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  1. #1
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    Jul 2015
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    Default New lathe selection help

    Good afternoon everyone,

    I have been browsing the forum for a while now and finally decided to join. I was hoping some of you could provide me with some assistance, I know a lot of what I am about to ask has been covered before, however, a lot of the information is no longer current (dead links, superseded models etc).

    My situation is as follows:
    I have owned one of the Chinese C2 Seig lathes for about 2.5 years now and feel that it is time to upgrade to something bigger. I also have an X2 mill, however, I am happy with the size of the mill (for now). Essentially I use my equipment to fabricate small steam engines and other miscellaneous items and am having a lot of trouble turning flywheels to a suitable size on the C2. I have been researching lathes for a while and I am trying to find one which meets my requirements whilst staying in budget. I would like the following in my next lathe:
    Budget = Approx $2000
    250x500 in size (or larger)
    Powered cross feed
    Camlock tail stock
    Thread cutting ability
    Some sort of quick change gear box
    240v single phase (or VFD controlled)
    3 and 4 jaw chucks

    I am having trouble finding many lathes online and have essentially come up with the following thoughts:
    HAFCO AL-51G Good looking unit with good online support, however no powered cross feed, slightly smaller than I was after.
    HAFCO AL-250G The front runner at the moment, however, It has a poor online following (a lot of negative reviews) and does not include a 4 jaw chuck as standard.
    HAFCO Optimum TU-2506V No powered cross feed, no 4 jaw chuck as standard.
    Titan TL280VFD slightly expensive Unknown 4 jaw chuck inclusion, no cam lock tail stock (odd as the model bellow it does).
    Optimum TU-3008V This lathe looks perfect however I cannot find it in Australia, an ebay search revealed it is priced at 4000 euros
    .

    I have considered second hand but the following concerns me: Spare parts availability, no warranty, Distance traveled to then walk away (I am in Nowra NSW), I do not really know a good brand from a bad, and I have no idea what something "should be worth".

    The second hand market has revealed the following which caught my attention:
    http://www.gumtree.com.au/s-view-details.html?adId=1084274926

    To my trained eye, it looks very similar to this lathe from HAFCO:
    https://www.machineryhouse.com.au/L237#

    In sumary I am looking for some guidance, I am sure there are other brands I should be considering and have not seen before.


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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
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    Default

    Double your budget......

    PDW

  4. #3
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    Bendigo Victoria
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  5. #4
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    Nowra
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    Default

    Thank you for correcting the links.

    PDW, I would love to double my budget, I have to be realistic though in what is affordable to me. I am not kidding myself in that I am not expecting a tool room quality lathe for the price. I am after something that would suit my needs and is the best possible within my budget.

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Shed View Post

  6. #5
    Join Date
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    Australia east coast
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by michaelnowill View Post
    Thank you for correcting the links.

    PDW, I would love to double my budget, I have to be realistic though in what is affordable to me. I am not kidding myself in that I am not expecting a tool room quality lathe for the price. I am after something that would suit my needs and is the best possible within my budget.
    Buy the Herless on Gumtree and don't stop to think about it. That - assuming condition is OK - is a far, far more useful and quality lathe than a brand new H&F one in your budget.

    I looked at all the H&F lathes the other week. Seriously, you're going to have to double your budget to get your wish list in a new lathe. At that price you're going to get a *reasonable* lathe, if you want or expect something approaching toolroom quality, double the budget again. I am not joking.

    Now, if you know machine tools and are prepared to strip down a lathe, re-scrape the ways and replace things like spindle bearings etc, by all means buy one of the cheaper lathes. There's a fair to reasonable chance you'll get lucky and the machine will be fine for your needs. H&F are reasonable to deal with but those cheaper lathes simply have really spotty quality control.

    Which is why, if you can find a second hand lathe in good nick, meeting your wish list, you should buy it ASAP because if you don't, someone else will while you're making up your mind.

    PDW

  7. #6
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    Heidelberg, Victoria
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    2,251

    Default Hercus 260

    Hi New member,

    Welcome to the metalwork forum, the only forum in Australia worth subscribing to.

    I don't reckon you could go past a pre loved Hercus 260 ATM in good nick.

    For around $2000, you will get a nicely made Australian lathe with a few accessories, and not being that old, should be in good condition.

    One of our members is worth contacting for advice, Allterrain50.

    Mal has a web site here http://www.australianmetalworkinghobbyist.com/store/

    Ken

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Nowra
    Posts
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    Default

    Thank you for your advice, I have arranged to go have a look at the lathe tomorrow (now I need to do some more research on second hand lathe inspection points, I believe mrpete222 did a video on it some time back). I am purposely not taking a vehicle capable of bringing it home, I find that with a fair drive I always feel the pressure to buy the item. This way no matter what I will be walking away tomorrow without the lathe.

    Quote Originally Posted by PDW View Post
    Buy the Herless on Gumtree and don't stop to think about it. That - assuming condition is OK - is a far, far more useful and quality lathe than a brand new H&F one in your budget.

    I looked at all the H&F lathes the other week. Seriously, you're going to have to double your budget to get your wish list in a new lathe. At that price you're going to get a *reasonable* lathe, if you want or expect something approaching toolroom quality, double the budget again. I am not joking.

    Now, if you know machine tools and are prepared to strip down a lathe, re-scrape the ways and replace things like spindle bearings etc, by all means buy one of the cheaper lathes. There's a fair to reasonable chance you'll get lucky and the machine will be fine for your needs. H&F are reasonable to deal with but those cheaper lathes simply have really spotty quality control.

    Which is why, if you can find a second hand lathe in good nick, meeting your wish list, you should buy it ASAP because if you don't, someone else will while you're making up your mind.

    PDW

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Oz
    Posts
    598

    Default Curious

    I'm curious as to why you haven't listed a Sieg. the C8 has a powered crossfeed although it is slightly more than the $ limit, not sure about the C6.

    The Hafco 250 comes up fairly regularly on the second hand market, that in itself says something about them - shockingly made!.

    Powered crossfeed usually comes in the 250 size and up, I'm not aware of any smaller lathes with powered crossfeed, so if you are set on powered crossfeed you're probably going to have to raise your limit by a couple of hundred dollars though. You should be able to get one that ticks all your boxes for under $2.5k though.

    250 to 320 size lathes can be had for a touch over $2k such as the C8 0r the Hafco 320.

    Optimum make a good lathe and new lathes come up fairly regularly on Gumtree and ebay.

    There are plenty of on sellers who import lathes but not spares for them; however,, one only has to look up some of the Chinese sites such as http://www.made-in-china.com/cs/hot-...e_Machine.html to get the manufacturers address and fire of an email.

    If you want spares that are readily available I think Hafco is the only reliable seller..

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Nowra
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    Default

    Hi Ken,

    Thank you very much for your post. I have been looking at the hercus 260, infact (at the risk of everyone bidding on it right now) there is one on Ebay that I am watching. http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/HERCUS-26...item35edb15bdb
    If I am correct, from my previous research it meets the criteria I mentioned in the first post. Power longitudinal and cross feeds, cam lock tail stock, 3 and four jaw chuck etc.
    The problem for me is that it is again a fair way to drive to inspect a lathe, prior to bidding.

    Quote Originally Posted by neksmerj View Post
    Hi New member,

    Welcome to the metalwork forum, the only forum in Australia worth subscribing to.

    I don't reckon you could go past a pre loved Hercus 260 ATM in good nick.

    For around $2000, you will get a nicely made Australian lathe with a few accessories, and not being that old, should be in good condition.

    One of our members is worth contacting for advice, Allterrain50.

    Mal has a web site here http://www.australianmetalworkinghobbyist.com/store/

    Ken

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2015
    Location
    Nowra
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    Default

    The reason I have not really considered the Sieg C8 (other than cost) is a rather amateur move. I have not seen one in person, and from all the pictures I have seen it looks like a 'bit of a toy'. Again I think this is coming from my perhaps narrow minded view that with the red paint at a glance it reminds me of the lathe I currently have, which as we know, is a bit of a toy.

    I will look into it a bit deeper, sometimes a video can tell a thousand words.

    Can you comment on the quality of the C8 personally?

    Thanks everyone for your input.

    Michael

    Quote Originally Posted by sacc51 View Post
    I'm curious as to why you haven't listed a Sieg. the C8 has a powered crossfeed although it is slightly more than the $ limit, not sure about the C6.

    The Hafco 250 comes up fairly regularly on the second hand market, that in itself says something about them - shockingly made!.

    Powered crossfeed usually comes in the 250 size and up, I'm not aware of any smaller lathes with powered crossfeed, so if you are set on powered crossfeed you're probably going to have to raise your limit by a couple of hundred dollars though. You should be able to get one that ticks all your boxes for under $2.5k though.

    250 to 320 size lathes can be had for a touch over $2k such as the C8 0r the Hafco 320.

    Optimum make a good lathe and new lathes come up fairly regularly on Gumtree and ebay.

    There are plenty of on sellers who import lathes but not spares for them; however,, one only has to look up some of the Chinese sites such as http://www.made-in-china.com/cs/hot-...e_Machine.html to get the manufacturers address and fire of an email.

    If you want spares that are readily available I think Hafco is the only reliable seller..

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    17

    Default

    Hey Mate,

    I am in Canberra and just went through buying a new lathe. I narrowed it down to either the Sieg C10 from Ausee in Melbourne, or a Hercus 260ATM. Whilst I was deciding between these two, a second hand lathe came up in Canberra and I ended up going for that. If I were still looking I would definitely like the look of that Herless. I also don't have any regrets about the second hand option that I did go with in the end (old hafco taiwanese 12 x 24).

    If I had of gone new in the end I would have got the C10, which is similar to the C8 with a slightly difference spindle. The C8 looked to be the most capable lathe around you budget (advertised at 2150 or so). Also, Ausee was great to deal with. Even though I didn't end up buying the lathe I have bought other tools from them and their service has been exceptional.

    Edit: noting the concern about spares above I believe Ausee also stocks, or can order in spare parts. I asked about this as I had a similar concern.

    Finally, I have a titan mill and haven't been impressed with the quality of the mill or the after sales support, so I would be wary of going that way if I were you.

    Please qualify all of the above with the fact that I am just beginning to learn my way around the lathe, so take it as you will.

    Cheers,

    Mick.

  13. #12
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    Oct 2011
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    Adelaide
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    Default

    I must admit that after thinking about it, one thing I have never worried about when buying machine tools is spare parts. Especially down the cheap end of the market the machines are that straight forward that it would be an unusual part (barring the main castings) that broke that a replacement could not be made (admittedly if you have a workshop with limited capability then someone else may need to make it for you) or with belts, bearings and other bits, bought. In the case of electrical bits it gets trickier but things like switches and motors can be purchased without issue. Circuit boards are about the only thing that would stump me - but I avoid those for critical functions so that is not a big concern.

    Some general thoughts for anyone new to (secondhand) lathes to consider -

    In the case of a second hand lathe, I'd want to see and hear it running (no odd or loud noises, although small lathes with straight cut gears in an open box will be naturally noisy). The spindle needs to have reasonable bearings (can the spindle be levered up with a length of timber?). Feeds and thread cutting controls should engage smoothly. All speeds should be able to be selected and run without issue. Back lash should be checked on the compound and cross slides with a DTI. There will be some present. If you don't mind doing some scraping as well as refitting of screws & nuts the amount is not critical. If you are averse to that then the smaller the number the better but people have done good work on worn lathes so 20 thou (0.5mm) or more is not impossible to work with. The biggest concern is wear of the bed but again unless you are making high precision parts a little wear is not going to make a lathe unusable. Run a DTI on the carriage along a straight test bar held in the chuck in a vertical plane to see how much. Check for lubrication - if everything is bone dry then wear is more likely than a lathe that has been lubricated. Oil soaked dust or sawdust is not necessarily a bad thing as it has at least provided some protection against corrosion. Look for dings and marks that may reveal that the lathe has been crashed or used as a workbench/ anvil. Other signs of abuse may be rounded off nuts, rough looking ('homemade') replacements and bent, broken or missing parts. If the lathe has coolant fitted check the pump and tank for corrosion. None of these are show stoppers but give you an idea of whether you are buying a pristine machine or something that has done a fair bit of work (and may need some more to get it running) and you can adjust your expectations accordingly.

    To cut threads a speed around 25 to 50 rpm is probably a good place to start (a 20 tpi thread at 50rpm means the carriage has traveled an inch in 24 seconds). The higher the minimum speed the faster your reaction times have to be. Look to have a swing diameter that will be at least 2 or 3 times the work you 'normally' will turn. The odd larger part can still be turned but doing parts at the edge of the work envelope has problems that will irritate after a while. Carbide tips require rigidity that is hard to find in small lathes, so while possible, think HSS for most work.

    More later if I can think of them.
    Michael

  14. #13
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    Default

    - The Heerless lathe on your Gumtree link for $1.8K is indeed Taiwanese from the 80's (Heerless is since 2002 Hare&Forbes, they probably can still provide most parts). On the pictures it does not look well looked after, though. The L237 from H&F is its near unchanged successor, also made in Taiwan. With some haggling or during their sale, you could take it home for under $4k GST included. Brand new, with warranty and complete with 2 chucks, fixed and traveling steady, face plate, steel cabinet, etcetc. It is really like comparing a new car for $40K with the same model but 30+ year old used and rusty car for $18K. Think carefully. In my mind, its barely worth half the asking price. If you cannot afford $4k, have a look if you can stretch your budged for an AL335.

    - The problem with old iron lathes is that there are few around in good condition. Those that truly are in good condition are more expensive than comparable new Chinese lathes. If you lack the experience to assess condition, or have someone that can do it for you, you are very likely to get ripped off. Restoring a clapped out old iron lathe is very rewarding, but can also be very time consuming. You say you want it to make small steam engines and miscellaneous items. You did not mention a desire to restore an old lathe first. If you want a lathe to make things now, you are better off with a new or near new lathe. Also consider that restoring an old iron lathe is a work of love - if you later have to sell it you will most likely not get paid anything for the time you invested.

    - Chinese bench lathes are not as well built as old iron lathes. As you no doubt have found out with your Sieg C2. But they are exceptional value for money. New, no wear, with warranty and usually with a very comprehensive set of accessories. That is why they outsell 9:1 any other new manual bench lathe. If they were as bad as some people say, the scrap metal merchants and the tips would have to be full of them. I have never seen one put out the roadside for collection, or at a tip, or at a scrap yard. They also rarely turn up for sale second hand, and if they do they regularly fetch a good price (expressed as a percentage of new price, much higher than comparable size old iron lathes even if in good condition). That can only mean that they are accurate and work well, else owners would try to to get rid of. And they are a good investment with only small write off. Be aware though, that Chinese lathes below $2K have a higher rate of manufacturing faults. It pays off to buy from a larger and established dealer, one with a good reputation for taking care of warranty issues, one that if necessary can afford to take a lemon back.

  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by michaelnowill View Post
    Hi Ken,

    Thank you very much for your post. I have been looking at the hercus 260, infact (at the risk of everyone bidding on it right now) there is one on Ebay that I am watching. http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/HERCUS-26...item35edb15bdb
    If I am correct, from my previous research it meets the criteria I mentioned in the first post. Power longitudinal and cross feeds, cam lock tail stock, 3 and four jaw chuck etc.
    The problem for me is that it is again a fair way to drive to inspect a lathe, prior to bidding.
    Not trying to pick on you but I think you need to revise your terminology a bit. I've never heard of a camlock tailstock. It typically applies to headstocks and that Herless has a D1-4 camlock spindle nose which is excellent.

    Given a choice between that Herless and a Hercus 260, same-ish price and condition, I'd take the Herless in a heartbeat. It's a far, far more capable lathe. In fact I'd pay $500 more for the Herless - you get a D1-4 spindle nose, 38mm spindle bore and probably 1.5-2X the mass which equates to better rigidity, plus probably a 3MT tailstock. The Hercus has none of those features and they're all well worth having IMO.

    The Hercus is Australian made but unless you put that higher than function, they aren't all that great a machine when it comes to cutting metal.

    PDW

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by PDW View Post
    Not trying to pick on you but I think you need to revise your terminology a bit. I've never heard of a camlock tailstock. .....
    PDW
    It refers to the way how the tailstock is clamped to the bed. With hobbylathes, the cheapest models clamp the tailstock with a nut and a spanner. Intermediate models replace the spanner with a lever nut. Only better models have a lever that actuates a cam - hence the term camlock tailstock.

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