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Thread: Lathe necessities for AK's

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    Gunco Veteran AK Builder FloridaAKM's Avatar
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    Default Lathe necessities for AK's

    Not to get into Hotbarrel's business; but what is the best lathe to do work on AK parts and any other lathe necessary machining that does not cost an arm & a leg plus a left gonad.........????

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    hotbarrel's Avatar
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    I would look for a used or referbished machins sales place. you can find them in your area by asking around. call machine shops and aks them if they know of any used equiptment shops. you can get more machnie for less bucks. if you want to go new , I agree, Grizzly is prety good.
    I will pass the good advise I get here before I got one. NO COMBO MACHINE!!
    decide what you think you may need and go 50% bigger at least!!! too small in no good. I would want at least 5" over the ways and at least 20" between centers! that way you can do AK work and more. you will be surprized what you will find you will do with it once you have it.
    if you are thinking about any paticular moddel feel free to post a pic or thread here and get oppinions , pleanty of them around.. LOL

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    hotbarrel's Avatar
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    sorry cephus you may have something their...
    maby the mill with the head that swings out of the way may be a better way to go ... the measurements DO sound good!!!! any link?? I did not see this when I was looking..
    I do still think I personaly would stay away from those miny combo machines..

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    Unclear Engineer ozzy the nuke's Avatar
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    When I got mine about 15 years ago I did a lot of checking. There were no gunsmith sized lathes made in the US. And old US made but in good shape lathes in gunsmith size were hard to find. I finally decided Jet was the best of the imports. JET is a Swiss company and the lathes are mfr in Taiwan. I got a 13x40 belt drive from http://www.blueridgemachinery.com/Jet_lathe.htm. A gear drive would be nice, but it is not necessary. I have been happy with mine. It has done everything I have asked it to do. If the Grizzly is mfr by the same that make the HF brand (and I have heard it is) the JET is much nicer. But from what I hear, a Grizzly or HF will do just fine. If you think you will ever need to do barrel work, make sure the lathe is big enough to swallow a barrel down the spindle.
    No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously. ~Dave Barry, Dave Barry Turns 50

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    Unclear Engineer ozzy the nuke's Avatar
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    If you know someone that has first hand experience with Grizzly, that trumps any card I hold. My bottom line recommendation to a buyer would be to find somone who has the exact lathe you are thinking about buying and have a look at it for yourself. That is what I did, and I sure dont regret it. There can be a lot of variance even within a brand name.

    The nice thing about imports is that for the same money a used US lathe would cost, you can get a tight new import. I learned on someone elses surplus Southbend, which I really liked. Initially I thought that was what I wanted for my own lathe. My Jet will hold tighter tolerances. Mainly because it is new.

    Another reasonably priced lathe is the Enco. I knew a guy who had one, but dont know enough to say yay or nay. All I can say is that it is an option.
    No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously. ~Dave Barry, Dave Barry Turns 50

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    Unclear Engineer ozzy the nuke's Avatar
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    I just took a look at that combo. That is an interesting machine. A lot versatility for the money. I can think of a few things it could do that couldnt be done on separate machines. My main concern would be that the mill table/travel is quite limited.
    No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously. ~Dave Barry, Dave Barry Turns 50

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    Gunco Regular acmech's Avatar
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    Something to consider is the Harbor freight 12x36 gear head lathe, it often goes on sale in the store for $1799, and with HF sending out 20% off coupons now, you could get one for $1500, just get on their mailing list! Sure you might need to clean it up a little, but what a deal. It is mechanically identical to the same grizzly model so I would guess its just painted a different color at the factory. Some guys at mini-lathe.com have been to the chinese factorys and say this is true for many products. Grizzly does have a higher qualitly control and it comes with a US electric motor I think, but for the money, I don't know if its worth it if you don't mind spending a day cleaning up the lathe and looking it over. (a good machinist would do that anyway reguardless of brand)

    Harbor freight and grizzly "seem" to be made in the same factory when you see units that are identical like the 9x20 lathes and some of their other items. With different quality control people on each side of the plant. Nearly all the 9x20 size chinese machines are made at the same place according to the guys at the 9x20 yahoo group. The parts on almost all of the 9x20 size machines are interchangable between makers, most people order parts from Grizzly for their harbor freight, Jet, and other units if they brake something. Not that I've every run the apron into the headstock but it could happen . I love my HF 9x20 and have made a lot of money with it.

    I also haven't had any problems with their customer support, I email them once asking for the dimensions for the spindle of the mill/drill unit, stating I thought it had too much slop because when facing the head rattled. I sent them the part no. of the parts I was questioning and they just said they would send me knew parts. It took 3 months, but they sent me the replacement spindle parts I questioned. It turned out I was just taking to heavy of a cut. All they wanted from me the my receipt no. from the store.

    Just my personal experiences here, visit the yahoo 9x20 lathe group, and (12x36 and larger) lathe groups here and ask around they are pretty helpfull like the guys here. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/9x20Lathe/
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/12x36i...guid=161163665

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    Gunco Regular Suka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozzy the nuke
    Jet was the best of the imports. JET is a Swiss company and the lathes are mfr in Taiwan.
    Thats odd I've never seen them in Taiwan. Maybe exclusive for the export market?

    And some retaged models , do cost more in Taiwan than they are in the US. The Japanese stuff are expensive no matter where its sold even in Japan's domestic market.

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    Unclear Engineer ozzy the nuke's Avatar
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    Jet may not be made in Taiwan anymore. The current lathe they show on their website looks like mine, but the metal appears to have the darker gray coloring I am used to seeing on Chinese lathes. Mine is shiny. I remember being amused at buying something made in Taiwan. It wasn?t many years before that when all the junk Taiwan handtools were coming in. And there I was buying a Taiwan lathe because it was better than a Chinese lathe. Like I said, that was 15 years ago. Things have changed.

    A few of other things to consider.

    Are the bedways hardened? This is an added cost that may or may not be ?necessary.? Most hobbyists are not going to wear out any lathe.

    Does it have a second drive shaft (combined with a linear gear)? I may not be using the correct terminology to describe these, but whatever you call them, this shaft and gear are important to cutting quality threads.

    There are different bedway shapes. I forget the advantages to each kind, but it is something to be aware of.
    No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously. ~Dave Barry, Dave Barry Turns 50

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    Gunco Regular acmech's Avatar
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    I may be wrong, but I thought the only lathes that are made in Taiwan now are Turn-Pro?

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