I know, a bit silly with the title but hey, that's me.
So the last couple weeks I decided to buy myself a Christmas present. a little back story, I used to be a gunsmith and had a full time shop for 16 years specializing in custom pistols and rifles. I've been out of the business for 7 years and frankly miss it. I'm talking to a few of my buddy's still in the business who can't keep up with demand and I'm going to sub contract some of the non bound-book work for them.
I initially was just going to go buy a new Jet, Acer or Sharpe J-head clone with a 3 axis DRO and X/Y power feeds and call it a day but as nice as they are, it just eats at me that they're clones and not the real deal. As I started to browse CL and the used equipment shops I found plenty of machines that would do the job but none that really stood out.
Oh sure, there were 20K machines right down to $500 rusted POS sitting outside in the weather. I sat and watched CL a few times a day to see what would pop up. a few days ago an ad showed up, said "70's era step pulley J head, like new"
Of course I doubted it but I sent my boiler plate questions:
"Any issues with the head/motor/quill? Head backgear OK? Quill power feed transmission/clutch good? Releases properly? Are the pulley dogs loud? Is it still hooked to power to hear it run? What's the backlash on the saddle and table?"
In return I got: "The machine is in 100% working condition. Spindle runout is less than 0.0005” TIR. Power quill feed works properly and clutch releases as intended. Back gears are excellent. Head is extremely quiet in both high gear and back gear. Very little backlash in the dog clutch. Table and saddle run smoothly over entire length of travel. About 0.015” backlash at worst point in both X & Y travel ( can probably be reduced by adjusting the nuts). Table top is near perfect. No mill or drill marks. Machine is under power. Not stated in the ad – this machine has one shot lubrication. The only thing that this machine needs is some paint. Was in a basement of a retired machinist but not used for at least 10 years other than big drill press"
Yep, got right on the phone and went to see it. Got to his shop and it was everything he said it was. Fired it up and didn't notice the motor was pulled forward so the belt didn't turn the spindle, shut it of and put proper tension on the belt, fired it back up and there was almost no difference in sound. The power transmission and clutch work properly, the backgears are super quiet. What he didn't say in his reply is the ways and the majority of the table surface have the famous BP frosting swirls on them, backing up his "like new" claim. I bought it on the spot. Came with a Bridgeport vise on a swivel base, 1/16" collet set, Jacobs chuck, 3" single bit fly cutter, saw arbor, 8 end mills, (3/8 to 3/4)
Picked it up this morning and here is is. The knee and ram are stiff and draggy from hardened way oil from sitting, the paint is ugly, chipped, crazed and one coat, appears from the factory. (not sure why it shows a blue hue in the picture, may be the LED worklight in my garage) There is dried oil residue everywhere, I'm currently letting some penetrating oil eat into the old oil and wiping it off as it loosens up.
First up on the list is a phase converter and a 3 axis DRO because I am sick of reading dials and having "oops". After that at least an X axis powerfeed, an XY if I can swing it but I may need to get some work out before I buy too many toys.
I tried to capture the frosting on the ways and table, you can see it but not great.