WATCH TALK FORUMS banner
1 - 5 of 5 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello

I am looking for a used lathe and there are several makes on the market. What brand(s) are the "good ones" and easy to get parts for? Also, there are some new chinese lathes for sale on ebay between $800 to $1200. Has anyone had any experience with them. From past experience with chinese tools, it's a hit or miss.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
446 Posts
Do you need a watchmaker style lathe?

If so, you really can't go wrong with any older model WW pattern lathe, which are fairly affordable and for which parts and accessories are readily available. I'm partial to Boley, which is what I have, although those who have Levin or Moseley lathes hold them in high regard. The more "standard" American brands, such as Peer, Peerless and Marshall are good also, and a well maintained example from one of these brands will be superior to a poorly maintained Levin or Boley.

Whatever you get, I suggest if possible breaking the headstock down beforehand and checking for any obvious defects in the bearings, as well as carefully checking the pulleys for any signs of chipping or cracking(a real problem on hard rubber and bakelite pulleys, and not an issue on metal pulleys). Check the bed for any obvious defects and for rust. Make sure the drawbar fits properly and will work correctly with the collets, as this can sometimes be difficult to replace if missing or incorrect. If possible, insert a collet in the headstock(don't tighten it unless you have a correctly sized piece of stock to put in it!) and make sure the "key" is still present that indexes the collet in the headstock-some watchmakers were known to grind this off to make collet changes faster, but in the process destroyed some of the accuracy of the lathe. If possible, check the lathe for run-out before buying.

Also, be sure you look over the collets well. A complete set of collets for watch work would ideally have every size from #1 to #80, although realistically one can "get by" with a full run of even sizes from #2 to #50. If you go with this option, I suggest at least adding the odd sizes from #3 to #15, as this will cover 90% of the watch repair jobs you will need to do. It's preferable to have all of your collets be of the same make(not necessarily the same brand as the lathe, although many people will end up with this pairing) as the different makes can have slightly different dimensions. Check for damage, including rust in the holes(a little bit on the face of the collet generally isn't a problem, but can be a symptom of deeper problems) and "sprung" collets which have either had something too large forced into their hole or have been closed down on something too small. Damaged or missing collets can be replaced, although the cost can quickly add up if you need to replace too many. Most used dealers charge about $10 each for good condition collets, although sometimes the cost can go up if you request a specific brand(particularly for premium brands like Levin and Boley). New collets are available from a handful of places, although the price is steep-new Levin collets run about $150 each for the common sizes, and go considerably for "special" sizes.

As far as the new Chinese lathes go-I've heard some good and some bad reports on them. From my perspective, however, good used lathes of any size are available in many cases for the same price or less than the new Chinese counterpart, and I'd rather stick with something of known good quality.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
29 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ben,

Thank you very much for the informative response. I'll print this out and keep it as a reference since you touched on more aspects of lathe inspection than I wouldn't have considered.

Good day
Mike
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
71 Posts
Poking around on the subject of lathes turned up this old fossil so I thought I would try some thread necromancy because this is a hot topic for me right now. I am looking down the road to purchase a lathe and have my heart set on a Derbyshire 750. The only fly in the ointment is whether such a size would allow for case work such as re-threading a case or bezel or even making a bezel. There has been quite a bit come across my Internet connection concerning the use of a Sherline Mill for watchmaking but precious little in the way of detailed experience reported. Has anyone addressed this matter before?

Best Wishes,

Bruce
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
16,574 Posts
The problem with that train of thought is, seeing as how this thread is almost a decade old, I'm not sure just how popular a topic woodworking lathes are on a modern wrist-watch collector's chat room site. I hope your post garners some replies, but I wouldn't get my hopes up!
 
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top