Better known as a maker of high-class lathes, Milnes sold their vertical miller during the 1940s and 1950s. Intended for toolroom use, the machine was offered in two versions with both using the same column, knee and table assembly but with different vertical heads. On the Standard model the head could be rotated 45° each side of zero and had 2.5 inches of hand-driven down feed by worm-and-wheel gearing driving a rack and pinion; the better-specified machine, advertised as the 1st Grade (this was built to pass the contemporary "1st Grade Acceptance Checks" as published by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Institution of Production Engineers), enjoyed the addition of a head that could be rotated through 360° with power downfeed, a quick-action lever feed for drilling and an increase in quill travel to 3 inches. With typical Milnes thoroughness the heads were precisely located in their vertical position by a hexagon-headed No. 1 Morse taper plug. The 1st Grade model was also listed as the SEMCO 0-DF - SEMCO being the acrontm for Southern Engineering & Machinery Ltd., a Company based in Southampton.
Heavily built, but compact, the Milnes had an enormously heavy and deep knee well supported on wide ways. The column bolted to a hollow base that doubled as a coolant tank, the motor and pump unit being flange mounted in an easy-to-maintain position at the front. Usefully sized to accommodate the majority of regular jobs, the table had a working surface of 30" x 8.5" (725 mm x 212 mm), a surrounding coolant trough and three good-sized 5/8-inch T-slots. Drive to the table was taken from the column feed shaft to a separate feed-box through a roller chain (with a jockey sprocket for tension adjustment). From the feed-box a telescopic shaft with universal joints transmitted the drive to a worm-and-wheel assembly beneath the table that rotated a gear concentric with the table feed screw. The screw was split into two, which each end carrying a bevel gear faced with a dog clutch. By means of a lever that slide a double-faced sliding dog into engagement with either of the feed-screw bevels, the operator could instantly engage, stop or cause the feed to move left or right. In addition, an automatic disengage mechanism was provided that worked in both directions - the usual button stops being held in a T-slot that ran along the front face of the table. Travels of 18-inches of longitudinally, 6.5-inches across and 14.5-inches vertically were available, with twelve rates of feed from ½" to 5" per minute on belt-position 1, and from 1" to 10" on position 2. Usefully, as the power feed was arranged though a drive that engaged the feedscrew from beneath, room was left for handles to be fitted at both ends of the table. Also built onto the front of the table was a detachable casting, with an inclined surface, intended to help with jig-boring work and able to accept gauge block and precision dial gauges. From the spindle line to the inside face of the column was 9-inches.
Beautifully engineered, the vertical head was a heavy-duty assembly and held a spindle made of carbon steel hardened and ground all over with, on the standard model, a stout No. 3 Morse or, optionally a No. 7 B & S nose - though the No. 1 Grade was fitted with the more robust 40 INT taper. Sealed in a housing, though which oil was circulated by centrifugal force, the spindle ran in a pair of opposed, high-precision Timken taper roller bearings at the bottom and, to allow for expansion, a floating ball-race at the top. It was driven by being passed through an internally splined spiral bevel gear held in its own housing within the head. Drive to the bevel gear came from its mating gear, carried on a shaft running concentrically with the head-swivel axis. Powered by a 2 h.p., 1500 r.p.m. 3-phase motor internally-mounted in the base of the column, the drive was taken up to the speed-change gearbox by twin V-belts. The oil-immersed, spindle-speed gearbox held gears and splined shafts that were hardened and ground and ran on ball or roller races; the result being a useful range of quickly-changed speeds that ran from 50 r.p.m. through 80, 125, 210, 350 and 500 r.p.m. in low range and 100, 160, 250, 450, 700 and 1000 r.p.m. in high. To assist with boring operations on the 1st Grade model, the down-feed could be under power, through a clutch unit (with automatic disengage by adjustable stops) together with a set of pick-off gears to give feed rates of 0.001", 0.002" and 0.004" per revolution of the spindle. Spindle speeds and table feeds were each changed by their own pair of concentrically mounted levers on the right-hand face of the column (though the feeds also required a change of belt position to swap from fast to slow).
At 2000 lbs the miller was substantially built; it stood around 70-inches high with a base 33-inches long and 21-inches wide.
If you have a Milnes miller the writer would be interested to hear from you.