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Which New Lathe


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Hi all, Can any body help? I am looking at new lathes and have found three very similar and not that different in price, I am tossing up between Machtech 310X1000 , Hafco Metalmaster AL-335 (300X910) or a Steelmaster SM-1236A (300X925). The main thing i find different is that the Steelmaster does not come with a bench but it does have a quick change tool post.
Please Help:confused:

Applied Machinery

https://www.machineryhouse.com.au/Products?stockCode=L183

SM-1236A. Steelmaster Bench Lathe with all Standard Accessories / 240V - Asset Plant & Machinery

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I personally am a firm believer in buying older machines because they were built with so much higher quality an precision than most of the modern equipment and was much more precission.
I don't know what that is like in Au. though but here in the states the old machines will long out live the opperator as long as it is not abused.

welder19

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You're right, they all look like pretty much the same machine. The Steelmaster also has a nice expandable cover on the lead screw. Quick change might be the deal-maker, gotta have that.

Funny imperial/metric world. The capacity is 300mm X 910mm, but it's a model 1236 or 12" X 36"!

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A blacksmithing forum is probably not the best place to ask a question on machine comparisons, not because there aren't plenty of us that like machines and use them, but because there isn't a high concentration of professionals or serious amateur machinists on a board focused on forged work.

You will reach a wider audience and get very considered answers from folks who might know the specific machines about which you are curious on this forum:

Practical Machinist - Largest Manufacturing Technology Forum on the Web

I also think buying old machinery is not necessarily a better choice. I own all old machinery by choice because precision and speed are not usually as critical to me as to a real machinist, and the prices have always been very good. But all too often, old machines are also very tired machines, and if you aren't able to do the restoration yourself, the work to bring them back to serviceable is not always practical or cost-effective. For instance, I made a bearing for my 1924 power hammer using a 1911 South Bend lathe. It was fun, but I wouldn't wish that exercise on anyone who wants a machine to responsibly follow orders. Almost a century of wear and tear has made it more of a curiosity than a valid alternative to a modern lathe.

To be fair, none of my other machines are near that old; most being from the 40's through 60's, were always VERY inexpensive for their capability, and are generally very sturdy. Thanks to the recent scrap reclamation, though, GOOD old machines seem to be getting harder to come by, with prices generally higher than I have paid.

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Hi Nakedanvil, I spoke to the store selling the steelmaster (quickchange tool post) and mentioned there lack of bench compared to his competitors and he will quite happily include it for free!
Hi Ed Thomas, I will check the reccomended forum but knowing a blacksmith felt it was worth drawing on the wealth of knowlege out there.
I'll check back to see if anybody has any personal experiences.
Thanks all.

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A lot will depend on what you plan on doing with it. I have a 1946 Monarch 18.5" x 54" as my home lathe. I also have a 18.5" x 78" Axelson that came out of my Dad's classroom that I need to get set up. The Monarch weighs 5,200#, and the Axelson is 7,000#. Weight has a lot to do with smooth cutting, as it dampens vibration. Heavier machine = heavier cuts = saving time. Both machines are in excellent condition, and in the case of the Monarch I can order any part NEW from the factory. With that being said look for things like hardened ways, hardened gears, and a headstock that is aligned on the ways themselves, not bolted to a flat area in front of the ways. Take the compound and see if you can turn it directly inline with the cross slide. a bunch of the newer lathes cannot do this as the handwheels hit each other. Can you still read the degree marks on the compound, some you cannot when it is turned certain ways. Feel out the placement of the controls. Are they easily found without looking for them? Are they awkward to use? A large wheel on the carriage really helps when hand feeding. Does the tailstock have a keyed taper for using Morse taper drills, or is it just a Morse taper? The key holds the flat on the drill tang and stops it from spinning in the tailstock if a heavy load is applied. A quick change gearbox for threads is far more useful than having to swap gears around. You will be surprised how many threads you will start cutting once you have a lathe. In general look for quality, smooth operation, minimal backlash, and an overall appearance of good craftsmanship. One decent import machinery manufacturer is JET.

An option that you may want to explore is a good used industrial lathe. These can be found on Craigslist, auctions, and machinery dealers. I have run numerous 3 phase machines on single phase by use of a jack motor wired inline. A phase converter can also be purchased-go with a rotary-not a static converter.

Hope this helps some,

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