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  • vertical mill advice

    I'd like to get a vertical mill for the garage. A Bridgeport would be awesome but heavy. Can anybody tell me the differences between a Bridgeport and the other knee mills like Index and so on?

    Any suggestions on a smaller mill, maybe an import? This is a hobby and at this point .

    Anybody know of any for sale near Madison Wisconsin?

    Thanks
    Jeremy

  • #2
    The typical garage floor can easily support a Bridgeport mill. As to an Index it too is a good mill as are several other US and European machines such as Lagun.

    In general I advise people to stay away from Asian machines, especially those from mainland China as I had a very bad experience with Jet machine tools. Others will disagree with me.

    For local machines check Craig's List, Ebay, and the local estate sales. Since you are new to the trade I suggest you take an experienced machinist or tool maker with you to evaluate the machines.

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    • #3
      Jeremy,
      They also make about a 3/4 sized copy of a Bridgeport. Mine is built by Bemato in Taiwan. It weighs around 1100 lbs. For a used machine I'd stay away from a variable speed type as the internals can have problems even with a used real Bridgeport. Your better off with a 220v 3 phase motor and VFD anyway. If your planning on doing any boring then look for one with a 3 speed power downfeed on the spindle too.

      Pete

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      • #4
        I've had a ZAY7045 from Lathemaster for about 5 years now. Considering how much use it has gotten in that time, it has given me plenty of trouble. I have regretted buying it a couple of times.

        That said, I think I've got the bugs worked out of it. I understand its capabilities, and it really does do everything that I want/need. If you think about buying this type of machine, you're welcome to come by and have a look at mine before you buy. I'm south of Madison between Verona and New Glarus.

        Jim

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        • #5
          I think you should reconsider a few factors before discounting a Bridgeport or other mill. Rigidity, ease of operation, and quality of finish comes with size. A Bridgeport sized mill is easy enough to move given a few proper tools. Id recommend a pallet jack and simply placing it on a skid or using an engine crane. Usually theres just a few nuts/bolts to undo (4 on mine) and everything from the turret up comes off the machine to make major moves a breeze. Personally I highly recommend Index mills in their various forms and owners, but many of them are larger than even a Bridgeport. With imports you dont get what you pay for. As for myself, I prefer to pay low prices and spend a few hours setting a machine right rather than paying big bucks, spending time to set a machine right, and then fighting with it to get stuff done. Dont get me wrong, many on here do nice work with tiny tools, but I think the ease of use and learning curve are much better to deal with on real machines. For me, another big point is resale. If youre not concerned much about resale value, then buy an import or Bridgeport clone. If you want a tool that will typically increase in value (assuming you dont abuse it and bought it at a semi fair price to begin with) buy a Bridgeport. The value is in the name, just like SB lathes, JD tractors etc etc.

          If youre willing to come down to Chicago, I bet Bob still has that Cincinnati for dirt cheap (<$500 I believe)
          Last edited by justanengineer; 03-31-2011, 01:32 PM.
          "I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer -- born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow."

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          • #6
            Dirk,
            Waterloo Wisconsin, 20 minutes east of Madison.

            What would a regrind approximately cost? There's an Index south of Milwaukee.

            Jim,
            What troubles did you have with your lathemastet?

            Round ram or dovetail, which is better and why?

            Jeremy

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            • #7
              Justanengineer,

              I think I called Bob and it sounded like he Just had a couple drill presses left. Chicago isn't to far, I just hate the traffic. I drove 5 hours one way for a Sheldon lathe.
              All the Cincinnati mills I've seen have been huge. A Bridgeport sized mill is probably all I can fit, for some reason my wife wants to PARK in the garage, silly, I know. I do think I will stay away from the small import stuff. The more ridged the better. You can always do small stuff on a bigger machine but its hard to do large stuff on a small one.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by J.Hayes
                Jim,
                What troubles did you have with your lathemastet?
                Well, the usual stuff of course--broken x-axis locks, and locks for the head. I made my own replacements.

                Then the motor went out twice about a year apart. I replaced (actually I had paid someone else to replace) the switch with a 'merican drum switch the first time. The next time problems were inside the motor. I'm not sure of the details now, but I think it was the starting switch that basically disintegrated and took out the bearings? Anyway I've paid for a "good" motor a couple of times and all I have is the Chinese one it came with. . . .

                I've never really used anything else, so I can't say if it's as solid as a Bridgeport or whatever. I don't really use it all that much, though I've never regretted it being as large as it is. Here's a picture from when I cut some slots to mount a DRO in the tailstock for my 15" Leblond.



                I probably have 2-3 good projects per year with assorted smaller things mixed in from time to time. It'll sit idle for months at a time.

                Jim

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                • #9
                  You might want to double check if he still has it or not, the Cincinatti he had when I bought my Bridgeport had a footprint hardly bigger than a dovetail ram Bridgeport, and he was eager to be rid it. Keep in mind when fitting a mill into your space that mills can be angled into corners and fit tightly which otherwise might be wasted space. I can sympathize with wanting to park inside the garage, its why I have a two car version - so I can work on at least one inside. Round ram vs dovetail is merely a matter of preference, the key factor in figuring rigidity of a ram being the cross sectional area. Personally I love using my round ram Bridgey and wouldnt have a dovetail one due to size. My round ram's a nice mid sized mill, and if I stepped up it would be to a K&T horizontal.
                  "I am, and ever will be, a white-socks, pocket-protector, nerdy engineer -- born under the second law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-body diagrams, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    hobby for me too.....with 3 full sized mills in the garage. There's no win in hedging, you will never regret buying a better quality/more solid machine vs smaller. If you buying used (what most do who want a full sized mill) you will get more machine for likely less dollars than a smaller lower quality import. Plus it'll have better resell value, but that line is more appropriate for a better half discussion. Of course used availability in your area factors in, but even buying new offshore, let budget be the constraint not machine size
                    in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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                    • #11
                      Cincinnati made some beautiful vertical turret mills, much more rigid than B'port in about the same foot print. The Wells-Index is also an excellent machine.

                      Recently someone on the forum was asking about an Italian vertical mill that seems to be a good machine. You may want to search the forum as I do not remember the brand name.

                      I'm in the process of restoring a Fray #7 "All Angle" vertical mill. I don't know your skill level, but I completely disassembled the machine and made several repairs. It's also getting new paint in the process. Unless you want/need something that is "turn key" you could consider this route. Just keep in mind it is very time consuming and should be considered a labor of love.

                      My next project is an early 1900's Cincinnati planer with a 9' bed.

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                      • #12
                        Jim,
                        That looks like a good size machine, to bad you had trouble with it.

                        Justanengineer
                        Bob was the Guy liquidating stuff in Chicago, right?

                        We have a two car, I've got my side pretty full, lathe, drill press, WF Wells horizontal bandsaw, tablesaw, other woodworking stuff, and the usual lawn stuff. Plus about 800 sq ft of oak flooring that needs to be cleans and installed. I need a shed.

                        I'm not opposed to giving some tlc, most of the stuff I have I had to fix before using it, lots of curb side finds.

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                        • #13
                          Bob still has the Cincinnati, he's getting me more info on it. Know anybody That moves these things?

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                          • #14
                            Look around for one of the later Burke Millrite Powermatic MVNs. Its essentially a 3/4-size brideport, US-made, R8 collets. tables up to 8x36, but 8x32 is more common. Weighs about 1300 lbs. The later ones are green with a white racing stripe. They go for under $2000 in nice shape

                            this is mine. It cost $1200 at an estate sale.

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                            • #15
                              Rex
                              That is a nice looking machine.

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