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jet lathes

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  • #16
    I've never seen a Jet lathe so have no opinion on them. I love my 1937 South Bend and even though it was the bottom of the line made at the time it still cannot be matched for quality. The ways are scraped even under the headstock. I routinely work to .0002 tolerances, finger tight press fit bearings for example. About the only thing it needs is a new cross slide nut which I guess I will have to break down and cough up the $65 that SB wants for one. Yes, they still stock parts for it.
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    • #17
      Who are Birmingham? I'm assuming it's a Chinese or Taiwanese clone of a Bridgeport.
      Is that correct?


      • #18
        Larry, great work on your web site.

        The shop I use to work at got a new Jet lathe in 2000. It is about a 16". The operator, who is retired now, was a machinist for at least 40 years. He broke so many gears with it that it talked the foreman into letting him go back to his old lathe.


        • #19
          I just took ownership of a new Jet GH1340 lathe. Mine too had some paint issues, but not near the number or extent of yours.

          So far I have not had much to gripe about as I expected some level of corrections to be made. I had two problems with the compound and am awaiting a new one from Jet, so the jury is still out there.

          I took the compound off and found what appeared to be rust/grease in the slot. Cleaned that out. Also the locking nuts were burred and somewhat sloppy. Jet replaced the nuts.

          I retapped most of the panel covers to 1/4 - 20, as the threads were sloppy and holes in the covers not quite aligned.

          Other than that, I am extremely happy with what I got for what I paid. I also have a Jet mill (purchased 3 years ago). I had a knee gib problem and they sent a tech who replaced it. Paint was far better on it. After 4 months the motor went out and they replaced that in 2 days.

          Bottom line for me is that Jet stands behind their product. They are not machines that have gone through a rigorous quality check, but that's why their stuff is price like it is. Given their customer service, I would buy from them again (as I did for the lathe based on my mill experience).

          I have been conversing with another individual that just purchased the same lathe. He had similar issues to mine. So far we are both satisfied customers.



          • #20
            kenc: Birmingham is a pretty popular import name. From what I have been told CPTools is the main importer of Birmingham equipment (lathes/mills/bandsaws/etc). No matter where you order Birmingham from it will most likely be shipped from C.P. Machine Tool in CA. At least that is the story I was told.

            Birmingham has two versions of most mills... the model numbers are the same except for a letter C at the end. The C designates a Chinese base which is not a Meehanite casting. Depending on the vendor there is anywhere from US$250 to $1000 premium for the Meehanite casting version vs. the Chinese base.

            Pat S: I sure hope I have better luck.

            JimH: That is what I like to hear... your message reinforces why I decided to pay a bit more and go with JET. The after sales support is what I am counting on and from most of my research and your results I think I made the right decision.

            I'm glad to hear you like your machine I like mine more and more every day. The initial shock has worn down and bar any major accuracy issues I'm sure I'll be happy too.

            Jim, I'd appreciate it if we would stay in touch, it would be nice to share experiences and mods as we go along.



            [This message has been edited by NgtCrwlr (edited 06-12-2003).]


            • #21

              I should note that machines in job shops live a hard life. I am sure that the Jet lathe was taken to the full capacity of 1" holder cutting tools. The goal is to rough parts out as fast as possible. If you keep the chip load below 70% of what it takes to break a top quality carbide insert turning tool clean off you should be fine.


              • #22
                I'd be happy to stay in touch. Just email me as I see you don't list your address for me to send your way.


                • #23
                  I have watched this string for a while now and I wasn't going to comment but I have to. There seems to me to be three types of machines. One is the production machine, overbuilt to the 9's. Then there is the truly precise tool room machine and then the everyday lathe. I think what we all seem to need as far as I can tell is the everyday type. We all want though the precision of the finest machine, the toughness of the production machine at a price of a 20 year old machine. The only time a production lathe becomes affordable is after it is used and abused. A tool room lathe is never affordable , so that brings us back to Jet or oriental. I have several makes in my shop and if I keep the China lathe for what it was intended it works fine and without any trouble. I don't push it beyond it's capacity and only on some occasions do I use it for production work. I am holding onto a big chunk of lumber as I say this and typeing one handed. I dont need to jinx the 4 years of good luck I have had so far. To be seriouse though I have used it 8 hours a day sometimes and other times it was lucky to be used once a week. It has proved to be as accurate and reliable as I have needed. The one I have is a "China" made unit and until this topic came up I wasn't aware there was a difference as to any of the oriental machines. Possibly it comes down to not buying a machine made on a Friday afternoon or the day before a holiday. My 2 cents metric worth.


                  • #24
                    This subject has been brought up many different times now, and each time, someone tells a story about how, after the required repairs have been made, he has wound up with an acceptable machine. Value for money, good enough for what I do, etc. Sometimes only 'a few' parts need replacing to get a proper working machine. This gives me an idea. The vendors could stock bins of parts, beds, tailstocks, spindles, leadscrews, etc. You, the buyer, would get a list of parts, for the model you wanted, and pick the best of the lot from each bin, for each part you need. You'd pick the smoothest and quietist motor from the burn-in bench, and because this requires that each motor has an ac plug installed already, it would make it quicker to replace when it burns out, or otherwise goes bad. Before leaving the store, you would pick a label with the brand name on it that makes you feel special. All this would be had at a kit price. Then when you get the whole kit home, you'd build it from scratch. You might even remove scale and sand from the castings before you painted them, you'd already have the straightest leadscrews from the bin, and the bed would be the least twisted one you could get your hands on. Then you would get the experience of aligning the thing, and would know it inside out. What a bargain! From the parts left in the bins that no one wants, the dealer could assemble as many machines as possible, and send them back to the factory for the quality control training program.
                    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-


                    • #25
                      Or, for the same money you could buy some "quality" domestic iron (only slightly used) and take it apart and learn to scrape.

                      Either way you get what you pay for unless you've been very fortunate.