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Yet another 'which mill shall I buy'

But with some more direct questions!

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Mike London10/11/2019 11:19:48
4 forum posts

XD 351 - " So how many of you Bridgie owners use all the features ? "

How many of us have tooling and materials squirreled away with " might come in useful one day."
When that "once in a blue moon moment" arrives, we are very happy bunnies.

I notice there is a thread currently running with someone resorting to putting jack screws under his column to be able to tram it fore and aft. Maybe the nodding head "once in a blue moon" moment has arrived

Nigel McBurney 110/11/2019 11:22:09
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623 forum posts
3 photos

If you can afford one,go for a Bridgeport A really good toolmaking friend (Vickers Trained) swears by them ,his comment was you can earn a living with one ,they are so easy to use and all the controlls come to hand so easily. A bridgeport is easy to sell ,larger turret mills ie Gate or Elliot are good but are difficult to sell due to the height making drawbar removal difficult, In fact I had an Elliot and then was given a Gate I had the idea of tidying it up and selling it to make a bob or two,just could not sell it due to the height ,so it was scrapped. Due to downsizing I sold the Elliot and was given an Elliot omnimill ,had it now for 3 years, and find that it works well has plenty of xyz axis travel ,

Andrew Johnston10/11/2019 12:02:41
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4936 forum posts
560 photos
Posted by Mike London on 10/11/2019 11:19:48:

XD 351 - " So how many of you Bridgie owners use all the features ? "

I've used all the features and all the accessories I have, with the exception of the Quillmaster. As I've picked up extra tooling some features get used less. Now that I have a large tilting table it's quicker to use same rather than tilt the head. Likewise if I need to drill parallel to the table it's easier to fit the right-angle attachment than swivel the head. I have run out of X, Y and Z travel on the Bridgeport, but there are ways around the problems.

I've got a lot of tooling squirrelled away for my machine tools. Makes sense; if you don't have the item you can't use it. But if you do, it can make a job much easier, even if only once in a blue moon.

Andrew

Colin Heseltine10/11/2019 12:26:43
345 forum posts
87 photos

My machine is a Gate PBM2000 which is a Bridgeport clone. I bought it from a dealer..it was 8 years old and had never been used. I can check the height if anyone is interested. I have the power drawbar which is brilliant. Has a 3hp motor..

colin

Richard -10/11/2019 14:11:16
47 forum posts
7 photos

I had a Bridgeport but due to low height of workshop I could only put it in one place, simply didn't work.

I sold it, done some research and got an old Alexander toolmaster, Deckel FP1 copy, best thing I ever did, you really can do about everything with it, yes they have problems eg not a lot of room on the Z axis above the table but there's always a way around it.

Richard

Iain Downs10/11/2019 18:18:23
516 forum posts
397 photos

Thank you all very much for the various bits of advice.

I won't be going for a bridgeport. It's a shed not a garage so it has a single door not a garage door. Even if I could get it in, there would be not much room left for me. When I get a bigger shed....

As I enter my shed, there's a bench on the left which has the CMD 10 near the door, then a vice. The vice is about 1 metre in but could be moved along. After the bench (8 foot) there's a one meter gap before my lathe bench which is somewhat less sturdy and about 125mm.

I'd originally thought that the new machine would have to sit where the CMD 10 is, which restricts my options considerably. Only the smaller Siegs would fit in. However, I've thought that the gap could host the new mill provided that whatever I stand it on raised the table / handles above the bench heights (83cm on the left and 89 on the right, chosen to suit my height!).

IN a pinch I can move the lathe to where the CMD 10 is, though the shelving storage is a bit lathe specific and would need re-arranging.

So on that basis, all of the machines could be made to fit. Well, the ARC SX3.5DPZ would struggle as might the VMC.

The VMC seems to have found a lot of favour. For me the drawback might be the (relatively) small spindle to table. I've pushed the CMD10 to the limit and the VMC has only 12 cm more height. (in contrast to some of the others heading for 50cm of space - twice the CMD 10).

Finally, I really would like top have DRO, but the extra 500 quid is daunting - be it as part of the package or something bought from a specialist like machine DRO.

From what I can see there are DIY options which would come in at a much lower price, but I imagine there are drawbacks. As an aside, I've worked with encoders in the (distant) past and do software for a living, so the design, build and coding don't daunt. Might be quite nice to have an inside project for the winter.

Can anyone provide pointers? Do the cheap capacatitive scales work well?

Iain

Hollowpoint10/11/2019 22:48:16
240 forum posts
28 photos

I use this type on my VMC. They are more than accurate enough for my needs and not expensive.

Iain Downs11/11/2019 07:05:51
516 forum posts
397 photos

Thanks, Hollowpoint.

I suppose I also wanted to ask what it was about the VMC which generated such positive feedback? Is it just the sheer mass of the beast (nearly half a ton!) or is there something about a knee which makes the mill better?

 

Related to that - the specs show a table size of 660mm but a lateral movement of only 370 which is on the lower side of the mills I'm looking at.  what does it do with the other 290mm?

 

Iain

Edited By Iain Downs on 11/11/2019 07:07:53

Michael Gilligan11/11/2019 08:08:56
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14244 forum posts
627 photos
Posted by Iain Downs on 11/11/2019 07:05:51:

[…]

Related to that - the specs show a table size of 660mm but a lateral movement of only 370 which is on the lower side of the mills I'm looking at. what does it do with the other 290mm?

.

I am not familiar with the VMC, or the alternatives, but that ^^^ seems to indicate that it is well-proportioned: It’s the others that I would be worrying about. ... How do they maintain stiffness in a table with a big overhang ?

MichaelG.

JasonB11/11/2019 08:39:38
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16530 forum posts
1759 photos
1 articles
Posted by Iain Downs on 11/11/2019 07:05:51:

Related to that - the specs show a table size of 660mm but a lateral movement of only 370 which is on the lower side of the mills I'm looking at. what does it do with the other 290mm?

290mm sounds a large number but when compared to say a SX3.5 with 240mm loss it's only 50mm difference. I'd say a good proportion of that is to do with the width of the female dovetail that the table slides in and the rest how close the end plates can get without hitting anything.

The mass/bulk issue is an interesting one, it certainly helped when HSS tooling ruled and you would be taking slow heavy cuts but now with the abundance of carbide you can remove the same amount of metal in the same time with shallower cuts or smaller diameter tools but using more passes as their higher cutting speeds mean you can feed so much faster and these smaller metal removal rates per pass don't need such a rigid machine.

For example in the past you may have used a flycutter to surface a piece of say 3" wide metal and speed may have been restricted by it being out of balance, feed would be limited due to one cutting edge and an HSS tool. Now you can use a 80mm shell mill with six carbide inserts. This can be fed six times as fast due to the number of cutting edges and multiply that two or 3 fold due to carbides cutting speed. So 12 times as much metal removed in the same time or lighten the amount removed per pass to say 1/3rd and you can still remove 4 times as much metal in the same time.

Michael Gilligan11/11/2019 09:37:00
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14244 forum posts
627 photos
Posted by JasonB on 11/11/2019 08:39:38:

[…]

The mass/bulk issue is an interesting one, it certainly helped when HSS tooling ruled and you would be taking slow heavy cuts but now with the abundance of carbide you can remove the same amount of metal in the same time with shallower cuts or smaller diameter tools but using more passes as their higher cutting speeds mean you can feed so much faster and these smaller metal removal rates per pass don't need such a rigid machine.

For example in the past you may have used a flycutter to surface a piece of say 3" wide metal and speed may have been restricted by it being out of balance, feed would be limited due to one cutting edge and an HSS tool. Now you can use a 80mm shell mill with six carbide inserts. This can be fed six times as fast due to the number of cutting edges and multiply that two or 3 fold due to carbides cutting speed. So 12 times as much metal removed in the same time or lighten the amount removed per pass to say 1/3rd and you can still remove 4 times as much metal in the same time.

.

That’s a very interesting and significant point, Jason yes

The performance envelope of affordable carbide inserts has changed enormously in recent decades

... ancient folk-memories of carbide tooling needing machines of great power and stiffness are irrelevant.

MichaelG.

Vic11/11/2019 10:37:24
2330 forum posts
12 photos

Hard to say why the VMC type are so popular, but they are. Before getting mine I’d only ever used proper knee mills like Tom Senior, Alexander and Elliott Omnimill. I considered a mill drill but the round column has issues that many don’t seem to like. I also looked at the square column type but they seemed expensive for the relatively small amount of metal you’re getting. Rigidity is everything with a mill and the VMC seemed solidly built for such a modest size machine. Being floor standing was a bonus for me when I first bought it as no need to hire a hoist to lift it onto a bench. When I moved house it was easily split into three pieces for transporting. I did have to get that hoist in the end though to take it apart and put it back together again! One question to ask others is, knowing what you know now would you buy a VMC again? In my case I’d have to say yes, it’s been a very good little mill. If it has the working envelope you need then it will work for you. If not move on and get something bigger?

mark smith 2011/11/2019 11:07:56
619 forum posts
313 photos

Get one of these ,ive never regreted it.smiley

18.jpg

mechman4811/11/2019 15:43:33
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2518 forum posts
377 photos
Posted by Hollowpoint on 10/11/2019 22:48:16:

I use this type on my VMC. They are more than accurate enough for my needs and not expensive.

I also have these fitted to my WM 16 & so far they have proved invaluable & accurate enough for all my needs. Have just changed batteries after approx a year so battery life is not an issue with me, well worth the outlay. Usual disclaimer applies.

George.

Ron Laden11/11/2019 16:02:48
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1451 forum posts
256 photos
Posted by mechman48 on 11/11/2019 15:43:33:
Posted by Hollowpoint on 10/11/2019 22:48:16:

I use this type on my VMC. They are more than accurate enough for my needs and not expensive.

I also have these fitted to my WM 16 & so far they have proved invaluable & accurate enough for all my needs. Have just changed batteries after approx a year so battery life is not an issue with me, well worth the outlay. Usual disclaimer applies.

George.

Snap, I also fitted them to my SX2 and have found them to be accurate and reliable.

Ron

Hollowpoint11/11/2019 16:38:38
240 forum posts
28 photos
Posted by Iain Downs on 11/11/2019 07:05:51:

Thanks, Hollowpoint.

I suppose I also wanted to ask what it was about the VMC which generated such positive feedback? Is it just the sheer mass of the beast (nearly half a ton!) or is there something about a knee which makes the mill better?

Related to that - the specs show a table size of 660mm but a lateral movement of only 370 which is on the lower side of the mills I'm looking at. what does it do with the other 290mm?

Iain

Edited By Iain Downs on 11/11/2019 07:07:53

It's just a well built lump of iron and to me it seems more rigid than others in the same price range. One of the factors that did it for me though is the simple belt and pulley arrangement. The gear head mills make much more noise and if you managed to strip a gear it means you are out of action for a while. On the VMC if I snap a belt (and its very unlikely) I can find something in any common a garden motorspares. The pulley setup also lends itself to easy conversion to a VFD if I choose to at a later date.

Iain Downs11/11/2019 18:22:18
516 forum posts
397 photos

Thanks, again.

I've been running though my long list of 30 mills which encompassed all the usual suspects and trying to slim them down.

Here's my logic so far, which I would appreciate any feedback on.

I want a decent stroke. 30mm on the CMD10 is very frustrating. Most of my short list run to 70mm or more. The exception is the Amadeal AMAT25LV (long table) which looks a contender because it's half the price of the top end machine, but still quite capable.

I've discarded machines with DRO on the grounds that I can do-it-myself cheaper. The ARC scales (or the equivalent direct from China) make this quite affordable and many of the short list have a digital depth meter.

I'm only considering R8 machines. MT3/4 Pooh! Old fashioned.

I've discarded Axminister because they are too far away to visit, their service reputation is not among the best and the machines seem a little more expensive than the same from ARC.

Here's one I want an opinion on. I've (mainly) discarded machines with a low top speed. Say below 2000 rpm. Low speed is OK for removing chunks of metal with a large mill, but I think not so good for detail work with a 3mm mill or very fine drills. Which makes a machine with higher speed options more flexible?

I'm also contemplating discarding the few with motors below 1KW. This may be a bit extreme given that I'm used to 150 watts of sheer delicacy, but the only rule in this forum is that a big machine is better than a little one! (no flame wars, please I appreciate that this isn't always true).

Finally is table movement. Compared to my CMD10 370x152 (VMC) is continental, but the competition can to 560x230 or better. Why would I need this? Why would I not?

This is what my short list currently looks like, ordered in descending order of cost.

ARC SX3.5DZP
AMADEAL AMAT45V
WARCO VMC
WARCO GH Universal Metric
amadeal amat45fg
ARC SX3 HiTorque
WARCO WM18
SPG SP 2217 30B LV
Toolco VM32B
ARC SX2.7L HiTorque
ARC SX2.7 HiTorque
AMADEAL AMAT25LV (Long Table)

I must admit that the Yorkshire part of me is starting to consider the costs a bit more. Not only would I need to buy the mill, but collets, clamps and arbors to replace the current MT2 tooling.

Comments advice, experiences all welcome!

Iain

Iain

Cabinet Enforcer12/11/2019 00:06:19
48 forum posts
2 photos

I have an AMAT45V, I'm fairly sure they aren't 1500quid though, only the geared head ones with the six speed box were ever near that cheap?

I put mine on a (temporaryish) stand made from 100mm fencing posts, it's easily strong enough, but you description of your bench sounds like it would provide differing support across the bottom, I could imagine issues with vibration when cutting, 300kg is a lot and having it all bearing straight down over seems sensible, you do not want anything that big starting to jump about.

Forgetting the stand for a moment, you said it's to go in a shed, is it on a concrete slab? Also, even breaking it down into parts leaves you with bits that still really need lifting equipment, and a normal sized doorway will present challenges.

The amount of space needed shouldn't be underestimated, table length plus movement plus handles plus a bit of room adds up to quite a lot.

I have a DRO as supplied, and couldn't imagine trying to do any sensible work without it, big tables mean an awful lot of cranking handles, this is much more manageable when you don't have to worry about counting turns, the ability to easily do PCDs is also worth the price alone.

I do like the machine, it has a lot of capability for the money, but my machining experience is pretty limited so I'm not too qualified to give an opinion.

Iain Downs12/11/2019 07:37:36
516 forum posts
397 photos

HI, Mr Enforcer.

No the AMAT45V currently runs in at around 2300 quid. Which is near the top end of my options (beaten only by the SX2.5DZP).

Yes the shed is on Concrete - about 4 inches I think. I am concerned about the doorway and regardless of what I get I expect I will need mechanical help (up to 100kg might work with two stout blokes, but above that would definitely need a hoist).

Iain

Roger Vane12/11/2019 10:31:15
93 forum posts
18 photos

In praise of the Warco VMC …..

Although I'd love a Bridgeport, it would be far too large for my workshop and has features which I would probably never use. As my best alternative, around 10 years ago I purchased a VMC from Warco.

After using a mill / drill for many years, the VMC is pure luxury, although I have personalised it somewhat. Firstly, I ordered a non-stock machine as I wanted imperial lead screws, an R8 spindle (far better than MT), and a 3 phase motor - delivery was around 6 months, which was ideal as I was moving the workshop at the time. I also ordered the wide drip tray which I considered essential.

In order to use the machine the first job was to fit an inverter from Newton Tesla, complete with their remote control box. This was a huge improvement over the standard belt changing system that I'd been using with the mill / drill.

I also fitted 3-axis digital readouts, with the X-axis scale fitted to the front of the table so as not to restrict Y-axis movement. Other additions have included two small LED lights (home designed and made), a full coolant system and revised X / Y axis stops.

Overall, I have found the VMC to be a good, solid and accurate machine which has done everything asked of it, although it did have one limitation which irritated me. I found that the distance between the spindle nose and table was insufficient for my needs - the solution was a 4" raising block which I made from Meehanite. This is just about possible on my Super 7 using a 6" 4-jaw chuck with a screwed body rather than the backplate style.

Just one more addition to make, and that's to add a digital scale to the quill down feed, complete with a revised quill stop.

Would I recommend the VMC for consideration? Certainly.

PS If anyone is interested in the fitment of the X-axis DRO (with new table stops) to the front of the table, the LED lights or the raising block then I have covered these with articles in either ME or MEW.

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