Lathe experience or recomendations

Does anyone have experience or a recommendation on a small affordable lathe they use for FRC ? The main use would be to turn shafts for encoders and other such modifications.

We are considering something like this.

That size lathe would be perfect for FRC machining, and the Grizzly comes with a lot of nice extras - a four chuck, faceplate, and dead center.

It doesn’t appear to come with a drill chuck. You will want to pickup a MT3 to Jacobs Taper Adapter (JT) and a chuck. A smaller 1/2" chuck would have better holding power for the range of drills your likely to use. The “JT2” size supports a lot of smaller chucks.

While the stock four way tool post will work, you will often need to shim the various tools to get them on center. An AXA quick change tool post with some extra standard holders makes changing tools very quick, and each can be adjusted on center once. I recommend the “Wedge Style” over “Piston Style” posts. Phase II would be a good discount brand, with Aloris and Dorian being the higher end options.

A few accessories to consider.
Center Drill(s) - For locating center before drilling
Indexable Tool Set w/ extra inserts
Dial Indicator and Magnetic Back(location of features) they make 2" travel indicators (cheap DRO)
Parting Tool and Holder - Great for making PVC spacers
Grooving tool for E-Clips and C-clip Widths
Spring Loaded Tap Guide (B&S) - Starting Taps Straight
Small fine file with handle, and Lutz file card

Also Tapping/Cutting Fluid.
Squeeze Oiler with Brass Tipped Cone - Seals Around Oiler Balls for lubricating lathe

Just to note… There are several good threads on this topic… but, I was compelled to reply. I have that lathe, G0602. It’s been good. We have gotten a lot of good use out of it. You may find you CAN get by with a smaller lathe.

I find that the Grizzly equipment is cost effective and decent quality. We got the smaller version for our kids ( when it went on sale It’s really a good little lathe. Cost effective, easily moved and the small motor will stall if somebody gets too aggressive on a cut. So, it’s a good one for new machinists. We’ve turned up to 4” stock in that machine on occasion.

I think G8688 is the same as the model sold at Harbor Freight, but Grizzly does a much better job on Quality control and we have had good luck. Handles are a little close together and I do smack my fingers if I’m not careful.

I was asked by our school to make recommendations for outfitting a machine shop for the new STEM Center that is being built on our campus. I scoured these forums and asked a number local experts and ended up making this lathe as a recommendation. It’s big enough for anything an FRC team would want to do and Grizzly has a good reputation for quality and durability.

Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to set any of the machines up yet since the construction of the Stem Center won’t be complete for about 2 more weeks. Then we’ll be really busy getting the equipment ready for the season.

We own the Grizzly G0752 (variable speed version of the G0602). It works alright but we have put enough money into to make it usable that we should have just bought the Precision Matthews version that comes with all the extras.

Quick change tool post, actual inch lead screws, cam lock tail stock, etc all make the lathe so much more usable than the other 10-22 lathes.

You don’t find powered cross-feed on many lathes this size. With a Standard AXA tool post, and a full set of accessories this looks like a great option.

We have the PM 1022 from a couple of years ago. Not quite sure what might’ve changed to it since then. I added on a 2 axis DRO a year later and everything has been working great so far. I haven’t talked with Matt in a long time, but he was always quick to respond to any email I sent.

Having the quick change tool post is a time saver. And as mentioned already, the power cross feed is a great feature you don’t find on many lathes this size.

Thanks for the responses. I am glad to hear others have the same or similar models.

1676 in NJ also has a G0602 and it is quite good for the money.
If you get one, be sure to set aside a few days to set it up properly. Nothing makes me sadder than a good lathe set up to be inaccurate.

There’s nothing wrong with these mini lathes but I always recommend teams buy used lathes over new.

New lathes tend to be quite expensive because of all the little accessories needed to run them and the high shipping weight. There are tons of lathes on the local used and auction market that are in good condition and will preform far better then anything bought new at a comparable price. Used machines will often include things like DROs, boring bars and 4 jaws chucks that would’ve cost a bundle to buy new.

It depends on skill level, having a manual and tech support can be useful for teams that don’t have experienced machinist especially if you aren’t sure of what to look for in a used lathe or know if it’s going to work for your applications.

Also a lot of school budget and spending rules don’t make it easy to just go buy a lathe at an auction or on craigslist.

+1 to this, mostly. The only exception I would make is for a Hardinge HLV-H. If it looks to be in decent condition then I would trust an HLV to be accurate, more so than any other used or new lathe at least. That being said they tend to go for high premiums so new is often the only choice for teams without machinists.

What makes the HLV-H good for FRC teams? It looks like a pretty poor choice for FRC teams in more ways than one.

Why wouldn’t you recommend one?

Your paying a high price for features an FRC team doesn’t need. Because it’s a precision lathe it has a small spindle bore and is usually setup for a collet chuck which isn’t all that useful in FRC. The CVT is unnecessary and isn’t as easy or cheap to maintain as a standard gear setup. The fancy threading stuff will never get used. It’s an awesome lathe but it’s not the right tool for an FRC team.

It’s almost a shame, it’d be like buying a vintage Porsche 911 for driving your kids to school when a Honda Civic would do the same job equally as well or better. We do a lot of turning in FRC but it’s usually rather straightforward operations, I doubt the majority of FRC team have strayed outside a 3 jaw chuck. For the same price you could buy 2 or 3 perfectly suitable used lathes.

I agree with you on price. In almost every other aspect the HLV-H (and even moreso it’s cousin the TFB-H which is identical just without threading) is the perfect FRC lathe. Maybe not the perfect lathe for the average team, but if a team is building robots at a high level and doing lots of in house manufacturing, has/proper utilizes manual/cnc machine tools, it is probably perfect. 100% would rather have one HLV-H/TFB-H in good condition than 3 of your average imported 13x40 lathes.

  • Collet chucks are unbelievably useful. By far more appropriate for FRC work than a 3 jaw. 90% of the time we work with fractional rounds or hex in sub 1.125" diameter. Collet chuck all day. Especially for short(er) shafts/spacers where you can run a stop in the collet. You can swap parts in under 5 seconds. You also can’t leave the chuck key in because there is no chuck key. They’re also way lower runout than any 3 jaw non set-tru chuck.
  • If you need to switch to a 3 jaw it takes less than 30 seconds. Faster than most other lathes.
  • The CVT is a huge selling point and plenty reliable. I can’t count how often people would grind gears while trying to change speeds on our old lathes, or just cut at the wrong speed because they didn’t know how/didn’t feel like changing speeds. It’s infinitely more convenient on the Hardinge
  • The machine is significantly more user friendly than most lathes. The controls are laid out very nicely, the machine is at a good height, there’s fewer knobs and levers, and everything is very intuitive
  • Spindle has a brake, as many lathes do, but it is automatic and doesn’t require the foot lever. Eliminates any chance of someone doing something dumb like slowing down the chuck with their hand after the spindle is turned off.
  • Power feeds are located on the carriage and are infinitely variable on the fly. HUGE benefit over any other lathe on the market. Not having to screw around with changing levers and knobs and finding the right setting (while turning the machine off every time you change) is a really big deal. Especially for the students who don’t necessarily know how many thousandths of an inch of feed they should be using.
  • Bed is solid, makes cleanup a lot easier and makes the machine more rigid/accurate.
  • Unlike most imported lathes the tailstock doesn’t suck. It doesn’t get out of whack and is very consistent.
  • It just makes good parts, with minimal effort. You don’t need to worry about things moving around on you or whether the machine is perfectly setup like on your average consumer Chinese/new imported lathe. You take a cut and it takes off the amount that you dialed up, every single time.
  • The HLV-H (and especially the TFB-H) are by far the safest lathes I’ve ever used. Collet chuck is way safer than 3 jaw (lower spinning mass, nothing to get caught on, can’t leave key in the chuck). Automatic spindle brake. No spinning feed rod on TFB-H, only 1 pretty well covered spinning feed rod on HLV-H, controls are super intuitive, etc etc.

The only cons, IMO:

  • Price is high
  • Spindle bore is sometimes limiting but fine 90% of the time for what we do

I don’t disagree with you but I think your living in a bit of a bubble. I’m not sure how it is in Cali but finding a Hardinge HLV in Ontario or the northern US for under 12 grand is near impossible. I’ve found one for sale in Canada at a unknown price and a couple in the northern US for over 30 grand! If you can find one for 3 grand that’s great! Get it.

I’m not comparing them to an imported lathe. There are plenty of college sized standard-modern lathes on the used market that would work just fine for 95% of FRC teams for $1-2K. IMO the biggest priority for a FRC team should be just getting something of reasonable size with a DRO. I just don’t think Asid61’s “ignore used lathes unless you can find a Hardinge HLV” is particularly good advice. We aren’t building the space shuttle.

I don’t think DRO is an absolute must for a lathe. While it’s great for quality of life, it’s certainly doable without. We just got a DRO on our very-old (and much loved) lathe during this offseason. It’s worth a fair chunk of change, but if the only available DRO is very expensive you can certainly manage without one.

It’s again one of those used vs. new thing. It’s not hard to find a used lathe with a DRO for a the same price as one without. DROs just make it way easier to train students to make accurate parts especially when those parts are long spacers. Having a DRO can also minimize the amount of expensive delicate precision measuring tools like height gauges and calipers. A DRO is a lot cleaner than Dykem :smiley:

In CA the only HLV on Craigslist near me is $12k](, but there’s a machinery dealer an hour north who sells them for around $5-6k, as he buys them off of government auctions for very low prices anyway. I requested him to find me a lathe under $3k recently for 1072. Sometimes you can find Hardinge TFBs for that much. That being said, it’s hard to find anything good for under $2k around here, let along buying new.
I understand the struggle of finding a good, cheap, used lathe all too well, which is why for any team without a machinist I would recommend either buying a Hardinge or something new like a Precision Matthews. It’s too easy to get junk when you’re buying used lathes.

100% agree on the DRO; having one makes life so much easier. Especially when you’re doing long parts and only have a 2" long indicator. :smiley: I can live without a DRO but then I would really, really want a carriage handwheel with graduations on it.