Lathe advice

Hello all,
I am considering adding a lathe to my growing collection of toys - make that tools<g>, and want some guidance on what to get. Scanning some
previous threads suggests that you will promptly ask what I plan to do with it. The most important thing at first is to learn how to run a lathe; it is getting to be time for me to do that. A mini-lathe would probably be fine for starters, but I would likely want to remove the training wheels after some practice.
I would want to turn dowels pins and other (probably small) parts for assembling things that I design and build, and I would no doubt find many uses for a lathe once I have the capability. I design and build prototypes, so there would be many opportunities to use round parts.
There was a time when I wondered why anyone would want to cut threads on a lathe, but I get it now. While I will no doubt end up winging it other ways, I have a project that would be well suited to a round part that just happens to have some threads on one end. I could use a dye, but I would have to have a suitable diameter part with the right shape on it, which is still really a lathe job. Total length there would be eight inches or so, and the diameter about half an inch.
I suspect I would quickly outgrow a mini-lathe. I like the price of a 9x20, but am leaning toward the Enco 12x36. At 900 lbs, it should be manageable with my hoist and pickup (thinking ahead to local moves, not to mention getting it down the driveway grade and in the garage), the price is (gulp!) ok, and it has a removable block. So far, the biggest diameter I have in mind is three inches or so, but the gap sounds like a nice idea.
Are the advantages of geared heads limited to convenience? Did any of you buy the belt head and hate it?
It is prewired to 220, but can apparently be wired for 110. There are no 220 outlets where I envision this living for the near future. Any strong thoughts on whether I should fix that or is 110 ok?
It seems unlikely that I will shell out for a DRO. There have been a few times when I will admit it would have been helpful to have my mill equipped with one (mainly when clamps interfere with measuring), but rules, calipers and the dials have served me well. I would much rather put the money toward a larger mill, once I figure out what to buy. I have looked, but I can't find an 8x36 with a 12 inch cross travel that weighs around 1000 lb ;) Wading through the trade offs can wait.
What else should I be asking about a lathe?
Bill
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Udo, I picked up a Busy Bee 2227L specifically because it would handle 1" diameter stock through the spindle. I may be wrong on this but I believe the generic 9x20's spindle is more likw 3/4", at least Busy Bee's version (CT039) is.
It isn't the world's best lathe but so far it's done everything I need it to do. Drawbacks are the lack of a quick change box if you're going to be doing a lot of different threads and no reverse on the feed screw. There also in no power crossfeed. None of these has been a major problem for me so far.
Heres' the link to Busy Bee's web site-
http://www.busybeetools.com /
Here's mine-
http://users.eastlink.ca/~howarde/Lathe..html
Good luck,
Howard.
wrote:

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[snip]
Make sure you can use 5c collets on whatever you buy. Chucks suck for pins. If you are working with 1 1/16" stuff and smaller collets are the way to go.

Bigger tends to be better. You can do small stuff on a bigger lathe but it is a pain to do big stuff on a small lathe even if it is possible.

That is going to keep you in the 1.5HP range. Since you like small stuff that might not be much of an issue.

A long travel dial indicator on a magnetic base will likely deal with stuff you are making. Dro's are nice but I'd put one on the mill first.

Make sure the ways are hardened. Does it have a taper attachment, steady and follow rest? If it does metric / inch threading one unit of measurement only works if you never unlock the half nuts.
hth,
Wes

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Wes,

Makes sense.

Ok. I coud always switch the wiring back to 220, right??? Sorry, but I gotta ask.

You have answered the question I meant to ask: it is more important on a lathe? Sounds like it's not. I will probably spend it elsewhere.

Here is the (page 410) catalog page:
http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INPDFF?PMPAGEA0&PARTPG=INLMK32
Comments are most welcome.
> If it does metric / inch threading one unit of measurement

Are you saying that the machine can be configured for one or the other, but not both?
Thanks,
Bill
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    [ ... ]

    Yes -- and hopefully the manual will tell you how to make the changes -- as long as you have the original motor. With a different motor, you may need to work it out between the manual for the lathe and the manual for the motor.
    Note, BTW, that while they say that it has a reversing switch, with a single phase motor (e.g. 120 VAC or 240 VAC wiring on the motor which they offer) you have to wait for the spindle to slow down almost to a stop before switching it for the other direction. If you move the switch quickly, the motor will keep running in the original direction, because at speed the start winding (which is what determines the direction) is disengaged by the centrifugal switch in the motor.
    You can get instant reversing only with a three phase motor, and if you are worried about getting 240 VAC for the lathe, you certainly don't have three phase available. There are ways to work around it, but we can cover those later if you opt to go to a three-phase motor.
    [ ... ]

    Aha -- a good point which I forgot to mention.

    Hmmm ... hardened bed ways. Good.
    Spindle bore is big enough so you should be able to use 5C collets with the right adaptor.
    2-1/4x8 threaded spindle -- a D-? Camlock spindle nose would be a better choice.
    Steady rest and follower rest are both included -- good.
    Pitch the 4-way toolpost and put on a quick-change wedge style toolpost -- Ideally Aloris BXA series, but if your money is getting tight, go for the Phase-II 200 series.
    Metric change gears -- but you will find metric threading a serious pain.
    Cross-slide travel is a little over 1/2 the maximum size, which should be fine, as it will reach from the OD to the center, which is as far as you need to go.
    Tailstock taper is only 2MT, while 3MT is a better fit for a 12" lathe.
    50 RPM -- a bit lower than my Clausing, so you have a chance with threading coarse threads. Practice timing a few times first away from the workpiece and chuck.
    1-1/2 HP motor -- you will want to get 240 VAC wiring in your shop.
    You may want to get the upgrade to the Baldor motor -- I've heard bad stories about the default motors. Are you getting the one with the floor cabinet, or the bench lathe? Apparently the upgrade for the motor is only available for the bench lathe (perhaps problems fitting the Baldor in the pedestal).
    No clue as to what the dial markings are.
    And I would be interested to see what threads it will cut. They only give the coarsest and finest, plus a count. One thread which I am glad that my Clausing has but which many other machines do not have is 27 TPI (used for microphone mount threads and for electrical lamp fixture threads).

    The longitudinal leadscrew is either an imperial thread or a metric thread. With the transposing gears (which they say are included) you can *cut* the opposite (I gather that this is imperial by default, and metric through the change gears), but you have to keep the half-nuts engaged from the start to the finish, and reverse the spindle (with the cutting tool backed away from the workpiece) to back up for the next pass. With the native thread series, you can open the half-nuts and quickly crank the carriage back to the start, and then observe the threading dial and close the half nuts at the right time -- a much simpler task.
    Good luck,         DoN.
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Once you have used collets for small stuff you never want to use anything else. I'd ask them what it would cost to get into using them up front. I couldn't figure it out browsing their site.
I'm snipping away things since Don did a fine job answering questions.

Else where is where you should spend it. I'm not so thrilled about that screw on chuck. I have a L00 which I think has fallen out of favor since the cam lock is much easier to deal with. But you know your budget and you have to live within that.

It doesn't have a taper attachment. If you do short stuff, it would not matter since you can use the compound.
You have to get your feet wet, you can learn on this and if you find it suits your needs then great. If you find you want something more capable at a later time you deal with it then. You might end up with two lathes or sell the first to help swing the second.
Out in the garage I have a delta contractor saw. I really wanted a cabinet saw which cost more. As it has turned out, based on my frequency of use the contractor saw was good enough.
Wes
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Have you considered the lathes from harbor freight? Gear head for less money with D spindle.
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumber3274
or
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/Displayitem.taf?itemnumberF951
Richard W.
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Bill I have the lather machine to do your dreams with the c% collers and chuckers too! I was seller to ebayers for years witrh good feedback and friends to return. Still have sSOUTH bEND S TO GO WITH REBUILD WAYS ASN SCREWS PLSU aLORES TOOLPOST WELL DONE> cONTECT ME TO LEearn aret of wIRING PHAse converter to scraping wayers and turning poolcues. Cordially to my friends. Honest Aa bABIN "iSO ())) CERTIFIED JOB SHOP rEBUILTER OF mACHINE tOOLS cUSTOM pOOL cUES 7 cOVERS k_mART CASHIER !@ fOR tHE hOLIDAYS bRISTOL< cON ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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    Understood.
    Hmmm ... dowel pins are usually hardened and ground to final dimension. Now taper pins are mild steel (or at least the ones which I have used so far), but for those you need matching taper pin reamers.

    Hmmm ... with that ratio of diameter to length, you should make sure that your lathe comes with a steady rest and a follower rest, because that length at that diameter will flex when working out near the end -- unless you are supporting it between centers.

    One which we had at work had a gap bed, but the professional machinist in our shop refused to allow it to be removed, saying that you could never get it back in place with sufficient precision. (This was a Jet from Taiwan back around 1985-1990 I think.)

    I have a belt driven Clausing 12x24" machine and am quite happy with it. One advantage to the belts is that you have a safety fuse in that the belt will usually slip before the machine is damaged when something goes wrong.

    What is the horsepower of that motor? My Clausing, with a 1-1/2 HP motor, would pop the circuit breaker when starting a bit too often when wired for 120 VAC. I re-wired it to 240 VAC and ran a longer cord to an existing 240 VAC outlet, and have had no problems since. (You draw half the current for the same horsepower from 240 VAC compared to 120 VAC, and the 120 VAC staring surge is just a bit too close to the breaker size for the typical outlet. So -- I would have a 240 VAC outlet installed -- or do it yourself if you have the skills and won't violate local codes.

    Why would you need a 12" cross travel on a 10" lathe? Typically, the tool only needs to move half of the swing (5" on a 10" lathe, or 6" on a 12" lathe), but a bit more will help free you from having to be too picky in your tool position so you can reach from the maximum diameter to the center. (You might want to go 1/8" past the center to be sure that you have turned off the tit left, and perhaps a bit more if you are running the lathe in reverse and turning the ID of a workpiece.

    What kind of attachment method for chucks to the spindle. If it is a threaded spindle and the chucks simply screw on, you have to be very careful when turning in reverse, or the chuck will unscrew under power.
    My Clausing came with a 2-1/4x8 threaded spindle, and now has a L-00 spindle instead, so things are a lot more comfortable. There are also the D-? series (also called Camlock) which are similarly good for reverse turning.
    You want the lathe to have separate power feed -- both across and longitudinal, so you have fine feeds available.
    You want a quick-change gearbox, or you are likely to not bother to set the speed to what is most appropriate for your job.
    You want the spindle to be capable of handling collets (5C is a good size -- up to 1" through the spindle, and up to 1-1/8" for short workpieces). This will be a lot better for doing your small parts like the dowel pins. If you expect to be making a lot of small parts from rod stock, you want room past the end of the spindle to support the excess rod so it does not start whipping -- which can be quite dangerous.
    The collet closer will be far quicker to use if you get a lever style closer instead of the handwheel style.
    And for making lots of small parts from rod stock, a bed turret and appropriate turret tools (Geometric die heads, box tools, and various other things) can speed up production significantly.
    A taper attachment is useful if you expect to *make* taper pins, but you can buy them in gross lots for very little, so I would not bother, unless you need a custom size. However, there are other times when a taper attachment is useful as well.
    Check the dials for the cross feed and the compound. They should be something even for a full turn, like 0.100" or 0.050". I have seen ones which instead are 0.127" for a full turn, which means that the leadscrew is metric, and it has simply been calibrated in inch measurements. This is particularly a problem when you need to make multiple turns of the handwheel. You'll need a calculator to figure out how many turns and partial turns to move the distance which you wish. (Here is where a DRO can make up for the awkward choice of leadscrew pitch -- just ignore the dial and read motion from the DRO.)
    Of course, if you are expecting to do mostly metric work, get a lathe whose dials and thread cutting are set up in metric units. In particular, metric threads on an imperial lathe, or vice versa are a serious pain, even with the set of transposing gears. In particular, your threading dial won't be of any use when crossing systems. (Of course, there are machines with two leadscrews which can cut imperial or metric threads without problems -- but this is talking about a lot more money than you seem to be thinking of.
    Check how slow the slowest spindle speed is. If you are cutting a coarse pitch thread, you want as slow a spindle motion as you can get. IIRC, my Clausing goes down to 55 RPM at the bottom. Even that can be exciting if you are threading a coarse pitch to a shoulder.
    I'm sure that I will think of lots of other things to say as soon as I send this off.
    Best of luck,         DoN.
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DoN,

I tricked you by talking mills in the middle of a lathe post - sorry. My point was simply that I am struggling with what to give up in buying another mill. If I could find an 8x36 with a 12 inch cross travel, I would probably stop struggling. Perhaps that next best thing is the current BPs (I probably won't like the price tag though??), which I am told weigh right around a ton, and have a 12 inch cross travel. The price and weight of benchtop knees are attractive, but the typical 6 inch cross travel would be a "big" step backward for me.
I am still absorbing the recent responses re a lathe. Thanks to all, and more questions will be forthcoming.
Bill
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    [ ... ]

    [ ... ]

    Hmm ... what is the '8' of the 8x36 then? And what you are calling "cross-travel" I would have expected to be called "Y-axis" on a milling machine.

    Some of them do, but not all. The Series-I has 12x24" (Y x X) and has chrome plated ways so they last a lot longer. I'm not sure whether the current line of Bridgeport (now from Hardinge, IIRC) still include any smaller.

    Understood.
    O.K. Good Luck,         DoN.
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DoN,

>

Same thing. I have seen cross-travel more often than Y, but that might just be the particular catalogs I have on hand.
The particular mill I am referencing is Enco's model 100-1525. 8x36 is the table size; the travels are 23.5x9.45. Both numbers exceed what I have now, and it should be a step up. I was going to insist on getting to 12 inches in the Y direction, but shaving 1000 lb off the machine might be worth something to me. Iggie built a Clausing in the back of truck but won't touch a ton - that tells me something.
Unless my mill-drill explodes, I won't buy a mill very soon. But, an upcoming shelving task dovetails with selection of a work positioner, other work (plus curiosity) has me thinking about a lathe. Apart from simply being a metal junkie, it seems smart to think about what my shop might look like in a few years. Questions like "if you later buy that mill, will you need or want that much lathe" come to mind.
I don't mind spending money on things that I will use to advantage; I hate wasting it.
Thanks!
Bill
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On 11 Oct 2007 04:01:07 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@d-and-d.com (DoN. Nichols) wrote: <snip>

<snip> If you are using the lathe as a mill it makes sense.
click on http://littlemachineshop.com/products/product_view.php?ProductID(94&categoryseveral more available for bigger lathes click on http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INSRIT?PMAKA$0-2942&PMPXNOH40109&PARTPG=INLMK3
Some of the old time shops used an extra compound with an angle plate. We made one of these in class. http://mcduffee-associates.us/machining/latheMilling.htm
Can be a life saver when space/funds are limited.
Unka' George [George McDuffee] ===========Merchants have no country. The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), U.S. president. Letter, 17 March 1814.
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On Tue, 09 Oct 2007 23:50:50 -0400, Bill Schwab

I have a lovely old hercus which is an australian southbend clone. the belt drives mean that I can go out in the workshop late at night and turn to my hearts content and the neighbours hear nothing.
I've actually put off buying a geared lathe because of the effect the gear noise would have on the neighbours at night.
Stealth Pilot
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Stealth Pilot wrote:

That's good to know. The belt drive is also lighter and cheaper than gears.
Thanks!
Bill
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