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  • Small lathe recommendation

    Upon my retirement as a Land Surveyor I have taken up a "hobby" of repair and restoration of antique surveying equipment dealing mostly with items that are 150 - 250 years old and primarily brass. My primary tool that I purchased a few years ago for this is a Smithy Granite combination machine which I am generally very happy with. However, one short coming is the limited number of thread pitches that I can cut with it and the fact that switching back and forth to metric isn't exactly the easiest. So I have been thinking about buying a small lathe that will be used almost exclusively for cutting threads. The lathe that I have found that seems to have the most options is a Grizzly G4000. I would appreciate your comments on this lathe for the stated purpose or your help in identifying another lathe that has as many or more thread pitch options as the G4000. Thank you.

  • #2
    Make sure that the lathe will cut the threads you need for surveying equipment. Are there fine or special threads that may not be standard or common? You may need to be able to set up a special gear train to get extra fine or special non standard threads. This may be easier on a "plain", not a "quick change" lathe.

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    • #3
      We don't know where you are, but if in a bigger market, I'd be looking for a use Emco (not enco) or Myford with change gears, I believe they are much better quality machines and with changes gears you can cut pretty much any pitch. wading into the used market of course means you have to pay attention to condition, but you usually get many times the bang for the buck.
      Last edited by Mcgyver; 08-28-2019, 03:40 PM.
      .

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Dave Ingram View Post
        I would appreciate your comments on this lathe for the stated purpose or your help in identifying another lathe that has as many or more thread pitch options as the G4000. Thank you.
        The G4000 although having a quick change gear box has change gears as well. Change gears allow you to cut metric and imperial threads and just about any pitch you may desire provided you can acquire or make the required gears.

        Of course if you dont like making gears perhaps an electronic lead screw conversion would be an option for you.

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        • #5
          Most lathes need playing around with change gears when switching between metric and inch pitches.
          AFAIK There is few exeptions but none in compact size like G4000

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          • #6
            All you need is the Granite, install an electronic leadscrew. Watch Clough42 on YouTube. I've actually already purchased most of the components for it. It's an open source project, cheap to implement, and designed by an EE.

            https://youtu.be/FTs9GygRQ-U

            It will allow you to choose any thread pitch you need in Metric or Imperial without changing gears. It's the best one I've seen thus far. All the components are dirt cheap. The two costliest parts are the Stepper or Servo motor and the associated driver.
            Last edited by RB211; 08-28-2019, 05:03 PM.

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            • #7
              Just read the control manual for a Tormach CNC lathe, the conversational control looks similar to others that I have used and would be very easy to operate without knowing G code.

              Looks like the perfect small lathe for what you want, no change gears involved simply input the thread lead and diameters and it will produce any thread within its feed rate limits.

              This is a thread on a Bridgeport conversational control, no G code simply the same data that you would need to know if doing it manually. Simple as pie.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Bented View Post
                Just read the control manual for a Tormach CNC lathe, the conversational control looks similar to others that I have used and would be very easy to operate without knowing G code.

                Looks like the perfect small lathe for what you want, no change gears involved simply input the thread lead and diameters and it will produce any thread within its feed rate limits.

                This is a thread on a Bridgeport conversational control, no G code simply the same data that you would need to know if doing it manually. Simple as pie.
                My Centroid Acorn controller that I use with my Taig mill is equally at home on a lathe and has conversational programming. Full CNC on a lathe is simply one 1.5 steps more from an Electronic Leadscrew. If one doesn't want to replace leadscrews with ballscrews then an ELS makes more sense.

                Sent from my SM-G950U1 using Tapatalk

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by RB211 View Post
                  My Centroid Acorn controller that I use with my Taig mill is equally at home on a lathe and has conversational programming. Full CNC on a lathe is simply one 1.5 steps more from an Electronic Leadscrew. If one doesn't want to replace leadscrews with ballscrews then an ELS makes more sense.

                  Sent from my SM-G950U1 using Tapatalk
                  You do not need ball screws for threading, as you say a control for the lead screw is all that is required, there do not appear to be any small machines that are manual with NC threading readily available.

                  One would think there would be a market in gun smithing/clock making/optical instrument/pen making lathes with a threading feature that will produce any thread required without gears or gearbox yet is otherwise manual.

                  Go Figure

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bented View Post
                    You do not need ball screws for threading, as you say a control for the lead screw is all that is required, there do not appear to be any small machines that are manual with NC threading readily available.

                    One would think there would be a market in gun smithing/clock making/optical instrument/pen making lathes with a threading feature that will produce any thread required without gears or gearbox yet is otherwise manual.

                    Go Figure
                    Even my 10EE requires a gear change for its complete inch pitch range. Don't think it even does metric without a transposing gear. No way around it, needing NC control for such a feature.

                    Sent from my SM-G950U1 using Tapatalk

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                    • #11
                      For instrument work like this I suspect you will find that 56 TPI is not fine enough for some of the rebuilds.

                      If you could find a nice condition used South Bend 9" lathe with the quick change gear box I think you'd have all your bases covered.

                      For example a ways down THIS PAGE you'll find the thread info plate for a 9" SB lathe. Note that it goes all the way up to 224 TPI. And along the way the often used 40, 48, 56, 64 and even 80 TPI options seen on more delicate instruments.

                      Size wise and for use the Grizzly isn't a bad option for what you are thinking about. However I think having a limit of 56 TPI as the finest thread is a bit limiting.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Bented View Post
                        You do not need ball screws for threading, as you say a control for the lead screw is all that is required, there do not appear to be any small machines that are manual with NC threading readily available.

                        One would think there would be a market in gun smithing/clock making/optical instrument/pen making lathes with a threading feature that will produce any thread required without gears or gearbox yet is otherwise manual.

                        Go Figure
                        There was such a lathe produced. The Hardinge HLV-H-EM. English or Metric threads at the twist of a knob. No gear changes required. The Hardinge HLV's are some of the finest small part lathes ever produced, with TIR's under 50 millionths of an inch, variable speed drives, electric feed rate. These machines were competition for the Monarch 10EE's, but the 10EE's had 5HP motors, whereas the HLV's had 1.5 HP motors. The 10EE's could take a heavy cut, where the HLV's were meant for finer cuts - such as you'd see in horology, gun part making, etc. The work envelope is somewhat limited to 11x18". These machines didn't use a chuck much; they were designed to hold the work in 5C collets, and they'd have a full set of collets by 64th's shipped with them. If you find a HLV with a full set of 5C collets, you're getting $1K in collets if they're Hardinge collets.

                        The HLV-H is cloned today by lathe companies in Taiwan. They're not held to the same specs as the Hardinge-made lathes. A good HLV-H with collets and tooling might run $12K, used. A HLV-H-EM with collets and tooling might run $20K.

                        Another lathe that will do English or Metric threads at the twist of a knob are the Cazeneuve lathes from France. I work on a HB-575 at the local college on a occasional basis. A great beast of a machine with a 15HP motor, weight of about 4 tons, and 22" swing, over 80 inches between centers. You can switch between "Whitworth" or Metric thread pitches with the turn of a knob, no gear changes required. It will do feeds to less than 0.001"/rev. It will take cuts 3/8th's of an inch per side and bury you in blue-hot chips if that's what you want. A great machine, just kinda rare in North America.

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                        • #13
                          If you'll be working such old tools I can't imagine you won't need a huge range of threads. If you're primarily in brass then I can recommend the Sherline lathes. They have a huge line of change gears and will make you (for little money) one you want that they don't have. It will of course thread steel it just takes a bit more effort.

                          Changing to metric is very easy. Threading is manual meaning you remove the motor and use a hand wheel. Matter of fact they will sell you a lathe without the motor and you save quite a bit. Since the threading is manual your control is very high, very difficult to break a part or ruin a thread.

                          I love mine, can you tell?


                          Cat

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by wyop View Post
                            There was such a lathe produced. The Hardinge HLV-H-EM. English or Metric threads at the twist of a knob. No gear changes required..... A HLV-H-EM with collets and tooling might run $20K.

                            Another lathe that will do English or Metric threads at the twist of a knob are the Cazeneuve lathes from France. I work on a HB-575 at the local college on a occasional basis....
                            Thanks, those are the few exceptions that I had in mind. Couldn't remember the models right off the bat but knew that the prices are shocking.

                            Cazeneuves can go for pretty little money sometimes because they are not attractive size or weight for garage hobbyist.

                            Feel like one of the larger Schaublins had the option also but compared to those HLV-H-EM's or Cazeneuves are common as dirt.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by wyop View Post
                              There was such a lathe produced. The Hardinge HLV-H-EM. English or Metric threads at the twist of a knob. No gear changes required. The Hardinge HLV's are some of the finest small part lathes ever produced, with TIR's under 50 millionths of an inch, variable speed drives, electric feed rate. These machines were competition for the Monarch 10EE's, but the 10EE's had 5HP motors, whereas the HLV's had 1.5 HP motors. The 10EE's could take a heavy cut, where the HLV's were meant for finer cuts - such as you'd see in horology, gun part making, etc. The work envelope is somewhat limited to 11x18". These machines didn't use a chuck much; they were designed to hold the work in 5C collets, and they'd have a full set of collets by 64th's shipped with them. If you find a HLV with a full set of 5C collets, you're getting $1K in collets if they're Hardinge collets.

                              The HLV-H is cloned today by lathe companies in Taiwan. They're not held to the same specs as the Hardinge-made lathes. A good HLV-H with collets and tooling might run $12K, used. A HLV-H-EM with collets and tooling might run $20K.

                              Another lathe that will do English or Metric threads at the twist of a knob are the Cazeneuve lathes from France. I work on a HB-575 at the local college on a occasional basis. A great beast of a machine with a 15HP motor, weight of about 4 tons, and 22" swing, over 80 inches between centers. You can switch between "Whitworth" or Metric thread pitches with the turn of a knob, no gear changes required. It will do feeds to less than 0.001"/rev. It will take cuts 3/8th's of an inch per side and bury you in blue-hot chips if that's what you want. A great machine, just kinda rare in North America.
                              This is what I was curious about, I have used some Hardinge lathes in the past with that option, it is very nice indeed. >$50,000> of course.

                              Why do not the low end lathe manufacturers make a single axis machine with a Numerical Controlled lead screw, no gearbox, no change gears, no complicated gearbox and lever/change gear instructions printed on the machine.
                              I understand that this would require a spindle encoder and software and a monitor to run.

                              It must be cheaper to build change gears and gearbox then the electronics and drives currently, go figure.

                              I suspect that 20 years from now you will not be able to buy a fully manual machine at all.

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