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First Milling Machine

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David Holmes11/03/2018 17:41:06
17 forum posts

Hi Guys,

I've been after a milling machine for a long while, eyeing up the SX3 from Axminster with the DRO. However, having been searching for alternatives I came across Chester Machine Tools. These seem a lot cheaper than Axminster. Has anyone got one and can offer any feedback? Good, bad, indifferent.

The SX3 with DRO is around £2800 from Axminster, but I could get the 626 Turret Mill with DRO for £700 less than Chester Machine Tools, and it seems to be a better machine from the specs.

I've also found an Emco FB2 for £1850 but no DRO and I would need to convert from 3phase to single or buy an inverter. Looks to be a nice machien though.

I wouldn't go over the cost of the SX3 but would like a DRO so either a machine that can be easily added to later, or one that comes with it.

Anyone share there opinions on those or have a better option?

Many thanks

mechman4811/03/2018 18:52:53
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2932 forum posts
460 photos

Hi David

​From your comments it seems as though you have a flexible financial supply; can't comment on any of the machines you mention but these days I reckon it pays to get a machine supplied with DRO's. I have a Warco WM16 which suits me fine & I have fitted DRO'S as an afterthought. Not being electrikery savvy I can't cast an opinion on VFD / inverters, single phase suits me at the mo'; just have a look at Warco's range ( usual disclaimer )...?

George.

JasonB11/03/2018 18:57:26
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21284 forum posts
2416 photos
1 articles

If you are upto fitting the DRO yourself then shop around for other suppliers of the SX3, you could get the machine and a DRO for less than the basic SX3 from Axminster

David Holmes11/03/2018 19:03:21
17 forum posts

Is belt drive a benefit over the direct geared drive on the Warco's? I note the 16B is a good £250 more. I like the look of the WM18 slightly better than the Lux Milling Machine from Chester, but almost 100kg lighter. Is weight the advantage on the mills?

David Holmes11/03/2018 19:06:33
17 forum posts
Posted by JasonB on 11/03/2018 18:57:26:

If you are upto fitting the DRO yourself then shop around for other suppliers of the SX3, you could get the machine and a DRO for less than the basic SX3 from Axminster

Arc trade has the SX3 almost £1000 cheaper than Axminster. I emailed them a while back about a DRO but they didn't sell one. A few places sell a generic DRO so I guess it's just a case of making suitable brackets. £1000 would certainly get me a DRO anyway! I don't know if there was a better option for the money, searching and reading reviews can send you round the bend!

Vic11/03/2018 19:07:59
2894 forum posts
8 photos

There’s also the Warco VMC mill to consider. A few of us on here have one and are well pleased with them.

JasonB11/03/2018 19:12:57
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Posted by David Holmes 2 on 11/03/2018 19:06:33:
Posted by JasonB on 11/03/2018 18:57:26:

If you are upto fitting the DRO yourself then shop around for other suppliers of the SX3, you could get the machine and a DRO for less than the basic SX3 from Axminster

Arc trade has the SX3 almost £1000 cheaper than Axminster. I emailed them a while back about a DRO but they didn't sell one. A few places sell a generic DRO so I guess it's just a case of making suitable brackets. £1000 would certainly get me a DRO anyway! I don't know if there was a better option for the money, searching and reading reviews can send you round the bend!

ARC now do Digital readouts and suitable glass scales, the brackets supplied can usually be made to fit most machines if not just a few simple bits of aluminium will do the job.

J

Robert Knox 111/03/2018 19:20:30
6 forum posts

I had an Axminster VHM bench mill for a number of years. The gearbox packed up and I sold it. I bought a Warco VMC with power feed on the x axis, no digital readouts yet, but it has done all that I needed and is as good as the day I bought it.

Samsaranda11/03/2018 19:37:35
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1186 forum posts
5 photos

I have a Champion 20VS mill from Chester, bought a few years ago for about £850 if my memory serves me right. I purchased with the intention of fitting a DRO myself, bought a glass scale DRO from “Machine DRO” cost in the region of £400 for two axis, Z axis already had digital readout built in, no problems fitting it, plenty of brackets with it to suit fitting. I can say that I have never regretted purchasing the Champion mill, it has done everything that I needed of it. My other choice at the time of purchase was an X3, both mills are equally capable it all hinges on what you will be making with the mill and of course the physical space available, particularly ceiling height in your workshop.

Dave W

David Holmes11/03/2018 19:39:05
17 forum posts

I could shoehorn a VMC in. I suppose the next question is metric or imperial? Can the DRO's switch between units? I could get an R8 imperial VMC for 1800 delivered. That sounds pretty good. Although I need to re-arrange the shop to get it in, can they go through a standard doorway?

I'm not sure if the larger table of the WM18 is a better option. I could plonk it straight on the bench. Is the size of the VMC good for stability, does it offer any further advantage over a bench top model?

David Holmes11/03/2018 19:40:46
17 forum posts

Posted by Samsaranda on 11/03/2018 19:37:35:

physical space available, particularly ceiling height in your workshop.

Dave W

I didn't consider the vertical height. How much space over the top is needed? I think I only have just shy of 8ft floor to ceiling.

Samsaranda11/03/2018 19:52:57
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1186 forum posts
5 photos

DRO’s will switch from metric to imperial no problem, once you have used the machine with DRO’s you will forget about the calibrated dials, you don’t need to use them the DRO will measure much more accurately, no more counting the turns of the dials and getting lost and having to start again.

Dave W

Samsaranda11/03/2018 19:54:46
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1186 forum posts
5 photos

As regards height requirements, read the machine specs carefully and then calculate how much you will need.

Dave W

Muzzer11/03/2018 20:02:51
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2904 forum posts
448 photos

If you can use a milling machine, surely you should be capable of fitting a DRO and scales. The Arc DROs and glass scales look well priced. I wouldn't bother with those glorified digital micrometer scales - the proper DRO units have loads of useful functions.

Like many others here, I found that a DRO transformed my milling machine - improved my accuracy and reduced my scrappage rate immeasurably, so to speak.

Murray

David Holmes11/03/2018 20:18:17
17 forum posts

Fitting the DRO isn't really an issue. The price point on some of the machines with DRO and non DRO and then buying a DRO is not really any different. So to spend the time fitting one when another machine with a DRO just as capable and the same price when all considered seemed a nuisance if nothing else.

The SX3 seems a popular choice and so do the Warco machines. I'm swayed towards the Warco machines at the moment. The price of the Chester is still tempting but they seem extremely light compared to others.

not done it yet11/03/2018 20:20:44
6251 forum posts
20 photos
Posted by Samsaranda on 11/03/2018 19:54:46:

As regards height requirements, read the machine specs carefully and then calculate how much you will need.

Dave W

But don’t forget you might need to change the drawbar in the vertical head - without un-tramming it - if the machine has a knee.

alan ord 211/03/2018 20:33:46
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105 forum posts
33 photos

David, I bought a Chester Champion 20vs (which is nearly identical to the Warco WM 18) DRO and power feed, been very happy with it. I have since bought a Chester Super Lux which is a much bigger machine. I was looking at the Chester 626 and Warco VMC, both turret mills but decided to go for the Super Lux because of the much bigger capacity all round. If you can afford it go for the DRO, they are great and it will save you lots of time. Also go for the R8 quill, significantly (by a country mile) better than the morse taper quills. Also go fer belt drive if you want quietness, no noisy gearbox. But the advantage of the gearbox means you can select the speeds required without changing belts. (unless you are using an inverter). Chester and Warco are both good companies plus good after sales service. As are other companies who service the model engineering market.

Alan.

steamdave11/03/2018 20:50:18
485 forum posts
38 photos
Posted by not done it yet on 11/03/2018 20:20:44:
Posted by Samsaranda on 11/03/2018 19:54:46:

As regards height requirements, read the machine specs carefully and then calculate how much you will need.

Dave W

But don’t forget you might need to change the drawbar in the vertical head - without un-tramming it - if the machine has a knee.

...Changing the drawbar. My mill has one of those drawbars that use differential threads. What a pain in the a... I'm screwing the darn thing for ages to release the tool and if the new tool has a slightly different MT length, I have to be very careful that there is enough thread in the new tool because next time the drawbar unscrews from it, the tool might not be ejected but the drawbar is separated from the tool.
A simple top hat captive drawbar is far superior.
Apologies if this has drifted off topic, but might be a consideration in choice of machine. Maybe R8 is a good choice of tool-holding, depending on size of machine contemplated.

Dave
The Emerald Isle

David Holmes11/03/2018 21:10:14
17 forum posts

I think I'm tempted to get the Warco WM18 reading everyone's input.

Has an R8 Spindle
Can fit a DRO pretty cheaply myself or get Warco to install it (if I've read it correctly).
Nice table size and travel
Can mount to my bench so no need to re-organise the workshop just yet!
Variable speed with no belt changes, and no faffing installing a VFD
Heavier than the Chester machines so I'm hoping it's more stable, either way more weight must be better.

If I out grow it I could upgrade, but it will do what I need it to do.

Zan11/03/2018 21:36:09
280 forum posts
19 photos

1 go fir R8 spindle releasing a Morse taper is difficult and it wasn't designed fir milling it's a locking taper and in a mill spindle boy does it lock my 2mt (below) even with a special ejector was a sod to remove or bash it out with a hammer , bad news.

2 vdf drives are on both my mills, both lathes and drill. Wouldn't be without them

3 I did have a Rishton very similar to the emco but latter has the ekevating handle in an aquard place. But both have round columns. Avoid these

4 DR O straightforward to fit esp the new breed og pf very compact magnetic versions my 3 dro are glass/ ball and bulky

5 if possible view the machines, the spec can lie to you hands on needed

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