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Milling machine options for bike work

Milling machine options for bike work

Hi,
I've just registered so firstly, hello! I'm hoping this site can give me lots of good pointers to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Intro then:
I build and race motorcycles, i currently have a small chester 920 lathe and a draper Milling & drilling machine (same as the naerok RDM350). These are the first machines i've owned, i really enjoy making things on the lathe, it's very useful, and despite it's shortcomings i've made a few mods to it and i can make it do what i need. The mill however has barely been used and i've really fallen out with it already. Basically it's nowhere near capable of the sort of jobs i'm now wanting to do.
So, i've been looking on every website i can find for a more suitable mill (vertical). The factors limiting my choice are as follows, my workshop is in my sisters cellar and height is an issue (207cm) as is size to some degree as i've my entire race operation down there - bikes and all. Noise is another problem, her living room is upstairs! And the one i nearly forgot ..... price!
I'll be looking for accuracy and sturdiness rather than ease of use or speed, it needs to be able to hold motorcycle cylinder heads at angles to cut things like valve seat pockets, or bore top cases to accept bigger sleeves.
I'm contemplating machines with 30" x 8" tables and i currently have machines like the Harrison vertical mill & Viceroy AEW vertical within my sights, they seem fairly plentiful, it's just i don't know their shortcomings or how suitable they really are.

What do you think? Are there any other machines you folks can recommend?
Cheers
Phil

Edited By: bikerphil
Nov-02-12 21:49:29
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Phil Biker
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Re: Milling machine options for bike work

Hi Phil,
I think you will find the height limit a major restriction in your choice of machine . For the angled work you have described, I would suggest you will need a universal head with quill feed. The standard reply would be to look at a a Bridgeport Series 1, but you can't fit one in......
So a bit of lateral thinking; why not see what your  local engineering club has, and if suitable, join up and use their kit?

Regards,

Dave

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Re: Milling machine options for bike work

Thanks for the reply.
Engineering club? Are there such things and where is a good place to look for them?

Can you explain why i might need the quill feed rather than raising the knee,? i guess i was expecting raising the knee to be a more accurate way of plunge milling than using an unlocked quill anyway?
As for the angled milling - i was thinking of making an angled adapter for the cylinder head - i only work with one particular engine so it can be made just for that. An angled table would likely take up too much height anyway?
Your right, i have considered a bridgeport or other turrets but they are too tall and the table too large really. This is another mill i considered  KF-VO-A2f   sold under the warco, myford, grizzy names plus others) but i'm worried about it's sturdiness. Otherwise it's ideal and i could  keep my R8 tooling.
http://www.model-engineer.co.uk/sites/7/images/member_albums/55654/a2f.jpg
Cheers

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Re: Milling machine options for bike work

I was going to suggest an angled jig to hold the cylinder heads. A smaller sized machine like the one you are looking for would be more rigid if you chose one with a fixed head.

My Herbert 0V would seem to be a good size for your workshop but at 12" x 6" travel might be a bit limited for your use and they don't appear for sale very often.

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Re: Milling machine options for bike work

This should be suitable, doubt if you will find a better quality machine, it is however expensive and at a dealers. See http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Aciera-Model- … 6238978%26
I have an Elliott omnimill which would suit but table is a bit small and with height restriction you would have fun removing draw bar but you can tilt the head over  to help. If  you are near north essex you are welcome to come and have a look. Took me ages to find one I could afford.
Ashley

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Re: Milling machine options for bike work

Both those mills look suitable, i do know where there is an elliot omnimill, but it's a little over budget, (approx £1900).
I missed out on an aciera F4 a couple of months ago, daren't tell you how much it went for either. Oh well.....

The only issue with the Harrison and Viceroy AEW is the distance between spindle and table. I set a head up at the right angle (22 degrees) in my mill drill and it clears quite easily with an R8 collet in. But i don't know what type of cutter i'll need to cut the valve seat recess, i think you can get them with a pilot that goes into the valve guide. It's just how tall are they and how much room do i actually need ... so many things to consider lol

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Re: Milling machine options for bike work

Phil. Best of luck getting a mill down a cellar, even dismantled you end up with a big lump. The beauty of the aciera is you angle the table not sure you could get milling head of an omnimill  at correct angle for a cylinder head unless you hold the head at an angle as table is narrow suspect it depends how big the cylinder head is. You really need a Bridgeport, can't you cut a hole in the ceiling you could disguise it in the living room upstairs with a cupboard.
Ashley.

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Re: Milling machine options for bike work

It's an inline 4 cylinder suzuki head, they aren't anywhere near as big as you might expect, it measures 155mm x 435mm and about 100mm tall.
My sister has already said she might notice the motor sticking up through the floor, although if i put it in the far corner it would pop up in the pantry behind the fridge so it would never be seen .... but probably heard!
I forgot so say, i'm in Lancashire, so it's a bit far to come to take a look, but thanks for the offer.
Access to the cellar ain't as bad as you may think, it has 3 large steps that come out into the garden, which in itself is lower than the house. So the total fall is only 4ft. I have no problems getting motorbikes in and out, but they do have wheels and brakes. An engine hoist might be adequate.

Building a shed specially for machining is another option, but thats the price of a mill in itself.

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Re: Milling machine options for bike work

Does anyone have experience of the Marlow milling machines?
They were sold mainly to schools and colleges from what i can gather, but would the larger tabled version be up to the job?
Does anyone have experience of the warco A2F i mentioned earlier? I'm really put off by the chinese/korean machines after the mill drill i bought.

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Re: Milling machine options for bike work

That A2F is a better machine than the Warco I just bought, and being a taiwanese model is probably well built. I got a Chinese WM15 and though it was very cheap it was very crap too.

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Re: Milling machine options for bike work

My sister has already said she might notice the motor sticking up through the floor, although if i put it in the far corner it would pop up in the pantry behind the fridge so it would never be seen .... but probably heard!
Just tell her it's a noisy fridge  or why not get her a nice pair of ear defenders,
A

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Re: Milling machine options for bike work

A bit of inverted thinking! dig out the floor and tank it, then build your mill in the hole, you probably only need a six inch drop ? get a pair of knee pads for Chrissy

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Victor Scott
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Re: Milling machine options for bike work

Lol You have to remember the whole place is underground and groundwater wants to get in there real bad. It's amazing it doesn't leak after 70+ years. I don't drill any holes in the walls for rawplugs or anything and i wouldn't dream of touching the floor, it'd be like cutting a hole in the bottom of a boat to make your mill fit lol.

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Re: Milling machine options for bike work

The Harrison is a lovely little machine, and a lot went into colleges and schools, so there are quite a few around, and if you're really lucky, the prices can be very reasonable. Look out for one which has both the vertical head as well as the horizontal arbour. Remember too that the arbours came in different sizes, most of the tooling on e-bay is 1" bore, so that would be my preference if you have the choice. Also, the vertical heads come in 2 models, normal speed, same as the machine, and high speed (3000rpm) at double machine speed. The high speed ones seem to be much rarer than the low speed. Unfortunately, the tooling is all 30 Int, so your R8 kit wont fit!
If you have a choice, look out for the later model which has the squarer top slider, I'm not quite sure when the model changed, but I have seen the later model with a 1974 serial number.
The Ex-college machines usually won't have had excessive use, so there shoudn't be a lot of wear on the slides, but may have some"student damage" to the table. There will be 30 years of accumulated lube dried onto everywhere, but they are reasonably simple to strip down and clean all the slides etc.
As for getting the machine down some steps, I certainly wouldn't want to tackle it! The complete machine weighs around 600 kg, but it will strip into smaller components, mainly the base and the main body, (the knee support screw can easily be detached from the base by un-doing the 3 allen screws supporting it on the base, but that would still leave a very heavy chunk of metal, comprising the knee, table and central column, which would still be a very difficult lift for 3 men! If you do use an engine hoist, remember that the front wheels of the hoist will need support, otherwise the whole thing will tip into the basement!
Best of luck with your search, I can be contacted at any time if you need any more info on stripping down, just use my e-mail and I can let you have my 'phone number.

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Re: Milling machine options for bike work

A bit late replying, for reasons below, but -

a) Engineering Clubs. These usually go under the guise of 'model engineering clubs', but from my experience, members interests will typically cover car/bike restoration as well. Just google 'model engineering lancs' . Even if there is nothing local to you, it might be worth your while going along to at least one club night to talk to people and get an idea of machine/size/capability. You could probably get to try out a few machines - far better than reading about manufacturers specs in a catalogue. You might also get to hear about machines coming up for sale in your area.

b) Quill feed, as opposed to knee feed. The quill feed and a universal head saves a lot of faffing around with jigs & fixtures if you want to do a lot of angled work. Just bolt the job flat to the table and set the required angle on the head and away you go. Obviously, if you just want a few 'standard' angles, a special -to -type jig for your cylinder head is going to do the same job. However, there is a certain law that says the next bike you work on will require different angles and hence different fixtures. Eventually, you will end up with a pile of special jigs gathering dust under the workbench, and you will see why quill feed & universal heads became so popular in industry.....

Another thing to note is that the knee/saddle/table assembly is usually a large mass of metal, (at least it is on my Adcock & Shipley horizontal machines!) and it takes a fair amount of force to shift it. Not great when you are trying to set the final 0.0005" cut.  (Yes, before anyone takes me to task, I do know there are toolroom class machines out there where this isn't the case).  Anyway, for my stationary steam engine models, I find that it's easier to do the more delicate jobs with a quill feed machine.

c) Finally, I had a wry grin when I read the comment about 'only 3 steps down to the  basement'. I spent all of Sunday wrestling with a Bridgeport Series 1. Even with the head and ram/turret taken off, the column/knee/saddle & table weigh about 700kg. This is a large solid mass that just sits there with an evil grin on it's face. We had to use hydraulic jacks and steel rollers to get it to the back of the van so we could reach it with an engine hoist. Although we could then lift it, it was difficult to balance the load, and we struggled to get it onto a trolley and into the workshop along flat ground. To re-iterate what Dave Smith said, don't underestimate the difficulty of moving heavy equipment down steps. It's considerably more difficult than motorbikes that probably weigh less that 250kg, have wheels and are designed to be balanced.
I would go for the 'build a shed' option if I were you - that's what I did!

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Re: Milling machine options for bike work

A little more info on the Harrison Milling Machine.

Strip down for easier handling: I forgot to mention that there will be a fair bit of internal wiring to disconnect/ re-connect in order to split the main column from the base. Not for the faint hearted!

Look out for the powered feed to the table, a very useful addition. It should come with a selection of 8 changewheels but most of them get misplaced, leaving only a pair in the gearbox.

Lifting arrangements into the basement: can you get a small lorry with a Hiab on the back to reverse in? That would be the easiest option of the lot. Straight off the lorry and down the steps! (If only everything was that easy!) Otherwise a fork-lift with a hoist attachment?

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Re: Milling machine options for bike work

Dave Pack wrote:

Another thing to note is that the knee/saddle/table assembly is usually a large mass of metal, (at least it is on my Adcock & Shipley horizontal machines!) and it takes a fair amount of force to shift it. Not great when you are trying to set the final 0.0005" cut.  (Yes, before anyone takes me to task, I do know there are toolroom class machines out there where this isn't the case).  Anyway, for my stationary steam engine models, I find that it's easier to do the more delicate jobs with a quill feed machine.

Thanks for your reply Dave, some good points you made. I guess the quill feed would be the way to go if it was available.
Because i don't have any experience with using any mill other than my own, i was thinking if it was a massive machine then probably the quill feed would be sturdy enough. But a loose quill in a small machine i thought could be wobbily, thats why i thought the harrison or viceroy. The task i mentioned - cutting the recesses for valve seats requires very tight tolerances or the seats could drop out. Not massive holes, something like 30-40mm diameter, in aluminum.
Enough people saying the same thing about getting it in a cellar to make me realize i should think twice.  Ummm .... i need to go faster and i need a mill to do it!

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Re: Milling machine options for bike work

Dave Smith wrote:

A little more info on the Harrison Milling Machine.

Strip down for easier handling: I forgot to mention that there will be a fair bit of internal wiring to disconnect/ re-connect in order to split the main column from the base. Not for the faint hearted!

Look out for the powered feed to the table, a very useful addition. It should come with a selection of 8 changewheels but most of them get misplaced, leaving only a pair in the gearbox.

Lifting arrangements into the basement: can you get a small lorry with a Hiab on the back to reverse in? That would be the easiest option of the lot. Straight off the lorry and down the steps! (If only everything was that easy!) Otherwise a fork-lift with a hoist attachment?

Dave, thanks for the info and offer of advice! On a different note do you know what the maximum spindle to table clearance is on the harrison? apparently the viceroy is only 13" which was a bit less than i was hoping for.

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Re: Milling machine options for bike work

Hi Phil, I've just measured mine with the vertical head on and the clearance under the nose of the head is approx 13.5 to 14". Then you will have to allow for your chuck and tool.

Link to lathes. co .uk below with info about the Harrison. Scroll to the bottom of the page for dimensions. The vertical head lifts the drive up a little and so maintains approx the same clearance below it as the horizontal arbour.

http://www.lathes.co.uk/harrisonmiller/index.html

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Re: Milling machine options for bike work

Just to add another option

How about a horizontal mill ?  Much lower and usually cheaper / ton  There's not much you can do with a vertical mill that a horizontal wont do (just think rotating by 90°)

Bill

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