Lathe for gunsmithing??

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by JEREMY logan, Apr 8, 2009.

  1. JEREMY logan

    JEREMY logan Guest

    I was wandering how much a used lathe would cost me in good condition and what size or model I would need . I don't need top of the line but I don't want to work with junk either, just something for my own personal builds. Thanks
     
  2. Clark

    Clark Well-Known Member

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    I was struggling with an old lathe last night.
    I am trying to get the barrel to dial in.

    I am waiting for the arrival of my new lathe from China on May 8th.

    Asking about used lathes is like asking, "Where can I find a 1955 Chev to commute to work?"

    I have been messing with used lathes for a long time, and I quit.
     

  3. JEREMY logan

    JEREMY logan Guest

    Lol on that chevy to commute to work... Well how much does a new one cost once i get good enough i may do some work with it in my home town so i want need the high dollar machines like the big smith shops . Or do i ?
     
  4. eddybo

    eddybo Well-Known Member

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    There is some great old iron out there. I almost bought a surplus mobile machine shop just for the atlas lathe. It had a 20 inch swing but was short and had a short headstock and big spindle bore. It may be a bit short for polishing barrels but otherwise would be perfect. I could have gotten it for a song.

    If I could not find a deal like that I would go with one of the grizzly gunsmith lathes. I hear a bunch of good stuff and only a little derogatory about them.
     
  5. Clark

    Clark Well-Known Member

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    It makes a difference where you live.

    If I pay $2k for a used lathe on Ebay, it can cost $2k to get shipped to Seattle from the rust belt.

    I can get a better lathe shipped from China to PA, and then shipped to Seattle all for $2k with shipping included.

    Obviously there is a big spread between the $0.25/ pound wholesale shipping rate and the $2.00/pound + $200 crating fee for retail shipping.
     
  6. JEREMY logan

    JEREMY logan Guest

    I have the option to buy an old sears lathe now i have not a clue to talk smith talk so here goes the old smith here is retiring and offered me his (but) you have to manually turn down the barrel contour by hand or maybe hand lapp he sayed the machines now do it for you he also sayed someone around here has 5 for sale . This is off base but what does a beed blaster cost by itself or with a compressor he offered me everything for 10,000 that sounded high it's all really old but then again i don't know i've never priced anything like this . I have a family member that's worked in a machine shop for 20yrs started out on lathes ,and now runs a cnc thats as big as nesieka chads all put together :Dso i have some one to show me how to get started just not for gun work. The old smith said he would train me so i've got a good oppertunity to learn just wanted some of your opinions thanks
     
  7. vintec

    vintec Well-Known Member

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    I think 10K is a bit much for an old lathe and a bead blaster. If thre is a bunch of tooling it may be worth it. It dosent take long to get a bunch of money in tooling.

    You can get a bead blater from Habor Fieght starting 150, thier stuff is usally pretty weak but I think the bead blaster are ok. You can get a JET lathe from Blueridge Machinery (800-872-6500) at a reasonable price I am thinking under 6K for a decent sized lathe for GS work(dont hold me to that it has been awhile since I looked at the catalog). What ever get get a geared head not a belt drive. You can also buy taper attachements for most lathes. It may be hard to find one for an older machine that does not have one with it.
     
  8. jarnold37

    jarnold37 Member

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    Some people will say that a 55 chevy is better than a brand new car-heavier metal and no cheap plastic etc. The same with old lathes cabbaged out of some machine shop after years of use and abuse- Yes, if you can find a 25 year old Colchester with little or no wear, buy it. But most old machines will have wear and need either repair or a good operator to counteract the wear when machining. I looked for a good old lathe and didn"t find one that would be good for a rank beginner-but I had the determination to learn to fit and chamber my own- Ended up buyinga new low priced Chinese benchtop 12-36. Was fun to start learning on but quickly I wanted a better quality lathe. The shortcomings of this machine soon appeared. Had backgear and chattered when reaming. Spindle hole was less than 1"1/2 dictating 1.5" barrels had to be chambered out on bed in steady rest, which is not the way I prefer to chamber-A steady rest is basically a 3 jaw chuck that cant be indicated in--however, through the headstock with a 4 jaw or 6 jaw can be centered zero. I use an indicator with a long tip and reach in to throat area and indicate on lands and grooves. Generally a heavier machine is more rigid than light machine-A 14-40 with single phase is a good gunsmith lathe size-and usually the better quality the higher the price, but I think a new machine is better for many reasons and unless doing production work, most will be satisfactory
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2010
  9. Clark

    Clark Well-Known Member

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    I am on my 4th lathe in 8 years for gunsmithing. The last one, the one I got since this thread stared has cut threads and chambers for 4 rifles.
    It is a Precision Matthews PM1236 $3k + $1k DRO.
    I finally have a lathe that is better than I need for everything I do.


    I am still on my first wife after 34 years of marriage.
    But she was my 40th girl friend.

    There is a great similarity between getting married and buying a lathe.
    There is the idealistic phase, the disillusion stage, then the effort to move her and her stuff out.
    Hopefully you learn from each relationship, what it is you want, and what are you willing to do to get it.
     
  10. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    I'm from the school that says you get what you pay for. The best lathe used out there is of course a Monarch. But most are big three phase machines. The most accurate lathe ever produced is a Monarch Double E with the Hardingh be a close second. A good Southbend will do anything you ever want to do without too much of a problem. There's also the Colechester from England and a few others here and there. Watch the government surpluss auctions. That's where the bargins are at.
    gary
     
  11. Clark

    Clark Well-Known Member

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    The relationship between a lathe's accuracy and a long range hunting rifle's accuracy is tenuous at best.

    If my 7mmRemMag chamber that is 0.0050" off center of the lathe when done, shoots 0.75" groups at 100 yards, then the difference between a $3K Chinese lathe that has 0.0005" runout and a $75k Monarch that has 0.00003" run out, is ...


    $75K - $3K = $72K cost change
    [.0005"] [.75"]/[.005"] = .075" Chinese group size
    [.00003][.75]/[.005"] = .0045" Monarch group size
    .075" Chinese group - .0045" Monarch group = .0705" group improvement with Monarch
    [$72K Monarch upgrade]/ [.0705" Monarch group improvement] = $1,021,276.60 per moa improvement.

    What does it all mean?
    Ammo concentricity is important, as the ammo is inserted with random rotational orientation, but chamber concentricity has constant rotational orientation, and so is less important. This often confuses gunsmiths, and they dial in both ends of a barrel to get the bore concentric and parallel with the lathe spindle to within .0001".

    I have done it.
    Don't fall for that accuracy ritual.
    You can get beat at the range in a match with someone who chambered on a drill press.
     
  12. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    I don't see where your going. My statement if you took it into context was simply you get what you pay for. I also made the statement that you often can find great buys at government surplus auctions. These are known as DIAPC machines, and are rebuilt before ever being returned to the government. Secondly you can also get great deals at the shipyard auctions (full of Monarch Double E's by the way). I've seen these lathes in great shape go for well under a thousand dollars (I know of two that went for less than $500).

    I'm a machine builder by trade with an engineering degree, and I do have a good idea as what makes up a good piece of equipment and a boat anchor. I still make a few dollars whenever I want to undoing the best buys out there. As for accuracey specs, you can put them in three levels. You already know whats in the bottom of the stack and I told you what was at the top of the pecking order. So you have to realize what you want, and also will it do what you want. If your gonna play with some of the exotic materials you better have something that will. You won't get that in an Asian piece of equipment, and use it much. (even an Okuma has a hard time dealing with that stuff) Guess that's why the Japs are buying all the good used hand lathes they can get their hands on (mostly Monarchs)

    P.S. you ain't gonna find many Chinese lathes that will ream a chamber within .002" and still have it round
    gary
     
  13. hammertyme

    hammertyme Well-Known Member

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    My Favorite is a Monarch and with the new DRO it is pure joy to use. Currently the Southbend has a hiccup from time to time and when it happens it puts a .010 radius line either inside or outside when it happens. Needs work so I am currently not using it.

    I won't buy Chinese as their warranty's and what their machinery will do most time are not the same. Besides, America needs our money. Those shipping costs we can in many cases attribute that to Unions. I either hauled my own or found a friend to haul.

    Neal
     
  14. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    first of all 98% of all machinery shipped is via a non union source. The other 2% is via a specialized group. The biggest item in machinery moving is insurance. If you buy a lathe and have it setup you will pay the insurance fee twice, and if you do it on your own you will of course only pay the over the road insurance (it can easilly reach five figures). I know of no domestic unionized machine tool builder, unless it would be Monarch Cortland in New York (they don't make lathes) and I doubt that as well. Brown & Sharpe used to be, but think they are out of the machine tool business. All German pieces of equipment is of union manufacturer, and over half of the Jap stuff is. It's just not a big deal anymore as most all are cost competetive in labor, but engineering is another ball game. Engineering and design are where the money's spent. They may build a half dozen machines before the design is finalized, and in this day an age where half of the equipment is a custom design installation you really start to add the bucks. The one thing the Asians like todo is fill wharehouses with equipment to avoid the buyer having to wait a year or so for delivery. But even that is now considered to be a bad investment. Still 80% of the folks writting a check have absolutly no idea what they are buying. In my job, I usually did a minimum of a dozen onsite inspections to monitor the progress of a particular piece of equipment. Some folks were a waste of time to go up there as it was always done right, and some of them you had to be in there almost daily. The very worst were the small job shops.

    The thing I try to impress upon guys I know looking for a lathe (or really most anything) is frame design and construction. Most Asian stuff has a very weak frame design (even the big names). If the frame flexes or changes (they all do) you killed your accuracey. You cannot look at the spindle group and tell if it's a good design or a bad one without the blue prints in hand. But in a used piece you can at least check it for wear (85% of folks don't have a clue what and how). The ways are an over talked about subject, and in the better pieces of equipment there's little difference between a hand scraped bed and a ground one if they are in the same price range. You might try prying up on the lathe chuck with a three foot long 2x4 to see how much spindle movment is in there. Should be less than .001". You can tighten the spindle bearings inside the headstock, and it's really pretty easy to do.

    gary