Well, I finally had some time to sit down and organize my thoughts about my experience and my machine. I want it to be very clear that this is an accounting of my experience, and is in no way and endorsement to, or not to buy an IH turnkey mill. My experiences will not be the same as yours, or other people on this forum.
Tommy was eager to answer any questions that I had and talk about the machine. This was March. I had mostly decided what I wanted from the website and the explanations I got made it easy to figure out the rest of what I needed. Even at this stage it was iffy on whether I would get responses to emails. I don't know if he's just that busy or what, but it took a couple of tries to get a finalized quote from him once I decided on what I wanted on the machine(beginning of April). I offered to make a $1000 deposit which he said would be fine.
The options on my machine:
X and Y axis Extensions
NMTB 30 Spindle
Wildhorse Innovations Probe
Lead time was said to be 6-8 weeks, but I knew from what I had been reading to expect it to be longer than that, probably closer to 10-12 weeks. As I started to check in towards the end of the 6 weeks it started to be clear that he was behind. I kept getting the "another couple weeks" response.
I was in CT in early July and stopped in to the shop for a few days. I spent time running the cnc machine that's not in an enclosure to get a feel for Mach3 and what the machine could do. While I was there I got a sense of the business and the people. While I think that the electrical cabinets and machines coming out of CT are much much better, I think they are still fighting organization issues. I'm sure this has to do with the sudden loss of Gene, and what that has done to Tommy's workload. He is now having to run the business and make the machines, and there just aren't enough hours in the day. I think he has also had difficulty finding anyone that can build the machines for him, so he can handle the business side of the business. While I was there he was making my machine and I got a chance to see it all taken apart, and how it was put together (for the most part). While I was there I told him I had to have the machine by the end of July or I would have to cancel my order and buy a different machine. He assured me that the machine should be finished up and ready to ship by the end of the next week. It ended up getting to me I believe on August 6th. This meant my lead time was about 18 weeks.
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The machine showed up in good condition in a sturdy crate. Everything was in place and nothing appeared to have shifted or been damaged in shipment. I chose to make my own overbuilt stand which you'll see in the photos. The machine shipped minus the second parallel port card for the computer so that I can use the probe. He said he didn't have a second one for the computer in time for shipping. I have failed to bird-dog Tommy about it, and have not gotten it yet.
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A quick inspection showed everything was close enough to start running it. I had to tweak a couple of settings in Mach3 to get the coordinates setup right.(Positive/negative issue, units were fine) Unfortunately since the machine took so long to get here I had to jump into making parts in a bit of a rush. This was against my gut instinct of getting to know the machine first. Other than a few oopsies along the way things have gone surprisingly well. So far everything has been running without a hitch other than the spindle lock you use to tighten the drawbar. The rod bent when tightening a collet (I know this is my fault, should be tightening the collet on a holder, not in the spindle). I'm using a flood coolant system that's a combination of the 10 gallon Enco system, and lots of reinforced lines and fittings. I have 2 nozzles, a 1/2" line and a 3/8" line. With either one of the nozzles there is GREAT pressure. If your problem is keeping an entire surface clean, you need to be able to use both, and it loses a noticeable amount of pressure, but actually has the same flow per nozzle. The 1/2" line provides 2 gallons a minute, the 3/8" line delivers 1 gallon a minute. This system is adequate, but will probably be upgraded at some point in the future when I've sorted everything else out.
A video of the machine cutting 1018 cold rolled .025" step-over, .815" DOC, 35IPM.
I have continued to have good luck getting in touch with Tommy after the sale when I have had questions. Rarely has he not answered on the first try, and when he hasn't I don't remember a time where he hasn't called back. I need to remind him about the second parallel port card and that's about it.
Some pictures of parts I've made so far.
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After roughing operation in the video.
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Some lathe parts from my old Enco 10"x20".
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Nice write up and table! It is a really nice mill.
How are the shower curtains working? It is a pretty simple solution with lots of access if they hold up.