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Lathe/Milling Machine combination

Looking for advice for a machine upgrade.

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Geoff Drake14/12/2009 17:20:47
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2 forum posts
At the MEX I was looking around at machines with a mind to urgrading my lathe to something better than my small 7x10.  I have also been toying with the idea of buying a mill.
 
At the show Chester have the Super B, which is a lathe with attached mill head.  This comes in a a few 100 more than just a lathe.
 
Has anyone any comments about using combination machines.  From my pov, it has a far better chuck height, but I am not sure about the size of items it can mill and what disadvantages it has.  The advantages are price, and space.
 
Cheers
Geoff
 
JasonB14/12/2009 17:59:33
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Although its capable of swinging 16" this capacity is achieived by using a very tall head and tail stock in relation to the bed width. A good rigid lathe will have  a bed that is as wide as the centre height, the supoer B has a bed maybe half or less.
 
It also has quite a small mill table at 150x200, by the time you have got a part on there it does not leave much room for clamp bolts etc.
 
A lowest rpm of 160 will be way too fast for a lightweight machine if you want to take advantage of the full swing
 
Its also said that the head is not teh most rigid
 
Jason
Ian S C15/12/2009 10:48:01
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3579 forum posts
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Combi---don't,buy a lathe,then save your pennies and buy a mill.Ian S C
Geoff Drake15/12/2009 12:35:35
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2 forum posts
Thanks to both of you for the advice.  I had basically come that reason, but it was good to have a definite 'why' as to whay I should not buy it.
 
My problem now is whether I buy the mill and wait to upgrade the lathe, or buy the lathe and wait to buy the mill.  The cash available never seems to be enough for what you want to buy
Alex du Pre15/12/2009 14:04:10
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20 forum posts
31 photos
Geoff,
 
I have a Warco WMT 300 which is a similar combination machine.  You may be interested in my review of this machine which is extracted from my personal website (amdcustom.com).  I hope you will find this useful although it does tend towards the 'why not'!  I especially would highlight the issues about the gap between spindle and 'mill table'.

I bought the machine for use in my model engineering activities. The machine is very solid and robust. It is rather crudely made, but the finish is adequate in the important areas such as the ways and the machine table. I have been quite pleased with the machine but it does have some significant limitations. A combination machine such as this is very much a compromise from the ideal of having two separate machines. It takes a long time to convert it from milling to lathe operations and I soon got fed up with it and bought a separate milling machine. I would not recommend a combination machine such as this as you will get very frustrated using it. The good and bad points are shown below.

Good Points

Very solid and rigid. With sharp tools, a good turned finish is achievable.

Pretty good value.

I have always received good service from Warco and would recommend them.

The lathe has a good capacity and is capable of turning large work-pieces. The large spindle bore (25mm) is very handy.

The machine comes with a good range of accessories - faceplate, 3-jaw chuck, change wheels, fixed and travelling steady, centres - although a 4-jaw chuck is the first thing you will want.

The machine is built to reasonable accuracy. It is possible to work to a tolerance of +/-0.02mm without too much difficulty.

Good range of features - reversible motor and lead-screw, screw cutting, taper turning, etc.

Bad Points

The cutting tools that come with the machine are next to useless.

The gap between the milling head spindle and the cross slide is very large, even with the spindle fully extended. Unless you are using a very tall workpiece, some sort of raising block will be needed, which largely defeats having such a large machine table. This is a very frustrating feature and required extra equipment and much time to set up, and significantly reduces the functionality and usefulness of the milling/drilling fixture.

The machine is very noisy. The pulley bearings are rough and noisy, particularly in the milling head.

The need to change belts to adjust spindle speed is time consuming and frustrating.

Changing the gear-cutting gears is very time-consuming - the gears are very stiff on their shafts and are extremely difficult to remove. Brute force is often required. Because of this, I seldom resort to screw-cutting or using the power carriage feed. It just takes too long to set up.

Between-centres turning is all but impossible. The width of the milling table severely limits the movement of the carriage in the X direction (along the lathe bed). This means that if the cutting tool is set up to cut the left hand end of the work-piece, you cannot reach the right-hand end and vice versa. This is compounded by the fact that the carriage is prevented from traversing fully to the left by a lathe holding-down bolt, and the lack of significant overhang of the tailstock. Because of this, it is not possible to turn a constant-diameter (or tapered) shaft in one pass. This is a huge limitation.

The lack of tailstock overhang is a problem, which is compounded by the width of the milling table. In addition to the between centres problems (above), the tailstock has insufficient reach to allow drilling of a workpiece held in the chuck. This is compounded when the workpiece is short and a small drill or centre drill is used. I have got around this by using a MT3-MT3 extension sleeve but this does not resolve the between-centres problems - it also compounds the inaccuracy of the tailstock alignment and results in reduced rigidity.

There is some play in the carriage movement. I cannot remove this without over-tightening the gib-strips. This means that with the cutting tool mounted on the left of the cross-slide (as it must be) the tool cuts deeper when traversing the carriage from right to left (and vice versa). The effect is reversed for boring operations. This is not a big problem, but is an annoying niggle.

The 4-way tool post is a useful feature. However, it is not good quality, and repeatability of positioning is poor. For reasonably accurate work, it is necessary to re-measure the depth of cut each time the tool post is rotated. This makes production work unnecessarily time consuming.

Alex du Pre15/12/2009 14:05:27
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20 forum posts
31 photos
Geoff,
 
I have a Warco WMT 300 which is a similar combination machine.  You may be interested in my review of this machine which is extracted from my personal website (amdcustom.com).  I hope you will find this useful although it does tend towards the 'why not'!  I especially would highlight the issues about the gap between spindle and 'mill table'.

I bought the machine for use in my model engineering activities. The machine is very solid and robust. It is rather crudely made, but the finish is adequate in the important areas such as the ways and the machine table. I have been quite pleased with the machine but it does have some significant limitations. A combination machine such as this is very much a compromise from the ideal of having two separate machines. It takes a long time to convert it from milling to lathe operations and I soon got fed up with it and bought a separate milling machine. I would not recommend a combination machine such as this as you will get very frustrated using it. The good and bad points are shown below.

Good points

Very solid and rigid. With sharp tools, a good turned finish is achievable.

Pretty good value.

I have always received good service from Warco and would recommend them.

The lathe has a good capacity and is capable of turning large work-pieces. The large spindle bore (25mm) is very handy.

The machine comes with a good range of accessories - faceplate, 3-jaw chuck, change wheels, fixed and travelling steady, centres - although a 4-jaw chuck is the first thing you will want.

The machine is built to reasonable accuracy. It is possible to work to a tolerance of +/-0.02mm without too much difficulty.

Good range of features - reversible motor and lead-screw, screw cutting, taper turning, etc.

Bad Points

The cutting tools that come with the machine are next to useless.

The gap between the milling head spindle and the cross slide is very large, even with the spindle fully extended. Unless you are using a very tall workpiece, some sort of raising block will be needed, which largely defeats having such a large machine table. This is a very frustrating feature and required extra equipment and much time to set up, and significantly reduces the functionality and usefulness of the milling/drilling fixture.

The machine is very noisy. The pulley bearings are rough and noisy, particularly in the milling head.

The need to change belts to adjust spindle speed is time consuming and frustrating.

Changing the gear-cutting gears is very time-consuming - the gears are very stiff on their shafts and are extremely difficult to remove. Brute force is often required. Because of this, I seldom resort to screw-cutting or using the power carriage feed. It just takes too long to set up.

Between-centres turning is all but impossible. The width of the milling table severely limits the movement of the carriage in the X direction (along the lathe bed). This means that if the cutting tool is set up to cut the left hand end of the work-piece, you cannot reach the right-hand end and vice versa. This is compounded by the fact that the carriage is prevented from traversing fully to the left by a lathe holding-down bolt, and the lack of significant overhang of the tailstock. Because of this, it is not possible to turn a constant-diameter (or tapered) shaft in one pass. This is a huge limitation.

The lack of tailstock overhang is a problem, which is compounded by the width of the milling table. In addition to the between centres problems (above), the tailstock has insufficient reach to allow drilling of a workpiece held in the chuck. This is compounded when the workpiece is short and a small drill or centre drill is used. I have got around this by using a MT3-MT3 extension sleeve but this does not resolve the between-centres problems - it also compounds the inaccuracy of the tailstock alignment and results in reduced rigidity.

There is some play in the carriage movement. I cannot remove this without over-tightening the gib-strips. This means that with the cutting tool mounted on the left of the cross-slide (as it must be) the tool cuts deeper when traversing the carriage from right to left (and vice versa). The effect is reversed for boring operations. This is not a big problem, but is an annoying niggle.

The 4-way tool post is a useful feature. However, it is not good quality, and repeatability of positioning is poor. For reasonably accurate work, it is necessary to re-measure the depth of cut each time the tool post is rotated. This makes production work unnecessarily time consuming.

Alex du Pre15/12/2009 14:06:26
avatar
20 forum posts
31 photos
Geoff,
 
I have a Warco WMT 300 which is a similar combination machine.  You may be interested in my review of this machine which is extracted from my personal website (amdcustom.com).  I hope you will find this useful although it does tend towards the 'why not'!  I especially would highlight the issues about the gap between spindle and 'mill table'.
I bought the machine for use in my model engineering activities. The machine is very solid and robust. It is rather crudely made, but the finish is adequate in the important areas such as the ways and the machine table. I have been quite pleased with the machine but it does have some significant limitations. A combination machine such as this is very much a compromise from the ideal of having two separate machines. It takes a long time to convert it from milling to lathe operations and I soon got fed up with it and bought a separate milling machine. I would not recommend a combination machine such as this as you will get very frustrated using it. The good and bad points are shown below.
GOOD POINTS
 
Very solid and rigid. With sharp tools, a good turned finish is achievable.

Pretty good value.

I have always received good service from Warco and would recommend them.

The lathe has a good capacity and is capable of turning large work-pieces. The large spindle bore (25mm) is very handy.

The machine comes with a good range of accessories - faceplate, 3-jaw chuck, change wheels, fixed and travelling steady, centres - although a 4-jaw chuck is the first thing you will want.

The machine is built to reasonable accuracy. It is possible to work to a tolerance of +/-0.02mm without too much difficulty.

Good range of features - reversible motor and lead-screw, screw cutting, taper turning, etc.
BAD POINTS
 
The cutting tools that come with the machine are next to useless.

The gap between the milling head spindle and the cross slide is very large, even with the spindle fully extended. Unless you are using a very tall workpiece, some sort of raising block will be needed, which largely defeats having such a large machine table. This is a very frustrating feature and required extra equipment and much time to set up, and significantly reduces the functionality and usefulness of the milling/drilling fixture.

The machine is very noisy. The pulley bearings are rough and noisy, particularly in the milling head.

The need to change belts to adjust spindle speed is time consuming and frustrating.

Changing the gear-cutting gears is very time-consuming - the gears are very stiff on their shafts and are extremely difficult to remove. Brute force is often required. Because of this, I seldom resort to screw-cutting or using the power carriage feed. It just takes too long to set up.

Between-centres turning is all but impossible. The width of the milling table severely limits the movement of the carriage in the X direction (along the lathe bed). This means that if the cutting tool is set up to cut the left hand end of the work-piece, you cannot reach the right-hand end and vice versa. This is compounded by the fact that the carriage is prevented from traversing fully to the left by a lathe holding-down bolt, and the lack of significant overhang of the tailstock. Because of this, it is not possible to turn a constant-diameter (or tapered) shaft in one pass. This is a huge limitation.

The lack of tailstock overhang is a problem, which is compounded by the width of the milling table. In addition to the between centres problems (above), the tailstock has insufficient reach to allow drilling of a workpiece held in the chuck. This is compounded when the workpiece is short and a small drill or centre drill is used. I have got around this by using a MT3-MT3 extension sleeve but this does not resolve the between-centres problems - it also compounds the inaccuracy of the tailstock alignment and results in reduced rigidity.

There is some play in the carriage movement. I cannot remove this without over-tightening the gib-strips. This means that with the cutting tool mounted on the left of the cross-slide (as it must be) the tool cuts deeper when traversing the carriage from right to left (and vice versa). The effect is reversed for boring operations. This is not a big problem, but is an annoying niggle.

The 4-way tool post is a useful feature. However, it is not good quality, and repeatability of positioning is poor. For reasonably accurate work, it is necessary to re-measure the depth of cut each time the tool post is rotated. This makes production work unnecessarily time consuming.

Alex du Pre15/12/2009 14:08:19
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20 forum posts
31 photos
Sorry for multiple posts - I got an error message but the postings were posted anyway!  Not sure how to remove them!
 
Alex.
Mike15/12/2009 16:45:02
160 forum posts

Hi Geoff:

I have no current experience of lathe/mill combinations, but for many years I used a Myford Super 7 with an Amolco milling attachment. Both machines were well-built and rigid, but the milling capacity was rarely what I needed. Even with Myford's optional long cross slide it was too small.
My thoughts nowadays would be that lathes are for turning, and tiny milling jobs using a vertical slide. Milling machines are for milling, and if I were you I would buy a separate mill.

 

mgj15/12/2009 18:18:16
1007 forum posts
14 photos
I rather agree - buy the biggest heaviest most rigid mill you can afford or fit into wherever it is it has to fit.
 
But against that, a lot depends on what you want or intend to make. I know of someone who made a very nice 5" gauge loco on one of these things in his bedroom!  As he said, not much was ideal, but it gave him an opportunity that he would not otherwise have had.
 
So, as long as one is aware of the limitations, and they don't affect you too much, it may well be a good buy (short term?)  If not then start saving for a separate mill and a separate lathe.
Peter Gain15/12/2009 19:03:18
103 forum posts
Give careful consideration to buying a used Myford or Boxford. The quality of either make them a pleasure to use. See Tony Griffiths web site.
 
Peter Gain15/12/2009 20:54:05
103 forum posts
PS!
I should have said Myford/Boxford lathes. (Myford mills are sourced from the Far East).
John Haine15/12/2009 22:44:16
423 forum posts
10 photos
But none the worse for that!  I have a VM-B and it's excellent.
mgj15/12/2009 23:02:11
1007 forum posts
14 photos
Peter, with all due respect.
 
I have a Myford. its a lovely lathe and is very accurate.I can hit diameter to +/-.0002 any day of the week (big modified dial reading in 1/2 thou), and as set it is turning taper to about. .0005" per foot. Its a pleasure to use. But if it is not set up properly its an inaccurate heap of junk.
 
I have a 6" Chinaman. Its a lovely lathe. I can hit diameter to +/- .0002 any day of the week, and it is turning taper to within .0003" per foot. Its a pleasure to use. But if it is not set up properly its an inaccurate heap of junk.
 
I have a Dore Westbury mill that I built and it is dead accurate - some of the errors are barely detectable on a DTI graduated in tenths (took a while setting it up and seting the slides)
 
I have a big Warco Super Major.  There is no detectable error on the y axis, and the swivelling head on the x axis is set by me. When you mill either way  there is no detectable error (change) in depth of cut on any model sized component.
 
The lathe and mill have after market DROs for convenience, but both are less heavily modified than the Myford.
 
However there are plenty of Myfords, Boxfords and Colchesters around that couln't, as set, hold a candle to either of those Chinese machines. So I wouldn't be too quick to knock them. We are not talking machines for production with the durability that implies, but machines for the hobbyist. It doesn't take much to change a few handles and add the odd roller thrust here and there to imorve a machine dramatically, and people are constantly doing that to Myfords.
 
Replacement dials, (the non resettable ones are a joke and the resettable one as standard is too small). The spanner lock thingy is feeble and needs replacing. The leadscrew benefits from roller thusts at the tailstock end. An adjustable depth stop is an essential. The whole topslide is not a great item, its not particulalry rigid and interferes with the tailstock if set parallel (Fit a Radford design) And so it goes on.
 
So if its OK to do it to a Myford to make it a pleasure to use, perhaps its also OK to do it to a Chinaman?
 
The Chinese have been very good friends to the model engineer. I don't pretend their machinery is perfect, by no means,  but the advent of cheap ( and more recently) of reasonable quality has allowed many to own larger machines and so construct models that 20 years ago the normal man could only dream of. 
 
There is no way I could have afforded a mill the size of the Warco then  - now I can get one of very acceptable quality, new and uninterfered with on  3 months overtime saved. Doesn't even stretch the credit card. 
Peter Gain19/12/2009 18:51:00
103 forum posts
Hi Meyrick,
Point taken re-setting up machines.
I like the idea of large dia dials for the Super 7. I do not recall seeing any "write-ups" in ME. Can you advise if you are aware of such articles?
Peter Gain.
mgj19/12/2009 22:04:04
1007 forum posts
14 photos
I "designed" my own .


That one is about 3.5 " dia. Its only a shouldered collar with a thingy (been so long since I had it off!) in the middle to fit the end of the Myford feedscrew. Then there is a retaining plate on the outer.
 
Knock up a ring to graduate up and add brass locking screw.(4-5mm or BA equivalent) On mine the core is cast iron - but only because I had some. The outer is ali - HE30 TF  I forget the running clearance, probably a thou or so. Its 20 years old now.
 
Improves accuracy no end, because you can easily set radius to less that.00025"

Edited By meyrick griffith-jones on 19/12/2009 22:04:35

Mike20/12/2009 09:48:39
160 forum posts

Hi Meyrick:

I do like the big dials on your Super 7 - they would save me a lot of squinting through my reading specs at tiny figures and graduations! Some years ago I had to take some photographs for a book, using the ML7R I had at the time. The figures and graduations on the top slide and cross slide  were raised rather than engraved, and almost invisible on black and white prints. Answer was to spray the dials matt black, then spin them in the chuck against a bit of fine wet-and-dry. The result was bright silver figures against a black background - perfect for the photos, and much easier on the eye for subsequent work.

As I remember, I gave the same treatment to the leadscrew handwheel but, with the figures and graduations indented rather than raised, the result was black markings against a bright background.

Peter Gain20/12/2009 11:23:41
103 forum posts
Hi Meyrick,
Thanks for your info re-large dia dials for the Super 7. I will have a stab at copying yours.
Peter Gain.
mgj20/12/2009 13:03:01
1007 forum posts
14 photos
I can't remember what the central fitting is. Its either a taper or a simple spigot, - in which case a grubscrew will do the job of retaining the main collar. I'd put a small brass pad between grubscrew and spigot. if that were so.
 
The outer retaining plate- one of the ends of the cotton reel as it were, I secured with countersunk socket caps. Then its just a matter of making the dial of the right ID, and with a recess front and back to fit over the ends of the cotton reel. Stop it flopping backwards and forwards. Sizes to suit. Knurled rim and a bit of indexing and that's it.
 
The difficult thing I found was stamping the numbers so they looked 1/2 decent. Fortunately I got an engraver who had proper cones and indexing gear to do it, so it looked quite professional.
 
The alternative - stamping, is a runner, I'm sure, but one might want ot knock up a little jig of sorts.
 
-----------
 
Being as decayed as I am. I got the old age arms not long enough syndrome.
 
I got the optician to make some bifocals. Top bit is my reading precription. Bottom bit is x4 magnification.  Can see like a hawk now - very useful. 
CoalBurner12/03/2010 22:27:24
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602 forum posts
74 photos
Having owned a Chester Model B in the past, I feel qualified to give advice on this subject. As others have commented, whilst having an attractively large swing, the centre height over bed width gives rise to significant rigidity issues, despite substantial castings being used for both head and tailstocks, there is measurable flex when machining a large object. The milling head is also lacking in rigidity and build quality. The table is so limited in size as to be quite unusable for anything other than the smallest of parts.
I would reccomend saving your pennies and purchasing a mill that suits your needs rather than trying to combine both functions in one, I also  a own a Warco WMT 300 but the lathe only version and have found it more than adequate in all but the most demanding of turning jobs. I cannot pass judgement on any of the larger Warco mills as I am now fortunate enough to own a large turret mill - (an Ajax AJT4) but having owned one of their smaller machines, I can vouch for their build quality and excellent after sales service. My adice would b e to give Roger a call at Warco and discuss your requirements,I have always found their advice to be impartial and invaluable.

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