Input on hobbyist combination machine choice

Cadillac STS

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You would be better off removing the mill column at the base of the lathe bed, it most likely unbolts and may come unbolted. Then get a whole new head and column to bolt in its place, sell the old one. I would use it as is because it may fit all your needs and when you are done moving and still strong into metal working sell the whole thing and then get two separate machines. The Bolton may just be a transitional machine for you...
 

jmkasunich

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This mill machine is a dovetail column on the rear portion of the lathe, and I am curious if it is even possible to remove the mill head and swap a different mill head using the dovetail column.

Dovetail column and moving head is good - that will address the lack of Z travel that is a huge problem with "quill-only" versions of these machines.

I recommend thinking of the dovetail column and the mating slide as a matched pair - the odds of being able to swap a head onto the column at that point are not good. However - many small mills have the head itself bolted to the slide that runs on the column. So you might be able to unbolt at that point - keep the dovetail slide but swap the head.

That said, I'd recommend just getting the machine and seeing how you like it for a couple of years before you think too far ahead about improvements. Situations change, interests change, plans change. No matter how much you think about it right now I predict that you'll want/need something different a couple years down the road. For example, you can add a DRO without replacing machine components.
 

matthewsx

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Just for fun contact Bolton and see if you can order a simple part for that machine. Something like a belt or bearing.

John
 

jmkasunich

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Just for fun contact Bolton and see if you can order a simple part for that machine. Something like a belt or bearing.

John
That might matter, or might not. Depends on the person. Belts and bearings are available from McMaster-Carr or your local industrial distributor. These machines don't use high-end ABEC7 bearings even on the spindles, so you can simply remove old bearing, measure, and get a new one from a local supplier. Might be more interesting to see if more "machine specific" parts are available. Gibs, crank handles, lead screws, etc. Frankly, I don't really consider manufacturer support to be much of a factor, I'm a hobby machinist and I typically repair my machines (including making new parts if needed) myself. Of course, I also tend to buy used machinery now (my Shoptask was the only machine I bought new), so that kind of goes with the territory.
 

matthewsx

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That might matter, or might not. Depends on the person. Belts and bearings are available from McMaster-Carr or your local industrial distributor. These machines don't use high-end ABEC7 bearings even on the spindles, so you can simply remove old bearing, measure, and get a new one from a local supplier. Might be more interesting to see if more "machine specific" parts are available. Gibs, crank handles, lead screws, etc. Frankly, I don't really consider manufacturer support to be much of a factor, I'm a hobby machinist and I typically repair my machines (including making new parts if needed) myself. Of course, I also tend to buy used machinery now (my Shoptask was the only machine I bought new), so that kind of goes with the territory.
I suggested this based on my experience with Bolton.

I know belts and bearings are easy to come by, if someone is comfortable not having manufacturer support then Bolton may be for them.

Some Grizzly parts may work but I wouldn’t count on it.

The OP came asking for opinions and my opinion is they will probably be happier in the long run with a machine from a known good supplier.

John
 

jwmay

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To the OP, do you get to use machine tools as a part of your MOS? If so, I'd be interested to know what kind. I spent some time as a unit level armorer, and I remember taking things to a sort of machine shop for annual inspections, but could only peek in through the pass through. It was so long ago now, I wouldn't have been able to identify them anyways. And if you're new in the military, I would say there's really not that much moving going on. I spent 3 years in GA, and 4 years in NC, and that was the extent of it, ignoring deployments which you're probably not worried about right at this moment anyways. Also, regarding machine tool moves: The first move is the hardest. After you've done it a couple times, you'll be able to do it pretty simply. And the military pays for your rental trailer if you need one...and they pay by the pound moved. Just saying.
 

CAG.Thompson

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To the OP, do you get to use machine tools as a part of your MOS? If so, I'd be interested to know what kind. I spent some time as a unit level armorer, and I remember taking things to a sort of machine shop for annual inspections, but could only peek in through the pass through. It was so long ago now, I wouldn't have been able to identify them anyways. And if you're new in the military, I would say there's really not that much moving going on. I spent 3 years in GA, and 4 years in NC, and that was the extent of it, ignoring deployments which you're probably not worried about right at this moment anyways. Also, regarding machine tool moves: The first move is the hardest. After you've done it a couple times, you'll be able to do it pretty simply. And the military pays for your rental trailer if you need one...and they pay by the pound moved. Just saying.
Thank you for your service. I have been in the Marine Corps for 6 years now, no machine tools in my MOS although there is a massive HAAS mill and lathe in our battalions vehicle maintenance metal shop ive seen up close once. I am aware of the processes and coverages offered by the DOD when it comes to PCS, it really sucks they won't tow cars or trucks (only motorcycles or snow mobiles or jet skis).
 

mksj

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If you look at the Bolton manual, for feeds and threading you need to change 4 gears for any changes. If you have done gear changes before, this becomes very tedious and time consuming very quickly. As mentioned by others, Bolton parts and support is abysmal if you do some searching or review some of the YouTube comments. Weiss makes a nice combination lathe mill in the 290 series, but not sure who carries that specific model, you may want to check out that model and availability through DRO PROS who sells some of the Weiss machines. If you are moving frequently, I would think that it would be much easier to move two smaller machines than one that is 1000 lbs +. Also when it comes to upgrading (as well as resale value) I feel you would be better off with two smaller separate units such as the WBL290F and the VM25L (or the similar ones sold by PM) at around the same price range. DRO PROS/PM are also known for great service and technical help. RIP, but unless you are looking at some of the higher end European combination machines, most of the other offerings do nothing well.

 

CAG.Thompson

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If you look at the Bolton manual, for feeds and threading you need to change 4 gears for any changes. If you have done gear changes before, this becomes very tedious and time consuming very quickly. As mentioned by others, Bolton parts and support is abysmal if you do some searching or review some of the YouTube comments. Weiss makes a nice combination lathe mill in the 290 series, but not sure who carries that specific model, you may want to check out that model and availability through DRO PROS who sells some of the Weiss machines. If you are moving frequently, I would think that it would be much easier to move two smaller machines than one that is 1000 lbs +. Also when it comes to upgrading (as well as resale value) I feel you would be better off with two smaller separate units such as the WBL290F and the VM25L (or the similar ones sold by PM) at around the same price range. DRO PROS/PM are also known for great service and technical help. RIP, but unless you are looking at some of the higher end European combination machines, most of the other offerings do nothing well.

Yeah I actually really wanted to move forward on a weiss combo a couple months ago but DROPROS doesnt sell them anymore despite still having them advertised, which is kind of annoying but it is what it is. Idk what it is with machine manufacturers and updating websites but Smithy and Bolton also have outdated websites.
I am a little 50/50 on how important it might be to have a D series camlock chuck mount, because the smithy does have a d1-4 where the bolton has a bolt on (I'm assuming a plain back mount). Don't know enough about any tradeoffs between the two or if it even matters that much. I really want to see this bolton machine in person or the grizzly equivalent to take a close look at how the milling head is attached to the lathe, and determine if it's something possible to DIY.
 

CAG.Thompson

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The combo machines with the mill portion mounted to the rear of the bed are better than the other style with the mill head mounted over the headstock
in my opinion. And be leary of Bolton is my advice.
-Mark
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