The new-to-me milling machine

I found this little mill on Craiglist in Santa Rosa, CA. I contacted the seller in October while still living in Colorado, knowing we’d be moved to CA in the next month or two. The back and forth we had on email made me pretty sure I was the one for this mill. He basically took if off CL and ‘reserved’ it for me to see first.

It’s really hard finding a good horizontal mill. I had looked all year and this is the only one I found that most closely matched my search criteria. I didn’t want a massive Cincinnati or the like that is too much machine and needed a significant overhaul. Those are what commonly show up from old machine shops selling stuff through CL. They don’t know the history of the machine, or even if they work!  On the other hand, this Diamond mill was in a nice guy’s garage, weighed 800lbs (similar but lighter than a Nichols which I was holding out for with no luck), and he had received it from his dad who had used it for many years previous. His dad had bought it from their cousin some years before that. So the history of this machine was well known and that’s helpful for something made in the 40’s or 50’s. I rented a little Uhaul trailer and my engine lift to his house to check out.  I knew I wanted it and after talking and testing it out, I paid him $500 and we started loading it up.

It wasn’t until then that he asked me what I was going to primarily use the mill for, and I said I was going to be mitering tubes to make bicycle frames and forks.

Funny thing, he said, his cousin used the mill to do that exact thing after high school many years ago. He asked if I had ever heard of “Tom Ritchey”…

“Um…yeah, I’ve heard of Tom Ritchey…”

“That was his mill!”, he said. “My dad bought it from him years ago!”

Um, COOL! I have Tom Ritchey’s milling machine!! (Tom, if you randomly stumble upon this humble blog can you please verify?)  I had to believe the seller as I had already paid for the mill, so he didn’t need to make the hard sell. What’s weirder is that I contacted this guy just after posting this blog about Ritchey, linking a Vimeo video about him and showing him brazing a frame in his lap.

So the mill has some bicycling heritage behind it which I hope to continue. The table has seen some use, but the ways look and feel great. I have done no testing/tramming to see how square it is to the spindle. The motor was replaced with a 1HP/220v GE from a 3/4HP 115v stock motor. Not sure why but this made it so I have to run 220 in series to this and my welder.  It came with a small 4″ mill vise with no brand marked on it, the vise wrench is an Armstrong so maybe it’s one in the same. The mill is belt-driven with two belts running for each speed. So yeah, it’s only got 3 speeds and I have no clue what they are yet. The slowest looks to be around 100 or 150 rpm which will be great for coping tubes.

I was planning on setting it up with the chainstay mitering fixture trammed and bolted to the table. It’ll hang off the left side a lot but doesn’t get in the way of anything (only one X-axis feed on the right side of the table). The vise on the right side of the table would be used with tube blocks to slot stays and make bridges. But first, I’m going to try and mount the 8″ rotary table and Anvil MTMF on it. I’m told that there’s a newly released horizontal baseplate attachment for my MTMF in the mail from Don (!!). That’ll give me a reason to take if off my vertical mill and mount it up to the Diamond. I really hope it fits, as it can do a ton of different miters when used horizontal like slotting AND unicrown blades. The rotary table may hang off the side too much and not be rigid enough, we’ll see.

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