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when would you change an old machine ?

laurent12100

Aluminum
Joined
Sep 7, 2023
Hi, As a reminder

- I work alone
- the workshop is 2 years old
- I have 3 old machines ( lathe 3axis1989 - VMC 1991- brother 1999)
- and I'm running out of space.
- I have a bit of work but no vision.
- little cash flow

In connection with my recent post where I'm looking for the best option for the future of the workshop,

I'm in a workshop that I own, but I've run out of space so I can't keep my old machines if I buy a newer one.

the big question is when would you change machine?
having 2 mills, i can use it until it breaks down and is not repairable or not profitable to repair. (is this good logic?)

my lathe is a NUM750, well equipped because I have 12 live tools (tapping, speed x3) mounted in vdi30.
There's little chance of finding a machine that uses these live tools.
My parts use milling tools a lot, and my turret only has 6 stations that drive the tools

I'd like to keep it as long as it works to save money, but if it breaks down and after a period of problem identification and research it turns out that the machine can't be repaired.

I'm afraid to waste a lot of time finding a machine that suits my needs + transport + financing ...


if you're interested in this subject, I'd be delighted to hear from you.

thanks in advance
 
- I have a bit of work but no vision.
- little cash flow

I am going to say the dumb thing with no experience in what you are asking to back it up. Am I wrong in thinking that these two comments of yours may be some kind of priority to sort first?

I am just trying to pick experienced guys brains here but that stood out like a sore thumb to me.
 
Typically the advice would be to replace the oldest machine for financial reasons .........however as you are not making anything ,tax likely isnt an issue ............and it seems you dont live in a state where all your possessions are valued for tax assessment.
 
Too many variables missing to make anything we say worthwhile.

Machines won't bring in more work or create vision for your shop. Newer equipment will, in some cases, finish the job faster with better quality.

I keep waiting for a slowdown to pick up some lightly used equipment, don't be one of the people forced to sell to me. Make sure the work requires the new iron.
 
Change for the following.
Efficiency.
Reliability.
Wear.

Lots of good money being made on old machines. But they have to be efficient, reliable and accurate. Big difference between balls to the wall production where every second counts, general job shop or multi sided complicated work requiring 5 axis.
 
Typically the advice would be to replace the oldest machine for financial reasons .........however as you are not making anything ,tax likely isnt an issue ............and it seems you dont live in a state where all your possessions are valued for tax assessment.
for me tax is on benefit, so at the end of the years I can says, maybe it's interresting to change my machine



my question was more like this :

would you take the risk of losing 1 month (breakdown, machine search then purchase)

or would you go for a slightly more recent machine, of which there are many models on the market, so it's easier to repair?

of course, the breakdown factor is a bit random, because an old machine can last longer than a new one. that hard
 
You are in good position in that you want and could use new to you machines yet have a stable full now that will get you till the next machine shows up within your budget.
Throw a dollar extra in the piggy bank every week and the options grow.
 
What kind of shape are the machines in?
Do they hold tolerance?
Are they still supported?
I run much older machines and they make money.
for the lathe
Good shape & hold tolerance !
for the support, when I began my studies 17 years ago NUM's NC already seemed to be non-existent on the market.

so I will stay like that, :)

thanks all
 
I would say run them until the repairs out weigh the profits. If they still hold tolerances and can run without a hiccup then there really isn't a reason to buy new. As stated above, make money with the ones you have until you're forced to upgrade.
 
or would you go for a slightly more recent machine, of which there are many models on the market, so it's easier to repair?
My take is anything you buy used will need repairs...period.
So, you get rid of an older machine you are familiar with to buy one you know nothing about and now............ you'll fix that one......
What did you gain?
Unless you must have a specific option, or the old present one simply can't keep up (doesn't sound like that's the case) I see no reason to change anything.
Got time on your hands?.....clean and paint the ol girls up, make them look new...won't make one cent but you night feel better :D
 
Hi, As a reminder

- I work alone
- the workshop is 2 years old
- I have 3 old machines ( lathe 3axis1989 - VMC 1991- brother 1999)
- and I'm running out of space.
- I have a bit of work but no vision.
- little cash flow

In connection with my recent post where I'm looking for the best option for the future of the workshop,

I'm in a workshop that I own, but I've run out of space so I can't keep my old machines if I buy a newer one.

the big question is when would you change machine?
having 2 mills, i can use it until it breaks down and is not repairable or not profitable to repair. (is this good logic?)

my lathe is a NUM750, well equipped because I have 12 live tools (tapping, speed x3) mounted in vdi30.
There's little chance of finding a machine that uses these live tools.
My parts use milling tools a lot, and my turret only has 6 stations that drive the tools

I'd like to keep it as long as it works to save money, but if it breaks down and after a period of problem identification and research it turns out that the machine can't be repaired.

I'm afraid to waste a lot of time finding a machine that suits my needs + transport + financing ...


if you're interested in this subject, I'd be delighted to hear from you.

thanks in advance
Age old questions. A lot of a variables of course, but I think that if the machines can’t hold tolerance, which is not in my personal experience (Okumas), or if the machine goes down and the cost of repair (electrical, mechanical) is your version of astronomical, then it’s time to make that tough decision to upgrade. As long as your brain is flexible enough to learn a new(er) machine, you will be happier with a newer and faster way to make parts. Lastly, Section 179 (finally made permanent) allows you to deduct the cost of machinery right off the bottom line.
Make the smaller space you have as efficient as possible.
 
I am a cautious guy but this I have often thought about.

I have heard so many say this yet 10 years later they are still waiting, and the slowdown is always just around the corner.

The takeaway is that things could crash tomorrow, or may not crash for over 10 years. Make buying decisions that would be workable in both situations.

When times are good, sure, buy what's needed to grow with the work you have, but be sure that it's not going to kill you if the market crashes tomorrow. Maybe that means don't spend so much, maybe it means buy with little/no debt. Maybe large cash reserves.

And second to that, a purchase either makes sense, or it doesn't. Don't hold out waiting for the market to drop, if you have a need for a machine. If you have the work, and the current machine pricing/availability/etc is within the realm of profitable, and still falls within the confines of the last paragraph, buy it regardless of how strong the market is. Profitable is profitable, and waiting for the 'right deal' can leave a lot on the table.
 
The takeaway is that things could crash tomorrow, or may not crash for over 10 years. Make buying decisions that would be workable in both situations.

When times are good, sure, buy what's needed to grow with the work you have, but be sure that it's not going to kill you if the market crashes tomorrow. Maybe that means don't spend so much, maybe it means buy with little/no debt. Maybe large cash reserves.

And second to that, a purchase either makes sense, or it doesn't. Don't hold out waiting for the market to drop, if you have a need for a machine. If you have the work, and the current machine pricing/availability/etc is within the realm of profitable, and still falls within the confines of the last paragraph, buy it regardless of how strong the market is. Profitable is profitable, and waiting for the 'right deal' can leave a lot on the table.

I know exactly what you mean. As someone who also dreams of self employment I just don't have time to wait for the right time. I want to build something great and leave a legacy for whoever is around when I am gone. If I wait and wait and wait I am going to be an old man with nothing to show for it.
 
Time for a forensic, spreadsheet, analysis of where you are making money, where you are spending money and what the real bottom line is. Set the thing up so you can re-run it each year to see how things change. Not forgetting an addendum to cover potential repair costs or replacement if a machine goes down temporarily or permanently.

As has been said previously the fundamental reasons for replacing a machine that runs satisfactorily right now are faster, holds tolerances better or extra capabilities letting you bid on more and hopefully more lucrative types of job. Another spreadsheet addendum. Watch out for the "machine Tool Dealer Syndrome" temping you to grab a bargain now whilst values of the machine you will be replacing seem high to hopefully reduce net cost of upgrade.

In my view you should run these analyses every year to keep a consistent understanding of how the business is doing and what your options are. Once you have the spreadsheet set up its easy to add another year. Far too easy to be seduced by a shooting star and make changes chasing a short term opportunity that neither covers its costs or provides something that you can build on for the long term. Equally when running older machines in a moderately steady business it's easy to end up consuming your own capital so when change is forced on you there are no resources to respond. Technically whats known as zombie business. Sometimes consuming your own capital does make sense but you need to have it figured out.

If you have the spreadsheet it's a heck of a lot easier to figure out whether to spend and chase when opportunity knocks or let it pass as a bad fit longer term.

For a simpler scenario consider the "guy with a truck" doing things like yard work, plumbing et al. Several options when getting the truck.
1) Buy new run it into the ground and buy new again.
2) Buy cheap and keep fixing it when it breaks.
3) Buy new and sell when the warranty/free servicing et al runs out.
4) Buy the one no 3 has just sold and sell it when the servicing costs go up.
5) Buy the one no 4 has just sold and either run it into the ground or sell when it's worn enough to be a cheap fixer upper.
6) Buy new and sell when it's at the age where servicing costs go up.

Mighty Big Industries tends to sort of follow strategy 4, usually based on time of ownership and estimate of resale values.

Start ups generally follow strategy 2 of necessity but DIY fixing is more expensive than it seems at first sight. If done in working hours your hourly rate is twice shop rate and the fixing hours are gone forever when it comes to getting work which can be a significant opportunity lost cost. Strategy 2 locks you into permanent start up or "I bought my job" mode seriously limiting the business prospects. Real businesses can pay people to fix.

Obviously all strategies can be made to work by Guy with a Truck but thinking you are running one strategy but are actually running a different one can be disastrous. Machine shop versions of the strategies will be more complex and generally something of a mix but you must know that what you think are doing financially corresponds to what you are actually doing.

Clive
 
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my busines evolved a lot, at first I only had a lathe, and I made parts after my work,
then I found a milling machine and that continued,

a little later I went into business for myself with financial assistance, doing machining repairs and a bit of welding for friends, but it wasn't a good idea because I wasted time, in fact I wasn't thinking of starting an NC machine shop,

there's no industry (customer) in my area, and above all I knew it would cost a lot of money.

A friend and I had made a product that we had machined elsewhere.


I ended up finding this old CNC lathe, and I took out a loan, which allows me to make my own parts and not subcontract any more.


It took me a long time to set up the machine, then the software, then the programming.

Then I developed other parts, and logically I looked for an old VMC to open up new possibilities (subcontracting and products).


I was lucky to find this old mazak from 1991, it was a lot of pressure and still time to set up.


Then I brought in 2 customers with parts that weren't easy, because I wasn't using CAM... and at that point the mazak spindle broke... it was a hard blow that I'm sure you've all experienced...


I saved time by dismantling and reassembling, but in all I lost 1 month on this machine and 8000€ in costs.

then i found this brother opportunity with a new spindle!

here's where I'm coming from and why I'm wondering a bit haha
 








 
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