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Looking at advice for either upgrading Sherline mill or adding DRO

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  • Looking at advice for either upgrading Sherline mill or adding DRO

    Like the title states, I'm trying to decide which way to go.

    I have a Sherline 5400 mill. It's pretty good, but I wouldn't mind having a heavier mill that can take heavier cuts and stays trammed. I can only take light cuts and the column seems to get out of alignment a little too easy. A bigger table and Y axis travel would be greatly appreciated. I seem to keep running out of travel. Also, it's lacking a DRO. I would really like to have the DRO which would save me from making many bad cuts. I can't seem to count 40+ revolutions on the hand wheels! So, do I keep the Sherline and add a DRO (such as iGAGING mag scales) which is doable but not too easy because of its small size?

    Or, do I just buy a new mill such as the Precision Matthews PM25-MV with an installed DRO? The downside to this is the cost and getting into my basement which is tricky because of a 90 degree turn halfway down the stairs. Also, my shop is getting pretty filled up with tools (mostly woodworking tools). Can this mill be easily broken down into smaller, lighter pieces and then reassembled?

  • #2
    I say go for the biggest machine you can afford.

    I still use my Sherline mill, it's perfect for many things. It sounds like you are already pushing yours to it's limits.

    I would also suggest looking at the DroPro's version of the PM mill, sold under the name of Weiss. I visited their shop and they were very informative regarding the features that set their mill apart. In any event it's good to have options.

    If you are leaning towards the bigger machine I'd check out tooling costs in advance to avoid any surprises.

    Good luck!

    P.S., FWIW, I have the iGaging DROs on my Sherline lathe and they can be a bit sensitive to environmental noise & such. I think the DRO on the PM or Weiss would be a lot more reliable & stable.
    Last edited by C_M_H; 09-03-2019, 05:34 PM.

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    • #3
      doesn't make sense to put more money into a tool that you've outgrown. Sell it as is and use the money to buy a bigger bench mill or whatever pops up used in your area. Most of the small to mid-size bench mills can be broken down and moved downstairs with a furniture dolly or couple of guys, so don't let that hold you back.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by C_M_H View Post
        I say go for the biggest machine you can afford.

        I still use my Sherline mill, it's perfect for many things. It sounds like you are already pushing yours to it's limits.

        I would also suggest looking at the DroPro's version of the PM mill, sold under the name of Weiss. I visited their shop and they were very informative regarding the features that set their mill apart. In any event it's good to have options.

        If you are leaning towards the bigger machine I'd check out tooling costs in advance to avoid any surprises.

        Good luck!

        P.S., FWIW, I have the iGaging DROs on my Sherline lathe and they can be a bit sensitive to environmental noise & such. I think the DRO on the PM or Weiss would be a lot more reliable & stable.
        Thanks, I've heard that the iGAGING DRO can be sensitive to noise.

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        • #5
          its its either or, for sure it would a bigger machine. A DRO is a nice luxury - I finally added one and I do like it but there is almost nothing it can do that you can't do with dials. Capacity, HP, robustness otoh, are what defines the usefulness of a mill
          .

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          • #6
            The PM25 has many reported issues of horrible or even defective spindle bearings from the factory. People who convert them to CNC especially notice it. If not noisy, they get very hot. I have a Taig ballscrew mill, CNC, and the amount of money I poured into it, I could of bought a big mill needing a new controller, which is absolutely the way I would go the next time.
            With that said, I also have a manual Bridgeport. Get the biggest mill you can afford/fit in your workshop, no matter if it is CNC or manual, IF it is the only mill you have

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            • #7
              Originally posted by RB211 View Post
              The PM25 has many reported issues of horrible or even defective spindle bearings from the factory. People who convert them to CNC especially notice it. If not noisy, they get very hot.
              Oh, I didn't know that. Is it a serious design flaw?

              Maybe, I should look at the LMS 4190 or 5550?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by devils4ever View Post
                Oh, I didn't know that. Is it a serious design flaw?

                Maybe, I should look at the LMS 4190 or 5550?
                I would also stay away from anything made by Sieg which is what LMS sells. You can dress up a pig, but still is a pig.
                Precision Mathews has top notch customer support, just look at the next size up he sells. I would suggest a Taiwan made machine as well.

                Sent from my SM-G950U1 using Tapatalk

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by RB211 View Post
                  I would also stay away from anything made by Sieg which is what LMS sells. You can dress up a pig, but still is a pig.
                  Precision Mathews has top notch customer support, just look at the next size up he sells. I would suggest a Taiwan made machine as well.

                  Sent from my SM-G950U1 using Tapatalk
                  Who sells Taiwan mills?

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                  • #10
                    PM are coming out with a mid-size bench mill from Taiwan, PM728VT I think. 7x28 table, variable speed, made in Taiwan. Probably ~2-300lb, so not as heavy as a RF45 but not as light as the smaller LMS mills either. Probably a decent price premium over their Chinese mid size bench mill (PM727?).

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by mattthemuppet View Post
                      PM are coming out with a mid-size bench mill from Taiwan, PM728VT I think. 7x28 table, variable speed, made in Taiwan. Probably ~2-300lb, so not as heavy as a RF45 but not as light as the smaller LMS mills either. Probably a decent price premium over their Chinese mid size bench mill (PM727?).
                      That could be interesting and might be worth the wait. Any details on when or any more info?

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                      • #12
                        here you go, lots of pictures!
                        https://www.hobby-machinist.com/thre...look-at.79064/

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by mattthemuppet View Post
                          Looks great, but I think this model is a little too big, heavy, and costly for me.

                          So, I think the PM25-MV might be the one for me. I may need to sell some woodworking machinery to get this in!

                          As far as DROPROS, do they buy the mill from PM and add their own DRO? What is the advantage of buying from DROPROS vs PM? Is the DRO better?

                          I notice in the PM25 specs, it lists the Y travel at 7", but reduced for DRO. Does anyone know how much? The limited Y travel is what has bitten me with my Sherline many times.

                          I did a quick search and couldn't find anything about the head or bearings getting hot on this model.

                          How hard is it to partially disassemble (remove the table and column with head?) for transport down my stairs into my basement? Will that ruin my alignment?

                          I see there's an third party power lift for the head. Is the head that heavy that this is needed?

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                          • #14
                            So you are going to buy a mill with bad spindle bearings?

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                            • #15
                              fair enough, lots of people have the PM25 and are happy with it. It's a good mill for its size and money, though don't forget it is a Chinese machine and may have stuff that needs to be fixed or tweaked. No idea about the DROPROs version, but my guess is that they add the DRO themselves like Precision Matthews does. Travel reduction is probably 3/4 to 1" if the scale is mounted on the back of the table, as most are. It's basically the thickness of the scale and reader.

                              For the other Qs you'd probably get more and better answers from the PM forum on Hobby Machinist, quite a few people over there have the PM25.

                              Big tip for that size mill is to get some roughing (corncob) style end mills - they make a world of difference in material removal on small mills.

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