What lathe/mill - advice please.

Hello all, Just finished converting the garage and now ready to purchase lathe and milling machnine. Floor area is 17x10ft height 8.6ft
Will be building a 4" Little Samson traction engine & 7.1/4" 0-4-0 loco. Anyone have any suggestions please as to what to buy. Went to the Ally Pally Exhibition beginning of the year and looked at Warco/Chester. Will be going to the Warwich Exhibition to make final decision. Am looking at: lathes - BH900 or 1232. I like the possibility of using the 900 belt drive as improvised clutch by raising and lowering the motor? milling - GH-Universal, Super Major? or VMC Would consider a Colchester, but which one? Would love a Bridgeport, but height to roof supports is 2100mm. I converted the up & over door to swing and am suprised at the extra space available. I realised the up & over took up space, but not just how much. GeoffH Norfolk
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ha (nospam) wrote:

Geoff Hi, the BH900 is a long bed version of the BH600 and there has been much discussion on this lathe on this forum, if you do a search on BH600 you will see many opinions of this machine. I have one and find it to be an accurate and reliable machine. I have not used the belt as a clutch although it was covered in one of the articles on the machine either in Model Engineer or Model Engineers Workshop. When I did this mod on a Myford I used to have I found it difficult to get a smooth pickup and experienced a lot of belt snatching at the point of drive. I don't think I would make it a deciding factor if I was going to buy a new machine. Although I spent a lot of time looking at the 1232 I eventually chose the BH600 because I like belt drive, it was a very close run thing however and it seems to be a fine machine.
There are of course many secondhand machines in this sort of price range if you know enough about picking a "goodun". The scale you are building means that you will need a fairly large machine (in ME terms) and I'm not sure if a 5" machine like a Bantum/Chipmaster would be large enough so you would be looking a a Student or 2500 type Colchester. The Harrison machines are also well regarded and a 300 might do very nicely. Don't forget that machines of this size are expensive to equip so make sure if you buy secondhand it comes with chucks, steadies etc. One advantage of the new import route is that they are usually supplied with some basic equipment.

Again, if you do a search on this site you will find plenty of information about these machines. The VMC seems well regarded but is a bit limited in size, I had planned to get one but in the end got a Bridgeport which I still need to put together.

Pity as the BRJ stands 2145mm tall and the BR2J2 2255, might be worth seeing if you can position it between supports for a bit extra room but don't forget you need room for a drawbar as well. Although at a push you can swing the head over to remove that if necessary.
Geoff, you need to make sure that you have a good idea of the minimum size machine that will do the necessary for you and maybe let us know what sort of budget you envisage and I'm sure you will get some more specific recommendations.
Best regards
Keith
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On 27 Aug 2006 04:20:19 -0700, jontom snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:
Hello Keith, Thanks for the info. Just come back from a loco running afternoon at Norwich club, where one of the members is building a 4" Samson. It was only my second visit since joining, so am getting to know the other members. He has invited me round to his place, which will give me a good idea as to what will be needed. He has his model running on air. I would hate to go too small on lathe/mill. My last lather/mill was an Emco V10P and FP2 mill. Very light duty, but very very good quality. It's the quality part that's making me think thrice, but what I saw at Ally Pally reassured me somewhat. I can remember the Taiwanese items in the '70/'80s, with some making me shudder. Regards GeoffH Norfolk- UK not VA
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ha (nospam) wrote:

Geoff, I don't have any experience of this scale so don't know what size lathe you will need. There seems to be a lot of choice at the 5" centre height but it certainly gets more limited when you need to go over 6". My issue was that I didn't know enough to pick a secondhand machine that was not worn out so went for the BH600. I must admit though that "in hindsight" (a perfect art?) I turned down a couple of excellent Harrisons (M250 (5.7") and M300 6.5") that would have done me fine. I suppose you live and learn although if they don't come with tooling they are bl***y expensive. These seem to be available from schools etc if you are lucky.
There also seems to be a fair number of the Colchester Student (6") in it's various guises as well as the larger Triumph versions about. I must admit that when I was looking I saw a fair number of the older "round head" versions that had been well used in industry and I was eventually "scared off". The newer square head versions seem to fetch a fair bit of money and I've seen a couple of "clunky" ones of those too.

There is no doubt that the imports have improved over the last few years although there appears to be significant differences between importers depending on their own "inspection" standards. I still tend to view them as being superb value for money and mine is certainly accurate. From a quality viewpoint I would rate it as "workmanlike" and functional. I would still change mine for a Harrison or Colchester if I found a well equipped one in good condition that I could afford. If you enjoyed the Emco then make sure you have a good "play" with the machine you are thinking of, I found Warco and Chester very patient with me when I was making my mind up. Looking is not good enough you need to twiddle the knobs and get the feel of the thing before you spend your money.
I agonised for ages over the mill and while I had decided to get a VMC I never actually put my hand in my pocket and bought one, don't know why really just didn't. John Stevenson eventually took my money for a Bridgeport and I found moving it as he suggested (in pieces) was really quite straight forward. I even managed it with the handicap of being helped by my 19 year old son, so it can't be that difficult. I suppose in reality I always wanted a Bridgeport and was just frightened by having to move it. I must say though that finding a reasonable machine was not easy and I saw a number of overpriced and worn out "clunkers" before John helped out.
My last piece of advice would be don't rush it, there are lots of machines out there both good and bad. If you have a dream machine in mind then chase it down, I've bought/sold a string of lathes because I kept buying what I "needed" instead of what I wanted. I got there in the end but it was an expensive way of doing it.
Best regards
Keith
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On 30 Aug 2006 02:36:19 -0700, jontom snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:
Hello Keith, Appreciate your comments. I've been agonizing over lathe and mill for the last year or so. As you say the cost of equipping a Colchester/Harrison is off putting to say the least. We are so far out in the sticks. All of the known dealers are 200+ miles away. JS has kindly offered to help me source a BP. If there's one person I would trust it's him.
I was pretty impressed with the standard of finish of both Warco and Chester, but there is always that nagging doubt. I'm not too worried about external appearance, but do want to be absolutely sure that the machine will turn accurately and produce a good finish. What's your experience with the 600?. If I could afford an Emco I wouldn't hesitate but . . 15K :-(
I've managed to get the wheels - 17.5 & 12" and flywheel- 12" - machined, but still need to do the diff at 13", What's the BH like to change speeds. The reason I'm thinking at the 900 or 1232 is the longer bed, as the Emco tailstock always seemed to be in the way. If my memory serves me none had tee slotted top slides. I can remember asking about a rear toolpost and being advised that it would be OK to drill and tap the cross slide to fit one.
Cannot afford to rush into this. Cheers Geoff
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> If my memory serves me none had tee slotted top slides.

it
Is that for the BH600/900? Is a rear toolpost a desirable thing?
Brenda
-- anotheri ----------------------------------------------------------------------- anotherid's Profile: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/member.php?u 36 View this thread: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?tV156
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gch wrote:

Geoff, totally agree having met John a couple of times and bought the Bridgeport from him I would say he is the LEAST "cynical trader" I have ever met. I never buy anything unseen but would happily make an exception with John, if he said something was OK the money would be in the post. Good luck with your search.

Geoff, this is a difficult question for me to answer, in truth the machine does everything that I ask of it and does it well, it is not however a machine that I have fallen in love with. The BH600 after setting it up is certainly accurate and with a light finishing cut mine turns parallel (as accurately as I can measure but certainly within a couple of tenths) over 8" or so (longest I've done). I've struggled a bit with the dual dials but have now got used to the feel and can set them consistently. Just a matter of practise and consistent viewing angle I suppose. With a bit of care I can achieve a very good finish which easily matches that of my Boxford. Small diameters are a bit of an issue as the top spindle speed is only 1200 rpm, doesn't affect me as I have a smaller lathe but could be a trial if you spend a lot of time trying to get glass like finishes on 1mm brass. As soon as SWMBO approves I will swap the motor for a three phase and VSD, the ability to do that was the main reason I went with the quieter belt drive rather than the gear head. Changing the belt is OK but a little heavy, I use a bit of webbing to lift the belt from pully to pully and this makes it easier. I tend to run the belts a little loose to protect the machine against my stupidity.
In hobby terms the machine is heavy and ridgid but of course if you compare it to the 6" Colchesters and Harrisons etc it is possibly a tad lightweight. Although I have worked it hard on occaision I have never had a problem with rigidity or vibration. All in all, it has certainly proved to be superb value for money and a very reliable (mine is 5 years old) and accurate machine. Once you get used to the workmanlike feel and accept that it is no Schaublin you can get on with enjoying the 15K or so that you didn't have to spend.

Mine is not the gap bed version so I would not be able to accomodate the 13" for the diff, I believe that the newer models BH600G are all gap bed and so you would be able to handle this sort of size and more as long as it is short enough to fit in the gap.

I haven't felt this myself but I have a long bed Boxford for this type of work so don't stretch the capacity of the BH600.

The BH600 has a tee slotted cross slide (mine has two slots) that will allow the mounting of a rear parting tool. If I remember correctly Anthony Mount in his series of articles cut a third slot further out towards the end of the slide. I have used rear toolposts regularly on the Myford but eventually bought a "Q-cut" type parting tool from JB tools and this solved all of my parting problems. If you wanted to mount a rear tool post outside of the tee slots there is certainly room to drill and tap the cross slide.
Hope this is not too long winded Geoff and hope it helps a bit, I suppose that the answer is that it has proven to be a fine lathe but not the best that (lots of!!) money could buy, but then I haven't got lots on money.
Best regards
Keith
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On 31 Aug 2006 04:36:21 -0700, jontom snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

Totally agree, John S. has helped out many over the years and is a source of much knowledge and information.
Peter -- Peter A Forbes Prepair Ltd, Luton, UK snipped-for-privacy@easynet.co.uk http://www.prepair.co.uk
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On 31 Aug 2006 04:36:21 -0700, jontom snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:
Hello Keith, Thanks for the reassurance about accuracy, Always good to get first hand experiences.

Wasn't sure.

Must read his articles again.

Another first hand experience. Seen them advertised, but after jam-ups in the V10, I'm sceptical to say the least about parting off. Resorted to the old hacksaw - ducking behind desk! So rear parting off now no longer needed. Was thinking of doing a QC rear toolpost similar to Myford, as well as one for the tailstock. I've tried those capstan type tailstock toolholders in the past, but like 4-way toolposts, a real PITA.

This is exactly the type of feedback I was hoping to get. Thanks Keith Geoff
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gch wrote:

Geoff Hi, I still think a rear mounted toolpost is useful particularly if you have a "production run" of parts saves tool changing (even quick ones). I stuck with 4-ways for a number of years and then tried one of the "economy" import QCTPs which was OK but didn't really light my fire. I then bought a Dixon for the Myford and the repeatability was a revelation, it is now a permanent fixture on the lathe.
When I bought the Boxford my first thought was I will just buy another but finances weren't brilliant, particularly as I see no use for the thing unless you have a reasonable number of holders. I built one of John Stevenson's design QTCPs and it works extremely well. It is detailed here http://www.metalwebnews.com/howto/toolpost/toolpost.html
I simplified the first one by putting just one dovetail on it and it is one of the very best accessories I have made. It cost me about 20 for enough material for two bodies (second one as designed by John to hold two tools) and at least 12 holders. The only other expense was a dovetail cutter which I got from Tracy tools. I found it relatively easy to make and I really can't recommend it highly enough, it is now a permanent fixture on the Boxford. The only reason that I haven't made one for the BH600 is that it came with one of Warco's piston type QCTPs, works well enough (although not as convienient to use as John's) and additional holders are easy to make. I am currently thinking of a slightly modified version of John's for a rear toolpost as my original scaled up Myford type has been out on loan for some while now and I don't suppose that I will ever get it back. As always the project is on the list but nowhere near the top, that position is held by my Bridgeport which I really must put together.
Not too long till the Warwick Exhibition now Geoff so I hope you are successful in finding what you want. I hope to go myself again this year but at the moment I'm stuck in deciding which of a vast list of "essential" items that I need most. Spent a day looking round the recent Bristol event, saw some superb models/engines but didn't buy anything except lunch, must be losing my touch.
Best regards
Keith
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On 2 Sep 2006 14:34:40 -0700, jontom snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:
Hello Keith, Thanks for the long reply.

Agree. Was thinking mainly of parting off from rear toolpost, but your experience using the Q-cut has given me encouragement.

I made a 4-way soon after getting my lathe, but it only lasted a couple of months and landed in the oddments bin because I stabbed myself so many times. Coughed up the needed and bought a Dixon. What a difference. Lathe work became a pleasure. Can never see me without one or equivalent again. Similar to power crossfeed.

Have downloaded the files

Interesting modification. Will print and study the drawings.

Why is John's more convenient? Easy to make holders is inviting, as Dixon ones are 15+
Regarding the BH range, I've just read the Anthony Mount series. Either I did not register when I first flicked through or just plain forgot, but the clutch he made for his has just about sold the lathe for me, what with your experience. He certainly made some interesting mods/changes/additions. Must find out if those dividing head casting are available. Unless a colchester comes along. Thought I had one, a Triumph, until I was told the length - nearly 8ft. JS had found a BP, but again just to big.
Just got back from a good steaming afternoon at the Norwich club. Ah the smell of steam, oil and smoke. Addiction revitalized after a 20 year layoff. Geoff
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gch wrote:

Geoff hi, the piston type I have is operated by two levers at the top on the same axis. The lower one is longer and operates the tool holder locking piston and the shorter upper one locks the whole block to the topslide. This short one needs a good thump with the hand to provide enough locking force and consequently quite often when you operate the longer lever to unlock the tool holder the whole block rotates - really annoying. I know that you often have to rotate the block anyway on a tool change but the constant thumping makes my hand sore (softy really) and I don't like hitting expensive tooling even with a soft hammer. I'm also constantly getting the two levers mixed up when I'm in a hurry and more than once have tried a cut with either the block or holder loose. I suppose that I would get used to it eventually but with John's design the two actions are well seperated and different.

Pity Geoff as it is a very flexible mill for general work, bit lightweight for industry but ideal for us. There seems to be a bit of a gap between the VMC and the Bridgeport in size. I know that Warco and Chester do an 8" x 36" size machine for about 3.5K but I dont think it is that much smaller in footprint. Both companies had one of these at last years Warwick exhibition but they don't seem to take them very often. Several people on here use the GH major/Super Major type and they seem to be OK. I don't know why but they always struck me as being "built to a price" although that doesn't seem to stop them working well.
On the secondhand market mills of this size appear few and far between. If they were built for industry and therefore heavier they all seem very limited in capacity. The Boxford VMC is well built but too limited in size for me, the Centec is a well regarded machine but they are all old now and good ones fetch silly money because anyone can fit them in their shed. Others that come to mind are the Tom Senior (same problem as Centec only more so) and John L down in deepest Wales (I bought a Boxford off him) has a Marlow which seems a useful size but not that common and can vary from being well specified to very basic. Of course there is the Emco that you have already had and other exotic toolroom machines, but this size seems to attract a major premium in the secondhand market.

It's funny how if you have a passion it never really leaves you, I spent many happy years flying model ac/helicopters but eventually went back to kit cars which were my first love. Always been interested in machining though and have had a lathe since I was about 22 (loooooong time). Considering the huge amount that I DON'T know about them, I must be a very slow learner.
Best regards
Keith
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keith , re your bridgeport , i'm picking one up tomorrow with a flat be
transit , you mention "in pieces"any suggestions how to lift it off pick up using a local skip firms vans overarm thingy ? and how much o a job is it to remove the table ? to add to the thread , :rolleyes: i your'e buying a machine ,buy second hand british
-- willowkevi ----------------------------------------------------------------------- willowkevin's Profile: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/member.php?uP73 View this thread: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?tV156
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willowkevin wrote:

Hi, sorry nearly missed your post I'm running about like ... well you know what. I didn't actually take it apart John did that but he has detailed his methods for moving here:
http://www.homeshopmachinist.net/bbs/showthread.php?t &68&highlight=moving+bridgeport
Have a look at page two and you will see a breakdown of what John did. If you have enough height on the lifting forks then you should be able to sling it quite easily in one piece. It only weighs about a ton and from the way I (and everyone else) fill skips they must weigh many times that. Don't forget it is very top heavy so lay the head over. I hope that it is not too much of a job to take the table off and re-fit as mine is still in the five pieces that John gave me. He assured me that it was an "easy" re-build and feven I could do it - so if I can I'm sure you will be OK. Good luck.
Best regards
Keith
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I got my bridgeport clone through an up and over,, had to turn the head 90 degrees, and put it on a pallet truck.. the motor has to go between two rafters.. and I only just have room to change the draw bar.
Jonathan.
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On Mon, 28 Aug 2006 08:17:07 +0100, "Jonathan Barnes"

Dig a pit the size of the base about 6" deep. That will give you height and make it easier to reach the head. Drawbar's aren't a problem as you can tilt the head but how often do you need to change it? You don't get much choice on R8 like you do when using MT3 with oddsock tooling. I personally haven't seen any R8 that's not on 7/16" UNF. Not saying it doesn't exist just that I haven't seen any.
. -- Regards,
John Stevenson Nottingham, England.
Visit the new Model Engineering adverts page at:- http://www.homeworkshop.org.uk /
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On Mon, 28 Aug 2006 07:52:12 GMT, John Stevenson
Hello John, Thanks for the reply.

The obvious solution, just too lazy to dig. But . . if it means I get one into the garage, then dig is must be. Come to think of it, it will only need damp proofing after cementing or bricking. Who/where should I be looking to get one? Mill that is not cement or bricks:-)) Knowing JS I could expect all sorts of answers! Geoff
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fOn Mon, 28 Aug 2006 08:17:07 +0100, "Jonathan Barnes"
Hello Johathan, Thanks for response.

No problem for me then, with the extra height now the door is hinged.

What is the distance floor to ceiling of your garage? Mine is 2222mm to underside of flat roof. From your post, it is probably the same.
Maybe there's hope yet on a Bridgy. Geoff
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Hi Geoff, Please excuse the blantant advertising, but I have a mini-lathes and milling machines for sale - brand new and good prices. The milling machines I've sold to one or two members of G1MRA (Gauge 1.......................) and all very experienced model makers and engineers - they seemd quite pleased! At the moment I have some on eBay where you can see the specs. and I sell privately too. http://tinyurl.com/zco3z for the lathe, and http://tinyurl.com/jczbf for the milling machine. As you will see, I'm open to offers!
Hugh Hugh Stewart-Smith (harryuk101 - on eBay) member of G!MRA Gauge 1 Model Railway Association - mem.no 3330)
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wrote:

Whilst not Geoff. A 4" gauge Little Sampson hardly rates at gauge 1 and if he's thinking along the correct lines of a BH900 and Bridgeport then these benchtop's are a tad too small.
-- Regards,
John Stevenson Nottingham, England.
Visit the new Model Engineering adverts page at:- http://www.homeworkshop.org.uk /
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