Gunsmithing Lathe

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by hegster, Jun 24, 2008.

  1. hegster

    hegster Member

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    I was Looking for some advice. I have been looking at the gun smithing lathe that Grizzly has and was wondering if this is a good lathe to start out gun smithing at first as a hobby and passable more in the future. the other one I have been looking at is the smithy combo lathe/milling machine. any info on these lathes pros cons would be appreciated.

    thanks

    Hegster
     
  2. EddieHarren

    EddieHarren Well-Known Member

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    IMHO, forget the Smithy combo.
     

  3. eddybo

    eddybo Well-Known Member

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    Yup forget the smithy or any of the combos
     
  4. NesikaChad

    NesikaChad Well-Known Member

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    Certainly don't go the combo route.

    Bleh!

    I know nothing of the Grizzly machine, but I can say this; you get what you pay for.

    FWIW:

    When I started at Nesika I was given the green light to order any lathe I wanted for barrel work. We (Glen and I) ended up going with a Harrison Alpha 1330U tool room turning center.

    Now, 65K is probably outside the realm of reality for most folks.

    It took a few months to get it to the states as its made in England. So, as a temp solution, I used the shops Hardinge Tool room lathe. These can be picked up for as little as 5K if one shops dilligently. Accuracy is great and its very user friendly with its infinite speed/feed selection. (Just push a button and turn a dial and your set)

    You'll be threading/chambering with the barrel suspended through the spindle bore since the bed is way too short for anything other than a pistol. this, in my opinion, is the only way to go anyways as it allows one to truly datum off of the bore's centerline.



    Great addition to any shop/garage.

    Good luck!
     
  5. eddybo

    eddybo Well-Known Member

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    There is a 1986 Nardini 15x40 (I think) on ebay for 5,500. If I hadnt already ordered a lathe I would have probably gotten it.
     
  6. specweldtom

    specweldtom Well-Known Member

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    The combo machines don't have the size or accuracy for gun work. They are probably fine for hobby work, making odds and ends, etc., but every time you turn around, you won't be able to do something you need to. A 13 x 40 is a good size for gun work. A large spindle bore is good (1 1/2" at least), a slow spindle speed (40 rpm or so), is good. Anything higher than 1000 rpm scares the crap out of me. You need a steady rest and a follow rest and a good quickchange tool holder (and a lot of tooling). If you don't have 3 phase power, a single phase motor is good. I use a 3-5 hp static converter, but it's not ideal. I like the D-1 spindle nose better than a threaded nose, mostly because it won't spin a chuck off when you run in reverse. I also like the knob and lever threading quickchange better than the caliper type. Less chance of screwing up thread pitch.

    Maybe someone here can advise you on how to evaluate a lathe's accuracy before you buy it, because all the rest is useless if it won't hold tolerance turning, facing, and threading.

    I got too long-winded, but a good lathe is irreplaceable, and a bad one is un-usable.

    Good luck, Tom
     
  7. James H

    James H Well-Known Member

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    I have the Grizzly 4003G Gunsmith lathe and so far I am happy with it. One of the things that I do not care for is that the slowest speed on it is 70 RPM the next step is 200 RPM but that is certainly not a "deal breaker". For hobby gunsmithing I think this lathe is great. So far the worst total indicated runout on a chamber that I have measured after reaming the chamber with this lathe has been .0001". I have not measured the runout of all my chambers but the rest that I did measure were 0.0000 TIR so the lathe is capable of doing good work if the operator is up to the task.

    I believe the main reason for the offering of the "gunsmith" lathes by Grizzly is that the President of Grizzly, Shiraz Balolia is an avid F-Class shooter and is himself a hobby gunsmith.
    Customer service has also been great.

    James
     
  8. specweldtom

    specweldtom Well-Known Member

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    Hegster, James H is right. The 70 rpm is ok. I use the slow speeds a lot. I usually chamber at 40, but sometimes use 63, or 100. I did a very nice .270 chamber at 160 rpm. Manson says that none of those are too fast. I always part off at 40 though. I discovered that 63 rpm gave the best finish chambering a 17-4 PH barrel. It also threaded better at 63 rpm.

    The jump from 70 to 200 would be a deal breaker for me. It might be possible to change the drive sheaves to lower spindle speeds across the board. This would not affect thread pitch since the transmission locks the lead screw to the spindle, but you would still have the big gap between the two lowest speeds.

    JE Custom has a very good modern lathe. I'll ask him to post or P/M particulars; brand, size, etc.

    Good luck, Tom
     
  9. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

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    Hegster

    I started with a small hobby type lathe and did ok except that every
    thing that required accuracy was very difficult and time consuming.

    So I decided to up grade ,But the choices were mind blowing so I made a
    list of what was required to do gun work.( not a full blown production lathe).

    Spindel size =minimum 1 1/2''
    Spindel speeds=minimum 40 rpm
    14'' swing ( 7" radius )
    40'' bed (Center to Center) Bed will be about 54" long.
    Taper attachment
    power cross feed
    All lever, gear head with metric and tpi threading abilities.
    And a quick change tool post.
    And a budget of around 4'000.00 dollars.

    I found that in order get what I though I needed it would cost around $4500.00

    What I found was a General tool 14"x40" ,gap bed ,1 1/2" ID spindle,with 16 spindle
    speeds ( 44,70,90,108,140,165,215,255,330,385,585,770,900,1170 and a mind blowing
    1800 rpm. NOTE! I use all of the speeds except the 1800rpm.

    I use the 44rpm more than any other speed 70rpm is a little fast for threading on some
    actions.

    The quick change tool post is very handy because I can have tool holders set up with
    all of the different tools required to do any operation.

    Dont worry about a taper bar unless you want one (I rarely use mine )

    Lathe ,tooling and everthing cost me about $5000.00 and I'm very happy
    with the machine.

    I lusted over the tool maker lathes (Up to $140 K ) but ended up with a
    USER FRIENDLY Lathe for $4400.00.

    But the best lathe in the world isn't any good if its not set up right. so be sure
    and set it up right before you use it.( Perfectly level and anchored down,tail stock
    alignment to spindle/chuck ,Etc.

    I hope this will help
    J E CUSTOM
     
  10. NesikaChad

    NesikaChad Well-Known Member

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    Interesting note regarding rpm, chip loads, and feed rates.

    I worked with David Kiff very closely for three years getting this right.

    It's a matter of how the reamer is supported gents. At Nesika we were able to chamber up to about 1200 rpm with carbide tooling. I'd run HSS reamers at about 300-400 with no ill effects. No burnt cutters or chatter.

    Surface finish was excellent. At first we used nothing but gray scotch brite for fluff and buff afterwards. Later we decided to clean up with 320 just to put a cross hatch pattern in the chamber so that the brass would bite down better in an effort to reduce flow towards the neck and shoulders. 320 was about right because it didn't "frost up" the brass. I'd shoot for the same pattern typical of any well honed cylinder bore on an engine.

    TIR varied between 175 millionths and a tenth.

    I know many my be compelled to want to call BS on that, but its gospel truth.

    Granted, I had up to 2400lbs of coolant pressure for chip evacuation at my disposal (very snorty rig that I ginned up over the 2005 Christmas holiday break) and a 6500lb machine, but we NEVER used the tail stock. Experiment with holding your tooling on the cross slide. You might be surprised what you get.

    All I will say is, MASS and PRESSURE counts.

    good luck.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2008
  11. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

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    NesikaChad

    You are dead on ( No BS ).

    The slow RPM I like to use is because I have no pressure
    coolant system and if you try these speeds on a light weight
    machine they will cause problems.

    Manson Reamers recomended up to 400 RPM, But with coolant.

    I am probably to careful but it's the way I was taught .

    I use finish reamers only and pull out every .030 to clean the reamer
    and reduce to .015 cut near the end.

    By doing this I do not have to polish the chamber and end up with a
    perfict fit and finish .

    The reason I recomended this method was because I didn't want
    someone just starting out to get in trouble.

    I started out on a small South Bend lathe and if you loaded or rushed
    it the bed would flex and cause chatter.

    The main reason I can take my time is that I'm retired and only work on
    one rifle at a time .But I could'nt make it in a production shop ( It takes
    6 to 8 hrs to do one chamber ).

    So far all of my rifles have shot well under 1/2 MOA and I'm afraid to change
    the way I build them ( and to old to change ).

    I know with the proper equipment you can go faster but I just wanted to
    explain why I recomended slower speeds.

    Just my way,not the only way
    J E CUSTOM
     
  12. NesikaChad

    NesikaChad Well-Known Member

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    JE

    Hey buddy (and sorry to the OP for the sidetrack)

    Don't think I was poking at you in any way. I'm sure sorry if it came off that way.

    I've never liked roughing reamers either. Just something about shoving two different hard cylindrical objects in the same hole that I've never been real warm and fuzzy over.

    Don't know where that comes from. . .

    Anyways. I sure hope I don't sound preachy. The evenings here in Baghdad are quite dry (yep, that'd be a pun) and this just helps to pass the time.

    cheers.

    Chad Dixon
     
  13. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

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    Chad

    I wasn't offended but thanks !!

    Thats what I like about this web site,There are lots of ways to do things
    and plenty of experts (not me)that can share what they know.

    Any way,I wished I could afford a toolmakers lathe but mine works fine.

    J E CUSTOM
     
  14. Woodchimps

    Woodchimps New Member

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    Nov 2, 2009
    Have read previous posts and understand some preferences for distance between centers. I have a line on a small Nardini engine lathe, 12X20 with a 1 3/8 spindle hole. Due to my garage size restrictions, weight and length of machine, can I use this machine for barrel work if barrel diameter permits through the spindle bore work?