What's the bottom feeders' hope over here in CNC land.
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  1. #1
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    Default What's the bottom feeders' hope over here in CNC land.

    While I love all the various manual machines I have, At one point I also made the statement"the next tool to come in here needs to be CNC. "

    Still feel that way, but also still don't have a business plan or funding.

    I run a 3 axis wood router, GUI, so we jut point & click on geometries, and stuff gets a movin and dust flies. So I'm real comfortable in the world of draw the widget, stick code on widget, somewhere in there all our pretty little lines get chopped up into G code and the chunks start leaving that we didn't want
    there anyways.

    Anyway, I'd like to move more into metal CNC and need some help for what to look for. I gather there's knee mills and bed mills. Shop on residential property, so it needs to be 8000# or less, and not over 8' tall. I get the new drives on old machines stuff (Like a Boss refit). Seems starting with a basic mill and then finding ball screws, etc., ain't the way to go.

    Any smaller, older VMCs out there that would lend themselves to refit? Thinking about some widgets that are the size of a brick and roughed in, drilled, crossdrilled, few pieces tapped, etc.

    Basically can't take the plunge for a new Haas, but needing suggestions of what to look for in smaller machines that could be drug home for control retrofit.

    Thanks, sorry this is so spotty, bad flu that wants to be pneumonia right now and the prescriptions have me a bit "addled" at times.

    Thanks,
    Rob

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    We have a Tree Journeyman 425 that works pretty good for smaller stuff like that. It's basically a knee mill that has powered table (X & Y) with a powered quill that has about 6" stroke in Z. No tool changer, but powered draw bar like a normal CNC. The Dynapath control is pretty easy to learn and is conversational. I've seen good condition ones being sold for around 10k.

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    Watch the auctions...my buddy picked up an old BP with a Boss control on for $250 - we figured the iron was worth that in scrap. His plan is to do the retro thing - there are quite a few kits available and it looks as some on PM have gone the Geko route with great success. If you can be patient and are able to do the retro, you might get into something for less than a few thousand.

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    http://www.eurospares.com/graphics/m.../treebrochure/

    Tree brochure (8 jpgs) in that folder. I paid $5K for my 325. I think one person here got one for under $1K that proved to be pretty decent, but it looked pretty dirty.

    http://www.cbrack.com/boss9/boss9.htm

    Boss 9 retrofit FYI

    A bed mill is probably going to give you a lot more Z travel which can be very handy. Be sure to see what kind of spindle speed you get if you are doing aluminum or using small EMs. Trees came with both 3K and 6K spindles.

    cheers,
    Michael

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    Rob,
    Matsuura made a little mill, 500 mini-master or just Matsurra 500, that has 6000 RPM with a 16 tool automatic tool changer. I have four of them and they work great for the size part you are looking at and a little larger. I gave 3-5k for each af mine. Uses BT 35 tooling though which is some times a challnge to find. Tough little machines.
    Michael

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    Thanks guys, plain forgot about the Tree mills.

    I hate to think how many knee mills I've walked past looking for manual machines, but oh well, gotta start somewhere.

    mtho, the Matsuura sounds intriguing, thanks for the input.

    And while I don't have a problem learning older controllers if I have to, I'm pretty much assuming whatever I can afford will be a retrofit situation.

    I've spent too much time playing with WWII era gear and older, when I probably should have been looking a little further ahead. On the other hand, after dealing with the router all day, coming home to another computer driven machine hasn't been real high on the list.

    Thanks for the input, just trying to figure out where to jump off and begin learning some new stuff,

    Rob

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    Quote Originally Posted by blackboat View Post
    Thanks for the input, just trying to figure out where to jump off and begin learning some new stuff

    Hi Rob..

    If you're decent at electrical and figuring things out you can always do what I did. I bought a non-working machine and have gradually been bringing it back to life.

    You can also keep an eye out for older Hurco machines. They are easy to learn and fairly easy to work on. Plus you can get them pretty cheap in a lot of cases.

    The people here on PM and in the CNC forum are pretty knowledgeable and have helped me tremendously.

    Not everything old has to have a retrofit.

    Michael

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    Old Hurcos are plentiful and reasonably priced, and as mentioned the Tree mills seem to go pretty cheap. I would not try to do a big VMC with a tool changer as a first project - I think that could eat your lunch. If you are going to do smaller parts (aluminum/plastic) and have a little more budget, the Tormach machines are not bad (within their limitations). My neighbor used his to pay for a Sharp VMC and still wishes that he had kept it for second ops.

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    I wouldn't recommend looking fer retrofit iron.

    There is plenty of running '80's iron out there that can be had for a song. Cinci's with a 900 are very reliable and cheap.

    If you wunna stay in the 8000" area tho - that really limits things tremendously. Try to keep an eye out for a Cinci VC750. They go dirt cheap and are a decent machine.

    Any worn out POS VMC with a toy changer (slow as it may be) will doo 10X the job that a brand new knee mill/control will ever think of.

    By the time it's on your floor and running you may have a real machine for what you end up having in that little thing in the corner.

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    i'd stay clear of boss machines if at all possible . no prog spindle rpm control , no rigid tap , tiny quill travel. the few that have toolchangers are painfully slow. the rigid rams are a bit more stout, but still..... even with new brains ,there's gotta' be something else available.

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    Default new versus used.

    I have to agree with ox on this. retrofit iron is not cheap. the centurion control for an old hardinge cnc chucker is around $13k if you put it together yourself. it is a beautiful control from what i have seen but the cash output is up front. and the time involved and no warranty if you do it yourself. it is a game for larger companies that want to add specialty equipment at a discount.
    for example, some guys I know retrofitted an old 48" bullard. talk about old school, this thing was built in the 30's. the thing is massive and they only make forging dies. it will rough a part in 2 hrs that normally takes them 20 hrs on the vmc with carbide insert tooling.
    I price was around 80k. a new one like this is going to be 500 or more.
    All thing considered the new haas might be much cheaper. A couple of grand down and a grand a month will buy something small with service a new control and a great resale price when its paid off.

    jm2c

    billy

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    Don't turn your nose up at rarer Euro machines like Deckels, Mahos, and Mikrons. I acquired a running 1986 Deckel FP2NC for $4k that still has miles left. The Deckel CNCs seem to run in the $4k to $12k range for a running machine. Same for Mahos. They typically don't have tool changers or lots of speed, but they are very well made.

    When my FP2NC goes to milling machine heaven, I may look at something like a new Sharp SV2412. I will blow my mid-life crisis money on a CNC mill instead of a red Porsche .

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    Thanks for the further replies. I've come to realize that already I'm splitting them into 2 camps: Knee mills, which I think of as refit projects, and bed mills, which I wouldn't want to refit as a first go at this sort of project.

    My experience in the wood world has me pretty convinced that tool changers are needed (We can only carry 8 on board, can assign tool nos. 9 and up but you have to hand it to it and scratch it's ears nice before it will go back to work.)

    Got nothing against Deckels and their ilk, they just usually want nothing to do with me.

    In the end I'd prefer a small bed mill with tool changer, that is physically moveable and manageable. Reality sets in and we get back to talking about knee mill retro's.

    Knee mills just don't look good to me. I like the bed mill, complete with it's own Dilbert cubicle, hit the button and SWOOSH, the $64,000 diswashwer is off the the races. And something happens to the metal in there somewhere.

    And them Hurcos. Hurcos. Hurcos everywhere! Big ones, small ones, blue ones, and dirty bluish ones and... lots of web fodder if you want to see pics of hurcos.

    Looks like I've got quite a bit of reading and catching up to do here. Need to send a note to Don and see if this new board system is going to provide turndown services for when I've read enough for one day.

    Thanks guys,
    starting to get my head around this stuff one grey hair at a time,

    Rob

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    I bought a Bridgeport Series I with Boss 4 or 5 control. I did a retrofit using the Gecko driver boards. It took me one week to complete the retrofit. Eliminated the tape drive cabinet altogether. It is a nice compact set up now.

    You guys say what you want but I "Love" this old retrofit Bridgeport. I have had it 2 years now and had no trouble with any part of it and when it does I'll me able to fix it. For what I do it is perfect.

    I'll stand there and change speeds and tools, no problem. If you are going to pay someone else to do that then it is a different story.

    I do mostly specialty components and very little production. Being a manual machinist for 35 years, CNC has enhanced my capability and creativity.

    I retired in May of 07 and now work for myself.
    www.outbackmachineshop.com

    Never been happier,
    Jim


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