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Grizzly vrs Birmingham

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  • Grizzly vrs Birmingham

    Cheers to all..........

    I've read the posts for two days now and I still don't think I have the correct answer (if there is one) on the differences between Grizzly and some other imports such as Birmingham. I'm really curious which ones seem to be made in Taiwan as opposed to China. Be nice now - no fighting!! I haven't spent a dime on any major tools yet so the hands on experience is low, book knowledge is gaining and ambitions, well at least I'm an optimist for the most part. I guess it really all boils down to this for me: are the imports really all that bad?? Forget the politics for now and just look at the tools for the most part. Anyone care to comment???

    Thanks from the next newbee chip maker

  • #2
    I think the answer is, "it all depends." I don't believe there is a general answer. There are good and bad machines made in both China and in Taiwan (and in the USA, for that matter!), and I'm sure both Grizzly and Birmingham have machines in their line that are, to put a positive spin on it, better than some of the other machines they may sell.

    So, I think you need to get down to specifics to find an answer: machine A vs. machine B.

    FWIW, I think the Jet JVM-836 is really nice, something I'd be happy to own, and I believe it's made in China.
    Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
    Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
    There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
    Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
    Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie


    • #3
      Welcome Pennlabs!

      Here are few "rules of thumb":

      In general the "today" Taiwan made machine will likely be "better" than the "China" made machine, but the differences may be slight. But this is an ever changing situation.

      The importer may or may not be "concerned" with quality of the machines they are selling. They may/may not have great concern for service after the sale. This is something to "reasearch" as you make your choice.

      Shipping is a cost you will pay to get a machine to your door, a purchase from a local vender, where you can "take it home today" is usually the cheapest way.

      Even the "brand names" change suppliers and/or country of origin, so the same model#, from the same brand, may not be "identical" to "their" machine last week (it maybe better or worse).

      I would "decide" on a specific model from a specific vender, look in the archives, the ask some questions here. Somebody will usually, be able to tell of their experiance, another source (nearer, less expensive, etc.) then your choice. They will also be able to give you the "heads up" on what the catalog/advertisements failed to mention (no threading dial, no left hand threading, etc.).

      The "country of origin" arguements are endless. I am not spending your money, you must make up you own mind as to what the "intangibles" are worth to you. Then suit up and prepare yourself for the flame wars to come.
      Today I will gladly share my experience and advice, for there no sweeter words than "I told you so."


      • #4
        I've never tried nor even seen in person a Birmingham, so I can't speak on them with any authority.

        However, I've been using a Grizzly G4027 for three years now, and I'm still quite happy with it. It still runs like new, still quiet and smooth, table slop in the screws has only opened up from the box-stock .003" (at the handwheel dial) to not quite .004".

        It's a Taiwanese model, if that means anything. Just looking at catalog and online photos, one or two of the ENCO, Birmingham and other models use the identical column, knee, saddle and table, the only real differences betwene models being the head. Some are variable drives, some are stepped belt, some are light 110 motors, some are big 220v.

        I have also had the chance to use, very briefly, two of Grizzly's 13" lathes. They don't impress me as much as the big 15" Colchesters the college has, but they beat my little 9" and 10" Logans hands down in rigidity and power.

        I haven't quite needed to step up in lathe power yet, but I've been thinking about it. If I do, and I can't find a good used somewhere (passed up a 14" SouthBend that had been refitted with a VFD- only $3K but I didn't have it at the time) I won't have any qualms at all with buying one of Grizzly's 13" or so lathes.

        Personally, I wish I could get one without the "gap bed" for a bit more rigidity, but it seems that's a gimmick that they've put on every lathe these days except the Hardinge clones.

        Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)


        • #5
          Birmingham lathe

          I have talked to a couple of guys here in Minnesota about their Birmingham and they both gave good reveiws and I bought a Brimingham and have been happy with it.


          • #6
            Taiwanese Birmingham mills are not too bad

            I've got a year 2000 Birmingham BP copy. They offer machines either from China or Taiwan, mines a Taiwanese one.

            Its not too bad, one of the better import mills I've used, not as good as a Sharp but a step above some of the bottom feeder imports. Would I rather have a real BP, hell yes, but this ones been getting the job done and the economics didn't makes sense to buy a real BP, maybe some day.

            Bill at sells the Birminghams and is a good guy. I bought mine used from a private party, but when I called Bill for some help on parts he went out of his way to help me out, and passed me on to a tech to answer some questions about the machine.

            Paul T.


            • #7
              Thanks for being honest !

              Thanks to all for the replies!

              Nice to see no one is flaming me or each other for that matter. Everthing stated seems like good food for thought.

              I enjoyed Doc's machine page - especially the part on almost dropping the mill off the tailgate. For some silly reason I passed up the thought on tailgate weight ratings myself. Boy that could have been one bad day to remember. I have a John Deere backhoe (JD410B turbo) - I think I'll look into finding a set of forklift blades to attach to the front bucket and use that method to place it in the garage entrance.

              It's going to be a while yet before I actually buy a machine but I'll start with a good size lathe first (I like capacity so nothing under 12" here). The cash is half saved up so hopefully by mid summer I'll start looking for a lathe.

              Now for the spot to place it ............ LOL

              I'll keep watching the posts here and sponge up the knowledge for a good time now. Thanks again for a little insight into the import machines.