It seems every model maker wants a Myford lathe. I have no time for those prissy excuses for a machine tool but then you may have noticed I don’t make models and anyway I needed something a bit bigger to satisfy my aspirations. A Myford is a 3.5 inch lathe which means the maximum diameter you can turn is 7 inches (150mm!) and that’s really beyond its capability.
For my general purpose projects I looked round for something with a decent capacity even if a bit weak and came across a Chester Centurion lathe/milling machine combination. I didn’t trust this obvious cheap import, it looked a bit ridiculous in fact and I dismissed it as a non-starter until I spoke to Ian, a fine craftsman from the past. He had one and reckoned it was OK providing you don’t expect too much… and he was right.
It has a centre height of over 8 inches!! – I could turn a 16 inch flywheel. Oh yeah?
The slowest speed on the Centurion lathe is far too fast to turn anywhere near 16 inches, in fact when I needed to machine this sort of diameter I resorted to pulling the chuck round by hand. A bit of a fag but I got there.
The lathe comes with a 3 jaw self centering chuck. They never run true after a bit of use and can’t hold rectangular materials (remind me to tell you about Tank Lee 🙂)
and do not have a really tight grip.
Instead I opted for a good size 4 jaw independent chuck and have used it successfully for all my work regardless of the need to ‘clock up’ every time. It holds tight and perfectly true. Model makers use 3 jaws!