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Fasttrack
06-28-2008, 12:13 PM
Well there is a specific thread title, huh?

Anyway, I've got my brother-in-law hooked and he wants me to get a mill to keep in his shop with my two Pacemakers. I think he'd be willing to chip in for a significant portion of it and transport it for me again.

I'd like to hear some of your thoughts on what would make a quality machine to sit along side a couple of Pacemakers. I had to pass up a late model Abene universal mill, but that looked like a pretty neat set up. I'd like to find something that is very stout but has both vertical and horizontal capabilities. For the farm, horizontal is probably the most useful but for my personal projects a vertical is nice for its versatility. I've really only used a vertical mill. My expierence on a horizontal mill is basically of the plug and play variety. A machinist setup the machine and then had me run some parts through on it, so I basically just hit the stop/start button :)

Thanks guys.

pcarpenter
06-28-2008, 12:34 PM
So why'd you have to pass up the Abene if you don't mind my asking? They are a lot along the designs of the Van Norman mills in terms of utility. Check out the info on the lathes.co.uk site...they are a neat mill.

One of the Van Norman universals would be a nice choice too if you think you need the capabilities of a horizontal.

Of course there is always a Bridgeport. They are not as rigid as a big horizontal or one of the VN 12's for example from what I hear, but there's a reason you see them everywhere...the offer a lot of versatility for a shop that's going to own one mill.

good luck!
Paul

hardtail
06-28-2008, 12:48 PM
Kind of 2 types of machines for your target, either a knee mill with horizontal capabilities that are currently made (new) or an old horizontal hunk of American iron with a universal head.

You could likely pick up the latter much cheaper and if you feel horizontal work will be the bulk would probably be the better choice. Would be nice to save a K&T and others from the scrappers.

lazlo
06-28-2008, 12:52 PM
So why'd you have to pass up the Abene if you don't mind my asking? They are a lot along the designs of the Van Norman mills in terms of utility.

The Abene's are gorgeous machines, but they're big. They also don't have a moveable quill. Abene actually made a VH-3 with a movable quill, but they're very rare -- a guy on PM posted a beautiful one that he got off Ebay for $3500 :eek:

If you're looking for a turret mill that's a step up from the ubiquitous Bridgeport, the Wells-Index 860 is one of my personal favorites: combination horizontal/vertical, Reeves mechanical vari-speed on both drives, and the horizontal spindle acts as a riser block. Even the Index vertical is much more massive than the Bridgeport Series I. The Index mechanical vari-speeds (moveable sheaves) use bronze bushing and are supposedly much more robust than the Bridgeport 2J's (with the black plastic Vari-Discs). The Index also has a 30 Taper spindle.

The Tree mills are very nice, but use an obscure collet system that's expensive to find.

For a truly massive vertical mill that would go nicely with the Pacemaker -- the Cincinnati Toolmaster is nearly the size of a Bridgeport Series II, and they sell for cheap because they're so big and heavy.

Fasttrack
06-28-2008, 01:13 PM
Interesting, I had never heard of the toolmaster before. I'm pretty ignorant on milling machines!

Right now, I'd really like to find primarily a horizontal machine because I think it is best suited to the current needs of the farm. Hopefully, someday I will be able to own both a vertical mill, like a BP or Index, and a horizontal machine.

The Abene was in NM where we "road-tripped" to pick up the Pacemakers. I tried to talk my brother-in-law into buying the Abene without being an a@@ about it but he wasn't too interested and I just didn't have the money. They were asking $850. It was sort of spur-of-the-moment and we were on a tight schedule and I was broke so we didn't even go look at it. It was a newer (relatively speaking) model with the NIST 40 spindle.

I'll start looking at Van Norman on the Lathes.co.uk site.

p.s. Big and heavy is great! They tend to go for less and we have the equipment to move it. As long as it doesn't weigh more than 50,000lbs we're ok!

I'll be headed back home in a few days where I can upload some pictures of the pacemakers and all the work that I've done so far. They really have been loads of fun. One of them still has the factory icing on the cross-slide and compound.

edit: I didn't find Van Norman on Tony's page ... but this sure is a neat site: http://jmkasunich.com/vannorman/VN_Home.htm

torker
06-28-2008, 05:54 PM
Fasttrack.. JK's site is pretty good alright. Actually the best info I've found for the heavier VN's like mine is on the Yahoo Van Norman group. Ya.. the registering is a pain but worth it. They have old catalog pages uploaded and are really informative.
I still haven't got a place to put my VN yet but I've been playing with the machine.. trying to figure what does what. I'm REALLY impressed with this machine (2SU Universal). I've used a big TOS mill before.. a bit bigger than this VN. The VN has far better fit and finish than the TOS.
The motor etc are really easy to get at...just a whole lot of good features.
Russ

lazlo
06-28-2008, 06:10 PM
I've used a big TOS mill before.. a bit bigger than this VN. The VN has far better fit and finish than the TOS.

I always think of Van Norman as the Grand Old Man of machine tools. TOS are nice machines, but Czech tools have never been known as elegant or refined :)

pcarpenter
06-28-2008, 07:21 PM
Not all of the Wells-Index mills have NTMB spindles. My uncle has an older one that has an r-8 spindle and I have worked on one for the local school thats a bit newer (745 as I recall) that has one as well.

They are a nice mill and depending on the model, they weigh about what a Bridgeport does. The 645? that my uncle bought is listed as being about 100 pounds heavier than my 2J Bridgeport. The 745 at the local high school may be a bit heavier...I had to help move it, but I don't think its enough more massive in the places that flex such that the extra weight would add that much to rigidity(the column casting seems heavier while the table and ram are about the same). I am not saying they aren't nice mills...they really are. However, they are not some Bridgeport on steroids. My uncle got his for around $1300 which I think was a bargain. Parts are still available straight from the company and their support is good.

Another thing that I found on the one I worked on at the school, which I found annoying...the table axis bearings and adjustment were a lot more crude. I also could not find any adjustment for backlash in the feed screws!

That having been said, I like their VS speed adjustment better than the worm/tiny handwheel/chain and sprocket/plate adjustment used on the Bridgeport. The BP seems rather Rube Goldberg to me now that I've had it all apart and re-adjusted.

Paul

Fasttrack
06-28-2008, 08:48 PM
What are TOS mills? I've never heard of them. (Like I said, it wasn't very long ago when Bridgeport was the only "name" brand I knew :) )

I'd really like to find a Van Norman or a K&T just because I think they are neat "name" brands as much as anything! Reading that Van Norman page was interesting. I like having machine tools with some history behind them - much more interesting than the modern stuff. (imo) Of course, there are usually more issues to be resolved too, like broken handwheels, rust/neglect, etc

Hey Torker, is the 2SU on that page? Somehow I didn't see it listed in the model number table. Does it have a decent amount of spindle travel when its in the vertical posistion. I see some of the Van Normans did not have any spindle travel, like Lazlo pointed out for the Abene mills.


Hmm... a Van Norman #38 looks about right... :D That would be an awsome machine! Not so good on the delicate stuff, I suspect. ;)

lazlo
06-28-2008, 10:16 PM
Not all of the Wells-Index mills have NTMB spindles. My uncle has an older one that has an r-8 spindle and I have worked on one for the local school thats a bit newer (745 as I recall) that has one as well.

Sure, you can order just about any mill in any kind of spindle. You can order a Bridgeport with a 30 Taper spindle, but few are sold because none of the accessories will fit (Volstro Heads, Everedes, Quillmasters,...). Heck, you could order the Millrite with a 30 taper. Mine has an R8 taper, which was a relatively uncommon option (most Millrite spindles shipped with a B&S).


They are a nice mill and depending on the model, they weigh about what a Bridgeport does. The 645? that my uncle bought is listed as being about 100 pounds heavier than my 2J Bridgeport.

With the same table size, the 645 is about 200 lbs heavier than the Bridgeport 1J. If you've seen them in person, the 645 is quite a bit more stout that a Bridgeport, as is the Tree, the Millport, ... The Cincinnati Toolmaster is massive compared to the Bridgeport. That truly is a Bridgeport on steroids.


Another thing that I found on the one I worked on at the school, which I found annoying...the table axis bearings and adjustment were a lot more crude. I also could not find any adjustment for backlash in the feed screws!

The Bridgeport backlash adjustment isn't something to write home about: a screw with a slot cut in the nut to crush the nut together, which makes the threads drunken. Most guys will tell you to just split the nut...
By the way, that's the same cheesy backlash adjustment that my Mill/Drill came with :D

pcarpenter
06-29-2008, 01:22 AM
Robert-- I would argue that having *any* method of adjusting out some backlash is a necessary feature. Yes...you do split the Bridgeport nut. I can't see any good reason to leave it half-split.

I only mentioned the spindle issue because I knew they were available in at least two types and didn't want anyone to think that they inherently got an NTMB spindle if they bought a Wells-Index.

The one my Uncle had was listed as 100 pounds more than my 2J bridgeport which is a more fair comparison..part of the extra weight is in the heavier motor and variable-speed head which is substantially heavier. In any case, 100 pounds as a fraction of 2000 pounds is not a huge case for more rigidity. My uncle's mill did not look notably stouter anywhere than the Bridgeport design. The 745 is heavier still, however.

Like I said, the 745 I worked on seemed to have a heavier base which is not where the Bridgeport is known for being flexible. Its the ram and more importantly the table that seem to sag. Neither of these mills is in a class with the Van Normans...which are more rigid by design, not just as a function of mass. I just like the "swiss army knife" factor with the Van Norman 12 for example.

Fasttrack
06-29-2008, 01:36 AM
I put an ad on PM for a mill and found one that weighs in at 13400 lbs! I hadn't planned on going quite that big, but I will give it a serious evaluation. When I bought my pacemakers I had previously been looking at an 800lb sheldon :D

Iowolf always said the wells index was much stouter than the BP but I certainy can't weigh in on this debate! I've only seen a few pics of Wolf's mill and that is my only expierence with them!

I'd like to learn more about the "toolmaster"

Quetico Bob
06-29-2008, 08:32 AM
TOS are big heavy machines which seem to be popular here in Canada. I'm a fan, have one of their lathes and it's a bullet proof brute but agree finish is not a strong point. Not familiar with their mills.....yet. Came across this on my search for a smaller TOS lathe would love to get on of their smaller tool room.
Don't know who these people are but shows an older mill.
http://www.machineco.com/Milling_Mach_Horiz_MAS.htm

Someone once said you could drop a TOS on Bosnia and it would still hold 1/2 a thou accuracy. :)

Cheers, Bob

torker
06-29-2008, 10:03 AM
Fasttrack.. no the 2SU isn't listed there. There is no info on the 2SU on them old pages. I believe this one is a newer machine. This has a BP head mounted to it with a factory (VN) mount. Too bad it's an "M" head but oh well!
I measured the machine according to the old catalog specs and found mine identical to the "Heavy" VN's except the table is slightly smaller... I guess that makes this a Standard Universal.
Bob... that looks like the mill I used to run but I think that one is heavier (11,000 pounds). TOS stuff is heavy duty for sure.
TOS lathes... they had two of them.. I had to run one on night shift once. Was the only one there who had a clue how to run a lathe.. ahem...self teaching.. you know that handle that engages the rapid... you shouldn't touch that if you don't know what it is ;) Hit power kill JUST before a major crash!!
Russ

vinito
06-29-2008, 10:59 AM
I'm more familiar with mills than I am about farms, but most guys I know that know farms have given me the impression that if you do the farm thing, the main thing you need is versatility in all things - you have to have some ability in all kinds of fields and be self-reliant. If that's true, I'm not sure why a horizontal would be better suited since a vertical is so much more versatile. Of course a V-H might be the best fit overall, but since a vertical mill can usually be set up to do what might come up, albeit maybe a little slower, if you have to choose one or the other it might be worth another thinkin' about. It just seems to me that if you may be called on to fix anything that might come up, the more versatile machine might be a better fit. For my non-farm machining that I've done these many years, I know that I use the vertical mill more than any other machine. FWIW - (not much)

wierdscience
06-29-2008, 12:13 PM
I have a #2 K&T universal mill with the factory vertical head.Nice versitle little machine,ridgid as hell and a #40 taper,but still less than 4,000lbs.I picked mine up for $200 needing a little work.