by John

Another day, another problem solved….
I am sure that these ramblings are incredibly boring to everyone, so understand that I am recording them for my own benefit, as a diary, as much as for the interest of anyone else who might be thinking of leaping into buying an older CNC mill.
So today I looked at the lubrication pump.
The manual says that it operates automatically on machine startup, then every 30 minutes, as long as the oil pressure is not too high. But the pump showed absolutely no sign of functioning at any time. And the ways and ball screws were totally dry until I lubricated them with an oil can.
Today I spent hours tracing wires and looking at relays, until my friend Jason S, who is a machine designer, came and had a look for me. He put a multi meter on the wires, and everything seemed intact. Then he identified the appropriate contactor (which I gather is really a big relay), and held it in, and lo and behold the pump worked. So the problem was with the pump controlling mechanism. Then Jason surmised that if he had designed the mill, he would have had the lubrication pump working only if the ball screws and ways were actually in use, not just if the machine was switched on. So next test was to watch the pump with the ball screws activated. Lo and behold the pump worked! So what was the problem? Why was the oil not coming through?
We disconnected some oil lines, and they were dry. So we manually pumped the lubrication pump until the lines filled, (i.e. primed them) and tried the lubrication system again, with the axes working, and it worked!

So the bloody manual was misleading. The lubrication system does not work when the machine is switched on. It only works when the ball screws are operating. And the machine has been out of action for so long that the oil lines had dried out.

Another gripe with the manual, was when I tried to get a canned cycle working (dry run, with no work piece or cutter). I followed the instruction steps exactly, and nothing happened. I retried, with the same result. I tried another canned cycle… same result. Then Jason arrived, and followed the steps.. same result. Then he said “what is that DATA button for? I had no idea. It is not mentioned in the manual. So we tried pushing it, and halelujah, the canned cycle worked.
So why was it not mentioned in the manual ?????
Do people who write manuals, ever test their own instructions? Or try them with an end user???
So bloody frustrating and such a waste of time.

(note added a few days later… I found the DATA key described in a different section of the manual. My mistake, it was there all of the time. If I had read the manual from start to finish entirely, and remembered the entire 150 pages – or whatever – I would not have had the problem. Silly me. )

Anyway, another step towards making some chips.

So now for the final test, the hookup with a computer using a serial port. Fortunately I have an old computer with a serial port, and I will hook it up soon.