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advice on choosing a milling machine

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giles lever15/08/2017 16:43:35
10 forum posts

Hello my name is giles and new to the forum.

I expect you have been asked this question many times so sorry in advance. I studied engineering 30 years ago (most forgotten) and then through necessity of the time I ended up in the construction industry, now with more time and nearing retirement I am looking for a medium sized mill to machine stainless, brass and steel for generally playing around and re-introducing myself back to engineering. I am unsure of whether to go for a new far east machine such as the Amadeal AMAT45V Milling Machine Variable Speed​ which is 2200watts or a used machine such as the Tom Senior m1 or a similar sized machine. Any recommendations and any experience of the two mentioned machines. Regards Giles

Neil Wyatt16/08/2017 00:24:05
18246 forum posts
714 photos
77 articles

Welcome Giles,

You ask the hardest question of all.

The benefits of a new, unworn imported machine against a top quality but potentially worn out British one.

The first is probably going to do what you want, the second could fantastic or a nightmare, it depends on whether or not you have the knowledge to spot a good buy and the willpower to walk away from a bad one.

I'm sorry if that doesn't help you much...


giles lever16/08/2017 07:55:08
10 forum posts

Thanks Neil, My thought process changes, leaning first one way and then the other. The amadeal is quoted at 2200 watts which equates to 3 hp I think so seems a strong machine. I like the idea of an older machine for retro reasons and build quality, but for the size I would like the motors appear to be smaller, does this mean weaker? Or are older smaller motors better than larger new motors if that makes sense. Regards Giles

JasonB16/08/2017 08:19:46
18915 forum posts
2082 photos
1 articles

The basic ****45 machine has been about in one form or another for many years often going under the "LUX" title and has been available from most of the machine suppliers.

So it is worth looking around them all as specs vary for example the Amadeal one may have a 3hp motor but it uses variable speed and you won't get the benifit of all those horses as the motor speed reduces. Other suppliers do it with a 2HP motor and speed is via a geared head so there will be no loss of torque at lower speeds.

Another thing to consider is that 3hp motor will add to the weight of the head so will take more effort to wind up than a head with smaller motor though the gears may negate that, if reaching over to the back of the machine to change height does not appeal then there are versions with power to raise and lower the head at the touch of a button.

Finally look what accessories are supplied in the basic package. Amadeal's lathes in particular tend to come with the bare minimum which makes their prices look keen but when you add in items that the other suppliers include as standard there price may not be so attractive.


Edited By JasonB on 16/08/2017 08:20:33

Chris Evans 616/08/2017 08:37:51
1750 forum posts

Ask yourself a question, what size of thing will you really want to make ? That will/should dictate the size of machine.

I use a Bridgeport turret mill that suits my needs perfectly but finding old ex industry machinery in good order is very difficult. As Neil has said it takes willpower to walk away from a machine you have doubts over.

giles lever16/08/2017 09:08:09
10 forum posts

Thanks for everybody`s help. Luckily I am on holiday until end of month so forced patience is being practised. Second hand wise, I am looking at a bed size of around 800/ 900mm (tom senior M1/Major sized machine) to fit comfortably into my garage, are there any machines/makes I should be looking at and ones I should avoid. And does anybody know of a good machine within that criteria available.

Tony Pratt 116/08/2017 10:41:53
1236 forum posts
5 photos

Warco has a good range of new far eastern machines, it's worth a look. Been around years & excellent reputation.


fishy-steve16/08/2017 12:54:13
122 forum posts
30 photos

Hi Giles,

I have a late metric Tom Senior M1 in very good mechanical condition. I have the knuckle head and also the horizontal capability. What really improves the machine is the S type head. I originally thought I would purchase one in the future. Unfortunately for me the prices have gone beyond my means. Only last week one that was not a very good example went for £1200 on Ebay. I only paid £950 for my machine so paying that much for the head is out of the question.


Mike E.16/08/2017 13:03:37
209 forum posts
29 photos

Currently there is an Elliott vertical milling & boring machine listed on the " " site which might fit your purpose.

SillyOldDuffer16/08/2017 13:32:00
6335 forum posts
1393 photos

Asking yourself a few questions will help enormously. You matter more than the machine. For example, what's your plan in the event that the 'brand name irrelevant' machine you buy turns out to be a complete crock of poo? Yes it does happen.

A new machine can be sent back under warranty; in the worst case you will get your money back.

With a second-hand machine, you have more alternatives:

  1. Scrap it, write-off the investment, and find another one.
  2. Sell it on ebay and try again.
  3. Refurbish the machine yourself. Do you have the time, skills and inclination for this? Or a knowledgeable and suitably equipped friend who will help? Note that restoring old machines is a respectable hobby in itself and may be just what you want to do,
  4. Pay someone else to refurbish the machine. As this will be expensive, can you spare the money?

I'd advise a risk-averse beginner who just wants to get on with learning by using to buy new.

On the other hand, IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU'RE DOING, or are lucky, there are many second-hand bargains out there. For the last few decades, Universities, Colleges and Industry have been dumping lightly used manual lathes and mills. They are surplus because Industry has automated, much reducing the need for manual machines and operators trained to use them. But beware, there are also many second-hand machines that have been thrashed until they are 'Beyond Economic Repair'. Worn out ways, gears and bearings;unreliable electrics; cooked motors; missing parts; choked oil-ways; physical damage; corrosion; seized; out of specification or mis-aligned; poor maintenance; dropped in transit; used as anvil or a welding bench; badly stored; spoiled by repetition work; you name it. You should also be aware that spare parts are likely to be expensive or even unobtainable.


giles lever16/08/2017 13:55:31
10 forum posts

yes there is a lot of risk involved in an older machine and new seems the easier choice, but some of the bits on new far east machines just seem a little cheap in comparison. I ve got several weeks to do the research before making the plunge. Does anyone know the main used brands for the smaller to medium sized mills that still have goods parts availability (and are easy to learn.) Thanks for everyone`s help so far.

Vic16/08/2017 14:11:47
2615 forum posts
20 photos

The Elliott Omnimill is a nice machine if you can get a good example. I had to sell my old example due to a house move and ended up getting a Warco VMC to replace it. No where near as good but it's been a useful machine.

giles lever16/08/2017 15:54:21
10 forum posts

hello Vic, your message is interesting as it is suggesting good old is better than new Far East machines which is where at the "moment" my preferred leaning, I think? Thanks

SillyOldDuffer16/08/2017 17:04:58
6335 forum posts
1393 photos
Posted by giles lever on 16/08/2017 13:55:31:


but some of the bits on new far east machines just seem a little cheap in comparison.


Hi Giles

This being a hobby forum I made an assumption about your budget. Usually 'hobby' means buying a Far Eastern machine made down to a price for home use or finding a pre-loved ex-industrial machine. Most of us are unable to afford a new industrial machine because they cost three to ten times the price of the hobby equivalent.

Nothing stopping you from moving up market if you want the best. Sellers of industrial equipment are often coy about prices, but you could own a nice foreign mill for less than £23000. I doubt you would be disappointed with the quality.

So yes, far eastern hobby machines are 'a little cheap in comparison'. However, in my experience, they are also basically sound. Mine all worked out of the box, they were all a little rough round the edges and all were improved by simple fettling. Since then they've done all I've asked of them, which is light to moderate daily use, with an occasional heavy session. They could be used for production work but I don't think the motors would last very long!

I think it's very difficult to compare 'good old' versus 'new Far East'. Too much depends! A new industrial machine will be better than a 'good old' equivalent because the new machine has a warranty. After that the biggest problem is pinning down a 'good' old machine. 'Good' is hard to assess. Second-hand condition has nothing to do with the brand name, and everything to do with the machine's history. When Vic recommended his Elliot Omnimill, he meant that his particular machine was good, not that Elliot equipment has magical properties that make it immune to wear and tear or abuse. Vic knows his Omnimill was good because he tested it.

I wonder if you are within range of a show room? You can't beat seeing the real thing ideally in action.


giles lever16/08/2017 19:12:06
10 forum posts

if I go in a showroom at the moment I will buy something so luckily being on holiday I can`t, so research is my method for the moment. Thanks Giles

Vic16/08/2017 19:39:05
2615 forum posts
20 photos
Posted by giles lever on 16/08/2017 15:54:21:

hello Vic, your message is interesting as it is suggesting good old is better than new Far East machines which is where at the "moment" my preferred leaning, I think? Thanks

Sadly it's not so simple. My old Elliott Omnimill was much better designed and manufactured than my VMC but it was badly worn so something of a challenge to use. The Warco came with us during our last house move, not sure I could have done it so easily with an old British machine.

For many folks getting the machine in the workshop is a major consideration and this is where smaller import machines come in handy. If you have easy access though and don't mind paying to get it moved you can buy what you like. I was offered a good Bridgeport for £600 prior to getting the Omnimill but it was just too big. Three phase electrics are another issue.

Ian Skeldon 216/08/2017 19:56:42
489 forum posts
41 photos

Hi Giles,

Sorry that I can't really offer a finite answer to your question but bear in mind the following scenario that I find myself in.

I wanted a small to mid sized lathe and bought a far eastern one for about £1200, the lathe itself is ok and pretty accurate, it came with a 3 jaw chuck and a four jaw independant chuck as well as a face plate. I bought a collet holder chuck as well as I want to maintain a tight degree of accuracy where possible.

Once it was set up in my workshop I set about truing the 3 jaw chuck as this was already mounted and would often be used. After a very light skim of the back plate and some fine tuning I had it cracked, a couple of light c/punch marks for further identification should the chuck ever need to come off. The 4 jaw was also set up so as to be true, not wanting to disturb the now accurate set up I tried to buy back plates for both teh face plate and the collet chuck.

Firstly the cost of over £100 each from the supplier of the machine and secondly the the fact that they didn't have any in stock and no idea of when they would become available meant that the face plate and collet holder are not useable. My used, old British Mill came with just about everything I would ever use and is very solid and reliable in use. So do check out even the well known suppliers of these far eastern machines as they will tell you they have everything in the way of spares and accessories available etc, etc.

Dave Halford16/08/2017 20:04:20
940 forum posts
9 photos

Choice is relatively simple based on what you want to pay and how much room you have.

Chose your size and model and then hit Google for opinions.

People like to moan so most often you get all the trouble with positive replies reserved for threads like this one.

Current far eastern gripes have been

  • gib strips made wrong
  • I've blown my motor / control board working it too hard
  • stripped plastic gears
  • cant get the odd ball size belts any more

What the silly old duffer says is true, but his rough around the edges and simple fettling tells you a new machine needs work too.

There's been a spate of alleged ex school stuff, mostly lathes on ebay some are clearly not as described, also a heavily damaged centec 2 tarted up with fresh paint for £400 just check the screw heads on the table.

Both ways are a gamble, make your choice, you have to live with it laugh

Best of luck

Tim Stevens16/08/2017 21:46:05
1268 forum posts

To answer your question about motors and sizes, yes. Modern motors can be smaller for the same output, depending on the design. One factor is the use of super-strong permanent magnets <look up 'neodymium magnets'> and another is speed control using electronics, both of which are fairly new technology.

I suspect that in addition there is a growing tendency for suppliers to be 'careless' when stating outputs, especially when the customer is half way round the world rather than just up the road.

In my experience (not mainly of milling machines) the important things include 'How easy is it to get spares, or advice?' So, a model similar to one you know of locally might be better because you have a ready source of advice.

Hope this helps. My wife tends to go on the colour, and she is wrong just as frequently as me ...

Regards, Tim Stevens


Edited By Tim Stevens on 16/08/2017 21:46:43 in two attempts to remove a compulsory silly face.

Edited By Tim Stevens on 16/08/2017 21:48:08

duncan webster17/08/2017 00:38:27
2800 forum posts
41 photos

Before I got my Centec I had a Naerok 350. Yes it from the far east, but it was a really well made machine, the table assembly was actually better than the Centec, but it suffered from round column. If you can put up with this (and I did fior many years) it is a good machine, and unlikely to be worn out if you can find a second hand one, as they were not sold into industry.

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