What should I pay for a mill?

  1. Bill Edwards Member

    Messages:
    4,898
    Location:
    Scarborough, North Yorkshire
    Having got a lathe and getting into machining again I keep thinking about the (cough) need for a mill.

    But what's appropriate money for a used vertical machine? Obviously I realise this is a bit of a 'how long is a piece of string' question but I need something to start on - what's a clapped out machine worth, what's a nice machine worth?

    For instance, I have come across an Ajax for £500, general condition unknown. But what puts me off is that it doesn't have a quill - is the £500 fair or over the top?

    Any pointers would be helpful...
     
  2. slim_boy_fat

    slim_boy_fat Forum Supporter

    @Bill Much will depend on you individual circumstances, particularly in terms of available space etc. I'd love to have a small mill, but have nowhere to put one, other than perhaps one of the smallest bench-top jobs which are limited, afaik. Max budget, transport costs, tooling etc will all need to be factored into your decision.

    I'm keeping an eye out for a Myford accessory type which I know is only for small jobs but might suit my very limited needs.
     
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  3. Burdekin

    Burdekin Chief Bodger

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    Think I paid about £1k for my Harrison universal with tooling. It is such a lovely and extremely well made machine and worth way more than that if compared to new mills.
     
  4. Screwdriver

    Screwdriver Member

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    5,377
    UK London
    No quill no deal I would have thought. It's the heart of the machine and I think you'd struggle to find a spare. I once bought an ALMOST NEW (well, late '80's) ex school Harrison lathe - minus the tailstock which had been nicked. A replacement would have cost £1000's. Knocked the value right out of it both for resale and/or personal use.

    With older ailing machines it really comes down to risk. How much time and money are you prepared to risk and potentially lose, vs. the perceived final value for you to use or resell. I generally find the bigger the potential "reward" the more risk I am prepared to take. So if there's an old Bridgeport kicking about for a few hundred quid, it's worth the risk. A less well known machine in a similar condition for similar money might not be.

    I find that smaller car friendly machines or ultra small footprint milling machines are generally prized and priced more highly because they are easier to deal with. The bigger machines might be "better" in every respect but because there is a smaller market for them, they're a lot more difficult to transport and find shed space for, can end up getting sold for a lot less than they are nominally "worth".

    Really my best advice is go as big as you can and find one which come with as much tooling and accessories as possible. That's what gets you the best bang for your buck. Doesn't really matter what it is but the big names are easier the find spares for. Oh and if it's a Schaublin or some other amazing old Swiss machine going for peanuts, don't think twice just buy the hell out of it!

    Ultimately though, I would hesitate to buy anything that had a major component missing. Non runner, yeah ok. Damaged repairable, maybe. But "missing" is a different kettle of fish.
     
  5. Bill Edwards Member

    Messages:
    4,898
    Location:
    Scarborough, North Yorkshire
    The mill I mention that has no quill isn't incomplete, it appears to be built without one:

    s-l1600.jpg s-l1600 (1).jpg

    Space and weight aren't of major concern, if I have the hassle of moving it I might as well as have as big as is available - but finding anything that's in any way local ain't always easy round here.
    I just lack knowing how much they're worth.

    Tooling - don't mention it...
    You may remember me getting a brilliant Harrison lathe at a bargain price with chucks and steady, but the cost of general tools, measuring gear, centres, chucks, collet set (not essential mind) has already cost over double that of the machine!
     
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  6. gaz1

    gaz1 Forum Supporter

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    as i have the older type and been told enough its your tooling thats mostly required on them

    getting a good one and one that needs work can be expensive as some parts are hard to find for them

    but at end of it its down to the buyer what they get and what they pay for there machine
     
  7. slim_boy_fat

    slim_boy_fat Forum Supporter

    That's probably as close as you're likely to find in the short term - depends on how pressing the 'need' is. :D

    Keep an eye on http://homeworkshop.org.uk/ as well as the 'Bay/Gumtree too. :thumbup:
     
  8. MBB Forum Supporter

    Messages:
    832
    Location:
    northumberland
    Its a horizontal and vertical mill.
    I cant see the arbour support or the arbour its incomplete, heavy mills don't bring high prices that one would probably have no bidders being close to Xmas. It has the address on the ad, have a real good look and hear it running. I think there is better ones to be had at that price.
     
  9. Screwdriver

    Screwdriver Member

    Messages:
    5,377
    UK London
    OK gotcha. It is nice to have a quill on a milling machine but with yours, it lacks one because it also converts to a horizontal mill from the look of it. Swings and roundabouts (except it's missing the roundabout i.e. the horizontal arbor)

    If it came with a nice set of tooling including a decent vice, that would be sorely tempting, especially if it was close and easy to get to.

    What would swing it for me is if it had a good motor, a decent table and working power feed(s). I'd want a machine like that to have power feed or I'd be looking elsewhere...

    The bottom line is, if you'd buy it, someone else would too so you wouldn't be stuck with it forever if you changed your mind.
     
  10. Burdekin

    Burdekin Chief Bodger

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    When I did my time there is no way you'd find any machine left like that with swarf and so dirty. Part of the job was cleaning the machine and oiling it after you used it. It doesn't look like it's been looked after to me.
     
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  11. Bill Edwards Member

    Messages:
    4,898
    Location:
    Scarborough, North Yorkshire
    I hadn't twigged that it's also a horizontal - probably because there's no mention of anything else with it and I have very little interest in a horizontal machine compared to a vertical. I would not use one machine for both anyway as I would not be capable to lifting the heads myself and lack helpers so it's just a no.

    As to seeing it running first, that's a bit tricky. My car's head gasket is gone so getting down to view it is a no, I'd have to rope somebody in to collect it which is a problem in itself so I'd need to be sure of it being worth having.

    I was also taught to clean a machine off after use but it's just not happening on my lathe. Partly because some jobs are just so small it's not worth it but also access is a problem, it's covered in tools as there's nowhere to keep them, and everything is blooming difficult right now. But due to being in a barn it gets drenched in duck oil every time it gets touched so there's never any rust, but to look at it you may think it wasn't cared for!
     
  12. Bill Edwards Member

    Messages:
    4,898
    Location:
    Scarborough, North Yorkshire
    Tooling...

    What sort of figures would a complete set of tooling be setting me back? Clamps, vices, end mills, collets to hold tools, fly cutter, chamfer tool, wigglers and so on.
    Lets say I spent 6-700 on lathe tooling for a reasonably comprehensive set to have all the main tool holders, parting, centres, threading tools (everything is using inserts, not HSS), with that kind of spending on a lathe what would a mill cost? Similar, double...?
     
  13. addjunkie

    addjunkie Member

    Messages:
    5,466
    Location:
    Northumberland. Reet oot in the sticks
    Mmmmmmm

    Mills possibly more of an evocative subject than lathes. Tooling only way to describe it, is almost as expensive as ex wives. Even the imported stuff, mostly ok isnt cheap. And when you build a collection covering what your likley to needs its quite scary. 300 to get you started, then dividing heads, rotary tables, etc sharp push the budget up.

    Machines....id say buy a known quantity like a bridgeport, that way if you need to sell you will have potential customers. But like most things there is some real rubbish about. I like both deckels and the aceria s but both are rare and pricey.
    Dont dismiss the imports like doubleboost uses, very usable machines.

    My advice look for a retiring model engineer and buy with tooling.

    Also make sure you can get it through the door into your shed.
     
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  14. spencer 427

    spencer 427 Member

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    uk colchester
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    I will be going down this road next year..as I will be hunting for a Bridgeport mill.
     
  15. Pete.

    Pete. Member

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  16. Bill Edwards Member

    Messages:
    4,898
    Location:
    Scarborough, North Yorkshire
    I’m fortunate that size isn’t a problem really - space isn’t there but will be created to suit and the smallest gateway is probably at least 10’ wide with plenty of height :laughing:

    It now seems like a bit of a mine field though, getting a decent machine.
     
  17. Screwdriver

    Screwdriver Member

    Messages:
    5,377
    UK London
    Your best bet is to find one on the grapevine. Just let it been known you are looking for a milling machine. I do this with motorcycles (or at least I did when I was an active collector). I would tell everyone. I don't mean posting a thread on a forum, I mean I'd tell the checkout girl on the till, the postman, my neighbours, random bloke at the petrol station, bike shop, mechanics, everyone. I would just drop it into conversation with anyone I was talking to or interacting with. It was amazing how many times I would pick up a lead.

    This thing about six degrees of separation isn't just for people, it also works for STUFF. Your friend of a friend who knows a bloke round the corner with a mate in the pub, he knows someone who has a Bridgeport milling machine that just "has to go". The trick however is to be ready to go; like NOW. Cash in hand, with a van, "when do you want it gone?", "tomorrow? Yep no problem..."

    What happens is, as soon as an item becomes available, it suddenly becomes available everywhere too and as soon as there's a number attached to it "What you're selling it for £100??", "Crikey mate, I didn't know that, I'll give you that myself..."

    So in the world of bargain hunting, word of mouth is your best friend but also your worst enemy. The better the deal, the more likely you are to get gazumped.
     
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  18. Dieselkid 63

    Dieselkid 63 Banned from forklifts

    Messages:
    4,304
    Location:
    Wellington, New Zealand
    Yes, this is how I got my lathe. Cash is very appealing if it can be offered instantly.
     
  19. Bill Edwards Member

    Messages:
    4,898
    Location:
    Scarborough, North Yorkshire
    Aye, cash is king for these things. Turn up with suitable transport and notes and people will generally do a good deal.

    Course, I don’t have my own van/trailer... :(

    I can try to spread the word but don’t always meet enough people, hence having to suffer looking on eBay etc.

    But knowing what’s worth what is very important cause when the time comes it’s no good paying over the top or passing by thinking it’s overpriced cause you’re clueless.
     
  20. gaz1

    gaz1 Forum Supporter

    Messages:
    9,158
    Location:
    westyorkshire
    its either that or go down the homemade route for your machine extras
     
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