Check out the Chaski boards - there are many more online home machinists there than here http://www.chaski.org/homemachinist/
There is a forum for 3-in-1 machines, and I am sure you can search and find discussion of that machine.
Tony - I already have a Sherline mill and lathe (individual machines) that's just fine for small stuff (1:20.3). I'm looking for something larger, but not too large as I don't have the space for it. Space is also the reason I probably need a combo machine, though I full well reaize their drawbacks, having had a Unimat for 20+ years (I still have it in fact).
Ed - thaks. I'll check those forums.
Thanks for the comments so far... keep them coming.
They bought one where I use to work and the machinist they hired ( ex navy ) didn't have to many good things to say about it. It can do alot of different things but none of them well. His experience allowed him to get by and do some stuff. It's hard to beat the mass of a larger machine in my experience. I have a jet 9 x 20 ( 250 lbs. ) but I only make small cuts. My next up grade on it is to remove the compound slide all together I think that will help it, It gets by but not by much. I bought a South Bend Fourteen ( 14 x 40 ) (1650 lbs. ) that was only used for cutting plastic and it has the mass needed for doing good work.
I think that you'll find a combination machine somewhat limiting. You can get a separate mill/drill and a lathe for close to the same amount of money and each will be capable of much more. I have a Rong Fu mill/drill from useEnco.com and a 9" lathe from Grizzly. The mill is great and I use it quite a bit. The lathe is a bit light and I wish I'd spent the extra $1,000 to get a 12" lathe. The only justification I can see for buying a combination machine is hopeless lack of workshop space.
Most all professional machinist I know tell me to avoid those things like the black death. They are good for doing lawn mower repair. I am not kidding. Spend your money on a good lathe and seperate mill . If you by a Chinese one you should disassemble it completely and put everything throuhg a parts washer. I have a friend who did that and he washed out about 5 pounds of foundry sand....go figure. Talk with Tom and Diane Eaton at Sulphur Springs. You should see Toms shop...sigh.
Dwight, Bob's advice is pretty good. A buddy of mine just bought a full size Bridgeport milling machine with TWIN HEADS, all the tooling, D.R.O., etc. and he bought it for $2000. Pretty awesome deal for a machine that is much larger than those Prazi machines. He got it from a guy on craigslist, of all places. It might be worth your while to look for a deal like this. If you got a south bend lathe and a bridgeport mill you could build just about anything.
Quite frankly I am sitting on a 8" x 48" Southbend that I picked up two years ago for $200. The one that had before the fires was a 11 x 36 and I paid $150 for it both had lots of tooling. And both are just wonderful machines
I have been thourghly enjoying the beginners forum !
I came to this forum, because I noticed you fellows discussing lathes, mills, etc. and I love scratch building just about everything and thought I would possibly invest in a GRIZZLY INDUSTRIAL MACHINES model G9729 combination lathe/mill/drill. This particular machine has an 8 inch swing over the bed and 30 inches between centers. the head stock that supports the mill head is rectangular rigid cast iron, not round cold steel, and the mill head itself is rectangular cast iron, the machine has two 3/4 hp motors one dedicated to milling and one dedicated to the lathe, it also comes with numerous accessories, such as two different style steady rests, etc and power feed on the lead screw.
As I understand machining, the heaver the machine the better and this machine for its size weighs in at 770 lbs and costs considerably less than a comparable Smithy.
Does anyone have any experience with Grizzley machines.
As mentioned above, generally combination machines are marginal at everything, and outstanding at nothing, except maybe being a doorstop.
Quality control on Grizzleys seems to be a bit hit or miss sometimes, a lot of people get good ones, and a few get crap. If you can, go someplace where you can examine the thing before you buy (and buy the one you examined). Also as was mentioned above, it is often a good idea to disassemble and thoroughly clean the thing and lube it properly when you reassemble it. An ounce of prevention and all that....
Thanks for the insight Mik- I was thinking of possibly trying to tolerate a trip to Springfield, Missouri, as Grizzly has a large show-room and warehouse there where as I understand it you can try the machines they have set up in their show-room. I don't know if you can purchase the actual show-room machine or not, but as I understand one of their reps that I talked to on the phone, they will either replace or repair any part or whole machine that you are not satisified with.
I was also told that the particular machine that I am interested in will hold a .0001 tolerance right out of the crate.
Of course I'll bet thats if you can get it assembled correctly and after some adjustments and tweaking here and there, as even I know that holding a .0001 tolerance right out of the crate is exceptional.
Anyone running an Accucraft or Aristo engine can see what Chinese industrial machines can produce. Until the past ten or so years most Chinese manufacturing was done using Russian machines left over from the cold war. The home workshop tools made in China are examples of what you are inquiring about - some are fine and then an occaisional turkey gets mixed in with the ducks. The best bet is to try one and then get the one that you tried, Wash it down and oil it , and it will be good for a few lifetimes.
Here is a nice EMCO combo. EMCO is what Kozo made his engines on. If you take small cuts on steel it will do OK. EMCO = Austria, ENCO Jet Grizzly ect...chinese knock off of an EMCO. I have never owned or ran one but I would take a chance. I bid on one in NJ on ebay but lost it sold for 857.00 I think what a deal....It is in your neck of the woods as I take it too. Most of the time I understand you can run the machines he sells under power check it out.