Friday, August 1, 2008

American Iron Guilt

My Benchmaster mill is just too small for my needs. The main problems are having only 9.5" between the spindle and the table and a 1/2 hp motor. Nonetheless, I am feeling some guilt over selling my venerable Benchmaster mill (true 'American Iron') and buying an import mill. Note that I am already being defensive by using the word 'import' rather than the truth, "Chinese'. The deeper truth is Taiwanese.

Anyone who knows about machinery knows that mainland Chinese mill-drills range from total junk to merely poor quality. It is not that the Chinese can not, or do not make high quality mills. Rather the home-shop mill-drills they export are driven by price, not quality.

The mill I purchased, a Rong Fu, is made in Taiwan and has a reputation for having decent quality, albeit, not as good as American mills. Of course, there are no American mill-drills and the only smaller American mills that exist are, like my Benchmaster, 40 to 60 years old.

Without further ado, here is my rationalization.

The Benchmaster has no quill, 1/2 hp motor, limited speeds via belts, and uses MT-2 tooling. The RF-45 has a quill, 1 hp 3 phase motor, 6 geared speeds plus a VFD, R-8 tooling, twice the Z Axis , has an X Axis power feed, and like the Benchmaster has dovetail ways. It may not have the rigidity of the Benchmaster but it is not 60 years old.

Does this rationalization carry the day? I will not be happy until I am milling away with half the passes and the same precision. Meanwhile, my wife says, 'Aren't you excited about getting a new mill?'

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