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New Charter Oak 12Z on the way

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wrmiller

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#1
Paul (Charter Oak Ops Mgr) told me this morning that the top was going on the crate as we spoke, and it should go out today. :happyhappy:

And I even found a pristine 5" Kurt for it. Now all I have to hope for is the shipping company doesn't damage it...

Bill
 

coolidge

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Why did you choose the Charter Oak over other mills in this price range? Also what options if any did you select? I spoke briefly with Charter Oak this week on price and availability. I still need to speak with someone who knows the machines well to confirm it will not have certain issues, key among them is binding on X, Y, or Z with loose spots and tight spots and the whole lap the ways fiasco. Love the work cube on the Charter Oak but crap ways will be a deal killer.
 

wrmiller

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Larger table, longer travel in all axis', 3 HP VFD upgrade, custom height stand and better upgrades available.

I'm going to burst your bubble here, in that if you think talking "with someone who knows the machines well" is going to guarantee you get a good mill, you might want to consider buying a lottery ticket. You'll get better odds. The problem you speak of (ways) is exactly the problem I had with my PM machine. I wasn't the only one, and I think it was pretty rare, but you don't care how rare it is when it happens to you. Matt replaced the column (thanks Matt), and I re-worked the other axis'. You think you're going to get consistent quality out of China on any of these machines? Your dreaming. No offense intended.

But the main reason behind why I went with CO is because they have the machines inspected by a Brit company during the build process. Then the machine is re-inspected (and I don't me a quick visual) here for proper functionality, the head is drained and the spindle bearings are replaced with better quality NSKs, the head flushed, re-filled and the bearings run in prior to crating back up and shipped to the customer. There are no absolutes, but I feel this process is better than what I'm seeing out of some other companies.

And after all that, I will still go over the machine myself because there are no guarantees here. Guarantees like my friend at work who bought a BP thought he was getting because it is "US made" and found significant wear in both x and y such that the damn table sags when traversing in either axis near center. And the head needs rebuilt. It's a POS.

Your mileage may vary,
Bill
P.S. Good or bad, I will report my impressions with the machine as I get her up and running.


Why did you choose the Charter Oak over other mills in this price range? Also what options if any did you select? I spoke briefly with Charter Oak this week on price and availability. I still need to speak with someone who knows the machines well to confirm it will not have certain issues, key among them is binding on X, Y, or Z with loose spots and tight spots and the whole lap the ways fiasco. Love the work cube on the Charter Oak but crap ways will be a deal killer.
 

dave2176

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#4
Congratulations Bill, that looks to be a great machine. I look forward to seeing your report.

Dave
 

wrmiller

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Congratulations Bill, that looks to be a great machine. I look forward to seeing your report.

Dave
I am hoping so (that it's a great machine), but being somewhat a realist, I am sure there will be warts. There always are on these class of machines. I'm just hoping that the process that Paul described to me mitigates the bigger ones.

But then again I'm one of those oddballs that actually enjoys tweaking, tuning, and making mods for my machines. I am NOT expecting the quality of a Hardinge HLV or that of a new BP in a $2400 mill. ;)

Bill
 

coolidge

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Well its good they are inspecting them, they may as well inspect all the ways for binding before shipping one to me because if it has that problem its getting shipped right back to them for a refund. Years ago I purchased one of the early IH CNC machines so I am intimately familiar with the Rong Fu and its issues, binding ways in particular. I realize the CO is a variant manufactured to their specs. I ended up scrapping the IH it was that bad. I won't be converting this one to CNC I just want a manual mill of reasonable quality in this price range. A Haas Super Minimill 2 is on the horizon for CNC duty.

I'm also considering the 3HP VFD upgrade as 1600 rpm is too slow. I'd like to gather more information on it for example is the motor CHINA or something better. They also have an option for a 2 speed belt drive upgrade for $785, the old Rong Fu gear box is LOUD as freaking hell at 2,000 rpm as I recall.
 

wrmiller

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Well its good they are inspecting them, they may as well inspect all the ways for binding before shipping one to me because if it has that problem its getting shipped right back to them for a refund. Years ago I purchased one of the early IH CNC machines so I am intimately familiar with the Rong Fu and its issues, binding ways in particular. I realize the CO is a variant manufactured to their specs. I ended up scrapping the IH it was that bad. I won't be converting this one to CNC I just want a manual mill of reasonable quality in this price range. A Haas Super Minimill 2 is on the horizon for CNC duty.

I'm also considering the 3HP VFD upgrade as 1600 rpm is too slow. I'd like to gather more information on it for example is the motor CHINA or something better. They also have an option for a 2 speed belt drive upgrade for $785, the old Rong Fu gear box is LOUD as freaking hell at 2,000 rpm as I recall.
I didn't mention previously, but my future upgrades are the one-shot oiling system, a power feed for the X axis, and the 2 speed belt drive. Don't know if CO has the gears ground, but they are hardened.

I am hoping that because they use this machine as the basis for their CNC machine, that there won't be any problems with the ways. We will see. I also don't believe IH was doing all the quality inspections that CO is doing. Again, the proof will be in the machine I receive. Of note is the PM 932: It is the same basic machine as the RF and people here are not screaming that the machine is junk.

I too am just looking for a decent quality machine in this price range, but I was initially drawn to the CO by the Y axis travel. Tired of machines with a 9" wide table and 7 or 8" of travel in Y. Seems kinda stupid (to me). :)

If all goes well, I will get a machine with the capacity of a small knee mill (table size, axis travel) but without all the bulk of a 1500-2500 lb. machine. Of course this also means this machine will not be a rigid as a full blow knee mill (I do not have that requirement in a hobby mill), but I can at least roll it up a ramp on a moving truck. Always tradeoffs...

Bill
P.S. I'll let you know the make of the VFD and motor when I get the machine.
 

tmarks11

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...I will get a machine with the capacity of a small knee mill (table size, axis travel) but without all the bulk of a 1500-2500 lb. machine. Of course this also means this machine will not be a rigid as a full blow knee mil
Not necessarily true. A Knee mill packs all the weight in the base and the knee, and is fairly lightweight up top. The design to swivel along three axis to maximize flexibility has a negative impact on rigidity. An RF45 style probably has similar rigidity to a knee mill (not a tree, but at least a 9x49 Bridgeport style), and the IH model with the beefed up column and improved head collar should be fairly decent.

What you lose compared to the bridgeport is the flexibility that rotating, nodding, and sliding the head gives you. Since 99% of the machining most people do does not require nodding or sliding the head, you don't miss out on much. That being said, if I went back to a manual machine, it would be a knee mill (probably the 935TV to save space).
 

wrmiller

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Not necessarily true. A Knee mill packs all the weight in the base and the knee, and is fairly lightweight up top. The design to swivel along three axis to maximize flexibility has a negative impact on rigidity. An RF45 style probably has similar rigidity to a knee mill (not a tree, but at least a 9x49 Bridgeport style), and the IH model with the beefed up column and improved head collar should be fairly decent.

What you lose compared to the bridgeport is the flexibility that rotating, nodding, and sliding the head gives you. Since 99% of the machining most people do does not require nodding or sliding the head, you don't miss out on much. That being said, if I went back to a manual machine, it would be a knee mill (probably the 935TV to save space).
What you said is interesting, and has been said to me by others. I have heard Ray C. talk about his 932 here on the site and it appears to be a very robust machine for what it is.

Making small stuff, pistolsmithing and such doesn't typically require very exotic setups. The only advantage I see in a BP style head for my particular usage would be the ease of tramming the head. But I am learning to 'never say never' and who knows exactly what I will want/have 5-6 years down the road. :)

Bill
 

coolidge

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I didn't mention previously, but my future upgrades are the one-shot oiling system, a power feed for the X axis, and the 2 speed belt drive. Don't know if CO has the gears ground, but they are hardened.

I am hoping that because they use this machine as the basis for their CNC machine, that there won't be any problems with the ways. We will see. I also don't believe IH was doing all the quality inspections that CO is doing. Again, the proof will be in the machine I receive. Of note is the PM 932: It is the same basic machine as the RF and people here are not screaming that the machine is junk.

I too am just looking for a decent quality machine in this price range, but I was initially drawn to the CO by the Y axis travel. Tired of machines with a 9" wide table and 7 or 8" of travel in Y. Seems kinda stupid (to me). :)

If all goes well, I will get a machine with the capacity of a small knee mill (table size, axis travel) but without all the bulk of a 1500-2500 lb. machine. Of course this also means this machine will not be a rigid as a full blow knee mill (I do not have that requirement in a hobby mill), but I can at least roll it up a ramp on a moving truck. Always tradeoffs...

Bill
P.S. I'll let you know the make of the VFD and motor when I get the machine.
I actually prefer this style bed mill to a knee mill and the Y travel on most knee mills is around 9 inches vs 12 for this mill. I have looked at some used industrial bed mills which dwarf the CO but like you I'm not really looking for a 4000 pound beast. I can lift the CO with my tractor front end loader, its not so heavy that I can't put in on wheels so I can shove it out of the way when I need to. I have a Grizzly G4003G 12-36 lathe and it seems every time I turn around I need a mill for some operation.

Are you going to counter weight the head? I counter weighted my old Rong Fu and will do the same with the CO if I purchase one especially since the spindle sticks out 12 inches from the column, those gear heads plus the motor is a lot of weight pitching forward.

I thought the price of the CO was quite reasonable compared with Grizzly and others. Shipping to me on the west coast is brutal, the quote is about $560 ouch!
 

wrmiller

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I actually prefer this style bed mill to a knee mill and the Y travel on most knee mills is around 9 inches vs 12 for this mill. I have looked at some used industrial bed mills which dwarf the CO but like you I'm not really looking for a 4000 pound beast. I can lift the CO with my tractor front end loader, its not so heavy that I can't put in on wheels so I can shove it out of the way when I need to. I have a Grizzly G4003G 12-36 lathe and it seems every time I turn around I need a mill for some operation.

Oh yea, a 4000G? That's on my short list for my next lathe. The other is the Eisen 12x36. Taiwan made but a bit pricier. Money no object is the PM1340GT.

Are you going to counter weight the head? I counter weighted my old Rong Fu and will do the same with the CO if I purchase one especially since the spindle sticks out 12 inches from the column, those gear heads plus the motor is a lot of weight pitching forward.

This mill design begs for a counterweight. My friend's big CNCs are counterweighted, so why not these? Cost, probably. Once I get the mill I will look at my options in this regard. I won't power the head, as I like to use the Z axis for precision placement using a 3-axis DRO as opposed to using the quill. Unless I'm doing a plunge cut. This is where I miss having a knee mill: when I can move the part into the cutter on Z. But then...if I counterweight such that the Z axis screw is always preloaded the other way, i.e., the counterweight is heavier than the head (opposite of the loading on a knee), I could do pocket cuts without having to use the quill. I'll have to think about this. Probably will depend upon how robust the column is.

I thought the price of the CO was quite reasonable compared with Grizzly and others. Shipping to me on the west coast is brutal, the quote is about $560 ouch!
Yea, shipping to me was $529. Eisen quoted me about $450 to ship a 12x36. Guess these guys don't get the volume discount like Grizzly does...

Bill
 

jeff_g1137

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#12
Are you going to counter weight the head? I counter weighted my old Rong Fu and will do the same with the CO if I purchase one especially since the spindle sticks out 12 inches from the column, those gear heads plus the motor is a lot of weight pitching forward.
Hi
Have you any photos of the counter weighted, love to see them.
 

zmotorsports

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#13
I am hoping so (that it's a great machine), but being somewhat a realist, I am sure there will be warts. There always are on these class of machines. I'm just hoping that the process that Paul described to me mitigates the bigger ones.

But then again I'm one of those oddballs that actually enjoys tweaking, tuning, and making mods for my machines. I am NOT expecting the quality of a Hardinge HLV or that of a new BP in a $2400 mill. ;)

Bill
Bill, congrats on the new machine. Please be sure to post up a bunch of pictures and a detailed review once you get it. I am curious as the number one thing I liked about this machine when I saw the specs was the 12" Y-axis travel. Only one in that size/class that has over 9" in the Y direction.
 

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Hi
Have you any photos of the counter weighted, love to see them.
No but it was a simple counter weight consisting of two overhead pulleys, some 1/4 wire cable with several 50 pound sand bags as counterweight they sell on the east coast for adding weight to the back of your truck for traction in the snow.
 

jeff_g1137

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No but it was a simple counter weight consisting of two overhead pulleys, some 1/4 wire cable with several 50 pound sand bags as counterweight they sell on the east coast for adding weight to the back of your truck for traction in the snow.
Hi
Is the weight to help with the up & down of the head.
I would think the weight would help the cutter, ????
 

wrmiller

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#16
Hi
Is the weight to help with the up & down of the head.
I would think the weight would help the cutter, ????
Counterweighting reduces the loading on the Z-axis screw, and helps with positional consistently. It also reduces the forward strain on the vertical column. The larger CNCs I have seen all have counterweighted heads.

Bill
 

coolidge

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Hi
Is the weight to help with the up & down of the head.
I would think the weight would help the cutter, ????
The weight of the head plus the motor plus the leverage involved with the head sticking out so far from the column puts a lot of stress on the ways imo and should be counter weighted. In the case of my old IH CNC mill the stepper they used could not handle the load. Even counter weighted it would lose about .040 inch on every upward movement on Z, in 1-3 moves the thing was out of whack over .100 inch. The phrase utterly useless comes to mind, don't get me started on that thing. lol
 

wrmiller

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#18
Bill, congrats on the new machine. Please be sure to post up a bunch of pictures and a detailed review once you get it. I am curious as the number one thing I liked about this machine when I saw the specs was the 12" Y-axis travel. Only one in that size/class that has over 9" in the Y direction.
I plan to Mike (post pictures). :) I've been asked by others to take some pictures and write about my observations on this machine. And like you, the Y-axis travel and the head/column interface were the things about this machine that caught my attention.

Last night I received a picture of a 12Z mounted on a stand and sitting in a rather large shop. Wow, this thing looks massive. I sure hope it fits in my tiny little shop! Yesterday when I checked tracking, the estimated delivery date is this Friday. We shall see. I'm having the 220 run to the garage this afternoon. :))

Bill
 
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zmotorsports

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I plan to Mike (post pictures). :) I've been asked by others to take some pictures and write about my observations on this machine. And like you, the Y-axis travel and the head/column interface was the things about this machine that caught my attention.

Last night I received a picture of a 12Z mounted on a stand and sitting in a rather large shop. Wow, this thing looks massive. I sure hope it fits in my tiny little shop! Yesterday when I checked tracking, the estimated delivery date is this Friday. We shall see. I'm having the 220 run to the garage this afternoon. :))

Bill
Awesome. Sounds great Bill, I'm happy for ya.
 

coolidge

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#20
I'm now looking at the Grizzly G0720R or G0722 in comparison...soul searching do I really need 12" of cross travel and 3,000 rpm if I'm honest no I won't be doing production work on the thing. If I have a larger work cube job and the need for speed I can throw that job to a local shop with an industrial CNC mill that will spit it out in a fraction of the time it would take on either of these home shop machines. What I like about the Grizzly is the quiet belt drive brushless DC motor, less expensive plus I have a 10% off coupon and the shipping is $150. Decisions decisions.
 

wrmiller

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I'm now looking at the Grizzly G0720R or G0722 in comparison...soul searching do I really need 12" of cross travel and 3,000 rpm if I'm honest no I won't be doing production work on the thing. If I have a larger work cube job and the need for speed I can throw that job to a local shop with an industrial CNC mill that will spit it out in a fraction of the time it would take on either of these home shop machines. What I like about the Grizzly is the quiet belt drive brushless DC motor, less expensive plus I have a 10% off coupon and the shipping is $150. Decisions decisions.
No offense, but why are you hijacking a thread that simply says I'm getting a mill with a "my choices are cheaper (not), and better" post? I know people do it here all the time (I have been guilty in the past as well, but am trying to behave myself). If we want to do a 'mine is better than yours' thread can we do it someplace else?

Kudos to you if that mill fits your needs. It doesn't mine. Just curious.

Bill
 

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#22
Hi Bill
Have you got a delivry date yet, i am getting excited & it is not mine. :thumbsup:
Photos please.

jeff
 

wrmiller

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#23
Hi Bill
Have you got a delivry date yet, i am getting excited & it is not mine. :thumbsup:
Photos please.

jeff
Just checked with Roadrunner and they just reported that the trailer was unloaded in Denver today. I am hoping to get a call today to verify delivery tomorrow. If that happens I'll 'borrow' one of my big engineers to go home and help me get it up the driveway and into the garage. Shipping weight is listed as almost 1050lbs. Biggest machine I've ever bought! :))

Bill
 

coolidge

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#24
No offense, but why are you hijacking a thread that simply says I'm getting a mill with a "my choices are cheaper (not), and better" post? I know people do it here all the time (I have been guilty in the past as well, but am trying to behave myself). If we want to do a 'mine is better than yours' thread can we do it someplace else?

Kudos to you if that mill fits your needs. It doesn't mine. Just curious.

Bill
I guess I don't understand why you started the thread then, were you just looking for a 'congrats on your mill' thread or did you want to have a discussion? I am in direct contact with CO about the same mill you are getting. I have their pricing, I have checked availability and shipping and options. As you are buying the same mill I joined the thread to discuss the CO. If you want your thread to be just about you then that's fine.
 

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#25
Perhaps(likely) Mr. Miller is just very excited about his new machine and wants to talk about it. Nothing wrong with that. Don't you ever call a friend or 2 to tell them about something new and exciting you are into?

Since he has already ordered the mill,there is not much use in talking about the virtues of another machine.

I have a 1986 Grizzly 16" lathe,thankfully made in Taiwan. It has been lightly used(I do most work on my Hardinge HLVH). It is still in great shape. We had the brother to that machine at work. The motor blew out across the bearings. The apron kept having issues,and I kept fixing them. Eventually,it got to where I could not get it to engage for thread cutting. Luckily we got the budget to get a new lathe,and I gave the Grizzly to the furniture conservation shop.They would never use it for cutting threads anyway. They were not machinists at all. This was in Williamsburg,when I was master tool maker.

My partner Jon,has a 12 x 36" belt drive Grizzly,made in China. It had problems with the QC gearbox. It took Jon 2 YEARS to get Grizzly to get spare parts for him. Now,the gear that engages the rack under the front way has gotten totally buggered down to the nubs. Not hardened,needless to say. The rack has gotten several teeth knocked off. I'm suspicious the rack is made of cast iron. THE RACK IS TOO SMALL FOR THE SIZE OF THE LATHE. I told Jon to reverse the rack. I will manage to fix the gear by cutting off the broken part and making a collar to move the unused part of the gear under the rack. Fortunately,the gear is about 1" wide,and the rack is only 7/16"-too small,as I said.

So,having a Grizzly made in China is not all fun and games. And,there are no more spare parts available for Jon's lathe. Usually for Asian machines over 2 or 3 years old,you cannot get parts. I once had a Sharp lathe at work. Those clowns could not even identify the model of their own product. I had to make the parts myself. And,Sharp is supposedly a good brand. And Taiwanese at that.
 
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wrmiller

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#26
Jeff, they couldn't get it on the truck today. Will be arriving sometime Monday.
 

wrmiller

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#28
LOL... Fair enough. :lmao:

Not sure how far I'll get (with the setup, pics, etc.) as I'm still a little nervous about a machine this size. I don't have a backhoe or forklift or tractor to lift this thing. Just a 1-ton HF shop crane. So I'm going to get a perspective on the size of this thing and try to figure out how I'm going to get this on it's stand that is taller, +4", than standard. When I asked for the custom height I measured my tool box lower that my PM25 sits on and thought that would be a good height. I've only gotten one pic of this machine from a friend here and I didn't realize just how much bigger this thing is than my 25. You can stop laughing now coolidge... ;)

Anyway, I've had a bunch of personal msgs and post here from people wanting to see this thing. I asked my friend a couple of days ago if I could post a pic of his, but he hasn't responded (he did say he's been busy) so I'm going to post it here just so people can get a perspective. This one is on a short stand so he can reach it from a wheelchair but I think you can get an idea of the size of this thing.

If I can get this thing set up, when I finally do buy that G4003g or PM1340gt it should be a piece of cake. Maybe.

IMAG1593.jpg

Greg's mill

IMAG1593.jpg
 
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coolidge

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#29
I'd really like a close up of that X power feed, they don't have a pic on the CO web site. By the way lifting that mill will be easy compared to lifting a G4003G onto its stand. My 29hp diesel Kubota front end loader could curl that mill all day without getting tired but it barely lifted the G4003G, it took every ounce of oomph it had plus some bucket curl at the end to heave it onto its stand. Should be no problem for a 1 ton crane though. Be safe rigging it.

l5.jpg

l5.jpg
 

wrmiller

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I'd really like a close up of that X power feed, they don't have a pic on the CO web site. By the way lifting that mill will be easy compared to lifting a G4003G onto its stand. My 29hp diesel Kubota front end loader could curl that mill all day without getting tired but it barely lifted the G4003G, it took every ounce of oomph it had plus some bucket curl at the end to heave it onto its stand. Should be no problem for a 1 ton crane though. Be safe rigging it.

View attachment 84489
You're just full of good news, thanks. :)


Did you zoom in on the pic I posted? It's probably not as close as you'd like but it looks the same or very similar to the power feed that Griz sells. From the outside anyway. Isn't this table just a slightly larger version of that found on the Griz? The end cap/bearing support on the end of the table looks similar.

Don't know for sure, just thinking out loud.
 
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