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stiven
04-24-2004, 11:35 AM
is anyone familiar with birmingham machines? (quality, etc.)I am looking to buy some machines soon and was wondering if anyone has experience with some good brands to buy. thanks, stiven

sidneyt
04-24-2004, 02:10 PM
Good machines, all of them.

ralphe
04-24-2004, 05:44 PM
I have a lathe, mill and many accessories from "Birmingham". I have been pleased with the quality and service.

Mcruff
04-24-2004, 09:37 PM
My family business owned 2 of the first Birmingham mills to show up in the southeast US, we bought one in 1992 and the other in 1993, these mills are second to none in my opinion when you consider what they cost. We used them right up until my parents sold the business in 1999 and one of them was sold to a shop I later worked for and the machine still runs great. They are very accurate and very sturdy machines, the mills are pretty much an exact copy of a Bridgeport and you can actually interchange a large number of the parts (I mean most of them) with no modifications at all.
These are great machines.
We have one of there Lathes at work in the Lab but this thing is pretty much a paper weight there and sees very little use so I can't speak for it, we have a much larger lathe in the toolroom so the guys in the shop never get to run the Birmingham lathe in the Lab.

Milacron of PM
04-25-2004, 01:04 PM
In the beginning (late 1980's) Birmingham machines I viewed at the IMTS show in Chicago, were the worst of the worst Chinese junk. But they have improved quite a bit, so may be comparable to Grizzly and Jet now. Which, depending on your "comparison point" may be impressive or not so.

And the hijacked name of a USA city does lend some touchy feelieness beyond that achieved by a large furry mammal or airborn contrivance, and sounds oh so much better than Rong Fu http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif

(disregarding the fact that Rong Fu are actually better machines !)

Mcruff
04-26-2004, 10:31 AM
Actually Birmingham mills were never made in China, the large casting are made in China (just like Jet and Rong-fu) the rest of the machining and the all the rest of the parts are made in Taiwan, I have run lots of Jets and none of them compared to the 3 Birmingham mills I have run, I litterally mean the 3 Birminghams I have run I would put up against a Bridgeport (Especially when you can own 2 of them with readouts for the price of 1 Bridegport)for accuracy and durability, there not finished as good but they sure are good machines.

Milacron of PM
04-26-2004, 10:43 AM
Actually I just assumed China, as I couldn't imagine anything as sorry looking/feeling as the Birminghams at the IMTS 88 show coming from anywhere else.

I can't help but wonder if by about 1990 or so, they struck a deal with Tawian and improved things considerably ??

Generally considered the best Asian knock off is the Alliant mill, but not sure if they are still being sold or not. This was what the ex Bridgeport distributors conjured up in the mid 1980's when Bridgeport cancelled all distribution and went with direct sales like Hardinge.

Bridgeport went back to distribution gradually in the mid 1990's, but their ex dealers were inspired to come up with an improved machine. Alliants have better headstock and quill bearing arrangment than Bridgeports, as well as a few other minor improvements.

mbensema
04-26-2004, 01:13 PM
Looks like Alliant is still being sold, found this dealer in CT http://www.remsales.com/pages/content/alliant.html

Joel
04-26-2004, 02:10 PM
The Alliant lathe seems a bargain at $5,700 delivered. It comes loaded, and includes a taper attachment.
Does anybody know if it is a decent machine?

mayfieldtm
04-26-2004, 03:41 PM
I understand that the Birmingham and Kent are one and the same.
I have a Kent KLS-14x40 that looks identical to the Alliant that a previous poster mentioned, except a different color.
I've been 100% satisfied with it, be it big time hogging or super fine work.. Runs quiet and smooth.
( I had to replace the halogen light bulb upon arrival. )
I spent 3,600 + ship from cuttingtoolmall.com (no affiliation) with all the usual tooling but not the taper attachment. I spent an additional 1,500 to 2,000 on additional tooling and a VFD. I also liked that it is ISO 9001 Certified.
All the tests that I ran matched the test certificate that came with the machine, so, I'm inclined to think that the test certificate was real and not just a copy that you find on many machines.
I hate to say it, as much as I've liked the American Machines, the top grade Asian machines have continued to improve to the point the US manufactures need to do something to get back on track. I've spent many, many hours in front of both US and German Lathes and find that this Kent has the edge.

Tom M.

John Stevenson
04-26-2004, 04:15 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by D. Thomas:

And the hijacked name of a USA city does lend some touchy feelieness beyond that achieved by a large furry mammal or airborn contrivance, and sounds oh so much better than Rong Fu http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif
</font>

Excuse me Don but we had it first http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif
Birmingham was an industrial city producing exports whilst your natives were still playing with face pigments.
Lets face it, if it wasn't for Birmingham you wouldn't own Lucas now http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//biggrin.gif

John S.

Milacron of PM
04-26-2004, 09:17 PM
John, you are right of course. About 1989 I toured the UK and was determined to visit Birmingham and Coventry areas.

The slightly hoity proprietor of our chic bed and breakfast in Bath seemed taken aback that anyone would *want* to go to Birmingham. Dirty and greasy *manufacturing* going on there and all http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//rolleyes.gif

Milacron of PM
04-27-2004, 03:09 PM
I just now got around to looking at the REM Sales website, and that Alliant appears to be the same old Asian mill offered by Kent, Birmingham, Chevalier, Acer and numerous others. There is also no mention of the superiour headstock bearing and quill arangement of the original Alliant, so I'm inclinded to believe the "real" Alliant is no more and someone (REM ?) just bought the name and is slapping it on whatever they please.

Same deal with the lathe...probably no better or worse than an Acer or Kent of similar configuration.

It would be interesting to know when the last "true" Alliant mill shipped out.

JCHannum
04-27-2004, 06:24 PM
I have the same suspicion of badge engineering on any of the economy priced Asian imported machinery.
They look the same in the pics, and feel the same in real life. The damn things even smell the same, I don't know what they use for preservative, but it stinks.
I think anyone contemplating the purchase of one of these machines should look for a dealer in the vicinity, and get an idea of their reputation for service and customer support.
If at all possible, get a look at the actual machine you intend to purchase before parting with your money.
This could have as much of an impact on your success or failure with a piece of equipment as a given brand name.

stiven
04-27-2004, 07:21 PM
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by D. Thomas:
In the beginning (late 1980's) Birmingham machines I viewed at the IMTS show in Chicago, were the worst of the worst Chinese junk. But they have improved quite a bit, so may be comparable to Grizzly and Jet now. Which, depending on your "comparison point" may be impressive or not so.

And the hijacked name of a USA city does lend some touchy feelieness beyond that achieved by a large furry mammal or airborn contrivance, and sounds oh so much better than Rong Fu http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif

(disregarding the fact that Rong Fu are actually better machines !)</font>

You have to wonder about a machine that's named rong fu! sounds like what i said the first time i tried eating tofu-"WRONG! FOO!

Rich Carlstedt
04-27-2004, 11:24 PM
Mr Thomas
I want to join with you, and say that the Alliant mill was the best of any import attempting to match BP.
We had several, along with a Sharp etc, and the "A"s were outstanding in comparison..

A note to all...before you give Accolades to the imports as being "as good" as a Bridgeport, lets see what they look like after a few years !.
Aside from the Spindle bearings
I see a few "Flung dungs" that are 15 years old and they can't even keep their handles on them.. My BP was made in 1943 and still has its handles! ( besides being an outstanding mill)

Mcruff
04-28-2004, 10:46 AM
There are some machines that are badged the same but unless they have changed in the last 3 years the Birmingham, Acer and Chevalier and Kent mills are all totally different machines, a friend of mine has a Kent in his shop and there is nothing on it that would fit on our Birmingham, the casting were even different, the Acer another friend has and while it resembles the Chevalier they are slightly different and not built the same as the Birmingham or Kent machines, It has been a few years since I ran or seen an Sharp machine but they did'nt look like any of the above on the last models I saw a about 6 years ago. The Wilton mills however look just exactly like the friend of mines Kent mill so much that we ordered parts using the part numbers from our book at work when we discovered that a few of the power downfeed parts on his mill were damaged and he could'nt get them from the dealer without a lot of hassle, we tested the ones from our Wilton and they fit perfect so we ordered them and they work fine.
As far as the 1943 Bridgeport while I would love to own a Bridgeport and think they are the best built, I assure you if you have a 1943 model it has been rebuilt several times if it has been used in an indutrial setting, I have used lots of Bridgeports dating from the mid 50"s on up and all of these machines had useable service lifes of about 20 years before needing rebuilt, vari-drive heads will need the heads serviced long before that. I would not count the handles staying on as much of an indication of the build of the machine. Bridgeports are notorious for there knee handles breaking when minorly hit. Sure eastern import machines were terrible when they first appeared 25-30 years ago in the US but they have improved dramatically, I actaully remember a brand new Bridgeport that a company I worked for bought in 1984 that was sent back to Bridgeport after 3 weeks due to the sliding screw covers on the y axis binding up and warping so bad that the machine was not moveable, the quill handle had already broke and the head was rattling upon first start-up, turned out the thrust bearing was not installed properly. Everybody builds junk or gets a lemon once in awhile!
Any machine can be tore up if not properly maintained or abused.
I personally think the Birmingham mills I have used were very good machines, in 6-7 years worth of daily use we had no problems we either one of ours (family owned), these machines were run 50-60 hours a week for that intire period of time with no failures of any kind, and they were used to build small high precision electronics molds. We also built the mold bases for these molds on them and they were hogged out with 1" shell mills and finished with 3/4" end mills, along with using large insertable spade drills and such to put in support pillar holes, these machine were not babied at all but were oiled daily like they were suppose to be and cleaned at the end of each day, one of them I know is still in use after 12 years with no problems and I'm sure it is not getting maintained like it is suppose to be.

My.02 !!

[This message has been edited by Mcruff (edited 04-28-2004).]

[This message has been edited by Mcruff (edited 04-28-2004).]