Some Bridgeport questions

I have, more or less, decided to buy a Bridgeport style mill for myself. I need to complete my major garage cleanout for this to
happen. Could be a few more months. I have a few questions.
1. The old, round ram Bridgeports can be tilted 90 degrees, which sort of turns them into horizontal mills. Is that a valuable function? Do newer, V-ram Bridgeports tilt 90 degrees?
2. Is there a good web page describing different bridgeport models and how they evolved? metalwebnews has a page about serial numbers, but that's about it. I understand that at some point they converted them to infinitely variable speed, kind of like my Powermatic drill press I think. Then they changed 1.5 HP heads to 2 HP heads.
3. What about Bridgeport clones, are they as good as Bridgeports or should they be stayed away from (such as Sharp or Webb or Alliant mills)
4. Are all industrially used DROs created equal or not? Is an old DRO likely to be in good shape?
5. Do HSM type people find power feeds to be useful or not really.
thanks
i
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Although I crank as much as feed by power, if you're doing a long facing or big plunge pocket in thick material, you'll find power feed to be indispensible. Your surface finish will be - if not _better_ - at least more uniform.
I usually finish pocket walls by hand, because:
For whatever reason, long power-feed operations sometimes leave me "forgetting" which handle was moving right near an almost-finished wall (usually a corner) in a deep pocket. Several pockets I've done leave the shop with one "booger" somewhere on the wall. I don't know if it's "machine hypnosis", or just Old-Timers disease.
Fortunately, I'm only doing work for myself, and a minor blemish usually doesn't hurt the function of the part.
LLoyd
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On 2007-05-01 06:54:11 -0700, Ignoramus32209

It's still not a horizontal mill. For me, not too important.

Don't write off the clones. Some are very nice.

A DRO is a very handy tool and should be a big consideration in your purchase.

Power feeds are extrememly important. Aside from getting a sound machine, this should be at the top of your list.
If you can find a mill with the bells and whistles you desire, it might be more economical than getting a bare bones mill and then fleshing it out.
Rob
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Thanks gents. I am perusing the links provided and have subscribed (well, requested a subscription) to the bridgeport Yahoo! mailing list.
I think that yes, I do want a mill with a lot of bells and whistles, if I can find one economically. A power feed seems to vbe valuable from a consistency standpoint.
i
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Igor, the primary thing you should look for is not features, but condition. You want a mill that is in good shape with low hours. They wear after awhile, and if you're lucky enough to live near a company that reconditions them, it might cost $1800 to get the ways and gibs rescraped and new X and Y nuts fitted. Else you will suffer.
My current favorite is Lagun. They are built much more heavily than Bridgeport, but cost less. If I ever replace my BP it's going to be with a new Lagun.
GWE
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Grant, definitely, yes, I consider condition to be of top importance.
i
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On Tue, 01 May 2007 08:22:37 -0700, Grant Erwin

the Lagun FV-4 is a Marvelous machine.
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Is that FV-4 or FTV-4? Looks interesting. I would like to stay under 2,500 lbs or so in any case.
i
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On Tue, 01 May 2007 10:08:40 -0500, Ignoramus32209

There are any number of mills out there that are far better than a Bridgeport or its clones.
If you have to have a clone..or a semi-clone..get a Lagun.
Look for a Gorton MasterMill for a far better mill than any BP or clone
Gunner
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snip-------]

You're comment is dead on.
I've spent considerable time on Gortons of various flavors-----9J, 8D, 0-16A, I-22 (Mastermil (with one l)), and a small one called a Unimil, same size as an 8D, but with a top spindle speed of 10,000 RPM. No other drop spindle mill, commonly found in old production shops, comes close to their quality, Had it not been for the BP being marketed far more inexpensively, there's no chance in hell they'd have competed with the Gortons----assuming you didn't need a head that nodded. Many of the Gorton mills have fixed heads. 9J and 8D are examples. None of them, to my knowledge, will nod.
I own a Bridgeport, purchased new. It's one of two that I have purchased. They are very over rated machines, and don't deserve their cult like following. Could be with Hardinge building them now, they may be better, but unless they increase their bulk, I see no reason for an improvement.
Harold
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@NOSPAM.32209.invalid says...

I don't believe that the J-head was ever intended to be run with the spindle horizontal. It certainly wouldn't be very convenient, due to interference between the head, controls and table. Creative use of a right angle head can minimize the problems inherent in tipping the head.

The progression was not that linear. Both variable speed (2J) and step pulley (1J) heads were available at one time. Though my current mill is a vari-speed, my presonal preference is a step pulley and VFD.

Many folks, including me, consider the best of the imports to be better than Bridgeports.

Every bit as likely to be in good shape as a used car. Support for older models may be a problem. My experience with Acurite DROs has been very good, and they're still around, unlike several other mfr's. Most, but not all, scales are compatible and can be mixed with other brands of readouts as long as you can deal with the cabling issues.

They're nice, but not a must-have, especially for one's first mill. How useful depends on what you're actually doing.
Ned Simmons
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snip--

Assuming you get the head at a right angle to the table, you can't raise the knee high enough to get the work to the spindle. You are correct------they are not intended to perform as a horizontal mill-----although Bridgeport does offer a right angle attachment that allows for light duty horizontal milling.

Uh-huh! The Bridgeport is not as good as its reputation, When working in commercial shops, it wasn't unusual to not even find them in use in several of the shops where I was employed. They are, at best, a light duty machine that struggles with moderate cuts.

I agree------with the exception of the table. You can get by nicely with manual feeds on both knee and saddle, but a manual table feed sucks. You can't do reasonable flycutting manually----and taking long cuts hold you captive. Regardless of the mill you select, I'd recommend a table feed. Fact is, you can get along without a DRO one hell of a lot better than you can get along without a table feed.
Harold
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    Some Series-I machines had a rigid mount head (no tilting, and taper-pinned once trammed, others a head which could be tilted about 90 degrees (IIRC) before hitting a stop, and if the stop pin was pulled, and the power cables had sufficient slack (not the case in the BOSS-3 machines), you could go to spindle pointing up, I believe. But the lubrication would probably have serious problems at such angles.
    The right-angle head lets you point the spindle back along the V-ram, and there are arbor supports designed to clamp onto the V-ram to allow a longer arbor than you could otherwise get away with.
    [ ... lots snipped and skipped ... ]

    In particular, it can produce a nicer finish.
    Enjoy,         DoN.
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Ned Simmons wrote:

In a commercial environment, power on 3 axiis can be justified. Even there, most machines end up with power feed on the X travel (the long feed of the table) and strongarm on the others.
Power feed on the knee is nice if you are constantly changing from really big work to really small, but for the most part the knee feed is not a requirement. It makes a nice tool for boring deep holes, too.
One power feed is a pretty nice option for the home shop. More than that is luxury. :-)
Cheers Trevor Jones
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Yes but the horizontal funtion is way off at the end of the table. Not very functional for a traditional use of a horizontal mill.

Dunno.
I'd rather have a tight clone than a sloppy Bridgeport. I'd rather have a Bridgport than an equal condition clone. Service and parts are an issue. We have a fairly new Accupath mill with a trashed x axis ball screw but otherwise decent. No service, no support, no parts. Been there for a year, never made a chip. Taking bids to get rid of it.
We also have a clapped out Bridgeport with a really bad X axis bearing and nut. It works, might be ok for the casual hobbist, you can never trust it.
(OK, in case you are wondering, we have a new Haas TM-1 plus a new TL-1 so both of the mills mentioned are not going to be missed!)

In my experience, older ones tend to have the usual issues of no parts, expensive parts, sloppy cables, intermittants, etc etc.

A DRO is way ahead of power feed on my list but a power feed certainly helps get better surface finish. Downside is more parts to break and fix. You take the chance of flipping a lever the wrong way and crashing a part. To my mind, the lever direction is not intuitive. Just me.
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Roy, thanks a lot. Once I get closer to buying one, I will ask how to check a condition of the mill. I received some very good suggestion previously, also, which I noted (fish scale pattern, runout etc).
i
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Ignoramus32209 wrote:

Iggy
If you like we can arrange a visit to the shop where my machinery resides, I'm not all that far from you (Joliet). I have both an older Bridgeport J head and a newer Enco clone. Each has their pluses and minuses. Neither machine is pristine by any means, but both are examples of decent used Bridgeport type mills.
Paul
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Paul, this would be fantastic. I have some rectangular steel stock, as well as some end mills, so that I do not use your resources etc. I definitely need to learn quite a bit about milling.
thank you.
i
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Ignoramus32209 wrote:

Iggy
Emailed you off list...reply here if it doesn't show.
Paul
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