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Dennis Samson
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807 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm not sure where to put a question like this, so hopefully this is a good place.

I'm looking to buy a small lathe, but I'm not sure what to get. In years gone by I had one of the original Unimat SL with the round bar bed, and then traded up to a an EMCO 8.6. That was a much bigger machine and I'm not sure I need (or can afford) anything that big again. Most of what Im wanting to do now revolves around making stuff for scratchbuilt slot cars, but I still do some RC racing so I don't want to go too small on the center height or the power of the machine.

I still see some Unimat machines for sale, and then I have seen the Prazi and the Sherline stuff too, so my question is:

Who has experience with each of these and can you give me any Pro's and Con's of each one?

Thanks - I appreciate the help!
 

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Brian Ferguson
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3,652 Posts
Dennis, I too am considering a mini lathe, as well as milling machine. From everyone I have met who owns these tools, the unanimous vote is for the Sherline units. They seem to have superb tolerances, offer a wide range of accessories, and are reasonably priced. I was skeptical about the aluminum construction, but I saw Al's (BWA) unit, and it looks beautiful. He, too, suggests you can't beat the Sherline units for value and quality. And if someone can make the stuff he does, it's a good enough tool for me!
 

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Dennis Samson
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807 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Fergy - thanks for the snappy feedback.

Just looking at the prices, I can get a Sherline for about half of what a Prazi or an EMCO Compact 5 would cost, so that looks like a good deal even though it's a little smaller machine.

I've found a Sherline dealer about four blocks from my house - just need to find out whether he has stock that I can look at up close and then that's probably going to clinch the deal.
 

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Premium Member
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427 Posts
i have been told pultra lathes are very good, i dont believe they are made anymore, they look a lot more sturdy than the sherline lathes but they are bigger as well, they are also about the same price for a cheap second hand example, they were originally a swiss watchmakers lathes, hope this of help,
and me, for my slot racing tasks requiring lathes and mills for a lathe i use 2.5 tonnes of dean smith and grace lathe, and 1.5 tonns of spanish mill!

minimental
 

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800 Posts
I have a Sherline lathe. Bought it new a few years back and it's still as accurate as it was then. Not too sure on my accuracy of late though
It's probably the best hobby sized lathe you can buy without going to a shop lathe.

I'd suggest buying all the accessories you plan on getting at the same time you buy the lathe. The various attachments are rather expensive but you can wangle a better price if you're buying a lathe too. Yeah, it adds to the initial cost but you'll find that in the long term you will save money, a lot of money.

If cost is no object then get a CNC shop lathe
 

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79 Posts
One thing that you may want to consider is if you want CNC capability in the future. Hobby class cnc options are getting cheaper and cheaper. There seems to a lot of support for this for the sherline.

CNC is not necessarily about doing a hundred of an item. I do one offs all the time with my Bridgeport. I'll program things in that I would never do by hand.

Derek
 

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Having never worked with a lathe before can you guys give a list of things you use the lathe for in the context of slot cars only. I can think of a couple things but not enough to justufy buying one.

Yhanks,

Brent
 

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79 Posts
I think a mill would be much more useful to a slotcar or R/C hobbiest

Derek

QUOTE (hawkwind @ 6 Oct 2004, 17:34)Having never worked with a lathe before can you guys give a list of things you use the lathe for in the context of slot cars only. I can think of a couple things but not enough to justufy buying one.

Yhanks,

Brent
<{POST_SNAPBACK}>
 

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Al Schwartz
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3,396 Posts
QUOTE (hawkwind @ 6 Oct 2004, 17:34)Having never worked with a lathe before can you guys give a list of things you use the lathe for in the context of slot cars only. I can think of a couple things but not enough to justufy buying one.

Yhanks,

Brent
<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I have a Unimat PC fitted with modest CNC facilities (which I rarely use) I find mine to be absolutely essential to the type of building that I like:

Machining special sized wheels (for 30's GP cars)

Modifying wheels to accomodate different types of tires - either "rib" fitting tires or full cross section tires such as Ortmanns and EJ's

Cutting the inner diameter of wheels to fit inserts

Machining inserts from plastic wheels - Ninco wires in particular

Resizing Pittman motor shafts to accomodate modern pinions (0.093" > 0.078")
( I use a flexiible shaft tool with the handpiece held in a block attached to the tool post as a tool post grinder)

Boring plastic wheels to take 0.125" OD, 0.093" ID tubing so that they run true!

I have a lot of tooling bought with the lathe but the most used bits are:

3 jaw chuck standard jaws

3 jaw chuck reversed jaws

4 jaw chuck

collet set : 1/16", 3/32"/ 1/8" 5/32", 3/16". 1/4"

quick change tool post with 5 tool holders - I usually keep a cut-off tool, RH and LH turing tools, a threading tool and a small boring bar mounted

A nice thing to have is a small set of lathe files - these are like regular files but the teeth are cut at a much steeper angle designed to work by holding against a rotating part.

My lathe also came with a small milling head that could be attached to the back to be used with a milling table attached to the tool post slide - it was absolutley useless! I now have a Grizzly Mini-Mill which is a typical, rather crude Chinese bargain tool but it gets the job done.

EM
 

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64 Posts
The Surline lathe looks great. I am also looking at the Micro Lux 7x14 lathe from Micro Mark. It looks like a bigger, heavier machine for about the same cost. Does anyone have an opinion or experience with them?

Jim
 

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Al Schwartz
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3,396 Posts
The mini lathes like the Micro Mark are very well covered in a number of web sites and forums. (do a Google search on "mini lathes") There is also a wealth of accessories available for them.

My only specific objection to these lathes is that the headstock is not threaded but has a flange to which the chucks are bolted. This makes changing headstock workholders a bit of a P.I.T.A.

EM
 

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Premium Member
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469 Posts
EM,
Lathes are great if you can afford the luxury of having one but, except for making wheels, you can do all the other jobs mentioned with hand tools, A Dremel and a vice. It takes a little longer but that's what I do then I take the money I saved and buy more parts to work with. Resizing motor shafts to fit pinions can actually be done faster with a Dremel.

Jim

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>
[/quote]

I have a Unimat PC fitted with modest CNC facilities (which I rarely use) I find mine to be absolutely essential to the type of building that I like:
Machining special sized wheels (for 30's GP cars)
Modifying wheels to accomodate different types of tires - either "rib" fitting tires or full cross section tires such as Ortmanns and EJ's
Cutting the inner diameter of wheels to fit inserts
Machining inserts from plastic wheels - Ninco wires in particular
Resizing Pittman motor shafts to accomodate modern pinions (0.093" > 0.078")
( I use a flexiible shaft tool with the handpiece held in a block attached to the tool post as a tool post grinder)
Boring plastic wheels to take 0.125" OD, 0.093" ID tubing so that they run true!
<{POST_SNAPBACK}>
[/quote]
 
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