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2 HP Bench Mill from Central Machine

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Doc Hoy

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I have been doing home machining for about 20 years as a hobbyist. I started with the first model Unimat, then the second model Unimat. I moved into a combination mill and lathe from Grizzly and then upgraded to a larger mill and lathe from Grizzly. I became weary of the set up time on these combo machines and opted for a Grizzly 10x22 and a Wholesale Tools 2 HP bench mill. I know very well that these machines are hobbyist grade. I could get them to do what I wanted but my projects were not complex.

I recently relocated to Naples, FL which meant that I had to close down my shop and start from scratch. Lathe gone, mill gone, everything gone. I replaced the mill with a newer mill from Central Machine which is precisely like the Wholesale Tools job. I bought it used at about three years of age. This machine is much tighter and more precise than the Wholesale Tools machine.

So on to the questions:

1. I am sure you all know that this machine is sold under about a dozen different names including Jet and Grizzly. I once assumed that a machine made for a larger distributor, (Jet for example) might possibly be built to tighter standards. I was recently told that such is not the case. That all of the machines are built to the same standard and that the only differences are a) the name on the machine. and b) the pricetag. Is there a definitive answer to this question? Do some of the distributors put tighter standards on the machines they buy?

2. I believe I am told correctly that the factory that supplied these machines was located in Taiwan and them moved to mainland China. Does anyone know if this is true and if so, what year was the factory moved?

3. If the answer to question 2, is "yes". is there a difference in quality of the machines that come from the mainland in comparison with the machines from Taiwan?

4. Are these mills made in; a) one and only one final assembly factory that supplies the machines, b) multiple factories operated by the same company, c) multiple factories operated by different companies? I do understand that it is likely that various parts come from various suppliers, but I am speaking of the final product.

5. The Harbor Freight reputation for lack-luster quality is well known. But it is also true that the organization is making an effort to bring on tools of higher quality and to improve the quality of the existing lines. Does anyone know of any specific effort to improve this mill or of any observed improvement in the more recently built mills in comparison with earlier manufactured mills?

6. Are there any efforts afoot to present opportunities for improvements made by the user? Better bearings? Improved mechanics? etc? I have looked on the internet and found only one video which is difficult to follow but appears to do a nice job.

I bought this machine cheap and it is unlikely I will be unhappy with the purchase. I made the first one work for me and I am sure this one will too.
 

markba633csi

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There is a difference in quality between Taiwan and China made; Taiwan being generally better. However, older Taiwan stuff wasn't always good.
Bearings may wear quickly but can be upgraded for additional cost. You may well get many years out of the originals though.
Mark
ps you might consider adding a DRO if the machine has metric leadscrews
 

astjp2

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If you are happy with what you bought, 1-5 are irrevelant. I have a jet1324 and an 11" rockwell lathe, I like the jet for small things, I have all of the options for the rockwell, both are getting newall DRO's The jet is 24 perfect for small work and I have a 5c closer for it, the 11" has every option including a versamil...I am happy with both and both have a purpose. Tim
 

Mitch Alsup

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So on to the questions:

1. I am sure you all know that this machine is sold under about a dozen different names including Jet and Grizzly. I once assumed that a machine made for a larger distributor, (Jet for example) might possibly be built to tighter standards. I was recently told that such is not the case. That all of the machines are built to the same standard and that the only differences are a) the name on the machine. and b) the pricetag. Is there a definitive answer to this question? Do some of the distributors put tighter standards on the machines they buy?
Even a company like Grizzley has options. The G4003 is a 12×36 lathe and the G4003G advertised as a gun-smithing lathe. It wears different paint, a larger spindle, and higher quality spindle bearings, a different Chuck system (DI5) and rollers on the secondary and follow rests. For "not that much" more money. But at least Grizzly labels where the product was "made".
 

Doc Hoy

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There is a difference in quality between Taiwan and China made; Taiwan being generally better. However, older Taiwan stuff wasn't always good.
Bearings may wear quickly but can be upgraded for additional cost. You may well get many years out of the originals though.
Mark
ps you might consider adding a DRO if the machine has metric leadscrews
Thanks, Mark. The machine was fitted with a DRO on Z. It is just an inexpensive unit like those sold on eBay but it works well. Now I am sold on them. Two more are coming
 

Doc Hoy

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If you are happy with what you bought, 1-5 are irrevelant. I have a jet1324 and an 11" rockwell lathe, I like the jet for small things, I have all of the options for the rockwell, both are getting newall DRO's The jet is 24 perfect for small work and I have a 5c closer for it, the 11" has every option including a versamil...I am happy with both and both have a purpose. Tim
Thanks ASTJP2. The machine is set up in the shop and I do like it. It is far tighter than the Wholesale Tools mill (admitting that the WT might have been thirty years old and I gave 400.00 for it.) My questions were as much to satisfy my curiosity and (to a lesser extent) to plan future actions on the machine.

I wish the shop had enough space for a larger lathe but unfortunately it is already too crowded.
 

Doc Hoy

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Even a company like Grizzley has options. The G4003 is a 12×36 lathe and the G4003G advertised as a gun-smithing lathe. It wears different paint, a larger spindle, and higher quality spindle bearings, a different Chuck system (DI5) and rollers on the secondary and follow rests. For "not that much" more money. But at least Grizzly labels where the product was "made".
Mitch, Thanks for the response. I have never been unhappy with Grizzly tools because they were from Grizzly. In fact the 10x22 was a good lathe and I did a lot of work on it over a ten year period. I was unhappy with the two Grizzly combination lathe mills because I chose the wrong tool. I knew from using those tiny Unimats that setup time on a combination machine is a problem. How in the world did I talk myself into trying a third and then a fourth combination machine? Dumb move on my part.

Actually my questions were directed squarely at this style of mill only. I was just wondering if people like Grizzly or Jet tell the manufacturer they want, for example, harder metal on wearing surfaces, better bearings, more precision in the machine than the machines that are sold to, for example, Central Machine. And then once they have made those demands, I wondered if the manufacturer(s) actually build some of their machines to higher standards to satisfy these buyersr. I was told by a source that I have reason to respect, that no such tightening in specs is imposed by Grizzly or Jet. All machines (according to my source) are made to the same standards and if they meet higher standards imposed by any buyer it is because every machine they build meets the higher standards.
 
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Doc Hoy

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Without really thinking this through at the time I wrote the OP, at the heart of these questions is the issue of replacement parts. If the machines actually are substantially identical, then parts from Jet or Grizzly should fit and might actually be better than original.
 

Mitch Alsup

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Mitch, Thanks for the response. I have never been unhappy with Grizzly tools because they were from Grizzly. In fact the 10x22 was a good lathe and I did a lot of work on it over a ten year period. I was unhappy with the two Grizzly combination lathe mills because I chose the wrong tool. I knew from using those tiny Unimats that setup time on a combination machine is a problem. How in the world did I talk myself into trying a third and then a fourth combination machine? Dumb move on my part.

Actually my questions were directed squarely at this style of mill only. I was just wondering if people like Grizzly or Jet tell the manufacturer they want, for example, harder metal on wearing surfaces, better bearings, more precision in the machine than the machines that are sold to, for example,
I think Grizzly specify stuff like::
Spindle run out less than 0.000,3
X-axis flatness 0.000,5
y-axis flatness 0.000,3
and stuff like that, and allow the mfg to do what ever is necessary to achieve the goal. Mfg then comes back with cost and they negotiate towards the middle.

I got a couple sheets of paper with my G4003G that measures a whole bunch of hard to measure stuff that might be important some day, The factory guy measured 20+ things and wrote down the various numbers.
 

Doc Hoy

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Tnx agn.

This kind of information is helpful. I am trying to get a handle on what to expect from the machine. Including the length of the wear cycle. As I said, that WT mill was pretty well whipped. But it was at least 25 years old and maybe older. I just checked the HF site and the only manual for this mill is dated 1996.
 

astjp2

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Just lube properly and that mill will last a lifetime. Use an iso 68 weight weigh lube. I will be modifying my mill and lathe for more lube points, they didnt do the best for position and location of the lube points on the ways but my stuff is wore out from lack of lube. Tim
 
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