My Speedway 7x12 Bench Lathe

Note Well!
I am not a professional machinist, nor have I ever been one.  Prior to purchasing this lathe, I had used a metal cutting lathe precisely once in my life, for about two hours; that was in 1980, and the lathe I used then was a monster compared to this small, inexpensive machine tool.  Don't take anything written here as a recommendation -- in a machine shop, I'm not qualified to recommend anything other than following the manufacturer's instructions and seeking competent advice.

Okay, first things first.  I'm not going to publish a bunch of pictures of my lathe.  If you don't already know what these lathes, made by Sieg in Shanghai, China, look like, I'd recommend you read up on them at Frank Hoose's very informative site  There are dozens of other pages around the web with additional pictures of the mini-lathes and pieces of the mini-lathes.  Mine is a Speedway, sold by Homier Distributing Company.  I tried to buy at a local tent sale from Homier Mobile Merchants, but they were sold out, and were still out of stock at the next sale, the last within a reasonable distance, despite a "full restock" between those two sales.  As a result, I didn't receive my lathe until Friday, April 25, 2003.  My plan with this page set is to document my experiences with the lathe, with an eye toward helping a novice machinist who's never owned a machine tool know some of the things that are hard to find out before you spend the money.

One thing I plan to do is to keep a running log of what I spend on tooling beyond the original purchase price of the lathe ($299.99 plus about $60 shipping and handling) so other prospective buyers will have a bit more to go on than "expect to spend as much on tooling as on the machine."  That's pretty vague, especially given that effectively identical machines (give or take an accessory or some red grease) sell for prices anywhere from the $300 Homier charges up to $630 for the Micro Mark, two inches longer with a digital spindle tachometer and .050" per turn cross and compound lead screws (instead of the 1.00 mm per turn on the "standard" Chinese 7 inch lathes).  In addition to documenting the "hidden" costs involved in owning a small lathe, I also plan to provide detailed information for any fixes I find for known problems with this lathe family.  The lathe cost log is here.

A second thing I plan to do is document the shortcomings of this particular lathe.  There are many, many pages wherein people saw how good this cheap little lathe is, then proceed to lambaste it for all its shortcomings.  There seem to be just as many where people say what bad things they heard about these right up until they bought one, and they're glad they did.  Simply put, what do you expect for $300?  You're getting the e-Machine of metal cutting lathes -- comparable in size to a Sherline or a Taig with riser blocks, comparable in appearance to a Prazi, or Sakai, but cheaper than all but the Taig (and cheaper than a Taig by the time you pay for a motor and the "optional" accessories that are included as part of the package with the 7x12, such as a tailstock, compound slide, riser blocks to give 6" swing, and a threading attachment -- and no way can your Taig cut threads under power).  A thousand dollars cheaper than a similarly sized Prazi!  So, no, I'm not expecting to pay for a Yugo and get a Ferrari -- but I plan to document the stuff I have to fix as I go along, either just to get the job done or to add capabilities that I need.  The log of fixes is here.

As of far too late on Sunday evening, April 27th, 2003, I haven't even gotten the packing grease cleaned off the lathe due to other demands on my time over the weekend.  I have installed all the handles and verified that all the unpowered controls on the lathe work without excessive drag or play, and verified that I will have to shorten or end drill the MT2 arbor on the drill chuck by about 1/2" to prevent it being pushed out of the tailstock ram too soon when retracting.  I've set the lathe on the table that will eventually become its bench, and installed the rubber feet (which also retain the chip tray).  I've performed the fix for a dragging tailstock as detailed on my fixes page, and now I'm going to bed.  More to come -- much, much more!

I've put the ongoing updates on their own pages, to keep this one from getting too long.  Follow the links below for more information (each page is also linked forward and backward within the series).

April 30, 2003
May 1, 2003
May 3, 2003
May 4, 2003
May 24, 2003
June 1, 2003
June 8, 2003

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Go to My 7x12 Lathe Cost Log
Go to My 7x12 Lathe Fixes
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All material on this page and pages linked from this page within my web site is Copyright © 2001, 2002 by Donald Qualls
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