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View Full Version : Need opinions on these milling machines!



krems
08-25-2007, 01:46 AM
I'm in the process of picking out a milling machine (new or used). If I can get the table (or knee) off I think I can get this through my 30" door, otherwise if it appears to be too much of an operation I'll be buying the IH bench mill which I know I can get inside the house. After researching knee style milling machines I have narrowed the selection down to the following brands. I'm ruling out the Grizzly, Jet, and Birmingham models for now. I'm looking for a 9x42 / 9x49" Variable speed machine. I don't need a production machine at present just a good quality manual machine for now. Primarily to be used w/ aluminum and mild steel w/ smaller pieces and very basic operations. DRO and power feed will be added as well. If you had to pick from the following brands which one would you buy and why?.................Thanks in advance. I need some good opinions from some of you machinists as I am a novice when it comes to milling machines.

Sharp...., Atrump,....Webb (champ mills).....Acer...............????

Krems

Doc Nickel
08-25-2007, 02:10 AM
Any particular reason you're discounting the Grizzly? I'm quite happy with mine (http://www.docsmachine.com/machineshop/newmill1.html) so far. I'm told this exact model has been discontinued- I don't know why- and that the Mainland Chinese models (mine's Taiwanese) are not quite as good quality, but still the prices are fair and Grizzly's service is actually pretty good.

Doc.

SGW
08-25-2007, 09:33 AM
FWIW (not much) I have heard good things about Sharp machines.

deltaenterprizes
08-25-2007, 09:38 AM
I have a Grizzly also and except for the play in the X axis it is better than the worn Jet it replaced. The play was taken out by adjustment under the table acording to the owners manual.

krems
08-25-2007, 09:38 AM
DOC,
Nice site showing the set up of your lathe. I'm not discounting the grizzly mill yet. I've heard mixed reports from machinists about jet-grizzly-birmingham mills. Looks to be a hit and miss.....depending on which day of the week you buy it. On the other hand i"ve heard nothing but good reports about the sharp-webb-atrump-acer machines. I'm sure they will all do the job however.

Thanks..........Krems

Uncle O
08-25-2007, 12:03 PM
I have used Sharp mills in a previous job. They were very nice, I liked them better than the Bridgeports we had. They had more mass to them. I have not used an Acer, but know of some folks that have them. They look nice, and have heard no bad things about them.
The others you have mentioned, I have no knowledge of at all.

Kerry

Mcruff
08-25-2007, 03:06 PM
I owned and ran 2 Birmingham mills in the early 90's, they are good machines. Mine were used around 40-50 hours a week in a family business for 7 years. Got almost full price out of them when my father sold the company, the machines are both still running. I also have 2 friends that own newer models, they both love em.
I'm probably gonna buy me a new one in the next year or so.

J.Ramsey
08-25-2007, 03:44 PM
My 9x49 Grizzly is about three years old and has been an excellent replacement for the older 9x36 Bp I used to run.

mochinist
08-25-2007, 04:24 PM
atrumps are generally very good machines for the price

IOWOLF
08-25-2007, 05:23 PM
Any reason you are ruling out American Iron, Like Wells Index?

mochinist
08-25-2007, 06:58 PM
Any reason you are ruling out American Iron, Like Wells Index?Maybe he wants to make parts, not learn how to scrape in a machine.

IOWOLF
08-25-2007, 08:39 PM
What the FUQ ever.

krems
08-25-2007, 11:26 PM
I've never heard of the Wells index machines......I'll have to look them up.
Has any one heard anything about or seen a Webb (champ mills) milling machine. Take a look at the link below and let me know what you think. Really nice people to talk to. They impressed me w/ the customer service


www.webbmachinery.com




thanks...krems

wierdscience
08-26-2007, 12:52 PM
Never used a Webb mill,but have used one of thier lathes,nice machine,it was made in Korea.

I would look for a Taiwan mill,reguardless of who's name is on it.We have one at work that's over 8 years old most of which was in small parts production.It's still tight and running the original motor.

Alistair Hosie
08-26-2007, 03:22 PM
Surely anything made in Taiwan is American.Or at least overseen by Americans during their production.Their quality will be good if this is the case.Alistair

krems
08-26-2007, 10:09 PM
American or Taiwaneese milling machine it is. I think i'm ready to pull the trigger. Now all i need to do is go bargain hunting. Sharp-Wells Index-Atrump-Acer-Webb.....I'd be happy w/ any of them.

Thanks...............Krems

JoeFin
08-27-2007, 09:58 AM
"The Quality is Appreciated"
- "Long after the Price has been Forgotten"

I have several Asian made machines including a Grizzly that was mentioned earlier. You WELL be working on these machines trying to get them to hold a .001" Not to mention numerous other parts that well need replacing and or fixing. Bottom line is ALL these machines require maintenance and even rebuilding (scaping) after a certain number of hours. The Asian machines - "a whole lot less hours then some of the American"

You're better off setting your budget a little higher and placing a .0001" indicator in your back pocket and looking at some reconditioned American Iron

mototed
08-27-2007, 07:09 PM
I've just got a Index mill, Stole the cradle, she's 42 years old and I am 47. But hey my lathe is 67 years old , both good American iron. (yes they drip oil like a older Harley:rolleyes: , but they have pretty good tolerances) Wells Index does still support all the machines they have ever built. Call them up , some real good people
While I would like to buy American or other countries that are not communist, I have had to tool up with some chicom (+ India) tools,maybe it's me, but they seem to break in half or shatter at the worst moment or for no reason. It's still a hobby for me, but due to advise I have received on this site I will save up for a Kurt vise and replace the other cheap stuff with good as I can.
Sorry but one more example. Sthill and other pro tools vs Wal mart,home depot etc. No comparison

J.Ramsey
08-27-2007, 09:36 PM
You're better off setting your budget a little higher and placing a .0001" indicator in your back pocket and looking at some reconditioned American Iron[/QUOTE]

JoeFin
I would suggest taking a six inch rule when looking at most used American Iron, here in my area most of it is pretty well wore out,and way over priced.
I don't like buying import stuff either but I bid a large contract job that I won about three years ago that took a larger work envelope than the 9x36 clapped out Bp was up to,sold it to pay for a new Mitutoyo DRO.I needed a larger mill right now and didn't have the time to hunt the country side when I was against the clock so to speak.
My 9x49 Grizzly will hold tolerance equal to or better than a Bp.
The table runs 48 Rockwell C scale and the saddle 40, would be rather tough to scrape. Don't think it will need it in my life time.
Wells Index..........only if I win the lottery.:D

MickeyD
08-27-2007, 11:31 PM
I have a Sharp SV-2412 vmc and it is a very nice machine. I think that of the imports, sharp is pretty close to the top in quality. Their castings are certified meehanite, so that is a good sign that they take it seriously. Matt over at http://www.machinetoolonline.com has a good reputation if you do not have a dealer close to you, and it does give you a idea about price. I would also look very hard at adding a Newall DRO, it will make life a lot easier.

JoeFin
08-28-2007, 12:45 AM
My 9x49 Grizzly will hold tolerance equal to or better than a Bp.
The table runs 48 Rockwell C scale and the saddle 40, would be rather tough to scrape. Don't think it will need it in my life time.

As my post stated I have a Grizzly Mill too, and my statement does not change.

Doc Nickel
08-28-2007, 01:23 AM
The table runs 48 Rockwell C scale and the saddle 40, would be rather tough to scrape.

-Two questions: One, which model Grizzly mill, and two, how do you know those Rockwell numbers? Actual testing or "measured at the brochure", so to speak?

Thanks.
Doc.

J.Ramsey
08-28-2007, 03:10 AM
-Two questions: One, which model Grizzly mill, and two, how do you know those Rockwell numbers? Actual testing or "measured at the brochure", so to speak?

Thanks.
Doc.

#9902
Detroit Hardness Tester thats been qualified with a Rockwell tester.
Import brochures are BS for the most part.
Add to previous post knee also checks 48 Rc.

CoolHand
08-28-2007, 03:28 AM
I've got a Sharp LMV-50 that I bought brand new, and a Bridgeport Series 1 with a 2J head that I bought used but partially rebuilt.

The Sharp is a very nice machine, and while it isn't quite as nice as a brand new Bridgeport would be, even with the Newall C80 three axis DRO it didn't cost but about half of what that new Bridgeport would have bare. It is head and shoulders nicer than the older BP.

I actually think the Sharp head is better built than even a brand new 2J Bridgeport, with bearings where the 2J uses bushings, and brass for the varispeed bushings instead of plastic in the 2J. At 4500 rpm, it sounds like a cool breeze, while the 2J at 4200 rpm sounds like a bucket of wrenches rolling down a hill (it came rebuilt and quiet, two years - bucket of wrenches, rebuilt it once again, three more years - bucket of wrenches, it still rattles and growls but I don't use it enough to bother with another set of bushings).

The Sharp is about 300 lbs heavier than a Series 1 BP too. The Sharp also comes standard with chrome ways, which my BP does not have. They should wear more slowly than bare iron (at least that's the plan I suppose).

Overall, I'm gonna call it a hell of a machine for the money. I'm very happy with mine.

At any rate, I'd not worry about a Sharp, a good used Bridgeport, a good used Wells Index (said to be a better machine than a Bridgeport), or one of the Tiawanese made Grizzly mills. The main trouble with buying used (especially for an HSM type) is finding a good machine and knowing how to weed out the bad ones.

With all the trouble I had finding my BP the first time around, I decided it wasn't worth the trouble to buy used again, so the Sharp was the best bang for the buck I could find. Not the cheapest, but certainly the most machine for that money IMO.

If your budget is smaller, the Griz is a good alternative, just don't expect exceptional fit and finish. The machine will function just fine, but it'll be ugly and unrefined, and maybe a little cludgy in a few places too. The foundation is what matters, and their iron is pretty good. If you have that, all the rest can be dealt with.

Pic of the new Sharp:

http://www.logicpaintball.com/TramSharpFull.jpg

HTRN
08-28-2007, 03:53 AM
Sharp's are very good machines. They're generally better quality than BP's, and typically go for less money. A great "bang for your buck" machine. I happen to have a Sharp "Turret Mill", sorta a baby bridge port. Sir John had some involvement with an almost identical machine not so long ago.

But overall, I think Acer's are the best of the BP style knee mills. They're one of the few imports that consistantly go for more money than BP's or Laguns. To really improve over an Acer, you've got to go to something like a Deckal.


HTRN

pcarpenter
08-28-2007, 04:55 PM
People often concern themselves with way hardness--the reason that modern Bridgeport mills have hard chromed knee ways, for example. In truth, you cannot run hard on hard or you get galling. So, a hard way surface means all the wear occurs on the un-plated or soft mating surface. This is still advantageous for the knee for example. Since the mating surface of the saddle is smaller than the area it will travel in on the knee face, it will wear squarely where the knee will tend to want to wear low in the middle where the saddle rides most often. In short, hard is good, but not on both sides of a mating pair.

Additionally, it is important to be aware that even scraped way surfaces tend to work harden a bit with time, so concluding that its too hard to scrape may not be correct. Ususally when you start scraping, you make a hard cutting pass all over first to break this "skin" and the work becomes easier after that.

That's not to say that the ground ways on an import mill may not be terribly hard. Ground surfaces typically are work hardened by the grinding process and make a lousy starting point for a scraping job.

Paul

Edit-- P. S. I have heard before the discussion of bronze bearings in the VS sheaves on some mills. I may think differently if I have to replace mine again, but I am not sure the plastic is not a good idea. From talking to a machinery rebuilder, the problem with even the Bridgeport arrangement (using plastic bushings) is that the shaft wears and people do not check them for this wear before just deciding to put a pair of bushings in. If you use bronze, I would only expect to accelerate this wear. Once worn, you can expect fit problems more rapidly with the next set of bushings as the shaft gets hourglass shaped and the whole works is loose in the middle....and the sack of wrenches noise that goes with it.

CoolHand
08-28-2007, 07:54 PM
Edit-- P. S. I have heard before the discussion of bronze bearings in the VS sheaves on some mills. I may think differently if I have to replace mine again, but I am not sure the plastic is not a good idea. From talking to a machinery rebuilder, the problem with even the Bridgeport arrangement (using plastic bushings) is that the shaft wears and people do not check them for this wear before just deciding to put a pair of bushings in. If you use bronze, I would only expect to accelerate this wear. Once worn, you can expect fit problems more rapidly with the next set of bushings as the shaft gets hourglass shaped and the whole works is loose in the middle....and the sack of wrenches noise that goes with it.

Ahhhhh, but therein lies the beauty of the bronze bushing system that Sharp uses. There are zerk fittings in the ends of the shafts so you can grease those bushings. Lubrication is the sliding bushing's best friend.

Plus, brass on steel will wear longer (even dry) than plastic on steel will. Lubricated brass on steel will wear much longer. I've had to rebuild that 2J twice in five years. If I have to rebuild that Sharp once in less than that time, I'm going to be quite disappointed (at which time you will of course be able to collect an "I told you so!" ;) ).