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Old July 31, 2013, 10:48 PM   #11
Alex Johnson
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 16, 2000
Location: Grand Forks, ND
Posts: 805
I purchased three Grizzly 9x42 vertical milling machines some years back for the university lab that I teach in. I have them right up against a 1960's Bridgeport and they are pretty much a dead ringer for this machine, some parts are even interchangeable. Accuracy wise they are very good machines, with very nicely finished surfaces. The only real issue I have had with any of the Grizzly machines has been with the motors. The electrical seems to give us a fair amount of trouble, though Grizzly has always been good about supporting us in this.

The Chinese machines are really not so different than anything else in life, in that you get what you pay for. If you buy a bargain basement Chinese machine you will probably get at best a kit, and at worst an expensive boat anchor. As you climb the ladder in price the quality goes up. I have encountered a lot of folks that will badmouth Asian tools over the years, most of them have had no experience with what they are talking about. I have worked extensively with both US made vintage machine tools, as well as the Asian variety and can honestly say if you are a competent craftsman you can make either perform, you just have to know their limitations. Most of the US made machines that are the stuff of dreams of a lot of home shop machinists are badly worn out and in need of replacement parts, many of which haven't been available for decades. Repairing and restoring these machines is a hobby in itself and can be very time consuming and expensive. A new Asian machine, even if it requires some tuning, can oftentimes be a better bet for someone starting out.

If I were you, I would look at a small bench top lathe for a first purchase. I have had good experience with the 7x12 lathes on the market and feel you can do a lot with one of these. Even if you feel the need to upgrade to a larger lathe down the road the smaller lathe is still handy to have around for smaller jobs. You can do a lot of work with it, and some basic milling to get you started. Once you feel the need to expand, look for a bit bigger mill. You will be a lot happier I think. Also, the horizontal feature is not really all that useful for gun work in my opinion. I have had a horizontal conversion for my Bridgeport for years and never felt the need to install it on more than a few occasions.
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