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which older mill to complement a ML7?

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pablo19/09/2020 20:51:08
5 forum posts

Hi everyone. My first post past introduction.


I've spent years reading the forum and have always found the info I needed with the search function, this is the first time I've needed to ask something new, so have just registered.


I've built a lovely little workshop and a mini lathe has been a great introduction to the world of machining. However, I've inevitably found its limits/my limits in using it and it is soon to be replaced with an ML7 (awaiting collection - can't wait).


I've also been saving for a small milling machine, but rather than going for a matching mini mill from Seig/Real Bull, I'd like something a little more substantial - and my ideal would be an older western mill for me to restore.


I've poured through but I haven't managed to find what I need - what I'm looking for is to identify a (or a few) models of small vertical mill that would compliment the ML7. I'd prefer something pre-1990s, British/Western and crucially, something that is relatively common and still has good spares support in the community (the mill-equivalent of a Myford).


In terms of capability/workpiece size, an X2-sized mini mill would technically do most things I want - but Id prefer a little more accuracy and something more robust.


Could anyone suggest a model, or a few models for me to add to my search list? There are hundreds on but I wouldn't want to jump on something obscure for which parts are obsolete.


The nearest one I've been able to find on in terms of size is the Sharp Mill, but I haven't been able to find one for sale.


Equally, if I would be better simply buying a brand new eastern mill then I'd welcome any feedback (budget is up to £1200, but the less the better)


Thank you very much.

Edited By pablo on 19/09/2020 21:11:28

pablo19/09/2020 21:30:54
5 forum posts

Edit: budget up to £1200, but if I could get something that would do the job for £7-800 then that would be all the better - leaves more room for tooling.

peak419/09/2020 22:14:11
1203 forum posts
143 photos

Unfortunately most older British mills are likely to be obsolete on the parts front now.

Something over 30 years ago, to complement my own S7, I bought a Dore Westbury from Tony, the chap who runs; he used to deal in machine tools back then, as well as his full time job.
It was a well made example, and I've never regretted the choice, particularly since it is one of the rarer long column examples.

I later added a Centec 2B with the Mk3 vertical head.
Again I've never regretted that either, but still have the DW, as it's more versatile for some jobs.

The DW isn't as rigid as the Centec, but actually has a larger workpiece capacity.

The biggest limitation with either, is the table travel lengthways, so have a good ponder on its proposed use.
The DW, being round column, allows one to cheat a bit by swinging the head from one side to the other, to effectively extend the table travel.
The round column is often thought to be a disadvantage, but it can also work in your favour.
Swung to the left

Herbert Junior Surface Grinder recommissioning.
And swung to the Right, You couldn't do that sort of trick with a conventional mill
Herbert Junior Surface Grinder recommissioning.


Steviegtr19/09/2020 22:19:07
1518 forum posts
163 photos

I bought an old Tom Senior vertical light to complement the Super 7. Brilliant machine. Spares pretty thin on the ground , but what spares would you ever need. Pretty bullet proof machine.


full machine pic 2.jpg

JohnF20/09/2020 20:42:51
1024 forum posts
143 photos

Pablo, penny farthing tools currently have an Emco FB2 for sale - had mine for many years and never regretted the purchase **LINK**

Regards John

Engine Builder20/09/2020 20:50:57
231 forum posts

If you can find one the Raglan is a great machine. just look at how rigid that column is.

Perfect to go with a Myford, it was later sold by Myford.


Edited By Engine Builder on 20/09/2020 20:52:51

Edited By JasonB on 21/09/2020 14:59:05

Nick Clarke 320/09/2020 21:13:08
889 forum posts
30 photos

Buying an older mill just because it matches a Myford is in my opinion a terrible reason for choosing a particular mill.

But to choose the best mill that matches your requirements, new, old, new Chinese or English iron is sound common sense.

Sorry, rant over and please don't respond just to shoot me down, but only to help the OP.



pablo21/09/2020 00:31:10
5 forum posts

Gents - thank you very much.


What I've taken from the above, which I find quite reassuring, is that there isn't an 'obvious' answer. i.e. I wouldn't be missing the obvious choice and kick myself later.


So - by 'compliment an ML7' I should stress that I mean in terms of size, price-point and capability - rather than aesthetics. That is, I wouldn't want a micro-mill that would be overshadowed by the ML7, nor would I want an industrial mill that would outstrip the Myford - just two nicely complementary machines for working in similar sized materials. Though the latter would be a nice touch and while there is something romantic about older British machines, I'm aware of my own limitations.


The Emco linked above is beautiful, but a little over budget. I'll keep an eye open for one, as its a lovely thing.


The Dore Westbury is a wonderful suggestion(which I've actually come across previously and just watched a lovely video on youtube - being a lovely companion to the ML7). There are three for sale at the moment (all mk1s) which I'm having a good look at - of course the question is the quality of the original finishing by the home engineer responsible for initial assembly a well as the round column. The upside is a lovely history and something that is truly beautiful to see. Unfortunately my own skills are not yet up to those that would have been needed for initial assembly, so its likely I wouldn't be able to spot or correct an error in the machine.


And then there's the other choice: a Sieg SX2P. Far less attractive, but most likely more usable for someone still learning - which reinforces Nick's point above. Another modern mill I've considered is the Taig micro-mill. Overnight however, I've slashed my budget down to £800. The reason being that I've just ordered a new laptop computer specifically built to let me use Fusion360 so that I can build on my modelling skills - the reason I mention this is that it would be lovely to buy a mill for which there is CNC support in case I manage to go down that route in the future - which both the SX2P and Taig do. With the Taig now out of budget, the SX2P remains.


But the one that has truly caught my eye is the Raglan. I'd never heard of it before and since seeing the link above, I've googled every page I can find on it - the footprint is perfect, the capabilities seem to cover everything I want, short of off the self CNC potential and... though it pains me to say (and at the risk of contradicting my first sentence regarding aesthetics): it is a lovely looking thing that would be wonderful to pass on in the family.


So I'm going to spend a few weeks monitoring the classifieds looking for a Raglan - if I can find one, which seems highly unlikely, then expect a rebuild thread (if anyone sees one - a private message would be most welcome). If not, it'll be out with the credit card and a simple order of an SX2P.


Sounds sensible?


Thank you all once again for your help.


Edited By pablo on 21/09/2020 00:47:29

peak421/09/2020 01:42:50
1203 forum posts
143 photos

Have a look on classifieds.
There's a Harrison in Southampton; this isn't a recommendation as as I know little about them.

Also a Warco VMC


Zan21/09/2020 09:31:35
187 forum posts
13 photos

There was a set of articles in ME about converting an sx2+ to cnc.

send me a pm

Cornish Jack21/09/2020 10:00:39
1173 forum posts
163 photos

Cannot disagree with your likely choice, however, a point, which may be relevant, the D-W was designed to be built on ... an ML7! I have my second (a Mk2) having previously had a Mk1; it nicely compliments the Trileva 7b (and all the tooling is compatible.)



not done it yet21/09/2020 10:16:41
5031 forum posts
20 photos

I have a Raglan and it is a delight to use. Two drawbacks might be its size and with only the knee for vertical travel. For small items it is often the choice over the Centec 2B. Mine has both the mechanical variable drive and is driven by a VFD. Mine is a metric version - not that it makes much difference once a DRO is fitted.

The Centec, however, works in either vertical or horizontal and is more than just a ‘complement’ to a myford. There are some earlier versions weighing less, but the 2B with stand, power feed and vertical head is a large, heavy lump. Dimensions are in this Link thread

Bazyle21/09/2020 10:32:25
5488 forum posts
207 photos

Centec, Tom Senior, Elliott Omnimeil and its copy the VMC (various versions including one from Myford) are all about the same size and a little 'bigger' than the Myford but will compliment niecely when you upgrade the lathe to a Boxford. Think about whether you want interchageable tooling as these mills all come with more than one spindle option, often changing from MT3 to rarer INT30 during their production.
There was also the Emco FP2 which is a bit smaller but Warco produced a version in the '90s designed to compliment the Myford for tooling.

There are other threads on the forum covering the VMC and FP2.

John Haine21/09/2020 11:38:27
3347 forum posts
178 photos

Myford VMB is a nice machine, I've had one for a long time, does the job.


Edited By John Haine on 21/09/2020 11:40:27

colin hawes21/09/2020 11:47:01
515 forum posts
18 photos

Round column mills are often a pain as it is generally unlikely that you can raise and lower the head to accurately arrive at the same co-ordinate position: I would definitely recommend a vee slide column. Colin

SillyOldDuffer21/09/2020 12:26:41
6335 forum posts
1393 photos
Posted by Nick Clarke 3 on 20/09/2020 21:13:08:

Buying an older mill just because it matches a Myford is in my opinion a terrible reason for choosing a particular mill.

But to choose the best mill that matches your requirements, new, old, new Chinese or English iron is sound common sense.


I agree, but we're not all the same.

For that reason I strongly suggest anyone starting out shine a bright light on their reasons. Apply a ruthless engineering analysis to your requirement before spending money, but then go for it full throttle. This is because notions, prejudices and misunderstandings are as influential as cold logic when we go shopping and it pays not to mix them up.

For example I see nothing wrong in a hobbyist replicating a 1950s workshop to celebrate our engineering heritage, but doing so can be expensive, and misses certain opportunities. Likewise, I see nothing wrong in assembling a far-eastern workshop for entirely pragmatic and financial reasons. The first risks wasting time and money, the second could thoroughly annoy a traditionally minded owner. Ask what matters to you and why.

I wouldn't buy a machine with the idea of passing it on to future generations. I operate within a budget and buy tools to use them. To me tools are tools, not objects of affection or investments, and they can be scrapped or sold-on when they don't do what I need of them. Brand reputation is well down my list of desirable features because I'm mainly interested 'fitness for purpose' and 'value for money'. I'm also keenly aware reputation does not protect venerable machine tools from wear and tear. Balance the excellent reputation of Rolls Royce against the condition of this pre-loved Silver Shadow:


Pablo's plan for a Myford and matching Mill is off the table for me, not because I think those tools wouldn't be fit for purpose, but because they probably aren't 'value for money' in my context. (Even Myford's in poor condition attract premium prices.)

In my view, unless buying for a particular purpose, the debate boils down to New versus Second-hand. Buying new removes all the risks associated with buying second-hand, and it's possible to select machines to suit the space available, and the type of work to be done, and have them quickly delivered. Buying second-hand means waiting for the right machine to turn up, inspecting before purchase, and working round issues like uncomfortably big, or special power needs. On the plus side a better class of machine is affordable - far more expensive than Myford when new - but spares for top quality machines are shockingly expensive.

Myford seven series lathes are good but all machines have shortcomings, like a tiny spindle bore and chucks that unscrew in reverse. For many purposes, one of the bigger Chinese Lathes is a better choice. Not because of how beautifully made the lathe is, but because it's bigger!

So much depends on the owner and what he intends doing. A friend owns a sparkling workshop devoted to maintaining two modern motorbikes. The best spanners, tool cabinets, lifts and everything else. Loads of room. He enjoys keeping his workshop and bikes clean and tidy, but admits any major work is sent to the dealer. Good for him. My overcrowded workshop is a mess: bits, scrap, and half-finished projects, only cleaned when red-lights are flashing, or I'm starting something new. None of my tools are 'decent', but they all work and I enjoy getting the best of them. Both of us have workshops a professional would have to change. Expensive tools not earning money is sinful, as is buying machine tools likely to prove unreliable when worked hard. My untidy approach would be unacceptable if I shared the workshop, but I like it.

Useful to decide yourself where you are on the spectrum. Be honest, whether tinkerer, fuss-pot, collector, or slack-alice. Not good for someone like me to led astray by prejudice, and equally bad for me to push Chinese hobby equipment onto a tool-room worker. Horses for courses, but identify the course before choosing a horse. It's your hobby, enjoy!




Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 21/09/2020 12:28:20

Dave Halford21/09/2020 14:29:29
940 forum posts
9 photos

The Raglan is too fast for gear cutting with the common 3" dia cutters.

The spindle is fixed

The belt is around £50 and make sure all the speed change parts are present.

To CNC convert will require a stepper capable of lifting the knee.

There's nothing to blow up or plastic to break.

Chinese spares come from parts machines that the importers dismantle, so availability is not what you expect, if a new version comes out, 'spares' run out quite quickly.


Edited By Dave Halford on 21/09/2020 14:30:26

Gary Wooding21/09/2020 15:05:40
763 forum posts
196 photos

If you can find a Centec 2B with Mk3 VH, then snap it up. If it's good enough for Cherry Hill then it should be perfect for you.

Engine Builder21/09/2020 15:48:02
231 forum posts

Quote "The Raglan is too fast for gear cutting with the common 3" dia cutters."

Technical the Raglan speed is too fast for gear cutting but I have cut hundreds of gears on mine.



Edited By JasonB on 21/09/2020 20:12:41

not done it yet21/09/2020 20:07:29
5031 forum posts
20 photos

Agreed that the Raglan is probably a bit on the high side, speed-wise for gear cutting, but before arguing too heavily, over speeds being too high, some discussion of alternatives/options/possibilities available might be thought through.

While admittedly most Raglan millers were supplied with 1425rpm motors, some are around with the optional 2-speed motors running at 710/1425 rpm.

While 380rpm represents 300fpm cutting speed, which is on the high side for a 3” cutter, I am thinking that most hobby-sized gear cutters are less than 3” in diameter?

Not all gears are cut from steel. Many can be from cast iron, Aluminium or even teflon/acetal/nylon etc.

As per my post above, my little machine is fitted with a single speed 1425rpm motor but is driven by a VFD, so lower speeds are attainable on mine.

Just need a bit of compromise, sometimes.🙂

Personally, I think the Raglan is probably on the small side for many users. It would be for me - if it was the only mill I had.

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