- Sep 17, 2008
The Taiwanese made much better stuff than the Chinese, but maybe the Chinese will catch up. I used a Southbend in one shop and it was a good little machine, but the headstocks on those used bushings instead of tapered roller bearings, and you'd get chatter with heavier cuts. The Atlas I don't care for; it uses square-section ways instead of the usual triangular self-centering ways, and it develops some slop when the ways wear and you can't adjust it out without it getting tight on the non-worn sections.For more than thirty years I used an old Southbend that was still reliable even when we moved and it was sold to make room - a mistake.
Since then I have purchased two different Chinese made lathes, one a Grizzly. These machines use very cheap plastic gears, pathetic belt drives, and components, and you will quickly discover that they are planned to be "absolete" by the distributors in a very short space of time, hence the source of replacement parts quickly dries up and you are forced to buy a new machine. This has happened twice, and I have since sworn off these cheap machines that do not hold tolerance, do not stand up to hard use, and do no have a reliable source of replacement parts.
I spent four years in Taiwan as a flight instructor to the CNAF and have a great respect for the Chinese, but not their "knockoff' mentality and business ethics.
Sonny Furman, Col. USAF ret.
I had a Grizzly combination mill/lathe, about 11" swing, in the same shop that had the Southbend. A friend had bought it and had no place for it. The mill was pretty much useless, and the lathe headstock gears would jump out of gear on a moderate cut.
My lathe is a Sharp, built in Taiwan to order by a now-gone Vancouver company, but it uses the same parts as many other models. I haven't had to buy any. The original weaknesses were designed out of it by Sharp, and it works better than any other lathe I've used (about 7 or 8). I bought it from an aloder fellow that had only used it occasionally to machine model airplane engone bits. Never any heavy work. It came with boxes of tooling, too.