8-in-3 multipurpose mini machine

I have to admit I was pretty angry with John ("Shoot first and ask questions later)" Martin for his judgemental heckling, the ultimate effect of which was to interfere with the genuine help I was getting in the thread "rack and pinion". But, after considering the matter, I decided that he actually did me a favor by, in effect, pointing out how fragile the support is that I can expect from rec.crafts.metalworking.

I have been quite impressed by the depth and breadth of the combined expertise of this newsgroup, and I remain so. I have been equally impressed by the good will and congeniality here and by the high level of commitment on this group to helping people at all levels of competence, and that is still my feeling. But the simple fact is that, in real life, I don't have any friends with whom I can get together to discuss machine tools or who can show me things or who can help me pick up the pieces after a disaster or who can tell me whether conditions in my shop are safe. Nor are there any courses available to me (I have looked!) that can make me more self-sufficient. That being the case, I have no other source of advice about metalworking than this newsgroup and the question is whether I can proceed with just that support, given the many other severe constraints I am operating under, many more than I have mentioned above.

Based on excellent advice I got from Don Nichols, I was on the verge of ordering a Taig lathe and HarborFreight milling machine but now I have decided to go with the HarborFreight Item 40102-3 VGA, "8 in 3 multipurpose mini machine". Don correctly advised:

1/125th HP motors. If anything, perhaps weaker than the >Unimat-1, though it appears to be made of a bit more metal. same >restrictions -- "soft metals". I would skip this just as I would skip >the Unimat 1.

In my case, however, the following considerations are more important:

(1) It costs under $200, including with shipping and handling. That means I'm not investing a lot in the experience, unlike with the Unimat 1, which winds up costing almost $450 after all the extra costs are added, or the combination of Taig lathe and HarborFreight mill, which cost even more. (2) Because it has such a puny motor, I am a lot less likely to hurt myself using it.

Without a solid commitment to as much support as I actually need, which is a lot more than I can reasonably ask of anyone, and which is a lot harder to give by email and USENET than in person, I think this is the most sensible way for me to proceed. After I'm more experienced, I'll consider getting more powerful machines.

I won't post to or read this newsgroup again until I've built something, however tiny or crappy.

Reply to
Allan Adler
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Allan Adler wrote in news: snipped-for-privacy@nestle.csail.mit.edu:

I would disagree with (2) above. You are just as likely, if not more so, to hurt yourself with an underpowered machine. A properly powered machine is critical for allowing the proper speeds and feeds during machining.

If all you are machining is wax...or maybe some plastic..probably fine. For metal...I dunno....

Reply to

Allan sez: "I won't post to or read this newsgroup again until I've built something,


Please don't go. I firmly believe most of the good people on RCM are still available to help you. Just learn to disregard the occasional insulting reply. Most respondents (well a lot of respondents, anyway) don't mean to belittle you; its just that there is such a large number of repliers you are bound to get one every now and then that is unable to respond on a level that is acceptable to you. Some are probably irritable because maybe their own questions haven't been answered on RCM. Still others must have their egos boosted by tearing down someone else. Allan, remember one thing about RCM. It is a microcosm of Life with all the foibles, pitfalls and disappointments that are an inevitable part. Also, there is a lot of good on RCM. As you have complemented Don Nichols for his helpful advice, although you choose not to take that advice, there are others that are equally eager to help. Give us a chance. Those that can help, will help. Those that can't, may blow you off with an insulting reply - but in those cases, remember *you* may have helped them by the ego boost they got by tearing you down. Take nothing personally; take everything else with skepticism, and as in Life the truth will eventually emerge.

Enjoy the little multipurpose "shop" you are getting from Harbor Freight. I agree with others, it is not acceptable as any sort of metalworking tool. But enjoy it anyway. You can learn almost as much from an inadequate tool as you can from a good one; and, as you said, it may be safer. IMO, you should get a copy of "Machining Fundamentals", by Turner. There is a wealth of information in it.

Bob Swinney

Reply to
Robert Swinney

Please do not give up. I've sometimes found it useful to look at the overall gestalt of what's said on this newsgroup. Take it all with a grain of salt. Just because one person says something that nails you a bit does not mean that everyone else feels the same way. Buy a machine and buy some files too. Post, make chips, post. Try to make it to the Cabin Fever show in January and attend a seminar or two. Ask someone there where to start. Over time, I've come to see some of the strangest and initially tough on this newsgroup as also the most generous. Years ago, I noticed in college that if the professor started the semester with an emotional group hug, you were in deep trouble. If you started out with piles of work, you were in for a great ride. Go figure. Don't give up, go the distance.

Charles Morrill

Reply to
Charles Morrill

Shoot first and ask questions later? Shoot maybe, but only after I've observed and identified my target pretty carefully. And I don't really recall asking any questions of you.

I don't gladly suffer fools, Allan. Perhaps I should say foolishness, instead. For I don't know you and don't want to brand you a fool. But I will say that

- in my opinion - many of your questions rank right up there with the most foolish that I have ever seen. Someone once said that the most foolish question is the one that is not asked, but he was not entirely correct.

You started with questions regarding a rack and pinion. Fine. But you then wandered off into questions about how you could better examine the rack, including building your own optical comparator, before you even took the very good advice offered to you by several people - to clean the rack first.

After you had been warned about the problems with the Unimat, you told us you had decided on one for your first lathe. You must be a lot smarter than the people who warned you against it, because you stated "whatever its limitations are, there must be a way to work with them". Of course, you also said that you were at the same time trying to decide what your second lathe should be.

After you said that you didn't have a file, I suggested that you buy one and learn how to use it. Was it intended to be snide? A bit. It was also a very valid suggestion. You responded with paragraph upon paragraph as to how you might structure a course to learn more about files, how much you should pay for them, where you might obtain scrap metals to file, and so on. There are a couple of ways that one could view your answer: as a sarcastic reply to a snide suggestion, or as a serious plea for help. Frankly, I first took it as the latter - because it resembled so closely the style of many of your previous questions. So, apparently did at least one other person who attempted to answer your questions. Now it appears that you meant it sarcastically. That's fine - because as I already admitted, my suggestion was meant somewhat in the same way.

But only somewhat. Because I still feel that someone who doesn't have a file and yet is considering buying a lathe or milling machine is an idiot.

I feel as you do that this newsgroup is a valuable resource, and would only suggest that you treat the others as the valuable resources that they are. Think of it as a machine shop that you can walk into. A machine shop where the machinists are busy with their own work, but are happy to help someone who is eager to learn. But think, at the same time, what that machinist may say when, after you have asked about a problem with a rack and pinion and he has given you a good suggestion to simply clean it, you then tell him you would consider building an optical comparator to better examine it. Or what he might say to your proposal to make your own spotting compound, when commercial products are available so cheaply. Or, after he has warned you about a particular tool, that you think you can find a way to make it work.

I'm not trying to be an ogre or a net nanny. You are every bit as welcome here as any of us, and I'd like to see you stay. That's up to you. I'd also suggest, though, that you try harder to find some metalworking courses near you, or some local hobbyists willing to help you in person. It's hard to believe that there are no resources available to you. At the worst, though, studying something, then doing it, making a mistake, and figuring out a way to avoid or correct that mistake, is the way many of us have learned what we know. The doing part is important.

John Martin

Reply to

You would be light years ahead to buy any entry level lathe like a South bend or equivalent than one of those cheesy little chinese contraptions. Look at school acutions. ebay, industrial auctions ect. Charlie

Reply to

This is going in exactly the same way that I've seen far too many other threads go, personal opinions from those that won't "lower" themselves to even try the smaller machines, but dont' hesitate to offer advice that might not be acceptable to the person making the purchase.

The original poster specifically said "SMALL lathe", and didn't indicate any excess of room. Asking if there was room hasn't come into anyone's mind, the only thing that did is the ever present willingness to think you know all the answers without asking.

He indicated a budget, he didn't say "unlimited budget". SB lathes go at acutions and the great American rip called ebay for prices that are above what he indicated. Budget means budget, not maybe he'd like to spend much more.

I don't have the machine in question, and without having first hand experience with it, I'm not qualified to judge it. Nor is anyone else that doesn't own one. I bought a HF 9 X 20 to find out if there was any fact in the badmouth the machine gets, and there isn't any. I didn't pay for a Hardinge, didn't get one, and didn't expect one.

If I try to push the machine beyond it's capability, then I'd have to say that the operator is the idiot. If I tried to use it without setting the gibs and removing the burrs, then the one that set it up is the moron. I didn't pay for a Hardinge, and I expected to have to do some work to make it run properly. I don't find that unreasonable.

Reply to

In what way is eBay a rip? An auction is the fairest possible way to establish a price for something, and eBay's fees are really quite cheap, far less than the 10% buyer's premium that most live auctions impose...

I am serious in asking this, risking that you might just be a troll...

Reply to

If it were a live auction, I might agree, but on ebay/payscam, you have no way of knowing if you're bidding against a legitimate buyer or the one that owns it and is just pumping up the price.

"Reserve prices", in a live auction, there is sometimes a minimum opening bid, and it's announced. Ebay hides this, hoping for more traffic.

The ebay toolbar is listed in SpyBot as one of the files to kill, which probably means they're getting all kinds of information they have no right to.

Horror stories about ebay are many, Harold has one, there has been one on the soaring group, something about paying $18000 for a glider and then finding that it was sold to someone else, before it ever came up on the auction. Those are just two of many. Ebay will not back up the buyer, or the victim as it usually is. Paypal, being part of ebay, will do just as little, or less. You have to go to court to fight it, cost that you should not have to incur, ebay should have to pick those up. They don't.

A 10% fee to a legitimate auctioneer is not excessive, taking chances on the internet with a brainfart called ebay is, at any fee.

"Feedback", crock of bullshit, nobody leaves negative feedback on a seller, because the seller has the option of scorching the buyer if negative feedback is left. The "Great Ebay lie." 100 positive feedbacks and no negatives mean only that you still don't know anything about the seller, and they're usually rips anyhow.

"Antique" micrometers, hoping for huge prices for worn out junk, when what they're advertising is a 30 year old Starrett 436P, that I can buy a brand new one for less than they get for the junk. Rip by any other word. As antique is normally taken to be 100+ years old, maybe .01% of what ebay says is antique might be, but probably just old junk.

GO down and look at the llist of completed items, many times old junk goes for more than brand new would cost from a legitimate dealer. Rip off.

Reply to

Reply to
Robert Swinney

It's not an ox, it's an ass.

Reply to

You don't have to bid more than your willing to pay. The feedback thing is a crock. I have purchased and sold lots of stuff on Ebay with only a couple of bad experiences that didn't end with me getting ripped. True you do have to know what you are buying. But before I plunked down a measely 18k I would have flown out and looked at the piece of equipment before I bid on it. I thingk the real flaw with ebay is that I beleive a lot of the stuff is stolen merchandise.


Reply to

In a live auction you have no real way of knowing whether shill bidding is going on either.

I don't know about about opening bids (which seem fairly meaningless afaict), in live auctions (at least here in the UK) sometimes the auctioneer will say there is a reserve, but not what it is. Exactly the same as Ebay.

It wouldn't surprise me.

So I have heard.

How would they do that?

And why would the buyer care anyway? I buy stuff from Ebay, but Ebay don't know my real name or address or anything. Sure they could find out, but it would take a UK Court Order and/or many times more hassle and expense than it would ever be worth - I am only buying stuff, not selling.

If I wanted to I could easily start a new unrelated Ebay ID - but I don't care about my reputation as a buyer anyway, it doesn't do anything for me (it's tens of feedbacks and 100% +ve, if anyone else cares).

I have left neutral feedback once, the goods were not as described, but I think that was probably through ignorance rather than any attempt to defraud. Strangely, I got a positive back. Never left a negative though, never needed to.


Often Ebay prices for new goods are more than the equivalent shop prices too, it isn't just overpriced for old stuff - in general Ebay prices are too high. That's the real reason why I seldom use it now.

For instance, in the UK there are lots of ads for small bits of stock like Item number: 3859577578 "NEW 1/2 INCH DIA. BRASS BAR 330mm" BuyItNow! price £5.00 - but it is available on the web eg from College Engineering at £1.57, and it's 90p from my local metal stockists.

However, the same Ebay guy sells Item number: 3859516486: 6" of 50 mm dia PTFE for £15, which is a reasonable price if it's okay stuff. Go figure.

In my limited experience most sellers with reasonable feedback are "as least as honest as they have to be", ie they won't seriously misrepresent the goods (but caveat emptor!), and they will send the item(s).

And sometimes you can still get a bargain on Ebay, or something that's not easily obtainable elsewhere - for instance earlier this year I bought some Inconel at about 1/20th of what it might have cost elsewhere, as there are no regular UK suppliers who sell small quantities at reasonable prices.

Reply to
Peter Fairbrother

I don't find ebay a rip off particularly, especially when you're looking for something hard to find. For example, I wanted a new electrical switch for my Maximat V10-p and sure enough, after about a year or so, one came up and I bought it for about $150. It's actually a surprisingly complicated little piece of interlocking switches for both the lathe spindle and the milling head. Since I've wanted to keep the machine pretty much original, now I can. Lots of other cool Emco accessories have come up over the past three years, but they've been a little too expensive for my taste, but if I wanted them, I could easily have had them. This may have been false economy on my part, as the better-tooled Maximats are selling on ebay for $3,500. I bet if I'd shelled out $500 for the original toolpost grinder and $350 for the rotary table in the past year, I might have been able to sell my whole setup for nearly $5,000 and thus been able to parlay my meagre funds into Hardinge HLVH territory. I have found over the years that ebay really levels out the playing field. There are almost no bargains, the market is too big and too vast, but sometimes the market rules in interesting ways. For example, I've followed Edison cylinder phonographs for years, and I'm pretty sure that Ebay has caused the market value of the basic standard and home machines to fall in value. Now there are a bunch to be had in one place. The reverse is true of Curta calculators (in some ways the ultimate machine shop project!) Before ebay, you could still find them in odd places for $50, now they're at least $1,000 or more. As for shill bidding, I'm sure it does happen. Frankly, I don't care because ultimately the market will rule. If the shill bids too high, he won't sell his merchandise and relisting looks unattractive. In selling, I've found it much better to put as much value as possible into something I'm selling and then start the bidding off at one cent or whatever's the lowest possible these days. I think lots of people are pissed at ebay because if you're into Curta calculators or whatever, you run into about 10 others who are just as interested. I wonder sometimes about trying to corner a particular market. Look at small metal shapers in good condition. You can just see the prices rising, and there aren't too many terrific ones. What if you invested $100,000 in buying every single one for two years. You simply bid $2000 on every nice Atlas, Logan, and South Bend. Most bidding for such machines peters out around $800 or $900 nowadays. Let's see, that gives you a warehouse of 100 terrific shapers by 2007, by which time the pent up demand is insane. You start to sell them at Christmastime....bet you could double your money. With my luck though, I'd probably go broke. Truth is, the number of potential shaper customers like me is probably decreasing as the years go by due to events beyond our immediate control...

Reply to
Charles Morrill

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