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Thread: What to look for in a used drill press - Rockwell 15-655

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    Plastic
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    What to look for in a used drill press - Rockwell 15-655

    I need to outfit my shop with some tools pretty much starting from the ground up. One of the things I need is a good drill press. Today I went and looked at a Rockwell 15-655. The price seemed to be pretty agreeable at $350, but the photo made it hard to tell the condition. I have no experience with these drills, so I went and had a look-see. It has the variable speed control on the front, but the hand is gone. In fact, there's nothing there but the stub. Try as I might, I couldn't even figure out how the old control was attached. I didn't see a key way or a hole for a roll pin or set screw. How are they attached? I also wasn't sure what to listen for as far as worrisome sounds versus, "They just do that." The spindle seemed to have no wiggle at all when I tried to wiggle the chuck, but when I powered it up and ran the spindle all the way down, when it got to about 9/10s of the way down a rattle started up inside the housing. It didn't sound friendly. Anyone know what would cause that?

    Sorry if these are all basic questions, but I don't have anyone local to ask. I am wondering if I shouldn't pay more money for something that's seems like it stands a good chance of not needing immediate maintenance, but the other used ones I've seen have run around $700, and I'm on a tight budget (of course). What other make/model could I consider? Are these Rockwells good enough that it would be worth putting money into? I've seen the variable drive go for $300, which would be bad if I had to replace it.

    I'm wondering also if maybe I shouldn't get something on a smaller scale like a Craftsman. However, I plan on doing some occasionally heavy work with it, and I know Rockwells have a reputation for lasting just about forever.

    Thanks for your thoughts,
    Tom

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    Plastic 75Plus's Avatar
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    Re: What to look for in a used drill press - Rockwell 15-655

    This site has information on old machines. Since Delta and Rockwell was once one and the same you may find the DP you are looking at here. Look for the 15 inch VS models.

    http://www.vintagemachinery.org/mfgI...?id=1141&tab=3

    Joe

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    Bronze randyjaco's Avatar
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    Re: What to look for in a used drill press - Rockwell 15-655

    One of the major problems with most drill presses is that they just run too fast for metal working, That 15-655's lowest speed is 450 RPM. That is a little fast if you are going to drill holes greater than 1/2" in steel and especially stainless. Variables that go slower are hard to find. It took me years to find one. My Clausing goes down to 150 RPMs. Until I found it I used a 20" Harbor Freight production DP. For the price it was a great machine.

    Randy

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    Administrator Tony Wells's Avatar
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    Re: What to look for in a used drill press - Rockwell 15-655

    You might want to look into a small radial drill. They're out there, and not all that popular in shops these days.
    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer. A man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman. A man who works with his hands, his brain and his heart is an artist."

    -Louis Nizer

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    Plastic
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    Re: What to look for in a used drill press - Rockwell 15-655

    Thanks for all the thoughts.

    Randy, good point on drill speed, and I didn't know that 450rpm would be a problem. I have seen a Craftsman heavy duty one that was for sale recently with a 5/8" chuck and it went down to 300rpm. Kinda wondering if I shouldn't have jumped on that one. It is sounding a little like maybe I should just get what I can in the way of a drill press and then get a different machine altogether to handle milling work. I'm wondering if a bench top mill drill would be more of what I want, but I have no experience with those. Some of the work I've wanted to do lately is turning down the base diameter of a sprocket, enlarging the hole of a sprocket (and making sure that the new hole is properly centered!), making bushings for sprockets, cutting holes for press-fit bushings or bearings, turning down a shaft, making shaft couplings to mate shafts of different sizes - all these sorts of things. Maybe that will help answer some of the questions I've asked.

    I figured the drill was a good place to start, because as it stands right now I can't even drill two holes in a straight line. I'm working with a bench vise and a hand drill. I can't drill anything at an acceptable right angle either. Not to acceptable standards, anyway.

    Tony, I'm not familiar with radial drills, although I went and read up on them after reading your reply. What sort of work would they be able to do for me? As I understand it, the head has the ability to slide along the arm, and I believe also swivel in an arc from the column. I'm not sure how this will help me to some of what I want, but it's quite possible I'm just being terribly thick on the subject.

    Thanks again for all the help so far. i'm really on a steep learning curve at the moment and I guess I'm going to ask a lot of things that seem obvious to other folks.

    Tom

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    Administrator Tony Wells's Avatar
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    Re: What to look for in a used drill press - Rockwell 15-655

    Radial drills offer several advantages over a fixed column drill press. As you mentioned, the main feature is the arm that the drill head moves on. The arm also climbs or lowers on the column, and between those two movements and the swing of the arm, you have a much larger working envelope. In general they will be much heavier duty, with power feed, and more stroke on the quill itself than a drill press. Normally, what is called a "knee" is used to mount the vise, fixture, or the work itself. It is a slotted cast iron work support that bolts solidly to the base of the machine. The main reason I suppose that a person would want one over a standard drill press would be the larger work envelope. Although not quite as rigid as a mill, a boring head can be used in a radial drill also. Power tapping is (to me) easier in a radial if there is no tapping head available.

    As far as helping you more that a regular drill press, depends on what your needs are. They are metal working machines, and offer features more suited to metal drilling than wood.
    "A man who works with his hands is a laborer. A man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman. A man who works with his hands, his brain and his heart is an artist."

    -Louis Nizer

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    Plastic
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    Re: What to look for in a used drill press - Rockwell 15-655

    Thanks for your help, Tony.

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