Bridgeport Mill

Delivery Day - March 22, 2010

Well this isn’t exactly a how to do project but I felt that after soooo many years wanting and looking for a machine like this that it was worth posting. I have had my lathe since about 1999 and have wanted one for some 15 years prior. The mill has been on my list probably longer but for the price tag on one of these puppies I just couldn’t justify the expenditure.  I have tortured my hand held routers for many years prior and will say that it has been challenging at times to say the least, jigs and fixtures made and the time spent figuring out how to make things work, all invaluable learning experience but time to move on. Now I am starting a new chapter and another new learning experience, hopefully this machine will make things easier to accomplish tasks and less time consuming.

I picked this up from Craig’s List on March 20th, after seeing it run, ( on a static phase converter that came with it) everything worked, nothing major missing and delivery included I didn’t haggle on price just gave him what he was asking, probably for less that half of what it would have cost through a machinery dealer. The fellow was tickled to get rid of it, delivered it 40 miles and helped me push it into my shop. At the time I was wondering just what I had missed that he was being so helpful but soon realized you just meet some good people in this world, he also made sure that I kept his phone number and email address it case I had any questions. (Tom, I wish you well in your new endeavors)

Bridgeport J-Head 1951

Brigeport Vise

The machine sat in the same spot for approximately 3 weeks for cleaning and inspection, I am pretty fussy on how things look and function so it was going to look good before it was dropped on the floor where it will stay. When I purchased the machine Tom  also had been on line and printed off a Bridgeport manual, after going thru it I pulled all info pertinent to the J-Head and made up a hard cover manual. With the info I needed to check it out and set it up I went thru all the steps, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it is actually much better than I had hoped for making this a diamond in the rough. I tracked the serial number back and found that it was built in 1951, with the amount of wear, this machine has been rebuilt once or it has not been used much, don’t know, but I am happy.

Cleaned up ready to set in place

As word spreads there are all kinds of recommendations coming at me, change the vise, you need this or that, but for now it will suffice the way it is. If I were going to use it to make a living I would have purchased something newer and better but it is just for a hobby work. A friend stopped over about 3 weeks after I got it and said I have some stuff for ya, I said I don’t need anymore stuff I need to get rid of stuff, he said Oh yes you do and handed me 2 Erickson boring heads, some fly cutters and some miscellaneous tooling, with friends like this I will never have to purchase tooling.

Now that I have something to use the Palmgrin rotary table on I decided to retrieve it from the rafters of my shop. This table was purchased for $5 back in about 1970 from a retired engineer that was getting rid of his wood shop, my dad was looking at wood clamps and other miscellaneous items and the fellow said I will through this in for $5, which is all it took for my dad to buy the whole mess. We never had anything good enough to use it on so it has been in a box ever since, I cleaned it up and now it is ready for a project.

Palmgren Rotary Table

Here are some photos of the new/ old machine cleaned, painted, and tuned up and miscellaneous small items repaired. I decided that it needed a cover for the ways so I used what I had laying around and fashioned it from a tool box liner and some oak, held in place with magnets also a tray to sit on the table for tools. The table lock was missing so I copied one from my neighbors Bridgeport, this is the first free form contouring I have done on my lathe and it turned out pretty good.  At the present time I only have to repair the brake, just haven’t had time to work on that as of yet and there are several up-grades that I would like to do, rotary phase converter, etc. but the funds are not available at this time so they will have to wait. My shop lacked for power so I ran another 60 amp service at this time, I never have been able to run a welder, and I have one that has set here for years, that has never been a priority to hook up but it is in service now.

Covers

Tool Tray

Copied Table Lock

On the floor

Ready to use......

As I get into new projects I will add more to this page but for now that is it, I just can’t decide what to do first, like a kid in a candy store…………!!!!!!!

  Details of the ways cover and table tray.

In monitoring the traffic on this page I thought it appropriate to add a couple of pic’s and explain how I made these accessories, keep in mind that I used whatever I could find lying around without spending a pile of money. The ways cover is made of some scrap oak, a tool box drawer liner (purchased form Harbor Freight), some 1 inch round magnets that came from the hardware and some scrap aluminum from an old screen door all of which I had on hand. I had looked into purchasing a set of covers from an Industrial Supply but that was another $70 and when you attach them they are bolted on. I haven’t found any shortcomings so far and they seem to function as intended; they are removed for cleaning without unbolting anything and they adjust easily to whatever height the knee is set at, there is one large magnet on the column which is moved as needed when the height is changed. At this time I still haven’t made one for the front for I ran out of box liner and haven’t purchased any more.

The tray is made from a piece of scrap plywood with an oak frame, it has as you can see from the pic, a strip of oak fitted to the table slot to keep it in place, other than that it should be self explanatory.      

Ways cover

Tool Tray (bottom)

7 thoughts on “Bridgeport Mill

  1. Wow! Looks good! What did you use to clean it and what paint did you use to paint it? I just purchased a Roundtower mill and it is dirty and nasty and needs to be repainted.

    • For the general removal of grease and grime I used mineral spirits, various scrapers and brushes. When most of the crud was removed I clean all the exposed metal surfaces with CLR and 3M green all purpose pads, the CLR is the key, ya can bring old rust colored metal back to almost new but you have to wash it off with water and immediately apply some sort of protectant or it will turn brown before your eyes. It takes very little elbow grease with CLR, just don’t let it dry and give it a few minutes to work. It took almost 3 weeks to remove 60 years of crud, some still remains; you just give up getting it all at some point. When it came to paint I took a belt guard (not shown in any pics) that had the color I wanted and drove to Repcolite, they were able to match it and recommended there best single base enamel. I had used 2 part epoxy paint for my lathe and was never happy with it, at some point I plan on repainting it with the same stuff I used on the mill, it is much more durable and easier to use. Unless you were in the industry or know someone who has knowledge of refinishing machines like this or did research to find this out you wouldn’t know that all machine castings are covered in Bondo, sanded smooth, primed and then painted, that is why new machines look soooo darn good. I did not re-bondo anything to fill gouges, holes or any imperfections just used an orbital sander and feathered all these areas smooth. I believe a 60 year old machine should have some character so I wanted it to look good but not perfect. I am stating this for I have a friend that has the same mill as I do, he said to me that he rented an air powered chisel to remove all the crud on his mill, it took forever to get it all off, when I ask what he was chiseling he said the entire casting, his jaw hit the floor when he found out it wasn’t crud but bondo.

      To answer the many questions on the paint that I used here is the code;
      Repcolite Metl-Clad
      Code: B-1Y30, C-24, D-5, L-24
      This seems to be very durable so far, I remember when they painted our machines in the shop the brand of paint they used Glidden.

      • automatic tranny fluid works better with the 3M pads and you don’t have the rust problems. it works on most metals and is cheap as i use the used oil i have changed out of auto’s that needed it. It looks like you did a fine job and all that is lacking to make this Bridgeport last longer and stay in the shape it is in is a oiler. These can be picked up on ebay for about 80 to 300 bucks the 80 dollar one is fine and is no problem to plum in. good luck and keep at it

  2. Regarding a comment that whitewolf made about a oiler for the mill, how much of the machine are you oiling. Have been studying new mills and the plumbing seems quite intricate and involved. Any tips on how you did it would be very helpfull.
    Your mill turned out beautiful. Getting close to paint on my old M head. At some point, someone used the oiling ports to lube the mill with a grease gun. Made a real mess, so a total teardown was in order. It had so many layers of paint and rust under a lot of the paint, I also stripped mine down to bondo, they hid a lot of poor casting with all that mud. I dont intend to do a 100% restoration on it , but want to end up with something to be proud of.

    • My machine has zerk fittings, at the time I was not prepared to invest more in an oiling system such as the one shot oiler. My intent was to lube it with a modified oil can which by the way didn’t work so I happen to find a lube gun at McMaster Carr that is made just for using oil. This looks like a grease gun but it is specifically made for forcing oil at high pressure, works great and much less than $$$ than installing a one shot system.($65). Each to his own, I don’t mind having to lube my machine this way, if were making a living using it, it would be a different story.
      I plan on installing a DRO system on it next year, it was suppose to happen this year but other things got in the way. Funny, it has sat covered up for the last 3-4 months and unused, just too many other irons in the fire.
      If I were you and had everything tore apart it would be a great time to put a one shot oiler on it but if you are on a tight budget the zerks with McMaster-Carr’s gun works just fine.

      Rick

  3. Looks great. My dream would be to have my 1954 machine look as good as yours. Mine needs a few things before it will even run.

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