Enco Mill Review
Product Review: Enco 9 x 42 Mill
Copyright © Stephen Chastain
The mill has become an essential piece of equipment in my home shop. I have had the Enco 9 by 42 step pulley mill for at least 10 years and there are several photos of the mill in the cylinder head article. The mill was purchased from the original Enco store (before it was bought by MSC) for $3495. It came with a 2 axis Sargon digital read out and I don’t remember if I paid extra for it (probably did). I bought the mill at an “end of the year sale.” You can still purchase this mill from Enco for about $3500 if you catch it on sale.
The mill arrived attached to large hardwood pallet. It weighs approximately 2400 pounds and is easily moved with a forklift. I recently moved 2380 pounds of scrap iron with my Chevy 1500 pickup truck so the mill could theoretically be moved longer distances with the pickup, provided that the pallet fits into the bed. Enco ships directly to your door so moving it around should not be a problem. You might be able to lift it with a large engine hoist but I would not try to remove it from a tuck bed using an engine hoist. I set the mill down on three or four sections of 2-inch diameter pipe to roll it across the garage floor, adding a section of pipe to the front of the mill as it rolled out the back side. A 1-inch by 5-foot long steel rod made an effective pry bar to move the mill into final position. I installed feet to level the mill and dampen vibration.
Upon arrival, the mill was coated with grease, which was easily removed with kerosene and a brush. During inspection, the on / off switch was broken, damaged in shipping. I added a replacement knob I had lying around and the switch worked for a few years before dying completely. A call to Enco had a replacement at my door in 2 days. I see this as a testament of quick service and the availability of replacement parts from Enco.
I was just starting out as a machinist when I bought this mill and it has survived my learning curve. I made some fairly abusive cuts with this machine and nothing is broken. It still keeps on going. After several years of use, I have noticed that when using a 3-inch face mill on an interrupted cut, there is a little deflection in the mill. While you can see it on the surface when milling aluminum, you can not feel it by running your finger over it. Several aluminum cylinder heads have been machined on this mill and this has not been a problem. Perhaps I could adjust the bearings and clean this up.
The Sargon DRO was installed by Enco and was ready for operation upon arrival. It works flawlessly and makes accurate location of holes easy. The mill is now shipped with Acu-Rite brand of DRO.
Some of the work pieces I cut push this mill to its maximum capacity. I purchased a 6-inch riser block to go between the mill base and the head so that I can fit larger engine blocks on the table. I have also removed the stops from the table to squeeze every bit of travel from the table. Eventually, I broke one of the Sargon glass scales. It costs about $500 to replace it. For just a little more than the price of the scale, I could purchase a Shooting Star 3 axis DRO.
Here is where I go from 5 stars to 4 in this review so read carefully.
The mill works well and does all that one would expect from it however if I had it to do over again, I would not select the factory DRO but use the Shooting Star DRO for two reasons. The first reason is the Shooting Star DRO scales are immune to breaking from over-travel. Second, for the price of the factory DRO, you could purchase BOTH the Shooting Star DRO and a 6-inch riser block for your mill. So this opinion is based on the selection of options rather than performance of the mill.
I am pleased with the mill and would buy it again.. or perhaps a 10 by 54.. I know I will eventually buy a 10 by 54 and an 18 by 60 lathe, provided I can hide them from my wife..