View Full Version : Experience with combo lathe/mill/drill?

12-23-2002, 12:37 AM
I looking for some comments from British car restorers who have experience with any of the lathe/mill/drill combinations such as the Smithy or Granite machines. (.e.g. Midas 1220XL, Granite 1220 or 1324.) I know the hard-core machine shop hobbyists don't like these machines, and I understand their reasons. However, my needs are relatively simple, such as making or reparing a small part occasionally, and I don't want to take up much of my shop room. I also don't want to buy an old American lathe that I have to restore..... I have enough things in need of restoration.

If you have some experiences, please share them with the rest of us.

Many thanks.

Bill C.

12-23-2002, 02:19 PM
I'm with you, I'd like to hear some first hand opinions myself. As you say, there are lots of worn out lathes out there that "need a little tinkering". You can get them cheap, but you'll spend lots of time and money making them work accurately.

Bill J
12-24-2002, 12:35 AM
I also use machine tools regularly and owned one of the "Shoptask" combo mill/lathes for home use. Basically what I can say about it is this, if you don't have to do anything more accurately than .001-.002 (depending on the machine and your skill level), and you have the time to take small cuts and whittle things away slowly, then they're not a bad way to go. I used to make suspension bushings, brackets, and the occasional tool (seal pushers and such) on mine and found it worked well provided I wasn't in a hurry. They seem to be happiest doing aluminum and plastic since these don't tax the machine too much. At the time I had mine I was working in a Naval shipyard as a maintenance machinist and a lot of what I did was rebuild and setup machine tools. The basic problems with the combo units is that the castings just are not terribly rigid, and the mill bed/ lathe toolpost sit up really high above the ways giving a long lever arm for the forces from the tool to work through. This shows up the lack of rigidity even worse and is the root of the accuracy problems that they have.
If you have a lack of space for larger, better built machine tools than they aren't really bad for a lot of tasks. However, if you do have the room, even a mildly worn, well built lathe or mill is actually better due to being more rigid to start with. The lack of rigidity will also make the combo unit wear more quickly, and negate any wear differences fairly quickly if you use the machine regularly.

Happy Holidays

12-24-2002, 01:41 AM
Thanks, guys. You've provided just the kind of information we need about these tools.
Bill C.

12-24-2002, 04:28 AM
I don't have direct experience with the machines you mention but suggest you look at

www.metalworking.com (https://www.metalworking.com)

to research it. The site has a good page of links for listservers etc dealing with hobbiest tools.

Also try www.homeshopmachinist.net (https://www.homeshopmachinist.net)

I have a small Sherline mill/lathe that lives under the bench and it's invaluable for making small bushings, etc. It's one of those things you don't know how you lived without.

12-24-2002, 04:54 AM
I use machine tools almost every day...mostly Bridgeports, Logans and various CNC stuff.

I've used these "combo" machines (a friend owns a Smitty) and I'm not crazy about the idea. Mostly, it seems like a pain to switch back and forth (the Smitty seems well-made, otherwise).

If I had a Smitty (or similar) I'd leave it set up in one configeration (probably the lathe setup) and buy a small mill.

Grizzly Tools, Enco and even Harbor Freight have some decent prices on small machine tools for home use

12-28-2002, 04:13 AM
I'm a Shoptask owner and from personal experience, I think these little machines can be very useful to the LBC owner/maintainer.

As the fellow above said, turning to .001 isn't a problem, even in mild steel or stainless. Milling to .002-003 in aluminum or plastic is no problem. Don't get greedy while attempting to mill steel; the machine isn't "sturdy" enough for heavy passes.

If you have the space and are lucky enough to come by a Bridgeport, there is no substitute, go buy it. However, if space and money are an issue, I think these little machines are a good value.

Sharp carbide tools and a spray mist coolant will let you turn at the feeds recommended in Machinery's Handbook up to .030 (.060d)in a pass for steel and much heavier cuts for aluminum.

02-15-2003, 10:01 PM
I had a Smithy that I bought to use in my gunsmith bussiness. Turned out to be just a step or two above junk. I gave it away to get rid of it. Went back to a full size lathe and a mill drill and never regretted dumping the Smithy