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One lathe to rule them all? - 17x60 as your only lathe?

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  • One lathe to rule them all? - 17x60 as your only lathe?

    I'm in a quandary here. I've found a good lathe, at what I believe to be a good price. If you didn't see the other thread, these are the stats.

    Shen Jey "Osama Sr".
    Supposed "High End" Taiwan designed/outsourced by Japanese
    17x60 with gap
    Spindle: D1-6, 2.5" bore, MT5(?)
    Tailstock: MT4
    Threading: Imperial/Metric/Diametral
    Motor: 5hp
    Top speed: 2000 rpm
    Condition: maybe 8 out of 1-10

    Here is my problem.

    I've got a Rockwell 11x37 that is easily adequate for 98%+ of what I do. I have access to a large lathe only 10-15 minutes away IF I really need it. My biggest single complaint is limited spindle bore size. I *HATE* wasting stock just because I have to cut it off with enough extra to hold in the jaws! Other than that, it is VERY well tooled and I've rebuilt/adjusted almost all the worn/problem areas. It's small size is convenient when it comes to the frequent chuck/tooling changes in a home shop. I can easily go from 4 jaw, to 3 jaw, to collets, and back again with only moments and little effort.

    The Osama on the other hand, is D1-6 and uses chucks weighing close to or over 100 lbs. Current tail stock, tool post, and other tooling will require replacement or compromise (sleeves, adapters, etc.). And I'll need a larger 3ph converter (RPC or VFD) as well as MAJOR rethink of my shop organization. But it does have a VERY nice Newal DRO. I also VERY much want the metric and diametral threading which have caused me some issues with lacking them on the Rockwell. Ability to run negative rake tooling would also be nice at times. Automatic oiling, full oil bath, full gear head (silent!), advanced/modern apron controls, automatic feed trip, and higher top speed will also be appreciated.

    With the Osama Sr cheap enough, and the Rockwell in good shape with LOTS of tooling, the upgrade shouldn't cost all that much. But then again, I'll be looking for CX tool post and tooling, tail stock tooling, and so on; so that gets more expensive too. I'll also need a lift (sky hook?) to swap chucks! And space to store them (HUGE!). And one nice circumstance I'll loose is sharing MT3 tooling between lathe and drill press.

    My concern is that the Osama may be a little TOO big for a single lathe shop. Power requirements and shear effort just swapping chucks (which I'm sure I'll be much more reluctant to do!) will reduce the "fun factor" I'm sure. Not to mention the floor space taken up for capacity I'll rarely if ever need. It would actually be a little easier to swallow if it were only a 17x40 or so. I've pondered this over and over, but not having used a lathe of that size day to day, I just don't have a frame of reference for making an informed decision.

    Any of you that have a lathe of that size as the one-and-only care to make a suggestion? I would like to keep both, but that really just isn't practical in a 19x22 shop. I'm not looking for you to tell me what to do, but rather just give me your perspective, particularly is you have a similar lathe as your ONLY lathe...
    Master Floor Sweeper

  • #2
    I recently switched from a 10" Atlas to a 15" x30" YMZ... yes, changing the chucks is more difficult, and when I move out of the SF Bay area into a larger shop I'll want a small hoist for the chucks as they're heavy (although not nearly 100 lbs).

    I'm still getting the feel of the new machine; I'd owned the Atlas for 24 years but had _no_ room to keep it. I love the power and accuracy of the big machine; it's 5hp and the chips come off bright blue w/ carbide... I need to get a coolant pump, I think :-).

    I like the 3 phase VFD much better than the drive on the Atlas. For turning very small parts, the Atlas has better feel and I wasn't quite so nervous hand filing, etc on the smaller machine.

    I really wanted a bigger lathe as my steamboat and Burning Man projects just keep growing.... the Atlas was a very light duty machine. I never broke any parts on it, but I was very cautious when turning large internal ACME threads, for example.

    I'd seriously consider that new machine, if I were you.

    BTW, the AC Tech SF250Y drive works very nicely w/ single phase. You will need a large enclosure for it, though. I replaced all the internal (malfunctioning) contactors w/ the drive's built-in logic - very handy.

    - Bart
    Bart Smaalders


    • #3
      I sold a 24''X120'' years back and on more than a few times a year since, I wish I had it back.Having said that I realy don't have room for it either. Idealy a24''X60-80'' Lodge & Shiply in decent shape would be perfect. A bigger spindle bore and 60+ inches tween centers can make life a lot easier than tring to figure out how to hang the tailstock halfway off the end of the lathe bed and not break anything .I have a 13X36 import and a 16X40ish Leblond and I would drag both out for one longer one.


      • #4
        A few years ago, I sold my Atlas, and an ancient leather belt drive, and bought a lathe very similar to what you describe- mine is actually a bit bigger- its an 18x80, 7 1/2hp, weighs 6500lbs.
        Its D-1-8, which means the chucks are even bigger.

        It has been my only shop lathe since about 2000, and it does the job quite nicely.
        I seldom do much of anything smaller than about 3/8", and it will handle that just fine.
        If I had a workload that consisted primarily of smaller parts, I would be thinking HLVH or EE, but, like you, I use the large bore (mine is 3 1/8") much more often than I make tiny parts.

        The thing about this class of lathe is that it may not be as accurate, or well built, as an equivalent sized american machine would be, if such a beast existed- but it will do a lot, at a reasonable cost.

        The last american made lathes in this size range from Monarch or other old line american companies sold in the 80's to the military for close to $200,000 each. Nice work, if you can get it.

        Me, I appreciate the good range of speeds, although I seldom hit 2000 rpm.
        I love the large spindle bore. I like the range of threading, and the modern design and features.

        And there is no substitute for mass.

        Assuming the machine is in good shape, I would jump on it.


        • #5
          Russ.. I may be a bit different in the needs I have as I run a business now but a lathe that size is my target. I would like a bit longer bed but overall.. I could live with that. The high spindle speeds would sell that to me over the old machines where 500 rpm is max.
          My 14X40 would handle 80% of what I do but the bigger money is in the 20% I can't do.
          Russ (the other one)
          I have tools I don't even know I own...


          • #6
            Thanks for the input guys! Sounds like it's pretty much unanimous to go with the big fella. I was (obviously) leaning the same way, I was just wanting to make sure it wasn't (just) the "sickness" going terminal. <grin>

            And I got to thinking how everyone (me included) loves pics. I had posted soem pics in the other thread, so I'm pulling some of them over here. Also, the first pic below was posted by another member (gt2ride). When I took my pics, I couldn't get back enough (standing on a flat bed next to a fence) to take a full length, so I "borrowed" his. I hope he does not mind...

            Note: The small pics are "thumbnails", click to see full size.

            Master Floor Sweeper


            • #7
              Rather like the philosophy I used to buy another pickup truck in the face of rising fuel costs;
              "Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it."

              I repeat that at least 50 times a day.



              • #8
                Your biggest problem is chuck weight and space, count them as a minus. Look at the plusses with the Osama; hole size, I/M/D threading, center distance, speed range and horsepower. A lot of the jobs you do on the smaller lathe will get easier and faster on the Osama, just from the increased rigidity; prime example is cutting off.
                You will have tooling costs, but that goes with the territory. You will also gain capability with the larger tooling.
                In short, I think the positives outweigh the negatives.


                • #9
                  With a lathe that size you need to keep the small one ,for small work. small parts are no fun to make on a large lathe.
                  Every Mans Work Is A Portrait of Him Self


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by lane
                    With a lathe that size you need to keep the small one ,for small work. small parts are no fun to make on a large lathe.
                    Is that true for collet work?

                    That 33% rpm boost over the Rockwell sounds mighty tempting. (I pushed mine up that much, demonstrating once again that speed kills, and worse.)

                    If you don't need to switch up to a big chuck all that often, there are those little 5c-mount ones. I suppose you'd give up some rigidity, but you'd have that to spare.


                    • #11
                      I've got a skyhook - if the chucks have threaded holes for rings, the sky hook makes changing chucks a breeze. It is a nifty gadget, no doubt about it!

                      Otherwise, one of my pacemakers had a shop-built chuck changing mechanism on it. Maybe you could rig up something like it for the big lathe if changing heavy chucks was the only issue you were worried about.

                      Basically it stores the chucks and then when you need them you swivel it into place and unthread it. I can post pics if you are interested.

                      Sorry I can't really help. I think it would be nice to hang onto a small lathe still. Maybe you could replace the rockwell with a smaller benchtop model for small parts. Something like a SB 10


                      • #12
                        My MS850 Mori seems pretty nice when using the JFK lever-type 5c collet closer. But I didn' t have a collet closer when I had my 10x24 bench lathe so I don't have anything to compare it to.

                        You don't have to use the giant chucks all the time. I bought a pair of new 8" Bison chucks - 4 jaw and 3 jaw "set true" to go with the 12" OEM 4 jaw and 10" Yuasa set-true. I figured I ought to have a couple of "known good" chucks. Watch for them to go on sale at Enco and use the free freight code.

                        The 1" shank tooling can get in the way at times, but I'm going to get a couple of V insert holders that should let them get into spaces that the WNMG won't. And there's nothing that says I can't put a 1/2" shank tool in a tool holder if I need it. The 1" tools sure are rigid.

                        I would suggest that you get one of the extended nose live centers for the tailstock. Getting into the gap between a standard center and the stock has been where I ran into "the tool won't fit" issues. But even there, a little time with a parting tool got that area shaved down to where it wasn't a problem.

                        If you can get the Shen Jay for a good price and you are happy with the condition and the size is mostly going to be a benefit for the parts you make, there doesn't seem to be much reason to pass on it.



                        • #13
                          Qsimodo: I follow the same philosophy in general. I drive a 2500HD with DMax/Ali and 4x4. When I ask something of my truck (like towing 30k gross, and 15k gross *off road* has not been unusual) I don't want to think "I wish I had a bigger truck". But it does get about 20mpg unloaded (if I turn the "chip" down, and drive sane), which is better than many 1/2 ton 2wd trucks. Of course, sometimes it's fun to turn up the wick and enjoy the 450+hp and 850+ft/lb.

                          beckley: My thoughts exactly. Another minus is the total footprint that I just really don't have room for. I'll need to take up martial arts and contortionism just to move though my shop! But a fair few "no longer needed" things from my old buggy fab days need to find a new home. New priorities and all that...

                          Lane: I would LOVE to keep the small one. Or maybe look for an even smaller one, but just have no room for two (see above).

                          Richard: Yeah, 5C in the spindle should be just fine at max rpm + (with VFD). And I'm sure I can get a "normal" 6.5" 3 jaw and 8" 4 jaw onto a D1-6 backing plate for day to day use. Probably just keep my current "near new" PB chucks for that purpose. But given my normal use patterns, I just don't think I could stand to deal with 100+lb chucks, even with a tool post crane or similar.

                          Fasktrack: I would LOVE to see what you have for a chuck mounting aid! As for hooks, I don't think that is needed. My plan is to build a sort of "G" bar that will have a lower horizontal to clamp in the chuck jaws, and an arched over hook point (eye) at the balance point. No need for a tapped hole. Agreed on the "bench top" too. But again, no space. Then again, I have been lusting after an Emco PC5...

                          Michael: As you know, I've been having wet dreams about a Mori for some time. But looking for the "right deal" just hasn't surfaced. This is pretty darn close, answers my main desires for a Mori (other than ultimate mass and prestige), while costing less than what a stripped 850 generally brings in these parts. On the tooling front, the extended nose live center is on my wish-list. But on the clearance issues, I'm also thinking I'll keep my PIII AX tooling mounted with a spacer to get it on center. That way, for small stuff, I can still use all my rather extensive collection of holders and cutters. It also reduces the "gotta have it now" syndrome so I can take my time looking for the "right" tool post at a good deal. Maybe even a real Aloris CXA wedge and handful of holders...
                          Master Floor Sweeper


                          • #14
                            I am wondering why a 17X60 lathe only has a 5hp motor...Lathes of that size should be at least 7.5hp or greater..

                            I hope it is not flimsy and something that creates chatter at the lightest cut..

                            While i do like the fit and finish on Tiawanese made lathes, a lot of them are built with little mass compared to the likes of a Dean, Smith and Grace, Macson or Le Blond..
                            Precision takes time.


                            • #15
                              Hey BadDog

                              All of those Cushman chucks had threaded holes for suspending them. The new Bison didn't have one, but if you happen to get ahold of any chucks with threaded holes, they sure come in handy. Here is the chuck changing mechanism. It's dead simple and should be easy to build. I suggest adding a grease zerk, however. These are almost impossible to move unless they are well greased if you hang a large weight off the side.

                              I warn you now - this is pretty shoddy camera work...

                              I never would've thought about mounting something like that on the headstock. I'd be nervous that it would damage something, but its been on there for years and no damage so...

                              This holds two chucks but you could probably make one that could squeeze three on there. Kind of a neat little design, I thought.