Purchasing a lathe

I would like to buy a small lathe. I want to try and make, in particular, a stationary steam engine. I came across this lathe from an enthusiasts site, and wondered what the very experienced modellers on this NG thought of it.

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The price is about right for me. I'm not sure about accuracy and tolerances. I have had a little experience of operating a lathe many years ago and it's something I would like to do.

Can anyone advise me. If this is not worth the money, what alternatives could anyone recomend, or point me to a site where advise is availalbe.

Thank you. Peter

Reply to
Peter James
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With no speed changing belts or back gear, this machine is totally dependent on the performance of the electronic speed control. I'm doubtful if it will produce enough power at low spindle speeds for screw cutting. It might just do some jobs OK but but I think I would be frustrated by its lack of versatility. It is very cheap though. I would strongly suggest you try one first. My guess is that it would have low resale value if you subsequently found it was not man enough for your needs.

Have a look at what you might pick up used on Ebay if budgets are tight.


Reply to
Bob Minchin

A close friend, and expert model engineer, purchased one for his 10 year old grandson a few years back. He added a quick-change toolpost and modified it a little by altering the tailstock clamp bolt into a more conventional lever. With grandpa's tuition the 10 year old built a Stuart Turner 10V which was awarded the Junior Gold Medal at the 2003 ME Exhibition. You can interpret it how you like, but I'm certain that the lathe wouldn't have been purchased for his grandson if he'd had any doubts as to its usefulness. I'm afraid I can't ask him - he died a couple of years ago.

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A friend of mine has one though from Arceurotrade. Well worth a look at their site. Also sign up for the Yahoo group 7x12 minilathe lots of info there on the pros and cons of this type of kit. Everything that I have seen indicates that a complete strip clean and re-build is sensible before use!

Reply to
Richard Edwards

Dad's got one of these and I've got a Sieg from

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I think the Sieg kit is significantly better.


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Not a problem - I have one and it's fine. Though I mostly turn by hand when cutting threads anyway.

The times when I wish it had more power are when I'm doing things which are really to big or too hard for such a small lathe, like parting 90 mm cast iron or 50 mm inconel. Both of which I have done, but wouldn't want to do again.

Curiously, very few of these are available second hand. I don't know why.

You will need to strip and clean it before use, almost a complete rebuild, and quite a lot of "fettling" is involved. I don't know the up-to-date models, but a lever tailstock and a carriage lock are must-haves, and a steady of some kind, preferably fixed, is almost as essential.

The Sieg C3 is probably slightly better made than the Chester Conquest (they are basically the same lathe), especially if the price is the same. Avoid chinese circuit boards though.

-- Peter Fairbrother

Reply to
Peter Fairbrother

I help to run the course on building a small steam engine model which SMEE runs (see

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for details - worth considering if you are anywhere near London)

We use the Warco version of this little lathe for our demonstrations. It needed a bit of work to get it all set up properly but does everything we ask of it. You could certainly build say a Stuart 10V on one.

Arc Euro does a similar one and will do all the preparation work for you. They also have a camlock tailstock which is a big improvement.

Opinions on Chester as a supplier seem to vary from good to absolutely awful. I have one of their bandsaws which has been fine.

There is a huge amount of information on the little lathes on the web ? look for 7X10 lathe.

Model Engineers workshop has been running a series on setting up and using one of these.

Bearing in mind how cheap they are, used within their limits they are nice little machines and good value for money.

Reply to
Norman Billingham

In message , Norman Billingham writes

I have theChester version, though i've not been in a position to use it for the last couple of years. It's OK within the limitations. Certainly well capable of use to build a small sationary steam engine.


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for lots of good info and links. I did the cam-lock tailstock mod from info found on this site.



Reply to
Guy Morgan

Yes, I'd have though a "mandrel handle" would be a fine auxilliary attachment for such a lathe, if one is trying (as per normal ME practice) to take a tool far beyond anything its maker ever thought of.

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All teh responses I have seen relate directly to a new mini-lathe, no one has mentioned any alternatives. To some extent it depends on how small is 'small' and also what you think you may want to do in future, but IMHO you get a lot more engineering bang for your buck if you were to consider an older probably British machine like maybe a Boxford or a Southbend. Myfords are smaller, but go for absurd sums - I'm not sure quite why, 'cult' I suppose. But there are other decent lathes about for the sort of money you'd spend on the one you've mentioned.

If CNC is 'your thing' then forget the above


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