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Author Topic: Lathes, more manual & labor intensive (=cheaper)  (Read 23502 times)

Viitalahde

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Lathes, more manual & labor intensive (=cheaper)
« on: July 03, 2010, 01:23:32 pm »

OK, this is very preliminary, and I'm not even sure of getting a lathe yet.

There's one VMS-70 in Finland @ Timmion Records, and I'm not so sure there's a real market for another cutting house that could do it all. Instead, I'm thinking it'd be nice to offer cutting as a custom side service, labor of love type of a thing for people who might be seeking more of a "sound" - roots & punk people for example.

This means I would not want to invest too much in a lathe. I wouldn't mind it to be more labor intensive, as it would probably not be an everyday thing to operate. I'm not afraid of maintenance either. The main profit would be in everyday mastering for digital medium.

What choices are out there? Scully, Westrex, I see some choice in there. Prestos seem a bit pro-sumer.

And what are the side effects of getting an older lathe? I'm thinking they must be in getting clean cuts and cutting long sides. Sourcing cutting heads might be difficult too.

Getting a lathe has been haunting me for years.
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Jaakko Viitalähde
Virtalähde Mastering, Kuhmoinen/Finland
http://www.virtalahde.com
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TotalSonic

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Re: Lathes, more manual & labor intensive (=cheaper)
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2010, 02:25:33 pm »

Scully's when they come to the market can generally be indeed had for less cash than but tend to be located in USA much more than Europe so I'd say the cost of the crating/shipping/duty to you would likely negate a good bit of the savings if you found one.

Earlier Neumann AM131's and AM32's can be found cheaper than VMS 6x'/70's.  The disadvantage of these systems is generally they are either set up for fixed pitch or have earlier pitch/depth computers that perform poorly so that it's harder to get higher levels and longer sides that folks using VMS-70's/80's and Zumas have a much easier time getting.

Vinylium offers the Pitchbox 98 pitch/depth computer which can be installed in earlier Neumann's - so it's indeed possible to get started with one and upgrade it.

Presto's are all fixed pitch except for the very rare 8G - but these can indeed be sourced for much more reasonable cash.  Not something you can compete against Neumann cuts with but for things like one offs and 7" masters where maximum level and fidelity isn't being required it might work fine for.

Generally any lathe that can be sourced cheaper needs a bit of work - but based on the DIY processors you've made I'm sure you're much more qualified than many others who attempt the task.

Best regards,
Steve Berson

Gold

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Re: Lathes, more manual & labor intensive (=cheaper)
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2010, 03:22:30 pm »

Viitalahde wrote on Sat, 03 July 2010 13:23

 I wouldn't mind it to be more labor intensive, as it would probably not be an everyday thing to operate.


If you don't plan on making it a main part of your business it may be more trouble than it's worth. If you get a fixer upper how will you know when it's fixed up? You'll need someone with experience tell you if it is. It would be like buying a junk A80 and getting it going without having experience with one fully in spec. Only more complicated. Not likely to come out well.

Quote:


What choices are out there?


You might be able to find a Lyric. They were high quality machines with good pitch and depth systems from what I hear. I have no experience with them. Probably with Ortofon electronics and cutter head.

Quote:


And what are the side effects of getting an older lathe?



It's like getting a cheap Ferrari.

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Paul Gold
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TotalSonic

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Re: Lathes, more manual & labor intensive (=cheaper)
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2010, 03:39:01 pm »

Gold wrote on Sat, 03 July 2010 15:22


You might be able to find a Lyric. They were high quality machines with good pitch and depth systems from what I hear. I have no experience with them. Probably with Ortofon electronics and cutter head.



Only place I've ever heard of that had a working Lyrec lathe was Foon in Belgium - looks like a souped up Fairchild 740 from the pics(another option that might be found for reasonable cash - fixed pitch but with 3 speed motor - that hasn't been mentioned yet)

http://www.foon.be/analog%20disc-cutting.html

Best regards,
Steve Berson

Viitalahde

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Re: Lathes, more manual & labor intensive (=cheaper)
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2010, 03:14:43 am »

Yes, I'm aware such a project might just turn into a dump of moving parts that only cut badly distorted audio. It would go by trial and error, but it's always a battle between time and money, and lately I've had more of the latter.

I've been reading the Lathe Trolls forum and I do see a lot of interesting looking lathes mentioned. Fixed pitch machines do seem a bit limiting, and I just don't know how often I'd run into their limitations in real world use. The Presto systems with changable screws for pitch alteration might be interesting.

I think I'm going to loose money instead of making it, but I'm not sure if that's going to stop this desire!



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Jaakko Viitalähde
Virtalähde Mastering, Kuhmoinen/Finland
http://www.virtalahde.com
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dietrich

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Re: Lathes, more manual & labor intensive (=cheaper)
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2010, 08:34:41 am »

If the VMS70 located already in Finland is working now, at a decent price and you can move it low cost across Finland to you=could be worth your time.
If the cutterhead is bad that is initial extra large cost to you.

Any techs in Finland to help you with other possible issues? You can fly Ivo over from Swiss for a weekend for the setup as well.

or Paul Gold

Gold

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Re: Lathes, more manual & labor intensive (=cheaper)
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2010, 10:45:57 am »

Viitalahde wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 03:14

Yes, I'm aware such a project might just turn into a dump of moving parts that only cut badly distorted audio. It would go by trial and error, but it's always a battle between time and money, and lately I've had more of the latter



I say jump in with both set or don't jump. If you have more money than time then buy a working system. It will still need work. If you buy a non working lathe you will have bought a hobby. It will take up the time you don't have and end up costing more than buying a working system.

This is for a professional system. If you go with a Presto or a another simple mono cutter then you won't have much trouble.
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Paul Gold
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: Lathes, more manual & labor intensive (=cheaper)
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2010, 12:02:40 pm »

FWIW: there's nothing at all wrong with a manual lathe unless you are trying to cut 35 minute LP sides!

The big expense however is going to be lots of blanks for test cuts because the learning curve is not likely to be trivial without a mentor kicking you in the pants.

Viitalahde

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Re: Lathes, more manual & labor intensive (=cheaper)
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2010, 01:27:43 pm »

Gold wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 17:45

I say jump in with both set or don't jump. If you have more money than time then buy a working system. It will still need work. If you buy a non working lathe you will have bought a hobby. It will take up the time you don't have and end up costing more than buying a working system.


All true, and this is something I need to think out throughly. I'm a full-time ME these days, but I also consider myself as a pretty sharp business man. Screwing it up with investing in something that I haven't completely brained out is something I won't easily do.

Gold

If you go with a Presto or a another simple mono cutter then you won't have much trouble.


Are Presto's available with stereo cutter heads? I've been looking at Presto 6 or 8 series cutters.

EDIT: Apparently not without modifications, like using a Vinylium head.

dietrich wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 15:34

If the VMS70 located already in Finland is working now, at a decent price and you can move it low cost across Finland to you=could be worth your time.


I think they want to use it themselves at Timmion Cutting.

http://www.timmion.com/cutting

Quote:

Any techs in Finland to help you with other possible issues? You can fly Ivo over from Swiss for a weekend for the setup as well.

or Paul Gold


Timmion is the only current lathe owner in Finland right now. But I've been thinking of coming to the other side of the pond some time and meet up with some of you guys and perhaps sit through a couple of sessions. But it's not going to happen too soon.

Bob Olhsson wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 19:02

The big expense however is going to be lots of blanks for test cuts because the learning curve is not likely to be trivial without a mentor kicking you in the pants.


This is how I figured it to be. I've a feeling I could be a quick learner, I've always been. Especially with things that need to be done just by gut feeling.
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Jaakko Viitalähde
Virtalähde Mastering, Kuhmoinen/Finland
http://www.virtalahde.com
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Gold

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Re: Lathes, more manual & labor intensive (=cheaper)
« Reply #9 on: July 04, 2010, 06:17:15 pm »

I did exactly what you are proposing except I had more time than money. I bought what I was told was a working system. When you played the lacquers there was sound, but beyond that it didn't work very well. I was able to get a lot of it working but I eventually hit a wall. You have more electronics experience than I had 10 years ago so would fair better. At a certain point you will need someone familiar with the systems. There will be many times when the question will be "is it supposed to do this". The answer isn't always obvious and it isn't in the manual.

Maintenance of old junk is a different head space than building stuff. The temptation of 'making it work better' before you understand why it was done the way it was done is hard to resist. It must be resisted.

As far as operation of the system, only experience can teach you. Or daily exposure to an experienced operator. You'll be fine on that end. You shave your head so there isn't hair to pull out.

It really is a commitment. It's both fun and a big headache. They go hand in hand. There is no way around it.
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Paul Gold
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Gold

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Re: Lathes, more manual & labor intensive (=cheaper)
« Reply #10 on: July 04, 2010, 06:25:19 pm »

Viitalahde wrote on Sun, 04 July 2010 13:27



I think they want to use it themselves at Timmion Cutting.

http://www.timmion.com/cutting




Wow, that's an ex CBS lathe with the CBS labs pitch and depth computer. It must work too! I had a bunch of those systems but couldn't get to square one with them. They looked very nice and have some cool features like running a side and telling you how much more level you could get. I still have a box of some of the computer boards. If you know those guys and they want the parts let me know. They should go to a good home.
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Paul Gold
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Viitalahde

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Re: Lathes, more manual & labor intensive (=cheaper)
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2010, 06:18:59 am »

I'm thinking that if I ever went this route, I would probably go for a true special service. Maybe even the mono way. Then you wouldn't have to explain why you can't cut long sides loud as the basic customers would anyway have gone elsewhere.

DIY is also something I'm getting interested in, especially with cutting heads. Maybe this will just turn into an expensive hobby.
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Jaakko Viitalähde
Virtalähde Mastering, Kuhmoinen/Finland
http://www.virtalahde.com
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dietrich

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Re: Lathes, more manual & labor intensive (=cheaper)
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2010, 07:23:41 am »

you could always jump in and get the vms80 in germany that is forsale. that will make you one of the few the 80

Viitalahde

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Re: Lathes, more manual & labor intensive (=cheaper)
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2010, 07:58:23 am »

Well, I'm building a new room later this year and I'm looking into about a 40k investment, so getting a real lathe isn't a priority.

Somehow it makes good sense to me to get basic lathe mechanics from Presto or similar, and perhaps experiment with DIY cutting heads & amps, just on a cheapish, less-than-5k level. Have some fun, maybe cut a disc or two if someone wants and get a grasp on what's it about. If there's real market for another cutting room, then why not.
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Jaakko Viitalähde
Virtalähde Mastering, Kuhmoinen/Finland
http://www.virtalahde.com
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Gold

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Re: Lathes, more manual & labor intensive (=cheaper)
« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2010, 09:25:56 am »

If I was going to DIY it I'd make it dual purpose. Engraving table/ cutting lathe. I think the mechanics of an engraver could be quiet and accurate enough.  If you had software that could take a live input you might be able to do automation too.
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Paul Gold
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