johnsmachines

machines which I have made, am making, or intend to make, and some other stuff. If you find this site interesting, please leave a comment. I read every comment and respond to most.

Tag: John’s machines

CNC lathe conversion -15

Another couple of advances in the conversion.  Today I installed the lead screw cover and the cable protector to the cross slide stepper motor.

The cable protector was easy and straightforward. It flexes in one direction only, and is fixed at the ends after the cable is threaded through it.  The length is adjusted by adding or removing links.  It was placed so that coolant liquid will drain out of it, and to minimise the accumulation of swarf.   The cables themselves have a thick covering and are well protected.  The link protector will not kink, further protecting the cable.

It was cheap.  About $AUD20 for 2 meters, posted from China.  I used about 1.1m.

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Showing the stepper motor cable protector, and the lead screw protector (one half of it.  The other half is on the other side of the carriage.)

The lead screw protector was another story.  It is a spring steel coil, about 50mm wide, and as it is compressed the coils fit inside each other.  I made a big mistake in allowing it to spring open before I had installed it (there were no instructions).  It immediately opened to a length of over a meter, in coils about 50-60mm diameter.   No big deal, I thought.  I will just compress it back to its original configuration.    Big mistake.

It was what I imagine coiling a live, oily, biting, boa constrictor would be like.  (OK, boas constrict rather than bite.  How about an anaconda, or a big eel.)

I fought it for about an hour.  And eventually succeeded.  Minus a few bits of my skin.

So I did not allow the protectors to expand again until after I had them on the lead screw.

This is what they look like.   Pretty cool IMO.  They just expanded into position when I removed the restraining clips.

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The lead screw stepper motor and protector.  The Estop box above will get some ends to exclude swarf.

It was not cheap.  The best price that I could find was from South Korea.  $AUD200 inc postage.  But it is excellent Japanese quality.

The wiring is happening, but the variable speed drive seems to be dead.  It has been sitting unused on a shelf for 2 years, so no point asking about warranty.  Took it apart to check for broken wires, fuses, burnt out components etc, but nothing visible.  Will order another one.  About $AUD200.  An unexpected expense.

 

BUYING A LATHE

I decided to buy another metal lathe.  For a few years I have been using a Chinese heavy duty machine, a GBC,  which was 1000mm between centres and a swing of 400mm.  It is a heavy duty machine, weighs 2 tonnes, and does its job.  For turning large objects, up to 400mm diameter, and taking off large amounts of swarf quickly, it is excellent.  But I must admit to a lack of pride of ownership of this machine.  Particularly after being exposed to British workmanship in my small Boxford.

So I had a look around, and settled on a Colchester Master 2500.  It is less than half the weight, and physically smaller, although the work dimensions are similar to the GBC.  I persuaded SWMBO that if I sold the GBC, the small Taiwanese lathe, and the 2 Smart & Brown lathes which I had restored (see earlier posts), I would just about break even, have more space in my workshop, and there would be less stuff for her to get rid of if I happen to cark it at some inconvenient time.  Also, the Colchester should not be difficult to resell.  It has an excellent, almost legendary, reputation, and as I discovered, commands high second hand prices.

This process was actually jogged by seeing a Colchester on ebay which was of interest.  It was cheapish, no bids, and the photos were awful quality.  So I rang the owner.  He had bought the lathe 3 years earlier, but had never used it because he did not yet have 3 phase power.  The owner before him had used it to make hinges or something similar, as a backyard industry, and before that it had been in a school.  In my experience, school lathes tend to show little wear, but often show evidence of crashes.  The owner sent me photos of the bed, which did show dings from crashes, but nothing terrible.

So, full of optimism, I hooked up the tandem trailer to the old Landcruiser and drove the 250km to the other side of the state.  To cut the story short, the lathe looked OK, but when I removed the gearbox cover, first the oil was old, black, and thick, one gear had a tooth missing, and another was severely worn.  I took the owner at his word that he did not know about this condition (possibly correct), thanked him for his time and went home.  It had been a pleasant drive.

(note added 23 June 2015.  The seller is still advertising his lathe, same price, no mention of the broken and worn gears.  I am inclined to think less charitably about someone who would let a buyer drive 500km and not be honest about the item being sold.)

Next stop was a machinery second hand dealer.  They had 7 Colchesters, from a University workroom closure.  They were much more expensive, had been nicely cleaned up, had all of the chucks, steadies, tool holders, manuals etc.  I did seriously consider one of these, which had a few dings on the bed, but otherwise looked good.  I decided to sleep on the decision.

Next day, I visited two more ebay sellers with Colchesters.  I have racked up about 800km looking at possibilities.  The first was from a factory close down.  It was dirty, old, and had only a 3 jaw chuck.  Despite its industrial past, it showed little visible evidence of wear.  But the reversing handle would not stay engaged.  No big deal according the owner, just a spring to be replaced.  Hmm…..    The price was OK, but not negotiable.  I would think about it.   Quite tempted with that one.

Then a tollway trip to the other side of Melbourne.  My last option.  In case you were wondering, this plethora of Colchester lathes is very unusual.  I have been looking for this model for about 2 years, but have never seen more than one Colchester Master 2500 advertised within striking distance at one time.  So having 7 or 8 to examine has been fantastic and unusual.  Maybe everyone is wanting CNC these days.

The last one was an ex Department of Defence machine.  It was midway in the price range, but negotiable. I could not fault it.  It was tight, no dings at all, had clean oil in the gearbox, gears all intact, and had a full range of chucks, faceplate, tool holders, steadies etc.  No manual.  Needs a repaint.  Probably 25-30 years old.  (note added 23/6..   more like 45 years old!) Being DOD, it would have been fastidiously maintained.  So what was the catch?   I could not find one.   I negotiated a lower price, and shook hands.

Next to pick it up.   Then to sell my existing lathes.

Watch this space.

John and John having fun again, on Puffing Billy

Puffing Billy, Belgrave, Victoria

Puffing Billy, Belgrave, Victoria, Australia

Big John and Little John, or Pop John and John John, on Puffing Billy.

Big John and Little John, or Pop John and John John, on Puffing Billy.

CRANKSHAFT – early steps

The triple expansion steam engine crankshaft has 6 main bearings, 3 big ends, and 4 positions where eccentrics attach.

It is about 240mm long, machined from 50.8mm mild steel rod.

The mains are turned from centrally positioned centres, the big ends from eccentrically positioned “centres”.

The centres were drilled on the CNC milling machine, after the locating the top of the bar

The centres were drilled on the CNC milling machine, after the locating the top of the bar

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The eccentric centres were calculated, and drilled using CNC to get the positions.  The longitudinal scribed line was used to position the other end of the rod.

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Turning between centres, using a lathe dog. This will not be a quick job.

And this is how I would like to make a crankshaft…

Buying Tools and other stuff at a swap meet.

Today I drove with a friend to Ballarat, Victoria, Australia to the biggest swap meet in the Southern hemisphere, maybe the biggest in the known universe.

It is located on an aerodrome in country Victoria.  Approx 2500 stall holders selling stuff from shed cleanouts, factory close downs, farm sales, and some commercial sellers.

A lot of the stuff on sale seems to be total junk, with the vendors sitting around enjoying the sunshine, the conversations, the beer and barbeques.  A lot of them stay in tents and caravans on site.  But there are many gems and bargains, and that is the reason I find myself drawn back to the event, annually for the past 4 years.

The atmosphere and mood is relaxed and pleasant.  A fair bit of good natured haggling and bargaining goes on.

You do have to keep an eye out for kids on bikes whizzing about.  It is supposed to be a car free zone, but I noted far too many vehicles driving about raising dust.  The organisers need to get on top of that issue.

I was also a bit peeved to have to pay $3:50 each for a small plastic bottle of water.  It was a hot day, and several of these were required.  The price was feasible because there were no other visible sources of drinking water.

But I was very happy with my purchases.  Photos following.

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Hats, sunscreen, and fluids essential. 34 degrees C.

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Amazing eclectic variety of stuff on sale.

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I estimate that I walked 10km checking out about 50% of the sites. Too many to see in one day.

SOME OF THE STUFF WHICH I BOUGHT.  IT REFLECTS MY OWN INTERESTS RATHER THAN THE VARIETY OF ITEMS ON SALE.  MY FRIEND BOUGHT A HEAP OF PARTS FOR HIS MINI MOKE.  THAT IS HIS PARTICULAR INTEREST.

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A heavy duty, well constructed welding earth clamp for $10.

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Some bronze manganese welding rods for $15. I will check their machineability.

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A miniature internal threading tool with inserts. Expensive at $130, but good value.

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A 1″ m3 step drill (new), and a used but good condition 1.5″ M4 drill bit. $30 total. Great value.

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2 cobalt 9/16″ drill bits for $6. Only one size available. Amazing low price.

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A pair of razor sharp Japanese wood chisels. Pricey at $70, but the conversation I had with the Japanese cabinet maker who was selling them, was priceless. The handles are rosewood and oak. The steel is laminated, similar to samurai swords. I look forward to trying these.

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A Mamod steam tractor. It seems to be in reasonable condition, and complete. I told SWMBO that it is a present for a grandson when he is a bit older (2 years old now), but we will see. I really like it myself. Is 64 too old to be playing with toys? Was said to be in working condition, but I expect that some renovation will required.  Price not for disclosure to SWMBO.

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This was the most interesting purchase. 3 “Model Engineer and Amateur Electrician” magazines from Sep to Dec 1900. $5 each. The articles about “using electricity in the workshop” were sobering. It was nice to see articles about lathes apart from Myford discussed. (Drummond most common). Not sure where these magazines will end up. They should be on display, or in a museum.


CNC lathe tool holders.

I needed some extra toolholders for my Boxford CNC lathe, and the following photos show some of the steps in making them on a vertical mill with a horizontal attachment.

The toolpost holder is a Dickson, beautifully made, precise.  And it came with 6 tool holders.  6 should be adequate you think?  Not so.  You really need one holder for every tool that you might use, because with CNC, you want to do the CNC settings in the computer only once.  And the Dickson holders are expensive, so I made the extras.

The material for the tool holders is cast iron bar from a house wreckers yard.  The bar was 3 foot lengths of iron window counterweights from very old double hung windows.  Very cheap $5 each.  A bit porous in places, but enough good stuff to get useable 300mm lengths. Roughly cut to length in foreground, machined square behind, finished article on right.

The material for the tool holders is cast iron bar from a house wreckers yard. The bar was 3 foot lengths of iron window counterweights from very old double hung windows. Very cheap $5 each. A bit porous in places, but enough good stuff to get useable 300mm lengths.
Roughly cut to length in foreground, machined square behind, original holder bottom right.

The holders had been dimensioned and drawn up by my expert friend Stuart Tankard.

The holders had been dimensioned and drawn up by my expert friend Stuart Tankard.

This is the original horizontal machining set up.  I made each holder separately.

This is the original horizontal machining set up. I made each holder separately.

For the next batch, I got smarter, and milled 300mm lengths of the bar, and cut them up later.  You might also note that I painted the horizontal milling attachment, using Por 15 paint.  For the actual milling I also used copious lubricant fluid.

For the next batch, I got smarter, and milled 300mm lengths of the bar, and cut them up later. You might also note that I painted the horizontal milling attachment, using Por 15 paint. For the actual milling I also used copious lubricant fluid.

Using a drop bandsaw to cut off the milled blocks.  Less than 1mm clearance.

Using a drop bandsaw to cut off the milled blocks. Less than 1mm clearance.

I made about 30 altogether.  Some for centre drills, ER collets, various left right and centre insert bit cutters, and quite a few spares for the future. You say a cornucopia of toolholders.

I made about 30 altogether. Some for centre drills, ER collets, various left right and centre insert bit cutters, and quite a few spares for the future.
You might say a cornucopia of toolholders.

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The height setting knobs were turned on the Boxford 125 TCL CNC lathe, again designed and G coded by Stuart Tankard. The knurls were cut by Stuart on his 4 axis CNC mill.

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Peru

Ok.  This is under the “Other Stuff” heading.

I have not done much in the workshop lately, so, I dug out some photos of a trip I made in 2008 to Peru, with my daughter Elisabeth.  I took heaps of photos, but these are some of my favourites.

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Some of the awesome stonework in Cuzco. Built by the Incas 500-600 years ago. The Spanish invaders demolished the “pagan” buildings above and built their own buildings on the Inca foundations. The locals laughed when earthquakes repeatedly demolished the European parts of the buildings and left the Inca bits undisturbed.   Note the continuity of the horizontal lines.  How much effort would  have been required for the architect-stonemasons to ensure that continuity.  And apart from the beautiful aesthetic it produces, I wonder if that continuity has any other significance?  

 

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About half of Peru is Amazon rain forest. My daughter Elisabeth worked in an animal refuge near Iquitos, in this region. Looking after panthers, anacondas, monkeys and others, which had been brought to the refuge after being injured. Yes, my daughter is an amazing person, and I am immensely proud of her.

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Elisabeth with some of the locals in their traditional dress. They are happy to pose for photos for a very small fee.

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Huge stones fitted together so tightly that a razor blade cannot be passed into the gaps. Ancient aliens must have done this! Or very clever and determined Incas.

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Yes, I became addicted to looking at the stone work. It was amazing, awesome, unbelievable and beautiful.

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Hand woven rugs for sale to the tourists. Cheap.

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Our first day of a 5 day hike to MachuPicchu. Not the regular tourist route. In the background is Mt Sankaltay. I could understand why they thought it sacred. We camped near its base, next to a glacier.

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The first night our tents and the ground were covered with about 100mm of snow. Quite an experience for someone from Australia. The next morning we climbed to 15,000 feet, slowly. The glacier is in the background. We are close to the top of the pass in this photo.  That is me in the foreground.  When the guide found out my age (60)  he wanted to put me on a horse!  No way!  Horses hate me.

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The locals have striking attractive faces.

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There were 2 horse handlers. The horses carried our tents, food and supplies. We carried day packs only. 2 Canadians, Elisabeth and me. I was the oldest and the least fit, and the slowest, but I made it. I imagined that if I had a health problem, I could be helicoptered out, only to learn that helicopters cannot reach these heights. The trails were sometimes very narrow and quite dangerous, cut out of cliff sides, and sometimes rough creek beds.

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MachuPicchu. Breath taking.

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MachuPicchu

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The agricultural terraces at MachuPicchu, and some restored buildings. Only a few of the buildings have been restored, to show what they would have looked like in their heyday.

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Me, on a floating island on Lake Titicaca. The locals are very tiny, They lived on the lake to escape the Incas, who were expansive aggressive and violent. The islands are made of reeds which are bundled together, and replenished every year. It was cold. Extraordinary.

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The characteristic doorway shape of the Incas.  Note the incredibly tight joints, made by non metal hand tools, which have withstood earthquakes, conquistadores, and 5 centuries of weathering.

The characteristic doorway shape of the Incas. Note the incredibly tight joints, made by non metal hand tools, which have withstood earthquakes, conquistadores, and 5 centuries of weathering.

CASTINGS ARRIVE AT LAST!!

Today I received a 16.6kg package by courier. It was too heavy for the regular post.  It contained the castings for the model triple expansion steam engine, which I am hoping to build in the next year or so.  I am told that on average this model takes 3000 hours to complete.  That is a scary thought.  Almost unbelievable.  But when I calculate how many hours went into the much simpler single cylinder beam engine (maybe 600-800), I guess that it is not an unrealistic estimate.  Just as well that I am close to retirement age.

The castings were made in NSW Australia, and supplied by Kelly Mayberry at EJ Winter.

All carefully wrapped

All carefully wrapped

The castings are all brass, gunmetal, or bronze

The castings are all brass or gunmetal.  There must be at least 100 of them.

Looks like the condensor chamber, as part of the engine frame.

Looks like the condensor chamber, as part of the engine frame.

The base.

The base.

A large chunk of brass

A large chunk of brass, the intermediate and low pressure cylinders.

The castings appear to be free of holes or defects

The castings appear to be free of holes or defects

ROYAL GEELONG SHOW

Laurie Braybrook

A well known exhibitor and his eclectic display of steam valves.  A small part of the Model Engineering display is visible at back.

The annual “Royal Geelong Show” was held last weekend.  It has been held for the past 159 years.  Farmers exhibit their best cattle, pigs, sheep, alpacas etc and produce, there are various equestrian events, tractor pulls, Lanz bulldog races, dog breed competitions, and all of the side shows, show bags, and amusement park rides which accompany most agricultural-regional shows.

At the show grounds, Geelong is fortunate to have a well established antique engine display, featuring many steam powered stationary engines, traction engines, steam trucks, tractors, etc etc., many which live there permanently, such as a ships triple expansion steam engine, and many which are brought in just for the show.

There is also a model engineering display, of dozens of working,  steam powered small engines.  It is always a source of fascination to the many visitors.

A competition is held for recently constructed models, and I was very lucky and thrilled to receive the first prize for the Bolton 12 beam engine.  Second prize was for a rebuilt antique pressure gauge, and third for a Stuart twin cylinder “Victoria” stationary engine.

 

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To see the beam engine working, look at the older posts, at the bottom of this page

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The rebuilt antique pressure gauge by Stuart .

 

Beam Engine Ready for Painting

I uncovered the beam engine last weekend, and thought about painting some of the machined parts. I quite like the look of the machined metal and the rough cast surfaces, but some bits really look as if they should have some colour.

The engine itself is almost fully machined.  Just needs things like gaskets, pump hookups, some bolt lengths trimmed.

The copper exhaust pipe will eventually hook up to a steam condensing unit which is yet to be built.  The condensing unit will be housed underneath.

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I am planning to polish the aluminium base to a mirror finish, and paint the dark cast iron surfaces in a dark green gloss paint. Some items I will electroplate with nickel.

I have no 3 phase power in my workshop at present, due to a failed component in the phase-changer, but it has been repaired and will be reinstalled in a day or so. Then back to the machining. The painting can wait.

CNC MILL 9

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Yesterday I cut some metal on the CNC mill for the first time.
I used one of the canned cycles built into the CNC controller, and faced and squared off a lump of brass which will be used for a hot air engine (The Ridder “bobber”).
Despite multiple readings of the manual, I got confused about which units required minus signs, and which ones the machine automatically assumed were positive and negative, and consequently, despite resting my hand on the emergency stop button in case such a contingency occurred, the head crashed straight into the milling vice, breaking 4 carbide tips and leaving a permanent love bite on the vice as a reminder of my incompetence.
After some expletives deleted, I re-entered the numbers, and next time, the machine went through its motions gracefully, purposefully, and quietly, leaving me with a nicely shiny and squared lump of brass.
It was so impressive, that I repeated the exercise, just for fun.
I had checked the squareness of the mill head to the table, and it was all within 0.01mm in 100mm, so nothing was altered.
I had bought a Z axis probe from CTC Tools in Hong Kong, and that was easy to use and accurate, for $a100.
Next step, to hook up a computer and try to download G code programs. Watch this space.

CNC MILL 8

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.

CNC MILL 7

Z axis problem fixed!

My friend Stuart T methodically checked the wires and connections, and diagnosed a problem involving the Z axis encoder.  He  resorted to removing the encoder, to look at it more closely, and said ” that came off a bit too easily.  I wonder if the shaft is connecting properly”.  Sure enough, the shaft was loose, which explains the bizarre Z movements followed by a total loss of position information.  Someone has joined the 6mm shaft to a 1/4″ socket, and it had probably worked loose during the transport from Echuca to Geelong.

So we quickly made a sleeve to join the 6mm shaft to the 6.35mm socket, tightened it all up,  soldered a few wires which broke during the inspection, and hooray it all worked perfectly. Hallelujah.

Oh, and that $20 Chinese hand wheel.  It was 10 mm thicker than the originals, and looked out of place, so I chucked in the the lathe, and turned it down to the same 18mm thickness  as the originals.  It was made of hard plastic-bakelite material which smelled really offensive while I was machining it, and was very abrasive.  Tool steel lathe bits were just worn away, but a carbide insert tool coped OK.   The reshaped hand wheel  looks and feels much better.

Just the oil lubrication pump to fix, then I can start making chips.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

                                                                                                                                                                                                             

 

CNC MILL 6

Help!

I need a wiring diagram for the Extron mill.

It is a Hafco badged machine, but Hafco (Hare & Forbes) do not have wiring info.  The Extron factory in Taiwan has not replied to my emails.  Hare & Forbes apparently contacted the factory, and also drew a blank about wiring info.

That is pretty unimpressive.  The machine is only 17 years old.  In built obsolescence?  Just not worth while supporting older machines?  If it was a US or European machine there would be no problem getting info.  It seems that this Asian factory has a different idea about what constitutes support.  

Fortunately I have an expert friend who will, I am confident, be able to work it out.  

 

CNC MILL 5 with some more pics

The broken X axis hand wheel.  replacement from China for $a20, including postage....

The broken X axis hand wheel. replacement from China for $a20, including postage….

The replacement folding handle hand wheels arrived from Hong Kong today. I was slightly disappointed in the quality, but then, for $a20 each, including postage, I am not complaining. They are close in appearance to the originals.

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The new hand wheel fitted. On the table is a spare new hand wheel, and the broken one. I am considering machining the new one, to be closer in dimensions to the old one.

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This is the pneumatic draw bar motor and spring loaded engagement gear. It is now functioning!! I rebuilt a badly corroded valve, and remade a gasket, and hooray, it works perfectly. Still to replace the cover which keeps the dust out of the device. That saves $a700+ for a replacement, and gives me confidence to work on these precision items in the future. The motor behind the draw bar motor is the main spindle motor, a 6hp 3 phase motor with a very noisy fan which is another job for down the track. One thing at a time. We are getting there. I have contacted Extron Corp in Taiwan, in the hope of getting a wiring diagram, so I can look at the oil distribution pump and controller and locate the relay, which I suspect will be the culprit. It does feel good to have fixed 2 of the 5 or 6 problems with this machine.

CNC Mill 4 (with some pics)

Now that I have a couple of days cleaning off the carelessly applied paint, I am prepared to show some photos.
The trouble with a 17 year old machine, even if it has done little work, is that repairs are required before it can be used.
1. New hand wheel
2. Z axis acting strangely. ? encoder faulty, or broken wires.
3. Pneumatic drawbar not working ? needs replacing.
4. Auto lubrication system not functioning. ? relay faulty, other problem.
5. Operator needs considerable training.

The only available space in my workshop was in front of the door

The only available space in my workshop was in front of the door

Showing the table, with the tool rests removed, the hand wheels including the broken X axis hand wheel, the turret and the electrical box

The broken X axis hand wheel.  replacement from China for $a20, including postage....

The broken X axis hand wheel. replacement from China for $a20, including postage….

Showing the X axis ball screw, the hand wheel gearing, and the coated way (? Teflon)

Showing the X axis ball screw, the hand wheel gearing, and the coated way (? Teflon)

The control box for the pneumatic power drawbar (not working), and the automatic lubrication pump and reservoir (also not working).

The control box for the pneumatic power drawbar (not working), and the automatic lubrication pump and reservoir (also not working).

The CNC input control panel.  I am still learning how to use this.

The CNC input control panel. I am still learning how to use this.

CNC MILL 3

Pneumatic draw bar. The draw bar was not functioning at all. One of the valves was completely corroded, so I rebuilt it, making a new rim from brass and attaching it with Locktite. The draw bar now functions, but it leaks air badly. A gasket needs replacing, and I will renew that. But if it is still unusable, I will buy a new air draw bar.

I turned on the mill for the first time today.
It booted up, and self tested OK. The servo motors and spindle work fine, and smoothly. The axes move up to 4000mm per minute. The spindle runs quietly up to 4000rpm. (not immediately. I ran it for 10 minutes at a low speed as per the instructions). There seems to be some limits to the travel on the X and Z axes, not related to the hard limits. There must be some soft limits set incorrectly.

All of the ways were dry. There is an automatic oiler, with plenty of oil in the reservoir. I used an oil can to lube all of the ways and the ball screws, because I am not sure if the auto oiler is functioning. It is meant to operate on startup, and then every 30 minutes. Another item to check.

This mill is an Extron, with 1000mm travel on the X axis, and approx 500mm on the Y and Z axes. It is big (for me) heavy and smooth. I expected that it would need some attention because it has not been used in years. So far the revealed problems have been with the peripheral items and cosmetics, and not the major components or the electronics. So far so good. I will post some pics soon.

CNC Mill 2

I was on call over the weekend, so I had today off, and spent it in the workshop. It was cold. Jumper plus oilskin cold.
I crow-barred the space for the new mill, levelled the mill with a machinists level. One foot was missing so I turned up a new one… 75mm dia, 16mm thick, with a 20mm dia recess to accept the levelling bolt.
Then I started to tidy up the awful paint job, scraping paint off the machined parts, and using my Dremel to wire brush it off plastic parts. Starting to look more respectable.
Then I found a hand wheel control lever stop made from a rolled tube which had broken off at surface level. It was hardened, as I discovered when I tried to drill it out… changed the drill bit to mush. So I used the Dremel with a carbide bit to grind it out. That worked, but it took a lot of time, and I ended up with an irregular hole which I then drilled out to 5mm and tapped 6mm. I have inserted a temporary 6mm cap screw as the stop, and it works but looks a bit gross. Needs a tidy up.
The 3 phase lead does not reach my converter, so I have to replace it with a longer one. The plug is new, so I will re-use that. I have some 20 amp 4 wire lead, so I will use that. Maybe next weekend I will get to fire it up. Saturday is out though. Geelong – Hawthorn AFL game takes precendence.
I need to make some T nuts to suit the 18mm T slots. They are bigger than any machine I have previously owned. I will tap them to accept 12mm studs, rather than the recommended 16mm studs. I already have the 12mm studs, and I cannot see that I will need the bigger ones. If i was to use the table capacity of 900kg the big ones would be useful.

CNC Mill

Today I took a half day off work, and booked a crane to lift my CNC mill off the truck onto a steel plate outside my shed, from where Des and I rolled the 2.8 tonne machine inside.
It has been under a tarp, in the rain, for the last week, so I am happy and relieved to have it indoors. Some surface rust was rubbed off. And I spent a few hours cleaning it up, oiling it, doing minor repairs and getting it ready for turning on soon.
One of the hand wheels has been broken and I have ordered replacements from Hong Kong. The pneumatic drawbar is not working. I have pulled it apart, identified the faulty part, and I will attempt to make a new part.
The mill is too big for where I have installed it. I have removed the side tool tables, but it is still too big. So I have some further crow barring of machines to make space.
I hope to connect it to the electrons in a few days.
It has been repainted at some stage. An awful paint job which has gone onto machined and plastic surfaces. I intend to spend time tidying it up, and one day I hope to repaint it more carefully.
Now I have my fingers crossed that the electronics and ball screws will work OK. It is a bit of a gamble.

New Toy

I have been looking for a CNC milling machine for over a year. My requirements were that it had to be affordable, not too big for my workshop, not too big for my 3 phase converter (max 5hp), use Mach 3, and be in reasonable condition.

What I got was good value I hope, big, 6hp, does not use Mach 3, but I think that it is in reasonable condition.

See photo below.

It is an Extron (Taiwonese) 1997 model, vertical CNC mill, which uses a Fagor controller (not Mach 3), weighs 2.8 tonnes, and is BIG. Too big really, and I hope that I never have to move it again. It required a crane to lift it onto the truck which I borrowed from my neighbour. The truck (and me now, and the mill) smell of pig shit, because that is what the truck was used for the day before. But the 550km round trip to pick it up was completed safely. Now I have to organise a crane at my shed to lift it onto a steel plate outside my shed, from where I can push it into position (on rollers).

That was the longest truck trip I have driven since getting my heavy rigid licence a few years ago, and I feel quite proud to have completed it without a problem.

I will fire the mill up next weekend. Wish me luck.

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