The Toolroom Tune-Up Project

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Experimental Projects II

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       I now had the job of setting up the milling bench. You can see the rectangular pedestal frame I made out of the 1.75” square tubing below. This piece was necessary as to raise the milling machine up to make clearance for the Z-axiz hand wheel. I tack welded the pedestal to the chip pan and then welded around the bolt holes on the bottom of the pan as to prevent coolant/cutting oil leaks later on (not shown).
       The mounting pedestal was offset about 1” to the left side of the bench to help with clearance of the “X” axis hand wheel from the right edge of the bench.

       I placed the mill onto the bench and fitted four 6” x 3/8-16 bolts to secure the machine.

       I rolled the machine against the wall to admire my new setup....

       Because I may eventually be converting this machine to CNC control I have decided to add a CNC style “swarf cabinet”. This cabinet which will help contain the metal chips/coolant inside the tray and off of my workshop floor. To do this I used some of the 1” square tubing to frame out an enclosure while the machine was in place to insure a proper fit.

       I framed out the cabinet to be about 17” high above the chip pan and 56” wide at the outer edges. This should be wide enough to accommodate an X-axis stepper motor should I install a CNC kit later on. The Y-axis motor will probably hang out over the edge of the bench but there is not much I can do about that. Luckily I can add to this cabinet by welding on more square tube and adding sheet steel should I want more coverage later on.

       I built the cabinet to leave access to the column enclosure of the mill in case I need to access the “Z” axis lead screw or the electronics inside the enclosure. I will seal the 1/4” gap I left with some foam rubber so no metal chips can get behind the machine bench later on.

       The next step was to use the remaining 18 gauge sheet metal to finish the enclosure. I used TEK screws to temporarily mount each of the panels onto the cabinet frame as seen below...

       The two outer panels needed to be shaped to fit the miter cut frame so I used my sheet metal brake to bend two 45° bends in the sheets.

       I installed the side panels of the cabinet to see how they fit and was very pleased with the outcome :0)

       The next step was to seal the chip pan with the Bondo filler as I had done with the lathe bench earlier.

       I sealed the pan in several small applications as to not mix large amounts of the Bondo at once. I did not want to have a large batch “go off” before I could seal the edges and waste material....

       Once the filler had several hours to cure I was able to use my palm sander to clean up any rough edges on the fillets (not shown). I was then able to remove both machines form the metal pans and paint them with some Rust-Oleum “Hammered” finish silver paint (Cat #7213830). This paint is ideal as it is almost the color of the metal below the finish which will help hide all of the scratches that will inevitably happen later on.

       I let the paint cure for 24 hours before setting the machines back on the benches. You will notice that I also painted the workbenches with a latex semi-gloss exterior paint.....

       I set the lathe back onto the workbench and used some silicone sealant to seal the bolt holes that secure the lathe to the bench. The chip pan is now water tight and ready for any mess I can throw at it :0)

       I screwed down the milling machine’s chip pan and proceeded to install the outer covers which were also painted with the silver finish.

       I used a clear silicone sealant to seal all of the joints of the panels to prevent coolant or cutting oil from leaking out. This was applied before the panels were screwed on to insure a good seal.

       And now to install my beautiful new machine. I used some silicone sealant to seal around the bottom edge of the machine to prevent coolant from accumulating under the pedestal (this was applied with the machine raised up). I set the mill in place and then bolted it in. The swarf cabinet really makes this machine look professional ;0)

       I installed a set of drain fittings made from PVC and plumbed the drains to some two gallon containers (not shown). I also installed a set of Kobalt intermediate 3-drawer tool boxes on the bottom shelves for additional tool storage (I got them on sale at Lowe’s for about $120 each F.Y.I.).

       I decided to install a main disconnect switch up high as to prevent the little ones from switching on the machines when I am not around. I will later install a key switch for added safety...

       With the old shelving storage removed I am able keep the new benches within 12” inches of the original floor space taken up by the old shelving. This is important to me as I can still fit a car into the garage for service.

       You may have noticed the flexible steel hose pointed at the drill chuck (below). This is a coolant mist nozzle that I purchased on eBay for cutting steel. This system uses air pressure to mist a mixture of cutting solution and water at the tool bit which keeps it cool while cutting tough materials. I can also use the system with just air to remove metal chips from the work surface so I can see my work.

       The misting system is designed to mount on a magnetic indicator base post so I machined a short post to fit the misting block and installed it on the mill where the plastic safety shield was located (below). I used some 1/4” nylon tubing to plumb the air line and a needle valve to control the flow of air to the mister. I then used some wire loom covering to protect the air and suction lines as seen below.

       The flexible misting nozzle can be pointed in any direction with the use of the mounting post. the unit can also be easily removed for use on another machine....

       I also installed a set of LED clamp-style desk lights on the machines to help with additional illumination. I got them from Lowe’s (Item #352725) for about $20 each. They pretty much work as-is with the exception of sealing the vent holes on the top of the shade with tape (from the inside). This is done to prevent metal chips from shorting out the circuit board beneath.
Addendum 4/21/12: I have been using these lamps for a while now and they have systematically been burning out LEDs :0( It seems that the manufacturer did not correctly ballast the LEDs so they have been overheating. I fixed the problem by adding a couple 1 amp forward biased diodes in series with the circuit to reduce the supply voltage by 1.57 volts. This dims the lights a little but saves them from burning out.

       You can see the intermediate 3-drawer tool box that I mounted to each workbench. I lined each drawer with gray outdoor carpet as well as the top of the tool boxes. A small patch of carpet was also installed on the left side of the tool boxes for heavy accessories like the 6” lathe chuck or a milling vise...

       You probably have noticed the checkered flag and propeller on the wall. I got both of these the day I ran my jet bike at Hesperia Airport for the “Jet Powered Office Chair” episode of National Geographic’s TV show “Mad Scientists”. The checkered flag was the one that my daughter was waiving when John Bowler and I passed the finish line at 48 MPH. The producers and crew were nice enough to sign the flag so that is a very cool memento to display.
       The propeller is a different story. At the end of that day’s shoot I had noticed this bent-up propeller in a hanger at Hesperia Airport and was admiring it. The airport manager Garry Abbott had noticed that I was intrigued by the propeller and out of the blue asked if I would like to take it home with me. I was so happy I could not contain myself ;0) I graciously accepted the offer and called my brother over to help me lug the heavy prop over to my truck.
       Turns out that the propeller was damaged by a gear-up landing at Hesperia Airport. Fortunately the pilot was not hurt and the aircraft was repaired although this $8,000 propeller was rendered useless when it touched the runway. The propeller reminds me of the fun I had that day and I can’t thank Garry enough for allowing us to use his airport as well as giving me this very cool propeller. I can assure you Garry that this prop is appreciated every time I see it :0)

       The lighting and overall layout of my new machines seems to be perfect. I can’t wait to start making chips with these machines!!! Who knows what creations will come out of these beauties, we will have to wait and see ;0)

       Now that the machines are set up I can break in the spindle bearings and start acquiring some tooling for the set. I plan on researching a modification that will enable my new lathe to cut left-hand threads with the use of a “reversing tumbler”, but more on that in another article. Until then stay productive and safe my friends!!!

Don R. Giandomenico -

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