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help deciding on a mill drill please

Discussion in 'ASIAN LATHES & MILLS' started by josef, Jul 12, 2017.

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  1. josef

    josef United States Iron Registered Member

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    Hello,
    I'm new to hobby machinist. I am a blacksmith and welder and only a so-so machinist. I've got an old SouthBend lathe and a Grizzly G8689 mini mill and a drill press.
    Where I desperately need help right now is I want to upgrade my milling and drilling capacity. I've got around $2500 to spend and have been looking at four different asian mill drills. I've been told I should buy a used bridgeport mill and I have looked but haven't found anything that I want that I can afford. Besides that they are heavier than the mill drills and I have limited weight moving capability.
    So I've been looking at Bolton ZX45, Precision Matthews PM-932M, Grizzly G0761, and the Bailey VMD-40G. I've crossed off the Grizzly although I've had good luck with their stuff in the past, but the 761 head only rotates 45 degrees and I need to be able to drill holes in the end of long pieces and a head tilt of 90 gives me that ability. I'd rather have a gear head machine with a dovetail column. So I wrote to Precision Matthews asking about recent reviews and they directed me here.
    The Bailey is nice and they have a good rep for customer service but their price seems a bit high.
    The Bolton is the lowest price at $1682, but I have been able to find no recent reviews. There are few youtube videos but several years old.
    The Precision Matthews reviews I found were sometimes negative especially about the shipping container.
    So please help me out, folks. Tell me the good and the bad. I want a machine that I can uncrate, clean up, crank up, and put it to work drilling and milling steel. I'm hoping for a machine that won't require me to contact customer support.
     
  2. TomS

    TomS Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    You can't go wrong with a Precision Mathews mill. Quality is good and the service is second to none. I have a PM-932 converted to CNC and am extremely happy with it. In my opinion PM is the best new machine option out there. Haven't heard much about Bolton and even less about the Bailey products so cannot honestly comment.

    A note of caution. Rotating the head 90 degrees is a nice feature but most mills in the size you are looking at don't have a head rotational drive mechanism. With the motor mounted on top of the gear head you've got a lot of weight to contend with. Think about how you are going to rotate the head without it getting away from you and causing damage to you or the mill. Then you have to get it back in to the vertical position. I haven't had to do this on my 932 but I am very cautious when tramming that I keep some tension on the bolts.

    Tom S.
     
  3. josef

    josef United States Iron Registered Member

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    Thanks, Tom. It's nice to hear good things about the PM-932.
    Yes, I realize that it won't be a simple thing to rotate the head. I've got a gantry crane I can position over the thing to help hold onto the motor and lower it under control.
     
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  4. Silverbullet

    Silverbullet Active Member Active Member

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    Did you think about an older horizontal mill with the vertical head. With those you can bore holes at 90 degrees all day and night with ease. I know there heavy but with a pry bar and 4 lengths of 1" x 4' long pipe you can move it any where. You would be surprised how easy it is. With care and a comalong unloading from a trailer is easy also. There are lots of great deals on them . Just my opinion.
     
  5. josef

    josef United States Iron Registered Member

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    I'm open to all possibilities. And I'm not in a hurry. My limitation is that I'm unfamiliar with various models and terminology. I have no formal machinist training or experience. For example, there is a Bridgeport model 37886 for sale on ebay and it looks in good condition. But I don't know the difference between J heads and M heads, etc. So I'm a dummy when it comes to some of these things. I basically know what a horizontal mill is, but what is one with a vertical head? Thanks for any education or links to same. If I go looking at horizontal mills, what is a good HP rating?
     
  6. Silverbullet

    Silverbullet Active Member Active Member

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    The best advise for you is to start watching lots of YouTube videos by Keith Fenner , Keith Rucker, Mr Pete , and other machining videos . Type in their names and watch. You really have no idea of what's needed to do what you want. Big holes need big drills and machines to do it on a regular basis. I'd forget mill drill for your needs. Big RADIAL drill would be best just to drill large holes. Lots of vises angle plates and more.
     
  7. josef

    josef United States Iron Registered Member

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    Thanks for the names. I'll check those out. You know you are right about me not knowing what I need. That's partly why I'm here. But I think you could have been a little more tactful about telling me that. I won't bother you again.
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  8. markba633csi

    markba633csi United States Active Member Active Member

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    Josef you haven't told us what kind of stuff you want (need) to do; is it hobby type stuff? What degree of precision are you needing?
    Also with a used machine you may have to do some repairs, if you want to be up and running quick then maybe stick with new machines.
    I've heard many good things about the Precision Matthews company. If I was going Asian I'd buy there.
    Mark S.
     
  9. josef

    josef United States Iron Registered Member

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    Hi Mark,
    I have done a lot of different things with the little Grizzly G8689 mill drill I have. I mill out the peg boxes of the mountain dulcimers that my wife builds. It's much faster than the mallet and chisel method. I work on pedal steel guitars and have made lots of parts for different models. Most of the parts of a pedal steel are of aluminum. I've done a little steel on the Grizzly but it's pretty much under powered and light weight for that.
    I am a blacksmith concentrating mostly on ornamental iron. Now I'm beginning to build a 100 lb air powered hammer and that is mostly why I wanted to go to a larger machine. I need more power to do some of the drilling and machining on the hammer parts. I want to be able to mill special dies for the hammer from 4140. It is true that I could do most of the drilling on my old drill press using drill fixtures, but I thought I might up my capability a bit. There are many times I'd like to be able to build fixturing to help with some of the ornamental designs I come up with. Furniture is mostly 3D puzzles. This is not hobby stuff as much as work related. But the precision doesn't have to me extreme. As long as it is quite good, it will be good enough, if that makes sense. I thought one of the mill drills I mentioned would do the job and I came here in hopes somebody had experience with one of them. With very few reviews of them on the web, I was beginning to wonder if anybody had ever bought one.
     
  10. markba633csi

    markba633csi United States Active Member Active Member

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    I would say (cautiously) that even a fairly worn Bridgeport or Bridgeport style clone, with a single phase motor, would be satisfactory for most of the things you are doing now. I would stay clear of the vari-speed heads, they can be cheaper to buy initially but expensive to rebuild. Stick with the simple step pulley drive.
    Mark S.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
  11. josef

    josef United States Iron Registered Member

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    I've been looking some at old Bridgeports. I think it may take a while to find one I can afford. But anyway, could we talk about horsepower for a minute? I was thinking I need at least one hp. Some of the older Bridgeports I've seen have only 1/2 horse motors. Many of the ones for sale are 3 phase, and I know I can get a converter for that, but that's more money. From what I've read on another forum I should pay attention to the ways and backlash more than the condition of the table. Unfortunately, there is probably no good way to evaluate those things without going and seeing the thing in person. Not too many for sale around Knoxville, TN.
    There's one on ebay, a benchtop unit that is horizontal and vertical. He tells me the horizontal is R8 but the vertical is smaller. Any ideas on that one?
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
  12. josef

    josef United States Iron Registered Member

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    Don't know how to end these threads, but I'm ready to close this one. I've about decided that I can do much of what I need on my drill press and lathe. So it makes more sense to upgrade parts for the lathe. Anyhow, thanks for the ideas. I'm still very curious about whether anybody owns and uses a Bolton or Bailey mill drill. Tom is the only one I've found who actually has a Precision Matthews. You'd think there would be more out on the web about them than what there is.
     

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