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
Good machines, all of them.
I have a lathe, mill and many accessories from "Birmingham". I have been pleased with the quality and service.
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.
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
(disregarding the fact that Rong Fu are actually better machines !)
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.
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.
Looks like Alliant is still being sold, found this dealer in CT http://www.remsales.com/pages/content/alliant.html
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?
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.