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Possible Chevalier Mill Purchase

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  • Possible Chevalier Mill Purchase

    Hi all,
    I have been offered through a friend a Chevalier FM3B vertical mill.
    It appears to be a Bridgeport clone, but does the quality compare ?
    It is a very long trip to view, is it worth the effort ?
    I would use the mill to make parts for 5 inch gauge locos.

    Happy machining,

  • #2

    I haven't had one of their mills but am 90% through a ground (scraping) rebuild of one of their large tool and cutter grinders....when you go through that level of detail on a machine you notice things the user might never see.

    They are made in Taiwan knock offs as i understand, the chinglish manual gives them away...mine has a spelling mistake right on one of the badges on the machine. Maybe I shouldn't be too harsh; I make lots of typos but then again I'm not in the badge writing business.

    Quality. If 100% is perfect, its not like its 80% through out and you can live with that, its like its mostly 80-90% and then there will be some omg howler. Makes me think the plant mostly knew what they were doing but would occasionally completely drop the ball; maybe that's typical business-in-asia QC issues. A big one for me was just how far out several of the castings were. ways were out many thou in some cases and not from wear...I'd expect better from a grinder.

    On the plus side they used quality European bearings throughout.

    When i'm done with it, itwill be near perfect with every bearing surface scraped...likely they'll be within a tenth or two, at least that's my ability to I'll end up with a great machine, but in hindsight I wish i'd been more patient and waited for a KO LEE or cinci to come up. Mine will perform just as well i think, I just feel i put too much effort into the wrong brand...if i ever sell it it won't be viewed the same as a KO LEE or Cinci

    That's what I have to contribute, Chevelair's a pretty good asian knock off with some quality issues. One in great shape will likely serve you better than a clapped out brand name mill. My negative bias doesn't mean you shouldn't buy it though; price, location etc have to be considered and you can build lots of good stuff with less than perfect machines...and the flip side is being an off-brand maybe you can drive a bargain
    Last edited by Mcgyver; 05-03-2010, 01:19 PM.


    • #3

      15 years ago I worked in a shop that had two Chevalier vertical mills. They were so close to Bridgies that you could even use Bridgeport parts (at least that is what we understood, never actually had to work on them).

      I found the quality to be quite sufficient for what we were doing, and there were times that we did some precision stuff. I knew it was a knock off, but probably would have trusted it less had I known it was asian.

      That place also had a Chevalier surface grinder which performed very well.

      The last two places I worked each had Chevalier machining centers, find the quality to be quite good in them.

      I am pretty cautious about the machinery out there, but I think I would jump at the chance to own one if the price is right! Hope this is helpful!


      • #4
        I'll second the Chevalier. A shop that did work for me at the old workplace had three of the mills with 40 taper tooling. They were solid and worked well. Two of the machines had been converted to cnc using prototrack and the dyna controls.

        The owner loved them and said that as much as he would like to buy new Bridgeport machines, he just could not swing the expense. Before he retired I believe that he bought a fourth Chevalier.

        I dont think that you can go wrong with a Chevalier but do check it out as you would with any mill.

        Civil engineers build targets, Mechanical engineers build weapons.


        • #5
          My professor in college had one and it was a piece of dung. The machine was barely used. It couldn't climb cut in aluminum without the resulting vibration making you think there was an earthquake. The head bearings went after a couple of years as well. The table locks would also slip during heavy cuts. On top of all of that, it's also possible to lower the knee below the dovetail it rides on, which results in the gib being able to deflect sideways past the gib adjustment screw. When this happens the gib can cause the knee of the mill to bind up and can scrap the machine.

          I wouldn't touch another chevalier product after that.


          • #6
            Thanks guys for taking the time to respond.

            It appears that the machines are "good on average" but there is the possibility of a "built on Friday" unit.

            I have asked the vendor for an opportunity to inspect.

            Happy machining,