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Author: Subject: Clarke CL300M Lathe - how good are they / what can they do?
MikeR

posted on 24/4/11 at 10:39 PM Reply With Quote
Clarke CL300M Lathe - how good are they / what can they do?

I'm looking to buy a little lathe (no space / cash for anything larger). The clarke cl300m lathe seems to be idea cause its .... err small & I know of one going second hand for what seems a reasonable price, esp when its my parents buying it for me.

My concern is that its too 'small' based on comments other people have made about this style lathe. The problem is i'm not sure what they mean by it being too small.

I'd like to turn steel, up to (i'd guess) 3 or 4" OD and tap say a 1/2" thread, maybe 1" if i'm doing something silly. Drill holes up to 1" (or bore something larger). The machines capacity is 180mm OD and about 300mm long with metric and imerpial thread cutting - therefore what I guess I'd like to do would seem to be well within its limits, if it can handle mild steel at the sizes I want.

What are peoples experience of this machine?
What do you think its capacity is?
Are they cheap chinese rubbish or can you get a decent job out of them?

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thunderace

posted on 24/4/11 at 11:08 PM Reply With Quote
there crap i had one i think i paid 300 for it new i broke it after 3 weeks and got a full refund .(there no good)
this it far better CLARKE CL500M LATHE WITH MILLER
Item number: 270737597271 on ebay.

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David Jenkins

posted on 25/4/11 at 07:43 AM Reply With Quote
There's no substitute for size and power when talking about lathes.

If you're wanting to turn 3" or 4" diameter steel then that lathe will struggle. It might have the capacity to hold and spin it, but it probably won't have the power to overcome the cutting tool drag. It might manage to turn aluminium at those sizes, certainly plastic, but not steel - not very well, anyway. A Myford lathe with a decent motor and very sharp tools (properly set) would be working hard at those sizes, although they would work. They're more expensive though!

Tapping in the lathe is a different matter - my Colchester lathe with its 1HP motor would groan if I tried to use a 1" tap on it! It would probably do it, but I'd be too scared of something going wrong...

Have a look at Axminster Tools - they're well-respected in the model engineering world for smaller lathes. You will have to change your expectations though...





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fazerruss

posted on 25/4/11 at 07:51 AM Reply With Quote
youd be far better off looking for an older lathe (20+ years) when sh1te like them didnt exist. If you look hard enough you can find em for under 500 and will last.
Although they were bought new by my parents I have a 30 year old myford super 7 and my brother has a 70year old ml5

As david jenkins said a myford will turn 4 inch steel but thats the limit. sounds like you may need something bigger.

[Edited on 25/4/11 by fazerruss]





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rgrs

posted on 25/4/11 at 08:00 AM Reply With Quote
Save your money for something better, i bought a brand new one off ebay for a fraction of the retail price and i still wished i hadn't bothered.

All the drive mechanism is plastic cogs run by a drive belt from a mechano set.

Despite trying to set it up several times i don't even think it makes it's stated acuracy, due to poor castings/ machining.


Look out for something older and far better made.

Roger

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gaz05

posted on 25/4/11 at 09:02 AM Reply With Quote
quote:
Originally posted by David Jenkins
There's no substitute for size and power when talking about lathes.

If you're wanting to turn 3" or 4" diameter steel then that lathe will struggle. It might have the capacity to hold and spin it, but it probably won't have the power to overcome the cutting tool drag. It might manage to turn aluminium at those sizes, certainly plastic, but not steel - not very well, anyway. A Myford lathe with a decent motor and very sharp tools (properly set) would be working hard at those sizes, although they would work. They're more expensive though!

Tapping in the lathe is a different matter - my Colchester lathe with its 1HP motor would groan if I tried to use a 1" tap on it! It would probably do it, but I'd be too scared of something going wrong...

Have a look at Axminster Tools - they're well-respected in the model engineering world for smaller lathes. You will have to change your expectations though...


As far as I know the 300/350 axminster/clarke are the made in the same factory in China. There's loads of these lathes all branded differently. I,ve got one from Amadeal. DJ post ^^is pretty much spot on. They're fine for small stuff providing you don't need great accuracy. They certainly won't touch any of the stuff you mentioned in the first post.

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big_wasa

posted on 25/4/11 at 09:15 AM Reply With Quote
They are fine for small bits of alluminium and brass ect. Really handy for making up bushes and stuff. They are crap with big chunks of steel. They flex and forget screw cutting.

I wish I had never got rid of my old english lathe. I just couldnt have it and the space to build the chassis.

[Edited on 25/4/11 by big_wasa]

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David Jenkins

posted on 25/4/11 at 09:19 AM Reply With Quote
If buying a second-hand lathe from a school or similar, be aware of their weight!

I have a Colchester Student lathe, generally regarded as a beginner's or student's lathe in the engineering world. A good lathe but not up to day-to-day industrial use.

At 625kg it weighs a little more than my Locost (and that's a bit lardy)!

Even the hobbyist ones can be fairly heavy - a Myford Super 7 is a 2-man lift (110kg bare, 160kg with cabinet) and one of those Clarke ones will be quite hefty (40kg).

[Edited on 25/4/11 by David Jenkins]





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liam.mccaffrey

posted on 25/4/11 at 11:05 AM Reply With Quote
I have a re badged version of these and the only redeeming feature is the variable speed motor controller imho.

Its not accurate and won't take anything other than pitiful cuts on steel your stated requirements are WELL beyond the capabilities of this machine. It might turn a 4" diameter bar but touching it with the tool will stall the motor. I also can not get the tail stock true to the axis of the machine probably due to poor machining or castings or BOTH.

I also have stripped the plastic drive gears on the slow range because the supplied 3 jaw chuck is crap and let go of the workpiece and slammed it into the carriage.

There are endless sites on the web about upgrading and modding these machines which will allow more accurate work.

Don't underestimate how long a seemingly small job will take on this machine. I machined 2 inch long stepped threaded bosses and a couple of stepped washers out of free machining stock and it took me nearly 2.5 hours. This would be a 20 min job MAX on a big lathe.
Just for the amount of time everything takes makes them uneconomical for making steel parts in my opinion.

Also you can not part off in these lathes without modifying them in my experience.


That said if you want to make models or machine plastic/ali parts then its fine. But my 30 year old Myford Ml7 was cheaper and still knocks spots of it.





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flak monkey

posted on 25/4/11 at 04:42 PM Reply With Quote
Dont bother if you want to do stuff that sort of size on one of the cheap machines.

Even an ML7 or similar would struggle at 4" steel. You would want a least a Colchester Student to make it worthwhile, and to be honest they are a bit big for your average sized garage.

Basically I agree with what David Jenkins has said, and can't add much more.

My Colchester Master groans a bit winding in 20mm+ taps. I wouldnt entertain it on anything smaller...





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MikeR

posted on 25/4/11 at 09:14 PM Reply With Quote
Thanks for all the advice guys.

I deliberately picked things on the large side cause I've no idea what I'll do with it in reality. IF it could handle that sort of thing then I'd be laughing. Bit worried that even if I was looking at 2" or less steel it would struggle. It then brings into question what I would be able to use it for and therefore is it worth it (price I was looking at was 350 second hand).

Curious about the thread cutting, I thought you had a cutting bit run down the steel at a fixed speed to cut a thread, not run a die down it.

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owelly

posted on 25/4/11 at 09:26 PM Reply With Quote
I would never use a tap or a die in a lathe as such. I would mount something in the chuck and use the tailstock to hold a tap/die central but turn the chuck by hand. The lathes I have would smash a tap or a die to pieces if they 'picked-up' or got a bit tight.
BOT.....
as said, for what you say you need, don't get a cheapy Chinese lathe! My chum has one and he's built a model steam engine with it and he's happy to spend hours fiddling with tiny bits of brass and taking unfeasably small cuts but for much above 2" bar, you'd be better off using sandpaper in the tool post.





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The Black Flash

posted on 27/4/11 at 08:13 PM Reply With Quote
Don't overestimate what you need though, in a couple of years of lathe ownership I've rarely turned anything bigger than an inch or so (and when I have it's been ally not steel), but it's been darned useful. 4" steel bar is heavy engineering stuff!

If you can wait, there are bargains to be had on the bay...Myfords and Colchesters go for good money, but oddities such as my 13" x 5' Southbend can go for the same price as that Clarke.

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