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View Full Version : Shop tools: Upgrade HF 7x10 lathe to 7x16



garyash
01-15-2019, 09:13 AM
About 5 years ago, I bought a Harbor Freight 7x10 lathe to do some simple machining for car and home projects. It soon proved to be too small, as it's really only capable of holding pieces about 8 inches long. Additionally, the 3" chuck won't grab anything large. So, last week, I got an upgrade kit for about $200 from LittleMachineShop.com which included a 16" cast iron bed, new rack and lead screw, chip tray, and other pieces. I also bought a 5", 3-jaw chuck with an adapter plate.

I had to completely disassemble the lathe, drill and tap a bunch of holes in the new bed, mount and align the new lead screw, and remount the drive motor. While their printed instructions are pretty good, they claimed it could be done in 2 to 4 hours. I made some mistakes along the way, and alignment was more tedious than they suggested, so it took me two days to get the job done. Swapping the chucks only took 10 minutes. It still fits on my bench top in my basement, and I can lift it, if needed.

It did go together and now runs well. I can mount longer and larger diameter pieces, though it's not going to be turning driveshafts or the like. A limitation is still that the carriage can only go out just so far from the bed, so real working diameters are much less than the nominal 7" bed clearance or even 5" chuck. Also, the horsepower is limited, but sufficient if you are patient enough to take small cuts. I'm happy with the result. Maybe someday I'll spring for a much bigger lathe, but that would require a lot more space and serious work to put it in place. Fortunately, there are shops near me that will do the heavy-duty work.

LittleMachineShop.com has all the parts and accessories for HF and similar Chinese lathes (Grizzly, Sieg, Micro-Mark, etc.) and milling machines at fair prices. Here is a "before" picture from the 7x10 manual and an "after" photo of my lathe.

http://www.studegarage.com/images/other/HF%207x10%20lathe%20sm.png

http://www.studegarage.com/images/other/7x16%20lathe%205in%20chuck%20complete.jpg

sweetolbob
01-15-2019, 09:48 AM
A lot of folks poo-poo these Chinese imports but I bought a 14X40 Gap lathe from Enco almost 30 years ago. It looked like it was hand hewn from cast iron but it came with 4 pages of QA specs that were every bit a good as the standard lathes we had in the tool shop and has been a faithful servant since. The ways etc, were dead nuts true and remain that way today. It still runs on projects at least monthly. An excellent investment.

Nice write up. Bob

jclary
01-15-2019, 10:19 AM
Question purely motivated by curiosity...did the upgrade cost more than the lathe from HF?

Additional comments...I have never been a machinist but sold tons of tooling to manufacturers and job shops. I have given thought of buying a small lathe just for the joy of having another toy to tinker with. So for us backyard tinkerers, what sorts of examples can you provide related to Studebaker and/or other "vintage iron" projects could make it useful other than the entertainment value???:confused:

wittsend
01-15-2019, 11:16 AM
Question purely motivated by curiosity...did the upgrade cost more than the lathe from HF?

Additional comments...I have never been a machinist but sold tons of tooling to manufacturers and job shops. I have given thought of buying a small lathe just for the joy of having another toy to tinker with. So for us backyard tinkerers, what sorts of examples can you provide related to Studebaker and/or other "vintage iron" projects could make it useful other than the entertainment value???:confused:

I have the same HF lathe. Gary seems to be content with the results he has gotten and so I do not say what I say to contest him. Each of us has our own expectations. That said, here is my experience:

1. Repeat-ability of the settings is not accurate. When a cut is made the cross feed is backed off at the end and then reset (deeper) with the next subsequent cut. My experience has been if you set the next cut for .010 it might cut .003 to either side of that. My son (train as a machinist) took the cross feed apart and tried honing the surfaces but the Gibbs still have binding points.

2. The circuit board that controls the motor has a history of being suspect. Many people swap out the transistors. I found it took little to blow the 4 amp fuse. In frustration I swapped to a 5 amp slow blow fuse. 5+ years later so far so good. No blown fuses or circuit boards.

3. The Hi/Lo gears are made out of plastic and often break. You have to disassemble a fair portion of the lathe to replace them. The LMS has steel gears but they are $80 for the set. Once these break the the chuck won't turn. Eventually I disassembled the lead screw gears, had my son machine out the center of a HF drill press multi-pulley and attached it to the chuck spindle. I then hung the same drill presses motor on the back and use a belt to drive it. Frankly I have pretty much just used this lathe to file or polish round stock items. I would never cut threads on it. Video's of the conversion:

Part 1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnB_-i7g8Qs

Part 2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wMnm5LWu30

Had I paid the full price ($669 - less a 20% off coupon) I would have probably returned it. However, I live within 10 miles of the old Harbor Freight main warehouse in Camarillo (they have since move the main warehouse to Moreno Valley). So, I was able to get the lathe at a significant discount. My son was about 11 at the time and we had stopped by HF for a $3 item not knowing it was the last day of a parking lot sale. I saw him kneeling next to a box and softly muttering for my attention. He had found the lathe in an unmarked box with a $200 price tag and everything (being the last day) was 50% of that ($100). Thus the lathe only cost me $100 (new-returned item) but that is about the value I have gotten out of it. We often refer to it as the horizontal drill press.

From my experience I would recommend a used 1960's era Craftsman 101 - Atlas 618 (basically the same lathe). It comes in roughly the 7X16 size as built. Some have a bushing spindle and others a bearing. I would look for the bearing model and also make sure that all the gears are present for the lead screw/thread cutting. The gears are made of of Zamak (a pot metal alloy) but the HF gears are plastic for comparison. These lathes sell in the $400-$600 range condition likely being the difference maker.

sweetolbob
01-15-2019, 11:26 AM
So for us backyard tinkerers, what sorts of examples can you provide related to Studebaker and/or other "vintage iron" projects could make it useful other than the entertainment value???:confused:

Any round, hex, square, etc. object that needs:

A taper
smaller OD
stepped sizing
centered ID
centered ID enlargement
centered hole
center threaded section
for starters.

Custom or standard bushings
custom turnings the ID of the axle housing to allow shortening with accurate welding
custom bushings that fit the axle bearing OD's to align the above

Avanti wheel centers

Bushings to adapt shocks to Avanti and Studebaker chassis's

Delrin bushings for front suspensions.

Whatever the neighbor's need turned or adapted - free beer!

Turning/building drive shafts to adapt small motors to pumps or other equipment they need to run.

Just a few that I recall as I was typing. If I go back to my old posts, there'll be a lot more.

Bob

studegary
01-15-2019, 12:02 PM
My father had a South Bend lathe, that was larger/longer than those pictured. He had a lot of extras with it and only used it for home use. He was a tinkerer. I believe that it sold for $100 when I cleared out his house (c.2008).

hausdok
01-15-2019, 01:40 PM
If you've got a space about 6ft wide by about 15ft. long, I saw a used lathe for sale on a Government website about a week ago. ;)

garyash
01-15-2019, 03:38 PM
John Clary wanted to know the cost of the upgrade versus a new lathe and also what parts for Studebakers have I made in the lathe. The kit for the 16" bed upgrade was $193 plus tax and shipping, much less than the current price of $600 to $700 for a new 7x10 or 7x12 from HF or other vendors. Micromark 7x16 lathe with 4" chuck is listed at $1300. I figured what I originally paid for the lathe was "sunk cost" if I wanted something bigger. So, even throwing in another $154 for the 5" chuck, the pain wasn't too bad.

Among the parts I've made for my 1932 Studebaker Indy car replica project are a steel shaft adapter to attach a quick-release steering wheel hub to the 1929 steering shaft, steel cylinders and domed ends for the fabricated front spring mounts, an aluminum die to hydroform the brass rosette on the grille, and new carburetor throttle shafts with threads for the four Stromberg EX-23 carbs. The shafts also had have slots milled for the throttle plates, a job I did on my little Taiwan-made Rong Fu mill/drill machine (like Grizzly #25, 7.5"x23" table). I use the machines for small projects that I want direct control of and for need-it-now stuff. The next upgrade may be a rotary/tilt table for the mill/drill.
http://www.studegarage.com/images/other/shaft_adapter_parts.jpg

http://www.studegarage.com/images/other/front_spring_hangers.jpg

http://www.studegarage.com/images/other/indy_grille_rosette_die.jpg

http://www.studegarage.com/images/other/stromberg_EX23_linkage_parts1.jpg

http://www.studegarage.com/images/other/slot_milling1.jpg

jclary
01-15-2019, 04:07 PM
Thanks for responding Gary. I'm impressed! For others who have responded, thank you also. Good information to have.:)

firestoper 25
01-16-2019, 12:22 AM
I have a 16 x 60 South Bend engine lathe with the full range of attachments along with 3 HP Bridgeport mill (still need MORE attachments), my wife calls them "the other women". If the price increase of materials does not slow down the fun of working with my own machines will greatly diminish. Sherm / Green Bay

hausdok
01-16-2019, 10:23 PM
Well, now that these guys have got you all excited about the idea of owning your own lathe and making your own doodads, here's an old used Craftsman lathe for sale up here in Washington.

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/2342733309294337

Mike Sal
01-17-2019, 09:32 AM
I have an Enco 9x49 mill and 13x40 lathe (both 1980's vintage) and both work very well for me. Both came from auctions, where business's went broke.
Mike Sal