View Full Version : Purchasing a Milling Machine
09-27-2001, 12:14 AM
This question has probably been asked many times before but I am new to the BB. The question focuses on the fact that I want to buy a milling machine and there are many choices. Does one look at a new machine from say Enco or Grizzley, a used machine such as from Bridgeport or the early Bridgeport foreign copies that were available from the 1980s on? I am not an expert and know that there must be inherent advantages and disadvantages for each choice. Some foreign things are of low quality and the only smart choice is to buy USA. Does that apply to milling machines? Any input and guidance will be appreciated. Thanks
09-27-2001, 05:57 AM
An old bridgeport or a reconditioned one is a very safe bet. Get the manuals for it as well. Quality you can count on. You could also convert it to ball screws for under $600 (no more backlash), add a DRO - or even CNC it for a few thou - now we are cookin'...
A new quality Knee Mill without CNC will cost as much as the American made Haas Tool Room CNC Mill ($20K+). All those scraped v-ways are expensive to make today.
Consider talking to a reputable New & Used Machinery Dealer (many have been listed on this bbs). And seriously consider checking it out in person before plunking down the beans.
If you can fit it in your shop, yes -- a good used Bridgeport would be dandy. You ought to be able to find one in quite good shape for (probably) $3K to $4K, although I may be off there. As has been said before, Meridian Machinery (www.mermac.com, I think) has some tips for buying used machinery, and owner Dave Fricken has an excellent reputation. Check out what he has listed. There are certainly other reputable dealers too, and if you can find a local dealer it would sure be easier and cheaper than paying freight from Long Island if you live in Nebraska or California.
As has been said before, all imports are not the same! In general, you get what you pay for. If two machines "look the same" in the catalogs but one is $2500 and one is $3500...there is a reason! Things that matter, but things you may never see, like the quality grade of the spindle bearings.
Speaking in generalities again, I think Jet machines are typically of better quality than Grizzly or Enco. Jet has a couple of small milling machines, the JVM-836 and JTM-830 (or maybe it's the JTM-8365 and the JVM-830!) that are pretty good, as well as a pretty good Bridgeport clone, if the idea of buying used feels too risky.
And I'll second Thrud's suggestion to see the machine in person, if you possibly can, before buying.
09-27-2001, 03:36 PM
Hi! I was in your position two years ago and just about to purchase an import. When I called a salesman for information and explained what I wanted the mill for, he suggested I call a local shop that had four Bridgeports for sale. The machines were in excellant shape and had been rescraped less than a year before. They came with Sony dro's, power feed, collets and Kurt vices. My choice was a J-head as a variable speed would not clear my ceiling. The price was $3000. As I remember the variable speed model was $4000. Because a 3-phase converter was needed anyway I bought a variable frequency drive so the machine is now variable speed anyway. I've been very happy with the machine and think it is a better deal than the import copies. Good luck!
09-30-2001, 10:50 AM
Thrud, Where do I get the ball screws for uder $600. I have been seeing prices of $900 or more. $600 might be doable
09-30-2001, 02:42 PM
Last time I checked with "an-ha! Design Group"
www.ahha.com (http://www.ahha.com) 612-641-1797 that was what they were charging (US dollars). They also have heavy duty CNC conversions and parts for almost any machine. If pricing has changed I appoligise.
There are many companies that sell these kits. Check the "Thomas Register of American Manufacturers" (80,000+ from chemicals to machinery) www.thomasregister.com (http://www.thomasregister.com) - if you cannot find it here, it may not exist.
Hope this helps