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Thread: Your thoughts on a lathe / mill / drill combo machine

  1. #1
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    Default Your thoughts on a lathe / mill / drill combo machine

    For some time I've wanted a lathe- no pressing need for one, but every now and again a project or application comes up. This machine popped up on Craig's List, a Smithy Midas 1220 combination machine.

    http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/n...279128237.html

    What's the conventional wisdom about a combo machine like this? Ever used one, ever heard of the Smithy brand? Does the fact that it's a combination machine mean it does neither function (mill / lathe) very well? I'd appreciate your thoughts.
    DaveO
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  2. #2

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    I have a Shoptask. The bearings aren't very good, although I have heard replacing the beadings with better quality and adjusting the preload makes them more functional. Most of the 3-1 machines are better lathes than mills due to the lack of stiffness in the milling heads.

    The only way you will know is to hop in the truck and ride over and check it out for a demo.
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  3. #3

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    Shoot, for $250, I don't see how you can go wrong. If you don't like it, just re-sell it.
    Everlast 200DX
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    Shoptask 3-in-1 (not currently in my garage, but I own it...)

    Any day on a motorcycle like this that ends just needing parts and labor is a good day.
    4.82, 158.67mph 1/8th mile 7.350, 200.35mph 1/4 mile

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by sportbike View Post
    Shoot, for $250, I don't see how you can go wrong. If you don't like it, just re-sell it.
    I was going to say how I'm not real thrilled with my HF 3-in-1, but for that price, I would certainly grab it (unless it has obvious major issues). The biggest beef I have with mine is the tiny table size, but that doesn't look to be a problem with this unit.
    Penncrest Buzzbox - Infinite amp control! Man the 70's were good.
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  5. #5
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    As will all combinations there are trade offs. The lathe part is fairly typical, but because of the size of the mill table, your swing over carriage is less than what you would have on a dedicated lathe. They compensate a little by making the swing over bed a little larger. The mill part loses a lot of rigidity because it has to hang out quite a ways from the column. Shopmaster is the exception to this as they use a bridgemill design and I've heard really good things about them. At that price it's kinda a no brainer as you will be able to see if it meets your needs and even if it doesn't, you will know just what you want in the next machine. If you work in aluminum, plastics, and free machining steels, etc. it should do fine. If you plan to hog off a lot of stainless, that might be a little tough.
    Long arc, short arc, heliarc and in-the-dark!

  6. Default

    Many years ago I started off with a 3 n 1 unit and if your doing really "small" stuff then it's ok however slow. I used it for about a year and sold it. I needed something that i could make parts for Harleys etc. Ended up buying a brand new Enco bridgeport style mill and a used 40" Enco lathe for 600 bucks. Been using them both for 15 years with minimal problems. Keep in mind they are not used daily as i suspect they would ware out quickly as the are made in China.

  7. Default

    Finally I can contribute to this group. I've been harboring a machine shop for most of my years. Right now, my shop occupies a 2.5 car garage. I started off with used low-end equipment and eventually built up to fairly modern light industrial equipment and do general repairs, make custom yacht parts and for my own hobby, make precision sundials (that tell time with amazing accuracy)... You've been given good advice. For 250, its a good way to get into machine work but without a doubt, you'll discover its limitations quickly. For small pieces of mild steel, aluminum and plastic, it will do fine. You'll need to take light cuts on everything and make multiple passes. Forget about any alloys like chrome molly (41xx type metals). Space wise, they're difficult to work with because it's cramped quarters. I could go on about the specific limitations for each of it's capabilities but don't want to come-off as being negative. If you just want to mess around or make parts that are much smaller than a breadbox and only need to hold about +/- 0.002" accuracy (within 8" lengths) then those machines are fine and you can do a lot with them. It will not handle any sizeable pieces of harder metal because the flex in the machine is too great. All of the above assumes the machine is not worn out. Bearings can go bad, the "ways" (the flat rails that the carriage rides on) can be worn or even bowed, spindle shafts can get bent, leadscrews can be bent or worn, gib ways can be worn... Most of those things can be repaired but watch-out for getting nickle-and-dimed to death. Left unchecked all those ailments show-up in the workpiece and it can be frustrating.

    Most people I know who bought combo units either use them for what they're intended and are happy or, grew out of it quickly and bought single component equipment. I've got about 3 tons between the lathe, mill and surface grinder -and sometimes I wish I had 6 tons between them all. Solid and heavy is good when it comes to machine equipment and any machine that can be lifted by 1 or 2 people is not going to cut it for serious use. But for 250... It could be just the perfect thing for you.

  8. #8

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    save your money and buy a lathe and at least a 14 inch or larger . I had one of those mutimill lathe things didn't like it the mill part was crappy
    EVERLAST 250 EX , EVERLAST I-MIG 205 , EVERLAST spool gun NOW have 2 EVERLAST POWER PLASMA 50 plasma cutter's , LINCOLN 175HD MIG WELDER , VICTOR TORCH SET and many more tools to many to list

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodsmachineshop View Post
    save your money and buy a lathe and at least a 14 inch or larger . I had one of those mutimill lathe things didn't like it the mill part was crappy
    It all depends on what you want to machine. There are many people that make extremely precision engine models on Sureline, Taig, and mini lathes. You need the right tool for the job. There are plenty of jobs I would not want to do on a 14" lathe. For some it would be too big, for others too small. For an automotive machine shop it's about the perfect size. For home machine shops I think the incredible number of South Bend 9" and 10" lathes sold, pretty much defines that market. But my favorite small lathe of all time is the 1/6 scale Hardinge toolroom lathe built by Bill Huxhold, because there was nothing else that would do what he wanted.

    Long arc, short arc, heliarc and in-the-dark!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray C View Post
    I could go on about the specific limitations for each of it's capabilities but don't want to come-off as being negative. {snip} All of the above assumes the machine is not worn out. {snip} But for 250... It could be just the perfect thing for you.
    Thanks for all the replies- I sent an email to find out what's what, and downloaded the owner's manual, which is useful by itself as an "intro to machining" book. The machine itself weighs about 500 pounds. I'm curious about the low price, whether parts are missing for instance, or if it's been beat to death.
    DaveO
    Oxweld oxy acet gear
    IMIG 200
    PowerTIG 210 EXT... Amazing!

  11. #11

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    i use my atlas for real small stuff and big stuff . i just switch out the chucks , have a 6 inch chuck for smaller stuff , only cost like 200 bucks on ebay for chuck
    EVERLAST 250 EX , EVERLAST I-MIG 205 , EVERLAST spool gun NOW have 2 EVERLAST POWER PLASMA 50 plasma cutter's , LINCOLN 175HD MIG WELDER , VICTOR TORCH SET and many more tools to many to list

  12. #12

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    older lathes are made very well . had a grizzly small lathe worked great after doing some mods to lathe since china lathes are a little sloppy . lol my 12 inch craftsman atlas lathe is very old made in 1936 but very tight and sears still sells parts for it . the 12 is nice but always come to do something and find a 14 inch would be perfect .
    EVERLAST 250 EX , EVERLAST I-MIG 205 , EVERLAST spool gun NOW have 2 EVERLAST POWER PLASMA 50 plasma cutter's , LINCOLN 175HD MIG WELDER , VICTOR TORCH SET and many more tools to many to list

  13. #13

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    Well, I knew a guy who had one and used it extensively with great results. He manufactured engine pistons for old John Deere tractors that he could not find new pistons for any longer...I think one of them was for a model "D" and a model "R:. Biggest 2 cylinders JD made.
    Last edited by performance; 09-19-2012 at 06:21 PM.

  14. Default

    Some folks must have way the hell too much time on their hands! I wonder if the major parts (tailstock, body housing etc) of that 1:6 reproduction were cast.

    Anyhow, I wish I had a real Hardinge toolroom lathe... Even in beat condition, used ones are going 20+ grand. Here's the closest thing you can get to it now in modern production: http://www.grizzly.com/products/Supe...t-Lathe/SB1008. AMT sells the same lathe for a few grand less. They come from the same factories in Taiwan that makes most (if not all) of the upper-end Birmingham style lathes and lathe components. In the last few years, China's lathe factories have caught-up to the Taiwan quality.

    In any event, unless you're making mini parts for munchkin assemblies, a 12x36 or 14x40 is ideal for home/garage/small-shop purposes and I believe the Hardinge was only a 10x20 -but at the time, it was the only lathe that could hold 0.0001".



    Quote Originally Posted by Rambozo View Post
    It all depends on what you want to machine. There are many people that make extremely precision engine models on Sureline, Taig, and mini lathes. You need the right tool for the job. There are plenty of jobs I would not want to do on a 14" lathe. For some it would be too big, for others too small. For an automotive machine shop it's about the perfect size. For home machine shops I think the incredible number of South Bend 9" and 10" lathes sold, pretty much defines that market. But my favorite small lathe of all time is the 1/6 scale Hardinge toolroom lathe built by Bill Huxhold, because there was nothing else that would do what he wanted.


  15. #15
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    I'm in the process of shopping for an upgrade for my 12" Atlas/Craftsman. It was a deal and a great way to get into it, but I outgrew it within a couple of months. You'll save some money, but the power and rigidity will be lacking with a 3 in 1 and you'll get frustrated making 30 passes to keep things true instead of just a couple a nice rigid machine will do.

    Still restoring my Van Norman, but I spent the money I was going to use on a 3 in 1 on it. Once up and running I can bury a 3" cutter an inch into the material and keep on humming.

    I'm looking for a nice 14/16" lathe, one of the big American irons, and hoping my shop floor can handle a 6+k lb machine

    For a way to get into it, look for a 10-12" South Bend or Atlas even (they catch lots of crap on some forums, but they're good machines to start on) You'll be happier in the long run.
    Trip Bauer
    Former USN HT
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  16. #16
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    The mill / lathe that originated this post was sold by the time I responded to the ad, so maybe it's just as well. I'm space-limited right now (my wife says "you need to build a shop" which translates to "when will you get all that crap out of the garage") so I'll likely have to wait, but I would like to have a "happier in the long run" machine.
    DaveO
    Oxweld oxy acet gear
    IMIG 200
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  17. #17
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    Universe watching out for ya Keep an eye out for the machines I mentioned, you may run across one at a price that motivates you to clean a place for it... that's what happened here.

    ALSO, remember, tooling is everything. A lathe without a chuck or with just an undersize chuck and no tooling will cost you way more to set up than to buy. You need at least a chuck, tool holder a couple tailstocks and some blanks.
    Trip Bauer
    Former USN HT
    Everlast 200DX New Model
    Hobart Handler 125 MIG
    Van Norman #12
    Atlas 12" engine lathe
    '98 RoadKing - 84 Ironhead - 59 Ironhead

  18. #18

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    The Jet tools are good Quality, I have used one of there Mill Drill Machines and it was a good quality product. Anyone in the midwest USa looking for machines i have a friend that deals in them he always has lathes mills drills and other good quality machines on hand or knows where they are.
    PowerTig 200DX
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    Millermatic 200
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    Jet 1340 Lathe
    Jet 20" Drill Press
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbmkr View Post
    The Jet tools are good Quality, I have used one of there Mill Drill Machines and it was a good quality product. Anyone in the midwest USa looking for machines i have a friend that deals in them he always has lathes mills drills and other good quality machines on hand or knows where they are.
    I'll have to remember to buzz you when I look to upgrade this winter/spring. My neighbor and good friend drives for a living, offered to do LTL runs for me to pick up equipment from TX to Mass and anywhere inbetween.

    Does he deal in old American iron?
    Trip Bauer
    Former USN HT
    Everlast 200DX New Model
    Hobart Handler 125 MIG
    Van Norman #12
    Atlas 12" engine lathe
    '98 RoadKing - 84 Ironhead - 59 Ironhead

  20. #20

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    Yes he deals in older American iron, i was there in August and looked at a real nice DK 6' press brake , I noticed he had several older metal lathes also, Southbend ect 14" 72" - 96" bed length's.
    He sells a lot of equipment to the Amish, He removes the motors and controls for them, thats what i was looking for at the time. I needed a motor and starter box for a wood shaper i was rebuilding .I just sold my older Southbend Lathe 120" bed length , my intent was to set it up to re tube drive shafts but decided to sell it. My neighbor purchased it and shipped it to Honduras to use there to twist 1" square bar for wrought iron.

    Give me an idea what you are looking for and i will see what he has.

    His inventory generaly has, Wood and Metal Band Saws, Surface Grinders, Mills, Lathes, Table Saws, Wood Lathes, Metal Lathes, Planers wood and steel
    Last edited by cbmkr; 10-14-2012 at 10:27 AM.
    PowerTig 200DX
    Supercut 50P
    PowerTig Micro 185 SOLD GREAT MACHINE
    Millermatic 200
    Miller Thunderbolt
    Jet 1340 Lathe
    Jet 20" Drill Press
    Jet 12" Wet Band Saw
    Kalamazoo H7 Bandsaw
    Forward 12,000 lb 4 Post Lift

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