If you listen to the podcast you already know that I purchased a Rong Fu Mill Drill. While some people have issues with the round column, the mill drill is a significant step up in machine capacity and machining performance when compared to the X2 mini mill.
For those unfamiliar, the Rong Fu Mill Drill looks to be a heavily modified drill press. There are several size variations, but most utilize a R8 tapered spindle with provisions for a draw bar. The dovetail table has a relatively large travel of about 450 mm (over 17″) and 200 mm (just under 8″).
While there is much debate on the origins of the Taiwanese mill drills that started showing up in the 1970s, the most probable explanation is they are simply rather crude copies of the Fehlmann mill drill machines. Fehlmann is a Swiss machine tool manufacturer and they still build a number of mill drill machines, although I suspect you if have to ask the price you cannot afford them. Besides the very similar appearance, the main reason I think the Rong Fu mill drills are copies of the Fehlmann is primarily because of the tapered gibs on the Rong Fu table. Fehlmann being a Swiss machine tool company in and of itself is another telling reason why they were copied.
Round column mills are not just limited to two companies. Emco also manufactured several round column mills around the same time as Rong Fu started. A German company also manufactured a nice home shop mill drill branded as Ixion around the same time or slightly before the Rong Fus started flooding the home shop market.
The Rong Fu mill drill I purchased came with the typical flimsy tuna can stand that is oh so common on import machine tools. I did not purchase the machine new and the previous owner was selling the stand with it, otherwise I would have passed on the stand and just built one. Initially I was going to weld up a new stand out of 2×2 steel tubing, but then I thought could I just dump a bunch of concrete in the bottom and kill 2 birds with one stone; adding weight and rigidity? That and I find concrete a very useful engineering material in the home shop from previous antics.
And that’s exactly what I did. For less than $75 and one day’s home shop work, which is less than what the material alone would have cost for a tubing stand, I now have a rigid machine tool stand.
I’ll be posting further on the mill drill as I use it, but so far it has been a great addition to the shop.