Looking to buy small milling machine

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awake

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jdurnya, an interesting point. I have been pondering, since I read it, whether my BP is more precise than my old mill-drill. It definitely is more versatile, since I can move the table up and down without losing position. And I can take a lot heavier cut with it. And the fact that it has DROs certainly make it easier to achieve the correct position. But in terms of results ... I can't honestly say that it is able to produce a more precise part. Again, interesting ...
 

Shopgeezer

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My mill drill drives me to tears since you have to unbolt the head, move it where you want and rebolt it. As soon as you touch those bolts all semblance of vertical precision is lost. Milling, drilling, reaming and threading in sequence all require different heights so it is frustrating to have to realign the head for every move. I am thinking that I will retire the mill drill to a corner for use as a drill press and buy a real mill.
 

packrat

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Quote "I am thinking that I will retire the mill drill to a corner for use as a drill press and buy a real mill "

Well I think drill/mills do make a very nice drill press, mount a good drill chuck and use a center finder and you can drill some accurate holes....
 

SmithDoor

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The Morse taper works good
I use the 1/4" NC draw bar and the Tang .
The advantage with #2 Morse is I can use tooling on my lathe too.

I also on center pulley add 6" pulley. It gave a better grip for low speed and lower speed for boring.

Big Red is just about right size to a good job.
The mini Mills just to light weight and I lack the space for larger mills

Dave, thanks for the link! I had no idea that the group was still active, much less that the mill/drill was still in production!

When I bought it, it was the best compromise for me in terms of space, budget, weight, capacity. The Rong Fu type had more capacity and the possibly more desirable R8 spindle, but was way more expensive. Meanwhile, the mini-mill versions that were available at the time were just too small and under-powered. Then I happened on the last unit in the store when HF decided to discontinue this model, so it was on a terrific sale ... and for some reason, they also honored the 20% off coupon that I had on top of that.

All that to say, especially given the great deal on its price, this mill/drill has more than paid for itself, giving me great service through the years. But once I had a full-sized BP, it just hasn't gotten a lick of use ... other than as a platform to hold various odds and ends!
 

awake

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My mill drill drives me to tears since you have to unbolt the head, move it where you want and rebolt it. As soon as you touch those bolts all semblance of vertical precision is lost. Milling, drilling, reaming and threading in sequence all require different heights so it is frustrating to have to realign the head for every move. I am thinking that I will retire the mill drill to a corner for use as a drill press and buy a real mill.
That is the drawback for any of the round-column mill-drills, of course. Part of the challenge of any project was figuring out how to fit all or nearly all of the operations needed into the capacity of the quill - or how to make it easier to relocate if the head had to be moved up or down. I don't recall now what the capacity of the quill on the Big Red is - certainly much less than the 6" that the Bridgeport provides - but definitely better than some of the smaller mill-drills. It also helped to use Weldon type holders for the endmills; though a drill chuck and drill bit still extended considerably further, the difference was not as extreme as it would be with a collet. At the least, I could generally swap in the drill chuck and a center drill to locate any holes, even if I then had to move everything to do the drilling - this made it possible to stay within +/- .005" or so on the drilling, which often was sufficient.
 

SmithDoor

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I add concrete to column and a torque bar now under 0.001"

That is the drawback for any of the round-column mill-drills, of course. Part of the challenge of any project was figuring out how to fit all or nearly all of the operations needed into the capacity of the quill - or how to make it easier to relocate if the head had to be moved up or down. I don't recall now what the capacity of the quill on the Big Red is - certainly much less than the 6" that the Bridgeport provides - but definitely better than some of the smaller mill-drills. It also helped to use Weldon type holders for the endmills; though a drill chuck and drill bit still extended considerably further, the difference was not as extreme as it would be with a collet. At the least, I could generally swap in the drill chuck and a center drill to locate any holes, even if I then had to move everything to do the drilling - this made it possible to stay within +/- .005" or so on the drilling, which often was sufficient.
 

awake

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The concrete will certainly help with rigidity. I'm not sure what you mean by a torque bar ... a way to tighten the head positioning bolts more securely? That would not eliminate the problem of losing registration whenever you have to move the head up or down, right?
 

maker

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My mill drill drives me to tears since you have to unbolt the head, move it where you want and rebolt it. As soon as you touch those bolts all semblance of vertical precision is lost. Milling, drilling, reaming and threading in sequence all require different heights so it is frustrating to have to realign the head for every move. I am thinking that I will retire the mill drill to a corner for use as a drill press and buy a real mill.
I have been using this grizzly for 20 years. Shop Tools and Machinery at Grizzly.com
It is very aford able and rigid enough for all the model work you will want to do.
The head is r8
I eventually put a brake on the spindle and some import scales for dro,s.
 

SmithDoor

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They both help the mill a lot and did same time.

If head turns you loss a the cutter/tool bit and damage your project.

The concrete will certainly help with rigidity. I'm not sure what you mean by a torque bar ... a way to tighten the head positioning bolts more securely? That would not eliminate the problem of losing registration whenever you have to move the head up or down, right?
 

peterl95124

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Precision comes from rigidity, rigidity comes from mass, that's physics and there's no way around it.

I had two different round column mills before getting a bridgeport clone, both were more trouble than they were worth. The column on the first was too small and lacked torsional rigidity, the second was large enough to be rigid for what I was doing but still had the X-Y position loss after height adjustment problem.

The problem with saying you need to plan ahead for how to make the part with minimal head movement (at which point you loose your X-Y location) is that it only takes one part of a model IC engine that can't be done that way and you can't finish your engine. For me that was always the valve seats and valve guides in the head.

Currently there are several bench top mills around 400~500 lbs available with dovetail vertical which I'm considering getting, since my bridgeport clone is out in the unheated/unconditioned garage, in contrast to my in-the-house workshop where my bench top lathe is.

Thats my recommendation for model IC engine building indoors: a bench top lathe around 250 lbs, and a bench top mill around 400 lbs. YMMV.
 

Shopgeezer

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I am currently lusting after this mill:


Its 566 lbs (255 kg) and has all the bells and whistles. Slightly wider table than my current mill drill but would fit the location I have quite nicely.
 

Canyonman

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Gentlemen, could I point you towards a Wholesale Tool [ www.wttool.com] ZX45
[RDX Geared Head Mill & Drill with Rigid Dovetail Column].
I purchased one about 8 years ago and it's still going strong. It's HEAVY and stable and rigid. It maintains Zero with head movement (Maybe a slight tweak, But I check my stuff twice anyway. Call me anal I guess) And speaking of head movement, it has a hand crank that makes things easy. Head tilts if needed. They list at $2269..00. I can't say enough. Check it out. It's your call.
 

Shopgeezer

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Looks like a normal round column mill drill but you say it has a dovetail on the column? Interesting. I’m wondering if there is any way to add some kind of system to locate the head on mine as it moves vertically. Maybe a pair of heavy tubes on each side of the column linked to the head with rollers?
 

Canyonman

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Thanks, I was wondering...........
I did notice that the CX601 has a digital speed readout
The ZX45 has steps like a lathe,
 

SmithDoor

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digital speed readout is nice but I would not pay extra for read out.
Some will not change must in milling.

Thanks, I was wondering...........
I did notice that the CX601 has a digital speed readout
The ZX45 has steps like a lathe,
 

awake

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I’m wondering if there is any way to add some kind of system to locate the head on mine as it moves vertically. Maybe a pair of heavy tubes on each side of the column linked to the head with rollers?
I've seen lots of discussions on this theme through the years, with a variety of approaches ranging from a locating key to a laser pointer system. I don't know how well any of these worked ... with my mill drill, if I did have to change the height of the head, I simply re-located the edges or other features and went on from there.
 

Paul-e

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I am a shiny new member (this reply is my first post) and I just wanted to say that for a “want ad” this was a VERY informative and also entertaining thread. I am very glad I registered and upgraded. I am very much looking forward to spending way too much time reading far too many posts in the near future. And a big THANK YOU to every one of you who contributed a reply. You can tell a lot about an online community by the quantity and quality of replies to what would seem to be a simple question/request.

Also apparently I’m going to have to melt down my old (new to me) Grizzly Micro Mill into ingots for future engine castings, bite the bullet and buy something much bigger and more rigid, to avoid a whole lot of headaches. Now to find and choose one that doesn’t have a space-eating 40” wide table. Who on earth needs 40” anyways?

Zillerfish - If you were 1,150 miles away in Kent, Washington I would give you my tiny Grizzly mill / paperweight / door-stop the next time I visit Lacey. But I have a feeling you are in that other Kent much farther away...

Paul in Southern California
 

awake

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If you have the space, a 40" table - or even more - is a wonderful luxury, even if you only work on small parts. You can have two or three setups mounted at a time (vise, rotary table, divider, etc.). But of course, the key is having the space!
 
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