RF-45 Clone Mill
11/26/2009.
I've decided to get a big mill to handle some heavy duty milling jobs in steel. An X3 would not be much of an upgrade over the X2, it's still light duty at best when it comes to steel cutting. I don't have room in my basement shop for a kneemill or I would have bought one of the used ones from work years ago. The Rong Fu-45 is the next best thing to a kneemill. There are many clones made out there sold by many companies, I'll provide an Excel page that lists the 10 that I looked at.
The Industrial Hobbies mill is the king with much more X and Y travels than the standard RF-45 but the cost is about $1000 more. Don't think I can justify that much more money for travels I don't really need. The IH has about 30 in. X and 12 in. Y versus 22 in. X and 8 in. Y for the RF-45's.
Bet I could massage a little more out of them anyhow. There is an IH clone at Machine Tool Warehouse in Canada for about $400 less but with extra shipping costs it may be near the same,
I have an email sent for shipping costs. I want it delivered before Xmas since I have 2 weeks off to play around with it so that may change my choice. My first choice was the ZAY7045FG from Lathemaster.com but it seems thay won't have any in stock till Feb. '10, dealbreaker. A couple others have the basic mill at a similar price ($1500-1600).  I'm leaning toward the Grizzly G0484 right now, It costs more but comes with a stand, X axis power feed, powered Z and a work light.
Add my Shumatech DRO and it will be ready to go, I have no plan to CNC it anytime soon.
Should know more in a week or so.

Update: Got a response from MTW in Canada, shipping to me in WV would be $550, ouch, scratch that. It would be a little cheaper than the IH mill shipped but the IH looks a lot nicer.
Below is the Mill Comparison I did. You can download the Excel file Here.

Click to Enlarge

© 2007 Daniel E. Kemp

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Hoss RF-45 Mill Comparisons
12/05/2009
Settled on the RF-45 clone from Wholesale Tool, they call it a ZX45. Used NEWCUS for the coupon code and saved $74.75. I don't have semi access to my front door so I had to pay extra for a small truck with lift gate service, Total cost is $1727. Could have saved $150 if I went to pick it up at the terminal but the PITA factor is much less with it just being dropped in my driveway.
I picked up a hoist for my truck so that I can separate the mill into big hunks and swing them into the bed to haul around to the back of the house to the basement door. Wholesale Tool also had a stand on sale so I picked it up, I should more than enough clearance for the Z with it, I have 85 inches to the rafters and 93 inches to the ceiling in between for the motor to pass.
Discount Machine on Ebay has a real nice 6 inch vise for $104, I ordered it because it has flat sides so that I could mount it on it's side and clamp tall pieces of stock more sturdy.

wholesale tool zx45

wholesale tool zx45

truck bed crane

truck bed crane

wholesale tool stand

wholesale tool stand

discount machine 6 in vise

discount machine 6 in vise

12/13/2009
The mill arrived on Thursday 12/10/09 by a Lift Gate Service. Some "little" truck they sent, still a 28 foot semi. Hope the neighbors on their ways to work weren't too mad he had the road blocked off. Oh well. The driver actually wanted to deliver it late the night before but I was at work, he took it home with him and dropped it off on his way back to work Thurs morning, pretty cool. It's been covered with a tarp since then plus the crate was wrapped in plastic. Was a drizzly day but I couldn't wait, had to pop it open and check it out. Looks like I'll be able to take the head off pretty easy, then it's just the column and the base with the table. 3 big chunks the bed crane should be able to handle. I didn't want to drill holes in my bed liner to mount the crane in the bed, so I bolted it to the bumper instead. The frame bolts right to the steel bumper and I added a brace underneath so that the weight is handled by the frame. Should be good enough for 250 lbs. I'll have to make an allen wrench big enough for the no doubt metric column allen bolts. Came with a nice little vice,
well nice enough for my drill press anyway.

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ZX45

ZX45 "little Lift Gate"

ZX45 delivered

ZX45 delivered

Truck Bed Crane

Truck Bed Crane

ZX45 Sees Light of Day

ZX45 Sees Light of Day

ZX45 Accessories

ZX45 Accessories

ZX45

ZX45

ZX45 little vise

ZX45 little vise

12/14/2009
It's on the truck! Only 2 big pieces too. the head and all the rest. Used my chain hoist along with the bed crane to gently tilt the mill back onto the bed of the truck. Went back and forth between the 2 and it slowly slid up the board and into the truck. Nice and easy.
May have nicked the paint a little. Pulling it off the truck was no big deal, I have several overhead beams the chain hoist can hook onto. After supper I got it pulled into the base-
ment. The mill is in da house! Xmas break, I'll work on getting it assembled on the stand.

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ZX45 Moving Day

ZX45 Moving Day

ZX45 Head First

ZX45 Head First

ZX45 Get Up There

ZX45 Get Up There

ZX45 Ready for a Ride

ZX45 Ready for a Ride

ZX45 Off the Truck

ZX45 Off the Truck

ZX45 In Da House

ZX45 In Da House

ZX45

ZX45

ZX45 Head in Da House

ZX45 Head in Da House

12/30/2009
Been busy getting the mill setup and it's ready to rock now. I drilled a hole in the rafter above the mills stand and double looped a strap to hold the chain hoist. Put up a lally column next to it for extra support. The mill lifted up no trouble and I slid the stand underneath. I made a cardboard cutout to hold the 3 head studs in place. The cardboard worked great, readjusted the straps and the head lifted with the chain hoist nice and level. Slid onto the studs, put the nuts on then ripped out the cardboard. The mill sounds pretty quiet thru all the gears and all the buttons work.
I measured the heights, the bottom of the base to top of column on is 43.5 inches.
With the head raised so the head dovetail is flush with the top of the column,
the motor sticks up another 14 inches. Could probably over travel an inch or 2 if someone wanted to. My stand is 28.5 inches tall so I just lucked out. The motor would just touch my rafter at max Z height, total 86 inches. I ordered a cheaper     1/2-13 clamping kit with 5/8 nuts though it's actually metric slots. The first job on the mill was cutting down the case hardened T-nuts. Made another test cutting some mild steel .200 DOC, cut like butter. The last pic shows an X2 table and spindle head
on the ZX45 for comparison.

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ZX45 Cardboard Cutout

ZX45 Cardboard Cutout

ZX45 Front

ZX45 Front

ZX45 Right

ZX45 Right

ZX45 Left

ZX45 Left

ZX45 Milling Steel

ZX45 Milling Steel

ZX45 vs. X2 Parts

ZX45 vs. X2 Parts

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