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A used mill . . . where do I begin?

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  • A used mill . . . where do I begin?

    I've been thinking about purchasing a used mill for some time, and now with a concrete floor finally in my barn, it's actually feasible to think about. I first became intrigued with the possibilities 20 years ago when the maintenance shop of the engineering lab where I used to work used to let me use their Bridgeport at lunch time on my little projects. Since I mumbled "oh sure" when the forman hollered at me "you know how to use that thing don't you?" as he walked out the door to lunch, I got free reign from then on. Of course I didn't tell them I had no clue. But other than those "experiments", I have no real machining experience. Just the desire to learn, and I think it would be quite useful to my hobby of restoring old farm tractors.

    Problem is, I have no idea where to start, or what to look for. Could you guy's get me started with some guidelines and suggestions? I know Bridgeport is top quality. I don't have a problem with 3 phase. I'd like not to spend $1000 for the machine itself, $5-600 would make it more likely to happen. I'm not talking about large blocks but rather brackets and plates and arms, generally less than 12 inches in a given direction.

    For example, how about something like this, currently on eBay and 25 miles from me?

    I know this is a huge subject, but I'm looking to gather information so anything you tell me will be helpful.



  • #2
    Looks like a good little mill and that price is good.

    As long as everything works and its not sitting outside in the rain it looks like one to grab up .

    give it a home.


    • #3
      For a home or small shop, the Bridgeport Mill is the peg point. Chineese/Taiwan knock offs are compared, as are heavier American machines.

      Since you are starting out, (if it is in reasonable condition), BUY IT. Get on with your life and making parts. There will always be better deals, better equipment. But never a better time to make a decision.


      • #4
        If its only 25 miles away, go check it out. Play with the dials, talk to the seller. See what comes with it, in addition to the vise. Make sure it runs.

        If you don't get it at auction, at least you have increased your exposure to this stuff. Who knows, the guy may have another one sitting in the corner.


        • #5
          Yes... one you can see and run locally, and even talk to the orginal ower is a great deal!

          I bought two locally - couldn't run them... and now I have them both in a zillion pieces as I slowy rebuild one of them...
          but I'm learning a lot


          • #6
            That looks like a great deal, it looks like he actually took care of it.
            For thos eof you that don't know, Watchung and Morristown are two of the nicer towns in New Jersey.
            So nice in fact that New Jersey would have a MUCH better rep in the world and not be the butt of so many jokes if those two towns were indicative of the whole state. Spent alot of my youth hiking and biking and motorcycling in the Watchung "mountains".
            Paul, is that guy selling hotdogs out of the back of a old Ford 56 truck in downtown Morristown still around?
            Buy that milling machine, almost makes me wish I was back there, Almost.
            grumpy old fart


            • #7
              Bridgeport is good. Index is just as good, some say better. Later Taiwan machine are very good as well.

              It is the small table which can be a pain unless you are tight on room.

              As with ebay, expect the price to go up considerably. Still 2 and a half days to go from this posting. Bet it will go past $1500.


              • #8
                That's a hell of a deal if you can buy it for 5 to 6 hundred which I doubt. I would say go for it as long as it has not been abused "and it doesn't look abused" and it all works fine go for it def go to look and sweet talk the guy.Alistair
                Please excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease


                • #9
                  I am with Macona and Scottie,$1500.
                  But if all is tight it is still a good buy.
                  If that is a riser ring on it add a hundred.


                  • #10
                    I agree with the others about the price going up. To me it certainly looks like a good buy. If I were younger and needed a mill I would certainly go after it. E-Bay wasn't in existent when I bought the one I have, also in Watchung which is down the road from where I live. (Middlesex N.J not U.K.)
                    OK you guys across the pond. Our Pastor left about six months ago and went back home to Grimbsy. I got used to that English sense of humor.



                    • #11
                      I find you just got to make up your mind what you want to do and then be patient. I've wanted a die filer for some time now, bid on a few on ebay but never scored. Today I'm in Rochester looking at an old belt grinder and kiln when this fellow shows me his collection of die grinders. He had 3, now he has two and I have a Keller in great shape with original stand! I got it for 1/3d of what I had bid on the ebay units. Plot a course and let the equipment gravitate towards you! Good luck.
                      - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
                      Thank you to our families of soldiers, many of whom have given so much more then the rest of us for the Freedom we enjoy.

                      It is true, there is nothing free about freedom, don't be so quick to give it away.


                      • #12
                        Go look at it,you have the advantage over everyone else on ebay since your so close by.

                        Bring along a dial test indicator and check the table tavels and backlash on the screws.That mill here would fetch $3,000-3,500 in running condition.
                        I just need one more tool,just one!


                        • #13
                          Well, I'm in the thick of the eBay auction on this one! Two hours left!

                          Either way I appreciate all of the responses and help you guys gave me. I went and saw the machine the other day and it looked well cared for. All of the adjustments were smooth. What I learned is that it is a J head, dovetail top arm, 1 HP 3P motor. It has a 32x9 inch manual table.There is a little bit of looseness in the motion of the horizontal bed screw . . . about 0.02 inch according to the vernier on the handle. Any last minute thoughts?

                          As I began looking at them I've wondered if there are there different sizes and models of Bridgeport mills?

                          wirewrkr: thanks for the recollections of Northern NJ, and Morristown. Wow, I vaguely remember that there was someone with an old truck selling hot dogs. What I recall more recently is a chrome wagon type trailer that a fellow with long hair used to station around town. I think he pulled it with an old pickup. But I don't recall seeing him lately. I'll keep my eyes open come Spring.


                          • #14
                            Good Luck, it sure looks like a beauty!!!!!


                            • #15
                              Backlash in screws is a fact of life. As long as you're careful to always take up the backlash in the same direction while working -- which will get to be automatic, after you do it for a little while -- it's not a big deal.

                              There have been quite a variety of Bridgeport milling machines. I think the 9x32 table is about the smallest they ever had. 9x42 may be more typical. There was also 9x48, and maybe others. There have been the M head, the J head, the J head with variable speed, etc.
                              Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
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                              There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
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