I have zero experience with that machine but I know it has plastic change
Look at the Lathemaster 8x14 http://www.lathemaster.com/LATHEPRODUCTS.htm
and at http://www.tedatum.com/thms/ under WORKSHOP then "Lathemaster 8x14".
Dan Kautz has a good write up on that machine and some super pictures.
Check what comes with the Lathemaster for the price. Then add up the extra
cost for those same parts with Microlux 7x14. Then compare the weight of
the two machines.
Now again remember I don't have any experience with either machine. Heck, I
don't even like imported stuff that much but I was looking just like you
are. The MicroMark does have a dc motor and variable speed but the motor is
only .47hp vs .75hp. Please check my facts yourself. The smaller machine
may be better for your needs. What do I know?
Change gears drive the leadscrew (that moves the carriage) from
the spindle. You use different gears to get different ratios for doing
such things as cutting threads (or just different power feed speeds
for straight cutting on lathes which don't have a separate power
Nice lathes have a quickchange gearbox with levers to let you shift
from one ratio to another. Simpler (or older) lathes have individual
change gears that you add or replace on a series of stub shafts at
the end of the headstock to change ratios. You have to sort through
a box of loose change gears to find a combination which gives the
ratio you need to cut a particular thread, then mount them. Very
tedious if you have to change ratios a lot.
Even the lathes with the quickchange gearboxes have at least a
pair of change gears coupling the spindle to the input of the gearbox.
These usually don't have to be changed out unless you're going from
cutting imperial threads to metric threads.
One or more of these gears may be plastic or fiber. They form
a sacrificial "fuse" if you manage to jam up the carriage. In other
words, they'll strip, protecting the more expensive gears in the
QC box, and the expensive leadscrew. Higher class lathes have
a clutch instead of "fuse" gears to protect the lathe in case of
In any event, plastic gears should be considered *consumable*.
Thanks Gary - good post - I had the right general idea<about driving
but it is good to learn details faster than a couple of years
in night school
I never knew about the change gear as "fuse" - I might have thought
metal is always better - but I have sheared off shearpins at an
average of 1 per decade - (nobody's perfect)
Unless you plan to use the lathe for cutting threads on a regular
basis (almost no one does however), the change gear issue is a moot
The LatheMaster unit mentioned has it's good points but it has
"issues" of its own. The Micro Mark (along with the other 7x10, 7x12s
offered by Enco, Grizzly, Homier and Harbor freight, can all make cuts
away from the chuck by simply flipping a lever. On the lathemaster
units, you must remove and replace a "reversing gear". To me, this a
major issue. I seldom cut threads but often cut tapers away from the
chuck and or make cuts away from a shoulder.
The 7x12 machine from Homier is $299, you can buy a lot of accessories
for the difference in price.
I've used my mini-lathe for hundreds of hours and I've had zero
problems with it. While I have two much larger machines, they never
get used for anything that will fit into the Mini's capabilities.
Stripped gears are a possibility, but only if you do something really
really wrong. While I've never stripped anything, I did buy a spare
parts kit from LMS just in case I have a brain fart at some point.
I'm no lathe guru, but I've had one for a little over a year. Overall
I love it, but my uses are not your uses. Note that they correctly
spec a spindle-hole diameter of 0.787 inches but although the 3-jaw
chuck they deliver is a work of art imo, it has a hole diameter of 5/8
which is the real limitation there -- the 4-jaw has a larger hole
diameter, 3/4 if I recall correctly. Still, the 3-jaw is precise
enough and strong enough that I can chuck a piece of 1" rod stock in
it and go to town (it opens to 1-1/2"), don't need to use a center
against it unless it's hanging out more than maybe a couple inches or
I'm shooting for sub-thou tolerances. The variable speed works
nicely, with rpm readout. It's a light lathe though, don't try
turning any HSS with it. One of the reasons I chose it was that it
seemed the most capable in its size-class, and my entire shop lives
inside a 12-foot step-van so size/weight are critical. Using a cutoff
tool against a 1" bolt with all the soft and hardspots bolts tend to
have is rather a bitch because when the tool grabs as it will
inevitably try to do when you break through a hard spot, the overload
sensor stops the lathe; if I recall correctly it's a 1/3 hp motor.
Anyway there are times when I have to baby it but it fits in the van,
the van doesn't fall on its side going around corners, and it'll run
all day on inverter power off my van's batteries (it usually draws
about 600 watts). If you buy one be sure and disassemble it first
thing and adjust all the gibs. There are tougher lathes, better
lathes, but this one is the best I could find that was even remotely
suitable for use in my mobile shop. If you have specific questions
I'll try to answer them.
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