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How do you view the Emco FB2 milling head

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choochoo_baloo24/11/2014 21:40:08
280 forum posts
67 photos

I Evening all. I am wanting to upgrade from my vertical slide on my lathe to a better milling facility.

The way I see it, for the 'under £1000' category to get a proper vertical milling facility by choice is either

(a)the ubiquitous bench top Far Eastern made milling machine sold in different liveries by Axminster Tools, Warco, Clarke etc


(b) a bolt-on vertical milling head to my Myford ML7. I've ruled out either of the Rodney Myford attachments since one needs to attach-reattach to the madder each time which would become very tiresome. Instead am considering the Myford VM-A or Emco FB2

I am a firm believer in quality over quantity. Therefore although I will probably get a large table/more travel with (a) vs (b), my current preference is definitely towards the Emco. I have heard very good things about these Austrian machines and the fact that they retain there value for many years is surly a very good sign.

I would really like to hear any opinions from other members.

Thanks in advance.

Versaboss24/11/2014 22:16:17
482 forum posts
55 photos

Hello Balo(?),

If I read you correctly you think of mounting an Emco milling head to a Myford lathe? If so, how? and where do you get a separate head? After these questions, now to my experience. Back in the seventies I used an Emco head, but mounted on an Emco lathe which had the necessary clamp for the column. Such a combination is, as I found out, really unsuitable except for the lightest of milling jobs. Many people don't realize that a milling cutter generates an upward force on the workpiece, and a lathe saddle is not constructed to resist this force. This also leads to vibrations and chatter on the workpiece. So after quite a short time I mounted the head to a heavy milling table and later sold the lathe. I still have this mill but don't use it now, having some better machines. Really even think about selling it...

Thinking about that above - could be that the Myford's flat bed is better in resisting these upward forces, but I stay to my opinion that a milling attachment on a lathe is an unsatisfactory makeshift. Not least also the constant changes between turning and milling.

Kind regards, HansR.

daveb24/11/2014 23:07:50
626 forum posts
10 photos

I had a ML7 with a Rodney attachment, I could see the cross slide wobbling about during the cut. The lathe was not in bad condition, the slides just had trouble coping. I fitted a Super7 cross slide which was a vast improvement, even so, it only had capacity for small parts. If you just need to improve milling with the vertical slide, this is well worth doing. I now have an Emco V10P with the Earlier Emco (FB1?) milling head and column. This works OK, much more rigid than the ML7, greater capacity but still still limited to quite small parts. The Emco bed is very well braced and there is a thick pad cast onto the back where the milling column fits. To make it work with the ML7 you would need to attach the column to the surface the lathe mounts to and also brace it to the machined surface on the rear of the bed.

alan frost24/11/2014 23:58:38
137 forum posts
3 photos

I have an Emco V10P with the earlier 4 speed milling head. The lathe is a fine lathe and very pleasant to use. The milling head is useful and has far more daylight under the quill than either my Haighton Major mill or Fritz Werner 5.16. Both are highly regarded mills. It also has great versitilty in positioning. IMO daylight under the quill is one of ,if not the most important of mill dimensions.

That said the milling head is not capable of heavy cuts,any more than is the Rishton ,Rodney or similar design of mills. It does accurate work within its capabilities but compared with the lathe itself it can only do light work. I would have thought Emco would have done better to mount a vee way column on the back of the bed,altho this would have lost some flexibility in positioning the head..

Despite all this they hold their value very,very well and often sell ,somewhat illogically for as much as the lathe complete with milling head will sell for.. 

Edited By alan frost on 25/11/2014 00:00:14

Bikepete25/11/2014 07:38:44
239 forum posts
34 photos

You seem to have discounted the idea of just buying a decent secondhand milling machine - any particular reason?

Plenty of good ones under £1000. See e.g. this ebay search which shows sold items between £600 and £1000 (you may have to be logged into ebay to get the correct results) . E.g. first result (sorted lowest price first) is this Centec (now relisted) with the nice quill feed head, which will knock spots off any lathe attachment IMO... For your purposes change the sort order to 'by distance' from your postcode and untick the 'sold' bit so you only see active listings. Be patient and something nice will likely come up... and plenty of advice is available from this forum if moving heavy iron might be an issue.

Ian S C25/11/2014 11:51:13
7468 forum posts
230 photos

I think you would be better of with a small, new mill, something like a Sieg* X-2 or X-3 will do far more work than a combination lathe/mill. * or similar.

Ian S C

choochoo_baloo25/11/2014 14:33:11
280 forum posts
67 photos

Thanks initial posters - I didn't appreciate the big limitations introduced by using the lathe cross side as the milling table.

Bikepete and Ian - on reflection I think that this would be a far better avenue. This leads me to ask: what are the top 2 or 3 well regarded milling machine makes that fit the under £1000 secondhand bracket? I have obviously discounted Bridgeport because of their size and price!! Would you both advise that I focus on trying to get a decent Centec for example?

Thanks all, I do appreciate your wisdom!

Clive Hartland25/11/2014 14:42:18
2810 forum posts
40 photos

I had the use of an FB2 milling head on an EMCO 11 Lathe, it was simply a PITA to work with as you seldom had enough area to use for the work i did. It would not stay in position as the slightest load would make the round pillar move and centering was a pain as well. This was pinned and bolted to the back face of the lather bed and it was awkward to take down and remount.

I did some good work on it but would never envisage having one for personal use.

As is, I bought a Sieg X3 and am well pleased with it.


Bikepete25/11/2014 15:54:29
239 forum posts
34 photos

Usual advice is to get as big a machine as you have space/access for - assuming you're not purely into tiny workpieces e.g. watches/clocks. Bigger/heavier usually means more rigid which means better suface finish and/or bigger cuts. As well as being able to accommodate the ever bigger things you will inevitably try to machine on it!

As that sold items ebay link shows there's no need to rule out a Bridgeport-sized machine on cost grounds alone... condition is another matter... and completeness. If it needs accessories (e.g. for horizontal milling), make sure they come with it...

Do you have space for a floor mounted machine or does it have to be bench mounted? There are some quite compact floor mounted machines and these do tend to be a bit more 'serious' than the bench type - and you're more likely to get nice features like power feeds etc built in. Some of the bench mills are ideal for small scale work though.

Won't give names as could be here all day. Instead would suggest that whenever you come across something within striking distance that takes your fancy, look it up on the archive. That'll often give you an idea of how well it's regarded, if it has the features/travels you need, any known issues and how the different models of that machine differ. Also an idea of the age of whatever you're looking at... then you could always ask again here too.

Note also that many of the bigger machines will be three phase - unless you're confident with adding an inverter (not hard usually) it might be an idea to stick to single phase ones initially, so you can be up and running straight away. But also bear in mind that using an inverter (single phase power in, three phase out to a three phase motor) is actually the preferred situation for many users - you get smoother power, gentle start/stop and variable speed at the twist of a knob.

Buying secondhand does mean that you need to be able to assess the condition of what you're looking at, to a degree at least... but that can maybe wait for another post. But I wouldn't be overly worried about this - so long as all the functions work and it's not atrociously worn you'll still have vastly better milling capacity than on the lathe. Just don't spend too much at first. Use whatever you get for a bit and then you'll have a much better idea of what to look for if/when you want to upgrade...

The (entirely valid) argument for buying new is that you won't be working around a possibly worn machine while trying to learn the ropes. However, you'll get much less machine for your money, and I rather like using quality older machines that represent the golden days of manual engineering, even if they are a bit past their prime... the castings and worksmanship can be things of beauty, not something you can usually say of the modern imports... and a little wear is much less of an issue than it's sometimes made out to be, especially if you can fit a DRO...

But it's a hobby after all so just choose whatever floats your boat

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