Should I back out of my First Mill Purchase? Beaver NC5
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    Default Should I back out of my First Mill Purchase? Beaver NC5

    I purchased a milling machine through an online auction house. It was a charity auction and they were selling collectible instruments from the Gretsch Family Archives. Well I saw that they had a milling machine listed and I didnt think I would have much competition with winning it, so I placed a bid.

    I had about two hours before the auction ended at the time I first saw the listing. There were very little details about the machine and it wasn't even well advertised as a milling machine. It looked like it had hardly been used and was in amazing condition for something of its age. I also assumed that a milling machine at a guitar factory would not see very heavy usage, and not be heavily worn out or abused.

    I placed a bid not expecting to win it, but sure enough I was the winner. The only details of the machine were: "A Beaver brand NC5 milling machine from the Gretsch factory. Used to machine parts for EMCI Pedal Steel Guitars. A milling machine of many uses. Winning bidder is responsible for shipping of this items from Ridgeland, SC."

    Since this less than 3 hours away from me, I figured it would be pretty easy to pull up with a trailer and have someone from the factory set the machine on a trailer. Well after I finally got in contact with someone, I realized this was not the case.

    I learned that they were requiring that I hire a licensed and bonding rigging company to move the machine. I also learned that this machine has not been turned on in 25yrs.

    I wasn't expecting either of those two pieces of information and I would not have bid if I knew that was the case.

    I started calling around to try to get a few quotes from the closest rigging companies I could find. Not many of them were interested in a job that small, but a few were interested and wanted more information.

    Well a few days later, I was able to talk to the owner of Gretsch. He informed me that they built a partition wall around the machine back in the day so they could add AC to that area. He then told me that I had to inform the rigging company that they would have to move a section of the wall to get the machine out. I asked what all would be involved in moving a section of wall and he said he had no idea, just to inform the rigging company to expect that.

    Immediately that raised red flags for the rigging companies. Nobody really wanted to take this job and have to deal with that wall. A few of them backed out of it. I am waiting to hear back from a few others but I expect their quotes to go way up if they decide to take it.

    The machine looks great in my opinion, and it looks like it comes with a decent amount of tooling. I thought I got a pretty good deal and a lot of machine for the price I paid. It came out to $1280 after all the auction fees.

    However, I think its going to cost 2-3x that amount to get it here. Since this is my first machine purchase, I wasn't expecting the rigging company to be required. I have seen that stated up front at surplus auctions, but this auction simply said the buyer is responsible for shipping. And I read that as I show up with a trailer and I will be good to go. Worst case I would roll the machine out on rollers and maybe have a wrecker with a boom lift it up and back the trailer up under it. Truthfully, I thought I could get it home for right around $2k including the price of the machine.

    I also was under the impression that this machine was a running machine. I will post the images from the auction below. To me it looked like they just turned the machine off and took some pictures. I didn't know it has sat for that long, but maybe that could be a good thing. Less wear and tear and less chance its worn out. It sounded like they quit using the machine after they discontinued a product line that they bought out from another company many years ago. The machine was set up to run a specific set of parts, and after they stopped making those parts, they stopped using the machine. At least that is what I was told.


    A few people on other forums have said this could be a good machine if I got it out of the factory and back home for the price I paid for the machine or less. I am new to this hobby and wanted to get into it with some old iron. I have read to buy the biggest machine you can afford, and I think this one is pretty stout.

    There is little information out there about this machine. I planned on running it manually until I was able to put a Centroid Allin1DC controller or something similar on it.

    I would like to hear some opinions on this machine and this situation. Would you go forward with this sale? At what point does this stop being a deal for a machine in this condition knowing the little bit of information that I know?

    382736_0.jpg382737_0.jpg382739_0.jpg382740_0.jpg

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    Can't help with machine value, but the wall may be no problem at all if it doesn't have to be put back. Same if it is a long wall that they can cut a hole in just big enough to get the machine through.

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    How badly do you want that machine?
    If it were me, I'd cancel because they failed to mention a couple of KEY specifics that will add a substantial cost.

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    IF it's only 3 hours away you should go look at it first...

    Being a NC machine that old you will probably have to upgrade the operating system... You can probably Get an Acorn Control to retrofit and be good to go... I would not count on that old control working very long or reliably.. Capacitors might be gone....

    Parts are another problem.... Have you checked into that? Bridgeports are (mostly) a safe deal because you can go online and order any part you would ever need, from one place, and at a decent prices...

    I personally would pass that one over unless the ways and screws were in really good shape and I could hear it run.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtndew View Post
    How badly do you want that machine?
    If it were me, I'd cancel because they failed to mention a couple of KEY specifics that will add a substantial cost.
    This^^^

    Or is the machine worth $5k+ gamble to you?

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    thrill bidding can bit you in the butt sometimes but hey it sounds like you found a way to lawyer out

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    Quote Originally Posted by logsleeve View Post
    I am new to this hobby
    Not to be "that guy" but this isn't a hobby round these parts, it's an industry. We are all professional machinists and tool/mold makers here except for a select few. That being said...

    I would walk away due to conditions undisclosed that add hardship. Usually when something seems too good to be true in this industry...it is.

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    If you were expecting a working milling machine and not a complete retrofit and rebuild project I'd walk away and use the lack of important details provided before bidding as a way to get out of it.

    First rule of buying used machinery imo is view it under power/running or if viewing in person isn't possible have the seller get a video of it powered up, last one I bought I had to put a deposit down before viewing it but the seller on request sent a video over of it powered up and dry running a program.

    Only exception to that is if it's listed as 'not working' and is priced accordingly.

    As above this isn't a hobby forum so the responses you'll get are from the mindset of turning a profit, not lovingly stripping and restoring a machine, unless it's Aaron Gough in which case he does both very well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob L View Post
    If you were expecting a working milling machine and not a complete retrofit and rebuild project I'd walk away and use the lack of important details provided before bidding as a way to get out of it.

    First rule of buying used machinery imo is view it under power/running or if viewing in person isn't possible have the seller get a video of it powered up, last one I bought I had to put a deposit down before viewing it but the seller on request sent a video over of it powered up and dry running a program.

    Only exception to that is if it's listed as 'not working' and is priced accordingly.

    As above this isn't a hobby forum so the responses you'll get are from the mindset of turning a profit, not lovingly stripping and restoring a machine, unless it's Aaron Gough in which case he does both very well.
    There's a few, 10 or 20, guys that are or have been involved in restos of machines. They can be very tedious but rewarding.

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    There are fewer and fewer Anilam Crusader controls out there in reliably operational condition. The control box is full of circuit boards. What typically goes are the axis drive boards or the main power supply. In any case there were multiple revisions of the drive boards and they have to be tweaked for the particular drive. There was a company in upstate NY if I remember correctly that specialized in spares for these controls. Google is your friend.

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    Quote Originally Posted by plastikdreams View Post
    There's a few, 10 or 20, guys that are or have been involved in restos of machines. They can be very tedious but rewarding.
    I'm not saying retrofits aren't a good thing or that they are the reserve of the hobby only, my first real CNC lathe was a CHNC that was retrofitted with a Fanuc control but if you're bidding on what you think is a runner getting it home to find it's a retrofit job is going to be a bit of a shock.

    Also, my latest purchase of a small gang tool lathe was partly on the basis that if I ever needed to it would be relatively simple to do a retrofit on with something like a Centroid control so I'm definately not against it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob L View Post
    I'm not saying retrofits aren't a good thing or that they are the reserve of the hobby only, my first real CNC lathe was a CHNC that was retrofitted with a Fanuc control but if you're bidding on what you think is a runner getting it home to find it's a retrofit job is going to be a bit of a shock.

    Also, my latest purchase of a small gang tool lathe was partly on the basis that if I ever needed to it would be relatively simple to do a retrofit on with something like a Centroid control so I'm definately not against it.
    I wasn't trying to contradict your statement, just adding

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    FWIW, the Beaver is a fairly high quality mill, probably not all that common in the States, but many of them over here once upon a time.

    Far superior to a BP. If it's actually in good order, the iron is worth much more than BP or import BP clone from a practical perspective. Probably not from a financial one, given how idiots love to throw money at bridgeports.

    Another plus is that the Crusader II, if the servo amps are still functional, is an extremely easy retrofit with LinuxCNC and Mesa hardware, since it's really a plug and play system in itself, standard analogue differential command to the servo amps and quadrature TTL feedback from the encoders/scales. You could throw that control in the skip and have it back up and running with LinuxCNC and Mesa hardware the same day if you knew what you were doing.

    Now, on the flip side, I wouldn't take a CNC knee mill if you paid me, no way, no how. Some will call me all kinds of names for saying that and make rationalisations about their shitty CNC knee mill, but most will agree. Even if I was retired and just wanted something to potter about with in my garden shed to pass the time, I'd buy whatever 100 year old leaky clapped out VMC I could fit in there rather than a knee mill.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gregormarwick View Post
    FWIW, the Beaver is a fairly high quality mill, probably not all that common in the States, but many of them over here once upon a time.

    Far superior to a BP. If it's actually in good order, the iron is worth much more than BP or import BP clone from a practical perspective. Probably not from a financial one, given how idiots love to throw money at bridgeports.

    Another plus is that the Crusader II, if the servo amps are still functional, is an extremely easy retrofit with LinuxCNC and Mesa hardware, since it's really a plug and play system in itself, standard analogue differential command to the servo amps and quadrature TTL feedback from the encoders/scales. You could throw that control in the skip and have it back up and running with LinuxCNC and Mesa hardware the same day if you knew what you were doing.

    Now, on the flip side, I wouldn't take a CNC knee mill if you paid me, no way, no how. Some will call me all kinds of names for saying that and make rationalisations about their shitty CNC knee mill, but most will agree. Even if I was retired and just wanted something to potter about with in my garden shed to pass the time, I'd buy whatever 100 year old leaky clapped out VMC I could fit in there rather than a knee mill.
    What about a cnc bed mill?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gordon Heaton View Post
    Can't help with machine value, but the wall may be no problem at all if it doesn't have to be put back. Same if it is a long wall that they can cut a hole in just big enough to get the machine through.
    It depends what the wall is made of. Did they frame in a passage way in that block wall with wood or did they cement block it in and slap some paneling on it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by plastikdreams View Post
    What about a cnc bed mill?
    Depends how much you're paying me...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dualkit View Post
    It depends what the wall is made of. Did they frame in a passage way in that block wall with wood or did they cement block it in and slap some paneling on it?
    Yeah, that's why I said 'may'. In either case, a sledge hammer and/or sawzall will probably take care of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by plastikdreams View Post
    Not to be "that guy" but this isn't a hobby round these parts, it's an industry. We are all professional machinists and tool/mold makers here except for a select few.
    I understand and wasn't trying to label this as a hobby group or forum. I am getting into machining because it aligns with other interests that I have as well as my career.

    I have posted in other forums but a local used machinery seller suggested that I get some opinions here after he told me he was not interested in purchasing the machine and didn't have any advice on rigging.



    And yes, I know the controller is old but I planned to run it manually until I retrofit it as Gregormarwick pointed out. He also mentioned that this is a good machine and can be superior to a Bridgeport which is what I've read when trying to learn more about this particular mill. That and the fact that this has the potential to be a quick retrofit is the only reason I am still hanging on and trying to justify moving forward assuming the rigging cost is reasonable.

    Parts are very hard to find and that was one of my concerns, but I was betting on the machine being in pretty good shape since it was only used to fabricate a handful of parts for a single product line before it was retired. And I don't mind taking the time to strip it down to clean up all the solidified grease and congealed oil and whatever else that 25yrs of no use could do to it.

    But with the size of the machine, and how good of condition it looked to be in, I thought it was a pretty good deal considering the amount of tooling that comes with it.

    I emailed the factory to get more info on this wall and what condition it can be left in after the machine is out of that room. I am waiting to hear back and get more pictures of the machine, the wall and the pathway to the loading dock.

    Thanks for all the advice. There isn't a lot of info out there on this exact mill and I don't know too many people personally who know about or bought anything like this.

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    I think I know where anther one is, on its face in a scrapyard.
    For that much money find something useable.
    I always have liked Gretsch instruments, but they quit using that turkey 25 yrs ago, and apparently built a wall around it, probably for good reason. For that much money there has got to be a better deal then that!

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    Quote Originally Posted by logsleeve View Post

    Parts are very hard to find and that was one of my concerns, but I was betting on the machine being in pretty good shape since it was only used to fabricate a handful of parts for a single product line before it was retired.
    That is a bad bet.....Looks alone are deceiving....

    Who knows how many times it's been crashed...

    I have a 1990 Monarch 10 EE in the Shop that looks great! Guy bought it at an auction and paid almost 5 grand for it... Too bad he could not inspect it properly and it was only after we started the teardown that the crash damage appear. Things like the cracked saddle and the Spindle that was bent .004" Now not only does it need a new spindle (some joker ground the nose then used aluminum foil tape to shim the chuck straight) but also expensive precision spindle bearings.

    How about the Toolmaster 1D that's in my shop now... Some parts are hard to find but it's a great machine.. It needs new variable speed pulleys which I can still buy from Fives.. Problem is they want 16,002 for the set.... But you can buy them!

    You just don't know what the history is with 99% of machines..I would find someone that knows how to inspect the machine and drive to look it over before you buy an expensive ship anchor...


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