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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've long outgrown my bench top import milling machine and its time to look for something bigger and better! If all goes well, I'm shooting for my SOT in the future; but at the moment, I mostly do lots of AK and AR work, 1911's and various other projects. I'd like to have more machining capability for other projects, so that's where the new equipment comes in. Import wise, I've been looking at SHOP FOX and JET. Are they any good or should I just buy a used Bridgeport??? The top of my price range is about $3,000. I have two routes I can go, either get a smaller mill/drill type setup for less ($1,500 ish) and plan for a higher end unit down the road, or spend a bit more and get the higher end unit now and sacrifice space in my small shop. Here are some of the specific imports I was looking over:

http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/ ... _200418473

Or go a bit bigger:
http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/ ... _200419820

Also considering this lathe possibly:
http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/ ... _200423984

Anyone have any experience with this brand or JET? I would love to get a Bridgeport, but have heard mixed reviews on 40+ year old US made equipment vs. new imports... I'd like to have a DRO but think its out of my price range at the moment. Appreciate your all's input on this!
 

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Get a Bridgeport. It will hold up better, be easier to work on and just plain be better. And there are tons of conversions that have come out over the years to turn them into CNC. Only import mils I have ever used were junk. Have yet to meet one I would pay more than 10 bucks for.

Scott
 

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i am just saying you have a great budjet for some good used equipment.
used knee mill = 500-1500
new screws if needed or wanted = 200-400
variable frequency drive = 200
huge vice = 200-500
power feeds = 200 each
 

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Honestly, start searching craigs list. There is a lot of good tooling up for grabs right now. There is a lot of good, older, american machinery out there which IMO is what you should look for.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That's the response I expected. I had been hearing better and better reviews on the imports, and have no experience buying used domestic machinery and didn't want to inherit another persons problems, but it would seem these things (Bridgeports) are still the way to go, highly regarded; and considerably cheaper.
 

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mcnee229 said:
Get a Bridgeport. It will hold up better, be easier to work on and just plain be better. And there are tons of conversions that have come out over the years to turn them into CNC. Only import mils I have ever used were junk. Have yet to meet one I would pay more than 10 bucks for.

Scott
Our mill is a Bridgeport from the 60's. At some point it was in a structural fire. Then the shop relegated it to less important tasks and neglected it for a few decades. We got it for $800 and it still ran fine. We did a few hours of maintenance to tighten up the screws and dovetails, now it runs like a champ.

sgt5th said:
That's the response I expected. I had been hearing better and better reviews on the imports, and have no experience buying used domestic machinery and didn't want to inherit another persons problems, but it would seem these things (Bridgeports) are still the way to go, highly regarded; and considerably cheaper.
Yea, but you already have a mill and should have a good idea what you are looking at.

Grab the table and try to wiggle it across both axis, it should not budge. But if it does, on most american machines you can adjust the dovetails to get that slop out.

Also when you run the table one direction, make a note of how much slop there is in the knob when you reverse directions. All used machines will have some slop, and you can adjust most of that out. Our mill has about 1/8th of a turn of slop.

Also lower the quill and try to wiggle it. There should be NO movement in the quill. I'm not real sure how to correct a loose quill, that may be more complicated than a lose table.

Don't worry if it has a 3 phase motor. We use a phase converter and it works fine. Just make sure you put the converter on its own breaker because it sucks power even when the mill is not running.
 

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dead_eye said:
Don't worry if it has a 3 phase motor. We use a phase converter and it works fine. Just make sure you put the converter on its own breaker because it sucks power even when the mill is not running.
You don't turn yours off?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the input! My bench top import is about only good for DE-milling jobs most of the time these days. The X-Y knobs have about a 1/2 turn of slop and the table wobbles badly. I can tighten these up and remove most of it but after even the smallest job it will loosen after less than an hours work. It didn't start this till after about 2 years average use. Hence, this is my experience with the imports. I was hoping to buy new, but I guess an import is an import and the used older Bridgports and the like just have them beat up and down. I've found a few on ebay and craigslist that may be promising. Some with DRO's on board for less than half my budget. Might be getting that lathe as well sooner than expected!!
 

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Last year I looked at used Bridgeports, but they want 3-5 grand for a beat up used one, and around $15,000 new.

Just be careful, many used machinery dealers slap some gray paint on them, and say they are "refurbished".
Mike, you may already know this, but since you're in MN try K-BID: http://www.k-bid.com/. Currently, there's a shop in Elk River (All Tool) foreclosing and selling their Bridgeports and Bridgeport copies (Sharp, Lagun in their case). Wouldn't hurt to bid on something. The Sharp and Lagun looked the best to me.
 

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m0ondoggy said:
dead_eye said:
Don't worry if it has a 3 phase motor. We use a phase converter and it works fine. Just make sure you put the converter on its own breaker because it sucks power even when the mill is not running.
You don't turn yours off?
Some things are leaky and still suck power when off. Maybe that's what he is saying?
 

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into_the_knight said:
m0ondoggy said:
[quote="dead_eye":11t9rx78]

Don't worry if it has a 3 phase motor. We use a phase converter and it works fine. Just make sure you put the converter on its own breaker because it sucks power even when the mill is not running.
You don't turn yours off?
Some things are leaky and still suck power when off. Maybe that's what he is saying?[/quote:11t9rx78]

My 3 phase converter (from Enco) does not have an on/off switch! Therefore we put a small breaker box next to it so we can turn it off.
 

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Danus ex said:
[quote="[email protected]":104sk5j7]Last year I looked at used Bridgeports, but they want 3-5 grand for a beat up used one, and around $15,000 new.

Just be careful, many used machinery dealers slap some gray paint on them, and say they are "refurbished".
Mike, you may already know this, but since you're in MN try K-BID: http://www.k-bid.com/. Currently, there's a shop in Elk River (All Tool) foreclosing and selling their Bridgeports and Bridgeport copies (Sharp, Lagun in their case). Wouldn't hurt to bid on something. The Sharp and Lagun looked the best to me.[/quote:104sk5j7]


I appreciate the tip, but we went ahead and bought a brand new Sharp with DRO for me to do prototypes and other small jobs on.
 

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Every used Bridgeport I ever personally saw for sale was worn slam out.

I'd buy one of the new Chinese clones and have done with it.

Get the variable speed quill motor instead of the stepped belts, and get a DRO if you can afford it.

Figure 1/3 to 1/2 of the mill's price for tooling - Kurt vise, angle plates, collets, end mills, boring head, rotary table, indexer and tailstock, clamping bits, coolant mister... if you have any money left over you can buy a power feed for the X axis.
 
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