Metal lathes

I would like to try my hand with a metal lathe. I'm looking at a Jet model BD-920n, the grizzly g4000, & a $799 lathe at Harbor Freight. I would like any
input on the best bang for the buck between these lathes. I'm leaning toward the Jet only because I have some of their wood working machines and am pleased with them. I hear that Harbor Freight & Grizzly look about the same as Jet machines but I really don't know about the quailty of them. I'm looking to spend around $900.00 for a metal lathe. Any suggestions would help I just don't want to throw away $900.00 for a piece of junk.
Thanks, Jim
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On Mon, 13 Sep 2004 03:23:18 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@swbell.net (Jim) wrote:

Then find yourself an old Southbend or Logan. That'll get you a much better machine for the same or less money.
The Chinese 9x20 machines, no matter which importer's label they wear, are the worst machines coming out of China. It isn't so much a matter of rough quality either, the design itself is bad.
OTOH, the little Chinese 7x12 mini-lathes aren't bad for the money, and the 12x36 and larger Chinese machines actually clean up to be pretty decent. So if you'll settle for a smaller machine, or can cough up a bit more money for a bigger one, buying Chinese isn't such a bad idea. But buying a Chinese 9x20 is a bad idea.
Gary
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On 13 Sep 2004 14:17:39 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Harry Conover) wrote:

Bought an Atlas brand new 40 years ago. Sold it about 10 years later when my interests changed. Guy I sold it to is still using it.

Don't be so quick to write off the bigger Chinese machines. My Chinese 14x40 bench lathe is a fine machine of its size and type. It's even finer when you consider I paid MSC less for it than you paid for your Atlas. Love their scratch and dent sales.
Gary
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On Mon, 13 Sep 2004 03:23:18 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@swbell.net (Jim) wrote:

I have the 9 X 20 from Harbor Freight, and will say this. It's accurate, but fiddly to set the tailstock on center. It's not a hogger, and doesn't bring the bucks a hogger would. It won't cut left hand threads, but I can't see any reason an idler or tumbler couldn't be built. It has plenty of power for the size of the machine, you'll have it chattering across the floor before you'll even slow the chuck. There are some die cast parts, zinc alloys, that I don't care for, but nothing impossible to replace with steel. I can't say I care for the drive belt, but time will tell if it holds up or not. As far as I can tell, without tearing my buddies machines apart, it's the same one as the Grizzly or the Jet. Low speeds could be lower, 120 RPM for the minimum, but I can work with that. It's not made for heavy cuts, but if you take your time, it works pretty well. I don't like turret toolposts on engine lathes, but all of the imports have them, even my 12 X 36 Grizzly.
The 7 X 12 lathes, I have a Speedway, from www.homier.com and it works well, but there is no screw adjust on the tailstock setover. At $300, they're the cheapest on the market, and the only difference is the color.
With either of these size lathes, light cuts are going to be needed, I've taken 1/16 off a side with them both, but that's about the maximum. They are light machines, made for light work. If you're in a hurry, anything else would be better. If you're willing to take your time, they're fine.
I'm not going to get into the "Old American iron vs new Chinese", mainly because I have a South Bend model A sitting in the basement, it's been in rebuild for almost a year, and when It's done, I expect to find out that it's well past prime. Junk when I got it, junk when the broken and missing parts are replaced.
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I agree completely with what Gary said. I have the JET and I'm glad to have it but I only paid $300 for it at an auction.
However, a friend has 4 of the old South Bend 9" lathes and they're MUCH more sturdy and accurate than mine. They also have a full quick change (not all models do though!) wherease the JET/Grizzly/HF lathes have only a partial quick change. And last but hardly least the SB's have power crossfeed but the others do not.
As for the difference between the JET, Grizzly and HF models, I haven't used the HF but I've looked one over pretty well in the store and I just don't see why the JET is so much more expensive. Of course JET is better as far as support and availability of parts but probably not worth the $300 price difference. HF often puts theirs on sale for $699.
If you're not in a gotta-have-it-now!! mode you should be able to find a good used lathe that will serve you well. You just need to arm yourself with a few buying tips so you won't waste your money on a boat anchor. There is a site with a good guide to buying a used lathe but I can't remember the link so hopefully someone else will provide it.
Here's a link for some good info on the smaller lathes that Gary mentioned:
http://www.mini-lathe.com/
One other thing I should point out though is that the lathe itself is only part of the expense. You'll need tooling and accessories to get any real use out of it. :-)
Best Regards, Keith Marshall snipped-for-privacy@progressivelogic.com
"Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." - Will Rogers (1879-1935).

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On Mon, 13 Sep 2004 03:23:18 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@swbell.net (Jim) wrote:
||I would like to try my hand with a metal lathe. I'm looking at a Jet model ||BD-920n, the grizzly g4000, & a $799 lathe at Harbor Freight. I would like any
||input on the best bang for the buck between these lathes. I'm leaning toward ||the Jet only because I have some of their wood working machines and am pleased
||with them. I hear that Harbor Freight & Grizzly look about the same as Jet ||machines but I really don't know about the quailty of them. I'm looking to ||spend around $900.00 for a metal lathe. Any suggestions would help I just ||don't want to throw away $900.00 for a piece of junk.
Jim I have a 9x17 Logan, which was my first lathe. Since then I've bought and sold a few bigger and smaller. If I were starting out right now, I'd buy a Homier 7x12 for $299 at one of their traveling sales (get on their email list). That saves the freight. Unless you have a specific purpose for bigger projects, you will find you can do 95% of the typical hobby projects with the 7x12. Use it and learn it, while you look for a Logan or Southbend in a larger size. You should be able to find one for well under $1000 if you are patient. Your experience learning the small lathe will be useful as you look at bigger ones. Texas Parts Guy
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Quite right. They get blasted by the HLV and 10EE guys in some places, but they're great little lathes and are easy to regrind. The best "feature" of the Atlas is how many tons of them were sold. Find some old crabby hobby machinist and he probably has a trunk of parts for his. That's how I got stuff for mine.
If you are looking at an Atlas, just try for a roller bearing headstock. Babbit looks good out of the box but at 50 years you're pushing it.
<snip>

GTO(John)
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