|RE: Doug Harrison's comments on used vs. used domestic machines.
Excellent advice for the home / non machinist buyer. As a journeyman tool and die maker now selling for Milacron I agree that offshore quality has certainly improved ( and some in the US slipped). To make up for slop / wear an old shop staple, the "Travel-Dial" is still made and is much less costly than DROs (didgital readouts). They direct read the position of the slide independant of the lead screw / hand wheel.
I may have missed it but I saw no mention of gap bed lathes. For the small shop a modest lathe with a removable gap can in some cases nearly double the swing on an as needed basis and is found on Jet, Chevalier, Jima and some of the Euro stuff. If looking at used equipement one quick visual clue can be to look for scraping marks on the ways. This is an intentional patern literally "scraped" by hand into the machine surfaces to hold oil and reduce surface area bearing friction. If still visible the machine just may have potential.
Regarding sources for machine tools and training I have found it almost universal in my ten years of calling on machinists and shop owners, and that is the love of all things mechanical. I've yet to meet one that didn't love things that go fast, make noise and belch smoke. Therefore I suggest readers try and find an older dingy (but well cared for) shop and explain your situation to the owner / operator. They will either want a copy of your drawings or offer to help. Plus they just might have that diamond in the rough machine gathering dust in a corner. If you find the right guy he will likely rumage through his tool box for odds and ends of tooling etc. and explain what it does. Be prepared to hear some tall tales and get your ear bent for an hour or two. Hint: donuts are a universal bribe / thank you to machinists. (we forget to eat when lost in work).
April 10, 1998 - Since the last time I wrote I have come across a new source for affordable (relatively speaking) machine tools. The Wilton vise and drill press folks have expanded their product offerings to include knee mills (Bridgeport style) and small engine lathes. In addition to a nice price I was interested to find that they offer these machines in either 3 phase 220 VAC or 120 VAC Single Phase configuration as a NO cost option! This is good news to those who don't want to know or learn about phase converters etc.
Spence Johnson STJ28@aol.com