Hi everyone, I'm Mike. I am 34 years old. I got into machining a few years ago when I bought an X2 from HF. I bought it when I realized my HD drill press just wasn't accurate enough for the project I was working on. Since then I have made lots of chips and done a bit of upgrading to the mill. I converted to belt drive, lapped the ways to DEATH, (GOD I wish I never read about that CRAP!!!) and I filled the base and column with steel bits and JB Weld (I'd use epoxy-granite if I could do it over, and I will when it's time to work on the 45)
My hobby shifted to rifle building, and I moved to a larger mill, an Enco RF45. With this new work envelope, I decided to do some of the upgrades to my X2 that I had read about. I wanted to stiffen the column mount, and CNC the little mill. I bought roller taper bearings for the spindle, hatched a hair-brained idea for running an oil bath over the spindle bearings and started working on my column. Now I think I'll look into those nifty angular contact bearings and the Kluber (sp?) grease.
I now realize my idea for stiffening the column was flawed. Here is what I did: Mill the back of the base square, mill the column mounting point slightly angled forward, attach a thick piece of steel to the back of the column and allow the big bolt to go through it plus additional supporting bolts. Then the big idea was to use a carefully machined spacer between the base and that piece of steel to pull the column back into alignment. Then the column would be under tension (or something) and should be more rigid for it. But I never could get it to tram out right, and frankly I gave up for several years. My 45 ran good, trammed out decently and made lots of chips.
My problem was simple, I was not a machinist. I did not know what precision was or how to attain it. I still am not, and most probably do not, but now I have a clue. A few months ago, by accident, I discovered scraping. The more I read about it, the more the wheels started turning in my head. It couldn't have come at a better time for me either, because I had grown bored of building rifles, and I needed a new hobby.
So I bought a lot of stuff;
24 x 36 AA granite surface plate
8 x 12 granite 4 face right angle - thingy
18" PMC Squaremaster
Anderson Bros tube type scraper and carbide blades
Accu-Finish series one to sharpen the damn carbide blades! It is a nice tool though...
Plus I milled up a nifty little fixture that will (somewhat) accurately cut from a 1" to a 6" radius on the blades.
Book and DVD from Micheal Morgan plus his straight edge casting
Machine Tool Reconditioning by Connelly
Several different indicators, but the only one I trust a little is a digital .0001 x .5 I picked up on Ebay, and I only trust it over short distances...
A pretty nice square gauge block set to the tenth (Of course it's more accurate than that, but tenths is as deep a water I intend to swim in )
A good bit of class 40 cast iron for making gibs and straight edges and such
I already had a heat treating kiln, so stress relieving the castings is no problem
So now I'm working on the old X2. I figure it's a good little project to learn on, and if I screw it up - well I wasn't using it anyway...
Now that I'm looking at the X2 with a bit of knowledge, WOW! It's a wonder I ever cut anything with this POS. Seriously, this thing has a lot of issues. Now some of this might have been caused by my exuberant application of lapping compound before I knew better, but not all of it.
Based on what I read, I needed a datum point to base all my other measurements on. I also needed to practice scraping, so I decided to scrape the bottom of the base casting. The reason was simply because I can put it on my surface plate, and so I can just pile things on top of that and get accurate, repeatable measurements.
After a quick rough scraping and debur, I put the base on the surface plate, and it rocked! :facepalm: Once I realized scraping isn't too hard, and my bearing surface started showing up, I decided to check the height of the ways. I figured it would be easier to cut the bottom down than the ways.
Turns out they were off 3 thou left to right. Now this by itself probably doesn't matter, I doubt Seig uses the base of the machine as a datum point (I don't know how else they could do it, but whatever) The problem is that each way was tilted. One was off 1 thou front to back, the other was off 3 thou but in the other direction. It was twisted I guess. To top it off, one of the ways was not completely machined. There was a ridge approx 10 thou x 10 thou at the most inside point of the bottom left way. As I did the saddle, I noticed the impression left by this ridge (my lapping probably helped to cut that depression) So far I have only measured the tops and bottoms of the ways, I'm still working on tooling to do the dovetails properly, so who knows what I'll find there.
As far as the saddle, it was both twisted and warped. It rocked on the surface plate too. I don't remember how far out it was because it was the first one I did after the bottom of the base, and I just sort of jumped into it.
Now the table was just ridiculous. It was a twisted banana. The top was concave by 5 thou! I have the top pretty flat now, but I'm waiting on some new tooling to make the angled straight edge I'll need to do the dovetail.
That's as far as I've gotten. I have most of the flat horizontal surfaces flat to + or - 3 tenths. Those last couple of tenths are a pain! I think I'll leave the column and head alone until I get the base, saddle and table done so I don't get overwhelmed. It is an exhausting amount of work, but it is fun too. I like the idea that I can check my tooling to see if it is accurate (at least to a tenth anyway) instead of just relying on a name brand and hoping the machinist didn't sneeze
Anyway, thanks for reading all that (or at least for skimming down to the bottom) I fully intend to CNC this little mill if for no other reason than to gain experience for when it's time to work on the 45. I am sure I'll have lots of questions, so thanks in advance for the help.
In fact, here is my first question:
I am a little irritated by the gib system on the X2. I am playing with the idea of machining a new saddle that is a little wider on both sides to allow me to install a tapered gib. What are your thoughts on this idea? What kind of material should I use? Right now I'm looking at class 40 cast iron or 4140 which I can heat treat. I'm not set in stone to do this, but after all the effort I'm putting into this little mill, I think it would be a shame to use these "open air" gibs