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  1. #1
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    Jet BD-920N Opinions/Recommendations

    I just purchased a new Jet BD-920N 9x20 lathe. Perhaps I should have checked the forums a bit more closely before jumping into the purchase.

    I checked the web for any feedback on this machine... only one thread from quite some time ago (maybe a couple of years). The owner felt that there were quality issues associated with the manufacture of the machine - not necessarily the design though. I'm hoping that the quality issues have been resolved.

    I found feedback on the competitor's versions of this machine. Does anyone have any comments on the BD-920N?

  2. #2
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    Ill be honest with you man, I am 24 years old and I have been machining stuff and working in shops for 5 years now, mostly day & night. The first thing I learned was not to buy anything that says "Made in China" or "Made in Taiwan" on it and expect it to be alright, forget about good. Sorry

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the feedback. I wish I could get a machine that is more substantial, but this one goes into a small unused office. (If only I had a basement, garage, shop...)

    A big issue was being able to cart this thing in and then up onto a small bench.

    The thread I found earlier mentioned that the machine was loaded up with abrasive from grinding operations (at the factory) and had not been cleaned thoroughly before assembly.

    The person mentioned "swarf", whatever that is.

    Apparently he disassembled most everything, did a lot of cleaning, and then put it back together. After that, he was pretty satisfied with the results.

    Other than I can't heft a decent machine, it seems like you have to go through a lot of the same effort when you buy a used piece.

  4. #4
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    Not all of it is bad, and the statement "and dont expect it to be alright " is a pretty fair statement, but many thousands of people have used and are using these imported machines with great success including me. So, enjoy it and upgrade later if you feel the need, my guess is unless you are building NASA components it will provide more then adequate precision and work just fine for many years to come.

    Ken

  5. #5
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    Hello,

    You might want to check out my Yahoo group devoted to the 9x20 Lathes... Over 1700 folks there who use 'em, and like 'em! (including yours truly, I founded the group)

    It's at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/9x20Lathe

    Hope this helps,

    Ballendo

    P.S. I now own, and have owned in the past, many lathes, both import hi-grade (eMco-maier), and domestic, hardinge, southbend atlas, etc. The 9x20 is a great lathe at the price, and for a bit of "finish" work, it can do the work of lathes costing many times as much. Don't ever forget that its the OPERATOR, more than the tool, that makes good parts!

  6. #6
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    Ballendo -

    Thanks for the good information. I just joined Yahoo and the user's group. I'm astounded at the number of posts on these 9x20 lathes and all the "modifications" that are being done.

    I feel a lot better about the new acquisition, even though it looks like there is a fair amount of work to be done on getting it ready for use.

    Thanks again.

  7. #7
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    One thing I've noticed in the Asian vs Western debate is that Asian lathes suffer relative to Western, but some of the Asian BP clones are downright nice and are a terrific bargain. In general, Asian mills are better than Asian lathes.

    Another conclusion I've reached, FWIW, is that Asian cutters like end mills generally suck and are not worth the box they arrive in. Western cutters like Morse, Sossner, Niagara, Cleveland, etc are worth the high cost. Asian machine tools with western tooling go a long way towards getting quality work done at a reasonable price.

    Ditto vises, I'll happily pay big$$ for a KURT vise. I've had nothing but grief from Chinese mill vises which never seem to be in truth.

    Like Ballendo said, it's the man not the machine. You can put a hack in front of a new Monarch 10ee and recieve scrapped parts in return, while a wily old fella at a rickety Chinese machine can produce art.

  8. #8
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    Or a wiley YOUNG fella...

    (Just not a Wile E Coyote )

    Beep Beep!

    Ballendo


    Originally posted by Swede
    You can put a hack in front of a new Monarch 10ee and recieve scrapped parts in return, while a wily old fella at a rickety Chinese machine can produce art.

  9. #9
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    Originally posted by h3ndrix
    Ill be honest with you man, I am 24 years old and I have been machining stuff and working in shops for 5 years now(
    Not exactly a lot of experiance there buddy if i was you I'd think sometimes before you post; with 35years in a trade I'd say I can make a Jet produce almost anything I wanted; the question is what kind of 5 years worth of experiance do you have; if it's all CNC then I'd really think before a post

  10. #10
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    I did NOT mean to bash Chinese lathes, if that is what it sounds like, simply stating that a Smithy isn't a Hardinge or Monarch.

    Chinese stuff is great in that it allows guys who aren't "sure" that they'll love machining get into machine tools at a fair price. Even a bad Chinese machine is better than a novice in the sense that a novice cannot wring the best performance from the machine.

    For example, my first tool was a Smithy. I had a blast with it. But it took me three years before I was able to say "This machine is limiting me" with honesty. Before that, the tool was capable of producing better parts than my limited skill would allow. Two years later I was still using it, but shopping for something better. I finally replaced the Smithy with a beat up Hardinge HLV-B which I rebuilt, and a Taiwan BP clone mill. I sold the Smithy to a friend for $300. It was like a crack pipe... it addicted me, and then it addicted my friend who went through the same process; learned to machine, reached the limits of the Smithy, and replaced it with a Clausing and BP.

    So the inexpensive Chinese machines fill a definite need and are capable of great work in the right hands. "Pass the crack pipe, please."
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails hardinge.jpg  

  11. #11
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    I realize this is a bit of an aside but this is the first time I heard that Jet is from china. I have been considering buying a Jet bandsaw -- and probably wont. Figures because its cheaper but I wasnt getting that from what I saw when looking for prices on the net.

    My foreign policy: While I understand that they fit a niche, or "I've got x-amount of experience and I can get my Jet to do what ever I need". I dont buy american to take a patriotic or economic position. I just dont like lower quality bearings, lower quality steel, difficult to replace parts, sealed motors, and the general sense that I'm stuck with what I get, with chinese machinery.

    so all Jet machinery is from china?

    Owen

  12. #12
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    I just found out today that JET lathes are Chinese made. I have had two HF 7x10 lathes break down in the last six months so I am done with HF. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has the JET 9x20. It has metal gears and pulleys and belt/pulley speed control not cheap electronic ones that seem to die quick.

  13. #13
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    I have a jet bench lathe and bench mill, had them both in daily commercial use for nearly 20 years, was never disappointed in the performance of either.

    As several have noted, there's a fair amount of inspection and final fit and finish to be done if you expect good performance. I had to scrape some of the ways on my mill saddle, for instance, and the qc box on the lathe had to have a minor rebuild and re-bush within 6 months due to grit left in the oil passage.

    If you take the time to go through and inspect (which I didn't on the qc box) the jet tools are dead on par with same class domestics, imo.


    Tiger

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by h3ndrix
    Ill be honest with you man, I am 24 years old and I have been machining stuff and working in shops for 5 years now, mostly day & night. The first thing I learned was not to buy anything that says "Made in China" or "Made in Taiwan" on it and expect it to be alright, forget about good. Sorry
    I'm willing to bet that you don't own a single machine. Using someone else's beat up, poorly maintained machine that says "Made in Taiwan/China" hardly counts as experience.

  15. #15
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    I drove 140 miles to look at a Southbend 9x20 but it was in horrible shape. I am sure it was a great machine in 195? could not read the year on the label. It used leather drive belts also and I got a headache thinking about were you would find replacements.

    I just got the JET 9x20 uncrated and setup on the bench. It is a great machine and I have no complaints. After logging in six hours on it yesterday it is 1000 times better then the HF 7x10, there really is no comparison, I should have got this one first. Almost all of my shop equipment is JET and it all works great and use them 7 days a week and give them more abuse then I should.

    If we are pretty much stuck with Chinese shop machinery we can at least point out which brands are better. I went to an online "buy american" store and clicked on tools and they had one wrench and nothing else. Very sad, my grand father is rolling is his grave.

  16. #16
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    my first lathe

    OK , I am going to look at a used jet 9x20 from a school , and I have 2 questions , I am a newbie , so go easy on me.

    I read the machine has longitudinal power feed ( this is x right ? ) does the machine have a power feed for the Y axis? does it travel both ways on the Y axis ? and is the Y axis speed adjustable ?

    Being used at a school , I imagine it may have some "oops" damage , like someone learning to drive a manual transmission. Any areas to pay closer attention to ?

    It looks to have low hours on it and is pretty clean , It may be a good deal at the 750$ asking price. sound about right ?

    PS , I looked at a used smithy granite 1340 and decided to keep looking. The adjustable speed and x and y powerfeed was nice though , in my inexperienced opinion.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zumba View Post
    I'm willing to bet that you don't own a single machine. Using someone else's beat up, poorly maintained machine that says "Made in Taiwan/China" hardly counts as experience.
    I started out on Chinese machinery 10 years ago as it was a cheap way to get into the trade. I quickly learned there is a lot to be desired with Chinese machinery. I spent a minimum of 40 hours scraping ways and under the saddle and other repairs too numerous to mention. In my opinion, all of the Chinese lathes are pretty much crap. However my opinion on those same machines that were made 20 plus years ago and especially the old Taiwanese made iron was built much better. If you can find a 20 or 30 year old jet lathe or milling machine at a good price, I’d buy it. A friend of mine also has a 30-year-old Chinese Bridgeport clone that is top notch quality. I would have saved so much money if I would’ve listened to people on this site that told me in the beginning to not buy the shiny new Chinese Lathe and try finding a good used forty year-old piece of American iron. I currently have a 60-year-old South Bend 9” that runs unbelievably quiet and smooth. Good luck with whatever you choose and remember that even a crappy Lathe is better than no lathe.

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