I've owned a Unimat with most accessories since the late 1960's and am well aware of its shortcomings. The issue of flex in the metal bars used for its bed can be addressed a number of ways. The various magazines devoted to the home shop have had articles on this issue, including some on building inexpensive braces to firm up the rails.
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Had the Sherline been available when my Unimat was purchased, it would have been a far better choice for model railroad use. Thus I agree with Karl's comments. But I also agree with whomever noted that one should buy the largest and most expensive machine they can accomodate and afford. In my case, since my father passed away and I no longer have good access to a full machine shop, I'm not sure the Sherline would do because its a bit small for most gunsmith work.
But that is an issue unique to my situation, not that of most model railroaders, the vast majority of whom could do very well with a Sherline or comparable rig.
Cordially, Don Valentine
--- In STMFC@..., Karl Peters <krlpeters@...> wrote:
Of the machines mentioned, the Sherline is most likely the best, with the Taig a very close second. Sherline does have far more accessories available, and you can also purchase a package that includes the most needed accessories to get you started. They also have very good customer support, and there is also a web group. (I believe there is also one for Taig.)
Horsepower should not be an issue, unless you intend to machine the more hard to machine metals such as stainless steel. Table size can be increased by use of an auxiliary milling table. The one I use on my Sherline mill is a piece of 6"x8"x1/2" aluminum I 'rescued' from the scrap bin at were I work, with a grid of 10-32 screw holes, along with a few extras that were needed to do certain jobs.
The Micro-Mark/Harbor Freight size machine would be more useful in large scales or if you intend to do serious metalworking. I have been told that there are often quality issues with this machine, especially if purchased from a lower price vendor.
I have been using both the Sherline mill and lathe for 15 years now, building both HO-scale models and small steam engines. I also have over 30 years experience, as a machinist, mostly on Bridgeport-type mill.
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