I need another lathe..

All discussion about lathes including but not limited to: South Bend, Hardinge, Logan, Monarch, Clausing and other HSM lathes, including imports

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Mark Hockett
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Post by Mark Hockett » Mon Feb 16, 2009 6:59 pm

thedieter wrote: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.
bollie7 wrote:(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.
Last edited by Mark Hockett on Mon Feb 16, 2009 11:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by thedieter » Mon Feb 16, 2009 11:39 pm


Thank you for the description and logic. I am a retired aerospace engineer/designer and still like to use the manual controls. So far, I am not doing projects where time is going to be a factor.

Having been around various CNC machines at work and watching them develop I know that what you say is true. Being from SoCal, I have attended a number of SAE conventions in LA to see the latest equipment demonstrated. For you the advent of CNC was a welcome relief from manual machines just as CAD was for me to get off the drawing board. With CAD I could sometimes do in five minutes what would take a month on the drawing board. Now part of my hobby is designing with CAD using TurboCad.

Thank you for the invitation to see your shop, maybe some day.

The same logic would apply to a CNC mill I suppose but I am still thinking about a Grizzly T20830 for my shop.

I used to work at Adel with a guy who was 65 years old and he came from back East with the castings for a cab-ahead steam locomotive with 16 drive wheels about 8" in diameter. The casting patterns were made by the man that made the patterns for the Ford Model T so they must have been pretty nice. This was about 1965 and he had just bought a South Bend knee mill to machine the frames out of plate stock. I remember thinking that he would never finish it and even if he did, there was not a track in SoCal that was the right gage to run it on. He was not a machinist but I think he just liked to do it.

Best regards, Jack

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Post by spro » Tue Feb 17, 2009 1:06 am

Mark, it is that you make perfect sense. It is also many are invested into machines and process of discovery as well as curators. It is good to know what is available and extremely facinating. I think it very good of you to share this. I think it would be as your somewhat open invitation suggests, a learning experience for many. We all want to learn but never forget.

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Post by lakeside53 » Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:01 am

Great post Mark.

I feel an invisible force pulling on me :? Especially after spending 5 hours machining two relatively simple pieces of mystery-metal stainless (just because you have it doesn't mean you should use it!). 2 cut fingers (don't pull on the hanging mat of stainless razor swarf), 3 carbide inserts trashed (don't buy cheap "import" inserts), and a perfectly good "prototype" that will get used for another project (1 turn of the dial is not 0.1 if you move the zero.. :oops: ). I did however succeed on the 2nd try... and look at all the lessons I learned!

Yes, I could have driven over and used the TL-1 to complete my materpiece in less time than I spent today, and 1/2 the material. Yes, there's satisfaction in turning dials and dealing with all the issues presented by a smaller machine, but removing a lot of tough material 5-8 thou at a time gets old. And let's not mention the lack of dro, working in metric on an inch lathe, and... and...

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Post by steamin10 » Tue Feb 17, 2009 10:52 am

I've scrapped a lot of brass because:

The bit grabbed it HARD..

It was too small and rolled over the tool bit... Interesting

I tried to mill it in my MILL-Drill. Only to discover several parts later, the mill has really new and good looking 100 thou setable wheels, running metric screws. ..(?)

Momma said I'd have days like this.. just not so many. :lol:

I use Snoopy bandaids, other wise black elctrical tape is secretly known for medicinal qualities.
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Local Machine sales

Post by JackF » Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:07 pm

Hi Lakeside,
Scott at Hallidie Machine tools in Auburn sells used equipment. His address is 2002 West Valley Highway N. Ph# 253-939-9020. His place is hard to find so if you plan to make a visit give me a call. Jack...425-442-6126.

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Post by Michael_Moore » Tue Feb 17, 2009 2:04 pm

Mark, thanks for that informative post. I agree with all of your points.

The cost of the TL-1 is the sticking point. As a HSM person putting my Mori Seiki in the garage was a stretch, and more than doubling that was out of the question.

But as you pointed out if I put a nice DRO on and get a taper and radius attachment I'll be spending another pretty good chunk of money. And that would still leave me with doing metric threading with an inch lead-screw machine. I clearly need to get rid of all my Japanese and European motorcycles and buy something that uses inch threads (not a chance!). :D

It looks to me that it has to be less expensive to design and build a TL-1 style lathe than a standard manual machine. It is hard to understand why any manufacturer would bother making manual machines these days when a couple of ball screws and servo motors and an encoder on the spindle eliminates a pile of gears and shafts levers and the precision holes they all fit into.

The TL-1 specs are pretty similar to my Mori. I'm surprised they didn't give it more spindle speed.

I suspect that in another 5-10 years HSM CNC lathes will be more affordable and of a higher specification than they are now.


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Post by Mark Hockett » Tue Feb 17, 2009 3:46 pm

The TL-1 is available with a 3500 rpm spindle but then you need to buy more expensive chucks rated for that rpm and the full enclosure.
Here is the info from the Haas site,
"Optional 3,500 rpm w/7.5-Hp (5.6kw) for TL-1, A2-5 Spindle Nose. This option can only be ordered with CEKTL1 and must use workholding rated for high rpms."

The machine parameters can be adjusted to get higher RPM and feed rates if needed. My lathe has a higher max RPM than it had when I purchased it. One of the guys from Haas talked me through setting the parameters to get the higher RPM. I could probably go higher but don't want to risk it as I am using a chuck that is rated for only 2500 RPM. I also change my feed rates for some jobs such as using a gang tool set up. When changing the feed rates I remove the hand wheels and apron as they will cause an out of balance problem at the higher feed rates. I get close to Haas SL-10 feed rates when doing this. My buddy tried my feed rate parameters on his TL without removing the apron and ripped the teeth off of the rack gear, the TL carriage feed is just a rack and pinion like a manual lathe.

One part I do in 10,000 piece lots with the gang tool set up has a 12 second cycle time using a pneumatic collet closer. I can do the job faster on the TL than my buddy can do it on his SL-10 because of his tool change time and the time to open and closer the door.
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Post by Michael_Moore » Tue Feb 17, 2009 4:39 pm

I am surprised to hear the TL-1 has mechanical handwheels. I thought they'd go with electronic. I can see how the mechanical stuff might not work well with the rapid accel/decel available on a CNC.

For HSM use you don't need the blazing speed of an industrial machine, as you'll still save time by eliminating the waste motion any operator is going to have.

I could see adding a small CNC lathe with a 9x12-18 type of envelope (though just where I'd put it would be an issue!). But I'd want something a bit more industrial than a converted 9x12 minilathe. Perhaps something like the size of a Haas HPCL. Of course, that gets back into the budget-breaking price range since it starts at $8K more than the TL-1. I may have to watch for something to use as a base for a conversion.


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Post by thedieter » Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:25 pm

Well, that was a short love affair! I was about to put the hammer down on the Grizzly T20830 (equiv to Shop Fox M1009) and they took it off of their web site as a discontinued item. I wanted this one because it has about 1-1/2" more vertical travel (space) than the G3617.

I plan to put a couple of metal blocks between the column and the base to increase the vertical space a few inches (will it work?). I can't imagine why the table needs to travel clear up to the spindle since some tooling and the parts will have to be between table and spindle.

I have decided to get the Grizzly G3617 V/H mill instead as they are offering free shipping. I have to wait for them to tell me about availability and shipping as I need lift gate unloading.

Wish me luck, best regards, Jack

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Post by PeteM » Tue Feb 24, 2009 9:10 pm

Back to your original inquiry -- I've been very happy with an English-made Harrison M300b. The Harrison AA toolroom lathe is similar, but with a more sophisticated drive (a moot point, if you plan to add a VFD and run off single phase). These were widely used in both industry and technical schools, and can often be had fairly well tooled.

The "same" lathe is also available in a made-in-China versions from the 600 Group / Clausing / Harrison. This is one of the better imports, but you'll likely be happier with one of the older lathes if it is in good condition.

Specs on this are fairly standard: 13" swing, 25 or 40" between centers, slightly over 1.5" through hole, MT5 spindle end, MT3 tailstock D1-4, 2 or 3hp motor, and a wide range of geared head speeds.

Some of the nicer features available with this lathe (some apply only to the older version, not the newer Chinese import):

- A wide wide range of English and Metric feeds easily obtained from the oil-bath quick change gears.

- A lower low speed than most imports.

- High precision bearings capable of 3000+ rpm.

- A lead screw that is only used (and turns) for threading. Feeds are off a feed road with the usual apron controls for forwrd, stop, reverse.

- An easy machine to move, refurbish, re-motor, etc. Piece of cake to add a VFD and have full apron controls.

- Very nifty English/Metric dials (flip them over) on the cross slide and compound.

- Simple but effective oiling for most everything. A one shot oiler for most of the carriage. Oil baths with oil sight levels for the headstock, change gears, and carriage gears.

- A nice tailstock, sturdy, long extension, with very handy locks. Better for drilling than most tailstocks.

- A nice telescopic taper attachment with latthes so-equipped.

- A larger swing over the carriage than many import 14" lathes.

- A dovetail built into the cross slide which is easy adapted to a rear or large toolpost. Mine also accommodates a VersaMil.

- Decent parts availability, both new from Clausing and used.

The main knock on the lathe is that it doesn't have the bed width or mass of some old iron and won't take as heavy cuts. Some options, such as the high speed threading attachment (lets you run up to a shoulder), are pretty much impossible to find.

I'd say you can use most of the 2-3hp, given relatively positive rake tooling. It won't stand head to toe to something like a 10ee in terms of rigidity, but it will do better than most imports and can actually swing or take between centers larger work (than the 10ee) if you're willing to go a bit slow. You're much more likely to find a Harrison M300 or M350 in good shape than a Monarch 10ee, and at a lower price. For me it was a big step up from the Logan 10" lathe it replaced, and far better than the Emco Maximat gear head I have sitting across from it.

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