What lathe to buy

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing' started by BOBCAT SNIPER, Mar 7, 2010.

  1. BOBCAT SNIPER

    BOBCAT SNIPER Well-Known Member

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    WHAT LATHE DO I BUY I DONT WANT TO HAVE TO BUY ANOTHER WHEN I LEARN WHAT IM DOING IT WILL ONLY BE FOR MY OWN GUNS THANKS DONT LIKE TO G.A.L.[GET ANOTHER LATER] ALSO WHERE DO I GET REAMER FOR 338AM IT SOUNDS LIKE THAT WILL BE NEXT ON MY LIST OF HAVE TO HAVE
    gun)
     
  2. Chas1

    Chas1 Well-Known Member

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    Grizzly carries many metal lathes and several Gunsmith lathes. Small world too, they also sell Krieger barrels and the President of Grizzley also has several national records in F-class shooting. Try this link:

    Grizzly.com -- Product Categories
     

  3. Fitch

    Fitch Well-Known Member

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    +1 on the G4009G gunsmith lathe. If I didn't already have a lathe that will chamber barrels thorugh the headstock, that's the one I'd buy. I think it's hard to beat for the money and it has the features needed to support both hobby and professional barrel work as well as about any other lathe task within it's size range.

    I've been in the Grizzly showroom in Muncy, PA. I saw both the G4009G and the G0509G, twisted the knobs, looked them over pretty good. I definitely liked what I saw. The more expensive one is nicer (no belt changes required to get all the speeds and nicer feeling lead screws), but the smaller one is completely adequate and would last a life time, or even two. Grizzly stocks parts and accessories (trust me on this, you will spend the cost of the lathe in tooling before it's over) over the long haul - a major feature. Things like a DRO, etc. are very nice additions.

    That said, any good quality 12x36 gear head import with a 1-1/2" or larger spindle bore that will do both metric and imperial threads will work. A number of European rifles have metric threads on the barrel so metric thread capability is almost mandatory unless one is going to restrict themselves to strictly domestic actions.

    The lathe is the most important first machine tool. Getting one that won't need to be upgraded is a heck of a good idea because not too far down the road you will want a mill ... I did ... :D

    Fitch
     
  4. Chas1

    Chas1 Well-Known Member

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    Fitch, good feedback and insight, sounds like you've been a round a lathe or two.
     
  5. Fitch

    Fitch Well-Known Member

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    I have a few thousand hours with them. I've used them as a hobby machinist for ~ 60 years more or less. They are a lot of fun.

    Fitch
     
  6. BOBCAT SNIPER

    BOBCAT SNIPER Well-Known Member

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    Thanks i will look into the fine advice i have a lot to learn have not ben on one since high scool shop class but have nat found anything i could not do by the way whatis a dro.
     
  7. Fitch

    Fitch Well-Known Member

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    DRO = Digital Read Out. It shows the position of the machine in thousandts of an inch. It's just like having a digital caliper attached to the carriage and cross slide of your lathe. I don't have one on either of my lathes but I do have one on my mill. It's the handiest accessory I ever bought for my mill. My buddy, the gunsmith, has a Grizzly DRO on his chambering lathe and another on the tail stock. Watching him use that I have put it at the top of my list of things to get for the shop.

    There are lots of manufacturers of them. This is a link to the DRO's sold by Grizzly. Grizzly.com -- Online Catalog

    Fitch
     
  8. blackbrush

    blackbrush Well-Known Member

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    Fitch,

    The Grizzly line is like Barry Manilow...you either love'm or strongly dislike him. I have seen several gunsmiths who do work on competitive quality ingredients and turn out some sexy stuff.

    Being down in Texas, I have never had a chance to see one.

    It is my understanding Grizzly will soon be marketing the Heavy 10 from South Bend. That is all I know at this time as I am not aware of any other info being released as of yet.

    Your timing is quite fortunate.

    Wally
     
  9. Fitch

    Fitch Well-Known Member

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    Grizzly "owns" South Bend. The South Bend lathes are in Grizzly's 2010 catalog. I own a near perfect condition 9" South Bend Model A, 4-1/2' ways, with about every attachment made for it except the turret tail stock and production cross slide. It is a really cool little lathe, been in the family since my dad bought it new around 1950, first lathe I ever used, and I still have it. I spent about 12 hours working with it in the last couple of weeks in fact. Made 3 sets of alignment studs and pillars similar to these (for a 1953 M70) to use in the three bedding projects recently completed:

    [​IMG]

    Machined this adaptor to attach a Hawkeye borescope to my Nikon 990 on my Taiwanese Import lathe:

    [​IMG]

    I can chamber through the headstock on my import lathe:

    [​IMG]

    But if I had to sell one of my lathes, I'd sell the South bend and keep the 12"x36" Taiwanese Import I bought 20 some years ago. It does metric and imperial threads, has 33% bigger swing, a bigger spindle hole, 4 times the horse power, a D1-4 spindle that won't unscrew the chuck when reversed, 3 phase motor that will plug reverse (extremely handy when doing metric threads that won't pickup on the thread dial), and higher spindle speeds. In addition to which it came with a face plate, 3J, 4J, thread dial, and metric thread gears,

    The big Grizzly has a 2 speed motor and will do about every type of metric and imperial thread known to man with no gear changes.

    I wouldn't trade my Taiwanese import for a South Bend Heavy 10. Having owned and worked with both a near perfect condition old South Bend (the paint is old but the hand scraping still shows on the ways near the headstock) and one of "those" imports, the import is the better, more capable, lathe for the money by such a big margin it's hard to describe it.

    South Bend may actually make a lathe the size of the imports like the Grizzly (which I think is a better lathe than my import that I like so much) but it will cost between 4X and 5X as much. Their new heavy 10 will sell for north of $20,000.00 with almost no tooling.

    For home and professional gunsmith work which isn't high production, the import lathes with good headstock bearings, like the Grizzly, work very well. The cutting loads are low when chambering and threading. The lathe needs to be rigid with respect to those loads and the 12"x36" imports are plenty rigid.

    I realize there are some folks that just got "hooked" on the idea that somehow a 4,500# big old lathe with 450 rpm max spindle speed is some how better than the new smaller lathes, but looking at it objectively, I don't agree. For what the original poster stated he wants to do, which isn't work on Farm Machinery, any of the Grizzly Gunsmith series of lathe will do the job and leave him grinning from ear to ear.

    So will any of the quality import lathes of the same size. Harbor Freight doesn't sell an acceptable lathe, nor to they supply the kind of support one will need over the long haul in terms of accessories, etc. A lathe is a long term investment.

    If money was no object, I might own a new South Bend. That isn't the case, money is an object, so I don't own a new South Bend.

    Anywho, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    Fitch
     
  10. Chas1

    Chas1 Well-Known Member

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    Fitch, nice machining and a good read. Thanks for sharing.
     
  11. vintec

    vintec Well-Known Member

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    Just throwing this out there. There are alaot of used industrail quality lathes floating around with alot of machine shops going CNC. If you look around you can get a steal on any type of machine. Google used CNC and alot of these dealers have smoking deals on some older manual machines

    Vince
     
  12. Fitch

    Fitch Well-Known Member

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    Good point.

    Things to look for in a lathe to be used for gunsmithing:

    Good spindle bearings.

    At least a 1-1/2" spindle through hole.

    No more than 18" from spindle nose to the back end of the spindle. 14" is better. This dimension plus the distance from the spindle nose to the jaws of the 4J chuck plus about 1-1/2" is the shortest barrel that can be done through the headstock. If it is 18" you can make a spider chuck for the front of the spindle to use in place of the 4J - it is thinner and permits chambering shorter barrels. A spider chuck looks like this one I made:

    [​IMG]

    There needs to be enough length on the back end of the spindle to cross drill it like this for supporting the other end of the barrel through the headstock:

    [​IMG]

    Or to at least fit a spider attachment like this (yes, those are home made bolts - it was quicker to make them than find a store with the right size):

    [​IMG]

    Cross drilled spindle on one end the spider chuck on the other, my lathe which is pretty short through the headstock will do a barrel as short as 19-1/2".

    Minimum spindle speed of no more than 70 rpm, 35 or 40 rpm is better Ithreading twoard a tenon shoulder the first few times 70 rpm will seem fast but with some practice on a piece of aluminum one learns how it's done. A highest spindle speed of at least 1,200 rpm is good for polishing, a few hundred rpm more is even better.

    Ability to do metric and imperial threads.

    If the lathe doesn't come with a 3J, 4J, face plate, headstock center, tail stock center, quick change tool post, and tail stock chuck, price them seperately and include that in the total cost to have the lathe usable.

    In my opinion, a 3ph lathe is better than a single phase lathe because it can be almost instantly reversed. On a 3ph lathe you can flip the lever from forward to reverse and the lathe will very quickly do a full power stop and reverse. Doesn't work on a single phase motor - it has to slow down enough to engage the start capacitor or it will just continue at full power in the original direction.

    This instant revere capability is very handy when doing metric threads.

    I mention this because a lot of surplus industrial machinery will be three phase. Don't let that put you off - building a 3ph converter to run it is really easy to do - they are like dirt simple. Running a lathe off a variable frequency converter takes away the ability to flip it directly to reverse and have it reverse instantly.

    Thread dial (for imperial threads - metric threads are pretty much all done with out disengaging the half nuts because they don't pickup).

    A non-threaded spindle nose. D1-4, D1-6 or similar.

    Find someone who knows lathes to go with you to inspect the lathe. Some tool room manual lathes are in super condition, some are ridden hard and put away wet.

    Fitch
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2010
  13. Chas1

    Chas1 Well-Known Member

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    Fitch, on the bolts you made is that brass on the ends of the threaded area? I'm assuming whatever the metal it is to prevent marring??? I'm not a machinist and know next to nothing in this area, just learning.
     
  14. Fitch

    Fitch Well-Known Member

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    Yes, those are brass tips. I put them on to prevent the bolts from scarring the barrel. I put them on the tips of any bolts that will be used to clamp a gun part in the lathe.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see, I counter bore the bolt, turn a little brass "top hat", and then glue it in the bolt with Red Locktite.

    Most of the clamp bolts I use are 3/8" fine thread. I bought 3' of 5/16" brass rod some time ago. 3' of rod will make over 50 (probably closer to 70) of these little brass tips. These are the spider screws I use in the back end of the spindle on my lathe.

    To hold the bolts for counterboring I make a short threaded sleeve. Screw the bolt into the sleeve, then chuck it in the 3J and have at it. Machine the insert part of the brass about .001" smaller than the drilled hole, glue it in, and your good to go.

    Fitch