Selecting a satisfactory 3-in-1 sheet metal machine?

Hi all -
I apologize for posting this on the welding group instead of
rec.craft.metalworking but that newsgroup is so filled with political
crap that I'm afraid any metalworking content would be lost in the morass.
Anyhow, we recently acquired a rather nice Chicago 24" box and pan brake
and the acquisition has engendered a desire to do more with sheet metal.
We're (as always) limited on floor space and would like to add the
capacity to shear and maybe roll form sheet metal parts. The original
plan was to use the plasma cutter for 'shearing' but now we're thinking
about getting one of the '3-in-1' shear/brake/roller combinations - and
maybe re-selling the Chicago brake (that's a big maybe)
Comparing the 30" machines we find on the net, the Enco 30" claims 20
gauge capacity, the Grizzly 22 gauge and the Harbor Freight
says 20 gauge.
Is it possible that all of these come from the same production line in
India or China and going with the cheapest will give us exactly the same
machine with a different paint job, or is one superior to the others? Is
there another alternative in the same price range that we should be
looking at?
Also, to do boxes with neat corners we're thinking about getting a hand
notcher like the Enco or Jet... or maybe spending a little more for a
'nibbler' for the ironworker and giving us the capacity to notch much
heavier material for structural stuff in addition to the sheet metal
pieces. Any thoughts?
Thanks in advance
"It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can
stand by itself." --Thomas Jefferson
Reply to
Carla Fong
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I have a second-hand Central Machinery 30" one, with some Dayton (Grainger) replacement parts. I've used a 30" Jet and an older 24" Triok, which was the best made.
The CM suffers from poor quality small parts like adjustment screws, which are easily replaced. It's fussy to align and soon shifts if loaded to full capacity. But it can do the job if I'm careful with it. It's adequate for a hobby machine. The previous owner was a business who couldn't tolerate its poor performance.
The Triok was in a company model shop along with a bench-mounted Pexto shear and a finger brake, which were MUCH easier to use but took up considerably more space than I could spare at home, so I learned to use the Triok which was on a wheeled cart, a rather dangerous top-heavy arrangement.
I didn't use the Jet enough to comment much on it, as that company had a power shear and floorstand finger brake over in the main shop. It seemed better made than the CM.
I use my manual corner notcher to nibble out curves to pencil lines. I think a powered one would be less useful for this.
Reply to
Jim Wilkins

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