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Thread: 3 IN 1 MACHINES ??

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    10

    Post 3 IN 1 MACHINES ??

    What I would like to see on the 3 in 1 machines is what doesn't work and why.

    Did the file search and most of what I found is more like the Chevy vs Ford fight or a comparason to a totally single purpose machine. Jerry


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    North Central Texas
    Posts
    2,440

    Post

    There are people here who are more expert on this but,
    Lathe swing is often excessive to increase capacity of the mill and lathe. Rigidity (VERY important) is reduced as a result. Many complain that the mill portion is just too light duty to be of much use. Capacity is quite limited. There is a large inconvenience when you can't go from one machine to the other without changing your set-up. You usually get fewer features with a 3 in 1, like power crossfeed, quick-change gearbox, and reversible leadscrew. I would have a much tougher time without all of these features. Your choices for accessories, and sometimes tooling, are more limited as well. Most of the combo machines are only capable of light work, and for the same cost, you can get separate and much heartier machines. I almost went with a combo machine many years ago due to space limitations, and I couldn’t be happier that I did not.
    I learned woodworking on my fathers Shopsmith a long time ago. Now that I have dedicated machines in my woodshop as well, I HATE using the Shopsmith by comparison. The only reason I could recommend a 3 in 1, is if space requirements are THE most important issue, or the deal of the century comes up. I will say that ANY machine tool beats the heck out of none, and I certainly hold nothing against a Smithy owner for making it their choice.

    I don’t know how much experience you have in machining, but there are many things you are likely to need to do at some point. If you don’t have the knowledge to know what is required to do those unforeseen operations, you are not likely to readily see the shortcomings of a particular machine. Think about what you are needing to do, and what you might want to in the future, and ask the helpful folks here some specific questions.
    I hope this helps.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    10

    Post

    Thanks Joel,
    am looking for something small and do not plan on any heavy work (have access to large machines for that) just trying to find out what they are capable of, will be working on small parts mostly alunium and plastic.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Rhode Island, USA
    Posts
    560

    Post

    Great reply Joel, the only thing I would add is that it's a smaller outlay of cash if there's a chance that machining is something you just want to try and think you may not pursue it too much.

    I'm the owner of a Smithy 1220 mill/drill/lathe, and after a small amount of time I realized it was a huge pain switching back and forth....getting everything all dialed in only to have to break down for some unforseen need.
    I started making lists of all the things that needed the lathe, then I'd switch it all over for the mill work. As Joel stated, the mill is not rigid enough for medium to heavy cutting and that can get pretty frustrating when the mill lacks powerfeed so you have to make a million passes by hand.

    I eventually yanked the mill head off and bought a more stout (for my needs and budget anyhow) mill....I now use the Smithy as a dedicated lathe.

    Had my initial metalworking interest petered out, I would've made the right choice with the 3-in-1.

    Food for thought.

    John

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Posts
    205

    Post

    I too was very tempted by the 3 in 1 when I started shopping for equipment. I ended up getting two small machines (Sherline.)

    I think another quantative problem with the 3 in 1 is the limited travel of the cross slide when used with the milling setup. Unless you are truly going to work on only very small parts, I think you will run out of room in the X direction. The Y direction (parallel to the lathe bed) has plenty of room in the bigger 3 in 1 machines, but that won't do you much good if needing to mill a long cut. Even my little Sherline mill has more X travel than the 3 in 1 machines I've seen.

  6. #6

    Post

    I upgraded my Shoptask Quadralift to separates some time ago. I will say that the Shoptask 3n1 with the Quadralift option is far more capable than the SMithy line IMO. One thing you mentioned was the cross slide travel - it is far greater on the Shoptask than the Smithy. The milling envelope is far larger with the milling head more central too. The rigidity issue is also improved with the Quadralift option which uses 4 steel bars in DOM tubing to support the mill head.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    10

    Post

    The used 1220 LTD that I am looking at has power table feed (X-12" Y-8") and the mill head has it's own motor so it would be posible to make it into two machines.

  8. #8

    Post

    nO, YOU CAN'T MAKE IT INTO TWO MACHINES.

    They are not built that way. If you buy a 3 in 1 you are comprimising yourself. I have a Maximat 7 which is an Austrian machine (high end, toolroom quality) and still it is a comprimise and not as good as two separate machines.

    Do yourself a favour and look for a good used standard lathe and a small milling machine like a mini-bridgeport, Clausing, or if you are real lucky a swiss Aiecia f1, f2, or f3


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Posts
    25

    Post

    About the three in one machine question...I have owned a Smithy cb1220 for about ten years , and have put a bunch of hours on the machine..It has held up very well to the hours of use...You will learn to bunch up your work, using the mill and lathe with min. switching back and fourth...If you can afford and have the space , yes the two different machines would be the best..If you are a bit "short" of space or $$$$ , the three in one machines will get you on your way..If you want ,You can go to the photobucket site , and see a few things that the Smithy and I have turned out. Dale Detrich

    http://www.photobucket.com/albums/0903/dplugs39

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Toledo, Ohio
    Posts
    10,092

    Post

    Dale is a pretty exceptional guy, and his comments on the 3 in 1 machines pretty well sum it up. They can produce good work in the hands of a good machinist, just as any other machine. It is the individual operating it that produces the results.
    This Spring, I went to a farm auction and parked in a field of mud. When it was over, I had to drive my 2WD pickup around several 4WD's that were buried up to their axles to get out. Is a 4WD better for mud? Yes. Can a 2WD work better? Yes, if the guy driving takes his time and thinks things through.
    Get what you can afford, and have room for. Learn to use it well, and you will be satisfied.
    Be prepared to spend some money, it is not a cheap hobby to get started in, and money spent up front will pay dividends in the long run.
    Dale, what scale are the cars and the motorbike? I hadn't seen these before, nice work.
    Jim H.

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