Thread: Lathe suggestions?
These Epple machines look like Chinese machines (could they be German copies of Chinese machinery)
Not sure when "tomorrow" is (might have been today, Friday?) but if anyone is around Saturday, I'm on the SMEE stand, probably standing next to the spark eroder. I was there today as well, but no reason why anyone would have recognised me.
I was having a look at the Warco lathes myself. I bought a second-hand British "toolroom" machine a little while ago, and still wonder whether a new similar size (and similar price) Warco lathe would have been a better choice. I was more interested in the bigger floor-standing machines so can't really comment on bench-mount lathes. I would also be looking for things like imperial/metric screwcutting which might not be on everyone's list. Whatever the machine, I'd find it difficult to live without a QCTP, and now my lathe had one, DRO. Makes the whole imperial/metric issue redundant (except for screwcutting).
Thread dial indicator - my lathe has a metric leadscrew, and for the TDI to work correctly for all the threads available on the gearbox, you need three different wormwheels for it. Fortunately, my favourite threads are covered by the one on there as this is one of the few accessories missing. Imperial leadscrews and threads generally seem to work fine without this fiddly detail.
That's good info on the separate shafts, I'll see if that is available in my price range.
I'm starting to see where you are coming after today - totalled up a few goodies, QCTP, DROs, tailstock chuck, tailstock live centre, range of tools . . .it runs into hundreds of pounds. So I need to think about the whole package before I decide.
Apologies, I had to leave work very much later than planned today so it was a whistle stop tour, making sure I at least had a good look on the Warco stand, then back home again before my passout expired. I don't think I even walked around the whole show as I didn't see the spark eroder this year. So very sorry I didn't seek out the SMEE stand.
By chance I bumped into an old friend who happened to own a Warco lathe (WM240B). This is cheaper than the models I posted in post#1, is very slightly smaller, does not have the electronic variable speed (all belt changes), but in the end would probably do the same sort of jobs that I would need. So for the price of the more expensive lathe I could have this one with all the toys thrown in. In terms of thread cutting he asked whether I would really do that much and if required you can add a die holder to the tailstock if the thread is on the end of the work, which it often is. I was starting to get drawn to this 240B model then he added that he had thought about upgrading to an AC motor and invertor to get more torque when running slower. Well that feature is already on the more expensive 250V model so now I'm going back round in circles!
Time to park it for a week and let everything soak in. Big thanks to all the comments above it is very helpful.
The reason i highlighted the separate feed shaft was the fact that i was in the same situation as yourself when i bought my lathe 40 year ago(strapped for cash) I bought an Elliot Emcomat7L and @ the time it cost GBHP750 which was a fair lump of cash. I have always regretted not getting the next model up that had the power feedshaft and larger capacity. to try and save wear on my leadscrew i rough a job out using the handwheel on the saddle and reserve the leadscrew for the final finishing cut. trust me this can get a bit old very quickly.One major benefit of owning a lathe is you can produce a thread of almost any diameter and pitch, external and internal.
The choice is yours but i would buy the best spec machine as previously advised and wait till you can afford the additional toys. I only got my QCT about a year ago and i am not over impressed as the tool holder overhangs the the end of the topslide adding a levering action. you can manage perfectly well without one, all you do is keep your packing with the tool so you don't have to set the hight until you do a regrind.
Don't buy lathe that isn't capable of screw cutting, you will at some point down the line regret it bitterly or have to swap.
Don't over-estimate the value of a gearbox, it forces you to choose metric or imperial (unless the lathe is very posh and does both), you then still have to add changewheels to cut threads in the other system and oddball pitches.
If your leadscrew and half-nuts are kept clean and lightly oiled wear should not be an issue, my 1950s Myford has no perceptible wear in the leadscrew and I know it saw production use before I bought it in the 1990s.
Power cross-feed is nice, but like any power feed it allows the novice to achieve bigger crashes, faster and doesn't make jobs much easier, neater or faster, don't ask how I learned this! ;-)
DROs are absolute magic on a lathe, I wouldn't go back to working without them, almost all turning jobs are quicker and easier with a DRO.
Don't over-value built-in motor/controller combinations fitted by the manufacturer, IMHO a good separate VFD and standard size 3-phase motor is always a better option where the power and torque can meet your needs.
You can always find a good replacement VFD second hand or off the shelf, even if your lathe model is obsolete.
You don't need a QCTP, but if you do have a DRO and are making a batch of parts you can set Zero 1, 2, 3, 4... for tools 1, 2, 3, 4.... and get stuck in, saves you a bunch of buggering about, but then if money is tight and/or time means nothing to you it's perfectly possible to do without a QCTP.
Some people will tell you that you need only inserted tooling, some people will tell you that you need only hand ground HSS, ignore them all, your needs will vary from theirs, buy what you need/is appropriate for the job in hand, you'll probably end up with a mixture of inserted, brazed tip and HSS.
The Following User Says Thank You to magicniner For This Useful Post:
All good advice thank you, really appreciate it. The separate leadscrew m/c starts at £1850 (WM280V) and I think that would be a bit too expensive. I only get an hour or 2 in the workshop at most each week, often less, so wear probably won't be an issue.
I've had an offer from the friend I mentioned above to have a play with his WM250B but it will have to be in a couple of weeks time, so I'll do that to give me a start point.
Well I visited the Warco open day last weekend and finally ordered a lathe !
I had narrowed my choices down to the WM250 (£1195) and the WM250 with invertor (£1475). I started asking a few questions and asked about the special offer on their website for one of the lathes (free extra goodies which I wanted to buy anyway). Turns out that the offer would apply to any of the lathes above, plus they would offer a show discount.
So I asked for them to be run up. The WM250 has a DC motor with variable speed control and gave a constant hum all the time which although not loud could get annoying. However the WM250 invertor had a VFD control and sounded much nicer straight away. I also asked if the invertor had terminals to allow separate control of speed, direction etc. (thinking of a future CNC conversion) and the salesman paused as I don't think he'd been asked that before. The lathes were tight against the wall so we couldn't see round the back to check.
I asked to price up the WM250 invertor lathe including the offer and discount and I got the follow list:
Lathe (with all the usual bits - 3 jaw, 4-jaw, faceplate, travelling and fixed steadies etc.) (£1475)
Live centre, set of 9off 12mm indexable tools, tailstock chuck (£113) (these were the 'free offer' bits)
DRO 2 axis read out with 500mm and 100mm scale (£280)
Nice parting off tool with insert (£33)
QCTP including small modification to make it fit (£140)
This would have been £2041, but the offer total was £1648 ! Well that was an easy one. So now I have the WM250 invertor model on order with all the above bits. This comes with the power cross feed as well, although it still only has the single main feed screw on the saddle. As I plan to CNC convert it with ballscrews at some point neither of these things matter but I suspect that will be some time away.
So I've cleared one of the benches, just need to wait for the order to arrive now (some items on back order). Meanwhile, here is the stock photo:
The lathe arrived this week - hurray!
It arrived in a big wrapped wooden box:
The drip tray was on top in bubble wrap:
Levering off the lid revealed the well packed machine with all the accessories:
The invertor is behind this cover. A branded model, with a branded contactor, so bodes well:
A look behind the end cover panel:
Sensor for the rpm readout (there is a once-per rev small metal rod sticking out of the shaft):
Should be quiet easy to add a multi-pulse index wheel for cnc threading (at some far distant time!)
Declared run-out not too bad (will check if this is accurate later):
Started stripping off some of the parts to make it lighter and give better access to fit the DROs:
Started on the cross-slide DRO. A bit worried that the one supplied for this machine is 100mm travel but the cross-slide travel is about 115mm. Admittedly it probably won't go right to the back of the machine but if in the future I forget it could damage the sensor. I'll ask Warco about it this week if I get a chance. May have to limit slide travel.
I can't see any way to make the standard brackets which come with the DRO fit. The slide has to be stepped back to give access to the saddle lock cap head (and clear the gib lock bolts), be low enough to miss the top slide, and the read head has to be positioned so that it can travel the whole range. This puts it in the middle of no-where. So, made some measurements and did some CAD. Printed it out as a trial fit:
Setting up some 6mm aluminium plate:
Light coat of Zinc spray, drilled and tapped the carriage (M4) and offered it up:
Starting to dial in the read head bracket. So far looks like it needs about 0.4mm shim on the left. Note that the main body is NOT attached to the slide yet, it's just loose on the reader. Once dialled in vertically I'll do the fore/aft dial in using the slots in my bracket.
This is in the same position as the Warco display model but I do need to be careful that the tailstock does not get slammed into the back of it during use. It will hit the 6mm bracket not the sensor itself but it is only secured with 2off M4 into soft cast iron so could do some damage. Maybe add a rubber bump stop on the tailstock front edge?
Thinking ahead I had a look at the longer DRO for the Z axis. Since this mounts on a non-machined surface it needs to be levelled. I was disappointed that the kit did not come with levelling blocks so I'll have to make my own.
Here is the Warco display example which uses grub screws top and bottom to dial it in:
Looking further ahead - I will obviously need to lift it onto the bench I also tried to feel the weight at the tailstock end and the chuck end and it is still very heavy. I had got a few friends lined up to help lift it but now I'm not so sure. Will probably hire an engine crane to be on the safe side.
I note from photo 3 that they are still printing "This Way Up" arrows on the wrong face of the box...
A friend of mine recently got a lathe (Colchester student, model up from mine) and bought some carbide-tipped tools for it from aliexpress. I was a little hesitant, but they seem pretty good and very cheap, so you may want to consider that. It's all to easy to spend as much as the lathe cost on tooling for it, given time...
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