Further Advice on Bridgeport Purchase
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  1. #1
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    Default Further Advice on Bridgeport Purchase

    I am grateful for some sound advice some of you have given me on the choice of a Bridgeport model. I have become convinced that I want a Series 1 Bridgeport with a J head and an R8 spindle - preferably with a 42" table. I don't need variable speed since I would be utilizing a VFD in any case.

    It is obviously smart to physically inspect a used mill before purchasing it. Out of town travel to look at a mill is not a possibility for me. Unless a Baltimore dealer I have worked with comes up with a suitable Bridgeport in the near future, I may have to consider buying one on-line. Have any of you had success with an on-line purchase of a mill in the past? If so, can you steer me toward a trustworthy source? Budget limit is around $5K.

    I'm reluctant to buy a mill from a private individual, as this would be my first large mill purchase. While I have read multiple accounts of what to look for in a used mill, I'm not sure I would recognize flaws if I saw them. Also, a dealer would be more likely to be able to coordinate delivery to my residence for me.

    Thanks for any advice you can give me.

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    Not a mill, but I got taken on an old Monarch lathe. I have bought other things online...some that went well and some not. The only advice I can give is that if you have any doubts at all talking to the seller and asking about the mill...don't do it. Every time I have been taken there have been signs, feelings that the seller is "off". I have learned that my gut feelings are very accurate.

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    I've personally never purchased from a machinery dealer. all buys have been at auction or person to person, and even considering the mistakes ive made, (which includes "free" machinery), I think ive done better than I could have purchasing from a dealer. hell, if I had to buy almost anything from a dealer, I'd never have gotten into this game, but maybe that would have been for the best, .

    the most important thing is NOT whether you buy from a dealer or individual, after all lots of dealers pawn off junk for big markups, its how well informed you are, and even more importantly, how level headed you are about what you need, can use, and the real value of whatever the piece if crap you are somehow enamored of is.

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    If you find a machine on-line that is of interest to you, one possibility that I have seen used on a couple of the machining forums, is to post a request asking for inspection assistance from an experienced machinist that may live near the seller. You could offer to pay for their services. From what I have seen, this seems to have worked out well for at least a couple of guys.
    Another option may be to call someone like H&W Machine: H&W Machine Repair & Rebuilding - Parts and Service for the Metalworking Industry (machinerypartsdepot.com)
    These folks are very knowledgeable on Bridgeport mills. They repair and rebuild them, so they may have rebuilt machines available for sale and I would imagine they also have the ability to get it shipped to you safely. Anyway it would be worth a call.
    Ted




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    I suspect machinery dealers can be like used car dealers. They have expertise in hiding flaws that can really come back and bite you, where normal sellers don’t.

    That said, there are probably dealers out there who enjoy cleaning up old machines and making them serviceable who are reputable people providing a helpful service at a reasonable price, just like car dealers.

    I bought my 42” series I J head in south Jersey for $500 and it was in great shape. Just dirty. I think you will find what you are looking for in your price range.

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    the dealers can be really hit and miss, somewhat more so than private individuals. For a 5k machine they wont really be interested in you once its out the door. many of the machines come out of factories because they were either worn out or old and not easily serviceable anymore. Anything older than 10-15 years from an industrial high production setting is considered pretty much end of life and service is generally neglected other than enough to keep it going until its replaced.

    Its more a case of if you get lucky unfortunately. But with dealers there isn't really much luck, the nice machines they have out of folded businesses are just a lot more expensive, don't be naive and think they don't know what they have! being honest you'd be better buying a used machine off someone on here.

    buying unseen is a real punt in the dark! and highly inadvisable, id encourage you to just wait until you find one locally you can go look at.

    i bought a used cnc Bridgeport from a guy on here unseen, but he sent me loads of pictures and made videos, we spoke on the phone, i was lucky he was a really nice honest guy. he told me what he knew about about the machines condition and i paid a fair price knowing it would need work, there were still a few extra things i had to fix but its an old machine so not unexpected. would i do it again? probably not. It was a lot of work getting it rigged out of Arizona shipped cross country to Georgia and rigged in then it still needed fixing.

    the real thing you loose out on when buying unseen is being able to fire up the machine, check backlash, look for wear, listen for bad bearings in the spindle motors etc. if you get a machine with a shot spindle or worn ways you would sink thousands into fixing it.

    have a look at At-Man Unlimited Machining on youtube. He bought a used fadal unseen from a machinery dealer, he even had someone he assumed trustworthy go look it over. turned up and it was in pretty crappy condition with little to no recourse.

    if you really want a used machine thats in decent condition have a look at H&W Machine Machinery Sales they sell lots of Bridgeport reconditioning parts and rebuild machines so probability of it not being a piece of shit is much higher. some of the machines are more than your budget but in my experience buying parts from them they are a pretty decent company an you will probably get what you pay for.

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    The best advice I got when I started looking for machinery was to have patience. The right one will come along, but be ready to snap it up. But I would never buy sight unseen. I'd have to at least see it and check it out.

    I was patient this year, bought a 13" SBL from a guy 90 minutes from me. It was worth the drive, twice, once to see it and once to pick it up after getting an accepted offer. It was working, but needed work, that I was willing and able to put into it. Most recently, I bought a Series 1, 2HP, vari-speed mill from a local machine shop that was down sizing. Again, it needs work, and this one was partially disassembled. But the ways are ingreat shape (chrome plated) and there was little noticeable backlash in the table. But the motor shaft needs replaced (as well as some other small bits). All work I am willing to do. And I get the benefit of knowing the machines inside and out.

    FWIW, If you are looking for something turn-key, and can't travel to see it and run it, buying from a REPUTABLE dealer (H&W, Lee's Machinery, HGR, etc.) may be your best bet. But taking them apart and putting it back together is part of the fun for me.

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    My advice would be to buy from an individual and check out the machine yourself. I remember years ago walking into a local machinery dealer and they were getting ready to paint a bridgeport. Well they sanded down the old finish (lotsa grit all over) and then used an air hose to clean it off. AND blow all that grit into the ways. Machine sure looked good after they sprayed it though. And of course the customer had to come back in a few years for another one when it wore out prematurely. My first rule of buying a used machine tool was that it had to have original paint, no matter how bad. And then I NEVER repainted it.

    Most anything on a bridgeport is pretty easily repairable with the exception of the ways. Check to make sure the scrapings on the knee look pretty good. If not, walk away. Listen to it running in both standard and back gears. It it knocks, it is probably the plastic bushings in the varidrive - pretty easy to replace, but a huge leverage tool pricewise.

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    Don’t buy from HGR lol. They have a great return policy and used to be flexible on pricing but coronavirus messed that up.
    Some dealers don’t even touch the machinery aside from forking it to death. ANY machine you buy will be a gamble unless you verify it in person. Good luck!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Homebrewblob View Post
    Don’t buy from HGR lol. They have a great return policy and used to be flexible on pricing but coronavirus messed that up.
    Some dealers don’t even touch the machinery aside from forking it to death. ANY machine you buy will be a gamble unless you verify it in person. Good luck!
    I've never bought from them, but have looked at their listings. And you are able to power them up and run them, from what others have told me. The point was, you can go and see it. Incidentally, most private sales don't have any return policies. I always give a warranty on anything I do for others (be it sell them something or do some kind of work) and is easy to remember - 20 feet or 20 seconds, whichever comes first.

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    I have a nice BP for sale near you. I will send you my phone number in a private message.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MyLilMule View Post
    I've never bought from them, but have looked at their listings. And you are able to power them up and run them, from what others have told me. The point was, you can go and see it. Incidentally, most private sales don't have any return policies. I always give a warranty on anything I do for others (be it sell them something or do some kind of work) and is easy to remember - 20 feet or 20 seconds, whichever comes first.
    You CAN NOT test equipment under power at HGR in any way. Maybe if your spending tens of thousands they might make an exception but not for the little guys.

    You can mess with the machines all you want unsupervised even, they really don’t care but not under power that’s for sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Homebrewblob View Post
    You CAN NOT test equipment under power at HGR in any way. Maybe if your spending tens of thousands they might make an exception but not for the little guys.

    You can mess with the machines all you want unsupervised even, they really don’t care but not under power that’s for sure.
    Interesting, because an acquaintance of mine said he did, and he's a hobbyist. Perhaps I misunderstood him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MyLilMule View Post
    Interesting, because an acquaintance of mine said he did, and he's a hobbyist. Perhaps I misunderstood him.
    I’m curious too, maybe he brought a genny? Because they won’t let you plug anything in even if it’s 110v...

    Unless they ain’t looking


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