I bought my "Central Machinery" 3in1 mill/drill/lathe from Harbor Freight about four years ago. It's a model/part # 44142. I've used it mostly for hobby gunsmithing.
Here's a pic from Harbor Freight's site -Harbor Freight 3-IN-1 METALWORKING MULTIPURPOSE MACHINE WITH MICRO FEED
ITEM 44142-0VGA $1499.99
Here's some of the pros and cons that I've found:
- It's cheaper than a Smithy
- Uses standard R8 collets in mill quill
- Easily disassembleable
- 20" AR-15 barrels fit easily
- Adaptable to most US tooling
- Good assortment of gearing (including Metric conversion gear)
- Two separate identical motors
- Fits on standard 30" x 60" US metal desk
- Cheap Chinese materials
- Cheaply made/wound motors
- Screws not long enough throughout
- "3/4 HP" motors overheat easily
- Belts slip fairly easily
- No quill stop on drill/mill head
- Takes a while to change gearing - not a quick change gearbox
- Gearing specs are different in printed manual vs plates on machine
- Not a lot of cross feed = about 7 inches
- No brake or lock on quill
- Truck delivery only - better have a dock or forklift or pickup yourself
- Needs to be propped up higher than feet allow - 4" to 6" more
Both motors failed within about 6 weeks (at different times). A motor shop diagnosed it as incorrect point gap in the capacitor start pointsets. (I'm not an electrician; that's the best I could understand it). One cap burned out due to this. Motor guy told me the Chinese motors were very cheaply made - thick armature wire with few windings vs a good motor with thin wire and many windings. (However, Baldor makes a comparable 3/4 HP motor that can be made to fit). My quill drawbar broke in a couple months, right at the weld. I made up a new one, fitted with a barn-job extension to clear a "snout" on the fan belt guard (which has now been removed, so I can take apart all those nuts on the drawbar). The screw that holds the tailstock threaded nut in position sheared off; I installed a longer/stronger one. The T-slots are a non-standard size; either buy Harbor Freight Chinese hold-down set or modify US T-nuts. There is a lot of slop in the cross/length feeds, and it's non-adjustable. The increments on the dials are not true; there is as much as .013" mismatch in one revolution of the quill feed handle. (It reads ".04" per increment, but the increments actually average .037"). The mill head has limited space available unless you remove the lathe chuck (I don't). The lathe uses 30 weight oil for the bearings, and it leaks steadily. Deck plate on the cross feed is not hardened; it gouges easily when changing vise, toolposts, angle plates, etc.
US capacitor installed on lathe motor - wouldn't fit in holder, so it just hangs down. Fan guard quill stack removed. Quill stop fabricated and installed. Quill wrench fabricated - there is no way to hold the quill from rotating while tightening/loosening mill collets. I used 2x4's to lift up the base; there's no clearance for your hands on the feed wheel/threading lever/lock. "Snout" on fan guard removed.
All in all, it is worth the price, as long as you are aware that it requires frequent repair/maintenance. The biggest drawback to me is the lack of a quick change gearbox. I've owned a Bridgeport 2J mill and a South Bend 14 1/2" x 60" engine lathe, both with quick change gearboxes, and it is worth upgrading to a Smithy just for that aspect. The dials are not reliable, a magnetic base dial indicator is a must for precision work. The machine has strange graduations per revolution; tailstock is .125" (1/8") per rev, but quill crank is .120" per rev.
Here's some pics of my setup:
Mounted on metal desk
Motor with US capacitor
Extra supplied gearing for lathe gearbox
Repaired tailstock (new screw not visible)
Extended drawbar, and fan guard w/snout removed
Quill dial with wildly incorrect increment marking
Here's what I plan to upgrade to (hopefully, next year) - a Smithy
. With a *quick change* gearbox!!! Smithy Granite Max
Granite 1340 MAX $4,099.00 Code: GN-1340 MX
I really should have saved up and bought one of these initially...