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  • Horizontal Mill question

    I am looking for a small horizontal mill as a project. Several I have seen for sale on the web have what look like hand levers instead of a conventional micrometer handwheel. It looks like there are multiple options on some of the units like levers, Air/Hydraulic or micrometer.
    Does anyone have any pictures or diagrams to explain how they do this and is it possible to convert a lever to a micrometer. Is it major surgery or straight forward.

    I am in the tool wasteland or BC and can't just drop by and see the units.


    Thanks
    Dave

  • #2
    Could be either....

    Those are "production" mills, and may have limited adjustments.

    The machine was set up with all but one axis (typically the longitudinal table feed) pre-set, and a fixture to hold the part. The lever typically was used so the "operator" could just move it to pass the part under the cutter. The part was removed from the fixture, and the next one put in.... Simple enough for "Bubba" to operate.

    Some have no provision for a lead screw, others just have a rack and pinion added but the parts to hold the screw may be cast-in-place and usable. if there is no provision, the table may need to be modified extensively to add the screw.

    Some production mills have no "knee", meaning that the 'fixture" was responsible for the height adjustment.... those could be very difficult to use as a general purpose milling machine, as you would have to "pack up" the part for nearly every operation.
    1601

    Keep eye on ball.
    Hashim Khan

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks JT. So they most likely have a rack? The one I have my eye on seems to have all options available as factory choice. Maybe I should look at non production type. I know there are Atlas. What other brands would someone suggest? Atlas seems very pricy.
      I am looking at a small one that is easy to ship out here.
      Thanks
      Dave

      Comment


      • #4
        Small ones ARE pricey, because many have the same problem (except "McGyver")... having to ship, or fit it down stairs, into a small shop, etc.

        Anything Atlas (or Southbend) seems to be expensive.... and there are not so many small horizontal mills. Most are old, and often qualified in the ad with the word "rare" to bring up the price..........

        if you want a LARGE one, you can get it for scrap price often...... which may be less than a little one costs....

        Atlas, Barker, Burke, US Burke, the list goes on.
        1601

        Keep eye on ball.
        Hashim Khan

        Comment


        • #5
          Barker makes some nice little horizontal mills. I'm partial to their overarm models. All of their axis can be converted from lever to dial and vice versa. Beware. They are made for production. Inspect them carefully.

          Comment


          • #6
            The hand lever feeds are great if you can feed "through" the cut, not stopping at a shoulder. If you want to make cuts to a shoulder you have to set up stops and get them dialed in (nuisance). The lever feed is fantastic for slitting saws and the like, you can really feel how the cut is progressing. I haven't broken or burned a saw since I started using them in my Nichols, and have done some deep sawing in steel.

            It is desirable to have screw feeds on the knee, and for the y axis. I'd pass on a horizontal without a screw feed on the knee. Some production horizontals have a head which can traverse up & down. Its occasionally been useful for drilling repetitive hole patterns- head stops are set for the upper and lower holes, then the part is clamped the head traversed to both limits for the holes- it avoids cranking the knee up and down. With head and table stops in place, you can hit all 4 corners of a square without stopping to measure- very helpful for repeating a hole pattern in multiple parts.

            I use the Nichols horizontal a lot, more than the Bridgeport- it has a 40 taper spindle which makes tooling it a breeze. Beware the B&S taper spindles, tooling isn't as common and it can bind very tightly in the spindle if you overtighten the drawbar. That said the B&S taper isn't bad, it just has a few issues.

            My Nichols has the lever feed X, and a feed screw which has a removable half-nut- so the operator can switch between the two. Unless I'm doing stuff like locating holes I typically leave the lever feed set up. The half-nut is a relatively insubstantial affair (it really is 1/2 of a nut), so is not suited to heavier feeds (and the Nichols is relatively stiff so it can be take heavy cuts)- but the lever feed is robust.

            Greg

            Comment


            • #7
              Here is the link to the Yahoo Atlas Group. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/atlas_craftsman/

              You may want to join it and send out a notice that you're looking to purchase a bench top horizontal mill as I have seen some come up for sale.

              Comment


              • #8
                Here's a shot of my Kent-Owens horizontal. I got it super cheap, and love it thoroughly. It's got a rise & fall head with B&S #9 taper, screw-fed Y and knee, rack & pinion X. I have the parts & screw to convert the X, but I haven't yet, as I've found the rack feed to be useful. If/when I do, I will definately keep the rack feed parts handy, in case I want to swap it around again.

                I've got a BP M head on it too, and overall this machine is the most useful in my shop.

                Comment


                • #9
                  After a little thought and research I did a deal on a Barker PM mill. Does anyone have any good pictures of a complete one? Its missing at least one pulley. And its a project. But I believe every thing I need as far as information is available here with the wealth of knowledge. It looks like first thing I will be trying is the rust removal techniques discussed at length here. Its sucks the shipping is slightly more than the price of the unit.It sure pays to shop around on shipping. First quote and final quote were 3x spread.But since it a Barker all parts are still available, and I can buy all the parts I want. Of course I will try to make as much as I can.
                  It must be nice to live in Ohio thats where all the good Horizontal seem to be.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Stay away from lever fed mills. They were only built for cutting off bar stock and the like.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by gwilson
                      Stay away from lever fed mills. They were only built for cutting off bar stock and the like.
                      And keyslotting the ends of shafts, and straddle milling parts in a fixture, and just about anything else that can be done by cutting either to a stop, or right through the part. Like cutting the detents on pistol cylinders, or the ratchets, both of which are done on a lever table P&W no 1 1/2 that I know of......

                      Of course they will cut off stock too, naturally...... But there isn't any reason to suppose they were made cheap and sloppy just because they have levers......
                      1601

                      Keep eye on ball.
                      Hashim Khan

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thanks for information. The Barkers can be adapted to leadscrews. Its a bolt on option according to my information. Time will tell if I bought a boat anchor or a gem. :-) I am sure it no worse than a new chicom machine. ;-) Its an adventure and not much money initially.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by J Tiers
                          Of course they will cut off stock too, naturally...... But there isn't any reason to suppose they were made cheap and sloppy just because they have levers......
                          -Very true. But the point is, a lever operated machine is intended, and best used, for repetitive jobs. Runs of fifty or a hundred or a thousand parts or more. They're a poor choice for general-machine work.

                          Even as a fan of small horizontals, I don't recommend them as a first or only mill- and in no way would I suggest anyone try to use a lever-only version as a first or only mill. You'd be better off buying a cheap Harbor Freight desktop vertical mill.

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

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Its mill number 4. :-).
                            I wanted a small horizontal to play with and wanted a project to practice rebuilding skills on. ;-)
                            I would rather work on my scraping skills on something that is small and not that valuable.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Heres one I rebuilt a couple yrs ago. It came out of hurricane Katrina and was virtually unused and cleaned up was pretty easily -- the only problem was - although as cute a little machine as you could ever want, it was practically useless, at least in my shop!



                              In trying to get some use out of it, I later converted the lever handles over to ball handles and micrometer dials, but it just sat in the corner with out any thing to do, so I put it on ebay. It did get a pretty good response on ebay and sold quickly.

                              It was to be the only mill the guy would have and he was gonna make antique car pieces -- I hinted strongly that he wasnt gonna have a lot of luck doing very much with that mill, but he was tickled pink with it, and gave me the $ and away he went.
                              Last edited by Bill Pace; 05-05-2010, 11:56 AM.
                              If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something........

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