Hobby sized mill.
I,m soliciting opinions on the Rung Fu RF_45, (no round columns) and clones, such as Lathemasters, Industerial hobbies, Discount Tools, etc.
I do not need a Bridgport sized thing, also no desire to rebuild any worn out old iron.
I entertain the thought of that type of machine often....I like the idea of those benchtop knee type machines also, but the smaller (6x26) table makes me lean toward no.
I like the Industrial Hobbies one, and I like the content of their website concerning modifications to a machine that they're not trying to pass off as "old world" quality....it's like they know what it is, and know some folks would like to have it....and here's what you can do to improve it if you'd like to.
I'm curious to read some of the replies as well.
Are you gonna tear her down and apply some CNC equipment (my route)?
Or, are you gonna use her as designed with handles and acme-thread leads?
If CNC I would go my route and wait for the enco sale on them with free shipping. The sales come often.
If you are gonna keep her conventional I would go with the actual Rong-fu. The Rong-fu is made in Taiwan and is a better machine. Abit more costly but it IS a better machine.
If you are gonna CNC it the Rong-fu is not a good idea because the stuff that makes it better will be removed and tossed, waste of mulla.
I have the Industrial Hobbies example (as does Bob Warfield) and so far it's proved quite capable, accurate and a value at the price.
It is, however, a pain to square and tram. Once the head is trammed I took the purveyors advice and pinned the head in position. Also, the fates smiled upon me and I was given a Bridgeport swiveling/angle vise and a 15" rotary table so the rigid head aspect is no biggie I guess.
I also modified the foot of the column with the addition of two adjusting screws and squaring the column got much easier.
With the head weighing so much and cantilevered as it is I'm sure I'll be squaring again after more hours of use so I didn't Moglice the base as I had intended.
I certainly haven't used anywhere near the size/travel capability of this machine but it's the extra "headroom" on those features that convinced me to get the IH.
Better to have & not use than need and not have, eh?
X & Y are smooth out of the box but the Z operated on a "catch & release" program so I lapped those components to smooth their mating and haven't had a problem since.
Then there was the need to build a rigid base for it but that was a fun project too.
Oh and the starter cap crapped out after just a few hours but that's it for failures. There's a lot of talk about swapping the OE motors for 3 phase Leeson with VFD but thats far beyond my needs or capability right now. YMMV.
I've no interest in CNC and really would have preferred a 8x36 Jet or Grizzly knee mill but the cost of moving one would have put me over budget so the decision was done. Moving the IH was made easier by disassembly but the components are NOT light so have help. (It was my excuse to but a engine hoist )
The latest IH appears improved with a larger head mount and ground ways, plus there's a sale on right now so I'd go for the IH since they all really are the same.
Taiwan vs Mainland China I think is purely anecdotal at this point. Unless you've got machines side by side any comparison is speculation at best plus how much is marketing rhetoric?
The IH is a good machine with probably the best tech support you'll find as the seller himself answers the phone and is deeply involved in making them run correctly.
Hello PSD Ken, I have owned one of the geared head dovetail column mills for nearly 2 years now and I have been very happy with it. Obviously if you are looking into one of these mills the work you have in mind will fit on it. It has a 9x32 table on it which I find very comparable to one of the small tabled bridgeports with 18 inches maximum from spindle to table which I find more than adequate. I do hobby work here at home mostly building parts for model ic engines and a currently mini gatling gun parts. I installed a power feed on the x axis and a DRO from shooting star and an adapted caliper, aka "poor mans dro" on the z axis. Both of these upgrades were well worth the money. I find that I can hold most of my parts to within .001 when just doing general mill work which is plenty close enough for this kind of work. I like the spindle speeds offered as it will go down to 90 rpm so I can pull a decent size drill if I want to and it goes up to 2000 rpm for those small endmills. Also, speed changes are quick and easy. It seems quite rigid and I feel as though I make good time when making parts as far as metal removal is concerned although I don't abuse the machine or really try to push it that hard. By the way, I work full time in a machine shop and run machines such as bridgeports on up to horizontal boring mills so I feel that I have run a lot to compare it too and I still say that most people would be pleased with a machine like this for general hobby use. I wouldn't want to try to make money with it, but for my needs it works perfectly and it didn't break the bank getting it. I bought mine from Penn tool for around $1500. I didn't opt for the model with the swivel table though because we have mills like that at work and we very rarely move it so I figured I wouldn't need that option at home. If you do want a mill that is slightly bigger then the industrial hobbies model is the same as mine it's just a little bigger but it does cost more. Just look at the specs and make sure that they fill the bill for what you are looking for in a milling machine. Like I said before I have found it to be very capable of the work I need to do. Hope this helps.
I started out wanting a small mill.. I discovered the lighter a mill is the poorer cuts it can make. I discovered each lil thing led to a larger thing. You can do small work on a large mill, but not large on a small one.
I'd start out with a simulator. I found this last week.
www.linuxcnc.org burn the ubuntu iso image, it has the emc simulator right in there with 3d and graphics, and a editor.
FOR my mill, I prefer Mach3.. I upgraded last night, it now has a cadcam made into it called lazycam. I know nothing about it, but sucked a solidworks model into it.
Excuse me, I farted.
Thanks for the info.
I will use it as a manual machine, light duty stuff.
My usuage will be similier to Japcas's.
Siince this is not commercial use, I have time to take light cuts.
After my mini-mill, it will seem like Godzilla anyway!!
Ken, I have an IH as QSIMDO mentioned, and it works great for me. No problems whatsoever out of the box other than that it is a big heavy sucker!
Invited two good (and muscular) friends over for an afternoon and we had a good ole time manuevering it into position.
With all that said, bigger is better. I don't know what your room requirements are, but these mills can be as large as a small knee mill. My issue was I had a door that was about 60% as tall as a normal door I had to get through with a nasty turn right after. The IH barely made it through, and a knee mill would be out of the question.
IH have upgraded that mill since I bought and they are on sale as was mentioned. I'd sure be tempted to look at one if you like this form factor.
I added a power feed to mine (very nice, improves surface finish too!), DRO on 2 axes (also nice, need to finish the last axis), and I am working on a powered drawbar this weekend. I think counter-weighting the head would also be a valuable addition.
Things I like:
- The mill is massive, you can get a decent surface finish and can hog a bit with it. Not like a full sized Bridgeport (which many "real" machinists consider lightweight!), but it ain't bad.
- It will hold tolerances to 0.001, except for the quill which can be out a bit more sometimes. There's probably a way to tune that up, but it hasn't been a bother and I wouldn't know if I hadn't taken my dial indicator to it--ignorance can be bliss!
- Mine worked great outta the box. YMMV.
- Easy to get accessories for. Most things just fit and work well.
- The vertical clearance is awesome. I'd hate a round column that loses setup if you move the head, because I move my head around a lot and go pretty far up and down to accomodate different end mill holders, big Albrecht chuck, boring head (that takes a lot of Z-travel), and so on.
Things I don't like:
- The head is very heavy. Forget going to the gym, crank that thing all the way up and down with each arm 10 times a day!
- I want more rpms on the spindle! You get 1600 out of the box, but I need to swap in the bigger motor and a VFD so I can run 3200. 1600 is great for steel, but smaller cutters and aluminum want more speed.
PS One last thought: Pony up for some good US made end mills. They make all the difference to your machine. The bargain basement cutters from Asia produce a noticeably worse finish, don't stay sharp very long, and generally make these mills seem a lot worse than they really are!
Last edited by BobWarfield; 11-11-2006 at 11:30 AM.
This is VERY good advice! A lot of the blame put on poor finishes with the typical round column mill can also be blamed on cheap crapola endmills.
Originally Posted by BobWarfield
I use mostly Niagra and Dolfa cutters now. They make a huge difference and outlast the cheap ones by quite a bit. Maybe hard to justify the big $ for some of them but I think it's worth it. Caution...it really hurts when you crash a $50 endmill though
Yeah, that dad-gummed thing will keep going right through your even more expensive rotary table, Kurt vise, or even the mill table itself while you're trying to get to the power feed shut off lever after you dropped your hot coffee in your lap just from the sound of it.
Originally Posted by torker