Step up from mini-lathe/mini-mill

2 or 3 years ago with the helpful advice of folks on this forum I bought a mini lathe and mini mill from Micro-Mark, and learned machining from
scratch. Since then I've made some neat little projects and learned a lot. My very first Sterling engine worked! (until I tried to "improve" it) Now I have an urge to move up to slightly larger machines, hopefully of a bit better quality (more precise, better "feel", etc). I'm not sure if my minis are getting sloppier, or I'm just noticing it more.
I have to stick to single-phase 110V.
So I'm browisng the Grizzly, Harbor Freight, and Enco sites, and there's a lot to choose from.
I have a few questions:
- Will these larger machines have dials marked in inches (mils) like my machines? I never see that in the specs.
- I'm going to have to get better at figuring out the correct speed to use, because the larger machines don't have a variable potentiometer speed control like I have on my little machines, right? If I find my speed is not correct now, I just reach over and twist the dial a bit. Looks like on the bigger machines I must shut down before picking a different speed.
- Will these generic China-made machines actually be any better quality (hard to define) than my minis, or just a larger version of the same thing? I expect they'll at least be stiffer overall, able to take a little bigger bite out of the metal.
- If these sorts of machines aren't better quality, where else should I be looking?
Thanks a lot
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    --How deep are your pockets? If you want a really wonderful machine try a Myford; runs fine on 110.
--
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : I'll have the roast duck
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : with the mango salsa...
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Yeah, that's pretty steep. Where do you buy them in the US?

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    --Well it's been a few decades since I bought mine, but I think it might have been D&M Model Engineering..
--
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : I'll have the roast duck
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : with the mango salsa...
  Click to see the full signature.
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Was like you a year ago, had a look at the finest "Quality Import" stuff and settled on a 40+ year old Clausing mill, perfect for hobby stuff. They're around for between $1000-2000. Here's a link:
http://www.lathes.co.uk/clausing%20vertical/index.html
Check out my restoration:
http://gallery.intlwaters.com/thumbnails.php?album23
Especially see the last page that details the accuracy of the machine...
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Terry, great restoration job. These mills are very nice.
i

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Bill,
When I had my my mill/drill I mounted my dial indcator next to the depth indicator quill stop thingy. with the the indicator finger( thing that gets pushed in) pointing up. Made a little arm that fit between the 2 nuts that were used to set the depth. You could flip the arm out of the way when you were drilling/reaming and flip it back when you wanted to use the indicator. I keep a 1 inch on it all the time and had a 4 inch if I really needed it, (which I think was only twice). It's a fairly simple matter to drop the tool down on the top of your work piece and set the dial for zero. I used the hand wheel and with the inherent play it had you could crank down and see the indicator stop moving when you hit the top. With this rig I could easily do .001 repetable work.
As for new import vs old american... it's no choice for me.... "Old American" wins every time. You have to be cautious about what you buy, and take your time, but there are some finds out there. I'm in California, not too far from the bay area, there is a guy in Livermore (who's been mentioned here many times) named Don Miller.... Don rebuilds BridgePorts... I bought mine from him at a very reasonable price and it's as good as the day it came from the factory (maybe better). FWIW I found Don on CraigsList.
I recently purchased a Clausing 5914 lathe from a guy in Oakland. I found it on CraigsList too. The Clausing is used but not abused and in quite good shape and I think I got it for a good price too.
I don't own a pickup truck (well if you call a 1980 'yoter' a pickup I guess I do but.....) or a trailer. I can get a swell tilt trailer rated at well over #4000 load from a local rental place for $25 a day. Worst case I'm paying $75 for a trailer.. When it's time to move a machine I mooch a truck or van big enough to tow the trailer from a friend or family member... The BP was an extra chalnge since it's so heavy and every thing I read set use a forklift even if you have to rent one, and so I did.. the forklift cost me $100 for day but was well worth it. I have several friends who get a kick out of helping me move machines sooo... I was a big party when I brought the BP home.. LOL...
Dave
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Dave,

I think I'm following. That should be smoother than what I do currently, which is lock/zero the vertical dial as well as I can and then check depth with my calipers. So far, I have cared about depth only on windows that are large enough to allow the measurements.

Fair enough. It will be a while.

I am going to take another look at the rental picture. However, it turns a quick trip to the store into: (1) make sure the store has the stuff; (2) get the rental wheels; (3) buy, deliver to home; (4) return rental wheels. I'm also not thrilled about using my Sentra for towing even a light load. A trailer would be a cheap option though. Thanks for the perspective.
> The

What about breaking it into 800-1000 lb pieces and moving those with a shop crane?
Bill
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Go google around, almost everyone agrees it's eayser to do the forklift thing. If you go the disassembly route about all you are going to do is take the swivle head with the ram off the base and thats so off balance it's not worth the pain.
I did take the table off (most people do) so it can go through a standard door, but thats easy and two guys and grunt that around.
FWIW the fork lift was only used for 10 minutes to lift it up off the floor of the trailer. Did it the classic way, 2x4's on the forks for 'cushions' and lifted under the ram. Then drove the trailer forward and lowered the BP onto a dolly. Rolled it into the shop and did the 'bar up, crib down' dance. Took less than an hour total.
Haven't moved the Clausing yet, but the plan is to use the same trailer (too cheap in my book) I can borrow a 'cherry picker' engine hoist that will lift it, it's only #1100, much lower CG, height and balance than the BP. Do the same lift and drive trailer away, lower onto dolly, roll into place and 'bar up, crib down'.
--.- Dave

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Naw, I can pick up the mini-lathe and mini-mill and move them around with no problem.

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Dave,

On "bar up crib down" - I did some searching and might follow. Are you saying that you used a lever to lift/walk it up onto stacked boards (1x4+2x4), then somehow removed the dolly, then lifted to remove the 2x4's (one front, one back?), then repeated to remove the 1x4's one at a time?

I wrestled my mill-drill into place using just a hoist and a lever to push it over the "cliff" between my driveway and garage floor. Well, I actually abused the hoise as a dolly by lowering the machine onto 2x4's across the legs of the hoist, both as a backup support and to keep it from swinging. I found 670 lb to be quite sufficient ;) One question about your Clausing: would it be easier to use the hoist to go from dolly to ground?
FWIW, I bought a $140 engine hoist, and have found various uses for it since getting the mill.
Bill
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Bill,
Yep, that's the classic 'bar up, crib down'... FWIW you can "bar up and crib up" too...
FYI the 'bar' is a swell 'jack bar' from (I think Costco).. 5 ft long, hardened with a turned up lip... litfted the BP with no problems...
I learned 'baring up'.. when I was in the service for a crusty old Cheif Boswains Mate.. that guy could was so good at doing big things with little things, I'm sure he could do anything with nothing.. :-)

Hell when I had my mill/drill I just got another buddy of mine and we just 'muscled it around'... I can push/drag my import lathe around by myself... If I *need* to lift it two guys can eaysily pick it up off it stand.. It'll make it easy to load when I sell it ..:-)
Yeah I'll probably hois it to the ground.. I had a few microbrews when I wrote that last note and was still not sure if I was gonna hoist or bar to do the initial lift... If I bar it'll be bar all the way, If I hoist it'll be hoist all the way...
I hear you on the buying the hoist but I have 2 pals that own them and it's much cheaper to borrow one..:-)
--.- Dave

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Dave,

That goes in the future reference file - thanks!

I know a few guys like that. Two are ex-military, the other is _still_ a hippie :)

When I think about it, I can almost see two guys handling a mill-drill. I managed to flip my table saw by myself (before I bought the hoist) by "cornering it" it against a board. Of course, it was not at full weight because the motor was not installed at that stage.

No problem; thanks for the insight.
Bill
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