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Old 03-14-2007, 03:19 PM   #1
edl
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Default multipurpose metal working tools

hi all - what is the general views on these types of machines? - that is, the machines that act as a drill press, mill and lathe all in one? - using the home office analogy, my all in one printer doesn't print as well as a stand alone printer, doesn't copy as well as a stand alone copier and doesn't fax as well as a stand alone fax - but it does all three in one footprint and while not expert at anyone, does each pretty well - is it the same equation for one of these - or can it excel in all three? - or is it a stinker. Here is one example...presumably there are many others (including vertical models):

HFT - Item 44142: http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=44142

It's a mill, drill and a lathe all in one machine—perfect for small shops where space is limited. Built tough for non-stop everyday use and loaded with all the features you need. With 16 easily adjustable spindle speeds you can tackle almost any job.

The Drill Press with its 7/8'' drilling capacity can easily drill large holes through metals, woods and plastic. As a Milling Machine, you can take advantage of the four way power driven milling table for slotting. The Lathe features a quick change gear box for a wide range of inch/metric thread cutting.

Standard equipment includes a 5'', 3-jaw lathe chuck, JT33 taper drill chuck, two dead centers, double-end wrench, Allen wrenches and flat head screwdriver.

Item #: 44142-2VGA
$1299.99
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Old 03-14-2007, 03:48 PM   #2
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Default Re: multipurpose metal working tools

Will it mill, drill and turn? Yes ... kinda ... just be forewarned that it's about as accurate as a hack saw and a mill bastard file.

I would spend my money on an older Bridgeport knee mill and a South Bend lathe ... gonna cost more, but will be able to do TONS more.
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Old 03-14-2007, 04:09 PM   #3
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Default Re: multipurpose metal working tools

thanks - anyone out there have one of these? - any other thoughts? - many thanks in advance!
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Old 03-14-2007, 04:20 PM   #4
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Default Re: multipurpose metal working tools

Ok -- let's get serious; you don't need a full size Bridgeport or lathe unless you plan on doing a lot of machining.

I've owned the 44142 machine for six years and have been very pleased with it. For general automotive work and for building shop equipment, this machine is perfect. I've made bushings, handles, pegs, brackets, adapter plates, other tooling, and machined small cylinder heads (MG's and motorcycles). All-in-all, I've learned a lot and have enjoyed it very much.

Many will simply say these machines are a POS, but in most cases these folks are already established machinists, or highly experienced amateurs who when they use these machines notice a decrease in their machining skills and will automatically dismiss them as a POS. In truth, the Asian equipment isn't as accurate or well finished as the American and European stuff, BUT most of the old American equipment is usually 30-60 years old and you'll spend a fortune on parts. I know that for fact, my friend is a machinist and he rebuilt a large 1950's Clausing lathe -- big dollars.

Bottom line: If you're an experienced machinist and want a nice shop get the older Bridgeport and the Southbend lathe. If you're like me (a hobbyist on a budget and with very limited space) the HF 44142 is a very good compromise and you'll get a good machine for learning as well as something you can grow into.

Yes it will take longer to setup the machine and it won't hog material like a full-sized machine, and you'll loose your settings when you move from mill to lathe (and vise versa), but I'm not in a production environment and I really enjoy taking my time to do the job.

BTW -- look around, if these machines were such "boat anchors" as they were made out to be, there'd be hundreds flooding the market. Check e-bay or Craigslist and you'll very seldom find one for sale.

I'm not trying to step on any toes here, but in the end it always comes down to the skill of the machinist rather than the equipment itself.

Last edited by goodfellow; 03-14-2007 at 04:24 PM.
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Old 03-14-2007, 05:56 PM   #5
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Default Re: multipurpose metal working tools

goodfellow - really appreciate this pragmatic answer - there is no question that the BP and SB are better - BUT, the BP alone, used, is $3500 (at one site I found quickly) and huge - so to replicate the all in one with 3 top line, used standalones (forgetting replacement parts) I am 5 to 10 times the price...one would hope these would be better!

to be fair, I should have stated that I am in the exact category as you up front: "a hobbyist on a budget and with very limited space" - what I think I am hearing is that this can be a good compromise machine - not clear to me that at $1000 i could get three stand alone pieces that replicate the quality and features?! - appreciate your views on this - would welcome any others - thanks, edl
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Old 03-14-2007, 06:06 PM   #6
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Default Re: multipurpose metal working tools

What you really need in a well equipped shop is a good standalone drill press (either floor or bench). I wouldn't consider this machine as a substitue for a drill press. It can do the job, but if you constantly have to tear it down to mill/drill/and turn, then it becomes a chore. A seperate drill press will go a long way in making your life easier.

Other than that it's a very good lathe and a fair mill.
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Old 03-14-2007, 07:07 PM   #7
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Default Re: multipurpose metal working tools

I agree with what goodfellow says about it.

If I was looking for one, and I'm not a machinist either, this IS something I would consider from HF. By looking at the pics of it, and the fact it won't be as accurate as a true mill, I wouldn't want to use it to make a living. For us hobbiests it seems to fit our needs well though. Don't forget that you'll be spending a couple hundred more for tooling also. The price of this machine and tooling would equal one used Bridgeport or less.

It would be nice to be able to afford a Bridgeport mill and a LaBlond lathe but for some of us who only tinker and have budgets they just aren't in the deck of cards.

I will also agree on getting a separate drill press. A good one isn't expensive and they don't take up much space but they are very handy to have. I have an older (1950s era) floor mounted Craftsman in the garage I got from my grandfather. I use it often and find it very handy.
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Old 03-14-2007, 07:50 PM   #8
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Default Re: multipurpose metal working tools

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay H 237
I agree with what goodfellow says about it.

If I was looking for one, and I'm not a machinist either, this IS something I would consider from HF. By looking at the pics of it, and the fact it won't be as accurate as a true mill, I wouldn't want to use it to make a living. For us hobbiests it seems to fit our needs well though. Don't forget that you'll be spending a couple hundred more for tooling also. The price of this machine and tooling would equal one used Bridgeport or less.

It would be nice to be able to afford a Bridgeport mill and a LaBlond lathe but for some of us who only tinker and have budgets they just aren't in the deck of cards.

I will also agree on getting a separate drill press. A good one isn't expensive and they don't take up much space but they are very handy to have. I have an older (1950s era) floor mounted Craftsman in the garage I got from my grandfather. I use it often and find it very handy.
Jay - many thanks - your input is much appreciated - edl
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Old 03-17-2007, 12:21 PM   #9
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Default Re: multipurpose metal working tools

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay H 237
I agree with what goodfellow says about it.

If I was looking for one, and I'm not a machinist either, this IS something I would consider from HF. By looking at the pics of it, and the fact it won't be as accurate as a true mill, I wouldn't want to use it to make a living. For us hobbiests it seems to fit our needs well though. Don't forget that you'll be spending a couple hundred more for tooling also. The price of this machine and tooling would equal one used Bridgeport or less.

It would be nice to be able to afford a Bridgeport mill and a LaBlond lathe but for some of us who only tinker and have budgets they just aren't in the deck of cards.

I will also agree on getting a separate drill press. A good one isn't expensive and they don't take up much space but they are very handy to have. I have an older (1950s era) floor mounted Craftsman in the garage I got from my grandfather. I use it often and find it very handy.
Good point Jay H 237 -- I neglected the part about tooling. If you're at all serious about machining, then you'll easily spend $1000+++ on tooling. Since I purchased the machine, I spent over $2000 on tooling (and most of that was purchased at a discount on e-bay).

If you're lucky, you can find an estate sale where all the tooling comes with the machine. My neighbor bought a Shoptask with all the tooling from an estate sale -- I'm not that lucky!!
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Old 03-17-2007, 05:44 PM   #10
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Default Re: multipurpose metal working tools

Quote:
Originally Posted by goodfellow
... but in the end it always comes down to the skill of the machinist rather than the equipment itself.
That's kinda like saying that you could give Tiger Woods a bag of ball peen hammers and he could still shoot par on a PGA course.

After all, hammers do look like golf clubs ... only smaller.

Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of "stuff" that came from Horror Fright ... parts washer, sand blaster cabinet, oxy-acetylene cart ... but I can not, in good conscience as a person that sells both new and used machine tools for a living, recommend someone by a machine tool from Harbor Freight.

Regardless of their skill set or budget.
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Old 03-17-2007, 06:33 PM   #11
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Default Re: multipurpose metal working tools

Quote:
Originally Posted by -lecroix-
That's kinda like saying that you could give Tiger Woods a bag of ball peen hammers and he could still shoot par on a PGA course.

After all, hammers do look like golf clubs ... only smaller.

Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of "stuff" that came from Horror Fright ... parts washer, sand blaster cabinet, oxy-acetylene cart ... but I can not, in good conscience as a person that sells both new and used machine tools for a living, recommend someone by a machine tool from Harbor Freight.

Regardless of their skill set or budget.

Hi lecroix -- I hear what you're saying, but your analogy doesn't fit. Give Tiger woods an old set of clubs from a yard sale and I'll wager he'll still beat most folks on the links.

Many years ago, I was an apprentice to an old European master machinist who liked to tarvel around the world. When he visited Pakistan in the 1970's he saw the local carftsman make perfect replica M16 and Galil receivers with manual machine tools that they had made from scrap. He was atounded by the skill that these folks had and the things they could do with such crude equipment.

Can you imagine what they could do with a cheap HF Mill/Drill, or 3in1 --
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Old 03-17-2007, 08:14 PM   #12
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Default Re: multipurpose metal working tools

Quote:
Originally Posted by goodfellow
Hi lecroix -- I hear what you're saying, but your analogy doesn't fit. Give Tiger woods an old set of clubs from a yard sale and I'll wager he'll still beat most folks on the links. --
Sorrry, but I feel my analogy does fit. The "old clubs" you suggest equates more to older South Bends and Bridgeports, which is what I recommended to begin with.

Give me an "old Bridgeport" and I bet you a dollar to a donut that I can hold tighter tolerances than you on your new Chinese-made Harbor Freight 3 in 1 machine.

Not bragging, as I am no Tiger Wood of the machinists world, just calling it like I see it.

The Chinese import machines may look like miniature machine tools, and can be modified to be half-decent little pieces of equipment for home use, but it requires LOTS of time and costs. Those modification costs can easily be used to justify buying, at a higher initial price, the older machines which are a better value for the same money spent.

Concerning the guys in Pakistan making "working" M-16's ... I have not doubt that this is true. I have seen similar things with two brothers I know from Vietnam / Laos. You would be absolutely AMAZED what some folks can manufacture when all they have to work with is a drill press, a vise and a file and a little motivation.

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Old 03-17-2007, 08:41 PM   #13
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Default Re: multipurpose metal working tools

You don't need to spend tons of money to have some decent machines. I have seen Bridgeports go for under $1,000 in decent shape and real nice machines with DRO's go for 2 grand. A good smaller Southbend, or Clausing can be had for 6 or $700 with tooling. There's no reason to buy a HF pos unless the amount of space you have is so restricted you really have no other choice.
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Old 03-17-2007, 09:31 PM   #14
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Default Re: multipurpose metal working tools

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Originally Posted by chevy302dz
You don't need to spend tons of money to have some decent machines. I have seen Bridgeports go for under $1,000 in decent shape and real nice machines with DRO's go for 2 grand. A good smaller Southbend, or Clausing can be had for 6 or $700 with tooling. There's no reason to buy a HF pos unless the amount of space you have is so restricted you really have no other choice.

I agree totally -- the old machines are great if you know how to work with them and have the room. Not to be a wiseguy, but in my part of the country you can't find used equipment at the prices you suggest. If I lived in CA or the midwest then it would be much easier. But here's my problem. I'm a hobbyist, I have limited skills and very little room, plus I'm probably going to break a few things along the way. If I screw up on a Bridgeport I'm going to spend big $$, if I screw up on a Chinese machine I call Grizzly and get a resaonably priced replacement.

If I were to setup a nice dedicated home machine shop and I had the room, I would jump at the chance to have seperate machines, but my space is very limited and I only need to make/repair parts for my motorcycles and antique cars. For that occationally limited use, the Chinese stuff fits quite well.
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Old 03-17-2007, 11:02 PM   #15
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Default Re: multipurpose metal working tools

Hmmmm, a Bridgeport and a Southbend in my 20x24 garage with my 8x10 cubby that has my benches in it or a $1400 combo piece that I can sit on my bench.....

Turning the ends of tube to weld in inserts for rod ends. Threading the ends of tube for carb linkage. Machining brackets for said linkage. Making linkage parts for my transmissions. Building my own fuel blocks, brackets for fuel pumps, machining a fuel block off plate for my engine. Machining a axle bushine for my 30 year old snapper rear engine rider. Making a custom tail light housing for my '65 Mustang. Making spacers for front dress on an engine. Making a new alternator pulley in a larger diameter for my drag car. Building a throttle return spring bracket.

lecroix, do I really need a Bridgeport and a Southbend? If I get really good at it, decide I like it and want to do more, if I sell it for half of what I paid for it and build a shop and put in a Bridgeport and a Southbend have I lost that much? If I build a shop, put in a Bridgeport and a Southbend first and the tools gather dust from non-use, where am I at then? Here's you an analogy, a guy wants to drag race, so he buys a used Top Fuel dragster because he wants to go fast and decides they're the fastest. He doesn't have the spare parts, the big rig or the crew (all this would be the tooling), is that the smart way to get into drag racing?
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Old 03-18-2007, 12:06 AM   #16
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Default Re: multipurpose metal working tools

I am only trying to describe what I think is the best bang for YOUR buck. In the end, it's your money and you gotta do what's best for you. I understand that. As for me, I wouldn't have one of the Chinese import toy machine tools.

Concerning the resell values.

Chinese import stuff: I highly doubt you would be able to get half for what you pay for it new. Seriously. I deal with this sort of thing on a daily basis, it's how I make my living. I can give you a long, long list of my current customers that purchased an import machine of some sort and I would be willing to bet that most, if not all, of them would tell you that they would never, ever do it again.

Used American stuff: I would be willing to bet you could get what you paid for it, probably more if you know how to shop them around a bit. I see it happen every day.

Quote:
Here's you an analogy, a guy wants to drag race, so he buys a used Top Fuel dragster because he wants to go fast and decides they're the fastest. He doesn't have the spare parts, the big rig or the crew (all this would be the tooling), is that the smart way to get into drag racing?
So you think the "spares" for the Chinese stuff is going to be any less expensive than the "spares" for the other machines? Go to eBay and do a search on Bridgeport and/or South Bend and then take note of the amount of spares that's out there and then note the prices. Pretty dang cheap.

Now do the same search on the Chinese import stuff. I'm betting you won't find much.

This is all I am trying to say: "If it's priced like a toy, chances are it's a toy."

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Old 03-18-2007, 07:32 AM   #17
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Default Re: multipurpose metal working tools

Lecroix: I think that you have made a valid point. You have experience with these machines and know what you are talking about. If others do not heed your advice, or if they find that a Chinese machine works for them... then fine. It's their money. I just don't want you to think that your words are falling on deaf ears....
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Old 03-18-2007, 08:42 AM   #18
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Default Old US Made vs New Chinese Made

Quote:
Originally Posted by -lecroix-
I am only trying to describe what I think is the best bang for YOUR buck. In the end, it's your money and you gotta do what's best for you. I understand that. As for me, I wouldn't have one of the Chinese import toy machine tools.

Concerning the resell values.

Chinese import stuff: I highly doubt you would be able to get half for what you pay for it new. Seriously. I deal with this sort of thing on a daily basis, it's how I make my living. I can give you a long, long list of my current customers that purchased an import machine of some sort and I would be willing to bet that most, if not all, of them would tell you that they would never, ever do it again.

Used American stuff: I would be willing to bet you could get what you paid for it, probably more if you know how to shop them around a bit. I see it happen every day.


So you think the "spares" for the Chinese stuff is going to be any less expensive than the "spares" for the other machines? Go to eBay and do a search on Bridgeport and/or South Bend and then take note of the amount of spares that's out there and then note the prices. Pretty dang cheap.

Now do the same search on the Chinese import stuff. I'm betting you won't find much.

This is all I am trying to say: "If it's priced like a toy, chances are it's a toy."
Not the same equipment, but the same logic applies:

If someone is looking for sheetmetal fabrication equipment, old American made stuff by Pexto and Lockformer sells for the same price as something new made in China by Jet or Korea like TinKnocker.

The foreign stuff works, but it is obvious that the quality just doesn't match the USA made stuff.

The used USA made stuff will sell for the price you paid for it, any day of the week, if it is taken care of. New USA made stuff takes a pretty big hit in the used market at sell time.

Import sheet metal stuff sells for about half of new retail, but I suspect the market for Chinese shears and benchtop brakes is better than the market for Chinese milling machines.

I can understand the space problem that the OP has, but there is no way I would buy new Chinese stuff new for the same price as used and better quality US made stuff.

Just about any area of the USA is accessible by truck freight these days, and there is a lot of stuff on eBay and Craigslist for sale. If what you want is a couple of states away (or a day's drive), it is probably cheaper to rent a truck and do a roadtrip than pay for crating and shipping at retail LTL rates.

None of this changes the fact that NEW US made equipment is pretty expensive, and buying used does nothing to help create jobs. Too bad the current salaries of middle class US workers does not match the buying power of those salaries when the old Bridgeprt and Pexto stuff was fresh off the assembly line.... Definitely something wrong here.
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Old 03-19-2007, 10:23 AM   #19
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Default Re: multipurpose metal working tools

Why not take a few semesters of night class at the local technical school? That way you get the most ban for the buck! You can learn how to operate machines without breaking tooling or damaging machines, and learn to operate quality machines, not cheap crap. If you are already a skilled operator, you still have access to machines and tooling that you might not otherwise be able to justify or afford. At least for newbys this is a great solution if such a program is available in your area.
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Old 03-19-2007, 11:27 AM   #20
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Why not take a few semesters of night class at the local technical school? That way you get the most ban for the buck! You can learn how to operate machines without breaking tooling or damaging machines, and learn to operate quality machines, not cheap crap. If you are already a skilled operator, you still have access to machines and tooling that you might not otherwise be able to justify or afford. At least for newbys this is a great solution if such a program is available in your area.
The best advice I have read so far.
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