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This is a discussion on Cheap Chinese Lathes within the Technical forums, part of the Caferacer.net Forums category; Just finished my typical yearly repair on my cheap Chinese 9x20 lathe. In this case I broke part of the crappy feed mechanism ....which is ...

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  1. #1
    Moderator jbranson's Avatar
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    Cheap Chinese Lathes

    Just finished my typical yearly repair on my cheap Chinese 9x20 lathe. In this case I broke part of the crappy feed mechanism ....which is good that it's crappy cause I tend to run the saddle into something stationary once a year and the same inexpensive part gives up each time ..better that than something pricey.

    Anyway, each time I rebuild part of it I go through that part of the lathe and remachine, refinish, modify any parts that are suffering from poor quality, poor design, poor finishing etc.

    It got me to thinking. About ten years ago I paid about $900 for this lathe. After profit for the retailer (Grizzly), profit to the Chinese exporter, shipping, and profit for the Chinese factory. That actual cost in US dollars of the lathe is probably $300. Makes we wonder why they can't charge $200 more and build a better machine. I mean if $300 will pay for the whole machine, then $200 in improvements would build a pretty nice lathe. Everyone could make the same dollar amount profit if the $200 went straight down the line and paid for the actual cost of improving the lathe.

    My only guess is that perhaps the equipment to produce a better machine would mean the factory spending millions and that's just not going to happen for a factory producing this kind of product.

    I can't bitch too much, the machine has served my purposes very well after about $700 in upgraded tooling and modifications. And has done so for ten years. Parts are still available and reasonable, and it will hold .0005" in about 5"... would probably do even better if I fiddled with it more, mounted it properly etc.
    JohnnyB

  2. #2
    Senior Member nic579's Avatar
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    Good info I have thought about getting one of these to learn on many times, but have feared the idea of getting a lathe that was a project in its self. same with all the old atlas lathes out there, Jet although had their 9x20 up for around $1200 for a while but is getting $1500 to $1800 for them now.

    Now my understanding "Grizzly of old", in the wood working machines is that the Grizzly equipment was made from "out of spec" castings and components made in China for premium manufactures, but have been told since that this is no longer true.

    Do you have a mini mill also that you use?

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    Moderator imslow's Avatar
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    Why would the Chinese do that? It would cost them more. ANd they have you all suckered into buying their shit which lasts for an instant. I have a mantra now. DO NOT BUY SHIT. even if it is something I have to wait a long time for. It's all philosophy . .. and would would think that the Chinese would have figured us out. It is time for people in the US to realize that there are people in the US willing to pay more for a product made in the US that is Quality. HAHA
    Inertial dynos just make people cranky

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  5. #4
    Senior Member nic579's Avatar
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    Like the Kohler kitchen faucet i bought recently, on box in BIG PRINT MADE IN THE USA!!!! open box faucet is in bag inside box clearly in small print on bag is made & assembled in CHINA?? WTF

  6. #5
    Senior Member crazypj's Avatar
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    quote:Originally posted by nic579

    Like the Kohler kitchen faucet i bought recently, on box in BIG PRINT MADE IN THE USA!!!! open box faucet is in bag inside box clearly in small print on bag is made & assembled in CHINA?? WTF
    Well, the BOX was made in USA
    I dabble in rocket science, when I\'m not picking my nose
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    Moderator joe c's Avatar
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    grizzley, ceetech, jet.....all of that woodworking equipment is made in the same exaclt plant. have a look. you paint it all the same color, take off the lables, which go into the same exact screw holes, you ahve an identical machine. the low ebv grizzley stuff if=s trash. the more expensive....bigger stuff...seems ok.

    i have an 8" jointer.....its got those same issues jb speaks of. butter soft bolts in gibs....shit for switch gear....etc etc...but other wise its a pretty damned good machine for the something ike 600 bucks i initially paid for it. with the powermatic costing 2x as much.

    the qualityhas improvev slightly over the years....as far as the woodworking stuff goes.....but for the cost of a high quality usev machine being the same as a new grizzley, why bother.

    also, we had one of the 10" cabinet saws in one of the shops i worked in.....the saw was a total piece of shit. the bearings went in the trunion after only a few months. the tilt design/blade raising had you mashing your fingers on the table under side.....and the shop fox/beismeyer clone fence sucked.



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    Moderator jbranson's Avatar
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    Evil, ten years is hardly and "instant" and compared to buying a 50 year old US machine that is hard to get parts for it can be a bargain. All depends on what you pay for an old US machine and what brand it is. Yeah the Chinese lathe breaks now and then, but it cost me $18 to fix it and I got the part in four days. And guess what, it will hold tolerances as well as any 50 year old US lathe that hasn't been rebuilt at a cost of thousands.

    Try spinning and old plain bearing South Bend at 3000 rpm to machine aluminum properly with carbide bits. I love my 1957 Bridgeport mill, but only because it was cheap, doesn't break much and does the job for me. A $7000 Taiwanese mill will kick the shit out of it in every way. It would cost me $7000 just to get the old BP to work at the same tolerances as a new import mill.

    Old US stuff is great if you find a low hours example, or if you want to spend thousands to have one rebuilt, or you only need .003" in 6" of accuracy. But most people don't want to spend $17000 for a bare bones US mill or lathe when an import will do the same work for $7000.

    Most of the old US stuff is "production" quality machinery, something that most of hobby types don't need. A production machine would see more use in a week than most of us would need in a year.

    And while the Chinese may have "suckered" us ....well the US companies went out of business 30 years ago, so someone must have suckered them too. When I asked Frank C. about machine tools he told me the Taiwanese stuff was twice the machine that the old BP's were at half the price.

    Believe me, I'd love to buy US made machine tools, but they have to be competitive or they are suckering me into buying a name for twice the money. Grizzly is now selling a 10x22 lathe for $1050 with a 6+" wide bed, MT4 spindle taper, 1" spindle bore, 3/4" lead screw etc. Great little machine for the money. Equivalent "South Bend", made in Taiwan is $4,600.

    Try to find a 10-12" lathe made in the US right now ...they don't exist. I know of no one making them at all. So you choice is an antique or Chinese, Taiwanese, or Euro (which are huge money). Antique is fine if part of your hobby is maintaining old machine tools, not so much fun if you just need a machine to make stuff.
    JohnnyB

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    Senior Member Mc69's Avatar
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    A little off topic, but when I used to work for FedEx and pick up boxes from ROSS music company. All their equipment was being outsourced to China, then they would ship the musical instruments to the states where they rebox them into boxes with a big U.S. flag emblem on the side, proudly saying "Made In The USA". What a lie, I would watch them pull them out of the containers and repackage. All the employee's knew what was going on because 90% of them had already lost their jobs.

  10. #9
    Moderator jbranson's Avatar
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    The "Made in the USA" is much less strict than most of us realize, and much more strict than most manufacturers want. If I'm not mistaken Harleys can't even put the "Made in the USA" sticker on their bikes cause not enough of their total parts are actually made in the US. It chages year to year based on where they are sourcing their parts.
    JohnnyB

  11. #10
    Senior Member nic579's Avatar
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    quote:Originally posted by crazypj

    quote:Originally posted by nic579

    Like the Kohler kitchen faucet i bought recently, on box in BIG PRINT MADE IN THE USA!!!! open box faucet is in bag inside box clearly in small print on bag is made & assembled in CHINA?? WTF
    Well, the BOX was made in USA
    That was the joke when I was installing the thing.

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