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Needed- Lathes Anonymous, and my experience for folks starting out with lathes.

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  • Needed- Lathes Anonymous, and my experience for folks starting out with lathes.

    I have been reading here for years, thought you fellows might get a kick out of my story, share a laugh, maybe help out someone starting out. The only other post/addition to the community I have done was my article "A "Bang Up" Method for Removing Stuck Screws" sent out in the hints from Machinists Workshop in July. I enjoy a bit of humor, my story is sort of funny.. share with your wife.

    They say Alcoholics Anonymous's first step is to admit you have a problem, I need a Lathes Anonymous group in Houston. For the last ~ 7-10 years I have been on the lookout for a South Bend 9/Myford/etc in good workable condition. Basically a larger "bench" lathe. Houston industry is growing and relatively "new." This leads, I believe, to a short supply of old lathes in good condition. When a good older lathe appears on the market it goes VERY rapidly, and for prices frankly startling at times. So, in meantime, I have been buying small lathes. Lots of them.

    I have owned, in order, the following lathes:
    Micromark Sieg type mini- this was a real mistake. Purchased at a premium vs Grizzly or Harbor Freight hoping I would get a better quality lathe. Spent ~80 hours on the darn thing fixing bad work from factory and poor design.
    Lathemaster 8x14- Quite good quality compared to the Sieg mini. This worked smoothly out of the box. Ultimately I ended up with a couple of projects that needed a bit more swing, bought G0602 10x22.
    Between "big" lathes:
    Cowells 90ME -~ 3.5 x 8 Sweet, but oh so small, found a deal while I had the 8x14 and just wanted to see a quality little lathe. My daughter and her friends turned beads on this little guy. Loved the auto traverse! Turned SHINY surfaces. An amazingly well built SMALL machine. A cantilevered mini!
    Emco Compact 5 lathe/mill - A quite nice little lathe that can hold decent tolerances but with only SMALL cuts. I still have, need to sell, got to get a video together for it and post on Ebay. But I sure love have a small secondary machine in garage.
    Grizzly G0602 (bought two years back, sold two-three weeks ago) - Good quality compared to Sieg Mini, good work envelope for me, but... not "nice"
    Myford ML7R bought a couple months back. This is a Super 7 except for the cross/topslides and clutch. I picked up S7 Cross and topslides from Ebay... so essentially a Super 7 now. I still have and need to figure out what to sell- the Myford or the 9A.
    South Bend 9A -picked up this last weekend at a neighborhood garage sale. Unbelievable... ten years of looking on Craigslist, missing the good ones, and it falls in my lap. This after I gave up on finding a quality SB9 in my area, bit the bullet and paid a premium price for a Myford. Now I have a dilemma indeed: What to keep.

    I have a problem with lathes clearly. I just love the fine precision, good build. The Cowells and Emco "hooked" me on eventually getting a good quality lathe. The chinese items simply were not "cutting" it. Then this happens... now I have too many lathes again in the garage and have to make a very hard choice of keeping the Myford or the South Bend. Both are fine, in great shape. I think I will end up keeping the South Bend, due to quick change gearbox and power crossfeed. But it is not easy. The Myford is "like new" with likely only a few hours of use on making a single steam engine, then it sat in garage in NW until fellow passed on. I have the story directly from friends and family. The South Bend looks to be in "Very Good" shape, can see some of the scrapings on castings bearing surfaces still, no "ridges," and spindle turns smoothly. I have to recondition to be sure.

    While this sounds silly, and my wife and family get a laugh out of it, I think my serial lathe adventures have one value- rather than wanting a lathe for ten years, I have had lathes, have made stuff, fixed stuff and had a TON of fun with them.

    To a guy starting out my opinion: Don't wait for the perfect, cheap, old iron, you may grow old. Bite the bullet and get started, have fun. And... buying an older lathe that needs a lot of work can stall you getting real stuff done for a long time. Buy something that works well, now.

    For inexpensive, relatively easy to move and set up, decent "starting out" lathe you would be hard pressed to beat the Lathemaster 8x14, and I have heard the harbor freight version is also pretty well done. The owner of Lathemaster, Robert Bertrand, has been very kind and pleasant to work with for accessories as well. Then the Grizzly G0602 is pretty good after set up, suggest you spring for the new variable speed version.. that is awfully nice to have and you wont save much with a DIY. The G0602 is pretty big, so plan a strong bench and get help moving even with an engine crane.

    Be cautious of the 7x lathes. The "mini" I had required a LOT of work before it was even a decent experience. If you do go the mini route, get the longest bed you can find- the "Hi Torque" with 16" bed has been pretty well reviewed, good starter.

    If you are willing to pay too darn much for the size, the Emco and Cowell's turn very nicely, just SMALL. Hard to do anything but miniature work on these. Clocks, micro models, pens on the compact 5.

    I wish you all the luck in the world, and that you enjoy this great hobby. If you know of any lathe "self help groups" in Houston let me know.

    What would you keep, the Myford or the Southbend...

  • #2
    Why not keep both? It's better than money in the bank.
    You are suffering from a mild form of OIS, if you had it bad you would just build a bigger shop.
    It's probably cheaper than golf and you seem to be enjoying it, just carry on doing that.


    • #3
      Welcome to the addiction & forum. My advise if you keep them all you'll never miss the one you sold. Not quite that bad but a lathe of each size from my Unimat to Pacemaker.


      • #4
        Lathes are like guns - you sell one then you kick yourself for years afterwards. Keep all of 'em...leaves more for the estate sale, whenever that finally comes round.


        • #5
          I would get a bigger shop.


          • #6
            Glory be, I knew I was not alone! I've been thinking of adding space on to the back of the garage.


            • #7
              There you go!
              “I know lots of people who are educated far beyond their intelligence”

              Lewis Grizzard


              • #8
                Yes, I'm about to move partly so that I can have a bigger shop. Unfortunately, I'll have to build it, which means my tools will be in storage for months and I'll have to move them twice. I trust it will be worth it in the end.

                If you do have to sell, what I do when faced with a binary decision and uncertainty is to flip a coin. Then usually I say to myself, "Drat! that wasn't how I wanted it to land!", and I'm clearer on what I really wanted...
                "A machinist's (WHAP!) best friend (WHAP! WHAP!) is his hammer. (WHAP!)" - Fred Tanner, foreman, Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering machine shop, circa 1979


                • #9
                  Ok, the saga continues... In last few months decided to look at some smaller lathes. Picked up a set of three lathes from the family of a clockmaker/watch repair man. His son sold, was about 65 himself. Apparently the father was one of the last of the individual craftsmen, made several hundred clocks/year.
                  1. Complete Sherline lathe and milling attachment. Figure to keep this as an auxiliary spindle for use with my bigger lathes
                  2. Boley Watchmakers lathe, tons of ww collets, and a Jahn and Wolf Crossslide... very nice. Put a old B&S Best Test on it, had less than 0.0001 runout as the dial barely trembled as I spun the spindle. I honestly have never seen something like this, my first lathes were Chinese, had several thou of runout on inside of spindle cone. Amazing.. But, have to sell, part of "bundle" with the Sherline I wanted. Putting on Ebay. The cross slide is amazingly well made, I am glad I bought bundle just to see this stuff.
                  3. Peerless watchmaker lathe. Have not really tested, figure this goes on Ebay cheap. Again, part of the bundle with the Sherline.
                  4. Emco Unimat 3. No milling parts, not part of the estate, just ran across it an wanted to see it. Really nicely built small lathe. Not sure if going to keep or not... need space, but this seems like a useful little lathe. I hate to give up.


                  • #10
                    Come on over we have meetings weekly. Weicome to the madness


                    • #11
                      I'd keep the Myford, but I've got pretty much a full set of compatible tooling and a 30mm through capacity headstock ;-)
                      If you benefit from the Dunning-Kruger Effect you may not even know it ;-)


                      • #12
                        At last count I have---

                        Seven metal working lathes and a wood lathe for my use. The ones I like least will be sold, Quality machines lead to happy, productive hobbyists. Poor machines only lead to frustration and upset. I think I would rather a Southbend than a Myford, providing I had a mill to keep it company, If I had to have just one machine I would keep a Myford simply because of the range of accessories available. Hope this helps David Powell.


                        • #13
                          haha, true confessions...i've hauled a huge amount of classic old lathes home. I know guys with more, but I'm in an urban setting with no barn to fill so have live the old iron life to the fullest....given the sq footage available. Managed to stay married and somehow raise 4 kids....who are now mostly gone, creating new space opportunities !

                          11" standard Modern. gone
                          long bed 11" Standard Modern - gone
                          Stark instrument lathe - gone
                          unimat DB200 - gone
                          Myford super - 7 gone
                          Maximat 7 - will sell
                          Maximat 10 - will sell
                          Monarch 10ee - keeper
                          Dean Smith and Grace 13x42 - keeper
                          Unimat 3 - keep
                          second Unimat 3 - will go
                          Goodel Pratt - gone
                          Dunlap POS gone
                          Rivett watchmakers lathe with tons of stuff - keep
                          Boley watchmakers lathe with collets- probably to go
                          Boley Leinen (different co. than Boley) wathcmakers lathe, boxed, complete setup, probably keep
                          Rivett 608 - might go/might keep
                          a few other watchmakers that came with bundle, not complete or not well accessorized
                          Holbrook B8 - Keeper
                          Schaublin 70 loaded - keeper
                          second Schaublin 70. - undecided, probably needs to go for space considerations

                          thats 14, 7 would be I think rightsized and have all the bases covered! of the keepers, all but the Holbrook and 10ee are in great shape. Those two are scheduled for the full monty reconditioning

                          I think that's it and I think i'm done. I got the maximat 10 as a project to scrape as an example of doing box ways. Pretty much everything else was bought with the intent of building out the shop....but then something nicer or better or in between would come along.

                          There is no doubt the acquisitions have far out stretch the needs; I confess to me the really well made tools are like sculpture; I just like 'em. I tell myself i don't have a problem because 1) I use them, 2) I can let them go and 3) having duplicates does nothing for me
                          Last edited by Mcgyver; 09-20-2017, 08:21 AM.
                          in Toronto Ontario - where are you?


                          • #14
                            I'll play

                            My pattern is to trade up, but just keep the old ones. I'm trying to sell some, just not too hard.

                            I have on hand:
                            2 Sheldon 10" - one with broken compound and a missing taper slide; One in good shape for sale.
                            1 Sheldon 11" - Looks almost unused for a 1938 machine Going for sale soon
                            Rockford Econony lathe 12X24 gear head - older model with bronze spindle bearings - for sale
                            Tsugami - a Japanese knock off of the Hardinge HCT chucker turret lathe. Not really sure if that is a keeper or not.
                            Monach 16X78 CY - Keeper for sure. Unless I stumble on a pristine model 60 or something like that
                            Monarch 10EE round dial in parts - project machine. very dirty and with a dead drive but not too worn. That's a keeper

                            and my newest - just got it off the trailer 2 hours ago -
                            Hendy 9X20 T&G lathe - Older version with an AC motor and variable speed. Probably a keeper too unless it's just too redundant with the 10EE. For now the 10EE is all apart and this is running.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Pipcount View Post
                              I have a problem with lathes clearly. I just love the fine precision, good build. The Cowells and Emco "hooked" me on eventually getting a good quality lathe. The chinese items simply were not "cutting" it. ...
                              Buy a Hardinge or a Monarch 10EE and you will about crap your pants.
                              I have 3 Hardinge lathes and a Hendey T&G lathe myself.
                              (Ok, I have about 6 lathes total)