Vertical manual mill options - need guidance
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    Default Vertical manual mill options - need guidance

    Long time reader newly registered poster,I am seeking guidance on an old question that doesn't seem to have been asked in a few years. I'm only asking again because things change over the years.

    I am an apprentice gunsmith currently taking my machining classes and intend to purchase a manual vertical mill in the next 4-6 months and I have no idea what brands are good and what aren't etc.

    In the shop I'm training in we use a very old Enco pulley speed Bridgeport clone (I believe that's a J-machine?) which is very reliable and very accurate (much to my surprise after everything I've read here) and a series 1, 2 speed Bridgeport. The surprising thing is that the enco is the main workhorse.

    While of course everyone says buy a Bridgeport and I'd love to I am not sure I can afford to for my first machine. I am looking for input on other viable machines that are a good reliable accurate product for the money. I'm after what works and works well not necessarily paying for a name.

    I am not a hobbyist gunsmith I will be doing this as my full time job and therefore is very little work I can do without needing a mill. Plus I'll need to be buying a lot of tooling, a lathe and surface grinder eventually so anything saved without sacrificing accuracy is obviously a good thing.

    Thanks in advance,
    Brett

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    Not necessarily it the desired direction for price but a schaublin 13 or deckel fp1 or fp2 or other mills of that type would seem better suited to gun smithing than a Bridgeport unless you need to cut really long fluted barrels or something like that. You can look around the deckel pages on lathes.co.uk site and see all the different companies that made similar machines and then start looking and hope to get lucky to find a good machine with tooling. Otherwise with a new unmentionable benchtop machine is probably best
    L

    Sent from my XT1072 using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by whidbey View Post
    Not necessarily it the desired direction for price but a schaublin 13 or deckel fp1 or fp2 or other mills of that type would seem better suited to gun smithing than a Bridgeport unless you need to cut really long fluted barrels or something like that. You can look around the deckel pages on lathes.co.uk site and see all the different companies that made similar machines and then start looking and hope to get lucky to find a good machine with tooling. Otherwise with a new unmentionable benchtop machine is probably best
    L

    Sent from my XT1072 using Tapatalk
    I'm specializing in 1911s so lots of slide to frame fitting, match barrel fitting, slide work etc. it needs to be heavy enough and rigid enough I'm getting as clean of cuts as possible because machining marks means more time and work by hand cleaning it all up. So benchtops I don't think will fit my need. Thanks though.

    I've been working on the BP clones so I know those controls well which was part of the reason.
    Last edited by Sfsmedic; 11-19-2016 at 10:48 AM.

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    A Tree is worth considering if you can find one in good shape. Mine wasn't in as good a shape as I thought when I bought it though.

    Their collet system is alot faster than an r8 with a manual drawbar.
    Built heavier than a Bridgeport or clone. Collets are similar to ER collets, so they hold better than an r8.

    Disadvantage is only 4" travel on the quill vs 5" on the Bridgeports.

    Turret and head degrees engraved in vs painted plates.
    R models have power feed on x and rx have x and y.

    F/r with gearbox so forward is always the same direction on the switch. It was a bit high on the motor so I moved mine down lower.

    Link to one on ebay for an example, a bit high but depends on shape.
    Tree 2UVR Vertical Mill Milling Machine Table 1.5HP | eBay

    Dave

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    What about some of the more common names we see?

    For instance there is a local place to me that refurbishes machines and a common thing I see them doing is a Bridgeport with an ACER inverter drive head.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sfsmedic View Post
    I'm specializing in 1911s so lots of slide to frame fitting, match barrel fitting, slide work etc. it needs to be heavy enough and rigid enough I'm getting as clean of cuts as possible because machining marks means more time and work by hand cleaning it all up. So benchtops I don't think will fit my need. Thanks though.

    I've been working on the BP clones so I know those controls well which was part of the reason.
    "Getting as clean of cuts as possible" is largely a function of how good your tooling is maintained and how heavy your cuts are, with an eye on how stiff the tooling actually is. The finish on a roughing cut matters not, and how heavy will your finish cuts actually be? Most guys fiddle around barely shaving chips. If you have a good sharp endmill, you'll get a good surface, but it would most likely have a better appearance if machined at 10k rpm at 50ipm on a cnc that never dwells in the cut. That dwell time is unavoidable in manual milling and is the main reason stuff comes out looking crappy unless you take cuts that are very light to finish.

    A good amount of the accuracy comes from tramming the head, maintenance of the spindle taper and mindful setup of the part in a proper fixture. The machine just goes in straight lines in 3 axis, wherever you turn the cranks to. A good accurate DRO on X and Y is essential for productivity.

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    used bridgeport can be $1000 to $5000. some with digital readouts. biggest problem i ever had was they are heavy close to a ton. they do not do well in back of 1/2 ton truck. even if delivered the machine has to get into work shop. if you have no fork truck that can be a job in itself
    .
    i would get the mill head with speed adjust by cranking the dial rather than dealing with vee belts and getting hands dirty. not that i worry about getting hands dirty that much but it is 10x more convenient to just turn dial to change speed

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    Don't rule out some of the Taiwanese machines. "First", for example, make a really nice mill...

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    Can you give me some of the names of the better Taiwanese makers please? Jet?

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    In general a three phase machine will be cheaper. Up to about 3hp three phase is cheap enough to get a VFD rather then replace the motor. A three phase and VFD gives you variable speed, power brakes, instant reverse etc.
    Bil lD.

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    For a more rigid machine, consider a Wells Index 847. Used ones go cheap because few people recognize the name, but new ones are $30K. They are much like a Bridgeport but much heavier, and USA made.

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    Havnt come across this one before but it might be worth a look-https://www.facebook.com/CDM-Arms-Custom-Gunsmithing-179603322069991/photos/?tab=album&album_id=202372883126368 or "google" Facebook BRIDGEPORT MILLING cdm arms custom gunsmithing-You cant buy this one as its an old advert

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    There are already 500 threads along this same topic.....but a Wells Index is probably the best mill you can buy and they're not expensive, either.

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    Sfsmedic: Something that might help as you look for a mill, a vertical mill is usually something like a Kearny & Trecker or a Cincinnati vertical. What you are referring to is normally considered "knee mills". This might help in your search. Good luck.

    JH

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    Is gunsmithing LEGAL in California???

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    Also I'll again bring up the little Van Norman 12. There were a zillion of them made during WWII. They have a geared powerfeed on the table for super smooth cuts and also can convert to horizontal mode with the outboard arbor support for running slitting saws, which will give a much better dimension and finish than an endmill. Only downside is the VN12 has no quill. Only about 1800lbs, all up, but insanely rigid. Downside is slightly hard to find and expensive tooling.

    If you can find one, there is also the later model but very rare 1R-3Q-22, a larger, heavier model that uses very common NMTB30 tooling. It has a powerfeed quill with about 4" of travel. Also converts to horizontal, same as the 12. Conversion to horizontal mode is about 3 minutes to remove vertical tooling, swivel the head, install the horizontal arbor, slide out the overarm and slip on the arbor support.

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    I would be looking for a 40 taper machine as tooling for a 30 taper is harder to find and more costly.
    Powerfeeds are a real premium.
    Ballscrews will work a lot nicer then acme screws.

    Hurco=Kondia and were made in Spain and are decent machines.

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    Ballscrews will backfeed under pressure unless the axis is locked solid. For a manual machine, Acme is far better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike C. View Post
    Ballscrews will backfeed under pressure unless the axis is locked solid. For a manual machine, Acme is far better.
    Mike's right there. Nothing wrong with Acme screws for this sort of work.

    Regards Tyrone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sfsmedic View Post
    ...intend to purchase a manual vertical mill in the next 4-6 months and I have no idea what brands are good and what aren't etc.
    ...everyone says buy a Bridgeport and I'd love to I am not sure I can afford to for my first machine...
    On a tight budget, don't bother trying to zero in on "what is the best machine." Instead diligently watch the ads for used machines in your area, while focusing on getting the cash together, so you can instantly jump on a good deal when one turns up.

    When you are prepared to buy, and have found a promising prospect, present the particulars, here, for immediate feedback. Look for a machine that is in good condition, and that comes with a bunch of tooling.

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