your locality thus extending your resources.

      I would suggest you avoid older machine tools having considerable wear unless you're willing to rebuild them. I would also avoid lathes with threaded spindles, mills with Brown and Sharp spindle tapers, and any machine with important pieces missing. Don't even bring a free machine home unless all the parts are present and assembled in place.

      A word to the wise: there is no more frustrating event in the home shop machinist's life than to invest two year of time scrounging and making parts to commission a junky old relic of hallowed name and finally be forced to give up on it for lack of parts, time, or ability to make parts or find them. Unless you have actual machine tool rebuilding experience buy or obtain only complete running equipment for which tooling and parts may still be obtained.

      Shop wisely.
      Last edited by Forrest Addy; 08-28-2006, 07:44 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        It would be virtually impossible to add anything of substance to what Forrest has posted.
        Heed his words, take your time, and you'll find what you need.
        There is a South Bend 13"X40" for sale on Practical Machinist right now that, although I have not personaly seen it, it sure looks nice. Since I only live about 25 miles from it, if I didn't already have a pair of Sheldons in that size range. I would be taking a close look myself.
        The lathe I am referring to is in GA, just SSW of Atlanta.
        Dave

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        • #5
          Avoid fresh paint

          I think that your first machines need to be tooled up running machines. Once you have the basic machines in place, they will help to restore others if you choose. If the first machines you get are projects, and you have no way to repair them.

          Machining a shaft to repair something simple is tough when the only lathe you have is the project machine and without the shaft repair you can not use it!

          I have a well equiped shop built on what was available when the need or wallet dictated the purchase. The first thing I got many years ago was the famous or infamous south SouthBend 10K. The machine was completly tooled including many tools that I may never use. It was 400.00 and it was from a school shop. It had had the cross slide fed into the chuck several times in its life and there was some wear on the saddle, but it was a runner and there is little it can not be forced to do. I got it at a municipal truck auction. If it had been a lathe auction the crowd would have been there for lathes and I would not have been able to afford it. I now have three lathes, the southbend helped to get the others running.

          Tooling is worth more than the machine, if you try to buy it piece by piece. There are more buyers for tooling than complete machines. I always reject machinery from sources that have parted out everything but the carcass. Find a package that will help with future projects until you have enough machinery to complete some of those less complete projects.

          I know that many will counsel to avoid production machinery, I consider anything that I come across. Production machinery may have worn parts, but it may also have had regular preventive maintenance and repair also. Many times when a machine is disposed of by a shop, it has been looked at as slow out of date junk, they just want it out the door. I have seen pallets of tooling bundled with " that old junk machine in the warehouse" I worked at a shop that sold a Tree CNC machine for 2000.00 with about 25 tool holders 6 weeks after paying 2000.00 to replace the spindle motor. No one wanted to run it, it was slow by production standards, out of date and a floor space hog. the tooling was not compatable with any newer machines. It would have been a dream machine in a home shop. A machine dealer bought it and hauled it off one afternoon. "Get it out of here" can be a great thing to hear.

          If a aisan machine fits the bill for you go for it. I have been less disapointed with asian machinery recently than in the past. Maybe I am no longer buying the 2.00 collets, or the quality is better.

          I always instantly reject any machinery that has been painted, I never consider the machines that I use needing to be cosmetically pleasing, and I have seen few machine paint jobs that were actually done well. I am sure that some people paint machines to improve the looks, but I want to know what it looks like before any "rebuild in a can" painting is done. I believe that I can evaluate a machines true condition by where and how the paint is worn or hammered off. I always wish the cost and effort that the seller put into the paint job had been applied to the way covers or cleaning the machine.

          I think one machine at a time is a good way to build, as one machine is learned and becomes useful, the next machine needed becomes apparent. I don't know if this rant will help you or not, but it is a snap shot of what I think about machines and how to equip a shop.

          If I had the money to spend, I would buy a Hardinge tool room lathe with some tooling for about 8000-10000 dollars and a good condition bridgeport mill with some tooling for 4000-6000 dollars. I feel satisfaction from running quality American machines, there is confidence in knowing these machines can build the tooling that built the country.

          Good Luck, do it because you enjoy it, or at least you being well paid.

          Comment


          • #6
            I've used Austrian lathes for the last 30 years both professionally and for my own work. They have served me admirably.

            One thing I've found. don't look for the largest swing longest bed. The number of times I've needed a lathe to turn over 12 " diameters is in the single percent.

            The number of times I've needed accuracy for under 1" diameter is in the thousands and I ran a business with all kinds of projects coming through the door.

            Rob Dee

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            • #7
              My only advise is . If you are Not familiar with machinery get a friendship going with some one who is , a old retired machinist or some one who has been in the trade, another home shopper . If you dont know what your looking at your in deepppppppppppp _ _ _ _ ! But Buy the best you can afford an you wont have to buy it twice.
              Every Mans Work Is A Portrait of Him Self
              http://sites.google.com/site/machinistsite/TWO-BUDDIES
              http://s178.photobucket.com/user/lan...?sort=3&page=1

              Comment


              • #8
                Myself I would look for a lathe in the 15 x 60+ range with a gap that will swing 22"+ so you can do a driveline or even face a truck flywheel.

                For a mill a 9 x 40 or a 10x50 table mill with an R8 taper. HP depends on the power you can get to the machine.

                When my brother started his shop he picked up a 14x40 goodway gap bed gear head lathe (Japan) and a 10 x 50 3 hp komet mill (Taiwan)with dro and power feed, both for $9,000 used. they are fine machines.

                I would forget the whole american iron BS and buy bigger stronger newer import machines. most of what people say about import machines is total garbage, if they would buy the bigger stronger machine and not be so stinking cheap they would not have the junk.

                I have worked in job shops for over 12 years and most of the machines were import and I run the living hell out of them, realy making them grunt and work hard.

                In fantasy land where price means nothing I would buy a Clausing /Colchester “THE PROFESSIONALâ€‌
                http://www.clausing-industrial.com/P...s-pro-home.htm

                And the kondia mill.

                http://www.clausing-industrial.com/P...manualmill.htm

                Comment


                • #9
                  good vs. crap

                  Just split the difference and buy good crap.

                  Seriously, take your time, read everything you can find about the types and brands of machines in your area of interest. Read the archives of this board, and of the other boards that relate to your interests.

                  Then watch for auctions, estate sales, and other venues. Hit the pawn shops and flea markets...you never know what turns up in these places! Watch the local Craigslist ads, and always be ready to jump.

                  I've been able to outfit a nice little shop full of quality woodworking (and now metalworking) tools by patiently waiting, watching, learning and buying when I see what I like. I have stuff from estate sales (Emco 10" lathe, Delta wood lathe, DeWalt radial arm saw, etc.,etc. And I have stuff from auctions, (Powermatic drill press, heavy wood topped work benches, Delta Unisaw, hand tools and smaller power tools. And I have stuff from pawn shops, (Snap-On rolling tool chest, hand trucks. The point is, the good stuff is available everywhere, at good prices if you're patient and willing to do some footwork.

                  Take good care of the stuff after you get it, because the upgrading process is continuous, and you need to be able to turn around and sell your old stuff for top dollar when you've bought a replacement.

                  My personal feeling is that older American machines, if they are in reasonably good condition, are far better quality than the newer Asian imports, at least at the home shop level. But I don't have experience with larger Asian machinery to back up that opinion, so I'll just keep it to myself.

                  A 20 by 20 shop will be absolutely cavernous...for about a month....If you're slow.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Short answer no quick fix. Buying second hand by selecting brand or country of origin etc are non starters. It may be good machine abused, a machine that as new has bits missing that has been improved etc etc.

                    The long answer is you need experience, either teach yourself by researching for things that are bad and why and decide if you care. The other way is to find someone who is experienced to cast an eye over machinery you like. This can also be problem as some "experts" are not as good as they think they are.
                    Murphy was an optimist

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'd suggest modifying the "buy older American industrial tools" to read "buy older industrial tools from whatever country if they are in good condition".

                      The difference between an industrial tool and a hobby tool seems pretty large, at least in my limited experience. There are quality industrial tools made in many different countries, and getting one of them ***in nice shape*** is likely to make you very happy.

                      Worn out industrial tools should be avoided. But if you can get something in acceptable condition it may well last you your lifetime of HSM or even light to moderate commercial use.

                      If you are planning on making a purchase that is supposed to last you for a long time (as in decades) than you may find it money well spent to pony up for something in premium condition. A nice tool is probably not going to get any less expensive, and they probably aren't going to get any more common either. Bite the bullet, put the "I never thought I'd own one of these in this condition!" machine in your garage, and have fun for many years to come.

                      cheers,
                      Michael

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        That's really the question isn't it? I know people who have more high quality tools than god, and yet they can't do one third as much work as a capable man can with much much less. There have been several examples mentioned recently. Read the thread about the small workshops. Check out some of the examples of Evan's work. Evan doesn't use a big mill; he made a milling adapter for his SB 9" and has done wonderful work with it.

                        There is some unquantifiable advantage to working UP to the higher quality tools. At least you will learn WHY you want them, and it won't be the same thing for each person. Some people will never need high precision and the price curve gets pretty steep the finer you get.

                        Another good thing about starting with the lower or older tools is that if you buy a good tool in good shape you should be able to sell it in good shape without losing much value.

                        Take your time and buy a good tool, in good shape. It doesn't have to be the biggest or the best but it should have a track record. Look at old tools like South Bend lathes or Craftsman lathes or Shapers.
                        I could look at one and I could estimate pretty closely the selling price. Stay away from the Chinese stuff. Yet this too is changing. I remember when "made in Japan" was a pejorative term. Now Japan is at the top of the game. The Chinese quality is coming up fast.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The "new asian" vs "old US iron" question is continual.

                          The problem is, of course, that the two labels do not describe "one" item each......

                          There is worn out "old US iron", and there is "made wrong" in teh "new aisian" category.

                          EITHER WAY you need to know the difference between crap and caviar.

                          Some new asian will never be any good, because it is featured wrong, and not put together right. Some is fine.

                          Obviously, with older US iron, you know at least one thing, it was once good.... and it was made teh way that "defined" machine tools, with the needed features, etc. That is if you stay away from Craftsman, Atlas, cheap Sebastian, etc.

                          Those work, but may never have been any great shakes. The difference between that low end hobby US iron and the low end hobby Asian iron is that the US has most of the features you will need or want. The Asian may be missing important features; back gears, decent compounds, even half nuts, on some models.

                          None of them will work and feel like a nice 9" S-B with power feeds. And I don't particularly worship S-B, they just made machines that work well. They should have, they had long enough to get it right.

                          Newer and more expensive asian will probably be OK, usability-wise, even without back gears (seems they nearly never have them).

                          Older asian may not even have the dials calibrated right..... might SAY 0.1" per rev on teh crossfeed, might BE some "close" metric equivalent, making the thing neither imperial nor metric......

                          Myself, given the choice, I'd rather have somewhat worn US iron, that has the features, rather than a newer asian item that will drive me nuts working around what it lacks. NOT "worn out", whatever that means...

                          But, if I spent several grand, I could get a nice enough chinese machine.
                          Last edited by J Tiers; 08-29-2006, 09:04 AM.
                          1601

                          Keep eye on ball.
                          Hashim Khan

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You'll never know for sure till you Touch the handles.Listening to other's advice, is risky, at best.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by john hobdeclipe
                              Just split the difference and buy good crap.

                              Seriously, take your time, read everything you can find about the types and brands of machines in your area of interest. Read the archives of this board, and of the other boards that relate to your interests.

                              Then watch for auctions, estate sales, and other venues. Hit the pawn shops and flea markets...you never know what turns up in these places! Watch the local Craigslist ads, and always be ready to jump.

                              I've been able to outfit a nice little shop full of quality woodworking (and now metalworking) tools by patiently waiting, watching, learning and buying when I see what I like. I have stuff from estate sales (Emco 10" lathe, Delta wood lathe, DeWalt radial arm saw, etc.,etc. And I have stuff from auctions, (Powermatic drill press, heavy wood topped work benches, Delta Unisaw, hand tools and smaller power tools. And I have stuff from pawn shops, (Snap-On rolling tool chest, hand trucks. The point is, the good stuff is available everywhere, at good prices if you're patient and willing to do some footwork.

                              Take good care of the stuff after you get it, because the upgrading process is continuous, and you need to be able to turn around and sell your old stuff for top dollar when you've bought a replacement.

                              My personal feeling is that older American machines, if they are in reasonably good condition, are far better quality than the newer Asian imports, at least at the home shop level. But I don't have experience with larger Asian machinery to back up that opinion, so I'll just keep it to myself.

                              A 20 by 20 shop will be absolutely cavernous...for about a month....If you're slow.
                              Loved this!! "There is no such thing as a big enough shop"

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