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Introduction and Shopmaster Tri-Power

Posted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 7:59 pm
by TeaManMachine
Hello everyone. I'm new to machining and to this forum. I will have lots of questions and enjoy helping others with things I know about.

I am just getting ready to purchase a Shopmaster Tri-Power 3 in 1 machine. I've read quite a bit about the Patriot and spent some time talking to JT at ShopMaster about the machines. He said that the only difference between the Tri-Power and Patriot other than the obvious paint is that they are made in two different factories. The Patriot is made in the new factory and Tri-Power the old. He's getting one more shipment from the old factory and selling the machines a bit cheaper. The new factory is ISO 900x certified which pretty much means they do what they document and document what they do. Doesn't mean anything is better.

I'd be interested to hear any good or bad stories about the Tri-Power or Patriot machines. You can't research anything enough!!!

About me. I'm an Electrical Engineer by trade and just starting a new job as a control systems engineer about 10 miles from my home town up in North Dakota where I haven't been for about 25 years. Since the winters get long there, this machine will help keep me sane.

I am into about everything it seems. I like archery where I enjoy bow maintenance and string making. One of my projects is a string jig that I can pull tension on and has a power server. I have a few modifications to do to it and this machine will help there. I'm into guns and would like to do some gun smithing. I like to make parts for bows such as modifying sights and rests and making mounts for things like a tactical light and laser. I'm into old cars and see the need to manufacture some parts. I like motorcycles and have a trike somewhere in my future to build. Other than that, things break all the time and need things made for them.

Glad to be here and anxious to participate where I can.


Posted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 9:45 pm
by sch
Don't believe there are too many Shoptask owners here but you
may get some comments. Try where you
can join easily and go to the forums and scroll way down for the
Shoptask forum. Obviously CNC oriented but lots of commenters
Another active forum is on yahoo groups: 3N1 lathe mill drill
as a search term should pop it up.

Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 7:42 pm
by mixdenny
I'm quite happy with my Eldorado, but it is different enough from the Patriot that my review doesn't mean much. The new machines do look nice. I second the CNCZone forums. It has been a bit quiet lately, but there are extensive posts from the past year or so, both positive and critical.


Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 8:37 pm
by TomB
It’s always nice to hear from another Tri-Power owner. I have one and I like it as much as the old lathe and mill that my friend owns. I did not use the old stuff much but when I needed something it was there if I gave him a call. When he retired and moved I wanted something and bought the Tri-Power because it was the biggest thing that would fit in my shop. Since having it I’ve done quite a bit more projects and I find there are lots of tasks that I can do. (40 years ago I was a pretty good manufacturing engineer but I never trained as a machinist. Sometime between then and a few decades ago I discovered you make more money as a system engineer/mathematician.)

The lathe seems very good compared with typical Chinese tools. It has big bearings and really huge clearance to the ways. The big table allows for setting up cuts that otherwise would be impossible. For example to make shives for ½ steel cable I put the blank on an arbor and then cut the radius relief by mounting the tool bit on a small rotary table. The bore in the headstock is large (#4 MT) and I’ve used that to work on the end of small axles. I’ve used the mill and it works. The z axis motion is not smooth and JT at Shopmaster tells me I should take it apart and see what is causing the problem. I’ve not had time to look at that and I’ve not had time to figure out how to stiffen the bridge, much less actually do it. Compared to the lathe, the mill is certainly the weak part. In response to queries on other forums I’ve set up precision measurements of the travel, alignments and repeatability. The results are OK but not good. I probably could improve things but lack the time.

Like you I tend to use it to support my hobby. But my hobby is a ski mountain and in that business I tend to want to make cuts on big parts to loose tolerances. (Never for operational things but often for tools to work on the lifts or to repair our tractors, groomers or ATVs.) Mostly big things with slots for adjustment or brackets with cable shives and even turning an axle while grinding a built up journal back to round. This is all hack type machining with precisions suitable for ½ bolts or quick stick welding, but for that type of rough work the machine is good right out of the box. There are some users that have really tuned the machine and they have stated in the forums that they can get very good precisions.

I think you are on a good track, but you probably will have to buy good measurement instruments to really tune the machine for the precise smaller things you talked about making.


Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 9:53 pm
by TeaManMachine
Thanks for the replies. I'm anxious to take delivery and see what I can do with the machine. A friend of mine owns a production machine shop and his dad is also a machinist with over 40 years at it. I spent the last two days over there talking to them and getting some metal for some future projects. I asked the dad if he knew anything about 3 in 1's and what he thought if them. He asked if I ever heard of the Shopsmith. He said he heard good things about them and didn't think I would go wrong for a home shop. I showed him the catalog and he grinned and said that's the one.

It made me feel a lot better to hear that from someone who was in the trade that long and someone who has spent his career working on high quality mills and lathes.

Again, thanks for the feedback.


Re: Introduction and Shopmaster Tri-Power

Posted: Sun Dec 04, 2011 2:36 pm
by crhea
If this thread keeps going, I'm also a new owner of a Shoptask Tri-Power.

Count me in...

--- Cris