New guy and mill question

Discussion on all milling machines vertical & horizontal, including but not limited to Bridgeports, Hardinge, South Bend, Clausing, Van Norman, including imports.

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rficalora
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New guy and mill question

Post by rficalora » Thu Aug 30, 2018 9:49 pm

Brand new here and brand new to machining and Mills. I'm a car hobbyist (a car I built can be seen here... http://www.britishv8.org/MG/RobFicalora.htm). I want to learn how to do some basic machining to make brackets and other components (simple stuff of course as I learn. First step is getting a mill. I know a good mill would be more precise and serve me longer, but I've run across this one relatively cheap - I think the owner will sell it to me for $4-600. But he doesn't know what make or model it is so I can't do any research. Anyone recognize it and know anything about it? Especially parts availability? Or what it's worth? My thought is this might be good for a few years while I'm learning, then I could sell it when i'm ready for a true mill.
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Mill pic

John Hasler
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Re: New guy and mill question

Post by John Hasler » Thu Aug 30, 2018 10:31 pm

As a mill that looks like an ok drill press.

Harold_V
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Re: New guy and mill question

Post by Harold_V » Fri Aug 31, 2018 1:54 am

What John said.
That's a round column mill/drill. Not much of a mill, but a decent drill press.
The problem with this machine is that it has limited Z (spindle) travel. If you have to move the head when going from short to long tools, you lose registration. If you haven't done any machining, you may not understand the importance, but it can drive you bonkers. It adds a considerable amount of time (and frustration) to a job if you have to move the head.

The other problem is that a round column mill/drill is difficult to restrain. A heavy cut can cause the head to rotate. That can lead to a broken cutter, and a scrapped part.

The machine likely does NOT have a spindle feed. That means boring a precision hole would be less than easy, and certainly not convenient. Again, if you have no experience in machining, that may not mean much to you, but, trust me, it will as you gain some experience.

My advice is to hold out for a better machine, assuming you're serious about learning. If not, the price isn't bad, and it is certainly better than sawing and filing.

A comment about machines. Bridgeport has assumed a cult like following. They're a decent machine, but hardly the best on the market. In fact, some of the clones are far better machines, as are some of the other design drop spindle, knee type machines. Don't go crazy trying to corner a Bridgeport, although if a decent one comes along, it should certainly be considered.

To be clear, I own a Bridgeport, and have purchased two of them, both new, in my years in the shop.

H
Wise people talk because they have something to say. Fools talk because they have to say something.

RMinMN
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Re: New guy and mill question

Post by RMinMN » Fri Aug 31, 2018 5:17 am

The previous answers are correct but.....for that price you will get a good starter mill, possibly precise enough for the applications you have in mind and the cost (estimated) is low enough to make me envious. It you later decide to upgrade as you need more precision, that mill should be worth at least the estimated price to resell.

earlgo
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Re: New guy and mill question

Post by earlgo » Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:37 am

At the very least, when you buy a 'good' mill, you will have a very useable drill press for a second machine.
--earlgo
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ctwo
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Re: New guy and mill question

Post by ctwo » Fri Aug 31, 2018 10:49 am

It's an RF-30 series type of mill. I have the same one. You can mill smaller and less critical things. You can learn a lot about machining on it, and probably learn some things wrongly. If I did not have one, I would probably buy one for $500, especially if there is any tooling included. I see these often in my area craigslist for $1200.

Note that Harold has a different perception of precision, one that this kind of machine cannot reliably produce. I believe he is quite literally the analog of a NASA rocket scientist in the machining world. There are a lot of great machinist on this board, too, as well as some entertaining characters. Welcome aboard!
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To measure is to know - Lord Kelvin
Disclaimer: I'm just a guy with a few machines...

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mklotz
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Re: New guy and mill question

Post by mklotz » Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:25 am

George Britnell, 2016 Craftsman of the Year...

https://www.craftsmanshipmuseum.com/britnell.htm

built all his exquisite working model engines using a round column mill/drill.

I have one myself and, though nothing of George's caliber, have built all manner of models, jigs, fixtures, and repair parts with it. They are especially good for novices since they offer learning opportunities as well as the ability to do real work while honing one's skills.
Regards, Marv

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Harold_V
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Re: New guy and mill question

Post by Harold_V » Fri Aug 31, 2018 3:43 pm

Yep! A round column is very capable of doing good work---it's just not as easy as it would be using a knee mill.
For those of you who knew Art Crisp, and had seen the beautiful Pacific he built, it was built with just such a mill. He didn't get his knee mill until Lee Carlson died, having purchased the one from his estate.

H
Wise people talk because they have something to say. Fools talk because they have to say something.

John Evans
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Re: New guy and mill question

Post by John Evans » Fri Aug 31, 2018 4:23 pm

And my .02 . Tooling especially will cost you more than that mill if it does not come with any. A GOOD vise is a requirement with any mill and from bitter experience the only GOOD one I have found is a Kurt ! Most of the eastern imports make real good door stops ! Parts availability plan on 0 ! Sometimes parts from Grizzly or Jet will be the same . If no tooling offer $300 and go to $400.
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rficalora
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Re: New guy and mill question

Post by rficalora » Sat Sep 01, 2018 9:56 pm

Well, seller decided it was worth more ($800) than I was willing to pay so I passed on it. Will keep looking. Thanks again for the great info!

tim9lives
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Re: New guy and mill question

Post by tim9lives » Sun Sep 02, 2018 3:27 pm

The bottom line is that I have spent much more on tooling than I paid for my mills and lathes. So, if that is an R-8 spindle, i'd go for it. If you learn to enjoy and decide to upgrade to a bigger vertical mill, then you keep the tooling and just sell that mill. I doubt you'd lose anything doing it that way. That said, if that is a Morse Taper quill then I'd pass.

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Gary Armitstead
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Re: New guy and mill question

Post by Gary Armitstead » Mon Sep 03, 2018 4:08 pm

Despite the negative comments above about a round column mill/drill......I was a die sinker by trade for forty years AND I have an old Enco mill/drill in my home shop now. I bought it new in 1980. This mill will do nice work for you. ANY mill is only as good as the machinist using it! I have built numerous 1/8th scale steam engines with my mill and loads of rolling stock. Even fixtures and jigs. Mine is an R8 and I have spent more on tooling than this mill cost me and a 12X26 Clausing lathe. Tooling ALWAYS costs more. That's just the way it is. Because it is used and you are new to the machinist hobby, it would be a "crap-shoot" at $400....no more than that. The seller is dreaming. No one will offer him what he is asking. Waiting a few months and see if he STILL has it.......then offer him $300 tops! He will eventually have to take it, believe me!
Gary Armitstead
Burbank, CA
Member LALS since 1980
Member Goleta Valley Railroad Club 1980-1993

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