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Machine Shop and Tool Talk

Milling Machine: Bridgeport vs MSC 'knock-off'


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  #1  
Old 09-05-2017, 10:12:26 AM
tedrussell tedrussell is offline
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Default Milling Machine: Bridgeport vs MSC 'knock-off'

I'm looking for a used milling machine, trying to decide between a Bridgeport from the 60s and a 1993 made-in-China MSC, described as a 'Bridgeport knock-off'. They are both in working condition. The price difference is considerable. Any thoughts on the MSC?
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Old 09-05-2017, 10:38:15 AM
ronm ronm is offline
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Default Re: Milling machine: Bridgeport vs MSC 'knock-off'

Is it made in China or Taiwan? the Taiwan knockoffs got to be pretty good machines before China knocked them off...
I have a Taiwan "Kung Pao Chicken" (can't remember the real name right now), with a genuine BP head on it...fit on there like it belonged...it is a perfectly good machine for what I use it for, The biggest difference I think is that the BP has chrome bedways, mine does not, but they are in good shape & will last forever for me.
You really have to go by the condition of the machine with a used one. A real BP may have been in a production shop where it ran 24/7 & is totally clapped out. Knockoff might be a better machine if it was in a hobby shop.
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Old 09-05-2017, 10:49:36 AM
Pete Spaco Pete Spaco is offline
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Default Re: Milling Machine: Bridgeport vs MSC 'knock-off'

There's a place in Roberts Wi that rebuilds Bridgeports and resells them. A&D Machine. I think they start at about $10K

I suppose a lot depends on how much you want to spend, and what attachments and tooling comes with it.
For instance: does it have a DRO or not.

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Old 09-05-2017, 06:45:39 PM
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Default Re: Milling Machine: Bridgeport vs MSC 'knock-off'

I'd go for the Bridgeport. And if it were clapped out I'd keep looking until I found a good Bridgeport. If you ever need parts and support there is plenty of it out there for the BP. That Chinese clone - who knows. BP parts might fit it depending on how close it was copied. MSC will stuff you on parts if they can even still support that machine. There should still be an ample supply of good BP mills up there in MA and NH.
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Old 09-05-2017, 10:28:24 PM
s100 s100 is offline
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Default Re: Milling Machine: Bridgeport vs MSC 'knock-off'

The OP does not really give us enough information to answer the question. We do not know what his plans are for the machine, what sort of work he anticipates doing and how much of it? We do not know what condition the two machines are in. We do not know how the machines are equipped or what tooling is included, and whether that tooling meets his needs. We do not know why he has limited his search to these two machines. He did not tell us what his skill level is. He didn't even tell us what color the machines are.

There are machines out there that are better than Bridgeports, and they can sometimes be found for less money, due to the popularity of the Bridgeport name. I'm thinking of the ExCellO 602 and the Cincinnati... Toolmaster, I think. Condition for condition, I would prefer either of these over a Bridgeport. A big advantage of these machines is that they are more likely to be found with NMTB 30 or even 40 tooling. These are vastly superior to the ubiquitous R8, although harder to find. I have an XLO 602 with 30 taper Erickson Flash Change tooling, a big improvement over any of the others.

Speaking in very general terms, the bigger the table the better, DRO's are a big plus, and the older style central motor power feed is good too. A riser block under the ram is a plus, even if you take it out for average use. Someday you will need the daylight the riser provides. The more tooling the better. You can easily spend more on tooling than you will spend for the machine. A loose, sloppy machine is bad, regardless of price, and a loose noisy head is worse. Run it flat out at top speed. If it is noisy at top speed that's problematic if you can't identify the source of the noise and it is relatively benign, e.g. a rumbly variable speed bearing. But even then if one bearing is noisy the rest probably aren't to far behind. If you are looking for a fix up project and you can haul one away for free, that's great but if you have plans for the machine and work stacked up for it you want one that's ready to go and you should be willing to pay an appropriate price for it as it will be money well spent.

Just some ideas...
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Old 09-06-2017, 07:52:23 AM
Peter Holmander Peter Holmander is offline
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Default Re: Milling Machine: Bridgeport vs MSC 'knock-off'

I'm with Nick, go for a used Bridgeport. We do not know what your experience is but there are plenty of tips on the internet on what to look for when buying a used one. Be patient and do not buy the first one that comes along. There are 20-30 of them listed right now on Craig's List in the New England area. I bought a J head from a used equipment dealer in Ct. and I am very happy with it.
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Old 09-06-2017, 09:12:04 AM
tedrussell tedrussell is offline
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Default Re: Milling Machine: Bridgeport vs MSC 'knock-off'

Thanks to all, especially s100, for the advice. Other than general knowledge of machining from my 37 years as a mechanical engineer, my experience level is zero. I'm helping a friend find a machine for a cooperative workspace. The machine will not be used anywhere near full time. The MSC has a DRO and power feeds on X and Y. It is 'clean and functional'. The Bridgeport is advertised as 'in perfect condition'. I don't know anything more about it, but will ask the seller before going to look at it. I also don't know what tools might be included for either, but will also find out. s100, you've given us some good things to ask about - thanks again!

These are just the first two machines we've found so far. Peter, I'll take your advice and look some more on Craig's List.

There's about a 3X price difference between these two machines, but that includes a substantial discount offered on the knockoff. Even with that discount, it sounds like it might be more trouble than it's worth.
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Old 09-06-2017, 12:49:13 PM
ronm ronm is offline
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Default Re: Milling Machine: Bridgeport vs MSC 'knock-off'

So which is more? You say price difference, is the clone more or the genuine? The DRO & power feed makes a big difference.
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Old 09-06-2017, 01:10:07 PM
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Default Re: Milling Machine: Bridgeport vs MSC 'knock-off'

"Machine for a cooperative workspace" "sounds like it might be more trouble than it's worth. "
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Old 09-06-2017, 09:14:04 PM
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Mike Monnier Mike Monnier is offline
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Default Re: Milling Machine: Bridgeport vs MSC 'knock-off'

Nothing wrong with a knock-off for use in a makerspace. 25 years ago we had made in Taiwan Alliant mills at the vocational school. Decent machines for training and far superior to the clapped out Bridgeports in the lab. Buy the MSC mill if it's decent and plow the price difference into other equipment. You can always sell it down the road to upgrade to a better machine.
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Old 09-07-2017, 11:12:33 AM
AngrySailor AngrySailor is offline
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Default Re: Milling Machine: Bridgeport vs MSC 'knock-off'

Condition is everything. I was in the market for a mill about 10 years ago and at the time all I could find was beat up bridgeports, loose with the tables full of holes. I reluctantly dropped the $10k CAD for a new knock off KING with a table feed, DRO and some tooling. I ran it pretty hard at my small job shop for years and I must say I have no complaints. I still have it and its snug as the day I bought it. I still get the "oh nice ching chong Bridgeport" guys now and then but hey, "where's yours" I ask
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Old 09-07-2017, 08:49:53 PM
M.Canute M.Canute is offline
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Default Re: Milling Machine: Bridgeport vs MSC 'knock-off'

Almost 20 years ago I was looking for a mill and decided I did not need someone else's worn out equipment; I went for a new BP clone and have never regretted it.
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Old 09-07-2017, 09:26:56 PM
AngrySailor AngrySailor is offline
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Default Re: Milling Machine: Bridgeport vs MSC 'knock-off'

One other thing to keep in mind it the spindle taper as s100 mentioned. It's been a while since I bought any tooling but while the #40 taper had more capacity and an ER collet chuck is sweet, it is? (was at the time) quite a bit more pricey. R8 if I remember right takes up to 7/8" in standard collets and is fairly inexpensive. Keep in mind you will probably want a drill chuck, boring head and maybe a morse taper adapter also. It comes down to what capacity you plan to run the machine in, large parts with heavy cuts or mostly smaller fine work which R8 will handle easily.
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Old 10-01-2017, 09:37:48 PM
John Zalabak John Zalabak is offline
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Default Re: Milling Machine: Bridgeport vs MSC 'knock-off'

Alliant were good machines. Do not care for the MSC, seemed to wear out pretty quick and parts might be hard to find. John
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Old 10-02-2017, 12:05:25 PM
Pete Spaco Pete Spaco is offline
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Default Re: Milling Machine: Bridgeport vs MSC 'knock-off'

For a makerspace, I'd suggest that you DON'T want X and Y power.
Make them turn the cranks. They'll break less tooling that way.

I'd say a DRO is a must these days, especially if the machine you end up with has some slop. The fancier the math that it does, the better.

All that said, have you considered a Bridgeport EZ-Trak?
You get 2 or 2 axis CNC that way.
I think they start at about $10K, though.

Pete Stanaitis
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