Metal Lathe - The Combine Forum
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post #1 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-12-2016, 01:34 PM Thread Starter
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Metal Lathe

Looking to get a metal lathe for my shop on the farm. Hoping to make some of my own pieces and aid in fixing.
I don't know much about these machines and have no idea what to buy or what not to buy.
Anyone have any suggestions on what would be a good unit? Where to buy?

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post #2 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-12-2016, 01:47 PM
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Id take a course in how to work with a lathe it will really help you out, do you have 3 phase a little good lathe for farm size will run from 3k to higher maybe you can get lucky on an auction

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post #3 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-12-2016, 01:59 PM
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Lots of options out there. Tooling can easily be more $$ than the lathe.

Mine will swing 20" over the bed, 12" over the cross-slide, 48" max between centers. Older WWII vintage machine, so it's a bit slower (max ~400rpm) , but I'm not doing production work, so I'm OK with that.

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post #4 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-12-2016, 02:01 PM Thread Starter
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Ya I'm not looking to do anything real fancy just help out with repairs for the farm and make the odd piece when needed.
Just don't know where to start looking.
I only have single phase power.
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post #5 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-12-2016, 02:05 PM
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I just went through this. Learned a lot in a very short period. 3 phase would be great but wasn't an option at first and neither was a phase converter. I bought a 13x40 unit with a 1.5 through spindle. Has a removable gap bed which is nice if you need to do larger items like flywheels. Also made myself a vertical mill post so I can do basic milling on the lathe.
Biggest thing to look at is wear on the bedways and anything that moves/slides. A lot of lathes are used in a very short area and wear more at that point. Problem arises with that when you adjust for wear there it becomes really tight at the rest of the machine. Also machining between centers is harder to keep things aligned.
When I was looking I was told to stay away from Chinese made lathes but Taiwan was fine. Higher speeds are needed for some of the stronger materials these days as well as if you want to use carbide tooling.
If you have any more questions let me know. There is a lot to know.
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post #6 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-12-2016, 02:07 PM
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If you are looking for a large 3 phase lathe you can do pretty good at an auction. If you are looking for a smaller shop lathe like most guys have, auctions can be tough. I went to a large farm sale last spring to bid on an old shop lathe, I couldn't believe how many people were interested in it. Lots of retired guys looking for something to play around on.
An understandably much smaller group were interested in the large 3 phase that sold after it at the same sale, it went very cheap.
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post #7 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-12-2016, 02:18 PM
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Keep an eye on Kijiji and auction sites, it took me 2yrs to find one for the price I wanted to pay. Now I have two and a standing offer on a third one, lol. I have no idea how to utilize even 10% of the machines capability, they are fun to work with and learning a new skill is rewarding. The first serious job with mine was a special bolt for the combine that was going to be 3days getting to me. I had the machine running overnight and finished up harvest the day before the rain started, paid for itself right there.

The older made in Taiwan machines seem reliable, my main one is a 13x40 house of tools model. The second is a war vintage Atlas 6x18. I've never run a Grizzly but have heard lots of good stories about them. As said earlier the lathe is the cheap part, the tooling adds up quickly.

A quick change tool post is worth it's weight in gold, they can be purchased after market, so not a deal breaker on the initial purchase. A taper attachment is also a nice option, especially if you need to cut pipe threads.

If you run across a deal on a 3phase machine, VFDs (used for phase conversion) can be had for a reasonable price. They make speed changes a snap, twist the knob or push the button.

Just buy one, it may not be used often but is worth it's weight in gold in an emergency!

Last edited by Hillbillyreefer; 03-12-2016 at 02:21 PM.
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post #8 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-12-2016, 02:37 PM
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I went through this 2 years ago. I'll echo all the comments about the tooling. If you buy new you will absolutely spend as much on tooling as you do on the lathe. Used may include some tooling so take that into account. You definitely want a quick change toolpost. "Quick change" is a bit of a red herring - you need it for more than just speedy tool swaps. I ended up with a CCC (cheap chinese crap) model from Busy Bee and I don't regret cheaping out because it has let me learn. It may be all I ever need but if I buy a second time I'll definitely know what I'm looking for.

Before you buy I strongly recommend spending a few nights watching my buddy John "doubleboost" on Youtube. He does an excellent job of showing you how really basic day to day tasks are done on a lathe. He's also pretty good entertainment. If you put in 6 or 8 hours watching John's videos you'll understand lathe operations a lot better. I'll also warn you that the lathe is just the beginning - pretty soon you'll be craving a mill as well.
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post #9 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-12-2016, 02:50 PM
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Another option is if you fine a good price on a 3 phase lathe. Take out the electric motor and sell it and put a gas motor on it. Seen a guy do that and put a pipe on the muffler through the wall to vent the exhaust outside. For the amount of machining he did it worked ok.
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post #10 of 29 (permalink) Old 03-12-2016, 07:01 PM
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In terms of tooling, depends what you want to do. a set like this:

Buy T/tool Insert Type 3/4in. 5pc Set at Busy Bee Tools

and you can do 99% of farm work. The carbides, no its not a production shop running every day 24hrs, but if you want to turn down a shaft or fix a bearing spot, these will last a loooong time. Easily replaced, 3 sides, cut threads, whatever. any lathe is better then a file and a drill press :-)

Last edited by BrianTee; 03-12-2016 at 07:04 PM.
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