Sign in to follow this  
Diays Creek Forge

Milling machines???

Recommended Posts

Hi yall thanks for feed back on iron workers.  I am also looking to into getting a milling machine.  I do light to medium fabrication in my shop, knife making and custom blacksmithing for the big houses next to the ski area here in Crested Butte Colorado.  I don't have a huge budget and my shop is getting smaller and smaller every day.  I have just been googling milling machines and getting your standard Jet and Grizzly brands.  I have used a large Bridgeport in the old shop I worked in years ago and thats I know.  I can't justify spend that kind of money though.  Are the Jets and Grizzly's  worth the money? I have a budget of about $4,000. Thanks for any feed back

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can get a used Bridgeport, or quality import copy for under $4,000. I see them from $1,000-$2,500 fairly regularly. I would take one of them over a new Grizzly. JET has been making machine tools for the U.S. market for decades, and they are good quality.  My personal one is a Millport a real close copy of a Bridgeport. I use a Acra, and Bridgeport at work.  Variable speed is nice, but I use the step pulley Acra the most. I don't have to flip the belt that often.  The main thing is a good solid machine. Weight will help dampen a lot of vibration from heavy, or interrupted cuts, and it will simply work much better than a bench top mill.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kozzy   

I second the used Bridgeport.  Assuming the machine wasn't abused, it's still better in many ways than new import.  In Seattle, there is a 2 hp AND a 1hp up for auction this Friday--yes, I know that you are not in Seattle but the reference was to show that they are not uncommon so you CAN find them if you are patient.

With some searching you can come up with other quality machines that are similar to the Bridgeport--Deckel has a smaller combo horizontal/vertical which is a NICE machine and tend to be within but at the top of your price range.  I'd take the Deckel any day over the Bridgeport but they're a bit harder to find.

But...Grizzly machines are passable for "maintenance" machining so if you really want one you won't be hammered too badly. One thing you have to watch is Quill travel--some of those are VERY short on quill travel and that can be a problem requiring reset of the knee which joggles the part and reduces accuracy.  Short quill travel makes deep drilling almost impossible on some of those machines.

DO NOT be tempted by the Mill/Drills which do neither particularly well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks guys I have a bother in law that has 3 Bridgeports that were is dads and they are starting to think about breaking up the shop, they are over 3000 miles a way in Mass but from listen to you guys might me worth buying a trailing and going out there to pick it up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few years ago I used a Jet mill owned by my neighbor  to mill the face of an anvil after I hard faced it.  After I was done my neighbor continued to use it for milling parts for black powder gun reproductions. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kozzy   

I'd be happier with a 3 in that price rather than a 4 but it's in the right range assuming nothing is beat up.  If you are not pressed for time, you can probably save some money waiting for the right one to fall in your lap.  Good price for machine..about 2500-3000 (if in middlin condition).  DRO adds about $ 500.  Kurt vice (CHECK BRAND!) adds another 200 or so.  Power feed another 100 assuming it can be fixed.  That's all bottom end of pricing as in what a good deal would probably be (in my area) based on what you could probably re-sell the parts for.  

Of course I haven't seen it and am just guesstimating based on similar prices from auctions.  Of late, auction pricing has seemed to be up 20-25% so I might be running a bit low.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
basher   

I ended up with a beaver. one cheaper kind of bridge port knock off . I am very happy with it . it is worth remembering that the mill is only about half the cost . the tooling is just as much if not more than the machine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have run quite a few bridgeports, along with a few other brands. It's easy to just say "buy a bridgeport", but many are well used and may not be worth the investment. A toolmaker I used to work with had a profitable machining business on the side, and he used JET machines. He did say they didn't have the longevity of bridgeports, but otherwise they were a good enough machine. Most of the bridgeport knockoffs I've run were used hard before I touched them, so I can't comment on how well they held up....about all I can say is that they were still capable of making good parts if a person knew how to work around the limitations/quirks. I don't think replacement parts were easily available, if at all, for some of them. The bridgeports aren't a problem to find parts for, unless perhaps you stumble upon a very old machine or an oddball.

I recommend you find an old machinist or toolmaker to look over whatever machine you're considering before you hand over any money. Anyone that's spent 8+ hours a day making parts on one for a living is going to know pretty quick if the machine is used up, or just used. As an example, the owner may tighten up the gibs to try to hide wear. That sort of thing is readily uncovered by cranking the axes to their extreme limits. Typically most of the wear will be in the center of the travels, so it will be easy to crank there and then become more difficult as you near the ends of the travel. If it's really loose in the middle and tight on the ends, you might even it out by just replacing the gibs....but it could also(and probably does) have a fair bit of wear on the ways, and that is only correctable by rescraping the ways.

 

Since I'm already commenting on this, I'm going to add that you should be protecting your machine tools from dust and grit, especially grinding dust. The ways will last much longer if kept clean and properly oiled(engine oil is not way lube).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kozzy   
18 hours ago, zombieresponder said:

I have run quite a few bridgeports, along with a few other brands. It's easy to just say "buy a bridgeport", but many are well used and may not be worth the investment. A toolmaker I used to work with had a profitable machining business on the side, and he used JET machines.

It's not so much that a Bridgeport is "special" relative to a well made clone but Bridgeports maintain their value and salability in a more stable way.  Part of any major purchase is the consideration of ability to sell (ease) if you need quick cash and price depreciation when/if you do need to sell.  BPs tend to shine on both counts assuming they don't get trashed.  In fact, with patience and buying right you can have one for a dozen years and actually effectively get paid to use it when the time comes to sell. 

You might find the Jet (et al)  to be a little less expensive going in, but when you compare the full cost of ownership, BP tends to come out ahead.

obviously YMMV 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like made in USA tools, but in this case I still would not hesitate to recommend an import. I paid $1,800 for my Millport with power feeds and an AccuRite digital readout. Don't get hung up on a name. The best vertical mill at the machine shop I worked at was the ACRA, the variable speed Bridgeport needed a bunch of work even though it looked to be in good shape. Many of the imports have chromed ways , bigger tables, and will last a long time if maintained. If it says made in CHINA, walk away. Taiwan is OK, as they have been making tools for the US market for decades, and JET makes some very good quality tools. 

There are tons of mills on the used market, and if you are willing to spend $4,000 you can end up with one fully loaded, and a bunch of tooling to go with it. WELLS-INDEX, and Gorton are also made in the US. Gortons are really stout, and some came with #30 NMT instead of the usual R8. Lagun, and ACRA would also be a good bet. 

I would also avoid the bench top mills. I have yet to see one that was really good quality, and they are just a bit too light for serious work. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The last bridgeport I worked on(repair, not machining) had a "made in singapore" sticker hidden behind the head. Never would have known it was there if I hadn't had to pull the head off to repair it. I thought the wells index I ran was a better machine than a bridgeport....it seemed heavier built and more rigid.

I didn't mean for it to read as though I advised against buying a bridgeport, just that the name shouldn't be the main criteria in selecting a mill.

Bench top mill = drill press with "repeatable" x/y, and very rarely, z axes. I would find an industrial radial arm drill and a good x/y table to use long before I'd ever consider a bench top mill.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this