Real Bridgeport or Warco

Hello All
I have read similar topics over the last few months, I am considering
whether to buy a genuine Bridgeport....second hand of course, or to go
the new route of a Warco VMC.
I have been watching all the sales of BP's for months now on Ebay, and
I guess that £1500 would buy me an average machine on there. My
problem is that I haven't so much seen a real BP let alone used one.
So when it comes to "kicking the tyres" on it I wouldn't have much of
a clue what a healthy one should sound like.
I don't want to end up with an old dog that's been thrashed to death
all it's life....and lets face it that is what most of them will have
Being North of the border i.e. Scotland most of the mills are in
Englandshire, so that means a bit of a safari from up here even for a
So is the Warco a better bet all round, ok it's Chinese/Korean or
whatever but reading this NG it seems that Warco have a good
reputation regarding an after sales service.
Any readers using one?
Some thoughts on the use of it in the real world would be good.
I have a Draper metric mill at the moment, very like the Warco Economy
(and it's clones) it is surprisingly accurate, but I would like
something bigger> and imperial!
I see that the picture on the Warco site has a DRO fiited to the VMC
is that standard?? I know ask Warco...............
Sorry to rabbit on for a newby post!
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As you may have seen, we bought a beaver turret mill last week, after watching Bridgeports for a while.
Our own feeling is that a full-size industrial machine has more going for it than something which is not designed for regular and heavy use.
Transport can be arranged inside the group occasionally, you just need to keep in touch with the regulars who make the journeys regularly and who have the equipment to do it.
There is a lathe in Scotland waiting to come down, so a mill going north could be complementary!
-- Peter & Rita Forbes Email: Web:
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Peter A Forbes
No contest its a Bridgeport
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Hi Peter
Thanks for that, perhaps I should have also made it clear that this will be for ME use only.....I've been making that Tich for 20 years now :o(
However, I have decided to for a 5" gauge loco now, as the Tich is frankly a bit too "Tichy"...sorry.
I just hate to turn up to have a look at something i.e. a Bridgeport Mill and not really have much of a clue where I should be looking for... the bad spots (please take it as read that the REALLY obvious stuff I will find).
It's the wear in the head that worries me, am I right in thinking that it is all geared in the genuine article?
So reading that the Warco is belt driven, how does that affect the finish on the VMC......perhaps my thinking on this is dodgy, since my 254 is driven by a skinny V belt (very skinny in fact).
As I have no 3 phase, (much too expensive to put in) a converter will also be required. I have been looking at the Newton Tesla kits to convert my single phase 254 to 3 phase and back to improve my speed it worth spending £500+ to do this?
A "real" BP will very likely be 415v and that is going to be an added cost.
On this note, a pal has bought a Harrison Universal Mill that is 3 phase, again he is a domestic user, and since his mill has 3 motors he is at a bit of loss as to the most economical way to get over to 240 volts in one move.
Any thoughts anyone?
Also, I have been tempted by the digital scale units as sold by Chronos, and by PJ Tooling etc on Ebay, has anyone used these along with the remote read-out unit. I realise that these a poor mans DRO, but for home use are they any good?
The fitting method worries me somewhat, drilling my lathe with the old cordless aaagghhhhhhh!
Sorry I don't know how to "snip out" all my previous wanderings.
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A Bridgeport head has a belt drive from the motor to the spindle. This belt either has stepped pulleys to vary the speed or a variable sized puley to give stepless speeds. From there down it's simple. There's a backgear for slow speed bit otherwise it's just a spindle held in ball races. You can replace the bearings quite easily if you're a decent mechanic but budget about £200 for the job. Wear in the table is harder to correct.
I've got all three 3 phase conversion systems running. The lathe and BP head run off an inverter. Very nice but quite expensive.
The Victoria mill runs off a £15 capacitor phase shift device as in Jim Cox's book "Electric Motors in the Home Workshop". Superb and perfect for a horizontal mill.
The J and S Grinder runs off a home made 3 phase convertor that produces "proper" 415volt 3 phase. This cost about £75 quid and is easy to make IF you can find the transformer. I know of base transformer sources for about £100 so budget £150 for this unless you're lucky with a tranformer find.
As you can gather I have little time for single phase motors.
As a matter of interest my BP head couldn't be wired in delta for an inverter so I replaced the motor with a modern finned metric frame version. Quite an easy conversion (you need to extend the motor shaft) and you could easily put a 1.5 HP single phase motor on using the same method.
Yup - run the DRO on my lathe with them and they're fine if you guard them right and avoid coolant! My DRO is from
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is great.
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Charles Ping
I have a 5" Britannia in part-assembled state downstairs, that was started in 1978...
Better to handle and make pieces for, I can't cope with really small parts that easily.
Yes, a machine that has been used but cared for will be fairly obvious compared with one that has been knocked about. Also, a bit of surface rust is not a big problem as long as it isn't inside the slide ways etc. Cutting oil was diluted with water, and old deposits inside hard to get to places will cause rusting.
No, belt driven as per Charles' post. There's a set of decent precision bearings in the head and a sliding quill, but nothing that you need rocket engineers qualifications for.
'Most' machinery has a belt somewhere, the Ward capstans have four from the motor to the head/gearbox, but it is all gears after that.
The key is to find a motor that is reconnectable to 220/240V Delta from 415/440V Star. Most european motors were made that way, and quite a few UK ones were as well. Once there and reconnected, you can use a single capacitor as phase shifter (again as per Charles' post) to run the machine. It has a slightly odd benefit in that if you lock the machine up the motor will stall, quite useful as it doesn't develop full power at low revs.
It's only 'nut and bolt' engineering to change/adapt the motor, you are the nut and the bolts hold the motor on.... :-))
See above, or get an inverter, but make sure the domestic supply is man enough.
If they do the job, go for it.
There are plenty of ways of using hand-held drills with a small jig to ensure straight holes being drilled.
Just highlight the text and hit delete in the 'reply' message window.
-- Peter & Rita Forbes Email: Web:
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Peter A Forbes

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