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Old 08-02-2016, 05:43 AM   #11
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I have an al50 g and the al 320 , the 50g has been a reliable machine and done what ever I have asked of it even if it is a little dinky due to its small size .
The 320 I bought second hand and has done some work but still machines ok, one thing with this lathe that i don't like is that it is not a double vee bed so the tail stock uses two spring loaded detent balls to push the tail stock against one side of the bed instead of the small vee as on the al50 .This is not a problem but you just need to get used to making sure the tailstock is seated properly or it will not be on centre with the spindle .
Both claim to be hardened beds but i doubt it .
The 320 also has power cross feed but i found the lever for this a bit vague in locating the cross or long feed position , i had to be ultra careful when switching to the neutral position when machining or it could easily jump across the neutral position usually ruining the work and tool.
I modified the lever so it has a detent ball system that helped to eliminate this , it is a fairly easy fix . If you want to fit an after market quick change tool post be aware that the top of the compound slide is not threaded but uses a tee bolt that has its head located in a slot inside the compound slide top ( you dismantle the compound and feed the bolt through from under the top of the compound slide), once again not hard to sort out but better that you know it now rather than later ! The change gear chart on the machine is correct but the one in the manual was wrong - probably a printing error . There was one reason why i didnt go the al 250 and that was metric only threads and the 320 came with a new dro fitted and it was still cheaper than the al250.


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Old 08-02-2016, 09:01 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by bruedney View Post
... If not then I would like to invite you to the Hutt Valley Model Engineering Society club night tomorrow night at 7.30pm.
Bruce - I haven't been and popping along is a fine idea!

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I have a Hafco AL-51 and hope to be upgrading to the AL 336 at some point. A number of the club members have the 336
I looked at the 336 and 960 wistfully but as a learner getting something that large felt OTT. I'm feeling that the 320 is right at the edge on that front and that I'm already suffering from the "next size up" disease.


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What part of Wellington do you live in?
I'm based out in Whitby. I'm setting my "shop/shed" up in my side of the garage. So the car is relegated to the drive. But I have a reasonable amount of space as a result, so long as the bosses car parking space is not impacted.

Cheers,
James.


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Old 08-02-2016, 09:16 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by XD351 View Post
The 320 I bought second hand and has done some work but still machines ok, one thing with this lathe that i don't like is that it is not a double vee bed so the tail stock uses two spring loaded detent balls to push the tail stock against one side of the bed instead of the small vee as on the al50 .This is not a problem but you just need to get used to making sure the tailstock is seated properly or it will not be on centre with the spindle .
That's good to know. I had noticed it didn't mesh with the V on the bed. But given the likes of Myford's have no V I hadn't thought it too much of an issue.

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The 320 also has power cross feed but i found the lever for this a bit vague in locating the cross or long feed position , i had to be ultra careful when switching to the neutral position when machining or it could easily jump across the neutral position usually ruining the work and tool.
I modified the lever so it has a detent ball system that helped to eliminate this , it is a fairly easy fix .
I seem to remember reading that somewhere with mentions of "stops" being added to prevent over throw on the lever when doing things quickly.

Quote:
If you want to fit an after market quick change tool post be aware that the top of the compound slide is not threaded but uses a tee bolt that has its head located in a slot inside the compound slide top ( you dismantle the compound and feed the bolt through from under the top of the compound slide), once again not hard to sort out but better that you know it now rather than later !
I did not realise that re the tool post. My memory had me thinking it was a threaded rod. Ultimately though it shouldn't be too much of a hassle should it? Actually one of the "projects" I wanted to do was one of the QCTP designs from MEW. I know I could get something commercial for a few hundred but part of the fun of this is learning so if I can make it and learn in the process I will.

Cheers,
James.
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Old 08-02-2016, 09:51 AM   #14
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Hi James

I am in Grenada Village so feel free to drop me a PM if you want to pop round some time or if you come to club night tomorrow we can exchange details.

Like I said I have an AL51 at the mo and it does OK. My friend has the 336D and I can use that if needed but I get lathe envy.

I also have a CNC mill (Similar to the BF20LV). It is in pieces at the mo coz 1mm DOC @ 200mm/min with a 50mm face mill is a bit too much for it.

Cheers

Bruce
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Old 08-02-2016, 11:44 AM   #15
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Here are a some comments from a guy with good but not extensive experience with lathes at work and recently bought a 9x20 for a home shop build.

Number one point -->. There is no perfect lathe!!!! Seriously, even big industrial machines have their problems, quirks and performance issues.

The trick, if you want to own only one lathe, is finding the right sized lathe. This isn't easy at all because you have to project as to where your interests may go. Beyond physical size a lathe can be configured at will.


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Gents - thank you for the responses. I do realise the potential can of worms this question can open. As John essentially noted it is very possible to get different experiences on what is essentially the same model but coming from different suppliers who have had it built to different quality levels.
Same discussions happen between Chevy and Ford owners. The big problem is that many Chinese built machines are in fact crap. Worst is that you literally gamble as to the build quality of anyone machine. Unfortunately because so many buy on price and not quality there aren't a lot of non Chinese built machines available anymore. At least not at home shop prices.
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Its a tricky decision, Iím sure I would have a heap of fun with something like an SC2 or equivalent size. However I have been bitten in the past in getting tools that are ďjust enoughĒ and within less than 6 months been cursing that I didnít do it ďrightĒ first time. So for that reason alone I am leery of the mini-lathe 7x12+ sizes. Not because they are not capable within their envelop, just that I donít want to be disappointed when I go to try something and canít.
I've seen the work of some guys that use nothing more than Sherline or Tiag sized machines. Those machine are perfectly suited for what they want to do but certainly aren't suitable for everyone into model engineering. In a commercial shop you often see a small machine like a Sherline sitting in the corner as sometimes it is the right machine to reach for. Big isn't always better. New isn't always better neither, I know of one shop that has Hardinge HLV's sitting right next to some Amazing CNC machines. Don't dismiss old simply because it is old.
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Iíve read a lot of good stuff about the SC4ís but I have also read a lot about the niggle that exists. All able to be overcome but you do end up wondering why so many compromises. In fact in the Sieg range I discounted the S/C6 and above models due to prices vís capability and having read that the SC4 had Japanese bearings in the headstock yet the larger models didnít seem to enjoy the same attention. Go figure.
The SC4 is a newer machine and like all companies I'm pretty sure they are trying to improve the lineup.
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Optimum look good on paper but have never seen one in the flesh. Heck I havenít seen any of these in the flesh as the closest retailer is in Auckland and Iím Wellington based. Although Coastal Machinery based out of Fielding has the CQ6128. I would just have to take a day off work to go and see them, just to see a lathe. Sheesh.
Don't put too much faith in looking at showroom equipment, at least to the Chinese stuff. What is on the showroom floor can vary dramatically from what you get out of the box. Learned this the hard way with a drill press.
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Re Optimum, pity Rodís assessment on comparing to the Sieg is not so flash. I was hoping their BF20L would be a good option instead of the SX3 when it came to mills. Itís certainly popular in Europe.
Optimum is an European brand if I remember correctly. The machines are still made in China.
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John - you have it bang on. Its absolutely the journey that matters. I recognise that and have already mentally prepared my self for whatever machine I end up with having to strip, clean, setup, lap etc etc it before I can use it for projects. But I think that wonít be a bad thing. I will learn how its put together, how it has been made and what parts will likely wear if I donít give them the right levels of TLC over time.
Machine maintenance is a big deal no matter who makes the machine.
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So its smelling more and more like the AL-320G is pushing to the top of the pile. I like its work envelope, nothing I am going to get into will be too large for it. I donít mind the change gears, not like Iím trying to meet a production schedule so having to swap em now and then isnít an issue. The lathes not too long/wide for the available space (I could actually get an AL-960B, its just too expensive). And I can follow in the foot steps of people like Rob who have them and learn from their mods and what parts/tools they get. Heck I can even more power it with a 3 phase motor off a VFD if it ever comes to it. Yes that AL-320G is a beast, as are any of the lathes, they will all bite you if your donít give them respect. Machine with high speed spinning parts, and my Dewalt table saw reminds me of that every time I spin it up and see all those sharp spinning teeth whirling about.
Safety is certainly an issue with bigger lathes, there can be a huge amount of torque at the spindle and a lot of inertia.

As far as change gears vs a quick change box, change gears are a cheaper and somewhat less complex solution. Ideally this means quality is being put into other aspects of the machine. One can hope. Maintenance wise you have an easier to maintain machine with change gears. From a hobby perspective you need to ask yourself how often do you expect to change thread pitches. I suspect the answer will be not often!!! It depends upon the specifics of what you expect to do but many things you will work on will have very little in the way of cut threads.
Quote:



On the plus side I have a very friendly neighbour with 30+ years experience in machining, welding and the like who has graciously agreed to give me some lessons in exchange for beer. Heck heís even scrounging up some scrap metal for me to run practice welding beads on.
This can be a huge help. Do look for sources locally for scrape, cut offs and drops, you can save a lot of money vs buying from a supplier.
Quote:



Rod - read the Aussie Shed thread. And read and read, its what got me thinking more seriously about the 320G. I did wince when I saw those pics of the toppled lathe.



Any other thoughts, observations, learnings welcome.



Cheers,

James.

Here are some considerations:

1. Lathes are heavy!! This is probably obvious but the reason I went the 9/20 route was to be able to easily move it into my basement shop. Sometimes I kinda wished that I went for a bigger machine. In the end you will have compromises to make.

2. Big isn't always better but if you are to have only one lathe make sure it is big enough for what you have in mind right now. Seriously consider a size larger anyways.

3. Tooling costs you big bucks! This is where I'm at now outfitting a shop. You can easily double your costs by outfitting a lathe. To off set this expense you really need to do as much DIY tooling as you can. The good thing here is that building your tooling on the lathe can be good training in basic operations.

4. Unless you buy a mill at the same time you will need to look into ways to do milling on the lathe. Model engineers of course have been doing this for years now but it will likely require additional tooling.

5. You need to learn to sharpen HSS tooling. This is a requirement even if you do carbide inserts. Note that this could mean an additional expense of a bench grinder and maybe even a die grinder. This comes back to the issue of outfitting a shop. The good thing here is that used grinders often pop up cheap.

6. Lathes are often sold with three jaw scroll chucks but you will need a four jaw independent. It is pretty much a requirement. Unfortunately it is pretty hard to make these without a mill so this could be an additional expense. The other thing to look out for is a lathe sold with a four jaw that is too small to really be useful. I guess this comes down to knowing what you are getting for your money.

7. One thing I really hate about the 9/20 is the screw on chuck (threaded spindle). In small lathes you don't have a lot of options here but you might want to consider the alternatives to threaded spindles. If you have any interest at all in CNC don't even bother with a threaded spindle nose. This is one of those things that wasn't obvious to me initially but I just find to be frustrating.

8. Used lathes can be very good deals. You seemed to have dismissed them already but I'd still would keep an eye open for a deal.

9. I really like the idea of variable speed capability. It just makes for a more useful or desirable machine. This is something that can be added latter though. One consideration though is that a back gear or other form of ratio adjustment is still important to be able to supply tongue at low speeds. This especially with smaller motors.

10. Don't expect to get everything you might want or need right off the bat. Sometimes after market solutions are better anyways. For example spindle speed read outs can be useful but can be easily added latter. Same thing goes for fancy quick change tool posts, good drill chucks and the like.


Anyways that is ten observations right off the bat. Personally I really think you need to zero in on the right size lathe first and go from there.
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Old 08-02-2016, 07:34 PM   #16
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That's good to know. I had noticed it didn't mesh with the V on the bed. But given the likes of Myford's have no V I hadn't thought it too much of an issue.





I seem to remember reading that somewhere with mentions of "stops" being added to prevent over throw on the lever when doing things quickly.





I did not realise that re the tool post. My memory had me thinking it was a threaded rod. Ultimately though it shouldn't be too much of a hassle should it? Actually one of the "projects" I wanted to do was one of the QCTP designs from MEW. I know I could get something commercial for a few hundred but part of the fun of this is learning so if I can make it and learn in the process I will.



Cheers,

James.

If you make your own tool post you can use the original bolt , i bought a unit from ctc in china it came with its own mounting stud that was larger than the one on the 320 .
I just made a tee bolt for one end and fitted it back together , not hard to do and works well .

The cross/ long feed power feed lever has its own detent system built in but became sloppy , this meant finding neutral was finicky .
You could use a movable stop pin also .

Considering what most people want for a second hand lathe which is usually stuffed you can get a new unit .
I know that there are horror stories out there some are true many are made up .
To buy a decent myford , boxford , hercus or similar is going to set you back a couple of grand anyhow then you have to fix whatever is wrong with it, with the new one from H&F you get warranty and back up .
You could ask if they do pre pick up inspection so you are ensured of getting a good one ?
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Old 08-02-2016, 07:55 PM   #17
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Thanks Wizard69. Good points confirming some of my research and some new stuff i hadnt been aware of or thought of.

This "zeroing in" on the right sized lathe is tricky. :-)

I keep starting out at an SC4 then next thing i know i'm lusting after an AL-960B. I probably need to stand beside some of this stuff to really appreciate siE and the amount of space they will take.

On the second hand front I still have a number of automatic alerts on TradeMe (NZs version of eBay or Craigs Lists). But my issue there is i wouldnt know a reasonable deal v's a lemon. At least if i get new i have a retailer to hold to account.

Cheers,
J.
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Old 08-02-2016, 08:34 PM   #18
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To buy a decent myford , boxford , hercus or similar is going to set you back a couple of grand anyhow then you have to fix whatever is wrong with it, ****
What utter rubbish. Sorry, Sir- but it is.

In January I saw local advert for a little Myford ML10- when I was about to go to buy something 'Far Eastern' at the London Show.

What I got was rather surprising- for £550. I got the classic machine which used to be supplied with a faceplate and a hard and soft centre plus the 'cogs'. None of this usually useless 3 jaw chuck thing that is a tempter sold by people who have never used a lathe anyway. So this little thing had one. Quite decent one and it also had a 4 jaw independent chuck and a catchplate too. There was a several drill chucks and a rotating centre and a number of centres and 1 and 2MT blanks. To add to the interest, I got a vice, an angle plate and a fixed vertical slide. Then came the 'goodies'. There was a Potts milling spindle which few understand but the usual going price is about £400 to the average watch and clock guy. Again, I got a Cleeve swing tool. The earlier one- not the retracting one advertised by Hemingwaykits today. In addition was a rear parting tool. Not exactly my idea of an answer to a Maiden's Prayer but OK. There was a huge assortment of hss and carbide tooling. I've enough but so what?
What fooled me was a quick change tool holder and bits. Unfortunately, it seemed that it had been a bad buy because the tool height was 1/8th out
but heigh ho!

Then I got lost. The Bradley book and the official manual came. There were alterations. The dials had been changed from the rather miserable zinc ones to being able to adjust. Then the leadscrew had a dog clutch which doesn't come with the lathe from the factory. Nice though.
Then came a broken but possibly repairable change gear mechanism. It was made- I've just found out by a bloke called Dave Noble. Oh, I forgot the fixed and running steadies. Silly me.

In another box is a set of die holders and sweep face cutters The latter little goodies are like hen's teeth.

Not bad for half a grand?

Norman
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Old 08-02-2016, 09:37 PM   #19
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The AL320G gear lever is a bit of a worry as it is easy to pull it into gear instead of neutral. All I can say you learn the right touch very quickly!
I have not had any real issues with the tailstock alignment.

As far as fitting another toolpost, its easy as. You just need to make a female bolt. See this thread http://www.homemodelenginemachinist....ad.php?t=20078

For some reason H&F suggest a different toolpost which is way harder to fit than the BXA which they also sell.

I will say there is no comparison between using a light weight machine vs a heavy lathe following this purchase. With coolant and carbide tooling, I have no issues parting off aluminium at 1600 rpm.. You tend to stall the machine before you get any chatter.
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Old 08-02-2016, 10:29 PM   #20
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Norman,

What you have to realise is that the member is from NZ, and I think good quality, good condition and fully tooled second hand old styled machines will be few and far between.

OK in this country if you pick up a cheapo Myford in need of work, you can easily get the bits, but over there, I very much doubt it.

I expect in 50 years time, they will all be saying 'pick up a good used Chinese machine, as those being made in Tasmania now are no use at all'.

Sorry if I have offended anyone in Tasmania.

I have been following the rise and teething problems that far eastern machines have gone through for the last 20 to 25 years, to a point, where today, I wouldn't have a Myford if they wanted to give it to me, I will choose far eastern machines every time.

John


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