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View Full Version : Are some Kurt clones better than others?



gellfex
04-29-2007, 08:56 PM
In the long discussions of kurt clones, it wasn't clear if some import clones are better than others, and if so, which. It seems that some chinese machine tools are certainly better, like Jet or Grizzly. But the talk of vises that were half bondo and the other half metal foam spooked me.

I was looking at a 6" of Phase 2 brand (which has impressed me as better quality in the toolpost I have) for a local pickup, keeping the cost under $140 or so. At least in the website photo, http://www.phase2plus.com/details.asp?pr=PRECISION_MACHINE_VISES&id=64, it looks unpainted, reducing the bondo possibility.

Any thoughts? I know lots of you guys do have these clones.

cybor462
04-29-2007, 10:34 PM
I have the 6" Kurt clone that was purchased from Enco. It is as good as they get I think. It cost 99.00 and has a swivel base. Good fit and finish, locked type, ground surface, jaws square, has the same end bolt option as the Kurt.
I bought other vises from Grizzly and it seems they are of a lower quality.
My bucks would go on a real Kurt or the Enco clone.

Just looked at your link and that looks exactly like the Enco clone. Check the price, remember Enco has free shipping.

dp
04-29-2007, 10:40 PM
I also just got the Enco 6" clone. Heavy, heavy duty, and the tests I've run so far show it's plumb and square. It disassembled easily for de-gunking and cleanup and inside it reminds one why they shouldn't know how sausage is made, but it works fine. It even has those sissy keys pre-installed :)

Haven't checked the runout on the swivel base yet, but for the price it is quite a lot of vise. Now I need another one but a quarter that size/weight for my small Grizzly mill.

Edit: Whoops - check that. I got the 5" vise, model 425-7251.

wierdscience
04-29-2007, 10:42 PM
These are good,made in Poland,but closer to the $300 mark last I looked.

http://www.penntoolco.com/catalog/products/products.cfm?categoryID=3966

cybor462
04-29-2007, 10:45 PM
I also just got the Enco 6" clone. Heavy, heavy duty, and the tests I've run so far show it's plumb and square. It disassembled easily for de-gunking and cleanup and inside it reminds one why they shouldn't know how sausage is made, but it works fine. It even has those sissy keys pre-installed :)

Haven't checked the runout on the swivel base yet, but for the price it is quite a lot of vise. Now I need another one but a quarter that size/weight for my small Grizzly mill.

Yours had the keys? Mine had no stinken keys! Has them now but I had to make them.

J.Ramsey
04-29-2007, 10:47 PM
Are you talking 140.00 for a used chicom vise,you can buy a new 6" Enco for that price. Enco sells a Palmgren copy of a Kurt 688 for about 389.00. A buddy of mine bought a Palmgren ,it's asian mfg. It's no Kurt but it's a lot better than the run mill 150.00 to 200.00 imports.




J.Ramsey:)

lazlo
04-29-2007, 11:37 PM
I also just got the Enco 6" clone. Heavy, heavy duty, and the tests I've run so far show it's plumb and square.

I've got the same Enco vise - 425-7251 (http://www.use-enco.com/CGI/INSRIT?PMAKA=425-7251). Mine was horrible -- the base was warped, most likely because it wasn't stress relieved after being roughed. The bed ways were off by 3 thou (across 5 inches), and the clamping mechanism is really sloppy compared to a real Kurt, so you have to really whack the workpiece to get it snugged up.

I was able to fix the vise with a lot of work: I fly-cut the base flat, and hand-scraped the bed ways. Like DP says, the hemisphere in the clamping mechanism and the ball socket it sits in looks like crap -- that was beyond my patience to fix on a $50 vice.

gellfex
04-29-2007, 11:41 PM
Are you talking 140.00 for a used chicom vise,you can buy a new 6" Enco for that price. Enco sells a Palmgren copy of a Kurt 688 for about 389.00. A buddy of mine bought a Palmgren ,it's asian mfg. It's no Kurt but it's a lot better than the run mill 150.00 to 200.00 imports.
J.Ramsey:)

What I'm looking at is new. For under $300 plus shipping you can get a new D675 on ebay, these guys have sold half a dozen recently. http://cgi.ebay.com/BRAND-New-Kurt-6-D675-Anglelock-Vise-w-Ironclad_W0QQitemZ180110784472QQihZ008QQcategoryZ2 5297QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

Lazlo, that's why I'm askin here! It doesn't take much time fixing it to be not worth the money saved. I don't believe you always get what you pay for at the high end of any market, but I know you need to be wary bottom fishing.

cybor462
04-29-2007, 11:45 PM
lazlo...maybe you just got a bad one. Sounds like my luck has rubbed off on you.:rolleyes:
Maybe I was just lucky with the one I got. It is within .0005 and the lock does a decent job. I do hold the part down while tightening (really push down) but it works well.

I took the swivel base off as I wanted more room to the quill. I never used it and I do think the base was off a tad. Without it it was as good as it gets.

HTRN
04-29-2007, 11:47 PM
I can't believe some of you guys - when you start looking at almost 400 bucks for a knockoff, why not spend another $75 and get the real thing (http://www.penntoolco.com/catalog/products/products.cfm?categoryID=5254)?

688: $475, 675: $389


HTRN

lazlo
04-29-2007, 11:47 PM
lazlo...maybe you just got a bad one. Sounds like my luck has rubbed off on you.:rolleyes:

It certainly could be!

I bought one of the Chinese Eagle Rock scissors knurler clones from Enco, and almost threw it right in the garbage.
But some folks here said theirs is fine. Shrug. I guess it's the Chicom lottery. :)

J.Ramsey
04-30-2007, 01:01 AM
gellfex, my fault ,by you're description of no paint I thought it was used. No I didn't look at the web site you listed, If you can get for "real" KURT 675's for 300.00 bucks off of flea bay I'll take a half dozen!!!!
I purchased my KURT 688's from ENCO about two years ago for 439.00 each + free shipping,Once you use a KURT you would rather do without then to use a import boat anchor.
J.Ramsey

dp
04-30-2007, 01:20 AM
I was able to fix the vise with a lot of work: I fly-cut the base flat, and hand-scraped the bed ways. Like DP says, the hemisphere in the clamping mechanism and the ball socket it sits in looks like crap -- that was beyond my patience to fix on a $50 vice.

That part looks to be hand filed/gouged. I think I may replace the hemisphere component with a homemade unit and maybe dremel the socket. My usage is for a band saw which has only to be close, but this vise looks like a good project for some old school fussy work.

DryCreek
04-30-2007, 01:57 AM
Have a six inch Eron, a Japanese made copy of a Kurt and it is excellent. Don't know what one cost new, as I got it at a local flea market for $150.00. I do see them come up on Ebay on occasion, but some of them are pretty rough and freight would be a problem.

Picked up a used four inch Kurt locally for $100.00 and after cleaning it works like you would expect.

If I was buying a new one, it would be hard to beat Enco when Kurt's are on sale. Make sure what you buy qualifies for the free (UPS) shipping. Truck shipped items do not qualify.

Steve Steven
04-30-2007, 08:47 AM
I also have a 6" Enco import vice, it is satisfactory in terms of accuracy and fit/function. I paid $89 several years ago for it. I use it on my old #12 Van Norman, need to take the base off of it since I have a limited vertical space.

I just helped a frend set up a HF mill-drill (large 33686 one) and installed a cheap Shars vice on it, it took 0.030 shims on one side to get it verticaly dialed in. Not very good one in my opinion. We took off the swivel base on it.

Steve

cybor462
04-30-2007, 09:19 AM
I just helped a frend set up a HF mill-drill (large 33686 one) and installed a cheap Shars vice on it, it took 0.030 shims on one side to get it verticaly dialed in. Not very good one in my opinion. We took off the swivel base on it.

Steve

I guess the Chicoms can't do swivel! I had to take my base off too for the same reason you mentioned (room) but also it was out of spec. I could use it now as I added a riser spacer on my mill but I would need a good vise for that as the imports as we have heard are unable to get the whole thing right.

suprdvn
04-30-2007, 09:42 AM
Wilton. I bought one on ebay. It is awsome. I've been using it for some time and have not found a single flaw. It is as good as a Kurt.

The only problem is trying to find more machinist vises from Wilton. Searches usually come up with only bench vises. I just found a site selling it: Southern-tool (http://www.southern-tool.com/store/WiltonMachineVises.html)

JCHannum
04-30-2007, 10:20 AM
Wilton is part of the same group as Jet, and many of their tools are imports and no better or worse than any other imported tools.

I believe the barrel vises are still made in the USA, but the milling vises are offshore. The prices are usually higher due to the Wilton name.

YOOO VINNY
04-30-2007, 10:37 AM
I bought one of the Enco 5" w/ swivel base ones last year.

The one I got was Junk, with a capital J.
Every part needed attention, as all the ground parts were done crooked and the base on both the vise and swivel were warped.
If you figure the hours I spent regrinding every part of it, I could have bought 2 Kurt vises.

suprdvn
04-30-2007, 12:28 PM
My Wilton vise may or may not be of the same group as Jet and others as you say. All I can say is that I was impressed with mine. Perhaps Wilton's contract specifies better quality and tolerance standards.

Does anyone else have a Wilton machinist vise and would like to comment?

Alistair Hosie
04-30-2007, 12:34 PM
the 6" vertex vice is very good value of course it's not a clone of the Kurt but it is very stable and strong for that amount of money 99.00 uk del included Alistair

lazlo
04-30-2007, 01:29 PM
My Wilton vise may or may not be of the same group as Jet and others as you say. All I can say is that I was impressed with mine.

Wilton, Jet et al are subsidiaries of Walter Meier Holding, AG -- a huge tool conglomerate based out of Zurich Switzerland.
So you'll find that some tools are Chicom, some are Taiwanese, and I think some are still made in USA.

BadDog
04-30-2007, 01:38 PM
I have a Hogue Taiwan 6" Kurt clone that is very nice. Casting is direct painted (black), so no filler. And it is flat/square within my ability or interest in checking. I'm sure an authentic Kurt is nicer, but I doubt it is any nicer in any way that matters to me.

I have an older 4" (or is it 5"?) Wilton 3 axis vise that also seems very nice. I was told it was US made, but I haven't scoured it looking for a stamp to declare it as such. But I can say it is a HEAVY beast and such a PIA to setup that I never use it. But if I ever run across something where I need that flexibility, then it will pay off! Yeah, that's the ticket... ;) Of course by then it will have sat so long, accumulating grime and dirt that must be cleaned, plus getting shoved behind piles of other stuff making it hard to find, I'll probably just find some other way to do the work anyway... :o

Philt
04-30-2007, 02:41 PM
I purchased a 4" Enco vise about 5 years ago. It came with a swivel base. I was a novice with such things so it took me some time to realize that it was not quite right. I wound up fly cutting the base and it was better. Then about two years ago I purchased a second vise also from Enco. This was a 5" model without the swivel base (which IMO is a pretty useless accoutrement). It is marked on the casting as being an Elephant Brand vise. Much nicer vise. Quite accurate. I have been pleased with it. It makes me wonder about dp's purchase of the same size vise. I am sure there are variations in what you buy from Enco. Vendors change and things are not always consistent. Knowing what I do now I would check the vise as soon as possible, which is what I did with the newer one I purchased.

Another thing, the free shipping from Enco only goes up to 75 lbs, the 6" vise without the swivel weighs 79lbs. The 5" is 51lbs which is also much easier to get on and off the mill table

Michael C
04-30-2007, 02:56 PM
Regarding Wilton Vises, they make em at all quality levels from various locations. I have a 3 axis 3" machine vise that costs about $300 when on sale at MSC. It is made in India, quality is on par with a Kurt D688 for fit, finish, accuracy. I think with Wilton its a get what you pay for deal.

Michael

J.Ramsey
04-30-2007, 06:29 PM
A 3" vise made in India on par with a Kurt 688 for fit ,finish and accuracy.Get real M.C. I guess you have never used one to know the difference.

J.Ramsey

Michael C
04-30-2007, 07:07 PM
J Ramsey, I guess you have never seen a 3 axis Wilton Vise made in India. Certainly on par with my Kurt 688 2003 vintage and an older 4 inch Kurt. Just cause india and china make a bunch of low end crap doesn't mean everything made in those countries is garbage.
Michael

Orrin
05-01-2007, 10:40 AM
I get a bit of heartburn over the way most catalogs list imported vises; they'll describe them as "Quality import." That doesn't tell me much.

There must be some kind of a name on those generic vises. I'd like to know what it is. Here's why: The fellow who sold me his mill/drill gave me a 5-inch Eron vise to go along with it. I'm very pleased with it and I'd like to find another just like it for my Van Norman mill. But, seeing as how the catalogs don't put the name in the catalog description, I'm unlikely to ever find another.

BTW, I recently bought a 6-inch Kurt D-675 from Enco and got free shipping on it. The thing is a monster! I seriously doubt I'll ever use it. I wish Kurt still manufactured a 5-inch.

Anyhow, I ordered a 4-inch Phase II, yesterday. I'm crossing my fingers, hoping it will be as good as that little 5-inch Eron.

Orrin

Steve Steven
05-01-2007, 01:04 PM
I just helped a frend set up a HF mill-drill (large 33686 one) and installed a cheap Shars vice on it, it took 0.030 shims on one side to get it verticaly dialed in. Not very good one in my opinion. We took off the swivel base on it.

I went back over to my friends shop and checked out the vice further, it turns out the jaw was incorrectly bolted into the base, causing the error I found. Took off the jaw, cleaned up the trash under one edge, reinstalled and both the bottom and the jaw were within 0.0015 of true with a DI. Much better!

Steve

lazlo
05-01-2007, 01:30 PM
the jaw were within 0.0015 of true with a DI. Much better!

Call me picky, but that's pretty bad (off by almost 2 thou across 5 inches).

The Kurt vises are spec'd at within 5 tenths in 6", and my D675 is quite a bit better than that.

gellfex
05-01-2007, 01:32 PM
Well, after reading this thread about looseness of Kurts, http://www.cnczone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18838 and also tracking down the distance from the back of the nut to the jaw on a D675, my old 6" Bridgeport vise is starting to look better. At least it's tight as hell side to side for clamping on the end of the jaws, which I do a lot. It only opens 5" but I rarely run up against that in my work. It's also only 3" from back to jaw, which matters on my 16" swing mill/drill. Maybe I simply need to get more skilled at tapping down the workpiece!

I may inspect a Phase 2 in person to see what the tightness of the moving jaw is like and if the back to jaw distance is different than the 675 or 688. If the nut doesn't extend like the 675 maybe the flange around the bottom of the back could be cut off. It doesn't appear necessary for the structural stability of the vise.

lazlo
05-01-2007, 01:53 PM
Well, after reading this thread about looseness of Kurts, http://www.cnczone.com/forums/showthread.php?t=18838 and also tracking down the distance from the back of the nut to the jaw on a D675, my old 6" Bridgeport vise is starting to look better.

I just skimmed through that thread, and the 0.025" that guy is seeing is an awful lot of float on a Kurt vise. I'm playing hookey today, and I just ran out to the shop and DTI'd mine, and I have around 3-4 thou float. Any less and the jaw wouldn't move.

gellfex
05-01-2007, 02:28 PM
I just skimmed through that thread, and the 0.025" that guy is seeing is an awful lot of float on a Kurt vise. I'm playing hookey today, and I just ran out to the shop and DTI'd mine, and I have around 3-4 thou float. Any less and the jaw wouldn't move.

My Bridgeport will barely slip a .004 feeler. The real interesting part of the thread was when Kurt admitted the vise was out of spec tolerance.

dp
05-01-2007, 04:56 PM
When I was at Boeing Surplus in Seattle last week they had three Bridgeport vises. I'd already bought my Enco clone by then, but at $150 each I was tempted to get one anyway.

gellfex
05-01-2007, 06:16 PM
When I was at Boeing Surplus in Seattle last week they had three Bridgeport vises. I'd already bought my Enco clone by then, but at $150 each I was tempted to get one anyway.

I believe I spent $200 on mine in 92, but when I scanned ebay for them they seemed to be going for less than $150. Were I not a noob then I suppose I would have gotten a Kurt, but I knew the Bridgeport name.