need a good gunsmithing lathe????? What brand

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by reed mosser, May 10, 2005.

  1. reed mosser

    reed mosser Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    347
    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    I am looking to buy the best lathe I can for gunsithing with a decent price. I have been looking at 13x40 models by Jet, Birmgington, Grizzly, and KENT. The Birmingham 13 x 40 is the best price new at $2800 delivered. From what I understand the jet grizzly and Birmingham are all basically the same machine. I think the 13 x 40 is the right size? I want to get a good lathe on the first try I will be using it for around 10 barrel jobs a year. Any info would be helpful. Thanks Reed
     
  2. chris matthews

    chris matthews Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    838
    Joined:
    May 14, 2001
    All of those are cheap poorly made machines.
    Look at Sharp, Legun, Mori Seki, or Nardini....

    Oops, I re-read your post- those might be a bit pricy for ten barrel jobs a year....out of the ones you mentioned I would go with Jet. Widely available and easy to get parts for.
    The Birmingham's are complete junk. Not real fond of the Grizz's either....
     

  3. reed mosser

    reed mosser Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    347
    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    Thanks chris. I almost bought a jet last week. Like I said I might do 10 barrel and muzzle break jobs a year. The Jet seemed okay for the money. I know you get what you pay for I am just trying to get the best for the money for the limited use I am going to put it through. Thanks you been very helpful Reed
     
  4. heatseekins

    heatseekins Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    99
    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2005
    I have been using my father-in-law’s grizzly lathe to build my rifles. It leaves a lot to be desired, but it didn’t cost me anything /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif. You can get good results if you know the machine well and take your time setting them up. All of the cheaper imported lathes that I have played with vibrate uncontrollably at higher RPM’s (over 700) and you have to bend over about 6” to reach the hand wheels, Im only 5’10”……some lathes will limit your abilities so you will need to look closely at them. Are you chambering through the headstock or using a steady rest? If through the headstock make sure the spindle bore is large enough. The grizzly is a fair lathe, but I would agree with Chris and buy a jet over any other import. I would recommend looking for a higher quality used lathe first.
    Good luck, Glen
     
  5. Brent

    Brent Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,537
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2001
    Reed,

    I have not heard a good thing about the rest of them, just the JET from several BR smiths, that is what we have, the GH-1040 and it does seem to be a good one as well.

    The 10x40 is large enough to do anything I use it for but, I do not chamber between centers though.
     
  6. Brent

    Brent Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,537
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2001
    If you are not thuroughly familiar with what to look for in a lathe's condition etc, I would not buy a used lathe, period, unless someone that does, and you trust 100% checks it out for you, THUROUGHLY.
     
  7. longtooth

    longtooth Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    109
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2005
    I have always looked for older laths because for the most part they have more rigidity then the new ones. This also means they are heaver. I have found that if you contact a machine shop or put an ad in the paper you can find something in good shape for your price range, many older machines will come with extras like tool holders, taper attachments, spare chucks, and often an assortment of face plates and other handy thing-a-ma-bobs. Have you contacted a local community college to see if they have a machinist program, many offer night classes and you can use their machines and tooling. I think you will find yourself doing more then 10 barrels if you have a good machine.
     
  8. reed mosser

    reed mosser Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    347
    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    I am going to buy a new or very late model lathe. I am not familar enough with them to tell about wear and condition. I was going to try to chamber through the headstock. I thought I would get the 13x40 model, a little larger than I need but not much more money. I thought it was better to get one a little larger and maybe more stable. The jet 13x40 has 1 3-8 hole in it. THe largest baarrel s I will be doing will probably be 1.2 inches. I think im on the right track. But I need all the help I can get. Thanks
     
  9. Brent

    Brent Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,537
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2001
    The one we have's a GH-1340T not 1040.

    It's just a few years old. Spindle bore will take 1.5" stock, 1.55" ID I think.
     
  10. chessman

    chessman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    70
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2004
    If you compare Harbor Freight and Grizzly I think you will find that Grizzly sells the same Chinese junk as Harbor Freight at a higher price. What I have learned is that the Chinese tools use green iron castings that will shift over time. The Taiwanese (JET) used solution aged and stress relieved castings and will stay true. All of the cheaper lathes have some slop in the leads, but if you know what to correct to you can still do decent work - just now your limitations when you start working in areas that need extremely tight tollerances. I agree that buying used machines is a big risk. I have a friend who just bought a beautiful old Southbend, ony to find that the ways had been re-ground and the tailstock wasn't true to the head anymore. Now he is spending all his time trying to salvage the lathe.
     
  11. 3sixbits

    3sixbits Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    398
    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    chessman: I have and old SOUTHBEND 10x40 heavy, it has worn ways also. This is the best reason in the world not to chamber in the head that I can think of. I bought this lathe because it has and inch and 5/8" spindle bore ID. It wasn't until I talked to GALE McMILLAN and Bob Brackney that I learned why you don't want to chamber in the head. Most work done on lathes is done with the apron close to the head, Take a wild guess as to where most of the wear in the ways will be found? Where will be the least amount or no wear be found on the ways? Where the apron never or seldom is used and that is where the tail stock rests most of the time. Why the steady rest makes the most sense to work between centers? Well I know out there somewhere will be a machinist that has training that knows the answer already. But for those just along for the ride, here goes. Because that thing called the steady rest that you seldom find when buying a used lathe and that thing most people that buy a new lathe put away and never use cause they don't have a clue as to it's real purpose in life. It is made to allow the operator of the machine to get to exact center to do whatever operation needs to be preformed. When you find out what a pain in the rear it is to setup and use to thread, chamber and crown you understand why most people only chamber in the head. Now why would anybody want to make it that much harder on themselves? Only because they want to be in the center of the bore when they thread, chamber, and crown I guess! At least that's why I do. I would say it takes at least four to five times as long to fit a barrel this way as doing it in the head. Any of you users of Greg Tannel's tools and videos ever ask Greg why it takes him eight hours to fit a barrel? I wish that I had spent more time talking to ROY DUNLAP about barrel fitting in my youth than shooting high power but then he was my coach for shooting and not gunsmithing. By the time I got around to asking him questions about rifle work it had been years after his shop was empty and he was retired from gun work. But this I do know that his barrel work was done between centers and not through the head. In shooting it seems we all have a tendency to follow the leaders, I just wonder why it ends with barrel fitting? The purchase of the book "Gunsmithing Tips& Projects" is a great addition to anybodies bookshelves. Their-in you will find lots of good information on barrel fitting. Let the flames begin!
     
  12. Centre Punch

    Centre Punch Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    676
    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2004
    Reed,
    I have worked on Colchester lathes all of my working life and have my eye on a 7" x 40" for my home workshop(thats 7" centre height not swing).Good examples can be picked up second hand for less than what you will pay for a Chinese budget lathe. I dont know what the availabillity is of these lathes is in the USA,but check out, should i say it, Ebay. "The world turns on Colchester Lathes".

    Ian.
     
  13. reed mosser

    reed mosser Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    347
    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    I have contacted my local vocational technical school and am signed up to take a class this fall. I am trying to buy all the books I can on rifle barrel chambering and fitting. They have very good describtions of that. The only problem they don't have much about muzzle breaks. I want to get a book they shows me how to put on and make muzzle breaks. From my limited knowledge I think is is alot simpler to chamber a barrel than it is to put on a indexed muzzle break like a JP or tank style. I am trying to find info on breaks and having problems. I am trying to wait until I take my course to buy a lathe, but thats a long time to wait. I am going to try chambering through the headstock and the centers and see what works for me. My freind is also machinist and can help me if I get stuck on something. I have very limited knowledge of gunsmithing but I not scared to learn something new. Also I own all savages so that should make life a little easier to start with. Thanks
     
  14. chessman

    chessman Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    70
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2004
    3SIXBITS,

    I agree. I have found that there are usually a couple of ways to approach the same problem. I use an old Logan that my machinist Grandfather bought new. Since it never saw any production shop work, wasn't allowed to chatter, etc., the ways are clean enough do a halfway decent job working through the head. I still prefer to work between centers as you do.