Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Milling Machine Report

Last Saturday was the first part of the "Move The New Milling Machine" project, and although it took us a while, everything went smoothly. Jeff, the previous owner of the mill, rented a four wheel drive fork lift to do the heavy lifting and moving on the departure end of the move.

There are three major components of the mill, the GE 1050 controller, the many boxes of tooling, and the milling machine itself.

We had to move everything out the back door of Jeff's shop, across his back yard and down an area of sloping lawn, through a gate, out onto one street, then a few hundred feet up that street to a T intersection, then left at the intersection and a few more hundred feet to the flat bed truck.


The first part to move was the GE 1050 controller. This is the unit that accepts the CNC file from it's nearby computer, which gets the CNC file through a network connection from another computer. The computer then reads the CNC file, also called "G-Code" and actually controls the milling machine, moving the table, controlling the spindle, turning on the coolant, and so forth.



The controller weighs roughly 500 pounds. It is normally connected to the milling machine by several large wire bundles that are carried overhead through a wire raceway.



The next, and biggest, was the EX-CELL-O milling machine. This beauty weighs in at roughly 2 1/2 tons! The fork lift was up to the job, picking it up without much trouble.


Going across the back yard.


Down the hill in the back yard towards the gate.


Backing through the gate and out onto the road.


Lifting the mill onto the 4x12 wooden beams on the truck.
After we got the milling machine trucked to my barn, I arranged for a forklift and driver from the local lumberyard to unload everything from the truck and set it inside the barn doors on the floor.



The mill dwarfs my poor little Towmotor fork lift. I had hoped the Towmotor could at least slide the mill into place. We  tried for several hours, but it was a case of if it lifted the mill, the rear wheels would lift off the floor, and you had no steering. I was able to drag it farther into the building though, and then we hooked several chains to it and pulled it closer to it's destination by hooking the chain to an excavator outside of another side door into the barn.

I figured if I could get it close, I could move it the final few feet and rotate it with come-alongs. Even the come-alongs wouldn't slide it! I machined four pads out of Delrin plastic and put them under the four feet on the mill, and that made it slide a lot easier. I was then able to pull it into place.



Now it's almost in place, except for turning it 45 degrees and moving it closer to the wall.

The dual spindle milling machine heads.




The mill has now been angled and pulled back into the corner. I've left myself just enough room for access to the various machine panels and electrical boxes, and also left just enough room to be able to insulate and sheet rock the walls. A new wall will be built on the left side of the machine directly under the overhead beam that you can just see in the upper left corner of the picture. The wire raceway and the controller are approximately in position.



Although the machine was built in the early 70's, it's been well maintained as is still very accurate. A number of upgrades have been done over the years. Although it's old technology, it will still make very accurate parts. I've got the first 24' of aluminum angle and bar stock on the way, and we (the mill and I) should be making chips in the next week or so, I hope!

I do still need to wire in a circuit to get 220v. 1 phase power to near the machine, where a VFD (Variable Frequency Drive) solid state converter will turn the single phase power into 3 phase to run the spindle motors. The rest of the machine runs on 220v single phase.

It's been a lot of work so far, and it's taken a lot of time to get this far, but we should be making and selling some pretty neat gun stuff not too far down the road!

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