We recently decided to get a lathe and take on machining as a hobby so we could keep the team’s match rifles up and running, and we also liked the prospect of eventually building new rifles for ourselves. The idea was to get to a point of being self sufficient and able to re-barrel/build team rifles when we needed them.
We started looking into metal lathes and were extremely taken back by the cost of a South Bend or Bridgeport. So, after more searching around we found Grizzly and began looking over the different models that they had available. We found a lot of good feedback and reviews on Gizzly’s products and the cost fit within a budget we could manage. Once we got things figured out Dane ordered up a Grizzly G4003G metal lathe with the generous help of Mr. Shiraz Balolia himself, the owner of Grizzly Imports.
Before the lathe even arrived, Dane and I were reading everything we could on the subject, we bought books and spent many hours in front of the computer watching YouTube videos by Suarez Tactical Rifles and Tubalcain. We began learning a great deal but were just getting our feet wet. We knew it was going to take a lot of work and practice for us to develop our machining abilities to the point of being able to cut a match barrel or build an accurate rifle.
The Grizzly G4003G was a stand out to us not only because of its cost, but because of its ability to accommodate rifle barrels and features included in with the machine. The lathe came with both a 3 jaw self centering chuck and a 4 jaw independently adjustable turning chuck. The machine also already included a quick change tool post and 4 screw spider at the rear of the spindle. We were on pins and needles waiting for the lathe to arrive!
The lathe itself is a fairly big machine that takes up a good amount of space, especially keeping in mind you’ll be working around it. The lathe is also very heavy, so transporting it and positioning it into your shop can prove to be challenging. We were fortunate in that Dane has access to a fork lift, and our team mate Bill has a crane! Other than having very limited machining experience, dating back to high school we were ready to go!
Dane and Bill were able to handle the arrival of the lathe and get it into Dane’s garage without damaging anything; Bill’s crane was a god send and sure made life a whole lot easier. Shortly after getting everything unloaded, we did the little assembly that was required, wired it up and filled it with oil. Once it was in position we took some time with a machinist level to make sure the lathe was level and the bed ways were parallel and after that was sorted out we made sure the head stock and tail stock lined up.
Another reason we chose the G4003G was because it was a single phase lathe and so we could wire it to Dane’s house without having to do much modification or upgrading. One of the down sides of it is that the slowest speed we can run the lathe is 70 rpm. That is slow enough for most things we are doing but we have had a couple moments where we wish we had a 35 rpm speed.
We began our learning curve by starting the machine up and making sure everything worked, while carefully checking out what controls worked what function on the lathe. We were fortunate that Bill’s cousin was still awake because we had to ask him for help(Didn’t have the manual printed up yet) and he was able to walk us through a few things.
There we had it a Grizzly G4003G Gunsmithing lathe, wired, oiled and ready to go. Our next step was gathering tooling and figuring out what we were doing…