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Radial Arm Drill search


Oct 6, 2019
As many of you now know, we are undergoing a start-up of our fab shop. A few months ago I was inquiring about mag-drill models and alot of you recommended biting the bullet and buying a radial arm drill. Today I plan to do just that!

My primary question is regarding brands/models. My budget is around $6000. The size of the machine does not need to be massive. (Some of these drills are monsters!) I would prefer to stay around a 4 ft model. No more than 6 ft. I've been looking for good used Carltons and wanted feedback on whether there is a certain year I need to target. Does a 1950 & 1979 have the same basic features?

In that process have come across a large variety of brands. Are there any other brands that are good units? We do not expect to use this unit alot but feel it will be a big help in drilling out mounting plates and frames, etc that are slow or too big to do on the mill.
Cincinnati Bickford on ebay

The last shop I worked in had a small one made in Taiwan. It seemed to be a copy of a Carlton but very small. Only about 3' reach. Don't remember the brand but it was a very good machine.
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I would buy on condition, not year.

Some of the import radials are real anemic, don't waste your money.

I have a 3' arm import radial drill and it almost never gets used because it's too small or too wimpy. I use HBM for most things that could be done on the radial. HBM seems easier to fixture almost everything.

If you're ever planning to get an HBM I wouldn't bother with the radial drill.
Where are you located? There is a very nice Giddings and Lewis about the right size that looks almost brand new on my local Craigslist (NW Indiana).
I had the Cincinnatti Bickford mentioned before....lovely drill......but IMHO it had a fault.....arm bearing on the pillar too short......top speed was 1500 revs ,which is unusual in radials......anyhoo,I didnt have it long,it was ex army ,unused ,virtually new .....any many lusted after it.....I sold it to Rolls Royce ....thats right ...Rolls Royce.
I've got a Morris Mor-Speed we've used for years and I've been thinking about selling to put in a big Carlton one. Pretty stout with a #5 Morse taper. Might have other stuff you'd like to look at too. Richard
Where are you located? There is a very nice Giddings and Lewis about the right size that looks almost brand new on my local Craigslist (NW Indiana).
Central Ohio. I will check it out. I looked at FB but not craigslist. Thanks!
Of those two I’d take the “ Arboga “.

Regards Tyrone.

I have one just like that Supermax and it's not much of a drill. It won't push much of a drill with the head away from the column. It's comfortable with 3/4" and smaller twist drills. Bigger than that and it doesn't have the rigidity to feed them. The column just bends.

About the only thing I can think of that it was good at was drilling and tapping a bunch of electric motor shafts to 3/8-16. When I need to drill the side of a beam or plate and don't want to set it up on the HBM I use the mag drill. Mag drill has about the same capacity as the 9" radial drill.
Have a 1958 4x13 Cincinnati Bickford Super Service......very nice control layout, levers make sense .
Has push button column lock plus other things the std unit did not.
Makes it easy to "move" head to different locations....
We did a full tear down, refurbishment and paint, was totally surprised that we found almost zero wear....impressive for a machine that old. Cincinnati used a hardened steel "plate" on the cast arm for the rolling gib to travel, then uses a std gib to control the tilt.
Am happy with the 4 ft arm....not hard to rotate for the next position.
FYI it does weigh right at 13k
Collis made quick adapters which are the cats meow once you get used to them
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There is no compact radial arm drill that works.....they need plenty of rigidity in column and arm ,or they squirm about .....of all the brands Ive had ,Id say the Cincinnatti Bickford was the best......and that includes Asquith...........and as a bnus,CB are still in business,and supply spares for old stuff.......note I didnt say cheap spares.............Back in the day the army here were selling all the WW2 stuff,they sold a beautiful little Cincinnatti Gilbert ,unused.....but I missed that one ,and never seen another.
How far are you willing to travel to find one? There are currently 3 or 4 different size radial drills available at RH Liquidations in Waupaca Wisconsin.

I have no idea of the size or condition, but it might be worth giving them a call for more information. I've always avoided looking at them too closely. I'd love to have one, but it's not in the least practical for my shop. The owner's name is Ryan. He buys and sells almost any type of industrial equipment. Over the years I've purchased compressors, cold saws, and repair parts for lathes and mills. Prices have always been more than reasonable.
One thing be sure to check is the nut for the elevating screw.....usually there is a safety nut below the main nut,and you can get a good idea of wear .......the nut doesnt seem like much,but very costly to replace.