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  • Mini mill variants

    Been looking at a mini-mill as a companion to my mini-lathe (7x12)
    Busy Bee (Canada) is offering this one http://busybeetools.ca/cgi-bin/picture10?NTITEM=CT129N as an upgrade to the original. This upgrade (call it "maxi-mini") has a more powerful motor (600 watts-3/4 Hp) which I think is a good thing plus greater X&Y travel (also good),a few other nice-to-haves, and digital readouts that I can take-or-leave.

    While pluses are nice the price is almost double the original mini-mill. I suspect that a good part of this is the digital stuff. As well, the same company offers a full-size (1.5 Hp) mill-drill for only a few bucks more (no dro).

    I don't really want to go to the full-size mill drill (bulk & weight) but it would depend on the capabilities of the maxi-mini. In the experience of members can the original mini do worthwhile work? Thinking cutting keyways, flats etc & maybe - ultimately - cutting gears. Want to cut mild steel, aluminum & brass. Is the maxi-mini's power increase a worthwhile jump (ignoring the dro stuff). Then again, should I just accept the inevitable and get a really big'un?

  • #2
    You will be much happier with a knee type mill. More solid, more power, better results.

    I wouldn't want a mill with morse taper spindle. R8 is a much better choice.
    That design still won't take that much of a cut because the column is not all that sturdy.

    Comment


    • #3
      the ct1229 or ct129N are the best choices that mini mini mill is junk, its so small and not practicl at al in my opinion and its also not all that riged either , i have the ct129 with the MT2 taper the ct129n was not around 2 months ago when i got mine, any how i looked at the waht i call micro mill price is good but my drillpress can do a better job i think, it had to many weak points for me to cheap out ,, i have had my fill of tiny equipment,, the Ct129 is not a full size mill but its very nice well built very riged the DRO is nice to have expecailyt sence i made a larger down feed handle .. also removed the saftys and just let the emergency power off cover on ..as the other stuff restriced my useage to much,, the chuck that comes wiht i had a bad one and then sent me a really decent one in place of it ,sometime you get some bad stuff not always a check is no big deal , i use my metabo 5/8 chuck on it all the time now i prefer the keyless option also the metabo will self tighten as well so great on the lathe and the mill..

      the table is a 7x20 on the ct129 so for all my airgun building needs as well as being able to use a rotory table and tail stock its go the room where as the micro mill will not have hte same capability so if oyu go micro spend the extra and go cnc on it right off the hop other wise hte ct129 cnc or not cnc is just fine..
      i looked at the other larger mill that only 1200 bucks as wel really wish i had gotten it but i have no access or the money to run 220 volts to my shop and hte ct129 met my needs either way...

      i ct129 can take some pretty large cuts with no hasseel where the mico mill cant do it even on a cnc conversion its not able to take clean large cuts
      there is good bad in both but id go to the ct129 over the mico mill anyday well i did and i love the ct129 ...

      i also have the busy bee 10x18 lathe as well, i had a 7x12 but it blew up and its good t that it did i was grown out of it in less then 3 months it blew month 2,iam in the market for a 7x12 for my wife for what she does she will never need anything bigger , if she ever needs to mill ill buy her a ct129 ...

      anyhow if came off a bit nutty sorry but junk has its place and junk is junk , some say any mini mills or lathes are all junk but thats not true but sometimes there is soem junk and that mico mill they have for under 1000 iam sorry to say its not a good choice in my opinion,,

      also take anythign with a grain of salt to ,, i have only been machineing 3 years now and iam at it pretty much everyday of the week..

      i did have 1 issue other then the chuck with my mill. was the quil haveing a 1 inch slack spot and it turnned out to be the lock down scews for the speed control sensor plate so i turned the heads down on the screw about 5 thou or so and now its all normal the way it should be and i have no more slop its 1000% perfect now

      i swear little gremlins live in everthing but you can evict them just as easy heheheheh

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm interested in CT129N myself. I check it out in the showroom and the fit and finish is nice. I have couple of concerns which is holding me back.

        1. I would prefer R8 instead of Mt3 taper simply because there are more toolings that you can buy for R8.

        2. It didn't look like you can adjust the tram, which means that you're stuck with the factory setting. Perhaps you can use shims?

        3. The motor on it looked rather wimpy. Compare to a heavy duty induction motor that you typically find in milling machine, this one doesn't measure up. Although the speed control may be useful, I don't really like electronically controlled DC motor. If something goes wrong, then you're out of luck.

        Depending on the kinds of work that you're planning to do, I'd suggest that you consider getting B1976 which is the same price as CT129N, but much beefier. Circular column gets a bad wrap, but for many milling operations, you can live with it. http://busybeetools.ca/cgi-bin/pictu...7&NTITEM=B1976

        I think in the end, I'll be saving up to get CT054 since I'll never look back. http://busybeetools.ca/cgi-bin/pictu...7&NTITEM=CT054

        Comment


        • #5
          It depends on what your interests are,,,, (a word of caution here),,,, and how fast your interests can change. LOL (your projects are bound to get bigger)

          My advice would be to forget about the small mill. The ct129 or ct129N don't take up significantly more bench space and can be moved by one man. (or with the help of a friend if you have any cold beer)

          For the work that the machine is capable of the MT2 or MT3 wouldn't make any difference but the extra HP of the ct129N would be nice. (can never have to much power)

          I recently purchased the B1976 mill/drill and I love it. If you have a permanent shop I think that it is the best bang for the buck but it is heavy. It takes two strong men to move it even after it has been split into two sections. (the column can be removed from the base quite easily)

          Good luck with your decision.
          To invent, you need a good imagination - and a pile of junk. Thomas A. Edison

          Comment


          • #6
            I will second the comment regarding R8 spindles versus MT3. I have one of each and much prefer the mill with the R8 spindle. There is more tooling readily available in R8. I made the mistake of buying a mill that was too small. That's why I now have two. I would suggest saving up your money and buying the biggest mill you can comfortably fit in your shop.Round column mills are too much of a pain to set up so I would stay away from one of those.The CT054 looks like it would be a decent choice.

            Comment


            • #7
              Quick question

              What is/are the downside/s to the round column mill-drill?

              Given the comments & almost same price the entry-level full size is starting to sway my decision. Thanks for all the input; I will go back to the drawing board for a bit and rethink.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Dunc
                What is/are the downside/s to the round column mill-drill?
                When you raise and lower the head, you lose the position. Let's say you drilled a hole and raise the head to put in a boring head. When the head is lowered, the spindle of the head is no longer concentric with the hole.

                Drilling counter sink after the hole has been drilled presents a similar problem, however quill will have sufficient travel so that if you plan ahead, you can avoid this type of problem.

                More than a lathe, milling machine really needs stiffness otherwise you can only make light cuts and this will definitely slow you down. There's nothing as annoying as hearing that chattering sound from your endmill.

                Comment


                • #9
                  on a more serious note what are you wanting to build now and in say 5 years from now then take that and then put the money where your possible futrue is or might just be..

                  when i got my new laptop i wanted power i wanted games and i want to be able to upgrade it so i went to the Dell XPS gammers laptop model 1730 but i only went to the dule core 2.2 as it was my max i could afford my good part is i can up grade the heck out of it processor vidoe ram etc etc..

                  my lathe is never going to out grow me , id like to have a huge lathe but then what would i do with it and what can it do for me that my present one cant well some say make bigger stuff build monster trucks ..heheheh

                  i make airgun parts and RC car parts and i make the odd tool i need stuff like that ,, anyhow my mill well i had a budget but like i said before i got lack of space lack of 220 volts and its really a great machine for my needs as well..

                  i agree R8 is the way to go for tooling options but you can also get around that as well.
                  i needed to get use of my 5MM ball end mill ,a holder for it for mt2 is 60.00 bucks and i cant get it from busy bee , i can get metric collets but then i gota chage the drawbar everytime i need to use 1 or 2 metric end mills no way so i made a holder today for the 5MM milling bit used a mt2 stub arbor drilled and used the milling bit in the chuck to ream the hole out 100% perfect and snug fit and used a set screw to lock it in now i just got around a few things and saved a bundle of money ...stub arbor was 10.00

                  iam not saying the ct129 is the end all to be all its not. iam not saying r8 is bad its auctually very good , the hardest thing to do is make the purchase which is way iam sudgesting the 5 year plan heck take a 10 year option where do you see your self possibley being ..

                  as for taking light cuts well the mico mill is defently a lite cutting machine

                  the ct129 on 316 Stainless steel i have done almost a 1/4 inch cut into it with little chatter speed and feed it right and works slick ,, 660 bronze very little vibration took a complet slice from some 1 inch round bar i had and it really didnt bother the mill to much ,now that was a big cut ,, so thoes that say its gota wimpy motor or it has to take light cuts well sorry to thoes guys but your incorrect on that one..

                  bigger is better yes i agree. but is it needed or pratical is what you need to decied for your self .

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by rotate
                    When you raise and lower the head, you lose the position. Let's say you drilled a hole and raise the head to put in a boring head. When the head is lowered, the spindle of the head is no longer concentric with the hole.

                    Drilling counter sink after the hole has been drilled presents a similar problem, however quill will have sufficient travel so that if you plan ahead, you can avoid this type of problem.
                    The problem is well stated here. I would just like to add that mounting a lazer pointer at some coveniant point on the head has been recommended as a solution. It is on my "first thing to do" list in the next couple of weeks. I'll post photos when I get it done.
                    To invent, you need a good imagination - and a pile of junk. Thomas A. Edison

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      George...here ya go.. Canuck Tire.. Jobmate magnetic base...About $25.
                      Takes all of 10 seconds to install ,works great.
                      I have tools I don't even know I own...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by torker
                        George...here ya go.. Canuck Tire.. Jobmate magnetic base...About $25.
                        Takes all of 10 seconds to install ,works great.
                        Thanks, that is just the thing that I was looking for. What do you use for an index mark??? I was thinking of a magnet with a dot painted on it.
                        To invent, you need a good imagination - and a pile of junk. Thomas A. Edison

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by G.A. Ewen View Post
                          The problem is well stated here. I would just like to add that mounting a lazer pointer at some coveniant point on the head has been recommended as a solution. It is on my "first thing to do" list in the next couple of weeks. I'll post photos when I get it done.

                          I hope it's not too late to tag in here. I'm new here and don't understand what I just read. What good is a machine that looses it's place every time a tool is changed? Can someone please explain how that happens?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            It looses it's place when you move the head up or down and it's swinging around the round column. If you leave the head clamped to the column and just change tools it stays the same.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Toolguy View Post
                              It looses it's place when you move the head up or down and it's swinging around the round column. If you leave the head clamped to the column and just change tools it stays the same.
                              I'm still not sure I understand. I think when you say "head", I'm thinking "quill". Isn't the quill what is normally retracted to change tools? And how is this problem only associated with round columns?

                              Comment

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