Just to give you an idea what sort of gear is at my disposal, I picked up a HM45 bench mill from eBay. This is a Rong Fu or clone. Who knows? There are lots of good resources for this mill on-line, which is another reason it was desirable.
All the machinery suppliers in Australia have a version of this mill. This particular 2009-dated machine was about half the price of a new one, so the cost played a big part. I did want a dovetail column mill, just for the extra weight and rigidity.
I’m not a big fan of Hare and Forbes in general, I have had a couple of bad experiences with new machines bought from them and a distinct lack of interest from their service department. But I figured the worst case scenario was I’d be able to get parts from someone for this mill.
Turns out it has a very minor oil leak from the spindle seal (or in that area). The gearbox oil level hasn’t dropped out of the sight glass so I haven’t pulled it down to fix it (yet).
First thing I did was purchase the POS machine vice from another eBay retailer. It is a POS because the ground ways for the sliding jaw do not extend all the way to the fixed jaw, therefore you can’t put a parallel on the ways next to the fixed jaw. Major PITA. But I guess you get what you pay for. I’ll have to buy another vice, probably from Hare and Forbes (***shudder***) but I need to look at it before handing over any cash.
Obviously this mill *needs* a digital readout, an X-axis powerfeed, a powered drawbar, one shot oiler, coolant mister….the list goes on.
In subsequent projects we’ll see what we can do with this machine.