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Need some advice on buying a mill!

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  • Need some advice on buying a mill!

    Hi guys! I have been looking into getting my own mill. I was told bridgeport mills are top of the line and thats what i should be looking at. I found a good-excellent condition older one Bridgeport Series I 2hp 9x42 with power feed, digital display, 6" kurt vise, collet set and so on. My question is the mill is from 1985 as nice as a newer Enco or other foreign models. I also found a few year old Enco in excellent condition same as the Bridgeport for $3500 and the Bridgeport was $4250. Anyone have some comments or things i should know? My gut is telling me that the Bridgeport will have much better resale since it is 23yrs old and is more than the Enco but if the Enco just as nice i could use that extra money for some more tools . Maybe a lathe!


  • #2
    It sounds like you've been doing home work on the going prices, That's good. As far as the choice between a used Bridgeport and a used Enco, to me the Bridgeport is worth the extra bucks over any foreign copy. I have a freind that went with brand new Jet mill and lathe and he is not happy, the lathe has been exceptionally troublesome. They cant get it to stop leaking oil from the gearbox.
    I found a 1947 Bridgeport with a J head for $600 and put about $400 in parts in it and I am real happy with it.
    You are looking at a difference of $750 between the two. That is not all that much money for the difference in quality. The real money will be spent on buying tooling for it.
    I think the best thing I bought for mine was the 10" turn table and lathe chuck. It doesn't replace a lathe, but it allows me to do a lot of things that a lathe would normally do. This is nice for me since even if I had the money for a lathe, I don't have the room.
    All said,in the future, I don't think you would regret the extra money spent on the Bridgeport.


    • #3
      If those are your only two options, spend the money on the Bridgeport. I own a Jet lathe and the quality is just not there.


      • #4
        For that price, I'd assume there's some good tooling and everything is in tip top shape.

        I'd suggest you put it through its paces and make sure the feeds are tight and smooth, holds tram throughout the movement range of the knee/z axis/quill, including after heavy cuts.

        Age doesn't mean much. It's like mileage. A highway mile is nothing like a Baja mile. Pay close attention to the condition of the dovetails as this is the hardest thing to un-screw-up on these machines.


        • #5
          I've been a machinist my adult life and a shop owner for the last 8 years. The Chinese import machines are a waste of time and money, a poor machine will just cause you long term frustration. It is better to find a nice older mill than a new Chinese import.

          Bridgeports are good machines. I've worked with Tree and Lagun mills that I have fond memories of. Digital readouts are desirable. CNC retrofits I would avoid.

          You can find some very nice used equipment that is very affordable.


          • #6
            ONe thing you might want to do is check the prices on a set of the dovetail "jibs" and a set of bearings for it. Then just add that into the price *** a "Worst case cost". I can ask my machinist any questions you might have or even just give you his number and le the two of you talk.


            • #7
              Originally posted by turboglenn View Post
              ONe thing you might want to do is check the prices on a set of the dovetail "jibs" and a set of bearings for it. Then just add that into the price *** a "Worst case cost". I can ask my machinist any questions you might have or even just give you his number and le the two of you talk.
              The heck with that!!! Before you buy any machine check out the gibs for wear. The Bridgeport uses a single tapered gib for each axis and a new set may or may not take up the wear if it is significant. Worst case cost would be a machine with gib wear but not significant...anything more leave the headache for someone else. Bearings are much the same. With the high price for a bearing set you would be better off purchasing a mill with good bearings and leave the rest to somebody that has a true and devout love for grubbing around with a worn out machine. Don't purchase somebody's headache unless you are in it as a labor of love.


              • #8
                Hardinge bought the rights and what was left of the tooling for the bridgeport mills.... I was at their factory about a year ago (elmira, ny)related to a new cnc mill (GX1000) and we got the grand tour... low and behold... they are manufacturing brand new "old" series I
                Bridgeports...... just like 1967 but with todays precision.... a decent used series I, 2hp machine goes at auction in the PA, NJ area for between $900-$1200...... the auctions are coming more frequently and the prices are dropping....

                hope this helps


                • #9
                  for a manual mill the bridgeport series I is the standard.... but I had a Wells-Index that I considered superior... and an ancient Tree... flat belt drive that was my first mill... look at the best bang for the buck... many decent to excellent machines out there... Machine shop liquidation auctions offer some great deals if you have the cash and know what you are looking at...... would reccomend that you attend a few and hang back and watch.... you will learn a lot.... over the last 5 years there have been a zillion ebay types dealing stuff... the economy and market is getting tight...(so the prices are dropping... machine shop failures are up as well... thus supply of good used machines is on the rise) if you are not in a hurry... you can score a great deal.... and yes a knee mill is heavy..... but 2 guys with a pair of 2x12s and a sheet of plywood can horse one off of a loading dock and into a pickup without much grief (have done it many times... make sure you strap it down... but 4 guys is better because they are pretty top heavy)... lots of auctions seem to have forklifts these days... much easier....
                  take care

                  BTW I have a small benchtop chinese mill/drill in my shop, 6x21 table and approx 400lbs that was about $350 ten years ago.... and that little thing does a tremendous amount of work despite my owning and having access to the latest largest cnc stuff.. so do not be afraid to start out small.....
                  Last edited by H80N; 11-19-2008, 05:42 PM. Reason: more info


                  • #10

                    had a little time this morning and just for a lark I entered "Milling Machine" in "Craigs Helper" (a search tool for craigslist) using a 250 mile radius of My zip and came up with dozens of decent looking machines for a reasonable asking price.... we are on the east coast .do not know where you are located.... might be worth a shot
                    here is a link:


                    hope this helps


                    • #11
                      all im gonna say

                      bridgport, bridgport bridgport bridgport bridgport bridgport i learnd on a bridgport that was 30 years old had 20 25 thousant of backlash on all tha axsis and could still run +/- .0005 of an inch in 7 inches btw it was at a trade school in CTand they were abused


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