New & purchasing decision

This forum is dedicated to those hobbyists with the 3-in-1 metalworking machines. Mill-Drill-Lathes. Tips, techniques, modification and use of these machines is topical.

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RegisG
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2016 12:02 pm
Location: Mount Juliet (Near Nashville,Tn )

New & purchasing decision

Post by RegisG » Sat Mar 26, 2016 5:18 pm

BACKGROUND
New guy here & to machining as I'm a retired computer hardware/software tech. I've had only a little machining experience and that was 15+ years ago. I am looking to buy combo lathe & mill to make a variety of small hobby things like items related to benchrest target shooting (no internal gun work) and have a few questions. I will not be doing any production work unless it's 5 or 10 of a particular item and a combo machine will fit just fine in my garage.

I don't know of any small or home shops in this area so I don't have opportunity to look at someone's tools/shop setup.
In searching, it looks like Smithy has the best support and even some training information so I'm looking close at their Granite Max. Am I missing support & training info for another makers? As best I can tell, most of the combo machines (of similar size/power) are very close except for cleanup & inspection in USA. Actually I can't find manufacture support on any except Smithy and Grizzly. If someone knows of any brand combo lathe mill dealers in the Nashville area, I'd for sure go there first.

I guess the bottom line is that I know that I'll need more support than experienced machinists getting a new machine so, that holds about as much importance as machine accuracy & reliability. I do have a pretty good grasp of speed/feed and some tooling so once setup and functioning properly, I can do simple projects and begin growing. Sounds funny saying that at 71...

I appreciate any tips on making decision on machine with support in mind. And, any "watch-out-for" tips as well.

Thank you,
Regis

redneckalbertan
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Joined: Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:39 am
Location: South Central Alberta

Re: New & purchasing decision

Post by redneckalbertan » Sat Mar 26, 2016 7:20 pm

Welcome to the board! I would encourage you to add your location to your profile. If another members sees that you are local to them they may be willing to help out with more than just advice on the board here! Not looking for your street address, but city state our a general whereabouts is nice. To do this click 'User Control Panel' in the upper right corner of the page, then click on 'Profile' in the left hand window of the resulting page, enter the appropiate information in the correct location and click on 'Submit' at the bottom of the page.

RegisG
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2016 12:02 pm
Location: Mount Juliet (Near Nashville,Tn )

Re: New & purchasing decision

Post by RegisG » Sat Mar 26, 2016 7:27 pm

redneckalbertan wrote:Welcome to the board! I would encourage you to add your location to your profile. If another members sees that you are local to them they may be willing to help out with more than just advice on the board here! Not looking for your street address, but city state our a general whereabouts is nice. To do this click 'User Control Panel' in the upper right corner of the page, then click on 'Profile' in the left hand window of the resulting page, enter the appropiate information in the correct location and click on 'Submit' at the bottom of the page.
Just updated profile. Thanks for the reminder

Regis

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WesHowe
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Joined: Sat Sep 19, 2015 9:52 am
Location: Huntsville, Texas

Re: New & purchasing decision

Post by WesHowe » Sun Mar 27, 2016 7:28 am

I own a Grizzly G9729, which is a mill/drill and lathe combo. It works as advertised, as it does all those functions.

I no longer use the milling section, having replaced that with a standalone G0755 Milling machine. My reasons include the relatively short length of travel horizontally, in that I cannot make a cut greater than 8 inches (and change depending on tool diameter) even with the chuck removed from the lathe.

Mentioning the chuck removal also brings up the amount of preparation required between milling and turning. At a minimum you need to remove the compound and install a milling holder/collet adapter in the mill spindle. You will find that only the smallest pieces you might turn will work safely and properly with a tool in the mill, because it is either in the way of your work, or in the way of your hands (and the edges are dangerously sharp and cut if you bang a hand into it).

The included "milling vise" is small (maybe 2 inches) and high above the apron, meaning parts that have any appreciable thickness leave you with too little vertical room to install the drill chuck and a bit to even drill a hole in the part. I ended up buying a 4" milling vise and installing that on the apron to mill with.

The lack of any power feed for milling operations was tiresome. Not only does hand feeding reduce the finish quality, it gets tiresome on long stretches.

I still use the lathe section, it is as yet sufficient for my needs, and as a now single purpose tool the chuck and compound are left in place between jobs (unless I swap from 3 to 4-jaws, for instance).

I know nothing of the Smithy machine you asked about, only that it looks like a similar design with extra features. To me, the basic design required to put turning and milling on the same machine required compromises that significantly reduce the utility of the tool overall.

So that is my $0.02 worth on the combo machines.

- Wes

Torch
Posts: 1536
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 7:58 am
Location: Muskoka

Re: New & purchasing decision

Post by Torch » Sun Mar 27, 2016 9:12 am

I have an HQ800V, which again, is very similar. I agree with much of what Wes said: it works as advertised, within it's limitations. Milling travel is limited to 1/2 the total cross-slide travel (less tool diameter) in one direction and by the distance from headstock to mill spindle in the other.

The supplied "vise" built in to the tool post is next to useless as a milling vise. I also bought a real 4" milling vise. However, milling down near the vise jaws requires the spindle to be fully extended and some sort of extension to the spindle (eg: collet head, endmill holder). which is less stable. An extension block, tilt table, or rotary adapter underneath the vise is preferable.

Between the 4" column travel and the 4" spindle travel, there is a theoretical 8" vertical milling envelope. That said, when it is necessary to raise the head the round column will lose reference. So some care and forethought is necessary to ensure either things are aligned after raising/lowering the column, or that you are at a point where the alignment doesn't matter.

The lack of power feed was easy to overcome: just use the lathe feed mechanism. Mine originally came wired such that only one motor could be run at one time, but I added a second controller and re-wired things so both motors could be operated independently. (I should note that my machine differs from the Grizzly in that my motors are twice the HP, DC and variable speed).

[Another difference between my machine: I ordered mine with an optional "quick change gearbox", which was a waste of money. It still requires change gear swaps to switch between metric, inch and feed ratios. The box only incorporates 7 gears; I have made many more gears to fill in missing thread pitches. If the ability to cut a wide variety of thread pitches is important to your work, pay close attention to the change gears available! ]

If I had the space, I would love to add a small, separate milling machine. It is often inconvenient to switch back and forth between milling setup and turning setup. As much as possible, I try to plan things so as to minimize swapping back and forth, but sometimes things just have to be done in a certain order. That all said, I'm not running a production machine shop; I'm a hobbyist and so time doesn't cost me anything. The 3-in-1 format fits in my available space and provides me with machining capability.

One last thing: the available space also has to accommodate all the extras you will soon acquire: metrology, jigs, fixtures, tooling. Stock to make things out of, a bandsaw to cut the stock, benchgrinder to sharpen lathe bits, etc. etc. etc. :wink:

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warmstrong1955
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Joined: Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:05 pm
Location: Northern Nevada

Re: New & purchasing decision

Post by warmstrong1955 » Sun Mar 27, 2016 1:37 pm

My first machine was a Smithy 1340. They call it the 'Classic' now.
Two reasons; I didn't have the space at the time for two machines.....didn't really have space for one....and I didn't really know how much I'd be doing with it. Also chose the Smithy cause it seemed to be the most robust of the 3 in 1's.

For hobby use, they are fine, and take a small footprint. Just so you know, they are a better lathe than a mill, which is why I bought a stand alone mill later, after I built on more space. Seems this is true with all the 3 in 1's. That said, you can do some good & precision work with it, just slower. For hobby use, not a big deal.

Smithy service is great. I haven't needed many parts, but they have always had stock. Always good to answer a question. (Talk to Kerry Ballard)

There are a lot of really smart & skilled guys on this board, with a lot of machining knowledge. When in doubt, just ask!

Other spots you may want to take a look at.....
Smithy Yahoo group: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/smi ... hines/info (All things Smithy)
Smithy guy, that's had a 1324 since Shep was a pup: http://www.home-machine-shop.com/main.htm
Dale Deitrich builds some cool engines with his Smithy: http://daledetrich.com

Welcome!

Bill
Today's solutions are tomorrow's problems.

RegisG
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2016 12:02 pm
Location: Mount Juliet (Near Nashville,Tn )

Re: New & purchasing decision

Post by RegisG » Sun Mar 27, 2016 7:02 pm

Appreciate tips from everyone. And Bill, it was good to hear about great Smithy support.

Lot more reading for me to do.

Thanks again
Regis

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