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Charter Oaks Benchtop Mill

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thequietman

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#1
Hi all.

I'm fairly new to machining. I've been doing a fair amount of woodworking and some metalworking, but only recently started getting into machining. I am currently looking to get a small mill, something that's fairly basic, but something that would be able to handle a bit more than a mini-mill and can serve as a solid base for future upgrades.

I was looking into Grizzly G0704 until I cam across Charter Oaks manual benchtop mill. With the discount listed on their site, it's only few hundred more than a Grizzly, but does look like a much better machine. Can you give me some feedback on the mill and the company? Are the machines solid and is the company reliable?

Thank you much.
 

wrmiller

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#2
I bought a CO about a year and a half ago, and things went very well for the most part. Customer service was great too. But, I know a couple of people who have had more recent experiences and theirs didn't go so well. There have also been personnel changes as well. I won't go into details here.

I don't know your dollar or size limits, but many, many people here (including me and my 3 machines) have had excellent experiences with Matt at Precision Machine (http://www.machinetoolonline.com/index.html). His web site doesn't begin to show everything he carries, so I suggest a call or two (tell him Bill sent ya) to discuss your needs and wants and Matt will help with recommendations.

Just a suggestion.
 

brav65

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#3
+1 on Matt. He is a stand up guy who sells quality machines at a fair price. He also provides great customer service.
 
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steve323

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#4
PM seems to have a lot of support around here. I am considering the PM25MV myself. However, the smaller CO mill is around $1500 and weighs 650 lbs. This has to be much more substantial than the 350 lb PM.

Steve
 

brav65

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#5
PM seems to have a lot of support around here. I am considering the PM25MV myself. However, the smaller CO mill is around $1500 and weighs 650 lbs. This has to be much more substantial than the 350 lb PM.

Steve

I'm not sure about how they compare, but I know that Matt's service is second to none, and I would not do business with anyone else period. Matt has a new machine the 727 which is hevier the the 25 .
 

wrmiller

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#6
PM seems to have a lot of support around here. I am considering the PM25MV myself. However, the smaller CO mill is around $1500 and weighs 650 lbs. This has to be much more substantial than the 350 lb PM.

Steve
If you're measuring a machine's worthiness by weight alone, this could be a valid comparison. However, I can personally tell you that out of the box my 12z had a bunch of shortcomings compared to my much smaller PM machine. I spent a year tuning and modifying that machine. Your 'assumption' that the machines are of the same quality is not guaranteed. Not even close. If the machine you receive is so bad accuracy wise that you have to send pieces out to a machine shop to fix, how does that extra weight factor into that? (this actually happened to someone)

If all you want to do is compare spec sheets and assume everything else is the same (which IMO would be an error on your part), go for it. I have had machines from both companies, and I look forward to your impressions of your new mill. :)
 

thequietman

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#7
My budget is right at around $1500. As I said, I was looking at G0704, which is $1300 with shipping, but I heard some complaints about quality and lots of complaints about plastic gears. CO mill would've been out of my price range, but with the sale at $1500, it's right there, and I know I will have to pay additional for shipping.
My other constraint is size. My shop is in a basement (and not a walkout), so any machine I get will have to either fit through the stairwell with 90 degree turn, or could be taken apart into smaller and more manageable pieces weight wise. Honestly, CO is right at the top of the weight category as well. I did confirm that I can break it down into 3 pieces, each one around 200 lbs, and then I can take it down with the help of a hand truck.

I just quickly browsed to http://www.machinetoolonline.com/BenchMillIndex.html. The 25 seems to be a copy of Grizzly G704. Wonder if the quality is any better. I really like 727. Seems to be more in the CO class, and with 110V motor, which would make it easier for me (I would have to wire up the basement for 220V that CO needs).
 
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wrmiller

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#9
The 727 is much more machine than a G704. Larger saddle and base for starters. If you can afford it, I think you would be happy with that one. More beef for heavier cuts (within the work envelop of the mill) and much better Y axis travel which you will find out that sooner or later you will need. :)

It should be possible to break it down to make your move to the basement easier. Matt could offer suggestions on how and where to take it apart.
 

tmarks11

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#10
The 25 seems to be a copy of Grizzly G704
Or, to be more accurate, they are both copies of the Wiess BF20. Or both made by the same manufacturer who makes the BF20. Or all are made to the same pattern used for the Optimum WM30... hard to tell with Chiense manufacturers.

But one thing is for sure, the G0704 didn't come first.

Back OT, given the choice of the G0704 or the PM25, I would go with the PM25.

Given the choice of the PM25 or the PM727, I would go with the PM727.

Given the choice of the CO or the PM727, I would go with the PM727.

Given the choice of the PM727 or the PM935.... it never ends! :D :D Of course, getting a 935 into the basement might kill you....
 

thequietman

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#11
You are correct of course, Tim. I know G0704 did not come first, and it's just another copy of BF20. Just a poor choice of words. What I actually meant is that 25 seems to be almost identical to (or in the same class as) G0704.

And you are also correct in that 935 would be better than 727, and full size Bridgeport would be even better. And yes, it would probably kill me to get either one into the basement. And if it doesn't, my wife will kill me once she finds out how much I spent on either one of those. :D:D:D
 

Chris Bettis

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#12
Speaking from personal experience. I will say that I do proudly own a charter oak mill that I'm very happy with. However, my machine has been severely tuned, and modified, and was purchased second hand from another member, it has been so extensively modified that it no longer resembles it's original self in almost every way. This machine was my 2nd charter oak mill because the first did not work out. That's all I will say about that.
Personally I'd take the hit on buying a lighter, smaller machine for the same money from Matt. My dealings with Precision Mathews have been limited as I've only purchased accessories for my machine from them. But I can tell you I have had my hands on 3 of Matt's machines and can say all 3 were very good machines.
You will not find a better machine for the price. All of them have quirks and kinks. But you can rest easy knowing your new machine wont need a complete overhaul straight out of the box from PM.

Sent from my LG-LS980 using Tapatalk
 

thequietman

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#13
Thank you all for your input. I was all set on CO mill, but I was a bit concerned when I could not reach them by phone for 4 days. They were helpful once I finally got them, but then they promised to email me a shipping quote, and I still have not seen anything few days later. With all that, you have convinced me. I will give PM a call tomorrow and see what comes out of it. I will let you know how it goes.
 

wrmiller

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#14
While I don't like to tell someone which company to deal with, I can tell you that Precision Machine is a stand up company to deal with. And it won't take 4 days to reach them. Tell them the guys at Hobby-Machinist said 'Hi'. :)

Do you have an idea which machine you'd like to get?
 

thequietman

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#15
I'm deciding between PM-25M and PM-727M. The 25 is within my price range, while 727 is a little out of it. However, seems like for $200 difference, 727 is much more of the machine, so that's the way I'm leaning now. Hopefully I will not outgrow 727 any time soon, which would be my concern with 25 or with Grizzly 0704, which was what I was looking at initially.
 

wrmiller

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#16
Good choices. :)

What you want to do with these machines could help with which one you want. Smaller cutters typically want higher rpms. The geared head will be limited in that area. But, if on the other hand you are working with larger pieces and cutters like a 3/8" rougher cutting full profile, then the 727 could be the better choice.

You are concerned about "outgrowing" your machines. May I ask what types of work you are hoping to do with your mill? Reason I ask is that while some folks are quite happy doing smaller jobs on these small mills, others get one because it's all they can afford and then try to use it like it's a 2400 lb. BP and become bitter when it can't do it and blame the mill.
 

thequietman

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#17
My primary interest right now in light gunsmithing. Things like drilling and tapping for scope mounts, machining mounts and rails, making some replacement parts. I know that 90% or more of everything I have in mind right now can be done with Harbor Freight Mini Mill. But as I get more and more into it and my abilities grow, I suspect my range of projects will expand as well, possibly to some more ambitious undertakings, at which point Mini Mill well may be out of its league. And with plastic gearing, it well may be out of its league once I try machining something harder than aluminum or soft steel.
The reason I'm mostly looking at 727 is so it hopefully lasts me more that 4-5 years as my projects grow. I don't expect it to do the job of 2400lb BP, and I suspect for the next few years, if there is something that my mill won't do, it'll be my fault, not the mill's.
 

wrmiller

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#18
Cool. When I got back into this about 3 years ago I too was looking at doing some pistolsmithing stuff. But my timing has been a tad 'off' on my machine purchases. I bought the PM25 before Matt started offering them with the BLDC motors and belt drive. I never broke the plastic gear, even machining 4140/stainless/titanium, but ended up converting it to a belt drive to extend the rpm range. No 727 offered at that time. When I needed something a bit larger, I really wanted more Y-axis travel and the only offering at that time was the CO 12z, as Matt hadn't started importing the 727 or 940 yet. The PM932 was a bit short on the Y travel. :cautious:

I spent a year getting that 12z tuned up to my liking (including a belt drive and ball screws) and then Matt makes me an offer I couldn't refuse on a 935TS with a VFD thrown in. As you can likely figure out, I'm done upgrading machines for a few years... :rolleyes:

If the 727 had been available a couple of years ago I probably would still be running that thing. But maybe with a few minor 'tweaks' by now. :D
 

thequietman

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#19
So just got off the phone with PM. Spoke to Matt. He was very helpful. Promised to send me a manual for the mill, and it was in my email box before I got off the phone. Placed a preorder for 727. 6+ weeks lead time, which actually works out pretty well for me. And now the wait starts.
 

wrmiller

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#21
So just got off the phone with PM. Spoke to Matt. He was very helpful. Promised to send me a manual for the mill, and it was in my email box before I got off the phone. Placed a preorder for 727. 6+ weeks lead time, which actually works out pretty well for me. And now the wait starts.
The wait can get frustrating, as many of us PM owners here know, but that will all quickly fade into nothing once it arrives. Looking forward to pics (we require those) and your initial impressions of the mill once you get it up and running. :)
 

thequietman

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#22
Quick question on the accessories. Looks like the mill comes with drill chuck. And PM has $199 starter package on their site that includes clamps, 4" vise and a set of R8 collets. Is that worth getting or should I get it somewhere else? Also, what else would I need in addition to that? I'm thinking probably edge finder and dial indicator. Anything else? And what's a decent reasonably priced indicator? I've seen prices ranging from $20 to $200.
 

Chris Bettis

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#23
That all depends on what you want to use the machine for. Personally I would almost always rather have a better quality vise. For myself I chose to buy collets, clamp kit, and vise seperately. I know PM sells good quality Taiwan made collets. Not sure about clamp kit, or vise. You may want to look at a high quality vise like a glacern machine tool 5" machine vise. Im always skeptical if the manufacturer, or seller of any vise does not post tolerances.
However I know Matt is a stand up guy, and I don't see him selling you crap either. Ultimately the choice is yours, and it all depends on your budget. And how precise you would like to be with the machine.

Sent from my LG-LS980 using Tapatalk
 

wrmiller

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#24
Matt carries two lines of vises, the the higher priced ones are the Homge line (Taiwan). Good stuff.

I wouldn't scrimp on the vise if there's a choice as that is part of your foundation. As for edge finders, DIs and DTIs I have found the higher quality imports (like Shars or Griz for example) to be more that adequate to start with. You can always buy the higher quality ones later (difficult to have just one) as funds permit. :)
 
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tmarks11

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#25
We just sold a guy on pm from the co forum... Uhoh!
Why should this forum be different? I think quite a few PM machines have been sold on the Grizzly forum as well. Maybe even a CNC machine from the Tormach forum...

CHALLENGE: get someone of the Jet forum to buy a PM....
 

wrmiller

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#27
Looks like Matts estimate of 6weeks was pretty close. Congrats on the new mill. You do know that we require pics once you get it, right? :D

(You could start a thread in the PM forum)
 
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