Because the original story was getting a bit long, I decided to break things up a bit:
In the process of building a racecar, it became evident that I was going to need to custom build a number of parts. After pricing a few items with local machine shops I decided it would be a lot more cost effective to make my own parts! Although I have some minimal experience with woodworking and did some brazing when I worked in a bicycle factory (15 years ago), I didn't have any experience with metalworking. I bought a couple books on welding and general machining - after quite a bit of thinking about it and talking to others my first purchase came down to either an OxyAcetylene setup or a TIG welder.
After the TIG Welder, I bought a 4x6 Bandsaw, then I bought a 13x40 lathe (which I still have yet to actually use!) and a Bridgeport milling machine. After getting the lathe into my basement, I decided that getting the bridgeport in would just be impossible. So, I sold it and got a Rong-Fu RF40 mill/drill:
After a while it became apparent to me that the RF40 was just not rigid enough for my purposes. I really like the compact size of the machine but after working with some larger machines I decided to get some 'real' iron:
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