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sansbury
06-06-2013, 11:14 AM
OK, looking for a sanity check here. I have been in the market for a high-end hobby/prototyping machine like a Tormach or used baby VMC in the 10-15k range. I have only seen one VMC on the market in New England that fit that bill and it was gone before I could get to it, that was 2 months ago. I have industrial space/power but ceiling height is very limited at ~9' max and anything over 8' gets tricky. That has ruled a lot of other options out.

I've been leaning towards a new Tormach but an opportunity came up to buy a used one basically with almost everything I'd ever want for about 40% off new price. Machine is one year old and had been used enough that they recently replaced the spindle. Seller is an established commercial business upgrading to a full-on VMC.

The catch is that I'd have to buy this sight unseen as it is halfway across the country from me. I can get pictures, video, etc. but going to visit it first would be expensive. My main fear is a mechanical problem that cannot be fixed affordably, such as wear on the ways. If I get the seller to take a good picture of each axis with the covers off is that going to give me an idea of their condition? If the spindle sounds good, all the axes move, and the machine looks clean overall (the pics I've seen it looks like it was taken good care of) are there any other things I should be scared of?

Also, let's not rehash the VMC-vs-Tormach debate, please. If you happen to have a Fadal VMC-15 or similar for sale within 500 miles of Boston, we can talk, but I've seen nothing on the market under 20k anywhere near me. As squicky as I am about buying a Tormach remotely (and I know I can service a stepper machine) I am ten times more nervous about a real VMC where parts can get MUCH more expensive.

Thanks in advance!

Jaakko Fagerlund
06-06-2013, 11:19 AM
Ask them to sign a statement that the machine is not worn out.

sansbury
06-06-2013, 11:23 AM
Yeah, I was thinking of a simple sale agreement that basically states that they have disclosed all flaws that they are aware of and that they would be liable for any misrepresentations.

Shade
06-06-2013, 11:36 AM
It always a crap shoot when purchasing a machine sight unseen.
I once was looking at a welder in TX, I live in IL, had an online
friend who lived nearby go over and check it out, turned out to
be a good machine I bought it used it for several years before
upgrading to my MM 350P. Maybe a member here is close and
would not mind helping you out.

Dr Stan
06-06-2013, 11:41 AM
It always a crap shoot when purchasing a machine sight unseen.
I once was looking at a welder in TX, I live in IL, had an online
friend who lived nearby go over and check it out, turned out to
be a good machine I bought it used it for several years before
upgrading to my MM 350P. Maybe a member here is close and
would not mind helping you out.

That's probably the best idea. If you disclose the machine's location you may get a volunteer to go look at it. Just don't tell fylo as he'd probably buy it. :rolleyes:

flylo
06-06-2013, 12:10 PM
If you buy it & have it delivered you'll be responsible for loading/shipping both ways/ On a purchase that large give him a deposit subject to approved inspection & either fly out or hire a pro to look at it. "Worn out" or most any terms like are subjetive to interpetation. A few $s & time spent now may be a great investment later JMHO

I'd hire a pro & get a detailed report. So if something happens in loading, shipping, etc you can prove condition at purchase. Also a Pro will probably know more & check more than you.

flylo
06-06-2013, 12:28 PM
Probably get a 60/40 split whether I'm worn out LOL! If he turns it on & it makes the part it's not worn out which he can video. It might only make 10 more parts till it's worn out.

Ask them to sign a statement that the machine is not worn out.

kendall
06-06-2013, 12:33 PM
That's probably the best idea. If you disclose the machine's location you may get a volunteer to go look at it. Just don't tell fylo as he'd probably buy it. :rolleyes:

Best idea I'd say, have someone go look it over for you. Just need to remember that they are doing you a favor, and as mentioned 'good' 'worn out' 'easy fix' etc are subjective terms, one persons very nice hobby machine could be another persons full recondition project.

macona
06-06-2013, 12:53 PM
If you are short on vertical space look at a small HMC. We have a couple makino HC 40 HMCs and they are pretty tiny. And they come with a 4th axis standard.

They would make a great home shop Cnc. And they have a real control on them with a tool changer.

adatesman
06-06-2013, 12:54 PM
Isn't it standard practice to have a mechanic look over a used car before buying it? Why should it be different with a machine tool that costs a comparable amount?

Fadal's are pretty common, so finding a service tech to look at it shouldn't be much more than the cost of a service call. Even better, they'll be able to provide accurate reports on machine accuracy, backlash, etc. Personally I'd look to get a ball-bar test done as well, but that might make it a bit harder to find a tech (dunno how common that equipment is).

I'd also suggest asking over on PracticalMachinist if there's someone in the area that could take a look at it (or know of service techs). No offense to folks on HSM, of course! Lots of good knowledge here as well, but this sort of machine is somewhat beyond what a lot (most?) folks here play with.

sansbury
06-06-2013, 01:28 PM
It's northeast of St. Louis by Granite City. I'd be willing to pay for someone who knows what they're doing to give it a look. I priced a trip to go see it and it gets pretty close to the cost of shipping the machine back.

One of the reasons I've been avoiding the real VMCs is that I want a more hackable control like LinuxCNC/Mach for some of the research work I'm doing. I know the industrial controls are better suited to a job shop environment but my purposes are slightly different. I know I could get creative with DNC but at the same time I _know_ I can make the machine do what I want with the PC-based controls.

My other line of thinking is that if I do find myself outgrowing the Tormach it's the sort of machine I bet I could sell locally pretty fast and easy. If I get it used I've already knocked off a good chunk of the depreciation. There are a lot of hobbyists around here with more money than space.

George Bulliss
06-06-2013, 01:34 PM
If it is really only a year old, I wouldn’t think the ways could be too bad, provided they kept oil in it. Wouldn’t expect he spindle to die in that short of time either though. Did they crash it?
Might want to check with Tormach to see if they work with anyone in that area. I know they have a few guys scattered around that are available for customer service.

flylo
06-06-2013, 01:59 PM
If it cost $500 it's money well spent either way. I poste pics of my diesel flatbed. I use a top notch diesel expert that works at a dealer days at home night. I took it to him for a total service, all fluids a good look at everythink. He changes the oil, trns fluid say brakes are new & was very plrased as it was very well maintained. Then I got the call the breather was knocked off the rear end but everything was fine exeppt the bearing. Guess what bearings no longer available, had to buy everything new in the housing. But for all he did & made a brakeine it was still under $1600 & know we have a benchmark so he knows what to check when. Same with this I think under 5 hrs at $100/hr would reveal anything needing servive or near futiure. Well off to see if my foot stays or goes & I was just getting attached to it, d*mn!:confused:

wierdscience
06-06-2013, 02:05 PM
If the machine is still under power,have them machine up a few sample parts on it,say something that works towards the maximum envelope of the machine and send them to you for inspection.That's the best way to tell you what shape the ways are in.

You could also,since the machine isn't very old contact Tormach about it and see if anything was done under warranty.

sansbury
06-06-2013, 02:11 PM
If it is really only a year old, I wouldn’t think the ways could be too bad, provided they kept oil in it. Wouldn’t expect he spindle to die in that short of time either though. Did they crash it?

I talked to them for a while today, seemed like good guys. They do a lot of small engraving work using the full 10k spindle speed and after a while they said it was starting to make a slight noise that they didn't like. Surface finish etc. wasn't affected yet but since they were using it to make money they decided to replace before failure. They said it ran a few hours every day give or take.

outlawspeeder
06-06-2013, 04:59 PM
I live within an 30 minutes but not sure if I could tell good or bad. I own an older bridge port an know what back lash is. I just don't know how to check it on a rig like this.

PM me and we can talk if you like.

Black_Moons
06-06-2013, 05:44 PM
I talked to them for a while today, seemed like good guys. They do a lot of small engraving work using the full 10k spindle speed and after a while they said it was starting to make a slight noise that they didn't like. Surface finish etc. wasn't affected yet but since they were using it to make money they decided to replace before failure. They said it ran a few hours every day give or take.

Small engraving work is encouraging, I would think the feed speeds would be reasonabley low due to small cutter size, limited by RPM (10k isent much for engraving), and table/spindle loads would be low, Unless they crashed the spindle itself into the table/vise, any broken bits wouldn't even be noticed by the spindle.

Maybe ask into what there oiling maintence schedule was like... Id still follow the advice of getting someone to look at it localy however.

Richard King
06-06-2013, 06:04 PM
There is a very honest machine dealer and rebuilder who is in Alton IL, just down the road from there called ABBOTT Machinery. That could send one of the machine rebuilders over there to inspect the machine for you They could go when the seller opens the machine to take the pictures. They have a great retrofit guy who could check the controls, ball screw backlash. I know Abbott and I think Bob and Richard Abbott are most honest dealers I have ever worked with. They may also know the company and can tell you over the phone if they are honest. I always recommend you take the machine for a test drive as you would for a used car and as the one guy says take it to a neutral garage to check it out. Hiring a neutral expert to take a look is worth every cent. It might be a wise idea to have Abbott prepare the machine for transport too; block the head, block the counter weight if it has one, make sure it is disconnected properly, brace the boards in the elec box, support the control....a pro like Abbott ships machine all the time and would know what to do. Might cost you the price of a airplane ticket and well worth it.
http://www.abbottmachineco.com/

sansbury
06-06-2013, 06:06 PM
Maybe ask into what there oiling maintence schedule was like... Id still follow the advice of getting someone to look at it localy however.

They're sending me some high-res pictures with the way covers off. They also mailed me a couple of the parts they were producing on this along with the CAD drawings they were generated from. They said the automatic oiler was set to pump oil every 10 minutes. All they ran was 6061. They said they tried steel once but it was too slow and didn't sound good to them so they stopped. In fairness I've heard from multiple 770 owners that they run 1018 and 303 without trouble if they go at the right feeds and speeds and these guys were self-admitted newbies to CNC when they got it.

Outlawspeeder, thank you, I might take you up on that.

sansbury
06-06-2013, 06:26 PM
Thanks Richard, that could be the ticket. This machine weighs "only" 700 pounds so I think rigging it is pretty easy. I believe Tormach just bolts them to a sheet of 3/4 plywood the size of the pallet and crates it. That's what I've seen in unboxing videos.

DR
06-06-2013, 10:00 PM
You should go over to the PM forum and read the thread about shipping machines. I believe it's title is something like "machine destroyed". Lots of things to be aware of.

The only machine I've purchased sight unseen was through a local dealer. I paid $800 to have the smallish CNC lathe shipped in an enclosed, air-ride trailer. Instead the truckers put it on an open flat bed, with a tarp over.

I wanted it shipped to me, the dealer insisted it come to them for check out, then to me. I was afraid they would add another $300 local shipping charge from the dealership to me. Lucky for me they wanted to do it that way. When they tried to fire it up, nothing... They took the back cover off the control to check, the CRT fell out onto the floor and smashed. Roughly $5K damage to machine (1986 dollars). The dealer had enough clout with the truckers to get reimbursed for the repairs. I doubt they would have given me a penny.

Be aware it's difficult if not impossible for an individual to get any recourse for the inevitable trucker caused damage, even worse on a used machine.

Richard King
06-07-2013, 08:34 AM
If you call Abbott you will have no fears. I was thinking of a big machine...You could ask the owner or Abbott to build you a box I recomend Traffic Management for shipping small orders and can help you with the order.. They are brokers, but are honest ones. 763-544-3455. Good luck. Richard

Black_Moons
06-07-2013, 12:04 PM
They said the automatic oiler was set to pump oil every 10 minutes. ... and these guys were self-admitted newbies to CNC when they got it.
Outlawspeeder, thank you, I might take you up on that.

Well thats great, Now just hope none of the noobs put motor oil or grease into the way oiler :) Its happened before.. With 'experianced' operators no less.
Seriously, consider paying for the proper local look over.

sansbury
06-28-2013, 12:18 PM
Well, this showed up a couple days ago. Did a lot of hand-wringing, decided to go with a new 1100. Have a few people coming over Monday afternoon to help with setting up the stand and everything which will be a bit of a white-knuckle job but seems very reasonable provided I take it very slowly and follow the instructions. Hoping to be making chips finally by the holiday!

http://i.imgur.com/AayeFUB.jpg

George Bulliss
06-28-2013, 12:43 PM
Looks like you'll have fun with that one.
I've watched the mills get set up and torn down about a half dozen times at the shows and it looks to be a pretty easy process. I'm sure you won't have any troubles getting it together.

Shade
06-28-2013, 12:48 PM
Congrats on the new machine. Like a kid at Christmas...


Well thats great, Now just hope none of the noobs put motor oil or grease into the way oiler :) Its happened before.. With 'experianced' operators no less.
Seriously, consider paying for the proper local look over.
Experienced professional shops screw up toooo...

Back in the 90's when I was working at Castrol, one of the oilers at Mercury Marine was
topping off brand new Milacron 5 axis CNC grinders with AW hydraulic oil; I was part of
team that labeled and color coded the machines that clearly stated that only R&O oil
was to be used in them.

Well AW oil is alkaline in nature and the R&O is acidic, if you mix the two they react and
create a very nasty varnish. They machines had to have a hydraulic system rebuild and
they were not even a year old.

sansbury
06-28-2013, 01:53 PM
Congrats on the new machine. Like a kid at Christmas...

Yup. Except I had to pay for this one myself ;)


Well AW oil is alkaline in nature and the R&O is acidic, if you mix the two they react and
create a very nasty varnish. They machines had to have a hydraulic system rebuild and
they were not even a year old.

Oof. As a business owner (software, not hardware) those kind of stories make my blood run cold. Fortunately my team is a pretty responsible bunch and the only people who have the ability to make mistakes that costly, are the ones who would have to clean up the mess afterwards, so they have a VERY strong incentive to not screw up!

sansbury
07-02-2013, 11:31 AM
Aaaannnd the Eagle has landed! :D

Had two guys, an engine hoist, pallet jack, and a bunch of assorted wood blocks to help me yesterday. It was as expected a very anxious job and took two runs to actually figure out how to do it, but the machine made it onto the stand in one piece, so far as anyone could tell. To make a long story short, the engine-hoist method is not one I would recommend to the faint of heart and required a decent amount of fiddling. The pallet jack also proved equally essential and I would not want to do it without one. However, Tormach says it can be done, and it was done, so I can't grumble about that.

Naturally, I did not have the right parallel cable to hook up my computer, so first power-up didn't happen last night, but hoping I'll see first chips made in the next couple days. The Tormach instructions have been very thorough so far and rigging up the stand, automatic oiler, and other bits have gone exactly according to the manual, and I'm loving the professionally-designed and built control cabinet.