Lathes - What do you have?

Discussion in 'Horological Tools' started by Michael-BTD, Jan 23, 2017.

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  1. Michael-BTD

    Michael-BTD Registered User

    Dec 3, 2016
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    Clock Repairer
    Cooma NSW
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    Hello All.

    I am considering purchasing a new lathe for clock repair and instead of asking which lathe to get, I'm asking which lathe do you have? what works for you?

    Which Lathe or Lathes do you have, what are its pro's and con's? (throw up some photos too)

    Looking forward to seeing what you have.
     
  2. David S

    David S Registered User
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    Dec 18, 2011
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    Brockville, On Canada
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    Michael, before I answer I would like to know if you have a mill or intend some day to get a mill. Having a lathe and mill from the same supplier like Sherline allows you to share / interchange tooling easily.

    Oh and just noticed that you are a fairly new member, so welcome as well and hope you enjoy our club.

    David
     
  3. Britannicus

    Britannicus Registered User

    Apr 26, 2016
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    #3 Britannicus, Jan 24, 2017
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 31, 2017
    Hi Dave welcome to the club - I'm from the UK so will do this in brit terms I'm afraid

    Depends on what you want to do - I'm a total newbie and asked this precise question about 4 months ago, so I'll share my experience

    Sherline Axminster and Proxxon seem common - Sherline particularly in the USA. Many cheaper models are actually a re-badging of the SIEG C0, C1-C3 etc. lathes, these don't seem to be to bad . there are some exceptionally poor machines on ebay arouns £100 - DON'T BUY - These are just toys !

    On looking expect to pay £400 + and then more for parts for a decent model maker's mini lathe. This was a bit rich for my blood :). My need was to manufacture and repair pocket watch pieces, so I discussed this with my Guru (86 years old - a watchmaker for 60 of them and old school!). He recommended I look for a decent second hand watchmakers lathe after all these were built for the job. I looked around - Tony's lathe site is encyclopedic !
    http://www.lathes.co.uk/pultra/page8.html

    I ended up getting a £200 Pultra with fittings, not powerful but very precise - Lorche and Boley are very similar 8mm machines. These are low power but beautifully made and due to low stress, often in good condition despite being 50+ years old.


    attachment.jpg attachment.jpg


    I'm very much a newbie and finding my way round the old girl still. I've found I've had to manufacture a few simple adaptors to fit more available tooling. These fit 8mm collets in the normal way.

    I have a tendency to break my drive belt, due I think my general incompetence, but replacements are easy for around £1 a meter (which makes 3). It's worth checking out youtube for tutorials on grinding your own gravers, cheaper and better than you can buy - takes about 10 mins with a grind stone.

    Hope this makes a bit of sense for you and good luck

    aa pultra1.jpg AA. Pultra.jpg
     
  4. Michael-BTD

    Michael-BTD Registered User

    Dec 3, 2016
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    Cooma NSW
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    #4 Michael-BTD, Jan 25, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2017
    Hello David,

    Right now I have a hafco lathe/drill/mill combination which i picked up in a deceased estate years ago for practically nothing. I also have an old boley 8mm watchmakers lathe which I mainly use for pivot polishing.

    I was looking into getting a sherline as an option. People say good things about them. It is difficult to decide which package to buy though.

    My new lathe is going to be used mainly for wheel/pinion cutting, making clock parts. I can get by with my hafco but I would like something that's a step up from that.
     
  5. Dick Feldman

    Dick Feldman Registered User

    Sep 1, 2000
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    Michael,

    No one here can give you the correct answer as to what lathe/mill to own.
    Price, of course, will influence your choice but the features of the machine you choose will probably have a great bearing. Will you shop for used machine/s or new? If used, is the machine currently being made (Parts and serviceability)? Much will be determined by what you plan to use the machine/s for. For instance, if you plan to use the machine/s for one off projects, it may be futile to own a CNC machine.

    Some things you should consider are:
    â–ºCapacity and expected tolerances: How big a part can be machined, what are the limits of the travel on each axis? Are you willing to sacrifice accuracy for price by choosing Asian built machine/s.
    â–ºSpindle Speed: How easy is it to change spindle speed. Will that take a pulley/belt change or simply turning a knob?
    â–ºTooling: Does the machine come out of the box with any tooling to get you started. (With one manufacturer, the tail stock is an accessory). A substantial portion of your final investment will be accessory tooling. For instance: A dividing head and accessory plates may become a higher investment than a rotary table when the rotary table may offer greater accuracy and ease of use.
    â–ºVersatility: How does the tooling mount? Are you dealing with Morse taper, mm. collets, threads and if threads, what thread mount? How much are you willing to pay for luxuries like digital read out or power feed?

    My story---I repair clocks. No watches and I avoid balance escapements. That is my preference. When I foresee something I am not comfortable with, I job out that portion of the project. I started many years ago with a basic Sherline mill and it has served me well. I did not own a lathe. As time went on, I made a favorable trade for a Unimat lathe. Those have not been made for many years and there is a culture of collectors. Those factors accelerate the price of any accessories and those accessories are often worn, incomplete and/or beat up. I worked for a while with the two systems and found that I was continually making adaptors, etc. to machine one piece on both machines. After a while, I made the decision to sell the Unimat lathe and to purchase a new Sherline lathe. The sale of the old lathe paid for most of the new purchase. At the same time, I invested in a new, Sherline 4 jaw scrolling chuck and a manual Sherline rotary table. That was a wise move as now all of the tooling will interchange between the two machines. I had investigated Asian tooling and at the advice of members of this board, have stuck to Sherline tooling. The change I made eliminated a bundle of frustration with the machining part of my business. I now have an accurate system that is compatible. For instance, I can now turn a piece on the lathe and transfer it directly to the mill without dismounting, indicating, etc. I can return to the lathe with a piece in a matter of a few seconds. The four jaw chuck is thread mount to the lathe as well as to the rotary table.

    Do you have a NAWCC chapter there? Do you have a parallel organization? NAWCC Marts are an ideal place to learn and purchase lathes, mills and tooling. Also, check out the different manufacturer web pages. Both Sherline and Taig have very informative videos showing the use of their machines. http://www.taigmachines.com/ and http://www.sherline.com/pages/tips.htm Even if you decide to buy something else; those videos contain a lot of good information that will help with your decision.

    Best of luck with your quest. I am sure the participants here would appreciate hearing from you on your decisions and results.

    Best,

    Dick Feldman
     
  6. emhitch

    emhitch Registered User
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    Mar 17, 2009
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    pittsburgh, pa
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    Michael, I have been quite satisfied with my Taig lathe for clock repair for about a decade now. As a worthwhile upgrade and as you can see from a quick internet search, many people have replaced the Taig AC motor with a variable speed DC motor. This eliminates the need to adjust the speed by changing pulley positions. I too have replaced the Taig issued AC motor with a variable speed DC motor from Sherline. I fabricated a custom foot pedal to allow me to infinitely vary the lathe speed using a 5K wire wound potentiometer and an inexpensive foot pedal from Harbor Freight Tools (just used the molded parts). Just remember, the initial lathe purchase is just that, initial. You will likely double your initial expenditure when you add various fixture, collets, and attachments. Good luck with it! attachment.jpg attachment.jpg attachment.jpg
     

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  7. David S

    David S Registered User
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    Dec 18, 2011
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    Michael without know which model of hafco mill / lathe combo it is hard to recommend what would give you more capability. As Dick as mentioned interchangeable tooling is a huge asset in my opinion.

    I started hobby machining in the 70's, before the internet, craiglslist etc. I purchased the Unimat DB200, and over time acquired quite a few accessories. This was great to learning...and teaching me patience...since it was slow going at times. However the ability to turn and mill was very useful.

    Eventually I got into a bit larger stuff rebuilding old small engines and purchased an Atlas 618 from the original owner who was a machinist and bought it to make a replica steam locomotive. That was in the late 70's and it has been my main go to lathe ever since. (I still have the Unimat). I have all sorts of accessories that I have made for the Atlas. My "mill" is a tricked out Japanese made JET 13R bench top drill press. The rotary table has an MT2 centre that I can share with my Atlas, so can move things around.

    I work on other things besides clocks so I like the larger work envelope than the smaller taig's or the Sherline.

    Since you are in Australia your choices make be different from what we have here.

    Keep us informed and you go forward.

    David
     
  8. AJSBSA

    AJSBSA Registered User

    Nov 24, 2009
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    Clockmaker
    Cheshire, UK
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    been happy with my Cowells for a long time but I have always fancied this Japanese camera lathe and I am having a lot of fun with as it is slightly bigger but is actually more portable so I can store it under the bench and bring out when needed.
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