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Re: Comparison of Dovetail Mills (Lathemaster vs. Penn Tools)

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  • accuratemike
    There are 3 BP s at work (1 Series II CNC and two common ones , one with DRO) and I probably could have had one for the asking (we store the non DRO). I just
    Message 1 of 16 , Jun 30, 2004
      There are 3 BP's at work (1 Series II CNC and two common ones , one
      with DRO) and I probably could have had one for the asking (we store
      the non DRO). I just don't have the room. My brother was having a ton
      of fun with his 7x10 mini lathe, so I started looking at the mini
      mills. Then the $1k HF round column. Then the Top Tech mini knee. I
      finally arrived at the Chinese dovetails as the max I could
      afford/fit. Then the deal on the RF fell on my foot. I wasn't looking
      for 3ph and downfeed, but Penn Tool (Gene?) called me with the news
      about 3 damaged RF-45's he was blowing out. I posted the lead here and
      they went quick. I got the last one, 3ph and downfeed. The downfeed
      has 3 ratios. .010", .007" & .005" / rev. (I think these are actually
      approximations of some metric pitch). It is DOWNfeed only. The VFD is
      also very cool. Sometimes, when using the boring head (read: out of
      balance when doing big holes), the mill will resonate and vibrate a
      bit (read: stand too light). Change the RPM a few and
      voila...harmonics gone. I use one gear mostly, I can overspeed or
      underspeed plenty from there. The stand is 27" tall, has a tray, was
      made by Bemoto, doesn't drain back too well (I occasionally use flood
      coolant), was a great place to mount the VFD (inside, with the pump
      and reservoir) and is still not anchored. (I don't climb the mill) RE:
      the 1" cutter, I burned up a 3/4" HSS end mill trying to notch a
      welded piece of round bar. The weld was way too hard. I bought a set
      of 3 1" indexable carbide cutters from WT (last one, $19.95). These
      actually will take a heavy cut, right through the weld. The two I have
      used cut oversize, the chunk I was making just needed a 1"ish groove
      in it so I am still happy. I still have these pictures up:
      http://www.trailcrawler.com/JFC45.jpg These are mostly of the move
      (I think, I'll have to look at them). I got way over anxious when I
      got it home and had the stand on ASAP. I wish I had cut a hole in it
      so I could get at the nuts. I am building a CNC torch table as
      practice for the eventual conversion of the mill. I will probably just
      get a DRO first, I am fund limited. Good luck to Tom C, riding to Penn
      Tool is like a trip to Mecca for my brother and I. Not 12 hours though
      (maybe 6). Not much to see there, it's what's in the boxes. I may go
      up after the 8" Vertex rotary table some day. I'll see how Tom likes
      his (Vertex?). Enjoy, MIKE

      --- In mill_drill@yahoogroups.com, "John P. Labutski" <kd6wd@c...> wrote:
      > Well Mike I am going to have to just bury a 1" cutter in steel to
      keep up with you. Mine is the Lathemaster square column and I am
      continually amazed at the metal chewing power of the square column
      mills. About 25 years ago I had a round column import (belt drive)
      which I couldn't keep in axis so I finally ended up with a Bridgeport.
      The bench mills sure have improved. I think some of them rival the BP
      Clones. I have noticed even the round column mill drills are pretty
      rigid nowadays. The Rong Fu is a pretty machine. I don't know if you
      looked underneath, but there are a lot of reinforcing ribs underneath.
      I used a mirror while it was up on the shop crane. The Lathemaster has
      these same reinforcing ribs. Not all square column mills have these
      ribs. Really adds rigidity to the x and y.
      > Having the VFD must be neat. Sort of like having a super mini-mill
      on steroids.
      > Is the power down feed variable or fixed ratios?
      > My Project:
      > I have the standard Lathemaster 7045 without power down feed. I am
      just finishing off my crank mods with a DC motor setup. I replaced the
      crank with a cog belt pulley. I finally got the cog belt ratio's
      setup for it. Now I can pulse down at .001 or drive the head up and
      down with variable speed rapids or super slow for boring. The DC
      motor is a 130 volt 38 rpm 143 inch pounds item. I am using cog belts
      and pulleys I got from Surplus Supply. I am going to build a
      simulated crank using the old crank in the front and below the machine
      with a rotary encoder so I can have up and down by crank on the z axis
      by simply pulsing the dc controller.
      > Did you get the stand with it? One of the guys here is trying to
      figure out if he should get the stand or use a 38" high machine stand
      he has.
      > Post some pictures, if you haven't already.
      > John
      > ----- Original Message -----
      > From: accuratemike
      > To: mill_drill@yahoogroups.com
      > Sent: Wednesday, June 30, 2004 3:24 PM
      > Subject: [mill_drill] Re: Comparison of Dovetail Mills
      (Lathemaster vs. Penn Tools)
      > I can drive a few hours and get to Penn Tool. I would have been a
      > happy Top Tech owner if I didn't get such a great deal on the Rong-Fu
      > from them. (A little dinged up and 3ph switch busted off.) Penn Tool
      > has been very good to deal with. Don't be afraid to haggle a bit as
      > well. I think you might be able to get some movement, that is, if
      > postings here haven't made them too popular. I saw the Top Tech, and
      > it looks nice, differs in detail but not so much in overall finish
      > from the Rong-Fu. One of these day we will all wind our cranks around
      > and get a grip on the real travels of these things, but the specs
      > listed for most of them are a bit inaccurate. My JFC45-N2F has a 1hp
      > 3ph 2spd motor that I have wired on the low speed windings. I use a
      > VFD for phase and speed (remember the switch), and I have no
      > limitations as far as power. It'll hog a pretty good 1" groove through
      > steel anyhow. It seems that when I buy heavy stuff, shipping makes all
      > of the difference. If it is "OK" stuff from HF, I go that way (Vise
      > etc.). I went Penn Tool on the mill so I could pick-up. I think it may
      > boil down to geography, all of the mills seem to be making people
      > happy. Good hunting, MIKE
      > --- In mill_drill@yahoogroups.com, "pmarks_y"
      <pmarks_insight@c...> wrote:
      > > Just a note of thanks for those who replied, and one more question.
      > >
      > > At this point, I'm looking at the Lathemaster and Penn Tools (Top
      > > Tech) mill drills from among those in Mike's spreadsheet. Can
      > > anyone offer a direct comparison, or at least have a Top Tech
      > > dovetail mill drill experience.
      > >
      > > Many have had good experience with Bob from Lathemaster. Seems
      > > a decent dovetail mill from a good guy. However the Top Tech,
      > > very similar in most respects, has a more useful speed range. A
      > > lower at the bottom for slitting saws etc. and a bit higher at the
      > > top for small end mills. Is the quality comparable OR does the
      > > added speed range come at the expense of gear head noise, cheaper
      > > China vs. China quality, etc.?
      > >
      > > Thanks in advance if anyone can assist.
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