there are a few lathes that look good right now on my local Craig's List. they are in the 14 x 48, 16 x 40, 12 x 36 range. I'm thinking of getting a long bed in order to do muzzleloader barrels. any thoughts or advice?
My buddy has a grizzly. It is belt drive, but it seems to be a good machine. Mine is a Chinese "Birmingham" It is a good machine, gear driven but it goes too fast. It turn 70 rpm, 270 and then up to 1200. It won't even turn itself at that speed. It is a 12x 36, but you have to squint real hard . The bed is 36" I can only fit about 27" between centers. It's a good lathe. The people who sold it are crooks. It won't do 28 tpi(Enfield) guard screws.
I got it w/ a DRO. I sweated that one. I'm so happy I spent the extra thousand bucks. It makes the machine idiot proof. I find myself using it as a mill more than my mill. I make vices and tool holders to fit on my tool post.
Do it. Eat the big one and I promise you will enjoy every minute. It will keep you out of the bars and ,at least the high priced, whorehouses.
I would recommend you get a good used heavy lathe with at least 36" between centers & rebuild it. The chinese lathes are OK for a tinkerer's lathe but need a lot of work to make them precision. Recalibrating & tightening up are 2 areas the cheap imported lathes need.
Don't listen to MR. Stalking. He is probably a pro. I have had experience with old lathes. You don't want to rebuild one. The ways are nearly impossible to straighten out once they get worn. They can get swayback like an old mare.
If you only need to hit it within a couple thou. Get a brand spanking new import. They are waaay out of adjustment. It will be a good lesson to adjust it. It won't hurt you to take the saddle off and apart to see how it works. Then you will understand how to adjust it.
a couple months ago, seems to be one of the better chinese machines, has wipers on each end of the carriage, that was a suprise. I had ordered a grizzly1340 gunsmith lathe but when it got here the tailstock was loose on it's side and had bounced around on the ways, not good, called grizzly and they sent me a RA and I sent it back, reimbursed me promptly. it had an 'oil slingin' gearbox' which I didn't like. the Smithy has enclosed gearbox with oil bath. 1.5" spindle hole, with D1-4 camlock chuck mount. it had a 4-way toolpost which I exchanged for a quick change wedge style. haven't made any heavy cuts yet, could use a few more spindle speeds, slower as about 30-40 rpm for threading and chambering. going to add a coolant pump soon. I'm making a spyder for the outboard spindle end at present.
here's the link to the website:
This is a very good point if you plan on doing barrel work. Especially on long barrels. It is advantageous to be able to have the barrel running through the headstock in order to work close to the spindle. I would make sure that whatever machine you decide on has at least a 1.5" ID. JMHO.
For 3-4 times the cost, I'm afraid that American iron is out of my budget. And I'm not into spending the time and money it takes to rebuild and scrape an old, heavily used, worn out piece of American equipment. I'd rather be working on the guns, not the machines...
I'm not a professional gunsmith but I manage to get by just fine with a 12x36 import. YMMV.