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Considering a Deckel FP4M

DUIofPhysics

Plastic
Joined
Jul 30, 2020
Hi everyone!

I'm about to set up my first machining shop / setup. Plan is to use it for prototyping / R&D with a few jobs for the local farmers & companies near me.

I'm familiar with operating a Bridgeport from prior experience.

Now, I've just come into the opportunity of maybe purchasing a Deckel FP4M instead of the Bridgeport. Price comes in around £8-10k + VAT
It's in near perfect condition - Ex MOD

What are your thoughts? I wouldn't have any other mill to hand other then this, and probably won't be buying another one for quite some while - do I splash out on the FP4M or go for the usual Bridgeport?
 
The Deckel is in a totally different league compared to the Bridgeport. BUT, you'll find that tooling up will be more expensive as you'll need to buy a lot of that from Europe. All that being said, I'd choose the Deckel over the Bridgeport without any hesitation.
 
regarding the choice of machine.look at it from a different angle. Ask yourself the type of work
you want to do.if the parts are long need a lot of X and z axis travel and your tolerances are say around 0.05mm and time is not an issue the bridegport is probably a good choice machine.it is also a hell of a lot cheaper to maintain and get spares if needed. i have used a lot of different machines and own 3 deckel's.
the deckel was never a cheap machine to maintain and is fantastic for toolmaking and precision work but not as universal as a brideport. i have seen work done on a well maintained brigeport which put my skills and knowledge
on european machine to shame. like with any kind of "manual work" it is the operator and the tooling which makes the difference.as long as you are aware of these things the choice is probably easier between the two machines.
ross will disagree but he is operating in a different league to any of us.

jens
 
... like with any kind of "manual work" it is the operator and the tooling which makes the difference....
Agree on this, but when machine wants to help you it makes life easier!

My 2 cents from the hobbyist point of view: For me, my Deckels were not so much about precision (because I rarely need ultra precision when I make stuff) as they are about versatility. Hobbyists might not actually make a living out of this but this does not mean we only do trivial stuff. Having a universal table in order to perfectly align an engine case or something similar is very helpful.
Also, being able to switch to working horizontally in seconds also is a game changer. Having multiple ways to do stuff is also precious. Consider having to cut a gear or a spline, you can use the indexer on the vertical slide, or on the angle table, vertical spindle or horizontal, whatever makes your setup easier.

If the setup calls for it you may drop the table a couple of slots and increase Z spindle-to-table considerably.
If you have critical flatness requirements you face with the horizontal and take knee-rocking out of the question (though this should not be an issue with a 'near perfect condition' machine).

Also, tool changes on an Deckel is something that is encouraged, you just reach for the drawbar and pull the tool out. On a BP some of us need a ladder to reach the drawbar :D.

Next, it's the table depth, it's much more comfortable to set stuff up on the table and clamp them with, say, 9 slots available compared to 3 (?) on a BP.

Finally (?), power feeds and rapids all around (and constantly variable for the 4M) are just amazing. For work, for setup, for indexing, just indispensable.
Also, for me, it feels very strange that the knee Z handle on a BP is removable, like the designers didn't intend for it to be used regularly. I guess most Z work is done with the quill on a BP, right?

If you plan on working often on long stuff, then a BP would make your life easier. Setting fences, unclamping and reclamping parts in order to compensate for X shortage is a pain, yet doable once in a while as long as it's not your everyday drill.

Finally (2), get the Deckel, who doesn't like nice stuff?? :)

BR,
Thanos
 
Switching from the BP to a slightly smaller machine then what you are considering the FP3. After years of running the BP I can hold some tight tolerances. It takes patience, time, and quality tooling. BP does put a lot of weight on head assembly, if you do push the machine you might find the need to retram the head assembly more often then you might like to. That was another reason to make the switch. I don’t push any of my machines, It not about making big blue chips for me.

Things that push me to purchase a Deckel is the versatile and accessory. Having the 40 taper gives you much better tooling flexibility. And with hydraulic tool holder gives you improved tool holding along with improved surface finish.

Time will tell if I made the correct decision in purchasing the FP3. Hoping to get mine home and under power in the next couple of weeks.
 
Thanks for the feedback and insight everyone. I think I'm definitely going to go for it if I can (trying to organize space / timing is coming to be tricky.) but it seems like a great opportunity, and who knows when one of these might come up again.
Bit concerned about spares, but anything electrical I should be able to retrofit / replace I figure, mechanics might be more concerning, as it would be my only manual mill. I do like the idea of it being a precision machine, I do like holding tight tolerances more often then not. First project with it will probably be making retrofit motor adapters for a Bridgeport Series 1 to convert it to LinuxCNC or something close. :D
 
I own both machines, the Bridgeport being my first mill bought off an auction site, and subsequently completely restored and retrofitted. 2 yrs ago I bought the FP4M from Germany and now can’t remember the last time I used the BP. Different worlds, and different styles of operating. My main memory of the BP was endlessly cranking up the Z axis. FP4M is all powerfeed, and despite what some people are reporting here, it’s a gloriously simple and robust mechanism. I know because I also dissected that machine on arrival and replaced all the bearings and central lubrication.
Good luck with whatever route you choose.

Kim
 
I own both machines, the Bridgeport being my first mill bought off an auction site, and subsequently completely restored and retrofitted. 2 yrs ago I bought the FP4M from Germany and now can’t remember the last time I used the BP. Different worlds, and different styles of operating. My main memory of the BP was endlessly cranking up the Z axis. FP4M is all powerfeed, and despite what some people are reporting here, it’s a gloriously simple and robust mechanism. I know because I also dissected that machine on arrival and replaced all the bearings and central lubrication.
Good luck with whatever route you choose.

Kim
That's great to hear!

I'm going to be getting a closer look at the machines tomorrow.

I'm bringing my DTIs with me.

What things do you recommend checking before agreeing to buy?

Also, any chance you have the manual? I'm getting a little worried of trying to test the machine and looking like a fool! haha.
 
Yes I’ve got a PDF of the manual. It is written in German and English, with cartoon drawings. It’s a good manual.
Well, it’s going to be a 40 yr old machine. There for sure is going to be some wear on the ways. Hopefully the previous users have kept it well oiled. Inevitabley some of the zerks will cake up with waxy oil and stop transmitting oil efficiently. Look at the very back of the machine near the botttom of the column for how much way oil has collected in the depression. If it’s full that means some of the zerks are blocked and not distributing the way oil to where it needs to go. Easily fixed though.
There are sight glasses on both the headstock (ram) (Y axis) and the power feed transmission box at the rear of the column. Ideally you would see some oil through both these glasses.
Other items to check- quill operating smoothly, DRO reading the same as the dials, all speeds and feeds dials operational, power feed levers operational. Hopefully all the bellows are in a usable state. Backlash on the x axis may be an issue, but a replacement nut is available from Franz Singer in Germany
There’s bound to be issues with a machine of this vintage, but I would say almost everything is fixable with enough willpower and funds.
Good luck!
 
Yes I’ve got a PDF of the manual. It is written in German and English, with cartoon drawings. It’s a good manual.
Well, it’s going to be a 40 yr old machine. There for sure is going to be some wear on the ways. Hopefully the previous users have kept it well oiled. Inevitabley some of the zerks will cake up with waxy oil and stop transmitting oil efficiently. Look at the very back of the machine near the botttom of the column for how much way oil has collected in the depression. If it’s full that means some of the zerks are blocked and not distributing the way oil to where it needs to go. Easily fixed though.
There are sight glasses on both the headstock (ram) (Y axis) and the power feed transmission box at the rear of the column. Ideally you would see some oil through both these glasses.
Other items to check- quill operating smoothly, DRO reading the same as the dials, all speeds and feeds dials operational, power feed levers operational. Hopefully all the bellows are in a usable state. Backlash on the x axis may be an issue, but a replacement nut is available from Franz Singer in Germany
There’s bound to be issues with a machine of this vintage, but I would say almost everything is fixable with enough willpower and funds.
Good luck!

Thank you for the insight! Any chance you'd be able to send me over the copy of the manual?

I am a bit worried about spares, but I figure electronics - I can fix without any real issue. Mechanics might be more problematic, but we'll reach that hurdle if we must.
I should be able to rebuild any clutches etc. if need be, it's not that hard to rewind a coil if you have a good one as a reference for resistance / wire diameter.

I admit the lack of continously variable speeds / feeds makes me wince a bit. But I suppose I'll get used to it - makes you take a more methodical approach to things I guess. + I can always throw a VFD on the spindle too.
 
I’m very happy to share manuals. I’ve never understood how manuals aren’t common domain. The question is how? Its 80 MB :))
 
I’m very happy to share manuals. I’ve never understood how manuals aren’t common domain. The question is how? Its 80 MB :))
Upload on this forum:

I haven't checked if it's there already but it's on well known other (french) forum, courtesy of our member Martin

And a link to the manual will appear everytime on searches or discusses FP4M.
 
Thanks guys, I think we're likely to be going ahead with it, I did find out on testing it even has a heidenhein rotary DRO for the rotary table built in!! 😍
There are a few bits of rust here and there, but none appear to be on too critical areas. Everything seemed to move nicely, and spindle runout was ~2um or less. Feeds and speeds seemed good, but I didn't get to try every combo, that said I feel confident in the machine being pretty good nick given it's ex military and has little use.

- Also going for a Colchester Master 2500 instead of the Harrison M300 in the end.
 








 
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