How about a Turret Lathe for a home shop / first machine

In continuing my search for my first lathe, I am starting to make some contact and finding some machine.
At this point, I've found a couple of big machines and some small
(mostly bigger).
I have a couple of questions.
Given that the machine is in good working shape, can you get too big of a lathe to start with (ie, a 17"x54"cc LeBLOND Engine lathe) Isn't like boats? You will always want something bigger?
ie,
Two, what does everyone thing about a Turret lathe as a first lathe? I've seen a couple in my price range...
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Most folks start (and end) with a 9 or 10 inch lathe. A good 17 inch machine can be very useful... IF you're running big stuff. But you will also find yourself wanting a small machine for the (much more common) little stuff. If you can get the big machine for a good price, have the space for it and have an appropriate power source, fine, get it. But figure on adding, maybe, a six inch lathe in the near future.
Yes, you can make little stuff on a big lathe, but... I once made a couple watch parts on my 10" Logan. I was successful, but I quickly learned why they make jewelers' lathes...
Jerry
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KoF wrote:

Turret lathes are good for producing parts quickly. They do have some drawbacks as to threading and tailstocks. They are designed to do chucking work, and they do that very well.
As a first lathe you will be limited if you get one but as a second lathe they are very useful.
Unless you are only going to make watch parts, bigger is better. Older lathes are limited on rpm. Cutting with carbide requires a higher surface speed to get a good finish. On small diameter parts this can be a problem.
When the neighbor, or you wants to resurface a rotor or drum brake, and your lathe only swings 12 inches you will wonder why you didnt get that bigger lathe. A big lathe can hold a small part but a small lathe can only hold small parts.
John
A keeper of big iron.
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The turret lathe is generally considered a production machine for making large numbers of identical products. These can be a problem/challange to set up and even to change the thread pitch as this may require changing the lead screw, which by the way is generally short and typically referred to in the older books as a Fox [style] lathe.
The engine lathe on the other hand is designed as a general purpose machine with great flexibility. Unless you have major amounts of loose case available, the lathe is likely to be your main tool other than a drill press for quite a while.
For home shop use, speed and production are not normally a consideration while cost is. This being the case, an older *ENGINE* lathe in good condition, even with change gears, is your better choice. With some practice, you can swap between finishing and threading gears in two or three minutes, and I have good results using dry teflon spray as gear lube eliminating the mess of moly disulfide or graphite grease. This also works well for me as way lube, is cleaner and does not attract/retain dirt/chips.
With the purchase or construction of a milling attachment, a lathe will allow you to perform most all machining operations.
IMNSHO the only drawback of a larger [some would say huge] lathe such as 14 X 54 Le Blond is the space required and time/effort to move. You may also require a reinforced floor. This is bound to be a three phase machine and check carefully if it is 220 or 440 volt as both were common factory voltages. Phase conversion is not a problem but 220 to 440 may be expensive.
The big lathes will also be somewhat intimidating, and may be clumsier for small parts, however you can adapt smaller chucks as a work around.
Good luck, and welcome to the trade.
Let us know what you decide.
Unka George (George McDuffee)
There is something to be said for government by a great aristocracy which has furnished leaders to the nation in peace and war for generations; even a democrat like myself must admit this. But there is absolutely nothing to be said for government by a plutocracy, for government by men very powerful in certain lines and gifted with the "money touch," but with ideals which in their essence are merely those of so many glorified pawnbrokers.
Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), U.S. Republican (later Progressive) politician, president. Letter, 15 Nov. 1913.
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I would not agree that it is the case with boats (I own two). I would not want a boat above about 26 ft.
i
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Well I am trying to turn my 22' ski boat into a lathe :-)
Boat is sold, just got to find the machine now.....
Ignoramus18860 wrote:

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Where do you live..and how much do you want to spend?
Gunner

The aim of untold millions is to be free to do exactly as they choose and for someone else to pay when things go wrong.
In the past few decades, a peculiar and distinctive psychology has emerged in England. Gone are the civility, sturdy independence, and admirable stoicism that carried the English through the war years . It has been replaced by a constant whine of excuses, complaints, and special pleading. The collapse of the British character has been as swift and complete as the collapse of British power.
Theodore Dalrymple,
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wrote:

A bigger boat is just trouble in a larger package.
What was that definition of a boat? Oh yeah, "A boat is a hole in the water you pour money into". My turbine powered boat project is exactly that.
http://www.turbinefun.com
Larry
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The 17" X 54" LeBlond would be my choice if I could only have 1 lathe. I was looking for one or a Lodge & Shipley, but found a 16" Pratt & Whitney first that just had the ways redone. Swings 18.5" with 10 hp motor.I am probably just as happy with it as if I had found a LeBlond. Would have loved the 20 hp motor on the 18" swing Lodge better, I think I would have any way.
I would stay away from a turret lathe if it was going to be my only lathe though. Most of them won't thread without using either a tap or a diehead.
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was
first
http://www.turbinefun.com/articlePicsLarge/MonsterLathe-1.jpg
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Yes..you can go too big. Not just from the floor space needed..but big lathes are limited to the RPM they can turn. As a hobby guy you will be (generally..usually..mostly) turning smaller stuff that really needs higher RPMs. From my very limited machining experience..Id say that 17" is at the top end of a lathe you as a hobby guy could use for small stuff. Depending on the top speed..you could probably do smaller stuff with it. But on the other hand..finding affordable acessories in good condition will be problematic. Though to be fair..sometimes a 17" chuck is cheaper than a 5" one. Shrug.

A turret lathe is a production machine. Not particulary good, or even able to do one offs in most cases. Most (not all) dont have anyway to turn between the headstock and a tailstock and most( not all) dont have an indpendant carraige from the turret.
There are LOTS of suitable lathes out there. The big question is..how much do you want to pay..or how much effort are you willing to go through to get one? And what are you mostly going to do with it.
Ive a 15x52" Clausing that I seldom use. Simply because Ive smaller machines better suited for the normal stuff I do. However..it will do 2500 rpm and will do small stuff well enough for the most part..and when I need to do something big..its there at hand.
A Leblond is a very nice lathe, depending on if its in good shape or utterly clapped out. I rather like them. But they do take up floor space and you cant move em around with a pallet jack.
Gunner
The aim of untold millions is to be free to do exactly as they choose and for someone else to pay when things go wrong.
In the past few decades, a peculiar and distinctive psychology has emerged in England. Gone are the civility, sturdy independence, and admirable stoicism that carried the English through the war years . It has been replaced by a constant whine of excuses, complaints, and special pleading. The collapse of the British character has been as swift and complete as the collapse of British power.
Theodore Dalrymple,
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    [ ... ]

    Agreed.
    I've got several lathes, and for the larger work, or for semi-production, I usually use the largest (12x24" Clausing), and the Compact-5/CNC (5x10") for smaller work, or for things needing metric threading.
    The smaller ones than those (Unimat SL-1000 and Taig) get used for really small work, or for certain kinds of special production (such as crowning concertina screw heads).

    Note that there are some exceptions. But those are not true turret lathes. My Clausing is an example. Start with a fairly short (24" between centers) engine lathe, with full leadscrew and power feeds, and replace the tailstock with a "bed turret", fed by four rods with black ball knobs on the ends -- sort of like a turnstile turned on its side. I use this when I'm making a batch of something -- an example is making about 80 small adaptors from 3/4" brass rod with knurling, external and internal threads.
    Most of the rest of the time, it has the standard tailstock mounted instead. The lathe came with the bed turret (with matching serial number), and I had to find a proper tailstock for it (from eBay -- it took a while.) Tailstocks seem to be hard to find on the used market. I used a lighter weight one which still fit the bed and center height (from an earlier model with a smaller spindle diameter) for about a year or two before I found the right tailstock.
    I also had to find (and teach myself to use) various turret tooling (again mostly from eBay) to be able to use the turret. For production, it is nice, but as I said, most of the time, the machine has the standard tailstock.
    Because this started out as an engine lathe, with a turret as an accessory (I think that in the UK they would call this a "capstan lathe") , it has the standard features for a good engine lathe, including the quick-change gearbox and several other nice features. There are certain benefits from this history. Since threading on a turret is normally done with special die heads (mostly "Geometric" brand in the USA), the longitudinal leadscrew had almost never been used for power feed, and the threading dial was still in a drawer on the stand -- never mounted. As a result, this leadscrew was in pristine condition. In contrast, the cross-feed leadscrew was so worn that the Acme threads looked like this:
__/\__/\__/\__/\__/\__/\__/\__/\__/\
Instead of like this: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _/ \_/ \_/ \_/ \_/ \_/ \_/ \_/ \_/ \
(If you are using a proportional pitch font to read this, the thread crests will proably be out of line starting with the leftmost and get progressively worse as you proceed along the line. To see it as I "drew" it, switch to a fixed pitch font, like Courier in your newsreader.
    The nut in which it ran was similarly worn, resulting in something like 0.070" backlash (by the dial) in a 0.100" per turn leadscrew.
    But -- I replaced those for a *lot* less than what a new longitudinal leadscrew would have cost.
    The reason for the wear on the crossfeed leadscrew is that the carriage was locked down and used mostly for parting off -- under power crossfeed.
    So -- I would say that if you find a machine which was designed as an engine lathe but sold as a turret lathe, you can have the best of both worlds, and likely very little wear on the longitudinal leadscrew.
    But if it was designed as a turret lathe from scratch, it won't have the longitudinal leadscrew (though it may have a keyed rod to drive the turret mechanisms, and it is unlikely to have a quick-change threading gearbox (though it may have a fairly wide range of feeds, though not necessarily *threading* feeds, and likely not as many fine increments.) And it may be very difficult to remove the turret and replace it with a standard carriage and tailstock. Such a lathe is only a good choice for making a *lot* of parts. Even with my bed turret, it takes as much time to set up the first time for a given part as it takes to crank out the first fifty once it is properly set up, so there an engine lathe would win below that parts count.
    I hope that this helps,         DoN.
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I have a 14" Logan turret lathe, in great condition, that I like a lot. For one thing, it is super-rigid! And for some things, the turret is very convienient. I haven't actually used the turret feature very much, but I think it would be great for things with a lot of similar parts, like a multi-piston model plane engine. As I understand it, they are great for semi-production jobs, where there's a few parts to be made, but not enough to set up a CNC lathe.
It does have it's limitations. There is no easy way to turn a taper. It's about as large a lathe as I'd want to stuff in a two-car garage, too. But I got it at a great price.
I haven't used it as much as I thought I would, as I've been more into blacksmithing in the last year ot two.
Any way, while the turret lathe is great and all, I'd recommend a regular engine-style lathe for most people.
~Jeff P
KoF wrote:

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wrote:

Most of the lower end 12" lathes (Jet, Enco) have a top speed of 1200 rpm, while the newer LeBlond regals top out at 1800 rpm.
Richard W.

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    [ ... ]

    FWIW my 12x24" Clausing tops out at 1600 RPM (with a bottom speed of 35 RPM). A pretty nice range for the size of the machine, and the 1600 RPM is a bit scary with a 10" 4-jaw mounted. :-)
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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Sounds like you are a couple of steps up from the jet's and Enco's I mentioned with 1600 rpm. I ran a Regal that was 17" swing that turned 1800 rpm and it would take a 3" diameter bar through the spindle. I never did run the 4 jaw at top speed, because it was cast iron and wasn't rated for such a high rpm. Had a 12" steel 3 jaw though and I wound that up to top speed quite often. I do miss the 3" spindle hole though. It would have been nice if they had a 16C collet holder though. Since they had the 16C collets for the CNC lathes.
I did discover though quite by accident that the P&W 16C lathe came from the factory with 2 different top speeds. You could order it with a top speed of 1000 RPM or a top speed of 1500 RPM. I have been wondering if the only difference was the drive pulley diameter. Since mine is a 1000 RPM model and the pulley speed going into the headstock is also 1000 RPM. Any one know what the difference is?
Richard W.
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    [ ... ]

    [ ... ]

    Yep -- it is a 1957 vintage machine, which came with a (matching serial number) bed turret and a lever collet closer (5C collets) but no tailstock. But it still had all the standard engine lathe features -- quick change gearbox, power longitudinal and cross feeds, and proper single-point threading (including the relatively rare 27 TPI used on microphone mounts). It is nice to be able to switch back and forth between a tailstock and a turret depending on the task at hand. But *boy* is that turret heavy -- even with nothing mounted in the stations. :-) I built a special table to live just behind the tailstock end of the bed at just the right height to slide the turret onto it without having to change the elevation. :-) Ideally, I should have a chunk from a clapped-out bed of the same size to slide it onto, I guess. That way, I could lock it down firmly.

    *Nice*!
    I swapped out the original 2-1/4x8 spindle with a L-00 one, and am very glad that I did.

    Agreed.
    Hmm ... The difference between 60 and 50 Hz only gets you half way from 1500 to 1000 RPM -- down to 1250 RPM.
    Is it a gear-head lathe? My Clausing is one belt from the motor to the countershaft (through a 5-step pulley), and three in parallel from the countershaft to the spindle. The proper place to adjust that one is the three-sheave pulley on the countershaft, as the size change at the spindle would impact the back gears and direct drive, while there is plenty of room down where the countershaft lives in the pedestal.
    Good Luck,         DoN.
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    Exactly. And for the times when it is beneficial to cut in reverse as well.
    Of course, until I swap in a three-phase motor, there is no chance of rapidly reversing -- a single-phase motor typically wants to be down to near a stop before you can switch in the other direction. :-)
    And no case of the chuck ever being too tightly screwed onto the spindle nose, either.
    [ ... ]

    [ ... ]

    Actually -- isn't that 5 belts going from the motor to the input shaft? I would expect gears between that input shaft and the spindle. And five belts -- 2HP per belt, I guess.

    Good! Now all you need to do is to find the pulleys. Did they change both, or just one? (Or could it be that the pulleys will interchange between the motor and the input shaft, and are just enough different so they give 1000 RPM with one configuration and 1500 RPM with the other? If so -- that would mean that you don't even have to hunt down the replacement pulleys.
    Good Luck,         DoN.
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You're right. Belts to input shaft.

Must be a different set of pulleys. Motor 1750 with input shaft running at 1,000 rpm.
Richard W.
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