Machine recomendations. Smithy Midas???
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    Default Machine recomendations. Smithy Midas???

    Hey all. Been on the forums a few times as a guest just looking, finally decided it was time to make an account. I have a quick question. just curious as to what recommendations some of you all might have for a machine setup? Now to start with I currently have a very old worn out shoptask 1720 that I picked up close to 20 years from a friend who got it from his boss. The machine was used in a paintball shop to make custom marker parts. Mostly valves and valve bodies if I remember correctly. Anyway the ways on the bed are extremely worn out towards the middle, so badly so that it can be tightened up enough that there is no deflection in the table in the worn area, but when you get towards either end of the bed the table is nearly impossible to move. So my effective mill movement is limited to about a 6x8 area... That said It is time to upgrade.

    I am looking for a new machine HOWEVER, as of right now I have a very limited workspace and do not know if/when I will be fixing this limitation. I don't necessarily want a combo machine but currently unless I move I have no way of knowing when I will have the room for separate machines. I am currently throwing around the idea of refinancing and doing some upgrades/improvements to the house so that might change in the next year or so, we will see.

    So my questions for tonight are these. Are there any gunsmith's out there using a Smithy Midas, are they worth it? If space limitations are resolved and separate machines are doable what would you suggest. I am considering something along the lines of a grizzly g4003 lathe and something about the size of a Precision Matthews PM-30 mill. I would like a mill that can be made capable of CNC so that I can step up into being able to modify slides as well as possibly making parts for other projects.

    I know I am asking a lot, I am just trying to narrow down my options.

    Anyway, thanks in advance for any and all advice.

    Mike.

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    The combo machine is not worth the time and effort that you will spend getting it to do good work. The effective milling area wont be much bigger than what you have now. The head alignment will change every time you raise or lower it and there is no way to tram it. Check out the complaints about round column mills on line. It will be a passable drill press attached to a lathe. The mill head will also block some of your view and access for lathe operations. The USMC tried them in their shop trucks for the traveling rifle and pistol teams to save space. The Gunsmiths hated them.
    I don't know how much room you have to work in, but in the past I have set up a working gunsmith shops in a one car garage, and also the back of a 2 1/2 to M1009 Shop truck. I had a South Bend 9A lathe and an old Bridgeport M head mill along with a grinder and workbench in the one car garage. If you plan it out you can fit plenty into a small space and still be able to work. The biggest challenge is find a way to stop "Flat Surface Disease", where any flat surface collects a pile of something. I had to make a pyramid shaped cover for my surface plate so that nothing would collect on it. Most Gunsmith work is small, other than barrels, so you don't need a big machine. In my full time job as an R&D Gunsmith 95% of my work is done in a Hardinge HLV lathe 11"x19" or held in a 6" vise on a 9"x42" Bridgeport. There are some nice small tabletop CNC mills out there. I know that Haas makes one, so I'm sure that there are others. If CNC is planned in your future, look into jumping into one of those type of machines. There are some that will also work in a manual mode.

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    Thanks for the input. I had reservations on the Smithy, I wasn't sure about the mill head and its ability to move up and down on the post. My combo machines mill, while technically is on a post of sorts, but it doesn't move vertically. Also the last time I moved it I squared it up and locked down pretty dam good the last time it got setup in its current location. I don't rotate the head around for any reason, so the milling function on it seems pretty good. Everything comes out square and surface is nice and smooth, as long as I don't do anything dumb like forget which direction I went last and take a big bite out of my work piece. As for "Flat Surface Disease"... Yea, I am terminal, it spread thru out my entire house a long time ago.

    Biggest issue with space is currently I am set up in a section of the back yard behind my house approximately 6 feet wide by 25 feet long that already has several tools and benches. I also have a space in the front of the house between the carport and the house that is a tad smaller about 6x15 full of crap. Neither have flat floors or air conditioning, I live in Phoenix AZ so summer time work is dam near out of the question. And the best part is that apparently I have terrible judgement in general contractors, I have called a couple out to come look at the house to get a quote on some changes including enclosing the carport but apparently they see my house and run the other way, lol. Neither showed up.

    I would like to do barrel work at some point so a lathe with a bore larger than 1 inch and at least 26 inches between centers would be ideal. I would really like to not have to purchase more than 2 machines... Not as if that would be a bad thing...

    20210507_070530.jpg

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    I had a 1220xl, the mill was about worthless, the lathe worked just ok, it was a pain changing gears, the drive is large o rings that slip with even a moderate cut. I never tried to thread or chamber a barrel in it. If I had bought it new I would have been disappointed. I replaced it with a clausing 6913, I bought from the local high school, and it has been great. Do yourself a favor and buy a separate lathe and mill, the 3 in 1 machines just don't cut it.

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    A really worn out Atlas bench lathe is much better then a 3in1 lathe function!
    I know a fellow that bought a Smithy new, he never has used it as far as I can tell.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikecowhey View Post
    Hey all. Been on the forums a few times as a guest just looking, finally decided it was time to make an account. I have a quick question. just curious as to what recommendations some of you all might have for a machine setup? Now to start with I currently have a very old worn out shoptask 1720 that I picked up close to 20 years from a friend who got it from his boss. The machine was used in a paintball shop to make custom marker parts. Mostly valves and valve bodies if I remember correctly. Anyway the ways on the bed are extremely worn out towards the middle, so badly so that it can be tightened up enough that there is no deflection in the table in the worn area, but when you get towards either end of the bed the table is nearly impossible to move. So my effective mill movement is limited to about a 6x8 area... That said It is time to upgrade.

    I am looking for a new machine HOWEVER, as of right now I have a very limited workspace and do not know if/when I will be fixing this limitation. I don't necessarily want a combo machine but currently unless I move I have no way of knowing when I will have the room for separate machines. I am currently throwing around the idea of refinancing and doing some upgrades/improvements to the house so that might change in the next year or so, we will see.

    So my questions for tonight are these. Are there any gunsmith's out there using a Smithy Midas, are they worth it? If space limitations are resolved and separate machines are doable what would you suggest. I am considering something along the lines of a grizzly g4003 lathe and something about the size of a Precision Matthews PM-30 mill. I would like a mill that can be made capable of CNC so that I can step up into being able to modify slides as well as possibly making parts for other projects.

    I know I am asking a lot, I am just trying to narrow down my options.

    Anyway, thanks in advance for any and all advice.

    Mike.
    A mate of mine had a fetish for vintage Alfa-Romeo motorcars.

    His home was in Hong Kong's "New territories". More space than an in-city apartment, but still. The "shop" had to ft in 8-foot smallest-size they had, seafreight container. It was either a cut-down from a ten-foot standard or had been built as an 8' x 8' x 8'. The military had those. So, his solution was very well built:

    Labormil Universal Machine Tool

    There are several, Tony's site. Mostly European. Look under "combination machines".

    I've ony ever seen ONE other (Czech made..) so I'd almost bet money you will not be able to FIND one - any of them - but..
    Not bad to use, just felt weirder than it actually was. So I told HIM he was wasting too much time and should get a proper mill and lathe.

    Given he was IS/IT Director, later CEO of one of the world's largest law firms? Money wasn't the barrier. Just buy a second home over in the mainland ..



    Your case?

    "Get a proper mill and lathe".

    Just NOT "Grisely", "@las", or "Pissesonyah, Matthew" Machine-tool-shaped-objects.

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    Thanks for all the input. I was originally leaning towards 2 separate machines but was curious to see if there was anyone out there actually making it work with something similar to what i have now. It has served me well and for small tasks it actually works pretty good in MILL mode. all issues that I have had with it so fat other than being worn out have been something that I messed up... So I had a thought the other day, and I know this is the "band-aid" approach to my ultimate goal but. I will keep an eye out for a deal on a lathe, once I have one I am thinking of stripping the lathe parts off of my current combo machine and using it only as a mill until I can get a new one. That will give me something to continue to use to make small parts with and I can play with doing a CNC conversion on it. I figure as long as I get decent quality components (motors, drivers, power supplies etc) I can move all those parts over to the new machine, presuming it does not come already setup CNC capable.

    On a side note I did spend a little time on a couple of the "for sale" sites looking for something local. most of the machines I have seen so far are quite a bit bigger than what I can accommodate, a tad pricey also. I did find an old Clausing gunsmith lathe and a 1950's south bend that weren't too horribly priced. Southbend I know of, Clausing not so much, anyone have any experience with them? Biggest concern with an older machine is if something brakes or is worn/wearing out, will I be able to get parts. Also another issue I may have is power for a larger machine, I have been told but have not yet checked into myself, that APS the local power company, will not run 3 phase power to any location not deemed industrial. My father-in-law tried to have 3 phase brought out to his ranch a few years ago when they did the initial purchase and they told him "not gonna happen". So anything running 3 phase power probably out of the question which sucks because it would be great to have a nice big knee mill.

    one last question for the night I did see a suggestion to stay away from some of the more "affordable" machines, EG... Grisely", "@las, or "Pissesonyah, Matthew. Any recommendations for something that can run on single phase 220v and not take up 12-is sq feet of floor space? I was leaning towards something like the grizzly 4003G as the one and only purchase of a lathe. For my expectation of what I think I will be doing I don't foresee myself ever needing anything bigger that that. Of course I know how that expectation goes... I may even be able to get by with something a tad smaller like the G9972Z. I think that would be about the smallest I would want to go, something in the 11x26 range should last me a while, but I have a feeling that I would be eventually want to upgrade to the next size up.

    Again thanks for all the input.

    Mike.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikecowhey View Post
    Thanks for all the input. I was originally leaning towards 2 separate machines but was curious to see if there was anyone out there actually making it work with something similar to what i have now. It has served me well and for small tasks it actually works pretty good in MILL mode. all issues that I have had with it so fat other than being worn out have been something that I messed up... So I had a thought the other day, and I know this is the "band-aid" approach to my ultimate goal but. I will keep an eye out for a deal on a lathe, once I have one I am thinking of stripping the lathe parts off of my current combo machine and using it only as a mill until I can get a new one. That will give me something to continue to use to make small parts with and I can play with doing a CNC conversion on it. I figure as long as I get decent quality components (motors, drivers, power supplies etc) I can move all those parts over to the new machine, presuming it does not come already setup CNC capable.

    On a side note I did spend a little time on a couple of the "for sale" sites looking for something local. most of the machines I have seen so far are quite a bit bigger than what I can accommodate, a tad pricey also. I did find an old Clausing gunsmith lathe and a 1950's south bend that weren't too horribly priced. Southbend I know of, Clausing not so much, anyone have any experience with them? Biggest concern with an older machine is if something brakes or is worn/wearing out, will I be able to get parts. Also another issue I may have is power for a larger machine, I have been told but have not yet checked into myself, that APS the local power company, will not run 3 phase power to any location not deemed industrial. My father-in-law tried to have 3 phase brought out to his ranch a few years ago when they did the initial purchase and they told him "not gonna happen". So anything running 3 phase power probably out of the question which sucks because it would be great to have a nice big knee mill.

    one last question for the night I did see a suggestion to stay away from some of the more "affordable" machines, EG... Grisely", "@las, or "Pissesonyah, Matthew. Any recommendations for something that can run on single phase 220v and not take up 12-is sq feet of floor space? I was leaning towards something like the grizzly 4003G as the one and only purchase of a lathe. For my expectation of what I think I will be doing I don't foresee myself ever needing anything bigger that that. Of course I know how that expectation goes... I may even be able to get by with something a tad smaller like the G9972Z. I think that would be about the smallest I would want to go, something in the 11x26 range should last me a while, but I have a feeling that I would be eventually want to upgrade to the next size up.

    Again thanks for all the input.

    Mike.
    Well "progress" but "start over" with wider eyes and you may find more joy, and sooner..

    Essentially ALL "serious" hobbyist/retirees and a VERY high percentage of other "smallholders", one or few person shops that are genuine "earn our-crust off this stuff" or what I call "revenue" biznesses ...run 3-Phase machine tools where Powerco either cannot, will not, or assuredly WILL but not at install nor recurring costs we can stand..... provide "utility mains" 3-Phase power.

    We have three well-proven alternatives, in order of age or era.

    1) A Phase Converter, rotary the one that "Just Faithfully Works".
    Research "RPC"

    "Static Phase Converter" is a misnomer, because they don't.. Convert the phase.
    They just trick the 3-Phase load motor into "coverting" itself to a rather badly crippled SINGLE-Phase motor.

    Those into fooling themselves love them. It makes them feel they have put one over on something or other and gotten away with it? Few others even tolerate the idea any further than running wheelbarrow tires on an F-150 pickup because the tires are cheap and they only use it once a week to go a mile for a six-pack of beer. Irony is that static-alleged-converters are not necessarily even "cheaper"!



    RPC are as old as the rollout of 3-Phase power itself and still work as well as they ever. Good for 91% of the original motor's full-load rating, and that is nearly always more than good enough.

    An RPC doesn't need to be told in advance which of "many" machines it will power, any given day or hour, nor does it require ANY change to the wiring of the machine itself.

    You can research the rest. "RPC"

    2) An inverter, modern ones being "Variable", AKA Variable Frequency Drive or "VFD". A VFD "normally" must be dedicated to ONE specific load and user-programmed (or self-programmed) to match it's needs.

    3) "Phase Perfect. An inverter that does NOT have variable frequency. It merely emulates the utility mains 3-Phase power and ALMOST "Perfectly".

    Downside is they are expensive. You don't need even the small ten HP capable one, as my one cost about $4,000,delivered.

    With 3-Phase power not a barrier, any one, single, machine tool under say .... ten HP ?

    .NOW you can look at FAR the wider selection of cannibals.. er "candidates".

    Be aware that tooling costs also have to eat, so "cannibal" might not have been an error, after all!


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    If you have a higher HP motor, make sure you have enough electric service to drive it and anything else that needs to be running at the same time.

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    While your space is tight I think you have a enough for a decent lathe and mill. Don't worry about three phase power, as some other people said look into a rotary phase convertor, it was one of the best investments I made. While it may seem like a expense to get separate real machines and a phase convertor you will not regret it. I bought a motor on criags list and a convertor box on amazon. It has opened up a lot of equipment to me, sanders, grinders, saws, ect. Three phase equipment sells cheaper, and is easier to find than single phase. Look for local government auctions. Lathes and mills are still coming out of high schools, even the ones who got rid rid of their metal shops kept one or 2 just in case. Since they were never production machines they usually have little to no wear. As to the part about Clausing, I have a Clausing 6913 that I am very happy with, if you are looking at a 4900,5900, or 6900 series most have a variable speed drive. Read up on how to inspect them they can be expensive to repair if damaged. They are also VERY proud of their parts so new parts can be expensive. You may want to see if someone in your area rents rol-a-lifts, they make moving machines a lot easier and will help in your narrow space.

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    Here is the link to the Clausing lathe, not exactly close to me (about 100 miles) Clausing Gun maker lathe - tools - by owner - sale and honestly I don't think I could get that into the back with out doing some major rearranging and or removing a gate and fence...

    As for the 3 phase power issue. I would love that however do to the extremely limited space issue I have at the moment will not accommodate a converter. I suppose I could clear out the carport and bolt the mill, lathe and converter to the floor there, I don't think they will walk off. But that would suck trying to make parts in the summertime.

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    Not sure what you think a rotary phase converter is
    But they aren’t huge things I have 2 of them a 7.5 hp and then the big 40hp one.
    The 7.5 would easily fit under the lathe really not much bigger than a 7.5 hp motor
    Think could fit in a standard size file cabinet drawer.
    Small hp ones are small big hp ones are big.

    As far as new import type stuff goes the 14 40 size is where it goes to a decent machine
    From lathe shaped crap and you can do barrel work easily on a 1440 size.

    The Logan and south bend smaller lathes shouldn’t be lumped in with the Asia imports
    Must have actually gear box tail stock, tapper attachment would be nice.

    Jet is ok but over priced Grizzly over priced not so good and not to be talked about here
    Craftsman and wards also crap as is atlas and also not mentioned.

    Logan and South bend both would be a quantum leap ahead of what you have Been using

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikecowhey View Post
    Here is the link to the Clausing lathe, not exactly close to me (about 100 miles) Clausing Gun maker lathe - tools - by owner - sale and honestly I don't think I could get that into the back with out doing some major rearranging and or removing a gate and fence...

    As for the 3 phase power issue. I would love that however do to the extremely limited space issue I have at the moment will not accommodate a converter. I suppose I could clear out the carport and bolt the mill, lathe and converter to the floor there, I don't think they will walk off. But that would suck trying to make parts in the summertime.
    Actually.. my RPC is the one that lives outdoors. It bunks with the MEP-803a Diesel gen set. So I can use the same heavy Copper wire for one, the other, not both. I mean.. Why would I not? The Diesel is only NEEDED about one week out of every second or third year.

    Power of RPC you need is only likely to be about the size of a medium Microwave oven. Size of "proper" lathe or mill to be powered - not both at once - will work of an ignorant "SO" flexible cordset, made up with Hubbell twist-locks to suit. Put it anywhere handy. It's just ignorant electricity. Not fine wines.

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    You can also use a VFD instead of a RPC, they are not very big.

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    Lots of good info to think about. Last time I messed with a 3 phase inverter it was about 4 foot x 4 foot x 6 feet IIRC. It was used to supply 440vac to the military aircraft in the hanger so that we could power them up without running the turbine generator. So yea my concept of a 3 phase inverter may be a tad skewed. I will have to look into it. One thing I know for sure is that if I am looking for something larger I will need to have someone come and see what it will take to make my house a bit bigger and see if my old place can handle the power drain of a larger machine. Adding a breaker or two to my box may not be an easy task if I can move my workshop to the front of the house for more room.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikecowhey View Post
    Lots of good info to think about. Last time I messed with a 3 phase inverter it was about 4 foot x 4 foot x 6 feet IIRC. It was used to supply 440vac to the military aircraft in the hanger so that we could power them up without running the turbine generator. So yea my concept of a 3 phase inverter may be a tad skewed. I will have to look into it. One thing I know for sure is that if I am looking for something larger I will need to have someone come and see what it will take to make my house a bit bigger and see if my old place can handle the power drain of a larger machine. Adding a breaker or two to my box may not be an easy task if I can move my workshop to the front of the house for more room.
    Adding an entire electrical sytem to a building (or industrial park..or as one of my old mates has done, an entire small country) that has none, or has scary-old-bad is actually an "easy task".

    For those who do it every working day.

    So if you count "a breaker or two" as difficult, where I'd add "a load center or three" as not difficult at all and maybe not even tedious?

    Just discuss your needs with an Electrician, budget for it, and have him JFDI.
    Rocket Science it was never, nor "show stopper" either.

    What these things are ever-and-always MOST in need of is a "decision maker" who will do exactly that. Make a decision.

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    A rotary phase converter can be put together at low cost if you can find a good used 3 phase motor larger then the most powerful motor you will run. That motor will be used as an idler with no load, generating the third leg, off of its third leg.
    It can be assemble simply or more complicated as wanted, the major cost of the commercial rotary phase converters is the new idle motor, that they cut the shaft off of a regular motor for safety.
    For my Home shop, I dont need machines over 5hp, so I have an old 7 1/2 hp 3phase idler motor, that was free, that I start with a static phase converter kit, that was around $100, and use some capacitors on the generated 3rd leg. If you need more HP, then a larger idler motor is needed
    There is an electrical forum here that can be helpful, and lots of info on the internet regarding phase converters, and saving considerable cost.

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    You feelin' OK, donie?

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    Sure, feeling just fucking great!

    It would be a pain to finish this simple job on a combo machine.
    But, then it would no longer be a paperweight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thermite View Post
    Adding an entire electrical sytem to a building (or industrial park..or as one of my old mates has done, an entire small country) that has none, or has scary-old-bad is actually an "easy task".

    For those who do it every working day.

    So if you count "a breaker or two" as difficult, where I'd add "a load center or three" as not difficult at all and maybe not even tedious?

    Just discuss your needs with an Electrician, budget for it, and have him JFDI.
    Rocket Science it was never, nor "show stopper" either.

    What these things are ever-and-always MOST in need of is a "decision maker" who will do exactly that. Make a decision.
    Apologies I left a little info out, I didn't mean to make it sound like adding a circuit to the box was hard. The box on the front of my house is pretty full and physically getting power from the box to the carport will be tricky. I would have to go across the front of the house then under about 8 feet of concrete to come up in the carport area. Unfortunately the main box and carport are on the opposite sides of the front door so running power without it looking tacky will be the tough part.

    Ill keep my eyes out on whats out there and keep my options open. for now I need a contractor... Time to get on Angie's list.

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