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1st Milling Machine......which

#1
Soooooo..........long story short: I've been searching for a smaller milling machine to get my feet wet as I tackle a couple small projects that I have in the plans. I've located 2 different machines that would probably do me for quite some time, but they each have their own set of pros and cons.
Machine 1: Enco RF-30 with less than 60 hrs on it. Used in a machine shop doing a very specific task in light material. Then has sat unused for a couple years. It comes with a fair amount of tooling. R8 collet set, end mills, hold down clamps, 1-2-3 blocks and a bunch of other stuff. 220 single phase.

Machine 2: BusyBee CX600. Similar to Grizzly G0704. Pretty close to the same for tooling. Not quite as much but.......... Current owner bought it a couple years ago used and it has sat collecting dust since.

Both machines will cost me about the same by the time I get them home. The RF-30 is cheaper but a few tanks of gas farther away. Very close to same $$$ by the time I get either in the shop.

I'm aware of the round column losing registration issues and have seen several solutions online that would be accurate enough for the kind of projects I have been doing as well as the ones I have plans for. With 5" of quill movement I actually probably wouldn't even have to move the head in anything I've done to date. However....... I still debate it over and over in my mind........ I like the more massiveness of it. 660 lbs. Bigger table.

The CX600 is small in comparison. 250 lbs, and has a really small table and longitudinal movement and plastic gears. Would have to change head height with only 2" quill travel. But is a dovetail mill/drill. 3/4hp motor. Closer......less time swallowed in the getting of it. Lots of CNC upgrades documented as well as cnc conversions.

Anyway.......... Any thoughts? Experience either way or with both types of machines.
Thanks
 

Bofobo

Well-Known Member
#2
I just looked at both models on Google images, I would go with the CX 600 you may only get 3 inches of quill travel but the whole headstock moves on a separate dial. rigidity is the name in mini mills, mine is smaller than these. A whole thread exists on it
 

kylemp

Active Member
#3
Idk where you are but I've got a FRV30-200 I am going to get rid of (and I'm in Calgary). I picked it up with hopes of getting around to doing the full Stefan gotteswinter or cnc retrofit to it but I don't have time right now and I'd prefer the space back. If you're interested let me know. It's a lot heavier than the models you listed, much close to the rf-30 but with a dovetail column and a lot of z travel which is what I was interested in, along with a gear head.
 
#4
Idk where you are but I've got a FRV30-200 I am going to get rid of (and I'm in Calgary). I picked it up with hopes of getting around to doing the full Stefan gotteswinter or cnc retrofit to it but I don't have time right now and I'd prefer the space back. If you're interested let me know. It's a lot heavier than the models you listed, much close to the rf-30 but with a dovetail column and a lot of z travel which is what I was interested in, along with a gear head.
PM sent.......
 
#5
I just looked at both models on Google images, I would go with the CX 600 you may only get 3 inches of quill travel but the whole headstock moves on a separate dial. rigidity is the name in mini mills, mine is smaller than these. A whole thread exists on it
I would be interested in finding that thread. It is what definitely attracts me to the CX600........ Concerned about some of the reports I've read..,......even here on this site...... with issues that have been seen with the BusyBee. However, I know that is a small sample of those machines that are out there. I too have concern with the lightness of the machine in itself. Not sure how much stiffer it is than a Seig X2 type mill. I know that good work can be done with light mills but it takes a lot of time and patience. And so that draws to me to thoughts of dealing with the round column on a RF-30. Much heavier. Bigger table with more work space. And the re-zeroing of the work, though a pain, can be done if planned for.

Anyway......thanks so much for your thoughts. I took a look back in your posting history and enjoyed some good info that you have been a part of. This is a great site and I appreciate being a part of it!!
 
#6
Do NOT get a round-column mill. I had an RF-30 from Busy-Bee - you can never tighten the head enough, and moving it up and down is such a pain. Get yourself the CX600.
 
#8
Do NOT get a round-column mill. I had an RF-30 from Busy-Bee - you can never tighten the head enough, and moving it up and down is such a pain. Get yourself the CX600.
Thanks for the input...... So are you saying that the problem is that head swivels/slips around the column axis while milling? And those bolts cannot be tightened enough to prevent that? That is the 1st I've heard of that in my research...... not a good thing!! Deep cuts? or Facing with a large diameter? Or is it a problem with about any mil end or operation?

Also........ "I had an RF-30 from Busy-Bee......." Have you moved on to another mill? If so what? and what are your thoughts about it.

Thanks again for you thoughts!!!!
 

Tom Kitta

Active Member
#10
The cx600 is definitely for the money of even new machine a big step up from mini mill - as in its much better machine for little more $.

The mill drill is mostly a sturdy drill press with ability to do milling. It certainly can do *more* metal removal then cx600 but as other pointed out you may run into some accuracy issues.

Its the hammer vs. scalpel question. Which one you need more?

BTW a RF-30 recently went with stand on auction for around 1000+ with all fees included. It was a beaten up one needing some repair.

I would probably lean more towards CX600 if the price was the same and accessories almost the same - you may want or not to split hair with what tooling is included. Also condition matters as well - your description sounds like both were hardly used... was one of them ... dropped? It seem like a lot of pp are dropping these things, especially RF-30s I saw - 2 already that were dropped.

Don't count on BusyBee support - accept the fact they don't exist & use Grizzly support which is excellent for the most part. Its not like they are not family.

If you don't mind spending around $2000 plus some hard sweat an old Elliot mill sold on Auction few weeks ago for around 1840 CAD (including fees). It was horizontal mill with vertical head, about 4400 lbs or so and 3ph motor. It would be far better in my humble opinion the both mills you were looking at and it would be far more sturdy. I doubt there is a chance for you to "outgrow" that machine unless you move into some serious stuff.
 
#11
Thanks for the input...... So are you saying that the problem is that head swivels/slips around the column axis while milling? And those bolts cannot be tightened enough to prevent that? That is the 1st I've heard of that in my research...... not a good thing!! Deep cuts? or Facing with a large diameter? Or is it a problem with about any mil end or operation?
Yes, all of that. Was never happy about the head being knocked around by "heavy" cuts, or having to loosen-tighten the head to move it up/down/around. I was using a 5/8 endmill to mill the crust off of a torch-cut plate as I rotated it on a rotary table. Every flute engagement of the endmill would vibrate the head and knock it out of position. The impulse torque of the vibration overcame the column clamping force no matter how much I reefed down on those head bolts. Absolutely maddening.

I guess it depends on what you want to accomplish, and it is relative to the work you're doing. If you're drilling a hole now and then, working soft materials, or doing light finishing cuts, fine, but trying to remove some serious metal (steel) was problematic. I had specific goals for a milling machine that couldn't at all be satisfied with the RF30. Every time the head was knocked out of place, I cursed under my breath and started shopping for dovetail-type mills, wishing I had bought the something else. So, save yourself the anguish and go for the other type of mill.

And forget ever trying to retrofit that machine. I eventually sold it off and bought an Excello 605 "machining center" which is basically a Bridgeport-style knee mill but with a fixed head on a massive casting in place of the turret. I bought the iron off kijiji and built my own Linux-based closed-loop controller for it. Been using it ever since. Love it. Never looked back.



Torin...
 

Tom Kitta

Active Member
#12
I think that Torin simply exceeded capabilities of RF-30 and CX600 hardly could handle something as large as 5/8 doing more then 0.01 cut without jumping off the table. Knee type mills are what people use or even more solid bed mills. This is why I recommended large old Eliott British made. Once you get one of these there is no need for extra buy-sell cycle when upgrading. CX600 is a big step from mini mill but it would be a giant leap from it to proper Bridgeport style mill.

So I guess unless you plan on working on small stuff and aluminium (or have no space) I would just wait for proper mill.
 
#13
I do agree with the boys saying that a Bridgeport or other Knee type mills are superior to the "pipe column" mill-drill's BUT there are a lot of reasons to like the RF style machines. I have an RF-45 (same idea as RF-30 but larger pipe column) that I have done a "lot" of milling on and contrary to some reports here, have never had the "head" shift up-down-sideways ever. I have had the quill move up or down when just using the Locking lever" but when the secondary screw lock is used it never moves as well. As Tom says there are "accuracy" limitations to the RF machines but I haven't found it to be in the head mechanism at all...the table dials & jibs are where the problem lies mostly and they are somewhat surmountable with a little judicial "setting & adjustment" before a particularly accurate cut is needed...time consuming & frustrating but still do-able and at the cost of them originally, to some of us they are the "cats a$$"...
 

Tom Kitta

Active Member
#14
Certainly RF machines are not somewhat "bad" - people have worked on them for years and I considered buying one for my dad for a low price to do some light milling. The original poster question is a choice between two somewhat "close" machines. The CX600 seems more modern and convenient to use over a heavier RF-30 whose main advantage would be ability to take heavier cuts at expense of some accuracy (I am basing this on 3rd party saying - the whole net seems of opinion that column based mills are somewhat less accurate not having used one ever).

On the other hand I do have old US made Rusnok milling machine, about mini mill size, that is column based yet marketed as "precision" mini milling machine. Thus I am unsure whatever the issues with column based machines are overstated at least at the level of very light milling.

In the end the pick is a bit hair splitting.

At least we can agree that a proper Bridgeport knee mill is better then both choices. Hence I proposed old used horizontal / vertical mill in about the same price range.

BTW there is CX600 for sale in Calgary for $1600 looking new with stand and some accessories. I am sure he can be talked down a bit from the price:
https://www.kijiji.ca/v-view-detail...edium=email&utm_campaign=Kijiji Search Alerts
 
#16
The cx600 is definitely for the money of even new machine a big step up from mini mill - as in its much better machine for little more $.

The mill drill is mostly a sturdy drill press with ability to do milling. It certainly can do *more* metal removal then cx600 but as other pointed out you may run into some accuracy issues.

Its the hammer vs. scalpel question. Which one you need more?

BTW a RF-30 recently went with stand on auction for around 1000+ with all fees included. It was a beaten up one needing some repair.

I would probably lean more towards CX600 if the price was the same and accessories almost the same - you may want or not to split hair with what tooling is included. Also condition matters as well - your description sounds like both were hardly used... was one of them ... dropped? It seem like a lot of pp are dropping these things, especially RF-30s I saw - 2 already that were dropped.

Don't count on BusyBee support - accept the fact they don't exist & use Grizzly support which is excellent for the most part. Its not like they are not family.

If you don't mind spending around $2000 plus some hard sweat an old Elliot mill sold on Auction few weeks ago for around 1840 CAD (including fees). It was horizontal mill with vertical head, about 4400 lbs or so and 3ph motor. It would be far better in my humble opinion the both mills you were looking at and it would be far more sturdy. I doubt there is a chance for you to "outgrow" that machine unless you move into some serious stuff.
Thanks for your thoughts Tom. You are soooo right that the cx600 is quite a bit more machine than the mini mills and I've no thought of starting with one of those...... You make good points on the hammer vs. scalpel scenario. I am probably more scalpel than hammer in my use of my lathe even. I know that I don't push it to anywhere near it's limits!!

I know that the RF-30 has not been dropped but no absolutely positive on the cx600. The fellow makes it sound like he bought it 2 yrs ago and hasn't used it since. I see another of these smaller dovetail mills just listed in Calgary, a King KC-20VS, with a wee bit of tooling. Looks like it's the older version with a smaller table than the new ones, but not sure. I've sent a message to the owner and am waiting on further info. It is very very similar to the CX600. Don't know much about King and their support, but Grizzly would the go to probably anyway.

A horizontal mill doesn't strike me as good for my 1st milling machine....... at least it makes me hesitate for sure.

Anyway........thanks for your thoughts and experience. It helps with us that are new to be better informed to make a decision!!
 
#17
@Tom........ I have contacted that fellow in the ad you listed and he is doesn't seem very anxious to sell as he is pretty firm on the price. Said he'd knock $100 off for just the mill and no tooling. hmmm........ And I agree about a nice heavy knee mill. I see several in Ontario but few that grab my interest here closer to home.
 

Tom Kitta

Active Member
#18
The horizontal has a vertical head - so you get both worlds. Main issue is that you usually don't get a quill or get very small one. This is an issue if you need to drill a lot of holes.

The vertical head is powered by a gear that is placed in the position of the horizontal cutter.

You frequently get cool additions on even old machines - like power feeds all over the place. Another negative is sometimes limited top speed - frequently under 2000 rpm.

Main advantage is that you have "real" machine. Machine that does things just like you see people do stuff on youtube. It works. You don't have to think of an "upgrade". There is nothing so far in home shop I have came across that I would say... too big. It dances circles around CX600 and any RF machine. Frequently tooling is a bit more expensive 40 taper but its so much more rigid and stable then R8.

I think people don't get these machines as they seem... big... and take a lot of room... and "why would I need that". Yet they are just the perfect ideal size for a home workshop if you can fit them in... ideal power and capabilities for the right low price.

I am hoping to snap one of these old ones for a song even if they need some fixing to give it to my dad.
 
#19
Yes, all of that. Was never happy about the head being knocked around by "heavy" cuts, or having to loosen-tighten the head to move it up/down/around. I was using a 5/8 endmill to mill the crust off of a torch-cut plate as I rotated it on a rotary table. Every flute engagement of the endmill would vibrate the head and knock it out of position. The impulse torque of the vibration overcame the column clamping force no matter how much I reefed down on those head bolts. Absolutely maddening.

I guess it depends on what you want to accomplish, and it is relative to the work you're doing. If you're drilling a hole now and then, working soft materials, or doing light finishing cuts, fine, but trying to remove some serious metal (steel) was problematic. I had specific goals for a milling machine that couldn't at all be satisfied with the RF30. Every time the head was knocked out of place, I cursed under my breath and started shopping for dovetail-type mills, wishing I had bought the something else. So, save yourself the anguish and go for the other type of mill.

And forget ever trying to retrofit that machine. I eventually sold it off and bought an Excello 605 "machining center" which is basically a Bridgeport-style knee mill but with a fixed head on a massive casting in place of the turret. I bought the iron off kijiji and built my own Linux-based closed-loop controller for it. Been using it ever since. Love it. Never looked back.

Torin...
Torin........Thanks for your description of your issues with the RF-30....... I've since read of one other fella that had the head swing issue, but he admitted that he is trying to hogg a whole lot of material when it happens. I can understand that as a limitation to be aware of. I wold love to lay my hands on that Excello that you have. I would be a happy hobbyist!!!!
I think that Torin simply exceeded capabilities of RF-30 and CX600 hardly could handle something as large as 5/8 doing more then 0.01 cut without jumping off the table. Knee type mills are what people use or even more solid bed mills. This is why I recommended large old Eliott British made. Once you get one of these there is no need for extra buy-sell cycle when upgrading. CX600 is a big step from mini mill but it would be a giant leap from it to proper Bridgeport style mill.

So I guess unless you plan on working on small stuff and aluminium (or have no space) I would just wait for proper mill.
Most of my stuff now is in brass and aluminum. But I do turn steel as well. And I would love to not have to worry about doing so.

I do agree with the boys saying that a Bridgeport or other Knee type mills are superior to the "pipe column" mill-drill's BUT there are a lot of reasons to like the RF style machines. I have an RF-45 (same idea as RF-30 but larger pipe column) that I have done a "lot" of milling on and contrary to some reports here, have never had the "head" shift up-down-sideways ever. I have had the quill move up or down when just using the Locking lever" but when the secondary screw lock is used it never moves as well. As Tom says there are "accuracy" limitations to the RF machines but I haven't found it to be in the head mechanism at all...the table dials & jibs are where the problem lies mostly and they are somewhat surmountable with a little judicial "setting & adjustment" before a particularly accurate cut is needed...time consuming & frustrating but still do-able and at the cost of them originally, to some of us they are the "cats a$$"...
Thanks for your thoughts Historicalalarms!!! That is why I am debating a nice looking FR-30. I think I am aware of the limitations of the round column and the dials and table adjustments, although maybe not the frustration that may come with it!! I use a 1970's era Standard Modern Lathe and it is just part of the process that I don't even think about anymore, to always use the dials in one direction. always revere past and come back into it. I know how to adjust the gibs to get a good feel on the hand wheels and keep the cross slide and carriage tight..... and all the things that come with a nice older lathe. As a result I'm not intimated by a good FR-30 but do know that there will be things that i will need to plan in advance in many projects....... And saying all that, I still do want to get into something that fits my needs the best. I like the larger size of the table travel on the RF. I like the dovetail on the CX600. I like the 220V motor power on the RF, yet the variable speed on the CX. I know if I got the FR I will be immediately doing a treadmill motor upgrade to give me that variable speed.

All in all......... I would be happy with either machine, or the KC-20VS I just saw listed, I get toooo involved in the research........... and that isn't making chips!!!! :)

Thanks again!!!
 
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#20
The horizontal has a vertical head - so you get both worlds. Main issue is that you usually don't get a quill or get very small one. This is an issue if you need to drill a lot of holes.

The vertical head is powered by a gear that is placed in the position of the horizontal cutter.

You frequently get cool additions on even old machines - like power feeds all over the place. Another negative is sometimes limited top speed - frequently under 2000 rpm.

Main advantage is that you have "real" machine. Machine that does things just like you see people do stuff on youtube. It works. You don't have to think of an "upgrade". There is nothing so far in home shop I have came across that I would say... too big. It dances circles around CX600 and any RF machine. Frequently tooling is a bit more expensive 40 taper but its so much more rigid and stable then R8.

I think people don't get these machines as they seem... big... and take a lot of room... and "why would I need that". Yet they are just the perfect ideal size for a home workshop if you can fit them in... ideal power and capabilities for the right low price.

I am hoping to snap one of these old ones for a song even if they need some fixing to give it to my dad.
Tom......... That I didn't know!!!! I have a 70's era RockWell drill press. I need to do the bearing on it and build a table that is more useful, but it is a good drill press!! I will have to start including horizontal mills in my perusing!!! Thanks!!!!