Bridgeport Mills - years to avoid?
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  1. #1
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    Default Bridgeport Mills - years to avoid?

    Good Thanksgiving to the members of this forum. I'm new to this group - and have a lot to learn. My focus is mostly on automotive and general construction - making things that I need. I have an older Myford tool-room lathe, with lots of attachments, as well as a very well equipped micro-machine shop, focused on clockmaking. I am looking to buy a used mill, most likely a Bridgeport. Which brings me to my question: Are there specific years/serial number ranges that one should avoid when buying a used Bridgeport? I understand that one should perhaps avoid an M head, and that condition is very important. I've heard that there was a period, sometime after Hardinge took over in 2004, that some of the Bridgeports suffered from poor-quality components from China or Taiwan. So much for my vast store of knowledge. I tried searching these forums but didn't find anything that covered this. Somehow I know it has been discussed before, so, I apologize, in advance, for not managing to find the appropriate threads. But, I know there are folks on here who can cover this with their eyes closed.

    A newbie looks forward to some guidance!

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    Mid 80's some bad heads from Singapore IIRC, circa 1986 had one that had a head replaced under warranty prior to my being there

    All this is such ancient history that problems have most likely been long worked out

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    If you specify that a mill with chrome ways is all you will accept, then:

    1. You will have weeded out all the junk and soon to be junk, even the mild junk. Never seen a mill with chrome ways that was all that bad. If you are going to mount a vise to the table and just move in small increments of travel then it does not matter so much if the sliding table surfaces are worn.

    2. Do you want a variable speed head or a belt with pulley arrangement?

    3. Years, no. Mileage is the factor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rons View Post
    If you specify that a mill with chrome ways is all you will accept, then:

    1. You will have weeded out all the junk and soon to be junk, even the mild junk. Never seen a mill with chrome ways that was all that bad. If you are going to mount a vise to the table and just move in small increments of travel then it does not matter so much if the sliding table surfaces are worn.

    2. Do you want a variable speed head or a belt with pulley arrangement?

    3. Years, no. Mileage is the factor.
    I have seen plenty of trashed Bridgeports with chrome ways, ways worn and scored are not uncommon even with chrome!

    To the op's question, there was a couple of years IIRC in the mid 80's that had problems with the castings?

    If you buy a Variable speed head, make sure you run it and make sure its in good shape, it doesn't take long to get to $2000 plus in parts for the head alone!

    This is what good ways should look like!

    ebay-8.jpg

    Kevin

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    Suggest forgetting B-port, and get a recent Lagun instead.

    L7

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    Lots of good Bridgeports out there to buy. Be sure you get variable speed. If you keep it within the last 30 years it should have what you want. The older ones had more of a quality look. Like the engraved column and the side door.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Nelson View Post
    I've heard that there was a period, sometime after Hardinge took over in 2004, that some of the Bridgeports suffered from poor-quality components from China or Taiwan.
    I had some experience with one of those new Bridgeport branded CNC mills, 2012 flavor I think, GX480 maybe? It was fast, and it was cheap, and it was garbage. The frame was very loose, everything shook, the hydraulics unit was very amaturish, a welded steel box that sat on teh floor with some valves tacked to the top. The chip conveyor had no provisions whatsoever to deal with fines, and the washdown did little to actually clear larger chips from the enclosure. I had to stop longer jobs to shovel it out when it got packed. And the braided steel cable jacket at the back of the workspace that wore against the sheetmetal to the point I had to fab an armor plate for it because it was fraying and snagging. Oh yea, there was that whole thing where the tool changer kept jamming and forgetting the tool pot allocations, or breaking springs and chucking tools through the window, that they never did actually fix. So yea, their modern stuff was absolute amateur hour, do not recommend.

    As for manual knee mills, I've been told to not consider anything without chromed ways. We've actually considered BPs to be overpriced for a long time, everyone wants the name. I bought a Wells-Index for less, and got a machine that's much more capable and is still (or was) in business in Michigan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bsg View Post
    I have seen plenty of trashed Bridgeports with chrome ways, ways worn and scored are not uncommon even with chrome!

    To the op's question, there was a couple of years IIRC in the mid 80's that had problems with the castings?

    If you buy a Variable speed head, make sure you run it and make sure its in good shape, it doesn't take long to get to $2000 plus in parts for the head alone!

    This is what good ways should look like!

    ebay-8.jpg

    Kevin
    The wear would have been worse given the same monkey operators in a rush using non-chrome.

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    Thank you, every one of you, for taking the time to respond. You have no idea how flattering it is for experienced people to take the time to help someone who has so very much to learn. I believe I have found a good mill, from around 2004, that will make me very happy.

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    If it was me, I'd look for a Well Index mill in good shape. The few I've seen used are usually in decent shape. Most people only like Bridgeports because that's all they have ever operated, I find the wells index to be a more rigid mill IMO, than a Bridgeport mill ever was. Just saying....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Winterfalke View Post
    I had some experience with one of those new Bridgeport branded CNC mills, 2012 flavor I think, GX480 maybe? It was fast, and it was cheap, and it was garbage..
    Is the OP asking manual mills or the B-port VMCs?


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