When to fix old machines. (Brown and Sharpe Screw machines) - Page 3
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  1. #41
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    As a Brownie repair guy, I say start slow. Pick up a job that needs to be second op'd and run it in your "new" Swiss machine with sub or cross drilling. Tusgami or something like it. When you start dropping parts off complete and running lights out, you will start to look at other jobs or start bidding jobs for it. Next thing you know your "new" machine is over booked.
    I find some good old fashioned maintenance on the back shafts and good belts help the old G machines. If you can do the repairs yourself, you can save money by not paying me to fix it.
    There are some cam cutting houses out there that will help with cam sets so all the cams are at zero, cutting down on set up times. 2-4 hr set ups on the Brownie is normal.
    CNC Swiss or Lathe can take the same time to set up while learning but this can be cut to 1/2 that time as you get tools set and repeat tooling stations.
    Inserts can be another challenge. What company to use, where to get them, having to buy 10 inserts at $13 ea and only needing one to finish a job can be frustrating. Carbide drills, pick off collets, programmer, set up person, all added to your growing business. Or training for you to learn programming and set up.
    Go with an Omni Turn if you want to start cheap and easy programming. They have good classes on programming and use.
    Good luck, I sometimes miss the Brown and Sharpe's, but most of the time, not.
    Last edited by BSXPRT; 06-20-2018 at 11:49 AM. Reason: clear up the read

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by harjonmfg View Post
    I think this is a "Shop Management and Owner Issues" subject.
    I would just like to hear people's thoughts on how to decide whether or not to put money into repairing old Brown and Sharpe screw machines or just old machines in general.

    Here's my situation and opinion: all I have for production is 26 old Brown and Sharpes. They are all "G" machines (the ones they stopped making in the 50's). When I took over here in 2012, The machines were in a serious state of disrepair which made setup on the machines take much longer. It also made the machines less repeatable and much more prone to smashing up. Back then, most people told me that I should start switching over to CNC, or at the very least, start getting newer cam-drive machines. The way I saw it, most of the work I had could be produced on a Brownie with little or no secondary and I could probably repair all 26 machines for the cost of 1 new CNC machine and learn a lot about my machines in the process. That's that what I did and to make a long story short, I still wonder if I went in the right direction.

    Are there any other Brown and Sharpe guys out there with an opinion?
    I also have some Brown & Sharpe screw machines, some that we've been running for 35 years.I have 18 machines 1/2"-2" with 3 operators and may have as many as 8-10 running at a time.
    We will run a machine as long as it will make good parts and when it does need something we will fix it.I will spend about $500-$1000 a year to keep those 18 machines running.To keep my older(early 80's CNC's running it would cost about a $1000 year for each Machine.Even that's not bad as long as they are making you money.

    I did buy last year a Haas ST20 8" Chuck CNC and was pleasantly surprised as it cut my run time in half of the way we were running on an older 12" chuck CNC with 1500 rpm max. We also pulled a lot of larger parts off the Brown & Sharpe's and started running on the Haas.

    Most of my orders are 100 to 1000 pc runs and I can't see any thing better than the Brown & Sharpe's for our smaller parts.

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  4. #43
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    I concur with the phase in idea. I like older machinery, mainly for the cost saving. When you buy new, as soon as it is delivered and set up, kiss 30% of your money goodbye. All new buys you (or should) is a few months of needing no repairs. Some need repairs on delivery.

    Phase in used CNC machines, as late model as you can afford, and either sell the screw machines to museums, collectors, hobbyists, or (groan) Ebay parts cannibalizers. Keep some for parts until you no longer need even that.

    Advantages will include being able to hire help who is trained in the CNC machines. People familiar with 1950's screw machines are nearing Social Security age.

    Then start to explore, tentatively, 3-D printing.

  5. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by harjonmfg View Post
    I think this is a "Shop Management and Owner Issues" subject.
    I would just like to hear people's thoughts on how to decide whether or not to put money into repairing old Brown and Sharpe screw machines or just old machines in general.

    Here's my situation and opinion: all I have for production is 26 old Brown and Sharpes. They are all "G" machines (the ones they stopped making in the 50's). When I took over here in 2012, The machines were in a serious state of disrepair which made setup on the machines take much longer. It also made the machines less repeatable and much more prone to smashing up. Back then, most people told me that I should start switching over to CNC, or at the very least, start getting newer cam-drive machines. The way I saw it, most of the work I had could be produced on a Brownie with little or no secondary and I could probably repair all 26 machines for the cost of 1 new CNC machine and learn a lot about my machines in the process. That's that what I did and to make a long story short, I still wonder if I went in the right direction.

    Are there any other Brown and Sharpe guys out there with an opinion?
    I'm not a screw machine owner or an operator, but do I have a Master's degree in common sense.

    1) Are parts available for the needed repairs and if so for how long?

    2) Are the machines meeting your customer's needs?

    3) Are the machines making an acceptable amount of money for you?

    If you're three for three then why spend over a million dollars to switch from cams to servo motors? When a CNC machine becomes problematic then it can't be repaired with a monkey wrench and a hammer. If you lack the knowledge for performing the repair then it can be very expensive.

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  7. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by RFB View Post
    I'm not a screw machine owner or an operator, but do I have a Master's degree in common sense.

    1) Are parts available for the needed repairs and if so for how long?

    2) Are the machines meeting your customer's needs?

    3) Are the machines making an acceptable amount of money for you?

    If you're three for three then why spend over a million dollars to switch from cams to servo motors? When a CNC machine becomes problematic then it can't be repaired with a monkey wrench and a hammer. If you lack the knowledge for performing the repair then it can be very expensive.
    That says it all.

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  9. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by camscan View Post
    That says it all.
    Amen.

    What a great thread! I love it. I almost feel bad about responding because the last two posts summed it all up. I’m not a trained guy in any kind of metal working, but fell into it about 25 years ago after coming up with a product for the woodworking industry I’d worked in for the previous 30 years.

    But I quickly realized that to make any money with it, I’d have to cut costs from the prices I was getting for small runs. Used Browne and Sharps were ridiculously cheap compared to what I was paying for parts. So I wound up buying a square base and an Ultramatic for cheap and hiring the guys I bought them from to show me how they worked, and to order the cams for my parts.

    I broke even inside a year on each of them. They are way underutilized from a production shop standpoint, about which I know nothing. The only setup time for me is switching collets on one of them, then adjusting the cutoff length by a few thousandth for a nearly identical part of a different diameter.

    The parts are way, way better than what I was paying a premium for at the quantities I needed, and I’ve had no problems with the machines that I could not fix myself in short order. Never have I had to order the parts they make from another shop, nor been down long enough to affect assembly of finished products. The parts are done when they fall into the parts tray requiring no secondary operations, and I run batches small enough so that the oil is still wet and not sticky for assembly.

    Between them and a “modern” 20 spindle drilling and tapping machine running off a PLC, I have managed to make a living for the last 25 years. Without them, I have no idea what I’d be doing today.

    No way I could have afforded a CNC machine. The drilling/tapping machine cost me $1,200. used, $700 for the programming software, a couple more thousand for sensors, solenoid valves and incidentals and a lot of time to make the spindles, bushing, plates, fixtures etc., needed for just two different parts. The Brownies were much cheaper considering the time spent customizing the other machine.

    So to answer your questions, Camscan, from the standpoint of somebody who has no need for different setups:

    1) Are parts available for the needed repairs and if so for how long?

    So far,Yes. Those very few not quickly available were either repaired or made by me, and the tooling made by Lester Detterbeck is reasonable and of excellent quality.

    2) Are the machines meeting your customer's needs?

    I am the customer and they both have for the past 2 + decades.

    3) Are the machines making an acceptable amount of money for you?

    Yes. I am still vertical during daylight hours, and no longer have to do any heavy lifting.

    As dedicated machines for the right parts they can be very worthwhile for someone making the same parts on a regular basis.

    Cheers,
    Jim

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  11. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by clampman View Post
    Amen.

    What a great thread! I love it. I almost feel bad about responding because the last two posts summed it all up. I’m not a trained guy in any kind of metal working, but fell into it about 25 years ago after coming up with a product for the woodworking industry I’d worked in for the previous 30 years.

    But I quickly realized that to make any money with it, I’d have to cut costs from the prices I was getting for small runs. Used Browne and Sharps were ridiculously cheap compared to what I was paying for parts. So I wound up buying a square base and an Ultramatic for cheap and hiring the guys I bought them from to show me how they worked, and to order the cams for my parts.

    I broke even inside a year on each of them. They are way underutilized from a production shop standpoint, about which I know nothing. The only setup time for me is switching collets on one of them, then adjusting the cutoff length by a few thousandth for a nearly identical part of a different diameter.

    The parts are way, way better than what I was paying a premium for at the quantities I needed, and I’ve had no problems with the machines that I could not fix myself in short order. Never have I had to order the parts they make from another shop, nor been down long enough to affect assembly of finished products. The parts are done when they fall into the parts tray requiring no secondary operations, and I run batches small enough so that the oil is still wet and not sticky for assembly.

    Between them and a “modern” 20 spindle drilling and tapping machine running off a PLC, I have managed to make a living for the last 25 years. Without them, I have no idea what I’d be doing today.

    No way I could have afforded a CNC machine. The drilling/tapping machine cost me $1,200. used, $700 for the programming software, a couple more thousand for sensors, solenoid valves and incidentals and a lot of time to make the spindles, bushing, plates, fixtures etc., needed for just two different parts. The Brownies were much cheaper considering the time spent customizing the other machine.

    So to answer your questions, Camscan, from the standpoint of somebody who has no need for different setups:

    1) Are parts available for the needed repairs and if so for how long?

    So far,Yes. Those very few not quickly available were either repaired or made by me, and the tooling made by Lester Detterbeck is reasonable and of excellent quality.

    2) Are the machines meeting your customer's needs?

    I am the customer and they both have for the past 2 + decades.

    3) Are the machines making an acceptable amount of money for you?

    Yes. I am still vertical during daylight hours, and no longer have to do any heavy lifting.

    As dedicated machines for the right parts they can be very worthwhile for someone making the same parts on a regular basis.

    Cheers,
    Jim
    That's good to hear,pleased for you. In the UK it is a different story,I don't know where you would get cams or spares. I would like to have a day fiddling with one,that would bring back a few memories.

  12. #48
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    I am sure that AMSCO ships internationally...

    Wendal has been gone for a while now, yet the shop keeps on keepin' on, although on a somewhat scaled down version....


    -----------------

    Think Snow Eh!
    Ox

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    "Yes, working on the hand screws stinks. I personally don't understand why any one would do a secondary job on a hand screw if they have a brown and sharpe to put it on."

    Well, the simple answer is that I am not a wizard at setting up the screw machines...get close enough and then..."ahh I'll fix it on the 2nd op...."

    Half-assed, I know. I am addicted to using used cams.

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    Quote Originally Posted by elysianfield View Post
    "Yes, working on the hand screws stinks. I personally don't understand why any one would do a secondary job on a hand screw if they have a brown and sharpe to put it on."

    Well, the simple answer is that I am not a wizard at setting up the screw machines...get close enough and then..."ahh I'll fix it on the 2nd op...."

    Half-assed, I know. I am addicted to using used cams.
    Depending on quantity that can make sense but I don't understand how you can get it close enough but not go the extra mile to get it right.
    If you insist upon doing 2op. have you tried doing that on the B&S?

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Dude View Post

    1. The best companies I've seen buy new, wear it out, and then replace it with similar equipment

    2. When rebuilding equipment, most companies don't adequately factor in the "lost opportunity" cost associated with it. All the time and money spent, lost production, etc. should be factored into the true cost of rebuild vs. purchasing new.

    3. If the only way you can afford machinery is to buy used, rebuild, etc., then you likely have a bad business model.
    1... Please define "best"? Nicest looking, most profitable, etc?

    2... Agree, but it would be economic suicide to take a machine out of production to rebuild it without a plan B (other machines take up slack, outsource components it was producing etc).

    3... Not necessarily. Every business is different. Some are in the game just to make money at all costs, some are in the game to provide a service and are happy to plod along and not work for someone else.
    At a previous place I worked at, we bought an 11 pallet Matsuura that was 2 years old for half price of new (auction).
    And a 10 year old Matsuura 20k spindle machine (from a dealer but with low hrs - ex tool company) which blew the new Hitachi machines away when it came to productivity and accuracy. And it was 1/10th of the price.
    Fantastic return on investment, rather than 5 years of $6k finance repayments each month for each machine!

    The only thing I would add regarding older machines, is keep them tidy. Even if you have to pull the covers off them and go get them powder coated.
    All shoppers (buyers/purchasing people) are mostly office boys who probably never done an apprenticeship so don't know or understand how dirty machining can be, and none of them want to have to wipe their feet on the way out of your building.
    Some just want "cheap parts" and don't necessarily care what machine you make them on.
    Others (like at the old place I mentioned) came in one day for a look around, and saw 2x new Leadwells side by side and said "I hope our parts won't be made on them" (which they later were - and good machines too).
    So when I started my place, every sticker was removed from the machines - no customers could tell makes or models. I had a few ask what they were, and I just explained Japan or Taiwan machines, and that Taiwan were the biggest manufacturer of machine tools in the world - they went away happy.
    Last edited by barbter; 04-22-2019 at 09:35 AM.


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