Milling machines

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hghunter
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 9:15 pm
Location: Montrose, CO

Post by hghunter » Fri Feb 16, 2007 1:16 am

Howdy Guys!

Thanks for input from all! I appreciate it. I think that maybe I failed to phrase my question correctly.

The toughest job I expect to approach is milling a 1911 slide to take a lowered sight (common modification). I have read from several sources that slides are hard to mill in this way, from the perspective of the steel is hardened and requires a big mill (high horsepower) to accomplish. How much horsepower?

I would think that one could acomplish the same task with a lower HP machine, though it would require smaller cuts and more time.

I am not a professional gunsmith, simply a very serious amateur. Time is not a big factor in my equation.

Mostly I do single-action revolver work. Have been doing mostly trigger jobs with hand tools. But one cannot make cylinder gap adjustments with hand tools, (plus numerous other operations).

I hope I have clarified my question a bit. As I stated in my first post, I am not familiar with milling machines, and I am simply trying to ask some questions of people knowledgable about them before I plunk down bucks to buy one.

I appreciate your help! Thanks!

Rob

seal killer

Post by seal killer » Fri Feb 16, 2007 11:20 am

hghunter--

The site I posted above talks about three mills; Sherline, Taig, and the MicroLux Milling Machine sold by Micro-Mark. The review is easy to read and understand. Although the author prefers the Sherline, his work is mostly with non-ferrous material, thus the power issue does not exist for him.

He does say--and other reading I have done seems to agree--that the Micro-Lux (Chi-Com import), is far more of an "industrial strength" mini-mill.

I am in the same boat you are: a newbie looking for something that will suit my needs. I restore antique firearms as a hobby and also want to build small, aluminum mechanisms.

You might read around the General Discussion forum on this board and ask questions. (My guess is that you will not receive recommendations for a mini-mill. I could be wrong, as usual!)

Good luck and I would sure like to hear about whatever you do.

--Bill

hghunter
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 9:15 pm
Location: Montrose, CO

Thanks

Post by hghunter » Fri Feb 16, 2007 10:10 pm

Thanks Seal Killer!

I read that link, and think that I need a mill a bit bigger. I am looking at the 3/4 hp to 1 hp range. I would think this should accomplish my needs, but then again, I have no experience in milling. So I ask questions!

hghunter

seal killer

Post by seal killer » Fri Feb 16, 2007 11:41 pm

hghunter--

The 0.050" per revolution is VERY attractive to me. I wonder where else you can find that? The Grizzly equivalent (of the same mill) of 0.0625" per revolution seems weird. However, I admit that SOMEONE must not find it strange because it is on the market. Still, I think better in terms of half of something instead of a little less than two-thirds of something.

Another thing about Grizzly that I THINK I am beginning to discover: When you ask tech support (via e-mail) about an actual problem, they just never answer. The same goes for customer support. But, if you ask customer support about something that is in shipment, should be in shipment, or should have already arrived, they respond very promptly.

I have bought a lot of little stuff from Grizzly, plus a metal cutting band saw, and whenever I ask a question of either tech support or customer support, I get exactly the response I've outlined.

I have an issue with a leaking hydraulic cylinder on the band saw and neither tech support nor customer support will answer my e-mails. (Three, so far.) Next week I am going to call customer support and chew their derrière.

--Bill

Al_Messer
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Location: Mid Tenn.

Post by Al_Messer » Sun Feb 18, 2007 6:47 pm

Rob, don't tell anybody, but I cut the sight slots in my projects with a Triangle File that has the teeth ground off on one side. File and fit, then file some more, measuring with a good Square to make things plumb--just like the old-timers did it before there were small mills for the home shop.. Fact is, the BEST custom riflesmith of this part of the country did not have a Milling Machine in his professional shop until just a few years before he passed away.
Al Messer

"One nation, under God"

seal killer

Post by seal killer » Sun Feb 18, 2007 9:52 pm

Al and All--

Every part I have built for my 200 (+?) year old muzzle loader has been done with a hacksaw, a grinder, and some files. There is no doubt that I have learned a tremendous amount!

Tonight, I browned the hammers I made for the gun. Knowing no better, I heated them in my wife's oven (with her help and supervision). What would have taken ten minutes with a propane torch took two hours. But, I could not ask for better results (pictures later).

But (forget the browning, now), it is time to make stuff with a mill.

By the way, I never did get any suggestions or answers regarding my "even brown or variegated brown" color question. So I have decided to do the variegated version. It is far prettier.

I tried case heat colorization and could not get nice colors. Obviously, I do not know enough about it because I have seen some very nice colorization.

--Bill
ps By the way, regarding the first paragraph, I have built every part that moves and many that do not. I am a complete dummy regarding restoration. I have researched the subject intensely (and am aware of the controversy) and taken my time and built many parts over and over. Every bit of it is documented photographically. I think I might wright a book when I retire this year about the process.

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kurt
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Location: Montrose Iowa

Post by kurt » Mon Feb 19, 2007 8:55 am

Seal killer. I'am no expert at blueing or browning, but I know some who have spent untoled hours, nay days, trying to match up a new finish to an original one. I guess thats your answer, in restoration one try's to match the original as close as one can. In another light, it's your gun so use what you like best. What little I know about blueing is the finish one puts on the part is 90% of the job. The better the finish the better the blueing will look, also keep all oil,s off the part, even your fingers, or you will get a bad spot in the blueing.

seal killer

Post by seal killer » Tue Feb 20, 2007 8:59 am

kurt--

Without a doubt, you are right!

I get the little parts to turn out a beautiful brown. Yesterday, I did the two 40" barrels and they turned out unsatisfactory due to uneven heat distribution. I had everything from beautiful golds to blacks. If the whole thing had turned out that way I would have been VERY happy. But, I also had some large copper-colored areas which I am sure were where I did not heat the metal enough and the Plum Brown turned plum copper colored.

I will take some 400 and 600 grit to those areas down to bare metal and re-do them.

You could EASILY spend untold hours doing this before you developed a technique that ensured consistency. I just want to get lucky.

--Bill

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kurt
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Location: Montrose Iowa

Post by kurt » Tue Feb 20, 2007 3:33 pm

What I said is for hot salt blueing, the only thing I have done and some 10 years ago at that. Be careful with the heat it could melt the solder that holds the barrels together. Have herd of this happing with a hot salt bath on older guns, if indeed that is how yours are held. I know I'am old but not quite 200+--- yet. :)

seal killer

Post by seal killer » Tue Feb 20, 2007 7:19 pm

kurt--

Ha! I know what you mean about the solder melting! I actually read about the problem BEFORE I went to work on the big bore gauge. I tried to use high temp solder where I knew I would be applying heat later, like in soldering ramrod ferrules, etc.

I used silver solder to put the barrels back together at both the breech plugs and the muzzle. That stuff ain't gonna melt with a propane torch as I heat the barrels for browning.

What will melt is the "high" temperature (somewhere in the 500 degree range) solder if you are not careful with the torch. I bought a neat, digital meat thermometer with a long metal probe that will register about 500 degrees. The way I do it is to get the piece (if it is not the barrels) up around 350, then shut the propane torch down and keep checking with the thermometer as it cools. At about 300 down to 290 degrees, I make my final 20 second preparations and by then the metal is down to 275, or close and I start slopping on the Plum Brown.

Today, I had very good results using the method described above. Yesterday, when I reported poor results with areas of the barrel, it was due to my application of the Plum Brown while the metal was way too HOT, not too cold, as I thought. In any event, medium #1 steel wool is getting rid of the copper color and giving me a shade of brown. (My wife--and I must admit, now me--likes the variegated colors ranging from a rich gold through a good brown and on to a nice black. It IS pretty. However, I do not know if it is HISTORICAL. Surely, some guy built a gun 200 years ago and screwed up the browning and got variegated colors! :)

Today, I took my locks apart (which I built out of 3/8" mild steel) and browned them and the standing tang. (I THINK it is called the standing tang, anyway. It is the piece that the breech plugs fit into.) I also browned the standing tang.

I believe the whole thing is going to turn out well. The barrels are 40.250" long. This is a big dude. Of course, I have pictures of everything from DAY ONE on. (As of tonight, 686 of them!)

I will probably write a book: Antique Firearms Restoration For Dummies By A Dummy.

A few more days on the metal and the stock is next. I wish I could spell "would."

--Bill

hghunter
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Oct 04, 2006 9:15 pm
Location: Montrose, CO

Post by hghunter » Tue Feb 20, 2007 10:12 pm

Al_Messer wrote:Rob, don't tell anybody, but I cut the sight slots in my projects with a Triangle File that has the teeth ground off on one side. File and fit, then file some more, measuring with a good Square to make things plumb--just like the old-timers did it before there were small mills for the home shop.. Fact is, the BEST custom riflesmith of this part of the country did not have a Milling Machine in his professional shop until just a few years before he passed away.
Howdy Al_Messer!

I cut a dovetail in a T/C Contender barrel once for the threaded inserts that fasten the forend on. Using hand files.

There is nothing wrong with that method whatsoever, if you have the time to do it and the patience.

I have the patience anyway!

hghunter

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gmac
Posts: 57
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2003 3:27 pm

low$ mill

Post by gmac » Sat Jan 05, 2008 4:18 pm

for a vey basic setup, the "big red" mill/drill is solid value and can do a lot of work with some thought put into setup and basic tooling. can be found at various sources (like HF, homier, others) using coupons and sales at around $300-400 or a bit more, thats a LOT of machine for that price, and its much larger capacity than the micromachines. a bit heavy and stout but a solid basic design, takes some additional user knowledge to get the best from it as its not made to compete with the square column guys inthe $1200 - 3K ballpark. comes WITH a vice and basic wrenches, bolt it down and add the basic clamps, bits, and cutters and you are working. even when you graduate to a bigger unit, the red one is still a good shop tool for general purpose and backup or two stage/roughing handywork.

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