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Different lathe..... CNC teach?

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Old 07-08-2013, 09:38 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Near Napoleon,MI
Posts: 997
Re: Different lathe..... CNC teach?

I didn't call BS on anything, but if you look at the images at Haascnc.com, they clearly show the TL-1 standing on 4 isolation pads (which also level it) on a regular concrete floor. This is the way all of the smaller machines are handled nowadays. It is mainly large equipment and super precision stuff that requires custom foundations. Manufacturing companies generally no longer accept the limitation imposed by dedicated foundations, it makes their operation too inflexible.

Tricky spent his life working for companies who spent big bucks to make product that cost big bucks but which had to be made just so... Today the majority of us find ourselves at the opposite end of the spectrum where the product is expected to be 1 step away from being free... We can't do things the way Trickys employers did them since we would be bankrupt... and of course many are or are in the process of circling the drain.
Old 07-08-2013, 09:48 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 718
Re: Different lathe..... CNC teach?

Well since I only have to satisy one bitchy stock holder(and trigger puller) I will do things the best way possible. I will build this shop once and not be forced to change it(or financially able to) for many years, I plan to spend the extra and do it the best possible way to start with. I can't afford the best of the best $bazillion machine but I can spend the extra kilobuck to get the very best out of the machine that I can afford. It seems silly to spend $50K on machine tools and skimp on the $5k in concrete/planning/execution that makes a final difference. I am certainly biased as I just moved from a garage with a floor that looked like a jigsaw puzzle designed by someone with ADD and multiple personalities....... ugly
Old 07-09-2013, 10:43 AM
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Location: greenwood, IN
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Re: Different lathe..... CNC teach?

Originally Posted by lazylabs View Post
Thanks for all the info, I appreciate the time it takes to educate us that are unfamiliar with industrial kind of setups.

I will be talking to the power guys soon and will ask about 440 but at this point I am just hoping that 3ph 220 is going to happen.

Thanks again!
I've probably installed 250 machines in my lifetime, and maybe a few more. I really have not done all that much work with grinders, other than some very precision gear grinders. So I've felt that grinders (specially external grinders) have been a hole in my resume. Over the last half of my time, I did a two to one ratio of machine centers to everything else. But when you build machines you think differently than most people in that everything you look at is just bearings, shafts, and gears with an occasional hydraulic cylinder added into the mix. I also didn't do as much robotics as I probably should have done, but still did my share. I hate them!

One thing that 75% of all process engineers do that will sooner or later bite them really hard is to order in a machine that is just capable of doing the job at the time. They rarely ever over spec the machine and look on down the road. I'm a believer in the minimum of a 2:1 over build factor, and really think 3:1 is great. I've seen more than one engineer loose his job over these issues alone. If your spec is to work within a +/- .001" window, then but a machine that will do +/- .0005". You'll find it far easier to work with, and you'll be eating a lot less Malox!

The brand you buy is of course up to you. I have my preferences of course, and you all have heard them in the past. Most of these are from experience, and often failures on somebody else's errors. After awhile I often was tasked with doing an unannounced visit to a machine builder to inspect his progress, and also a pre-ship inspection of the goods plus doing runoffs of parts they planned on machining. Most builders hated me! I'd catch them cutting corners, and building equipment that was just plain junk! I remember one time when my boss asked me to go down to the docks and look over five Makino machine centers that were bought with TACOM money. The trucks were still in the parking lot waiting for us to sign off on them. I looked them over, and saw no damage, but readily saw that the machines were not built to OSHA safety specs (mostly electrical). Wouldn't accept them! The dock foreman said he was signing off on them anyway, and I called my boss to get down there asap. He showed up with the electricians boss, and I showed them what I saw right away. We wouldn't accept them. The Dock Foreman signed off on them, and was fired the next morning. Tacom made Makino fix the machines while they were still on the pallots in an area that wasn't being used. Later we find that two process engineers waived the safety specs, and they too were unemployed. After we finally got the machines set, and fired up I found several other engineering errors that were just plain dangerous to the end users. I fixed them, and sent them the bill. Which they gladly paid. I will give LeBlond Makino that credit for standing up to their errors. The worst to stand behind their products are from Switzerland in my book, with the Germans right behind them. Some groups out of those places are very good, and some are extremely suspect. Okamoto out of Japan is very good, and will back up their products long out of warranty. Okuma is somewhat suspect even though they do build a fairly good lathe (has some issues). Mori Seiki is a junk yard building junk! Mazaks run well, but are not built as well as Okumas. You'll find this out with a good wreck (they all will have a wreck sooner or later). The rest out of there are third tier. The one exception to this is probably Hitachi. Their standard based machines are OK, but not great. Their custom built stuff is first rate just like Okuma's.

In today's markets we often buy what is called a "turn key operation." That means that you give the builder the parts you want to do, and he designs and builds a machine system to do this work. You supply nothing but cash. K&T were long the leaders in this game by a wide margin. But G&L bought them up when they had cash flow problems. When you went in their plants, you saw machines being built for everybody. Some were huge and some were average size. Lots of FMS stuff. Their machines were probably built on a 4:1 overbuild factor (yes they were that good). G&L was a perfect match for them as they could incorporate several of machining operations into their FMS systems that K&T couldn't. Cross was also swallowed up by G&L, and now you've evolved from the big player to a super player. Cross and Lamb were the big players in the transfer machine groups, but Cross saw other venues and kinda left the transfer lines to Lamb (both were the absolute best money could buy). To this very day, a Lamb boring head is the best that's ever been built.
Old 07-12-2013, 09:20 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 718
Re: Different lathe..... CNC teach?

Thanks for the info Chad. I have followed your post here for years and you posted to my earlier questions along these lines. I would really like to come see your shop some day.

What do you think of the victor DCL? I know it's not a "pro" machine but I still have a "day job" and can't really justify a huge bill for something that won't be making money at the moment.

I appreciate your opinion of going with a full on machine center but I can't swing that at the moment.

I am going to follow the advice of you and tricky and build the floor of the shop for the future. If I waste a couple grand in concrete it's better than re-work. Same goes for power...


Last edited by lazylabs; 07-12-2013 at 10:48 PM. Reason: bad bad typing
Old 07-13-2013, 11:09 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: greenwood, IN
Posts: 3,575
Re: Different lathe..... CNC teach?

Originally Posted by JWPCOLORADO View Post
My name is Chad Dixon. I'm too lazy to log onto my account so I'm using one of my employees for this.

I'm not a sponsor on this site, but I've been a gunmaker since 1999 and helped pioneer the use of CNC turning/machining centers in custom gunmaking.

My shop is based on this ideal and I now have four machines used every day in my shop. We are successful. VERY successful.

You WANT a CNC. The tools are very powerful and if you spend a little time being creative, you can fit barrels to accuracy levels that will rival the best barrel fitters in the world and you'll laugh all the way to the bank because you'll hang more sticks per hour than most do in a day.

Don't be swayed and don't quit. Your onto something. I've proven it.

We can accurize and barrel over 100 barreled actions in a month.

Do the math. . .

Good luck.

Here's a teaser:

Imagine being able to accurize a receiver (M700 for instance) and fit up a barrel tennon in less than 20 minutes.

Now imagine having your ENTIRE reamer inventory cataloged and the tool length offsets PRESET so that you know exactly where that tool is. Now imagine just calling up that offset (T0515 for instance) and adjusting the Z depth for that particular chamber. Plug in your muzzle flush setup, RESET, MEMORY, CYCLE START, and go drink coffee and you chamber away.

Easy so long as you have the persistence to sort it out. You WILL run into challenges.

DONT GIVE UP and IGNORE the Nancy's who say you can't do it!

I'd suggest looking at slant bed, 10 position turret (minimum of 10 tools) production grade turning centers with A FANUC series control. The OI Mate that I have has been robust and rock solid.

I also encourage you to look towards Korea for machines. Daewoo and Doosan are both excellent pieces of equipment and you can get parts easily.

Others that come to mind:

Kitamura (I own one in a mill, its bad ass)
Okuma (as stated above, it's ok, but I loath the controls)
Brother (yeah, same guys that make printers!)
Deckle (bring your visa. . .)

Haas is crap if you ask me. Castings are too light, and the machines aren't built for robust use. Talk to any experienced job shop setup guy or programmer and they'll tell you that when your cutting AL go Haas. When you cut STEEL, there are better options. Linear ways are for quick speed and cutting soft chit. BOX ways are for machining tool grade steels.

Harrison Alphas? I set up the 3rd one in the United States. The Harrison Alpha 1330U to be specific. ONCE the metric/imperial algorithms were sorted out so that the carriage didn't rapid intermittently towards the spindle and ONCE the Troyke turret finally repeated and ONCE the spindle stopped disassembling itself (Tapered Gamut spindle bearings, uhh, no thanks- least thats how it was back in 03/04) the machine wasn't TOO bad so long as you kept the depth of cut, feed rate, and SFM conservative. (like stupid conservative).

My advise: AVOID.

The lack of hardened box ways kind of irked me too.

Get voltage conditioners if power is the least bit shady.

If you buy a used machine, have it independently inspected/serviced/calibrated. Used machine dealers are just like used car lots.

"it spent its whole life in a medical shop making plastic knee caps. . ." (how come there's D2 chips stuck under the way covers then?????)


make sure you have a well prepared surface for the machine to sit on. A 8000lb machining center should not sit on a 3" thick garage floor. MASS is everything. It'll be immediately evident in surface finishes, repeatability, and overall service life.

Cry once and buy the time/experience of some good concrete folk!

If dollars are no object, have a machine purpose built. Put dual chucks on it and dual carriages so that you can work both ends in one setup. Imagine being able to fit a tennon, walk to the opposite side of the machine and have the muzzle sticking out ready to be parted off and threaded/crowned, whatever.

Someday. . .

All the best

Chad Dixon
LongRifles, Inc.
Brothers in the machine tool business? Boy that's a new one on me! When I first read your comment about a machine from Brothers, I immediately thought of those small Swiss Turn machines, But who knows what they are like. <g>

* Okumas are as common as Mustang automobiles, and they come in all kinds of sizes and shapes. They do have a pretty good frame design that is fairly rigid. They are built well enough that you can hard turn with them if you are ontop of your game. But also not for the amature to start with. Their turrets are prone to move on you under hard pressure, and if you leave the steel alignment dowl pins in the slide you will ruin any chance of coming back to the starting point. (always pull them on every machine!) The turrets are also prone to high pressure coolant leaks under the turret, and a pain in the but to do anykind of a quick fix. But at least they are hard piped, and if you use your head and not bend the piping you can seal them up fairly good. If you use your machine over 12 hours a day, plan on a turret rebuilt every 30 months max. Usually closer to 18 months. Head stock alignment is the second worst I've ever encountered to get back to square one! A Monarch TC-1 is the very worst! (mainly because of all the sheet metal you have to remove) There are some serious electronic under the turret on the Okuma, and expect problems with high pressure coolant leaks. But the design itself if firm. The one major issue with the Okuma lathe is the way they setup their over travel and grid switches. This needs a complete redesign, and I'm not sure how you'd go about it. They use a common cable with everything going thru it, and if the cable fails expect some serious hair pulling. They are also prone to tampering with the machine perimeters setup in the control. If left alone, they'll never show their ugly face. Okuma uses two different controls, and have no serious issues with either one, even though I hate Fanuc controls. I would get the Okuma control as it has some really nice features

* Mazaks run well, but a not over built in any critical area. Have a hard wreck (you will someday), and you maybe faced with a major repair at the least. Or even a complete rebuild. They don't rebuild well.

* the best frame design ever made was the old J&L CNC lathe. They hold up well under a high speed wreck that will send most others to the junk pile. Sheet metal on them is a PIA on a good day! I've never been around one that had live tooling other than at the factory. I like their concept better than the others, but also maybe a nightmare down the road. These machines come back from a major crash very well and also very quickly once you learn the art of removing and replacing all that tin! These machine rebuild well and are fairly simply to work on. Good tail stock design. The turret switches are blind, but not all that bad to work on. You will have to remove the turret (s) to replace them (everybody's fail sooner or later). The ten or twelve sided upper turret is much easier to work on when removed in one piece, and goes into alignment with the dowl pins (pull them before running the machine). Ball screws are easy to change, but be sure to leave enough room to get the Z axis out! Many folks forget this issue, and have to cut a hole in the wall. Ball screws can be purchased at Lead Screw International in Michigan (they also did a lot of the OEM screws). Looking for a good used machine, this is where to start!

* I don't think I've ever been around a Monarch CNC lathe that had a tail stock. They are pretty good machine, but also have the same issues with the turret index as all the others do. The are not a true slant bed design, but a true vertical bed design. Not as good as a slant bed, but much easier access to the tooling and chuck. Of them, I like the TC-2 better as it's built much heavier.

*Warner Swasey's! Oh My, and I still hate them. I've been around about every size and shape you can think of, and they are still a PIA on a good day. Looking for a good used one? Look for one that has the two speed transmission in the head stock. Otherwise your stuck with making lots and lots of light cuts to get the job done. Frame is OK, but not nearly as good as a J&L. Spindle bearings can be a serious issue with them, and this is not for the shade tree mechanic to tackle (an Okuma can be a bear as well). But when they run, they run very well.

* G&L made a series of slant bed lathes that were similar in design to the American Panther and Hustler series with a much shallower bed angle. Probably better quality than the American. But the American is the only lathe I've seen with a differential resolver as well as the normal one. This is fantastic when doing touch off points to start a full bore program in a part. Head stock is probably one of the hardest I've ever rebuilt. Comes apart in about eight hours, and goes back in 20 hours if your lucky! Clutches can be an issue here.

* the slant bed Hardingh is the Cadillac of CNC lathes! Best live tooling I've ever seen. The frame on the smaller ones is made of plastic!!! I was very suspect of this concept, but it doesn't change over time like the others will. They fill the headstock with grout, and also a lot of the base. The machine is very rigid, and actually will change less than a J&L of similar size. This is an honest .0005" or less machine. Hard turns very well, and holds up well cutting the hardened rods. Threads so well that you'd think the threads were ground. Plus they are cheaper than a similar Okuma.


For a machine to do work like you'd do on a typical Bridgeport, I like the Fidal out of California. They come with converstional controls that use touch off points. Seem to hold up very well. I like their table design over most of the others. It's a large rectangle shape that allows you to have several fixtures placed on it to work off of. Some folks have a B axis and a couple angle plates on them at the sametime. Even a rotary tail stock setup. They are not expensive either. These machine will flat smoke a Bridgeport with the Prototrac unit on them, or the Southwest Trac as well.

Of the Asian designs I like the Okuma Howa (not the lathe folks), and the Makino best. Won't run with a G&L in any way shape or form. But are nice machines. The Okuma lathe folks also have their own line of machine centers, and they are not bad, but once again won't run with the big dogs

Accuracey wise, the old Devlieg is the top of the ladder. I've been around the SIP of similar design that was so raved about. It's a piece of junk! And they are way over priced for their engineering and design. Folks that own Devliegs tend to rebuild them, rather than replace them. The old K&T (and now G&L) MM series are great machines than can be picked up for a song! Honest .0005" machines or less. Easy to rebuild as well. For gun parts an MM600 would be fantastic, and you can completely rebuild one in about six weeks or less. Fantastic control as well (this is the one Fanuc and GE stole). But they did a few with Allen Bradleys, and there's nothing wrong with them as well. Get the Gemini control as it's that much better. I think all they make now are MM2300's, and these machine are way over the top. But extremely accurate and extremely bullet proof. Spindle bearing pack will seriously hurt your checking account, and you can't replace them. You have to send the cartridge back. They are ceramic and very expensive (about $10K). The average end user should get five to six years out of them. We got two years max. The older MM series used conventional angular contact ball bearings, and you could buy a set of Bardens for about five or six hundred dollars (best ball bearings made). Hydra-Ribs are another beast that are also not easy. Tricky to setup, and also don't come cheap. But very accurate.

I've rebuilt a lot of machines in my lifetime, and repaired a lot of wrecks as well.
Old 07-13-2013, 02:34 PM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: on the Southern Plains
Posts: 1,123
Re: Different lathe..... CNC teach?

How many rifles/barreled actions you planning on puttin' out in a week/month/year, lazylabs?
"Shoots real good!": definition; it didn't blow-up in my face. Not everything can be fixed on an internet forum!
Old 07-13-2013, 07:04 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 718
Re: Different lathe..... CNC teach?

So few that CNC doesn't make sense. Having a leblond and bridgeport and $1000's in tooling doesn't make sense either..... I know that I could just spend all this money on someone else building me guns and be MUCH further ahead. I have been working on one for myself for about 3 years and it's still not done....LOL I have built about 15 for friends during that time and never finish mine! I am doing it for fun not economy. I honestly get as much satisfaction out of a super smooth chamber finish that closes tight on the go gague(first try)as I do shooting a personal record group.

I am not trying to be a smart ass..... it's hard for even my to wrap my head around spending all this time/money for what is a hobby at this point.
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