I have been on the lookout for a new lathe and mill since I could not bring mine from CT to CA. After quite a bit of research I decided on a re-manned and heavily upgraded Bridgeport mill. Since it has been years since Ive researched new machined tools, I had no idea what I wanted. I did decide that manual machines are still the way to go for my needs. Despite all the cool cmc equipment everyone is pushing on me, the need for a basic tool that serves basic needs without elaborate setup or programming outweighs any cool tricks a robot can do, at least for me. I obviously still need CNC capabilities for certain jobs, but I can continue to sub those jobs out to more computer savvy machine shops.
The main problem with my old “J-head” bridgeport mill was all the slop. I bought it used (extremely used), and everything was sloppy. In fact without the bed clamps cranked down the thing would jump and break mills right and left. It was also a “step pulley” type of variable speed, sim liar to a drill press. It worked fine, but was a nuisance to constantly put my hands in it. The new Bridgeport is essentially the same machine, but a bit newer, with power feeds, a dial operated variable speed, and no slop in anything.
Before buying this one, I scoured the internet looking for alternative brands of mill. I assumed that there was a manual machine that is superior to Bridgeport. What I found was that almost every manual mill available is based off off Bridgeport designs. About 80 percent of the mills I found were made in china, a few from other southeast asian countries, and Lagun from Spain. The Lagun was the runner up, but I couldn’t find one that was as tricked out as the Bridgeport.
The lathe is another story. My old lathe was a Chinese piece of junk, but I managed to make a lot of cool stuff on it over the years. Almost any lathe I buy will be an upgrade from that, but I have narrowed it down to Moriseki or Okuma, both from Japan. The american machines seem to be overly expensive, even if they are completely destroyed. They seem to be desirable no matter what the condition, and the prices are insane. There are dozens of Chinese machines, some better than others, but the Japanese machines seem like the best based on a variety of criteria. I found a great Moriseki at a local machine tool shop, but the air headed shop owner doesn’t seem to want to sell it to me. Maybe its the east coast accent, but nobody in this state seems to be in any hurry to sell anything! Its like you have to force them to take your check. Cali culture shock….
Other than machine tool shopping, I have been riding the shit out of the “Iron Triangle” and “Interceptor”. I finally had to suck it up and get a new rear tire and sprocket for the Interceptor. I had an aluminum sprocket on there, bought as part of a chain conversion kit from Zippers. I was hesitant to use aluminum over steel, and it turns out I had reason to be worried. It only lasted around 5000 miles before it was worn down to little nubs. The steel chain just ate the aluminum sprocket alive. I would not recomend these for street use (maybe that was obvious?). A little burnout simultaneously ended what was left of the sprocket and tire…
The Iron Triangle has also been put through a rigorous testing phase out here. The most obvious problem was that is simply wasn’t making enough power at low rpms, which makes sense given my cam choice. I selected a new cam that will raise my cylinder pressure a bit, and hopefully not hurt me too much on the top end. Since I was going in anyway, I decided to pop the heads off and have a look inside. I am using a copper 0 ring head gasket, which is an unusual arrangement for a street bike (usually more of a dragster setup), and there were signs of slight weepage. Not so much as to really effect performance, but just enough to allow a little bit of oil to escape after a long ride. I am going to tweak the head a bit to get a better seal, and perhaps try a slightly larger o ring. I also wanted to do a bit more headwork to improve flow, so Steg (psycho cycles) and I put our heads together and came up with a plan. Nothing revolutionary, just some common sense flow related upgrades. Getting rid of the stock valves in favor of some with slightly better shape, and also sinking them into the seats a bit further. In addition, I am going from the conventional double valve springs to Fueling “beehive” springs to lighten up the valve train upstairs. I am also shrinking the combustion chamber volume a bit, from 79cc to around 77cc, to get my compression where the new cam wants it.
Keep in mind my twin cam has a 3.5″ by 4.25″ bore and stroke, so nothing is a no-brainer bolt on as it would be with an 88 or 95 twin cam. One thing I can say with confidence though, is this bore and stroke combo sounds WAY better then the 3.75″ by 4″ of a twin cam 88. I see more small bore/long stroke motors in my future!
Thats all for now…