What CNC lathe for barrel work?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by lazylabs, Mar 20, 2011.

  1. lazylabs

    lazylabs Well-Known Member

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    If you were going to get a used cnc lathe for some barrel work what would you suggest? I don't have any CNC stuff yet and would like take that step soon. I can take a couple classes in programing at the local schools. I just want to make a machine decision or at least direction so I know what kind of programming class would best suit my needs. I am not new to machining or barrel work just new to CNC.
     
  2. eddybo

    eddybo Well-Known Member

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    You may want to pick Chad Dixon's brain on that. He is the ony guy I know that uses CNC.
     

  3. fj40mojo

    fj40mojo Well-Known Member

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    G code is G code, base your decision on the control that you like the best,and I'd suggest that you look into a CAD/CAM program like GibbsCAM. As for a machine, IMHO for gun work you are going to want a Tool Room Lathe with hand as well as CNC controls. You are talking a bout a big investment for a hobby.

    Haas Automation Inc. - CNC - TL-1 - Details - LATHE_TL

    GibbsCAM CAD/CAM software - NC programming software for 2 axis, 3 axis, simultaneous 4 axis and 5 axis surface milling, multi axis lathe, swiss machining, MTM, Wire EDM | GibbsCAM - ENG
     
  4. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    if you asked me to go out and buy one to do that job, I'd simply order in a Hardingh slant bed lathe with the motorized tail stock and live tooling. You don't need X1 & X2 slides unless you plan on doing other jobs as well. Accuracey wise it's a solid .0003" lathe when properly aligned, and the live tooling will do a solid .0015". The spindle group is built well enough to withstand hard turning, and you probably could build a complete action off it if you so desired. How does it stack up against an Okuma or a Mazak? Beats the snot out of them! Those lathes can't run with a hardingh when it comes to speed and accuracey. Mori Sekis are junk, and spend more time broke down than being up and running. The downside with the Hardingh is getting your hands on one. They often are back ordered six to twelve months. But they actually come at about $25K less than a compairable Okuma, and as I said will smoke one seven days a week. The Jap lathes don't seem to take a good wreck very well, and often never run well after one. Their turrets are prone to misalignment, but after awhile folks that own them get good at realigning them! (I could do one in about an hour and a half). Okumas have always have a problem with the coolant system valves mounted under the turret indexing area, and never seem to seal up well in that area as well. Of the Jap lathes the Okuma is by far the best, but as I said it has it's own set of problems. And I didn't mention the electrical system on the Okuma! It can be a nightmare when the grid switches screw up. But still if you have a good one it's usually a six or seven tenth machine (that's very good). None of the Jap lathes have good chucking systems, but a few do offer SP and Cushman chuck systems as an option. Stay away from the Asian systems as they are are mess! In spades!! All these lathes use the same Fanuc controll which is OK at best. Rumor has it that you can buy a G&L lathe with the Gemini controll. This is the design that Fanuc copied, but the Gemini is far more user friendly (and much more reliable). A Hardingh with the Gemini controll would be the best lathe on the planet period!
    gary
     
  5. shortgrass

    shortgrass Well-Known Member

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    Can't help but wonder what the 'pay out' would be on that. Sorry, maybe I'm stuck in the past, but can't see the advantage for barrel work, for production work, he!! yes!
     
  6. nitrousmudbogger

    nitrousmudbogger Well-Known Member

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    We have a nardini that works pretty well. Only thing that sucks is the headstock cannot fit a barreled action in it so barrels need to come off or turned on centers.
    Bridgeport had an "easy path" that was kind of the same.
    Gibbs is pretty advanced and over kill in my opinion. Maybe bob cad or just use the machines features.
    Depends on your budget really and how much you really really want to get into cnc
     
  7. lazylabs

    lazylabs Well-Known Member

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    I would certainly use the lathe for stuff other than barrel work but barreling would be the hardest job it would see. I figure that if I am going to spend a bunch of money to get a lathe with better tolerances than what I have I might as well move to the CNC world. The action makers and barrel makers are going CNC so the rest of us gun nuts will probably end up there eventually.... right?
     
  8. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    a true CNC lathe is a ball game not fore a novice. Something like a Southwest Trac that has a user programable feature (similar to a Prototrak) is completely different. Your also looking at spending a lot more money for a good CNC lathe. It's not hard to spend $10K on tooling alone, and twice that is in the picture. Not all NC lathes (or anything else) are built to the same standards. Yet most folks expect them to be that way. Downtime is money, and few folks know how to seriously deal with a malfunctioning piece of equipment. That will cost you roughly $120 an hour (some folks get well over $200). It's not too hard to spend $10K on a wreck (chucks alone run about $120 an inch). Another problem is in getting parts to repair a machine. Many companys have bought into the just in time inventory, and often take ten days to two weeks for parts. So you best have something that dosn't break very often (they all do).
    gary
     
  9. lazylabs

    lazylabs Well-Known Member

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    Tricky

    I see what your saying by the expense. I will have to spend quite a bit on tooling but a few tools at a time and picking up stuff used(not abused) I should be able to get a good setup together. The hard part is trying to tell specs from reality. I think there should be good used machines that even a novice can learn on, everyone has to start on something. That's what I can sift out what can you get that is quality but reasonable for VERY low production requirement. I am not making huge parts with massive amounts of stock removal.
     
  10. TexasHunter

    TexasHunter <strong>SPONSOR</strong>

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    So far, we are a traditional manual lathe shop. However, the guys out at Stiller Precision use a Harrison Alpha series and love it. I've had them chamber a few barrels for us recently and the quality is superb and the whole job can be done in about an hour including setup and final chamber touch up.
     
  11. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    no doubt that what you said is true. But when you buy a used piece of equipment, you'd best know how to check it out. 90% don't! And as I said some machines don't come back from major wrecks very well (it only take one good wreck), and believe me I have had to put many a machine back together after an event. I've said it a hundred times that the very best hand lathe ever sold for anything we'd ever want to do is a Monarch Double E. But they're also hard to find with no spare parts out there.
    gary
     
  12. Nape.270

    Nape.270 Well-Known Member

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    I have been programing ( mazatrol ), setting up and running Mazak's for about 6 years and that is what I will get some day to do the same thing you are wanting to do.
     
  13. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    if your looking at a Jap CNC lathe, the Okuma is the best by a wide margin. Better engineered, Uses the controll software package Fanuc stole off of Meridian, and applied it to turning centers. But still far inferior to the Hardinghs. Lodge & Shiply did a model called a "minute turn" many years back that was capable of doing 24" a minute at 2400rpm, but they no longer are out there. Think they came out of Germany. I like the contoll that G&L uses better than anybody elses. It's the one everybody copied years ago, but never completely got it right (actually a K&T design).

    But if your talking machine centers, you need to also be looking at real machines. In todays world the best machine centers come from G&L. You just can't get better than an "MM" series machine no matter how much money you spend (and they don't come in cheap). There is an Okuma (not the lathe company) that is very similar to the old Saginaws, but with a much better frame design. Makinos are probably the best Jap machine centers (I don't care where they claim they're made), but a G&L will smoke one seven days a week. By the way the fastest machine I've ever seen is a G&L Ram series. Not recommended for the novice!! When you crash this beast you spend serious cash!! (rapid travel moves are 3600 IPM). But without the slightest hesitation the fastest machine center on the market, but a bear to fix! I hate them
    gary
     
  14. NesikaChad

    NesikaChad Well-Known Member

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    I've used two turning centers for barrel work:

    A Harrison ALPHA 1330 U and my Doosan 280N II MecaTec.

    Both have inherent advantages and disadvantages over the other.


    The Harrison has a very simple conversational programming set up that'll get you going.

    If your G code fluent it'll annoy the hell out of you as you don't have the control that straight code offers.

    The Doosan is my machine of choice. This little biche just flat out rips.

    I can thread, chamber a barrel in a very short amount of time and I'll lock horns with anyone who suggests I'm using it in a "production" capacity.

    That is the true power of creative programming once you get a handle on it. My thread fits are exceptional. As are the surface finishes and the accuracy of the chambered bore.

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    It's all in the setup and the way the tool is used to remove stock.


    Last,

    If your not experienced with the equipment I suggest you get the experience on someone elses dime first.

    Any modern machine is going to have G0 rapid rates in excess of 1,000 ipm. They move very quickly so you better have your poop in a group before hitting the cycle smash button.

    Barrels are not cheap and the delivery lead times don't offer much for error. Not unless your sitting on piles of cash anyway. If so, call me and I'll certainly help you spend it! :)

    Coolant choice can make or break you. This isn't the land of pissing a little oil on the cylinder. I run at over 800SFM on some of my cycles. Inserts are almost $20 each. Run them dry and you'll have a nice coffee can full of burnt up tools that yield about $7 bucks a pound at best when taking it to the recyclers.

    [​IMG]

    It's a very, very powerful tool that can really raise the bar on quality, performance, and presentation. Just make sure the guy flying the thing knows his/her chit. Common sense says you don't turn a 14 year old with a learners permit loose with a new ZR Vette.


    C.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2011