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Imperial Milling Machine


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Chris Short 112/03/2019 09:02:11
6 forum posts

Hi Everyone

This will be my first post so be gentle

i currently have a metric milling machine(Boxford VM30) which has served me well

However, I am looking to buy a larger mill and have found a suitable unit but it is an imperial unit

Given that I will be fitting a 3 axis DRO what if any impact would it being imperial have on its ease of use

i have enquired about the availability of metric leadscrews so I can convert it. Has anyone done this sort of conversion? How did it turn out?

many thanks


Saxalby12/03/2019 09:32:08
163 forum posts
15 photos

I had the opposite. I bought a metric Tom Senior mill and being an old fart who can only work in Imperial. I fitted a three axis dro system to work in imperial. Since then I have never looked at the metric dials on the mill.

Douglas Johnston12/03/2019 09:37:29
684 forum posts
32 photos

Yes, once a DRO is fitted you hardly ever need to use the machine scales. I would not bother changing the leadscrews, save your money for a decent DRO.


IanT12/03/2019 09:40:30
1503 forum posts
142 photos

All my machines are Imperial Chris - but I move between Metric & Imperial (Decimal) measurements without really thinking too much about it these days - mental approximations help. 1mm is about 40 thou - 4 thou about 0.1mm - 10 inches is 254mm...etc

But if you are fitting a DRO - then it will do the conversions for you. If the mill is in great shape and the price is also good - then go for it. Much better to have a really good Imperial machine than a crappy Metric will soon get used working with it...



John Haine12/03/2019 09:47:48
3012 forum posts
160 photos

DRO will also let you do bolt circles etc, in metric or imperial.

If you did change the leadscrews, go for ballscrews - then you could add CNC!

Andrew Johnston12/03/2019 09:55:40
5410 forum posts
627 photos

I wouldn't even hesitate - fit a DRO and be done with it. I've got a 2-axis DRO on my (metric) Bridgeport and it's the single most useful accessory I've ever bought. No need to change anything on the mill, just use the DRO. I have a mix of imperial and metric machine tools and, like Ian, it's not a problem working in both systems.

I didn't fit, and don't miss, a third DRO scale on the knee of my Bridgeport. A DRO has other advantageous features, like bolt hole patterns. Great for bolt holes (!) and also for roughing out large holes. Just do some simple calculations so that you drill a series of holes where each hole overlaps by a few thou, drill the holes and then knock the centre out. Like this:



Gary Wooding12/03/2019 10:55:38
669 forum posts
169 photos

When I initially thought to fit a DRO to my Centec 2B, my first thought was to save money and go for a 2-axis system. Friends at the club said that I would later regret not getting a 3-axis, so I dug deeper into my pockets and bought the 3-axis system. They were right, I use the Z-axis scale very often, and would feel lost without it.

Go for 3-axis - you well never regret it.

I've subsequently fitted another single DRO to the quill. It's useful, but not used as much as the main system.

Oh! I never look at the dials, the DRO is far more accurate, and takes care of backlash problems.


Nick Thorpe12/03/2019 11:13:01
47 forum posts
6 photos

I have a metric Tom Senior Vertical Light with X & Y DRO's and bought a three axis DRO display so that I could easily upgrade with a Z axis at a later date.

It was a fair chunk of money but really was money well spent - and I never look at the manual controls! You can buy this kit cheaply on Ebay etc but I found Machine DRO (right) to be really helpful and I managed to buy the kit during a Black Friday promotion.

Regards, Nick.

not done it yet12/03/2019 12:29:08
4503 forum posts
16 photos

As per Gary, in particular, and the others. a full 3 axis dro kit with all the extra bits (so not a basic Kit with just measurements) is the way to go. My Centec, too, has the full kit and also a separate read-out on the quill, although I avoid using the quill for most jobs.

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