Confused about new mini-lathes

I want to get a new mini lathe (7"-12").I'm totally confused about the specs on all these machines.I know they are all made in Asia,they
all look the same except color.I can't figure out why the Grizzly costs more than the other brands.I'm open to suggestions,thanks.BTW can anybody tell me why 40 year old Sears mini lathes bring go for so much on Ebay
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http://www.mini-lathe.com/Mini_lathe/Versions/Versions.htm
The difference in cost is *generally* an indication of the type of support you'll get after you buy it. For the most part they're all the same product otherwise so you're pretty safe to go for the best price.
As for long-term support, Little Machine Shop now stocks ALL parts for them, including the bed, headstock and tailstock castings, and for the many varieties of mini-mills that are out there as well, so after the warranty ends you can count on them no matter where you bought your lathe.
http://www.littlemachineshop.com/default.php
Best Regards, Keith Marshall snipped-for-privacy@progressivelogic.com
"I'm not grown up enough to be so old!"
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The MicroMark is the Cadillac of the lot with the extra features. I think it also had a metal main drive gear. (not plastic) If you examine the parts on LittleMachineShop you can see the cost of upgrading to the longer bed, etc.
One down side of the MicroMark is the 90 day warranty. I think Grizzley has a 1-year warranty. Last year they had a sale in February. I haven't seen one this year.
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John Vella wrote:

Can't tell you for Grizzly, but certainly for a local (Germany) dealer making a similar business. I have phoned with their boss several times. An importer either buys containers with whatever crap the factory stuffs in or he is in China and making his own inspection and modifications and requests tighter specs. You might get lucky and get a good one from the el-cheapos or you play save and buy it from the more expensive ones. In the second case, they (at least mine) reacts when something went wrong (BTDT) and you're a happy customer in the end. Doesn't mean that Grizzly does it that way (I simply don't know) but if others say that they act this way, it is money well spent.
I know this "old iron is better" discussion. And I do have old iron (mill: 1946, shaper: 1966) but you simply can't always wait until the right old iron comes along that fits perfect.
Nick
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I had two of them at different times. I think they work pretty well for their size. -They are a known quantity. I don't blame you for being confused about those Asian mini lathes. They are an unknown quantity because there are so many sellers of them, unless you have one. Thousands of people have those 6 X 18 Atlas/Sears lathes. Just go to the Atlas/Craftsman newsgroup and ask your question if you want a serious answer. -At least with an American lathe, you know you'll get inch size dials and inch size fasteners, etc. -You can do inch threading. -By looking at E-bay, you can see that you can get any part or accessory you need right away. -You know you won't be stuck with a headstock size that you can't match with anything else. -40 years old isn't a problem if the machine hasn't been mistreated. -The handles and cranks are at least made of metal.
I don't think I'd ever buy a lathe without having my hands on it first. Even if you are buying it new, I'd at least want to turn the cranks on the same model and mfr that I was going to buy. You may have already done this, but I'd spend a lot of time writing down the features that I want/need. Then I'd examine that list, ask others about it, adjust it, worry about it, etc. before buying. At least, never buy the machine without talking to a human or 2 at the company. Might even be a good idea to call that company, get their service department on the line and ask them what features people complain about not having. If you can't reach the service department, or it they are impolite, you may have a good clue about your future happiness with that machine.
Pete Stanaitis ----------------- BTW can

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Horseshit. They are all made by the same company.

And have beat the hell out of them.

Just like the Chinese mini-lathe.

Just like the Chinese mini-lathe. Or, you could just buy new from littlemachineshop.com or any of several companies that support the mini-tool market.

The mini lathes use MT1 or MT2- hardly an oddball size.

What company services (or carries parts for) Sears lathes? Sears sure doesn't.
-Carl
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    [ ... ]

    That is the internal taper. What about the spindle nose as it mounts a chuck? Some are metric threads, some (the Jets) have had the original metric thread turned off, some steel shrink-fit onto the spindle, and re-turned with inch threads, so you can at least cut the same thread on the lathe's threading gearing that the spindle nose has, so you can *make* things to fit.
    And some have flanges which you have to feed screws through into the back of the chuck -- a real pain to do, and likely to discourage changing chucks when it is called for, such as when a 4-jaw would do a better job than the 3-jaw already on the spindle.

    Atlas Service center (some)
    E-bay (from parting out old machines).
    And at least the threading gears are all metal (even if they are only Zamac on the Atlas/Craftsman lathes). Since I've got a 6x18 Atlas/Craftsman, and a real Clausing 12x24", I know the difference.
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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Not screws- the chuck has studs that go through the flange and it is not a big deal to change chucks. Flange mounting has the added benefit of being able to register the chuck and face plate.

And there's a problem- that parts supply is finite and at some point the number of parts machines will be less than the number of fixable machines. It's also an unreliable source whereas parts for the Chinese machines are a phone call away. I know I've seen repairable machine tools going cheap because the parts source has dried up.
-Carl
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snipped-for-privacy@d-and-d.com (DoN. Nichols) writes:

There are no threads. Just a faceplace that fits the 3" chuck. If you need a 4" or 5" chuck, get an $16 adapter like below, or make your own.
http://www.littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID92&category=1
I got a threaded MT2 adapter (w/drawbar), like below but cheaper
http://www.littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID15&category=1
and used it to add a Taig (or Sherline) softjaw chuck. (One item missing from Chris's shop).
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Buy the small Sherline, later you canbuy the verticle column attachment and make it a milling machine, The Sherline is light, you can easily move it to a bookshelf when it is not in use. For heavier use (IMHO) I'd save up my green stamps and get a Smithy for about a grand.
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    It is included in my collection of lathes.

    *Is* there an Atlas/Craftsman usenet newsgroup? I don't find any clue of it in the current "active" file from Newsguy.
    Or are you talking about a mailing list, or perhaps a web based forum? Those are *not* newsgroups, and are certainly not satisfying to me.
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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DoN. Nichols wrote:

It's a Yahoo group, and a heavily moderated one, which is why I don't belong. The moderator somehow decided my posts needed serious monitoring. Screw 'im :) The Atlas_Craftsman Yahoo group is excellent, though most of the posts are on the bigger lathes
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Low end price is Homier(or used to be), you get a 10"(nominal) bed for the least money. This translates to about 6-8" between centers by the time you get a chuck and tailstock center involved. Little Machine Shop provides support for most of the minis, you can even get stretch bed kits if you buy a shorty used and want a longer bed or get a great deal on a shorty. Usually price is an indicator of importer QC, but not always. I got mine from HF in town, if it was a dud, it would have gone right back for a swap. With coupon and 50%-off sale price, it ran a little under $200. I'd expect a Micro Mark branded one to be perfect out of the box, you'd be paying enough for it. Over the years I've added the longest stretch bed(14") and have a metric leadscrew kit, it still can be slung on the shelf when done but it's a lot heavier now. Get one cheap enough and things like that seem a little more reasonable to do.
I have NO idea why those old Sears AA lathes have such an attraction, they're a lot less capable, parts are harder to find and the spindles are, well, spindley. None of those really small lathes has anything larger than a #1 MT in the spindle, the 7xs have a #3. Same deal with Atlas 6" lathes, one bozo here in town wanted over a grand for one, with one chuck and no tooling. They DO have a longer bed, but the thin spindle kind of restricts what you can do with it.
If you go for a 7x, see if you can get it from either a HF local store or one of the Homier roving sales. If it's a dud, you can swap it easily then. Not quite as cheap as they once were, HF sale price locally is around $360 right now and there's a 15% off coupon in one of the fliers good until the 9th.
There's several mini-lathe groups over on Yahoo, of late, though, the 7x10 group seems to be taken over by ducks.
Stan
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    [ ... ]

    People see '6" Craftsman lathe', and confuse it with the 6x18 Atlas/Craftsman. And then a bidding frenzy starts. :-)

    The Atlas/Craftsman 6x18 has a 1-1/2" spindle thread (IIRC), and certainly has a 2MT female in the spindle nose.

    The spindle for the 6x18 is about right for the size of the bed. Far better than the AA lathe of the same swing. Mostly, it would benefit from a quick-change gearbox and power longitudinal/cross feeds -- and a bit more meat in the T-slot of the compound. (Says he who had to make a replacement some years ago. :-)
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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DoN. Nichols wrote:

I was pretty certain that the 6-18 Atlas had a 1"-10 or 1"-8 tpi . If it were 1 1/2"-8 it would be able to mount all the same chucks as it's larger bretheren from so many sources, as well as being able to fit a Morse 3 in the spindle.
Cheers Trevor Jones
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    [ ... ]

    [ ... ]

    [ ... ]

    O.K. I was too lazy to go down and measure, and tried to go by memory for a lathe which I haven't bought anything for in the past twenty years or so. (The larger and smaller ones get the new goodies. :-)

    O.K. I jumped from the 6x18" lathe to a 12x24" with a 2-1/4"-8 threaded spindle (now fitted with a L-00), and never had a machine with the 1-1/2" thread.
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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DoN. Nichols wrote:

Actually 1"x10 TPI on most of them The 10" and 12" lathes did have 1.5" threads
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On Apr 4, 9:18 am, snipped-for-privacy@prolynx.com wrote:

Sure am glad no-one told my gradpappy that. He cut a lot of screws and bushes and such for a lot of cars on his AA. That same AA made the parts to refurbish it's own spindle.
starbolin
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snipped-for-privacy@sbcglobal.net wrote:

Guys made lots of parts with lathes cobbled up out of old electric drills and pipe fittings, too. Just because the tool is not that good, does not mean that it cannot produce usefull results. I am sure your grandfather was quite aware of the limitations of the AA lathe, but likely had picked up the skillset he needed to be able to work around them, before he got it.
Cheers Trevor Jones
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I would look for a used lathe with all the tooling. Save yourself lots of money in the long run that way.
I have both a Craftsman and a Chinese six inch and they both have their strengths. I use the Chinese like a speed lathe. The electronic speed control and ball bearing spindle make it very handy for a variety of operations on small parts. The reversing switch is handy for threading oddball pitches where you can't disengage the halfnuts. The weaknesses are the lack of a faceplate or four-jaw chuck option and the inability to set the tailstock over. It is however sometimes very difficult to get a fine feed on it.
My 50 year old Craftsman is a real sweet machine. With a big motor and the backgear in you can really take a bigger cut than you should on such a small machine. Mine has the handwheel option on the feed screw which is perfect for taking very fine cuts. I can set the tailstock over for cutting tapers and the threaded spindle can take a wide range of chucks and faceplates. I have to admit I baby the Craftsman though, mostly it just sits on the shelf looking pretty. I prefer to abuse one of my other machines instead.
starbolin
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