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Need rotary table recommendations...

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  • Need rotary table recommendations...

    I need a 6" rotab for my mill (Grizz 0619), but have no clue as to what specs I should pay attention to, or what brands to look for/avoid. At least one I'm looking at says it has a Meehanite table, I already know that's a casting process, not a product, but is it an indicator of better quality? Does weight matter, that seems to have as big a range as the prices. Also, are indexing plates a nice to have but rarely used item, or a vital necessity?

    I'm assuming 6" is the best fit for my mill, but I'm all ears if anyone has a different idea. And I realize that some of my questions will have a best answer of "it depends" :-). If it helps, my primary work will be on guns, airguns to be exact. So nothing really big, and not a lot of gears in my immediate future, either :-). Thanks, guys.


  • #2
    You're on target as Meehanite castings are superior over standard cast iron.

    That said, there have been reports of Chinese companies using the term, but not using the material for their products. I would avoid Horror Freight, Griz and other Chinese made RT's.

    I was fortunate to find a 8" Phase II Japanese made RT on Craigslist in excellent condition. So I'd look around first as you too may find a good used one. Yuasa is another good import.

    However, the Rolls Royce of RT's is the Palmgren. The "trick" is to find a used one that has not been beat all to *ell. I have heard that old Sears RT's were made by Palmgren.

    Good hunting.
    Last edited by Dr Stan; 01-26-2012, 01:50 AM.


    • #3
      I'd say the "Rolls Royce of rotary tables" would be the one built by Moore Special Tool Co.

      I would also put Troyke ahead of Palmgren, but to each his own.
      Try to make a living, not a killing. -- Utah Phillips
      Don't believe everything you know. -- Bumper sticker
      Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
      There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
      Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
      Don't own anything you have to feed or paint. - Hood River Blackie


      • #4
        If a Moore Special Tools rotary table is a "Rolls Royce" of rotary tables, then a Walter rotary table must be the Maybach.

        Last edited by PixMan; 01-25-2012, 10:12 PM.


        • #5
          I have several "Vertex" (same as Phase 2) 6" rotary tables and I have never regretted it.

          They are relatively light but robust and accurate.

          Get a good front-face mounted3-jaw chuck - you will not regret it:

          I had an 8" "Vertex" "Indexing" spacer - fully optioned/accessorised - but it was too heavy and awkward andit was just something else to look after so I gave it away to a worthy cause and home:

          As a visual guide to scale here is my 6" and 8" rotary table on a HF-45 mill.

          I have a couple of Sieg SX mills and only the 6" rotary table will fit on there as the 8" was too heavy - particulary so if the rotaty tablbe was off-set from the mill.


          • #6
            I won't get involved in which brand is best, as I only have 2 different ones.
            A 12" Bridgeport and a 6" Horrible Freight.
            The Bridgeport is very nice and I bought it cheap but it takes 2 people to get it on the mill table, I don't use it much.
            The HF isn't near the quality of the BP but it does all I want it to do and I use it all the time. It can be used vert or horz without any fixturing and came with 2 or 3 dividing plates. There is not any backlash in the gears and is more than accurate for anything I do.
            I wish the BP RT was the size of the HF.

            THANX RICH

            People say I'm getting crankier as I get older. That's not it. I just find I enjoy annoying people a lot more now. Especially younger people!!!
            People say I'm getting crankier as I get older. That's not it. I just find I enjoy annoying people a lot more now. Especially younger people!!!


            • #7
              Yuasa is also good. I would prefer to have a Horizontal/Vertical. I won a Yuasa Tilting indexer with a 4" 3-Jaw chuck and Tailstock center at an auction. It also takes 5C collets. My 10 inch Enco rotary table is adequate quality but it is heavy. Add a 12x18x1.5 Al plate and it takes two people to lift it. I would use a 6" a lot more if I had one.
              Byron Boucher
              Burnet, TX


              • #8
                You need to start with the size of part you want to machine and the maximum sensible size that will fit on your mill, both in rotary table width (i.e. 6 ") and in height. Height is important because for a small mill, Z height will quickly disappear to the point that you can't easily fit a part and the tooling in the space available. Another factor to consider is the largest radius that you expect to machine. Larger rads usually mean larger rotary tables.

                I would guess that given these constraints a 6" rotab is about as big as you could go and still be able to sensibly mount it and a reasonable range of workpieces. The height situation gets much worse if you want to put a chuck on top of your rotab and maybe a larger drill in the spindle.

                With bigger mills I would say the bigger the rotab the better within reason. I often use a 10" Polish made rotary table which is very reasonable quality. The size gives reasonable room for clamps and odd shaped parts. The downside is that I need an engine crane to shift it, but I would probably use an engine crane even for say a decent 8" rotab, so above a certain size the weight doesn't matter any more until you start to get to the point where table loading becomes a factor.

                To illustrate the point about size and clamping and machining larger radius:



                • #9
                  Other posters have made some good points as there are other brands of RT's of equal or even better quality than Palmgren. I made reference to it as it is one of the more common US made quality tools.

                  Height & weight are also considerations as RT's get quite heavy as they increase in size. To move heavy items around in my shop I have a 1100 lb (500 kg) capacity hydraulic lift table (aka die cart) that works quite well.


                  • #10
                    I have the same 619 mill and I bought the H7527 6" Rotary table/dividing plate/tailstock set. The entire set is $300.

                    I have only had it a week, so I haven't had much chance to use it. A few things that I have noticed so far:

                    1. In the horizontal position, the left (top in the vertical position) hold-down notch has a rounded and painted surface on the top. This means the clamp bolt's washer doesn't sit parallel to the table. This means it has a tendency to slide around as it is tightened. I will probably mill it flat, shortly.

                    2. On the other end, it is difficult to get your fingers in to use a simple bolt to hold it down, so you need a step clamp to make it work. Not a problem as the slot is plenty wide enough.

                    3. There is a fair amount of backlash in the worm gear, but I haven't even looked for an adjustment yet. There are 2 clamps on the side of the table and these can be locked in place to deal with the backlash.

                    4. The table is fairly flat with very little run-out. It is no Palmgren (or any other US made table)

                    5. The center hole is a #2 MT so I use an arbor from my mini-lathe's tailstock live center to center the table under the spindle.

                    6. There are 2 clamps, 4 bolts, and 4 t-slot nuts supplied. On a 6" table, it doesn't take a big part to run out of clamping room. I have already made a simple ring to bolt down a part that I was making.

                    7. In the vertical position, the base is too wide to allow both slots to be used to clamp it down to the table. This is a concern for me. I found this out today and used a couple of 123 blocks to wedge it in position. There isn't much room to use a clamp block as the clamps that are on the rotary table swing down very close to the mill's table as it is rotated.

                    8. The engraving for the degree divisions is VERY sloppy. It is easy to misread the numbers and drill a hole 10 degrees off!

                    9. Remember to lock the mill's table in place or you can get some very puzzling movement due to backlash in the mill's table. It isn't much but it can be a headscratcher!

                    I haven't tried out the dividing plates or the tailstock yet.

                    I hope that helps you make a decision.



                    • #11
                      Dr Stan,

                      I just have to comment that the Palmgren articles of the past few years have really gone downhill, and I might even venture that they're not cast here anymore. If they are, I guess maybe you just can't get good help anymore. because the castings I've seen are flimsy and rough.

                      Personally, as compared to other products available I found their tilting vises and rotary tables to be "nice idea, cheaply executed." I'm not impressed.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by v860rich
                        A 12" Bridgeport ....

                        The Bridgeport is very nice and I bought it cheap but it takes 2 people to get it on the mill table, I don't use it much.
                        Yep. I have one too... Holy Eat Your Wheaties The Day You Move It, Batman...



                        • #13
                          "...the Rolls Royce of RT's is the Palmgren"

                          Are you kidding?
                          Palmgern has the smallest gear out of any brand.
                          Not sure why they made them that way.

                          And their model with an X-Y table UNDER the rotary table??
                          Why would anyone want such a thing?!?

                          Now an Advance RT with the X-Y table ABOVE the RT for alligning the part, is most handy.



                          • #14
                            Your comment:
                            "3. There is a fair amount of backlash in the worm gear, but I haven't even looked for an adjustment yet. There are 2 clamps on the side of the table and these can be locked in place to deal with the backlash."

                            I had to ask here about the lock on the main gear, on my 6" table it was a setscrew on the underside of the base for vertical operation, loosed it and you can rotate the entire handwheel to loosen or tighten the backlash, loosen it enough and the table will rotate without mooving the handwheel.



                            • #15
                              Thanks for all the responses, guys...

                              As tempting as the Grizzly set up is cost wise, I think I'm going to go with a Phase II. Enco has them for just over $300, with the current 15% off code, that brings it down to around $250, or $100 less than LMS.

                              Which still leaves my question about dividing plates. Critical tooling, or nice to have accessory? I will get a tail stock for it, a lot of the projects I have in mind will include operations on cylindrical parts. I can see where a dividing plate could help on some of it, but is it required, or can you accomplish the same thing with careful attention to the various scales on the rotab? Which is another way of saying I really don't understand what the dividing plates do :-). Thanks again.