I think you know the answers here, Ig. Yes, it is obsolete. Yes, there
are some of them still in use. No, we don't know whether there's
someone out there who wants one or what they'd pay.
Those big old jig borers, from DeVlieg and P&W, are something like big
VBMs: from Bullard, etc. -- there is no real commerce in them, but
there are some in use, including some that have been converted to CNC
or at least updated with scales and DROs. I've seen a couple.
But the traffic is almost nonexistent because they're not going to be
used for a new project and an expansion. Those that are in use -- and
this applies to a lot of old machine tools, like shapers and many
pre-CNC machine tools -- are generally being used in long-running
projects, and there hasn't been a good reason to replace them with
something more productive. Yet.
I think you'd have a hard time selling it.
Without getting into the details of the old-machine markets, I think
the easiest way to evaluate such machines is to subscribe to some of
the used-machine-trader newspapers -- there are quite a few of them,
and they're regional -- and see if there is any action in the machine
types you're dealing with. I just get one of them today, _Machine
Tools West_, to keep an occassional eye on it.
Another way, a lot more complicated, is to find out what they are, or
were, used for, to judge if there is still any work for them. You
really have to be into it to do that.
For example, the "jig" in the machine type refers to drill jigs. In
this case, really big ones. Before CNC, drill jigs were the #1 product
of the tool-and-die industry. We made millions of them in the US.
Today, that business is completely dead.
Jig borers and jig mills then were re-purposed to precision boring and
facing of big castings and housings. A lot of that was truck,
off-road, and military work. That work today is being done with CNC
horizontal boring mills (HBMs). Jig borers and jig mills can't begin
to compete with them.
So, that's what makes them obsolete. Even doing a CNC conversion,
which can be very practical on big machines that have some value when
converted, just isn't worth it because they're still not going to be
Thus, machines become obsolete. Let's hope that we don't become
obsolete along with our machines.
Right. These are purpose made machines to make tooling that is no
The smaller ones, like Moore jig borers, are bought by "hobbyists" to
be used as glorified drill presses. People buy them, brag about them,
repaint them and then they stay forgotten in hobby shops.
CNC converting them makes very little sense, no more than "converting
a horse to be a car" by sticking a muffler in the horse's ass.
To say that "a few people still use these" is not the same thing as
saying "someone would buy one of these."
As we discussed, machines of this type that are still in use are
mostly dedicated to some long-running production job. It's hard to
imagine someone buying one of these things today.
A company I worked for bought a old manual Milwaukee horizontal mill for
spare parts for the two we had dedicated to a specific job. They paid
scrap value for it, it was 40+ years old but had had little use.
What they paid for the mill would have paid for reverse engineering just
two of the gears.
More it is hard to imagine someone paying very much for one of those things
There are some Amish that do one off work that like to have machines that c
an do things that are only needed once in a while. They are not worried ab
out having machines that are not used very much. The museum recently had a
boiler for a steam engine retubed. It was done with tools that are not mu
ch in demand.
Yeah, there is some value in parting these things out, perhaps. A
common lathe or mill would be much easier to part out and sell than
some specialized and obsolete machine.
My guess that the value in this case, except for a few parts that are
easy to strip off, like Iggy did with the table (and he has an offer
for the handwheels), would involve more in disassembly time and
warehousing cost than it would be worth.
But then, I'm not in the old-machine parts business, so I'm not a good
When I used to visit machine shops practically every week, a few
decades ago, I soon learned to tell the ones that were viable from
those that were just holding on and probably destined for the auction
block: If there were old machines gathering dust in a corner, or
machines that were used once every couple of months taking up
floorspace, the shop was a goner.
A lot of shop owners just can't bear to part with their beloved old
I think that, realistically, anyone who can afford to pay more than
scrap for this machine, rigging, and has a space for it, would not
need it. People buy little Moore jig borers for the fun factor because
they are small. They would not be able to have a 19,000 lbs machine.
Incidentally, despite the weight, it is not very big, maybe twice the
footprint of a moore. It is just very heavy.