I guess I will throw in my two cents here.
In the beginning I didn’t know much about the machinists world, but I had a Mauser that had a sewer pipe for a barrel and it need a new one stat. I started looking into all the machines out there and I wanted a one size fits all solution and I found that enco, smithy, and grizzly all made a 3-in-1 machine. Mill-drill-lathe combo! I thought sweet the answer to my prayers. I talked with a few machinists and found out that the Chinese machines are not the best at all and that there is a great deal of difference between the brands making the same machine.
It works like this. China makes a bunch of machines. Then bidders from company’s come out and bid for them and measure the tolerance they are looking for. I found out that at that time Enco was the company requesting and only buying the tighter tolerance machines then so I bought one.
I was happy and the build went fine. After a year it became abundantly clear that this machine was a lathe first, a drill second and a mill dead last. The machine developed a lot of play in the y axis. To fix that I would have to machine a new bronze square nut bushing😤. No fun. As I got better and more people needed things fixed I realized that I would need a bigger and better machine. I did a lot of research and looked into American, Japanese and Italian lathes. But they all where very expensive and all to often had missing or broken pieces on them. So I decided to buy new. Doing more research on Chinese machines it was interesting to me the bigger machine you got the quality went up as well. I settled on a 14”x40” gap bed lathe a grizzly G0824 to be precious.
2” through hole, 3,and 4 jaw 8” chucks. 70-2000rpm, with a Digital read out “dro” running 2.5hp on 1phase 220volt. I paid 5,800.00. I use it once a month at least and most times once a week. I would honestly buy it again.
That left me with needing a mill. The market where I am for old mills is slim to none. Places like California, Florida, and the east coast are prime spots to find lots of good deals on used machines.
I was patient and kept on the look out for a deal, but all I found was very worn out Bridgeport’s that where 4,000-8,000. Not a good deal in my opinion. I was dead set on wanting a quality machine so i looked in to what Taiwan was making and precision Mathews had what I wanted, everything except chrome and scraped ways. I was ready to buy a new one for 8,500.00 when a business selling sharp mills put up an add for an Alliant mill fore sale! Alliant was one of the first Bridgeport clones back in the 80’s when Bridgeport stopped selling to wholesalers and only sold to Bridgeport stores.
I went to inspect it and brought it no haggling at all. It was in mint condition and the guy just wanted it gone. It was s trade in.
The selling points where meehanite cast body, Sony DRO got x-y axis down to 0.0000
chrome/ scraped ways
Servo for x axis
One push way Oiler
And the real selling point ball screws for x-y
Ball screws make a huge difference in accuracy.
Square cut thread will always have play so it can move and not bind.
Ball screws on the other hand are very tight
I have no regrets for buying this machine for 3,400.00 not one. 60-4,500 rpm. 2hp 3phase.
On a side note a pantograph is an extremely useful tool. I found this one for 200.00 and is an extremely useful tool!
One more thing you should buy a machinery hand book. I recommend for a home gamer the engineers black book. It is extremely helpful
I do regret buying the 3-1 machine, but it was a good machine to learn on.
Remember be safe and have fun!