Yup. I also know someone that sold them for a spell. They are a decent
value for what you pay. Make no mistake, you aren't getting a Japanese
quality build for your money. They have lots of little annoying problems.
If your handy, you'll look at some of the stuff, shake your head and fix
it for good. If your not handy, you'd better pass unless you have an
As far as end users, I've been in places that love them and I've been in
places that would never buy another one. I've seen them with the covers
off, saw the spindle being rebuilt on one, and I once helped a guy in
Florida sort out some issues with a brand new one as a favor to a dealer.
My take is that if I needed a reliable robust tight machine in order to
make my deliveries and keep the wheels from falling off, and could afford
a "brand name" machine, I probably wouldn't buy one.
But if I was just starting out and could get work for it and was
otherwise having to keep an eye on every penny, then I just might buy
one. Knowing that I probably have the skills to permanantly fix some of
the stupid things that could have been better from the factory and could
otherwise get by without a lot of support/service.
You always get what you pay for, nothing more. I wouldn't touch a used
one with a ten foot pole unless I knew exactly where it came from and was
sure it wasn't abused in the least and even then... It would have to be a
A couple of years ago IIRC, a live tool, sub spindle machine was just
under 100 grand. So you can see the attraction.
It always seems a little scary to me to buy a sub-spindle live tool
machine from anybody other than the high end brands.
As far as the simple 2 axis stuff, where would you rank guys like
Haas, Daewoo, Kia, Hyundai (same as Kia?), Hwacheon, Yama Seiki, and
any of the other off-brands you feel are worth mentioning? We're
talking bargain basement, 2 axis, chip conveyor, and maybe a parts
catcher and tool setter. NOTHING more.
It woould depend on the work I suppose. But I would buy the Doosan
(Daewoo) lathe without hesitation. If you were looking at a more complex
machine I would tell you I'm not wild about the way they implement the
control and the parts catcher sucks as it can only catch a part from the
sub spindle. But on a 2-axis plain vanilla lathe it's a slam dunk. IMO,
Daewoo is playing to be the biggest and best MTB in the world. And they
aren't so far away from the goal that I wouldn't take them seriously were
I competing with them.
Now if I were just doing light cutting in aluminum, brass, or mild steel
then I might think about a Haas. Only because they hold their value
absurdly well and there's always a mope in a van nearby with the part you
will inevitably need. The other day I ran across a video someone posted
of a bigger Haas lathe cutting a steel part that was probably in the 5-
6" diameter range. They show the thing roughing with the load meter
pegged. The problem was the DOC was next to nothing. Nowhere near what an
Okuma or even a Doosan would do without a grunt. In fact I was thinking
that the roughing was around the DOC you would want for finishing. But
assuming no creative editing was done to the video, there was no chatter.
Which from what I've observed in the past, is a newer feature. They are
getting there with their turning products, slow but sure. Now they just
need to up the power some while keeping the chatter out.
After that, it's a toss up as far as I'm concerned. We looked at the
Hyundai line years ago. They had a decent factory and seemed like
something interesting, but like all Korean companies, they were simply
looking for a risk free entry into the US market with no upside for us.
The machines were Mazak copies for the most part. I've never considered
Mazak to be a stout machine. Well built and reliable and some people love
the control, sure, but I don't know if I'd want a knock off. The
reliability is questionable and you're not getting the control, so what's
left? Back then I would have given them the edge over Daewoo, but not
I work with a guy who has been to Yama Seiki factory back when they were
being sold here as Amera Seiki. It's decent enough iron and a cut above
Leadwell and some other Taiwanese machines IMO. But still a notch below
Daewoo but better than they were back then based on more recent feedback
from a customer that has four of them. Ten years ago I would have said
that Taiwan MTB's were the ones to watch. It never panned out that way. I
wonder if they have found their fortunes building large quantities of low
cost lathes and mills for China.
Thinking about Taiwan, what about Femco? I've always liked the "Durga"
model. I don't know why they haven't been able to get much traction in
the US market outside of California. But their lathes seem fairly decent
and the Durga has the way cool turret. I would put them on the short list
too. I don't see enough of them around here to vouch for the reliability
but I do know a couple of companies on the west coast that rave about the
Durga. So I would do a little more homework on them but would give them a
shot based on what little I know.
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