Haas TL-1 = $25,000
Hardly fits into my concept of a hobby lathe. Seems more like a full production capability. I guess if one's hobby is making set-ups and then watching it run, it would be OK.
Best regards, Jack
The TL-1 is far from a production lathe. A production lathe would be considered a turning center with a large tool turret, hydraulic chuck, chip conveyor, bar feeder and parts catcher. The TL is a tool room lathe not a production lathe although I have figured out ways to use one for production.
The TL is best for prototyping and one off parts, which is what most hobbyists do. If you are fascinated by moving knobs, hand wheels and watching chips fall off then the TL is not for you but if you want to turn an idea into a part as fast as possible then the TL is the best choice.
On the TL there are no set ups to make that would not be the same on a manual lathe. On a manual lathe you still need to zero the micrometer dials or DRO, on the Haas you make the same motion and then just hit a button that says Z face measure or X Diameter measure. The next step is to tell the machine what you want it to do by answering some questions, which is very quick to do, and then hit the start button. The time required to answer the questions is made up for with the speed the part then gets machined; there is very little wasted time like on a manual machine and the part is right the first time not the cut and measure system most use on a manual lathe. If I asked you to turn a tapered pipe thread how fast could you do it, on the TL it would take me less than 5 minutes to put the stock in the chuck, program it and cut it, works great for that plumbing job as a pipe threader. I would be done before most people could get their taper attachment set to the right angle. Once the X diameter is set on a tool it doesn’t need to be set again unless the tool removed from the holder or the machine is crashed. The TL-1 allows you to set 50 tools and once those are set you don’t have to reset the X diameter every time you use the lathe. I have about 40 holders and they are numbered so I just grab the tool I need and it’s already set. If it does cut off diameter I just go to the offset menu and adjust it there, no need to reset the tool. So if it cuts .001” oversize I hit the offset button and scoll to the tool number where I input -.001” and now it will cut to the exact diameter. The Z dimension can also be used to set the stock length in the chuck, just go to the proper menu and input the tool number and Z 0 and the machine will move the cutter there, then you just loosen the chuck and slide the stock until it touches the tool and you are ready to go.
I hear people complain all the time about their lathes cutting a taper when turning between centers and the time they spend trying to get the tail stock in alignment. On the TL it doesn't matter if the tailstock is in alignment or not. The lathe has a taper compensation feature, you make a cut, measure the taper, divide that by the length of the cut and enter that number in the taper comp column in the control and now the lathe will cut perfectly straight. I also hear people complain about holding tight tolerances, on the TL-1 I can easily hit a diameter within .0002 and hold .0004 through 50 parts all with a perfect finish on the part. On a manual lathe if you don’t hit your number on your finish pass and have to take a light skim cut to get it to the right dimension your finish will probably be bad due to not enough chip load on the cutter. That usually means getting out the emery cloth and polishing the part, which adds even more time to the job and to me when I see a part that has been polished with emery it is just screaming a mistake was covered up.
When you look at the cost of a new TL-1 and compare it to the cost of a new manual lathe of decent quality its not that far off. In order to do many of the same operations on a manual lathe as the CNC you need special tools like a radius cutter, taper attachment, carriage stops and special form tools which all add to the cost of making your part. Lets pick one of the lathes I listed, which has the same swing as the TL-1. A 16" swing Southbend is $18,280, add a $2200 DRO, $1500 taper attachment, $400 chuck guard, $215 micrometer carriage stop, $1295 inch metric thread dial (that one shocked me but I have the quote sitting right in front me) and a $2000 Holdrige radius cutter. The price I was quoted for the new SB with all of the options I wanted was more than the Haas and the Haas is made in the USA. The price on the American Turnmaster was similar. I have an old MSC catalog sitting here so I will see what they have to offer. They have a Vectrax 1660 with taper for $17580, a decent DRO add is probably going to be about $2200, micrometer stop $250, and radius cutter $2190 with no power feed. With these lathes I have to pick inch or metric, with the TL-1 it doesn’t matter. So you can see the cost of a new decent quality manual lathe is no different than the Haas TL-1. I don’t think we even want to look at what a reman 10EE or Hardinge would cost. I know you can go to Grizzly and get a 16” swing lathe for about $8K to $10k, but I know the original poster Andy (lakeside 53) and he is very passionate about the quality of his tools and I just can’t picture a Chinese Grizzly lathe in his shop. Plus the $8k would be a good down payment on the Haas and Haas has the best leasing rates in the industry so the payment would be low enough that he could make that doing a little side work here and there. Which is another advantage with the TL-1 is it can make decent money if need be doing small production runs. The local auto repair shop wanted me to make a cooling system bleed screw for VW Eurovans. The original is plastic and frequently breaks off which requires purchasing a new $150 hose to get. I made them from brass and instead of making just 1 I made 60 and now you can buy them too,
here's a link to the part, http://bleed screw
Lathe cycle time to make each part 1 minute 47 seconds, total time to make each part in a home based shop 3 minutes 45 seconds. If you have never seen my shop it’s just a two car garage and not some big production facility,http://i24.photobucket.com/albums/c10/m ... hop1-1.jpg
I know that for most hobbyist these lathes are not a realistic option, but when I go to visit other hobbyist friends shops and see the amount of money they have spent on machines and tooling for their manual lathes, as most have more than one lathe and Andy is looking to purchase his third, it probably adds up the cost of one TL-1. And when you look at it from a hobby aspect where many guys start projects like live steam trains and Die before they finish, with the TL-1 they probably would have finished. Some examples would be turning the drivers. You machine the first one and record what you are doing, then it is only a matter of replaying the program to make the others and they all come out the same. In December I made a small steam engine. The plans called for a 3/16” x 40tpi thread on the steam inlet fitting. I wanted a 3/16” tapered pipe thread so the brass went into the machine and out came a perfect 3/16 X 40tpi thread with a taper. I then chucked up a piece of steel and ran the same program and there was my material for the tap to cut the female threads in the engine. I just notched out some flutes of the tap with a dremel tool and it was ready to cut. The total time to go from an engine with no fitting to a running engine was less than 20 minutes.
Most hobbyist buy used equipment and just like manual lathes there are TL-1’s showing up on the used market. My friend just sold a very nice one with very low hours and all the accessories for $18K, so as they get older the prices will come down. Many would then question buying an older CNC machine but the Haas control has been very consistent through out the years, this is not a PC based hobby control. It is an industrial quality control made to last many years. If the software gets outdated it is usually a simple matter to upgrade the software if needed, I have upgraded twice in the four years I have owned mine. Also unlike most manual lathes the wear parts on a TL-1 are replaceable. All of the ways are linear guide rails and it is a simple job to replace them if they get worn or damaged, unlike most manual lathes that need to have the beds reground and rescraped to restore them back to new operating condition. So if you buy manual lathe with a worn bed it will probably be like that until it sees the scrap pile. The Haas has no feed gear train to wear out or become damaged; it only has a belt from the spindle to the motor. You just don’t have all the same wear items that you would on a manual lathe.
I have been machining since the about 1978 so I lost the fascination with turning knobs and watching the lathe spin years ago and now my main goal is completing the part I am working on. Although I have a shop full of tools I am not a tool collector and I don’t have a shop full of freshly painted antique machines that rarely get used. I don’t want to be a museum curator; I just want complete the job at hand. The TL-1 is the best lathe for that job and if there were only one lathe in my shop it would be the TL-1
The TL-1 is not for everybody but for the hobbyist who is serious about making parts, only has room for one lathe and wants a quality lathe it is a viable option. I know a lot of people who have spent way more on other hobbies such as hot rods, boats, RC airplanes, coin collecting and many others. I don't know if this is the right lathe for Andy but he and any others on this board are welcome to visit my shop and spend some time playing on the lathe to get an idea if it is, that is the best way to make the decision as it is a lot of money to spend. Jack, you are over in Yakima so if you ever get to Seattle I am about 25 miles north, you should stop by and try it out.
(too bad the handwheels are the wrong way around for me)
On the TL-1 you can use it without ever touching the hand wheels, it has a jog wheel.
Sorry about the long post I am stuck in the house sick today so I had the time.