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Bench top milling machines?


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  #1  
Old 03-22-2019, 09:47:29 PM
Pete LaBelle Pete LaBelle is offline
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Default Bench top milling machines?

Anybody have any first hand experience with the round column bench top milling machines available thru various sources, including JET, Grizzly, Enco, Central Machinery, etc ?

I realize it won't replace a good Bridgeport or clone machine, but are they even worth considering?

This would be used for minor work to old tractor parts, and machining new parts. A half or 3/4" cutter would be the maximum I'd be using.

Thanx in advance for sharing your experiences.

Pete
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Old 03-22-2019, 10:34:10 PM
dalmatiangirl61 dalmatiangirl61 is offline
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Default Re: Bench top milling machines ???

I used to have one, Enco brand, it was a great drill press, sucked as a mill. Biggest problem was the round column and different length drills or mills, if you had to raise/lower head to swap tooling, you lost center. There is no adjustment in screws for table to take out backlash, so sometimes with milling table could jump a little, it would put a blemish in job if you were lucky, or break the endmill, sometimes both. The other pia problem was handwheels for table were .125 per revolution, so to move 1" it was .125, .250, .375, .500, .625, .750, uh uh uh where was I

I think they have some now with a square column with dovetails, if I was going to get another small mill I think I would look at those, probably has the same table travel problems. If you do small parts and keep tool lengths fairly equal it might not be too bad.
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Old 03-22-2019, 11:06:06 PM
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ulgydog56 ulgydog56 is offline
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Default Re: Bench top milling machines ???

have you considered a small milling attachment to a lath..
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Old 03-23-2019, 01:52:18 AM
b7100 b7100 is offline
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Default Re: Bench top milling machines?

Awesome drill press. Not so good for milling. Ok for small jobs. No versatility. Limited capacity. Money better spent on used Bridgeport type machine. In our area check out Vanderziel Eauipment in Alto. It's fun just to walk through the place. I don't know how competitive his prices are but he has a huge inventorey

---------- Post added at 01:52 ---------- Previous post was at 01:49 ----------

Digital readouts are a big+. You will never regret the extra $ spent.
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Old 03-23-2019, 09:25:23 AM
Heins Heins is offline
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Default Re: Bench top milling machines?

I have a round column mill and it will do about anything I need to do. I am not in the manufacturing business, but I work on a lot of things for myself. It amazes me what I can do with it. I am glad I have it.
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Old 03-23-2019, 01:58:56 PM
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Default Re: Bench top milling machines?

I have an Enco round column bench top mill I bought new in 1979. Works OK as a mill, but has the disadvantages described in all of the above posts. I use it mainly as a drill press (jig-borer?) but it is adequate as a milling machine as long as you respect its limitations.
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Old 03-23-2019, 10:49:59 PM
Pete LaBelle Pete LaBelle is offline
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Default Re: Bench top milling machines?

Thanx guys. After I posted my inquiry, I looked farther down the list and saw other inputs. Think I'll hold out for a real Bridgeport or clone of one.

Pete
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Old 03-23-2019, 11:00:11 PM
dalmatiangirl61 dalmatiangirl61 is offline
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Default Re: Bench top milling machines?

Don't those sell for next to nothing up there? I played with idea of hitting some rust belt machine auctions, hauling to Tx and re-auctioning, pretty sure it could be profitable.
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Old 03-25-2019, 10:34:44 AM
Pete LaBelle Pete LaBelle is offline
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Default Re: Bench top milling machines?

Yea........been watching Craigslist & Facebook Market place for Bridgeports & Bridgeport clones. Appears around $2500 will get one acceptable for my needs (meatball machining).
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Old 03-25-2019, 11:47:58 AM
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Default Re: Bench top milling machines?

$2500-4000 gets one around Chicago/Milwaukee. $7-8000 if it's pretty mint with multi axis DRO and a bunch of tooling.
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Old 03-25-2019, 01:06:47 PM
bartlett0815 bartlett0815 is offline
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Default Re: Bench top milling machines?

Pete,
What is "meatball machining?" I've never heard that term before. Is that like "shade tree mechanic", "redneck engineering" or any of the other terms I've heard for years?
Thanks,
Kevin in NC
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Old 03-25-2019, 03:30:43 PM
dalmatiangirl61 dalmatiangirl61 is offline
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Default Re: Bench top milling machines?

My term is "dirty machining" for none critical work, make it fit and getter done! I can work to tight tolerances if needed.
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Old 03-25-2019, 04:11:03 PM
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Default Re: Bench top milling machines?

Here is a picture of my Enco table top mill.
Second one is my Bridgeport. You will never be able to do a set-up like this with the Enco. No ability to tilt in either axis.
I paid $1500 for my BP around 30 years ago. Got the old style X-axis feed box for free from a friend. Was able to adapt the original lead screw to the feed box, but now no longer have a hand wheel on that end of the table. Proper lead screw would be long enough to keep the hand wheel.
RE: Meatball Machining.
Where I used to work, we referred to those kind of guys as Hacksaw Operators.

P.S. FWIW: The variable speed BP heads are great until you have to work on it. PIA to work on and expensive parts. Step pulley model works just fine and will work for a long time without any problems. Just my opinion....
And be aware, most BP heads that I have seen are 3-Phase. I run mine with a static converter. If I get deep in a tough cut, it will stall the motor. Work accordingly.
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Old 03-25-2019, 10:01:46 PM
b7100 b7100 is offline
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Default Re: Bench top milling machines?

Like anything used be aware of mechanical problems that may crop up down the road. Listen to them run. Any gear noise? Are the controls tight? Does everything work the way it should. Any tooling included. Depending on what you want to do - tooling can be worth as much as the machine. I paid $3200 for a Bridgeport which I thought was a fair price. Had it for 10 years. Just put another $3200 into it. If you aren't familiar with the machine take someone with you that is. Another thing is most will be 3 phase. The older ones may be belt driven which is a pita to change speeds. Spend some time educating yourself before you make a purchase.
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Old 03-26-2019, 05:35:26 PM
dkamp dkamp is offline
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Default Re: Bench top milling machines?

A 'beat up' Bridgeport-type, is better than a 'new' benchtop mill-drill any day of the week. You'll find that although you only need to machine a little spot, the part is physically 'too large' to place in the mill-drill, or the mill-drill's backbone is simply not 'stiff enough to cut dry cheese'.

My choice of power solution is to use a BRJ head (1.5hp, step-pulley) and set it on the center speed position. that puts the V-belts on equal ground with respect to belt contact surface... this is where greatest belt HP is available. Then I drive the 3ph motor with a VFD that accepts 240v single phase input. Mine are driven with Allen-Bradley 1305's type AA12A programmed from 5hz to 180 or so, and dynamic braking and DC injection activated. When I hit the stop button, it stops. NOW. I set the braking curve for a smooth transition to allow large milling heads to slow gently. On my radial drill, I have a BRJ with a 3hp motor and toothed-belt Gates drive in 3:1 reduction, and use a 3-position footpedal (forward/reverse/stop) for drilling AND tapping. I set the max speed with a knob on the head, step full down on pedal for forward, let up halfway to reverse, then let up to stop. I have a bypass switch on the headstock to allow fixed-switch control for other operations, but rarely use it. I set up my hole, step on the pedal, pull the lever, and once through, let go, it hops out and stops with no drama. Oh, and it's QUIET.
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Old 03-27-2019, 08:06:15 AM
Peter Holmander Peter Holmander is offline
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Default Re: Bench top milling machines?

I too have the Bridgeport J head. I bought a motor kit from H&W machine and changed it over to single phase. That kit was a little pricey. If I had to do it all over again, I would have gone the VFD route to power it like I did on my lathe. Nice thing about BP's is that they made a ton of them and you can find tooling at swap meets. Or the aftermarket tooling from places like Shars work fine for a hobby machine. Be patient Pete. I'm sure one will surface on craigslist sooner or later in your price range. I see them sometimes on the Gov. Deals auction too. Keep in mind, like other guys have said, a machine with tooling is worth a little more. If you have to buy it all, the cost adds up quickly. I bought mine from a used machine dealer in Connecticut. I insisted on a BP vise to go with it and they threw one in. Wish I had a nice Kurt vise, but can't justify the cost for what I use it for. Good Luck !!

---------- Post added at 08:06:15 AM ---------- Previous post was at 07:39:08 AM ----------

Pete, one other tip I forgot to offer. If you have any older machine shops in your area, ones that have been around for a number of years, stop in and pay them a visit. Tell them you are looking for a used Bridgeport. Often times the smaller shops have upgraded to newer more modern machines and that old BP they used to use is still setting there in the shop. When I was still working we had a machine shop we used to utilize for small repairs. My boss sent me there one day to pick up a part we had fixed and I was talking with the owner and told him I had just bought a used J head. He says to me, wish I had known,,,I just got rid of three old BP's last week. Story of my life lol.
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Old 03-27-2019, 11:10:44 PM
Pete LaBelle Pete LaBelle is offline
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Default Re: Bench top milling machines?

Hey guys -

Thanx for the continued input.

As far as meatball machining, I'm a kinda crude machinist, but I get the work I need done. Some purists would probably scoff at a lot of the by-eye machining I do, but it gets me where I'm going.

Right now, I'm not actively in the market for one (though want to be educated on one), primarily as I have no place to put it, and even if in my garage, the Michigan season changes play hell with raw iron surfaces, which vertical mills are loaded with. Living where I do live, an extension on the garage, or a separate building, is out of the question. We need to relocate to a new homestead where I can get out & play with all the new toys on my Christmas wish list.

Take care....
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Old 03-27-2019, 11:26:06 PM
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Default Re: Bench top milling machines?

im from Michigan to, thumb area, you gotta talk the wife into getting a barn, only way to go....good luck..
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Old 03-28-2019, 08:53:08 PM
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Default Re: Bench top milling machines?

In regards to the surface rust you mentioned - it's always a problem. I have come across a product called fluidfilm. It is used to rust proof cars (I just did my truck). It has excellent reviews. There are special tools used to inject it into the fenders/body of cars. You can buy an aerosol can of it at Oreilies. I started using it on my lathe and mill. So far it seems to do an excellent job. And good luck in getting a new home for your toy collection.
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Old 04-10-2019, 08:17:10 PM
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Default Re: Bench top milling machines?

I have one. If you are a patient man you can do about anything a Bridgeport will do. Otherwise, it will just be a great frustration. I also had a square column Mill and it's much more user friendly. It has a 9x40 table so it's about as big as a Bridgeport.
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