Duane, I am a machine shop tech. I work on metal cutting lathes and mills everyday, all day. Seen them just about all in my 30 something years. Not necessarily the HF ones, although I've had my eye on them too. But I'll give you my experience with "mail order" machinery, such as HF, Enco and MSC. I will talk my customers, who own/run machine shops, out of purchasing these machines till I'm blue in the face. BUT, for a backyard machine, they are "o.K.". You own it, you will (or someone close to you) will run it, and take good care of it. Keep reservoirs filled, change the reservoirs yearly (run much or not), and it could give you many good years of service, again "could". I had a customer, before I knew them, buy a Enco lathe. It was ran pretty much all day, and by different guys, young and old, in the shop. About 5 or 6 months after they purchased it, they had to start calling me to work on. I couldn't believe the poor quality of the machine. Shafts that ride from front to back in the Apron, or head, or feed change gear boxes, had no seals or o-rings. They ran metal to metal. Actually steel shafts on cast iron boxes. 5 or 6 months of constant running and abuse, every last shaft had oil leaks. They had to fill the gear boxes once or twice a day, and keep absorbent pads laid out on the floor, around the machine, until they finally gave it away to one of their machinist to take home. He then took the machine apart, box for box, made brass bushings and either used seals or o-rings.
You having it in your back yard, and only using it occasionally, you probably be good for a while. And then if you wanted to, as a shaft started leaking or a piece break, you could make (or have made) a better replacement part. Myself, for my backyard, I'd buy one. And then if I had to fix something, I'd borrow a machine from one of my customers (ones a cousin) and make a new part myself! ;o)
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