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  • 'Small' mill shopping, comparison.

    Alright, trying to scrape together a budget. It's not easy, on my low-paying job and dealing with school.

    I am limited to 110 power and don't have the space to convert a Bridgeport, or I would.

    My plan thus far has been an RF-45 clone. Dovetail column, geared head. Can get that for $1800 + tax + freight (or a truck) = about $2100.

    Or, I might be able to grab a different MSC mill-drill. Used but in good shape (appearently), plus collets, clamping kit, and DRO. $1000 + truck.

    I don't much like the round-column, or having to change a belt to change speeds, but it's only marginally smaller than the original plan and comes with a DRO, for half as much.

    So... how bad would that be, with my wallet screaming at me less?

  • #2
    I have the exact same Wholesale Tool RF 45 mill as you have shown, about 3 years now and it has been a good mill for it size. Sturdy and accurate but as with all of these type the top speed is a bit noisy, a small price to pay for the convenience of the geared head. I made up a motorized drive to raise and lower the head which is a nice plus but not really necessary.

    Stay away from the round column type mill/drills if you can. The moving head makes it a bit difficult to change out long tooling and keep positional alignment. It is frequently necessary to mill with the spindle extended which is hard on it and will lead to premature wear on the spindle housing. With the square column type of mill you can lower the head and do your milling with the spindle retracted.

    Just remember, these are not full sized Bridgeport's so don't expect them to do the work of one.
    The shortest distance between two points is a circle of infinite diameter.

    Bluewater Model Engineering Society at https://sites.google.com/site/bluewatermes/

    Southwestern Ontario. Canada

    Comment


    • #3
      Out of the two..I'd rather have the R45 clone...but I have done tons of work with a round column mill.
      Much of it was hard work...I ran a fab/machine shop and it was my only mill for some time.
      I want to start up another shop in the near future and if I can't find a knee mill or otherwise...I'll buy another round column mill and be happy to have it.
      They are easy to move around...only need an engine hoist and you get tons of storage under it with the stand.
      Just me tho...lots of guys hate them.
      Russ
      I have tools I don't even know I own...

      Comment


      • #4
        What are your plans for it. I have this one and it has done a great job. Verry pleased with it. I have used every thing from 6061 alum. to A2 tool steal.

        http://www.grizzly.com/products/Dril...th-Stand/G0704
        Craftsman 101.07403
        Grizzly G0704
        4x6 Bandsaw

        Comment


        • #5
          As it is, I have a Harbor Freight mini-mill. The Sieg X2, for those familiar.

          For what it is, I love that little thing. I have it tuned in to .002" over 10" right now, aside from the cheap vise being a little off.

          I don't know what I would expect from a bridgeport. I've used a 1" ball-end in the mini, and got so used to light cuts and slow going, that any production millworker would crack me upside the head.

          I don't like the thought of the round-column, but after starting on some minor automotive stuff (not inside the motor!) for friends, parts for my school's electric race car build team, and plenty of paintball stuff, it's time for bigger.

          My mini just doesn't have the space or torque to turn a 15/16"x20 tap for a paintball marker's barrel or feed neck.

          Comment


          • #6
            kd4gij:

            Glad to hear about the success one that one. I've just been iffy on that, because it doesn't look particularly rigid and I've heard doubts about the power. Then again, if it's 90% the machine, at 50% the price...

            Most of my work is aluminum, occasional steel--which I hate attempting in my mini.

            At most, I will do some work for firearms. Rails and accessories, but I plan for my first big project on a new mill is to buy a torched imported PPSH-41 or -43 and a big block of appropriate steel, use the guts, and make a new receiver, legal trigger group, and barrel of legal length.

            Comment


            • #7
              Hi,

              I'm kind of doing the same thing right now, looking at bench-type mills like the G0704 and the BF-20/25/30's. The RF-45 is a nice machine and gets generally good reviews from owners.

              The thing to remember about a budget is planning for all those extras you will need. You can easily spend as much or more in tooling up a mill as it cost you to buy the machine. A good vise, like a Kurt, and a set of good R-8 collets, and a handful of decent end mills can easy eat up another $1000 bill.

              I not a big fan of round column mills either, but if your budget is tight and you can get a tooled up round column with DRO for less than half the price of the bare RF-45. Then to me, it would be pretty hard to walk away from the round column.

              There are things you can do to lessen the inherent locating problems with round columns, from lasers to building a guide system, (somebody here did one of those), to simply learning to plan work flow to avoid problems. And changing belts pulleys is a good job for you young whipper-snappers. It'll teach you to appreciate variable speed pulleys and drives in your old age.

              dalee
              If you think you understand what is going on, you haven't been paying attention.

              Comment


              • #8
                Check out this site for more info on the G0704

                http://www.g0704.com/

                And this threed

                http://www.cnczone.com/forums/bencht...sss_g0704.html
                Craftsman 101.07403
                Grizzly G0704
                4x6 Bandsaw

                Comment


                • #9
                  Oh, I know all about the tooling costs. I got my mill for $300, and all the tooling for... I'd best not think about that. I haven't even bought a proper boring head or rotary table because they won't fit.

                  Don't get on my case about changing belts! My lathe has that, and I'll just get to shoot back about the old-timers not having the reaction time to turn threads when 150 RPM is your lower limit.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have never used a round column mill....

                    Having a knee type mill has been so handy that I don't know what I would do with a round column one. It is nice to be able to count on the table staying in one place when raised or lowered.

                    That said, as much of a pain as they may or may not be, people use round column mill-drills all the time. presumably , given a reasonable quill travel, you can do OK with planning and fore-thought.

                    pretty much ANY mill will beat "no" mill...... And, as you may have noticed, money does not grow on trees of any type, at least not that I have access to.....

                    Then also, there may be the chance of a "sweat equity" mill...... one that you buy used and fix up. It is often derided here, but to get the shop I have now, buying new, I would be spending enough money to buy a car..... That makes it worth consideration to buy used and fix.
                    Last edited by J Tiers; 11-06-2011, 12:26 AM.
                    CNC machines only go through the motions

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                    • #11
                      If the ways are true and everything non-adjustable doesn't need grinding or scraping, I have no problem fixing things up.

                      That's how I got my first mill for $300 shipped, and the matching 7x14 lathe for $200 or so.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Deus Machina
                        Oh, I know all about the tooling costs. I got my mill for $300, and all the tooling for... I'd best not think about that. I haven't even bought a proper boring head or rotary table because they won't fit.

                        Don't get on my case about changing belts! My lathe has that, and I'll just get to shoot back about the old-timers not having the reaction time to turn threads when 150 RPM is your lower limit.
                        Hi,

                        If you do have at least some tooling to get going and an understanding of other tooling costs, then RF-45 type is looking to be a better choice. The only other possible consideration you may wish to think about before pulling the trigger, is moving your machines.

                        And I'm not talking about the shop. As a young Gentleman, you can probably expect to make a move to a new residence 3 to 6 times in your lifetime. And most of those moves are going to happen when you are younger. This isn't a real deal breaker problem, but it does bear some malice aforethought. I'd hate to see you buy something you can't take with you.

                        I know I have one more move to make in my life. But at least I know where it's going to be to and what I'll have for room when I get there. So I can choose machines accordingly.

                        Oh, this old guy don't need no cat-like reflexes for threading, I turn my tool upside-down and reverse spindle and thread out from the shoulder. And I remember when it was up hill both ways in a blizzard during a flood, to get to the pulleys to change speeds, and we were grateful to even have different speeds to change! There, did I get everything listed? My Daughters are always very insistent I don't leave anything out.

                        So, get busy and order the mill. And don't forget photos of uncrating and commentary! I can use your experience in making my choice!

                        dalee
                        If you think you understand what is going on, you haven't been paying attention.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          You can't worry about tooling costs, it's just a fact of life in this hobby. You don't need to get everything on the first day, buy (acquire) it as needed and accept the fact that you will never ever have everything you need.

                          As you go along there is always something that you need or find that makes your work easier or you just want. It takes many years to outfit a shop completely, not that it is possible to have a fully outfitted shop, there is always something else out there that you will find and need. Its a malignant disease that just keeps growing and sucking the life out of your wallet. Run away now will you still can.

                          I hate to think what I have spent in my shop (money well spent) for a hobby but if you bought a fishing boat or golf membership for a few years it would be a lot more then outfitting a home shop and a shop doesn't sink.
                          The shortest distance between two points is a circle of infinite diameter.

                          Bluewater Model Engineering Society at https://sites.google.com/site/bluewatermes/

                          Southwestern Ontario. Canada

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            1. If you think you might ever CNC it, go for the RF-45, since it has a real Z axis.

                            2. If you think you might upgrade to a larger mill, get the round-column and save your money.

                            3. All things being equal, unless I was very well tooled-up, I'd rather have the round-column and $1k to burn on a rotab, boring head, etc. than an RF-45 and a handful of endmills. Plus, most tooling scales up to larger mills just fine.

                            4. How much more secure/happy would you be with another grand in your savings account? The round-column machine would still be a real upgrade for you and open new doors.

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                            • #15
                              Having an extra thou in the bank won't keep you from being pissed off at the RD column machine. I have had both and yes you can do good work with a RD column machine but you probably wouldn't want one if you have used the RF-45 type.

                              Unless you are comparing a striped down RD col. machine against a fully equipped RF45 type at the extreme ends of the market prices there isn't a $1000 difference. WT tools lists the RF45 type at $1800 and the RD column type at $1300. Your prices may vary.

                              The RF 45 type are much more ridge then the RD column type.
                              The shortest distance between two points is a circle of infinite diameter.

                              Bluewater Model Engineering Society at https://sites.google.com/site/bluewatermes/

                              Southwestern Ontario. Canada

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