Asking about the Combo machines generally doesn't get a very good
reception. The consensus is that the milling capability is less than
adaquate and you spend all your time changing setups on the machine.
Perhaps if you state what kind of machining experience you have and
list your hobbies, someone here could steer you in the direction of a
good lathe for mill for your needs.
I guess what I'm asking about is the quality of the machines. I'm not
expecting anything outstanding, but don't want to buy junk either. My budget
is $1000 more or less. What I really want is a smaller lathe, about 9x20,
and was thinking that it would be handy to have a mill also. What I'm
wondering is if these two combos are really a poor compromise, and are not
worth the price. Also, about the overall quality of the Grizzly line of
small lathes. I figure that they are Chinese imports, but that doesn't
necessarily mean junk.
Posted via a free Usenet account from http://www.teranews.com
I picked up one of the G4015Z Combo Lathe/Mill machines from a work
acquaintance who couldn't figure out how to run it, become frustrated
and sold it for about half the marked price. He threw in a nice bench
he'd made and a fair amount of tooling. I took a short course at a
local community college called "introduction to machine tools". That
was enough to get me started. There are a lot of drawbacks, but some
of the learning has come from figuring out how to work around them.
Someday, given more room there will be a separate mill and lathe of a
decent size. But for now, the machine really hasn't given me any
trouble and I've worn the chrome off the handles. Gotten a lot of use
out of it, had a lot of fun with it, learned bunches from it. Kind of
wish I'd gotten one sooner. Little things I can do that I couldn't
otherwise. Such as making a new smaller jet for the cheapie barbecue
so it wouldn't set the meat on fire. Works great.
Making bushings of all sorts. Taking the basic Harbor Freight
grinders and setting them as a base for all sorts of things. Fixing
things that would have been thrown out otherwise and you would have
had to buy again. Such as the hinge pin for the coffee maker when the
plastic one broke.
Buy it. You'll find enough things to do with it for yourself and
friends that it will pay for itself in a couple years. The longer you
have it, the more you'll find yourself doing with it. Its
underpowered enough that you'll have a hard time hurting yourself with
it. Leave the key in the chuck and it'll fall on your foot before it
gets up enough speed to hit you in the head. I find it to be a nice
forgiving machine to learn on.
As an opinion
I think a 9x20 will serve you better. the 3 in 1's have big limits on
their capacities as mills but a purpose built lathe will at least be
able to do its lathe work well and then you could add a vertical slide
like a palmgren attachment if you need some limited milling capacity
But youre tlaking to somoen who learned on a lathe and just bought
himself an old iron mill of a NOT insignificant size
On Mon, 9 Apr 2007 17:27:03 -0700, with neither quill nor qualm,
Then buy a small lathe and a mini-mill. Combo units always have more
drawbacks than their individual component counterparts. The minis
don't take up much more room, either. For your grand, you'll get both
units plus some extra tooling goodies.
True. I've had good luck with their woodworking machinery. I have a
Grizzly 18" bandsaw, 13" planer, 1.5hp dust collector, trim router (a
freebie when I bought the dc and bs), and a Shop Fox mortiser. All
have given splendid performance at considerably less cost. I did move
to a link belt on the bandsaw and noticed a vibration decrease: it's
damnear silent now.
Is it time for your medication or mine?
Actually the Smithy is the same machine from the same factory as the 3 in1
shown. The traditional lathe with mill attachment has the same old problems
as all of those designs- very small mill table and limited travel due to
mill column bolted to the lathe bed. Either one of those machines would be
classed as lathes with minimal milling function.
Sometimes I wonder. It's the same BASIC machine from the same factory,
but if two retailers buy from the same factory, and one wants to pay
$20 less that the other, the Chinese manufacturer will reduce their
costs to meet the price point.
As an example - when I bought a 4x6 bandsaw, I noticed that some of
the places that charged more that Harbor Freight has subtle
differences/advantages, visible in the picture. (i.e the wheels).
Sending unsolicited commercial e-mail to this account incurs a fee of
$500 per message, and acknowledges the legality of this contract.
The appearance is similar, but it is not a Smithy machine and they are
not produced at the same factories. You can compare images with those
Design similarities are due to an old practice of factories sourcing
designs from a central bureau. There were 20+ factories producing the
3-in-1 machine tools at one time.
Combo lathe/mill machines can fit your need and there are times they
don't. It depends on what you want to do, your level of experience and
what you expect. I've turned out some good pieces with a Swiss Army
knife and a drill motor. ;-) And I've turned out junk on good
machine tools. It wasn't the machines' fault.
Glad to gently correct you. :) The original image the discussion
referred to is a variant of the old HQ-400 machine made by the White
Eagle factory. The White Eagle factory used to be about a 4 - 5 hour
car ride (bumpy, windy and narrow road -- horn blaring the whole way)
away from the factory at Yellow Mountain (Huangshan). We do not
currently purchase any 3-in-1 machines from the White Eagle factory.
About 7 years ago we purchased some 3-in-1 machines from them but that
project was discontinued after a relatively short time. The White
Eagle factory does supply 3-in-1 machines to Grizzly and Harbor
Freight as well as others. The Yellow Mountain factory and Smithy have
worked together for almost 20 years producing 3-in-1 machines and
those machines are sold by Smithy. (They are the best ping pong
players of the group). The "Star" factory does produce a variety of
machines -- now predominantly much larger commercial machines for the
domestic Chinese market. (Did you know China is the largest consumer
of machine tools for the last 5 years running?! Amazing compared to
what it was like almost 20 years ago). They produce some extremely
inexpensive machines for a variety of customers selling in the low
price market. When we began working with them years ago, they
expressed frustration (like most good engineers/machinists); they knew
they could make something that reflected better the quality of the
work they could do if they weren't so controlled by price. We
partnered with them at a time when most were convinced the Chinese
couldn't make a decent cardboard box much less anything precision.
(There are still some that insist the Chinese will never produce
quality goods. I leave to them the reminder of what "Made in Japan"
used to mean). To each their own opinion. We had a great engineer
working with us that understood which factories could produce which
products and we partnered with them on the Granite series of machines.
Again, you'll note that these are exclusively Smithy products. You'll
find the accountants in China can be just as sharp (and controlling)
as accountants here. If price is your only determinant, you can
usually find someone to sell to you at a price. But just like here,
being driven only by price usually mean sacrificing quality. On the
other hand, we had a great machine years ago that sold like crap. It
was a beautiful machine -- Emco Maier clone -- but it wouldn't sell
here. The price was higher because it was quality but customers
wouldn't believe quality could be had out of China and the product
died. It sold great in Europe but never took off here.
It's a very interesting to visit these factories. Over the years they
have run the full range from state and local enterprises to fully
functioning shareholder owned capitalist enterprises... from places
that made every tool they used to new modern factories with full CAD
centers and CNC machinery. They're in major cities and small villages
and spread across an area equivalent to NY to Atlanta. You write as if
you have visited China and some of the factories. I hope you enjoyed
it as much as I did.
China has changed much in a very few years. I believe Americans would
be rioting in the streets if our lives changed as much as the Chinese
have in the same time period. (IMHO). To be accurate -- there have
been demonstrations and disturbances. I started seeing protestors
about 5 to 6 years ago and the police weren't hustling them away.
Consider, there are more skyscrapers in Shanghai than New York City.
(When I first went to Shanghai there were no skyscrapers and only rice
paddies where most of the city stands now). They have over 170 cities
with populations in excess of 1 million, and I even saw a call center
this last trip answering calls from North America. This doesn't mean
that life is a breeze there; that there isn't poverty -- interior
provinces have yet to share much of the wealth. That much change, even
positive change spawns problems. Remember that the last few hundred
years of history, the part that most westerners know, with China being
a weak power is atypical for most of Chinese history. The Chinese have
a lot longer institutional memory than we do and remember China as the
most advanced society on the earth for much of that memory/history. A
classic example of how little we really understand China is that we
make the mistake of translating the character the Chinese use for
China as "middle" i.e. Middle Kingdom. I feel a much better
translation would be "center", as in the "Center of the World"
Kingdom. They want to create a great China and are working like crazy
to get there. I really wish I could be in China for the party the
Olympics. What a "Coming Out" party the Chinese are going to throw.
Sorry to get a bit off topic.
Disclaimer: I work for Smithy. These are my opinions and not those of
You should quit Smithy and go into politics- that was about as long winded a
non answer as you would get from a White house spokesman- but I think the
pared down version would read something like;
" Yes our Midas Machines are made in Huangshan and our Granite machines are
made in Linyi"
I have also travelled to those places and have some of their product
catalogues which show your machines along with others.
It's always good to meet someone else in the same business.
None of these factories are exactly on the tourist routes -- though
the Yellow Mountains are beautiful.
To be brief -- sorry my last post was from the office; it was late and
I was attempting to ignore a stack of paper I didn't want to touch.
The original image is not a Smithy and that prticular machine is not
sold by Smithy.We sold about 160 very early HQ-400 machines in about
1989 --- but that's a long story -- so I won't bore you. ;-)
Yes, we work with both factories and several others depending on the
product we need built.
Yes, the companies show the products they make in their literature
about their organzations.
If you're worried about posting your name, drop me a private email.
It's interesting to compare impressions about business. Too bad we
missed the big international machine tool show in Beijing this week.
Last years' domestic show was pretty amazing.
Disclaimer: I work for Smithy. Actually, Smithy pays me, whether what
I do qualifies as work is sometimes up for disussion. The opinions
expressed are my own.
To answer the original question.
For hobby work, 3-in-1 machines can do a fine job. Some things to
The swing is large. This can be a blessing and a curse. The taller
swing means you need a plan to move small work closer to the mill
spindle when milling. Morse taper tooling for the mill is less common
and more expensive than R-8 taper tooling. Some people have expressed
concern with the combination vise/tool post -- choosing to replace it
with separate tool post and vise. Lowest speed may not be slow enough
for some operations.
Most concerns deal with size. If it fits your requirements it can do
light jobs well.
There's also a good Yahoo Group that deals exclusively with 3-in-1
machines. Owners share a lot of adaptations and work-arounds for their
Disclaimer: I work for Smithy. Opinions expressed are my own.
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