Machinery Hunting

I was on the Practical Machinist forum the other day and came across a post about machinery heading to the melting pot.  I clicked on it and found out that a scrap yard had bought out a closed down machine shop.  The scrap yard planned to smash them all but wanted to give folks a change to buy them before hand.  Not to mention, he’ll make more selling them whole than in pieces.  Shockingly, the scrap yard was outside of Tallahassee which is relatively close to me.  Usually, this kind of thine happens in the Midwest or some other far off place.  The owner posted  some pics of the machinery and I spied a vertical mill that I was interested in.  There was a whole lot more machinery including some horizontal mills, saws, and Hardinge lathes.

I was just going to pick up a mill but Gill kept going on and on about the Hardinge lathes. Eventually, that took hold in my head.  Gill is an enabler!

In a whirl, I secured a truck from my friend, reserved a trailer and talked Chris into going to Tallahassee.  We drove over there and dove into the sea of machinery.  When they unloaded the tools, they packed them into a corner under a lean to as you can see below.  The mill is on the outside but the lathe was buried back in the corner.


Luckily, the folks at the scrap yard had a fork lift and were able to extract the machinery.  They set the lathe on the trailer first.


Next, came the milling machine.  They used one of their big machines to get the mill onto the trailer.  My confidence is a little lacking when it comes to lifting straps and I kept my fingers crossed during the move.  Happily, everything worked out without issue.


I also grabbed a small Ex-cell-o grinder I thought would be useful.  Chris picked up a granite surface plate seen on the front of the trailer in the pic below.  With it all on the trailer, we strapped it down and went to pay.  I tend to use an excessive amount of straps because it beats the alternative of not using enough.


I’d rented the trailer for a day and really wanted to get it back before getting charged for the second day.  I’m cheap like that.  So, even though it was dark when we got home, we started unloading.  We used my engine crane and pinch bar to get the machinery off the trailer.  We walked the lathe to the back of the trailer, lifted it, and drove the trailer out from under it.  Then we lowed it onto the engine crane’s legs and used it as a dolly to take the lathe inside.  The mill was more difficult.  To get it to the back of the trailer we put the engine crane on the trailer and first used it to turn the mill around.  Next, using the crane and a come along we walked the mill to the back of the trailer.  When picked up by the next, the bottom of the mill swings forward.  We used this to slowly inch the mill forward and slightly turn it.  The mill was lifted, the trailer was driven out from under it, and it was set down in the driveway where it stayed for the night.


Here’s a better view of the Hardinge Lathe.  It’s a HLV tool room lathe that has a good reputation.  Hopefully, it’ll just take some cleaning up to get it going.


The mill is a German made Fritz-Werner mill.  There’s not much on the internet about them that I could find but what was there indicated they were good machines.  It’s smaller than a Bridgeport and should work well for me.  No, I didn’t lose the front hand wheel.  It’s just been removed temporarily.


The mill has a 415V 3 phase 50 Hz motor.  I have 240V single phase coming out of the wall.  So, one of the things I’ll be building soon is a rotary phase converter with a step up transformer.  The lathe takes 440 as well.  Der motorplaten.


I also grabbed a bunch of taper shanked drill bits, tool holders for the mill, and other related items.  Some are too big for me to use and I hope to sell them off to pay for some of this.


As you might imagine, my small garage is now overflowing.  It’ll be getting reorganized soon while I start to clean up the machinery.  I’ve also got the word out to folks who might stumble across the parts I’ll need to power the mill and lathe.  It looks like I’ll be busy for a while.

This entry was posted in Metalworking, Tools and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Machinery Hunting

  1. alanfrost43 says:

    Looks like you did rather well. The Hardinge lathe is an excellent lathe and if it just needs a clean up will be excellent. They are not that rare so should be easy to pick up any parts ,tooling needed altho in the uk these parts not cheap. I also have a Fritz Werner very similar to the one you have now but its a 5.160 which is a Horizontal and vertical converted by just swinging the head through 180 degrees (no heavy lifting). I have not done anything with it as I also have a beautifully restored Haighton Major (details on the website) a very well built and rare copy of a hardinge small mill.

    Hope you don’t mind if I add a word of warning based on my own bad judgement. It is vey easy to acquire more machines than one has space for which makes it very difficult to work on the machines or use them and there is a danger that you end up like me quite old and realising that one is never going to restore all the machines or have a lot of time to use them. Hopefully you seem young enough and energetic enough for this not to be a danger but beware as you get older.

    Regards Alan

  2. alanfrost43 says:

    Bit of extra information-In the UK the model of Fritz-werner you have (and my 5-160) is very rare and getting handbook is a nightmare. I do have a badly copied handbook of sorts (for the 5-160) so if you need one I would be willing to copy this for you altho there are differences in the head as mine is also horizontal. As a matter of interest every small Fritz Werner I have seen has a Rockwell plate attached. Your version and mine are very small for F Ws. F W made many models of mill and a lot of other machinery.

    I spent hours on www searching for a handbook or further info with not much luck. There is still a FW company but now in India and they know nothing of these early machines,made in Germany. They are built to a very very high standard and very rugged for a small mill but pretty limited in capacity with not a lot of daylight under the quill and limited x and y travel as you’ve probably noticed. Due to their high quality build they are sometimes described as “the rolls royce of small mills”

    • davidjbod says:

      Thanks for commenting! I’m happy to hear your positive words about about the mill. Its seems like a pretty stout mill given its size. It looks like your mill is a smaller version of mine with similar features. I’d love to have a copy of the manual as I too am having trouble finding any info on the machine other than from Your manual should at least give me some info on basic operation and lubrication. Please send me an email at and we can work out the details for the manual. Do you know if the Rockwell on our machines is the same Rockwell company that made a lot of woodworking machinery? I’m sorry to hear that FW has been bought out. I checked out their homepage and am not sure if they even make machinery any more.

      Ha. Yeah I could easily see myself buying more machines than I have space for. I just sold some of my woodworking machinery to a friend to free up some more space. I’ll have to see how I do in the long run! Thanks again for the comments. Feel free to email pics of your machinery, as I like to see them.


  3. steve says:

    Hi David

    I have just bought the exact same mill….were you able to acquire a manual?
    I also have 220v single phase…do you have a schematic or plan for the transformer you built to power the machine please?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated…
    I am in South Africa and can find no local support for the lathe
    Regards steve

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s