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Old October 22, 2008, 06:19 AM   #1
rickdavis81
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Lathe

I'm looking at getting a lathe to help with my gunsmithing hobby. I'm by no means a gunsmith but do like to tinker. I found one at Grizzly tools for about a grand. It's 10"x22" with a 1" spindle bore. Is there any certain features I should look for in a lathe for smithing? Any suggestions on one with out breaking my little piggy bank?
Thanks
Rick
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Old October 22, 2008, 07:42 AM   #2
ActivShootr
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10x22x1 would probably do all you want to do. I don't know if you will be cutting threads but if you are, you might want to look at the range of threads. Also, a taper attachment will come in handy for turning barrels.

Invest in a quick change tool post too.They are really nice for quickly going from cutting/threading to boring or knurling.

Check out JET lathes. They are a little more expensive than Grizzly but are pretty good machines.
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Old October 22, 2008, 08:21 AM   #3
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The only concern your choice gives me is that the spindle bore is under the diameter of some heavy barrel contours, so it would be too small to chamber those barrels through the spindle, and the bed is too short to set up to do it with a lathe dog and a steady rest. So, be sure you won't intend to have anything over 1" in the spindle.
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Old October 22, 2008, 12:57 PM   #4
Harry Bonar
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lathe

Sir;
I've used Grizzly for years now and am totally satisfied. However, if I was you, as Nick says, I'd get the 12X36 lathe for about $2200.00 - mine only runs out .001 on the three jaw chuck!
Recently bought the mill from Grizzly and it's a monster that just eats steel. It is capable of extremely precision work also.
Both of these machines come with everything, except cutters. They are of excellent quality even though made in China!
Their warranty is very good, and the markings on the hand wheel dials are accurate.
Harry B.
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Old October 23, 2008, 08:40 PM   #5
NormOps
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Having purchased both a grizzly lathe and a second hand XLO mill in the past, I would strongly suggest that you search around for a good old second hand lathe, one that stands on it's own if possible.
Depending on where you live, this may be a problem. it seems that in the less populated western portion of the states such equipment is difficult to come by, hence my purchase of the Grizzly. It works fine, but for what I paid for it, ($1300) I probably could have got twice the lathe with something twenty to fifty years old in good condition, second hand, in most of the east and midwest. I have run several different sizes, makes and ages of lathes on and off the job, and it is very easy to notice the difference in good old american steel.
That said, I did end up buying the Grizzly after searching for a while elsewhere. it works, but not like my fifty year old mill does...
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Old October 24, 2008, 06:01 AM   #6
rickdavis81
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I thought about going the used route. But all the good deals are always in the N.E. states it seems like. It was that way when I bought my last truck also. I think they have a monoply on everything I want. I have been known to drive to N. Wisconsin for jeep frames so maybe I need to take a road trip. Do old lathes wear out? Anything I should watch out for?
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Old October 24, 2008, 09:14 AM   #7
Harry Bonar
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lathe

Sir;
Yes, old lthes do wear out! Especially since most of your work will be within 12" of the chuck, that portion will be worn down.
You will pay more for a used lathe (A GOOD ONE) THAN A GRIZZLY WILL COST YOU AND YOU'LL HAVE THE WEAR THAT HAS ALREADY TAKEN AWAY THE PRECISION YOU NEED FOR GUN WORK.
I fought the very battle you are when I purchased my Grizzly.
After WWII we left these countries with a "military standard" set of measurements, which they, in turn, adopted. Everything they build (in machines) is made to a "mil-std."
With the advent of CNC production and "mil-std" they produce as accurate a machine as is possible!
I used to have a Rockwell turret mill and while it was nice for pistol work it lacked the capacity and features of my new Grizzly. Don't think I've got money - I don't. I sold off three guns to buy my mill and had to sacrifice a beautiful Hawken muzzle loader in the process I'd built years ago!
Go with the new Grizzly - you will not be sorry!
Harry B.
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Old October 24, 2008, 09:37 PM   #8
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A well cared for lathe (heck, some of them have just been sitting around doing nothing) of a good make can last for many, many years. Perhaps if you go with a higher end stand alone model Grizzly offers, ($3000 to $5000) you could approach the same quality levels as that of an older Monarch, South Bend, etc.
Like I said, depending on where you live, finding one may be close to impossible, as it was for me.
Just saying, if you can find that kind of deal, it would be worth it.

Eli W.
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Old October 30, 2008, 11:13 AM   #9
glyn
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! have a Grizzly 12-36 lathe and am very satisfied with it.I have used it many times to build both hunting rifles and bp rifles.
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Old October 30, 2008, 02:49 PM   #10
HiBC
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I will second the idea that the spindle thru hole size is important.The larger size not only accomodates putting a barrel through,it allows a 5-c collet drawbar.
I do not have experience with a Grizzly.I won't knock them.
In my case,a lot of good work has been done with a 1941 Navy Signal Corps South Bend 10x36 .It has taper attachement,3 jaw,4,5c jaw,Aloris clone quick change tooling,etc.
Something else that wears on old lathes is the tailstock.It take too long to write about all of it,but beware.
Consider if the machine is single or 3 phase.Phase converters work,but be aware.
Harrisons,Clausings are a pretty good machine but watch the variable speed clausings.The do wear out drives.South bends and Logans can be good
Old can be superb.I've run a number old Monarchs.Cinncinati Hydrashift is pretty good,too.

Last edited by HiBC; October 30, 2008 at 10:07 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old October 30, 2008, 09:44 PM   #11
Unclenick
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When I first went lathe shopping years ago, I noticed a number of lathes whose bed ways had spans that were deeply grooved and worn. That is usually caused by poor lubrication, cleaning, and general mantenance combined with machining something abrasive like iron castings, or from using a toolpost grinder without protecting the beds. Such machines have to be rebuilt, and it is a lot of trouble.

A friend and I used to repair machine tools when engineering work was slow, and some are worth saving and some are not. Twenty-five years ago I repaired a couple of 1943 Warner-Swayze 42" turret lathes, and every replacement part was still available. I actually corrected the bed wear by scraping for the better part of a month. Not something I would look forward to doing now. Nowadays, the machine goes to an outfit with a massive precision surface grinder.

I mention all that only because, if you have unlimited time on your hands, including time to learn and practice some skill at scraping, you can actually rejuvinate most old machines. The advantage is the old iron, having been well-aged, and assuming it hasn't been dropped, cracked or badly twisted at some point, is extremely stable. Once repaired and properly figured, it will likely stay that way almost indefinitely with proper lubrication and maintenance and precautions with anything abrasive.

One problem home machines have is they often will be used in spurts, then sit idle for long periods. They need to be operated periodically to keep lubricants distributed. And don't skimp on way oil. Get a 5 gallon tub of Mobile Vactra #2 for a bench size lathe and use it liberally on the ways and in the gear boxes. Recoat the ways at least once a month when the machine is idle. Get a proper spindle oil, like Mobile DTE light. Change it once a year even if you didn't use the machinery much during that time. Turn the machine on and operate the feeds for a minute at least once a month when the machine is idle.
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Last edited by Unclenick; October 31, 2008 at 09:41 PM. Reason: typos
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Old November 2, 2008, 07:46 PM   #12
Leedavisone
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Lathes are like women... they are all different, and if you don't treat them just right and care for them, they will make your life miserable. Some are more used and abused than others. Some are gems. I bought a used Monarch 10EE that was made in 1940, a beast of a machine, weighing in at over 1800 lbs. But it was accurate beyond my ability to measure. I bought it off Ebay for $1,345 and drove to Southern California to get it. Foolishly, I sold it because I moved to a new shop where I didn't have three Phase power. Then I bought a $500 Enco lathe, and it is so bad that I had to weld the tool post solid in one axis. It still could not repeat a cut within 1/16 inch. So, I bought a 1939 Southbend Model C that was on a Navy submarine during the war
($900). It is spectacular for my simple operations, and I shall turn the enco into a mooring anchor for a boat (unless someone wants to buy a lathe with an ugly welded tool post). I wouldn't mind getting a new Grizzley (I have several Grizzley woodworking tools), but I would sure want to check the accuracy in person first.
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