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  • minilathe options

    Does anyone have opinion on Grizzly vs Unimat?

    http://www.grizzly.com/products/4-x-...al-Lathe/G0745

    Old and in a wheelchair but not dead yet. Would like to make some precision gyroscopes and steam engines for a hobby. My Doctor says I have to give up skydiving.
    I hear and I forget.
    I see and I remember.
    I do and I understand.
    Confucius (孔夫子)

  • #2
    WElcome to the forum! I too had to give up skydiving. I have a Emco Unimat & it's good quality if it's big enough for you. I have it on a rolling hospital tray that I roll over the recliner. It also has the parts to make it a mill. Hope this helps.
    "Let me recommend the best medicine in the
    world: a long journey, at a mild season, through a pleasant
    country, in easy stages."
    ~ James Madison

    Comment


    • #3
      Well the older Unimat's were a good unit but nowdays the griz may do the job. If its just about the dollars go the cheapest keeping in mind the dearest part of the lathe will be the tooling
      Pete

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks fellas! Not too worried about price yet, but recon tooling will cure me of that soon enough. Missed a nice Fleabay unimat with 3 and 4 jaw chucks and many other accessories. Like the mill conversion on unimat, but guess either will be adequate.

        FLYLO being grounded is a drag, years ago I helped a chap with similar nickname build a Glasair Homebuilt in Iowa. Miserable, hot, itchy fiberglass, and more fun than I could stand thanks for memory.
        I hear and I forget.
        I see and I remember.
        I do and I understand.
        Confucius (孔夫子)

        Comment


        • #5
          I think anything EMCO is better that Grizzly & the one I have has the plastic case motor which I'm told has a bit more power. I was lucky a member here told me about one complete with all the accessories except the box for $175. Parts will never be a problem with the Unimat. Good Luck!
          "Let me recommend the best medicine in the
          world: a long journey, at a mild season, through a pleasant
          country, in easy stages."
          ~ James Madison

          Comment


          • #6
            Yeah, not worried about the box, would rather have it on the hospital tray with recliner anyway. Leaning towards unimat because of availability of accessories even if they are sometimes over priced on Fleabay. For $200 each might be worth buying a spare to mount as mill over the lathe, might be a way to get an adequate selection of starter accessories. Would really like to have both the 3 jaw centering and 4 jaw independent chucks.
            I hear and I forget.
            I see and I remember.
            I do and I understand.
            Confucius (孔夫子)

            Comment


            • #7
              I had an Unimat but I sold it. Liked my Sherline better for smaller stuff. And I have my 13x40 ENCO for bigger pieces.

              Really thought the Sherline was more precise.

              Mike

              Comment


              • #8
                Another machine to make provisions for is some kind of grinder with aluminium oxide wheels suitable for sharpening the HSS tooling I anticipate you may use with this class of lathe.

                The white AO wheels are preferrable (cooler cutting on HSS). You are unlikely to find a small bench grinder already fitted w/ white AO wheels, but if you select a machine that you have already determined white wheels are available for, then swapping over from the general purpose gray/brown AO wheels typically fitted as OEM will be straight forward.

                .

                Comment


                • #9
                  If the Unimat you were looking at is one of the old original round bed models I'd suggest you forget it and move on to something better. It's not a bad option if you only plan on REALLY small projects. But often the really small projects need slightly bigger home made tooling or jigs made up to aid in production of the parts you want. And that's where the old round bar bed Unimat falls on it's face and gets a boody nose. On top of that with the Unimat and the Shereline options for threading are limited. You either stick with threading dies or look at setting up that really odd follower arrangement that these machines used.

                  The small micro Grizzly is even a step down from the Sherline and Unimat. The 6 inch room between chuck and tail stock gives you nothing at all for room to use for any sort of drilling other than the very smallest sizes. A drill chuck and arbor is going to be more than 2 inches to start. Then even a 1/4 inch drill is going to have it's end already sitting into the jaws of the chuck. So I really don't think this is the way to go. It's intended more for someone that wants to make truly small clocks and REALLY small engines and such. You can pretty much forget about making any meaningful tooling with it to aid in making up those other projects.

                  So as much as I normally discount the 7by lathes as useless toys in this case and for your table top needs I'd strongly recommend the 7x14 version. Do go with this longer bed model for the extra room between chuck and tail stock. It is that room you need for a tail stock drill chuck and some of the longer drill bits while still having room for a work piece. The 10 inch long versions are totally lacking in this. When you try to drill a 1/2 inch hole you quickly find out you don't even have room for the drill bit and drill chuck, let alone the work. The 14 inch version gives you that working room for only another 4 inches of length and a few more lbs of weight.

                  The other nice feature is that Little Machine Shop has steel gears that can be used to upgrade from the cheezy plastic in the stock machines which seem to be prone to breaking all too often. I'd go so far as to suggest that you buy these upgrades right away. There are You Tube videos about them.

                  With a 7x14 you can make not only the engines of a nice table top size but also the jigs and tooling for the machines without any issue. And that counts for something as well.

                  You'd likely also want a small mill. And this could also double as your drill press A good companion to a 7x14 lathe would be something like this;

                  http://www.grizzly.com/products/4-x-...ll-Drill/G0781

                  Or this; http://www.grizzly.com/products/Mill...campaign=zPage

                  The second one is double the price but it also gives you a couple of more inches of table to spindle to aid in room needed for use as a drill press. And a LOT more room on the table for tooling setups. You don't need much for a milling vise but if you get a rotary table and do some long flutes on some part that table area really comes in handy in a hurry. Between these two I'd go for the bigger one with that whole "buy once, cry once" thought in mind.

                  And yes, as mentioned you'll want a grinder and a few other things. One of the chief ones should be a good vise and an array of files, punches, cold chisels and some really nice big hammers....

                  The challenge for doing file work with the vise will be in positioning it for your wheelchair so that the vise and work is positioned well and that the wheel chair won't move while you're pushing and pulling. Good brakes on the wheels and perhaps some arrangement that allows you to wedge yourself and chair into teh working position? That would take some thinking I suspect.

                  We take it for granted that we can bend over to look directly down on our work. That's something which will be tough for you in your chair. So low bench tops with run in room to put much of the chair and your legs under the working top will be needed. In fact I'm thinking that the bench arrangements will be just as important as the tools you mount on top of them. Have you got that part figured out?



                  Speaking of table top engines have you seen the options for flame licker engines? Totally useless as far as power output goes. But pretty easy to build and from the videos I've seen fun to see running. Very much a novelty piece sort of like coffee cup powered stirliing engine fans being used to cool your coffee....

                  Anyway, good on you for not accepting your situation with pessimistic resignation. I'm sure I'm speaking for pretty much everyone here when I say "GOOD ON YA!" for wanting to keep going and enjoying your shop time in spite of the challenges. Whatever we can do in any way in terms of ideas is yours for the asking.
                  Last edited by BCRider; 06-24-2016, 12:31 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    When it comes to small lathes, finding really robust ones these days is tough. I don't know of any of the 7" swing variants available with back gears, for example. For these 4" swing machines (often called "micro lathes"), it's even worse... notice, for example, that the 4" Grizzly doesn't even have a compound slide or provisions for threading. It seems all the machines (except for one, noted below) in this size range available new these days, do not come with a compound slide, although all of them seem to have it available as an add-on (in the case of the machines based on the Sieg C0, LittleMachineshop seems to be the only option for an off-the-shelf compound slide). The Sherline lathes are great for machines their size, and they can be had with threading capabilities. I'm not sure what thread following attachments BC Rider was referring to above, but the threading arrangement for the Sherlines these days is a pretty standard change gear setup. The Sherline is also available with a spindle that takes standard WW collets which is super handy for small work. I've heard great things about the Taig micro lathes, and similar to the Sherline you can get it with a compound slide and a WW collet taper in the spindle. Unlike the Sherline, it also comes with a set-over tailstock but the truly unfortunate part is that no provisions for threading are available, you'd have to make your own threading attachment for it.

                    As you can see, when you get down into the 4" swing range of machines your options are less than enticing, depending on what kind of work you plan on doing. To the OP, it sounds like you're doing work where threading with dies is probably fine, it will just mean you'll need to purchase dies for any threads you want to cut. For 4" machines the only other options I can think of (other than the Unimat, which others have already brought upm, and other than the Proxxon mentioned below) are old wathcmakers lathes, but I wouldn't recommend one of those for the OP's purposes unless it was really tooled up to the hilt, which means it would probably cost $3k or more.

                    The best thing would be to determine weight and size limit of the new machine. There are some other slightly larger options that might be worth investigating. For example, there is a 6" swing machine branded as a "Shop Fox" that seems to be reasonably priced, and even though it has the same aggravating lack of compound slide, it has the ability to cut a few thread pitches and looks like it may even have a set-over tailstock. They say it's a 6" swing but it looks to me to be a variant of the 4" Sieg C0... which probably means that LittleMachineshop C0 compound slide would fit it. Here is the machine I'm referring to: https://www.amazon.com/Shop-Fox-M101.../dp/B001R23S9U

                    The best all around 4" lathe I know of, on paper at least, is the Proxxon PD 230/E. Lots of goodies available for it, it cuts threads, it comes with a compound slide rest, and has three belt-drive positions for speed control in addition to the electronic control, so you'll have better torque for turning larger parts by gearing down a bit via the belt drive positions. There are two gotchas, the first being that it's not an inexpensive machine ($1500 - $2000 from the look of it) and it has apparently been discontinued, albeit with the promise of a newer model coming soon. I've found a couple places still selling it, but as I say they aren't cheap. For reference: http://www.proxxon.com/us/micromot/34004.php
                    Last edited by mars-red; 06-24-2016, 01:13 PM.
                    Max
                    http://joyofprecision.com/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks for advice and encouragement. I can actually stand on one leg for short spells, because of some medical hardware. That should help some. Guess I have to get serious about preparing a space and figuring out what I want to make first. Hey wait, why not get one of each?

                      **Off topic**20 years ago I actually did a service call to a shop that made bone screws and platinum electrodes for pacemakers. There was about a 14" long piece of maybe 1/8" platinum bar jammed up somewhere, but for some reason the Scrooge's would not let me keep the souvenir even after I extracted it and got them back in production. Now I may just have one of their silly bone screws in me. Best as I could tell, the Bone Screws were just one inch long stainless steel sheetrock screws even if they did sell for a hundred bucks each. But the Platinum Bar was really shiny. I would rather have had that, bet it would buy me a nice 9" SouthBend.
                      I hear and I forget.
                      I see and I remember.
                      I do and I understand.
                      Confucius (孔夫子)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Oh yeah.... And the mill too I suspect.

                        One of my buddies had open heart a few years back. Due to coughing during the recovery his sternum break opened up and didn't heal. A couple of years later they put him back under and scraped the faces and clamped him shut....... Literally! He was telling me about what they used and I looked up the device on the web. It looks like a freaking small scale bear trap ! ! ! I sent him the link as we talked on the phone and all I heard back was silence followed by a nervous giggle.

                        .... then, being my usual helpful self, I pointed out the release button that was visible on the picture. Been poking him in the chest for almost 7 years now and STILL can't find that DARN BUTTON!!! It'll be just like in Alien when that bug busts out of the guy's chest ! ! !

                        But back to your project.....

                        So, how much room do you have for setting up a shop? I take it this will be limited. But unless you will be working literally out of a closet I would suggest that you can find room for the slightly larger machines I've suggested. The only advantage that the other machines have is that they can more easily be picked up and put into a drawer. But that's about where their utility for anything but the most modestly sized model making ends. But if that is truly the amount of room you have to work with then we'll help you to make it work to the best we can.

                        It really comes down to what size of projects you want to work with. If you're happy with steam and compressed air engines that have up to 3/8 bore and stroke the micro size machines will work for you. But if you aspire to 3 or 4 inch gyroscopes and motors with 3/4" to 1" bore and stroke then one of those 7x14 machines and companion mills is the answer. But both are heavy enough that they are not the sort of thing you want to have to put away at the end of each day. And working at that sort of scale calls for a modest but proper room set up as a shop. It might well be the spare guest room and you vacuum the chips off the bedspread before they bed down for the night. But a dedicated work bench for the tools and at least a modest hand working area next to or between the two machines is pretty much a must have. A couple of good sturdy office desks or well braced and heavy side tables might be all it takes for work on this scale.

                        Any of that helping? Once you tell us what you have to work with for room and budget I'm sure we can point to options that are more focused.

                        And if it's a room within the house or apartment figure on new flooring such as Allure tiling so it's chip and oil resistant and easily cleaned. Frequent cleaning will be essential to avoid your chair tires picking up swarf. Even if it doesn't get through the tires and cause a puncture you REALLY don't want to find the chips with your hands as they sweep the wheels. I know there's the grab ring but I'll bet that often enough you use the tires too. Or the tires scuff your wrists on a regular basis. So a nice quiet vacuum will be something you want since you'll likely be using it a lot. And if it's an apartment there are some that are a bit more money but which are super quiet.

                        A bit more inspiration for you. If you have not seen it on You Tube there's a fellow there by the name of "Clickspring" that has a series of videos on building a clock along with special videos on doing some small machine size tooling. It's table top machining at its finest and I'm sure you'll find it worth watching. And enter "flame licker" in the You Tube search for a bunch of videos on those engines I mentioned.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I was going to just clean off my electronics bench, but now that you mention it, there is a closet about 6x8 feet that I can use if I get someone to remove the small door so I can get in there. I sure don't need those clothes anymore. I live in woods so not too worried about noise. As far as budget I was thinking less than 2k but might bump that to 4 in a few months, not sure yet. Money will not amuse me when I am dead but recon I will put that off for 30 more years, just figuring how to spend it all but never run out. Don't want any left unspent in the end, but also too cheap to waste it too soon.

                          Was thinking 2"Gyros and small steam/compressed air engines for now, Perhaps in few years a model Hit and Miss engine would be fun. It was actually Clickspring who inspired me by watching his pretty gyro build, except I want to maybe try ruby bearings. Your motorized 4 inch gyro idea also sounds fun though.

                          I have already stripped out all the carpet and painted the plywood floors to be easier on the wheelchair and vacuum/manual broom. If weight beomes a problem I will lay down another layer 3/4" plywood and seal it up. Would really like to rebuild a 9" SB in a few years, but got to work on my health a bit first. The dozen half successful operations took some energy out of me along with the parts.

                          This discussion helps me clarify my thoughts. Too much time in Hospitals being sliced like a salami makes a man shortsighted. Time to make 6 month, 5 year and 10 year plans and stop drifting in the wind.
                          I hear and I forget.
                          I see and I remember.
                          I do and I understand.
                          Confucius (孔夫子)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I went through my own "life warning" about 20 years back. It sure does alter our perceptions and makes us consider what is really important. As a result I have no tolerance at all for broadcast TV and too many news stories about how our present leaders are running things. There's lots of good in the world but too seldom do those stories make it onto what they call "the news" these days. Anyway, enough of that.

                            You'll want something on the floor that doesn't have seams to hold the junk and which will be resistant to the oils and solvents that you WILL drop. That's why I suggested something other than wood. If I recall my pricing Allure, which is really good tough stuff, is not too bad per square foot. And it'll last for many years where even painted or otherwise sealed plywood will get dented badly from running over the chips which will become embedded more and more. But then the good news is that as time goes on your floor would become more and more slip resistant.... So if you're budgeting for the shop consider starting with a lower cost but still durable covering over the existing wood you exposed. And HEY! Decent plywood is not cheap these days either! A second layer over what is there now could likely go a long way towards a good and proper floor covering. Just sayin'.......

                            The closet will sure come in handy. But I would not put the machines in there. Instead consider it as your parts, stock and equipment store room so you can keep the benches out in the open more tidy and clear. If you try to run the machines in there by the time you set up good strong and wide shelves to use for bench tops for the machines there won't be all that much room in there. And besides, do you really want to spend that much time in such a tight spot? I'd far rather set up my most used area where I can get some natural light coming in from outside if the room has a decent size window. And it just makes it more pleasant all around.

                            Which brings up another idea for you to consider. It's tough to visualize a good shop layout. And that is one which accounts for room of motion for you as well as a good layout for the tools. In your case room for motion is going to be even more important. You want to set up a working area where the personal room you need for navigating in front of each machine overlaps as much as possible. So you basically go to one spot then turn this way and that to reach each area with minimal shifting. But it's a balancing act to do this without getting in your own way with the working areas.

                            A good way to figure this all out is to draw up a good large size scale drawing of the proposed shop room with doors, windows and even the closet shown. Then at the same scale make paper cutouts of the machines you want to get now and in the future and work out some way that maximizes your working area.

                            I did this with my CAD program. And clearly if you know how to CAD then by all means do your layouts in CAD. The trick is regardless of how you hate a layout keep it. Copy and paste a copy to a new area of the drawing and work with that new copy. Do not erase anything since later on a "mistake" on some version might turn out to be just the thing if you use part of it on a new version. If you are working with the paper plan and cutouts idea keep your camera handy and take pictures of each version and upload to the 'puter for considering this and that. Again even if you make up a layout and instantly don't like it take the darn picture THEN move things around.

                            It's a lot easier to run the ideas off this way than building and moving the real things....

                            When you feel you nailed it I would not be above the idea of running masking tape over the floors of the room to outline the benches, shelves and machines then roll around among your flat shop for a day or two to get the feel for it. If you have them cardboard boxes piled into place of the benches or cabinets can aid in making this visualization test a touch more "filled in".

                            Another interim idea is to figure out just exactly what height you would like to put the working surfaces. blocks or boxes with some boards or sections of plywood can be set up for you to roll towards then tuck under and see how well the height works out for laying out stuff and doing some basic hand tool work. And that's where the vise issue comes back. You might want one area that is lower so the vise jaws are at a good height for you to work with files and hacksaws. As for securing yourself in place so you can use both hands some way that you can reach out with your leg(s) and hook around a leg or stretcher to get your stability against the pushing and pulling might be something you can figure out and set up.

                            It's time to let the ideas shine bright and bold. You're in a position where you got to "cheat through imagination and creativity" to make it work out so you can do the things that the rest of us take for granted. I hope my suggestions are aiding in pointing a path out for you.

                            I also can hardly believe my eyes that after seeing the Clickspring series that you're looking at gyros and engines. It took all I could scrape together to avoid wanting to build a darn clock! ! ! !

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I'll keep it short, I really like the Taig micro lathe in this size class. Sherline is good too. Next size up, I would skip that Grizzly lathe, also skip all the 7x size lathes, and go with a LatheMaster 8x14 or Harbor Freight 8x12.

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