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  1. #1
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    Default Slideway grinders go for a song

    In the last 2 weeks I have been involved in two two auctions that have high lighted how terrible the engineering landscape has become.

    The first was a engineering firm in Bankstown that had been involved in general aviation machining for ?50+ years. Some CNC (lathe, machining centre, surface grinder), EDM machines but mostly good, well maintained manual machines .... think Jones and Shipman, Colchester, Moore etc. He had also amassed an amazing array of vintage metrology. Now I was like a boy in a candy shop but I was almost on my own. Barely anyone else got even remotely interested and the auctioneer had a hard time even getting a bid for a lot of it. To say they were give away prices did not even do it justice.

    The second was todays Graysonline auction at Smithfield in Sydney which was selling its (among other things) Slideway grinding machines. A few years ago I wrote to the 3 remaining slideway grinding businesses in Sydney that I could find to ask if I could visit and have a look at some machine restoration work with the slideway grinders. The only one to reply was CNC engineering at Smithfield. So about a year or two ago when I was in Sydney with a day to spare I headed out to the workshop for the day. Now I must admit I didn't know what sort of reception a bloke from the country with nothing more than a long time passion for vintage engineering would get but I need not have worried. I met 3 of the nicest blokes you would ever come across and they could not have been more welcoming. They took a lot of time to show me around and give me a great tour of the workshop. No worries about OHS or HiViz, boots,glasses etc The grinding hands said I was the first person who had ever visited just because they were interested in 30 years. Unfortunately on the day I visited they were not doing any grinding as they were just pulling down a big Russian lathe to regrind in the coming days, so I arranged to come back again next time I was in Sydney a see them doing some actual grinding. So I visited a couple of times and it was great. The last time was a couple of months ago when the decision had been made to close the business. Work had been declining for some years and they had finally decided to close that part of the business (they also sold and retro fitted CNC machines and more recently started selling industrial 3D printers). The auction was today and for anyone who followed it the grinders went for a song. The 6 footer made $229 plus extras, the 10footer about the same and the big 16 footer made $999. I know how disappointed the owners will be as they were very proud of the work they did with those machines. I brought the 6 footer but it will be sad when I go to collect it next week knowing I gave so little for it. Not sure I will be able to look them in the eye.

    http://www.graysonline.com/lot/0009-...-no?redirect=0

    We have all discussed the reasons why things have got to where they are but every few months there seems to be a new low point. Older manual machines seem completely on the outer and even machinery dealers no longer seem interested. We all knew this was coming and I am not sure the bottom has been reached with a lot of big businesses planning to close in the next few years.

    On a brighter note will post some pictures of the grinder and the Moore jig grinder when they come out of shinkwrap. Also finally ran the planer last night for the first time (minus the table). Few more minor bugs to iron out but I love that machine already.

    Cheers

    Mark

  2. #2
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    Looked like A nice little machine. I bid against you on some straight edges. Now I just need to find a way to get them
    BETTER TO HAVE TOOLS YOU DON'T NEED THAN TO NEED TOOLS YOU DON'T HAVE

    Andre

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by welder View Post
    Looked like A nice little machine. I bid against you on some straight edges. Now I just need to find a way to get them
    Its a petite 8600kg but next to the other two grinders it is little. I was interested in some of the straight edges and other accessories for the grinders but for the last 10 minutes of the second auction I couldn't get the Grays site to take a bid. You win some and you lose some.

  4. #4
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    You know it is bad when I paid more for a 6 foot straight edge, then either of the two smaller grinders went for...


    Just looking at the prices here now even the old 1960's model Nuttall lathe went for $919+

    The 1971 Blohm grinder went for $5529+

    Just those three grinders seemed to sell for next to nothing...

    Makes you wonder how that ship building auction in Brisbane a few weeks back went..
    Gold, the colour of choice for the discerning person.

  5. #5
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    May 2011
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    Unfortunately, I think that is the way the world is going. It will get to a stage, where if you want some piece of machinery rebuilt, there will be no businesses around to do it, as they've either closed down, due to lack of work, or gone a different tangent selling, maintaining large CNC machinery, operated by 3-4 staff as before 60 did the same job. One of those will just be a fork lift operator loading the machines, 2 packing the stuff that came off the CNC. The only people that will be able to do that work, are the ones that have a large shed and knowledge to use them from home. With the price of scrap metal, even they won't want them.
    Kryn

  6. #6
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    Thanks Mark,

    I watched that auction, and was pleased to see at least one of the slideway grinders is going to a good home. We seem to have hit rock bottom for big manual machines, they are generally not even making scrap value.

    Once those machines are gone that's it. Big Churchill slideway grinders aren't exactly thick on the ground.

    The little Hardinge Capstan that was perched up on the bed of the bigger Churchill went for $109, I see you almost got it.

  7. #7
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    Like I said to the previous owner of my sg I bought last year, it's a double edged sword for us. Sure it's great to get a bargain but at what price?

    I'm wondering if things will eventually come full circle (to a point) where people who want low volume or one off items machined will no longer be able to (for a sensible price) and then we will see a re-emergence of small backyard workshops by people like us catering for this small niche?

    I do love my grinder though. Everything seems to get surface ground now, whether it needs it or not!

    Anyway, nice puchase though. No need to feel guilty, you bought it fair and square and it you didn't then they would have got even less for it.

    Simon
    Girl, I don't wanna know about your mild-mannered alter ego or anything like that." I mean, you tell me you're, uh, super-mega-ultra-lightning babe? That's all right with me. I'm good. I'm good.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by markgray View Post
    On a brighter note will post some pictures of the grinder and the Moore jig grinder when they come out of shinkwrap. Also finally ran the planer last night for the first time (minus the table). Few more minor bugs to iron out but I love that machine already.
    Mark, great to hear you got the slidway grinder and Moore jig grinder. Glad that the slidway grinder is going to a capable home.

    Quote Originally Posted by markgray View Post
    Older manual machines seem completely on the outer and even machinery dealers no longer seem interested.
    My interactions with dealers over the last couple of months have been interesting. I can't find a dealer selling an old manual J&S Cylindrical Grinder for under 6k (some as high as 8.5k!!). I told them my budget was 4k and they didn't bother to respond. Market must be very healthy. One particular dealer has 3 of them yet is not interested in doing a deal. Yet I hear from PDW that another dealer mentioned they rarely sell as no one wants them.. Figure that one out

  9. #9
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    The CNC stuff still seemed to be in demand... The 240V CNC rotary table with 200mm chuck made nearly a thousand... The Bridgeport clone CNC conversion $3000 and the rebuilt Mazak lathe $10 000..

    It is just small manual machines or obscure big manual machines... Things like decent horizontal borers still seem to bring decent money..

    As with all these auctions, collection plays a big part in the final price and who is able to bid... Imagine the safety nightmare should the buyer of the 22 tonne VBA grinder turn up on the first collection day with a 50 tonne crane to start dismantling and removing it and there are 50 other people all wandering around collecting their stuff at the same time....

    At least the little 6 footer may only need a 10 tonne forklift to get out and load...

    Grays should know better but they are that big they probably do not care...
    Gold, the colour of choice for the discerning person.

  10. #10
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    Great job winning the grinders Mark.I hope the other 2 will be put to use somewhere and not sent for scrap.We had the salesman from the cnc dealer we get our machines from in at work last week. He said he hasn't sold a machine this year. We even have a couple of salesmen trying to get us to change coolant brands.Their doing free testing to check if our current coolant is right for us, I bet they say it isn't. Things are tough in the engineering a game at the moment, and I think things will get worse before they get better.

  11. #11
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    yeah My works slow at the moment and tafe classmates say the same seems very slow
    BETTER TO HAVE TOOLS YOU DON'T NEED THAN TO NEED TOOLS YOU DON'T HAVE

    Andre

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by markgray View Post
    I brought the 6 footer
    So, I'll ask the question everyone wants to know - when are you taking orders?

  13. #13
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    jatt is offline According to the Govt a slogan will fix everything
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    My neck of the woods is the same. Ok its not machining, but manufacturing non the less.

    Have already committed to buying a couple of machines from a place where its a case of the next generation not wanting to take it on. Like many things canvas work isnt what it once was.

    Apparently guy had about 30 odd folk working for him once, now down to one. Hes not far from giving it away and retiring out. Hes got some good stuff there, but I already have 7 machines of various sizes, so dont have the room for much more You would think 200 odd sq mtr of floorspace was enough, but I'm almost full up.

    I'm sure there will be some good bargins to be had once he decides to call it a day. No shortage of folk who are at that stage in this game.
    I will never be the person who has everything, not when someone keeps inventing so much cool new stuff to buy.
    From an early age my father taught me to wear welding gloves . "Its not to protect your hands son, its to put out the fire when u set yourself alight".

  14. #14
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    Had a look at that shop last year or the year before on a quick tour, seemed to have hopes for the 3d biz and they gave me a sample of their work....supposed to be the way forward locally, but if every other bit of manufacturing support infrastructure is rooted, I can't see it happening! Gray's supposedly industrial auctions are a joke now too, Chinese brick-a-brac for the most part - would have to require a fairly broad definition of engineering for the majority of the listings.

    I'm sure there's levels or rebuild, I did ask for a round figure one for a lathe, sight unseen, seemed to be a fair bit higher than the opposition I must say. On the other hand, the grinding hand did show me a large mazak from SA he was doing at the time on the big grinder against the back wall, 4 or 5" spindle bore, so the output must have been OK. Suppose I better extract digit from posterior before any bed grinding is NLA.

  15. #15
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    This thread needs to stop.. it is giving me buyers lament... For not bidding on the 10 footer
    Gold, the colour of choice for the discerning person.

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