What type and size milling machine ?

Discussion in 'Advanced Gunsmithing & Engineering' started by Daveinjax, Sep 30, 2016.

  1. Daveinjax

    Daveinjax Silver $$ Contributor

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    For my home hobby smith work what do I need minimum and ideal ? This is not for production work just extractor cuts and such. Will a simple drill mill do or a full sized Bridgeport ? Trying to keep costs down and space is limited.
     
  2. hoz53

    hoz53 Gold $$ Contributor

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    Well to me-- a mill drill will do small work okay as far as accuracy. What I don't like about mill drills is you can't tilt the head front to back and side to side and tram it with the table and on a round column mill drill you lose yours zero when you move the head up or down. So say you are mlling something and decide you need more clearance head to table on a knee mill you simply adjust the knee -on a round column mill drill you lose your zero and if you're not finished with your cut your screwed. I would not consider buying a round column mill drill for this reason only a square column, and I would not pay the price for one of those. Some of them the head is adjustable one way but not the other so if they aren't trammed both ways with the table you're cuts won't be square or you'll have to spend time shimming on every cut. Nobody wants to do that. The square columns that tilt one way are 2000 to 3000 as far as I know. I wouldn't pay that for one, when I could probably buy a full size Bridgeport for that. Of coarse you have to be knowledgeable enough to know what you're getting or you may ( probably will)buy a worn out one. Then you have a 3000 bucket of bolts. I need a mill and I'm lucky there is a good Bridgeport rebuilder near me. I'll either get a used Bridgeport or one of the imported knockoffs. For me I'd rather spend 5000 on a full size knockoff then 3000 on a mill drill. Just my 2 cents. And wat happened to the lathe you were going to rebuild and then I saw it for sale not long ago?
     
  3. Daveinjax

    Daveinjax Silver $$ Contributor

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    Hoz53 , I still have the lathe. The guy didn't buy it and that's fine. I'll get it set up and see how good of shape the ways are in. I think they're fine and the rest of the machine I know is good to go. I still have my eye out for a more heavy duty lathe but the 11" Logan 917 should do fine until I find a cherry Clausing , Rockwell , or Sheldon.
    There's a South Bend mill close by that I think was made by Lagun but it's a little out of my current price range and needs three phase power. I'm probably going to have to break down and buy a converter if I want quality machines.
     
  4. Tim Singleton

    Tim Singleton Silver $$ Contributor

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    VFDs these days are a pretty affordable option
     
  5. hoz53

    hoz53 Gold $$ Contributor

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    What Tim meant in case you didn't know is you can buy a vfd that will convert single phase to three phase and also provide you a variable speed motor so no need to spend the money on a phase converter. affordable at least in the smaller sizes. I think you'll enjoy having the lathe. Good you kept it. That south bend mill is an import- in case you didn't know.
     
  6. Daveinjax

    Daveinjax Silver $$ Contributor

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    I'll tackle the Phase issue when I get that far. The South Bend ad is gone and yes I knew it was an import. I think it was made by Lagun of spain but not positive.
    I'm just trying to get a clear idea of what used machines to be on the lookout for.
     
  7. Alex Wheeler

    Alex Wheeler Gold $$ Contributor

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    A Bridgeport is a light machine. I wouldnt want any lighter....
     
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  8. hoz53

    hoz53 Gold $$ Contributor

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    ok i helped you all i could- hope you find something that does the job for you.
     
  9. Daveinjax

    Daveinjax Silver $$ Contributor

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    Thanks to all ! Iwas hoping everyone would say a cheaper drill mill would get me by fine but I'm going to have to aim higher. A good mill is probably going to be just as hard to find as a good lathe at the price I can afford.
     
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  10. shortgrass

    shortgrass

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    There's a couple of things about running junk,,, you'll learn how important a good set-up and good tooling can be...... Might learn how to fix what's broke, if it's fixable,, and how/when to use that indicator.....
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2016
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  11. hogpatrol

    hogpatrol Gold $$ Contributor

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    You should be able to find an older belt drive Bridgeport fairly cheap. I remember a few years back, at least in the mid atlantic area, one in good shape could be had for less than 2500. Mill/Drills are to me an exercise in frustration. It won't be long before you need to do something that requires accuracy or horsepower and it's not capable of doing it.
     
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  12. hogpatrol

    hogpatrol Gold $$ Contributor

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    Light? Plenty heavy enough for a gunsmithing operation.
     
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  13. Daveinjax

    Daveinjax Silver $$ Contributor

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    I'm going to hold out for a Deckel FP1 :) ! Just kidding...
     
  14. Alex Wheeler

    Alex Wheeler Gold $$ Contributor

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    Its pretty easy to find the limits of a bridgeport
    Never said it wasn't. Its pretty easy to find a Bridgeport's limits, even with some mild work.
     
  15. hogpatrol

    hogpatrol Gold $$ Contributor

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    Alex, it's been my experience (the last fifty odd years) if you're reaching the limits with "mild" work, speeds and feeds are incorrect and/or cutters are improper or dull. I've taken some pretty hefty cuts in all types of materials with Bridgeports. I don't classify them as "light" machine tools.
    Edit, this is on good condition machines. If you're operating one with worn out/mis adjusted gibs, slop in the spindle or lead screws, all bets are off.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2016
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  16. Alex Wheeler

    Alex Wheeler Gold $$ Contributor

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    Dont get me wrong, I love my Bridgeport. The versatility they offer is great. However I have definitely bogged them down even in aluminum. I also found their rigidity limits pretty easily with heavy cuts. Does this apply to gunsmithing? Maybe not, however my point was I wouldnt want any lighter. Something like a mill drill would leave a lot to be desired IMO
     
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  17. jkl

    jkl Gold $$ Contributor

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    I would pass on a mill drill. I went down that road and was very happy when someone wanted the mill drill as much as I thought I did. Wait for a mill there is no comparison.

    John
     
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  18. hogpatrol

    hogpatrol Gold $$ Contributor

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    I'm on the same page regarding the mill/drill units. A spray mist unit or some Tap Magic Aluminum work wonders with the aluminum grades that are "gummy" and load up cutters.
     
  19. butchlambert

    butchlambert Site $$ Sponsor

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    I have 2 Bridgeports and I haven't needed to push them to their limit.
     
  20. jdh47

    jdh47 Silver $$ Contributor

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    I know a really fine old retired gunsmith that made his living doing fine work on just about every machine available to him through the many years he worked. I have seen him make many things including an extractor cut on a pre 64 model 70 Winchester on a Rusnok mini mill. He made some incredible things including portable reloading tools on that small mill. He could hack out a Winchester safety for a Mauser action freehand on that little mill.

    The old retired patternmaker that taught me most of what I think I know did some fine work on an old Buffalo mill drill.

    It is not necessary to have the biggest and heaviest machine though it is a big help. It is more about what you are capable of doing with what you have that counts.

    Joe
     

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