Author Topic: Tramming an X2 without an indicator  (Read 6010 times)

Offline superc

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Tramming an X2 without an indicator
« on: February 15, 2014, 10:23:25 PM »
A couple of weeks ago in accordance with my plans to upgrade the column mount on my MicroMark SX2 I also ordered a dial indicator at a too good to be true price off Ebay.  It was indeed too good to be true.  The clamps that came with it were the wrong size.  I next obtained a fits all clamp from Sharf.  LoL, it did fit the indicator, but not the rods I had.  The vendor that sold me dial indicator has of course promised to replace all, but that was over a week ago and I am still waiting.  Meanwhile the project to epoxy the SX2 column completed. 

I have a digital inclinometer and with that I can tell if my column and the spindle is 90 degrees or not, and it implies my table is also, but I didn't trust just that device.  Waiting for a mailman who may never come is frustrating.

Then I pondered it and I realized I still have a tilting column and the best indicator of a machine subtly out of tram is from examing the pattern produced by a fly cutter.  I had some 1/4 inch hot rolled steel stock scrap.

My thought was why not see set it up as best as you can with the inclinometer then run a fly cutter over the steel stock and check the pattern that results?  So I did.  A terrible pattern.  However this also gave me a chance to play some more with the modified mill.  Different speeds, different feed rates, etc.  It isn't like I had ever before successfully worked HR steel without problems before the column mod.  If nothing else I confirmed the inclinometer at least put me into the ball park, even if the fly pattern showed I was out of tram.

Tonight I hit upon a redneck solution involving a ballpeen hammer instead of the usual plastic mallet and multiple passes with the flycutter.

I ever so slightly loosened the column nut and ran the flycutter into the center of the piece, then gave the top of the side of the column that was cutting the most a tap with the ballpeen hammer then finished the pass and examined the finish.  This went on for awhile, left side, then right, etc.  The passes were shallow because the only goal was to create a flycutter pattern to examine. 

After about 10 gentle but firm taps and passes I found a sweet spot that produced cutting on both sides of the single blade flycutter.


I then locked the column down tight and did an entire pass with that column setting.   

A perfect flycutter pattern.  I believe my machine is now properly trammed on X axis.  Tomorrow I will spin the vise around with the other side of the plate and see what happens on my Y axis.  I will also make a cold chisel mark on the column and base so I can always quickly land near the sweet spot again if I have to move the column.  The finish of the experimental piece is probably about as close to mirror as a mill can make it.











Offline Stilldrillin

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Re: Tramming an X2 without an indicator
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2014, 03:45:58 AM »
Hi C.

Nicely done!  :clap: :clap:

Back in the days when I had to work for a living, on grown up machines.

I trammed, using a horizontal, 12" long piece of bar, held in the machine's spindle. And a steel block/ feeler, sliding between table and bar.
Taking two equal feelings, 180dgrs apart, (ie. over 24"), gave the perfect tram.......  :thumbup:

David D
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Still modifying bits of metal... Occasionally, making an improvement!

Offline superc

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Re: Tramming an X2 without an indicator
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2014, 12:41:18 PM »
It has been said, with a big enough hammer, or enough dynamite, any problem can be solved.   :)

Thank you.  I was worried 'hit it with a hammer' may not be socially acceptable as an X2 fix, but I also thought it was important to get the word out that sometimes that does indeed work well.   Secret is just firm taps from a big enough hammer.  If I had not filled the core with an epoxy/steel/sand mix I would have been more reluctant, fearing denting or buckling or cracking of the column, but it all came out pretty solid, so I didn't think that would hurt it any more than beating on an old Buick flathead engine would hurt that.  I was right. 

For those wondering, since hardly anyone just sells pre-cut 3/8 inch HSS fly cutter bits and all of my efforts to grind one of my own have failed, I used a store (Micro Mark) #4980L 8mm lathe bit.  Left hand bit tightened down upside down into the fly cutter.  It was loose of course.  So I tightened a single edge razor blade edge down into a workbench vise, then snapped the back off with a big hammer.  Snapped clean.  I took that piece of steel back and it fit perfectly alongside the lathe bit in the fly cutter.   :)

Hmm, it probably isn't the approved fly cutter shape, but I can report (as the photos show) the cheap 4980L mini lathe bits work perfectly in the Micromark fly cutter on hot rolled steel.  I may buy some more of them. 

I have a tachometer for the mini lathe.  Hooked it up to the SX2, took readings, and then marked them on the rheostat box.  No need for a tach now 'cause that effectively gave me a speedometer.

I know, I was supposed to run it at about 430 RPM and 8 feet minute feed.  That worked, but in the real world so too did 6-800 RPM and about 5 feet a minute hand cranked.  Just slow and steady.

So will an SX2 with an epoxied column cut steel plate?  Oh heck yes. 

Biggest problem I am encountering with the SX2 now is the small size of the work aperture.  That steel plate is about 6" by 2.75" and in order to fly cut it I had to take the big Sharf vise out of center position, insert the fly cutter (only 7" of Z room), then put the vise back.  Of course that business with moving the vise first wouldn't be needed on a full size machine.  Likewise I needed 3" on either end of the 6" steel plate for the fly cutter to fully exit the workpiece.  Unfortunately my SX2's bed travel is only 11" along the X axis.  One end suffered and did not experience the full fly cutter effect.  Likewise, although I was kicking around the idea of flycutting the piece along the Y axis to check that tram, since the bed travel is only 4 inches and I should have 3 inches on either side for the fly cutter to exit, I realize now that test can not be run on this machine as I will not have even one side clear enough for the flycutter to exit along the Y axis.  Even doing it sideways and with only one side fully exiting, I would need at least 6" of Y travel (probably more if you take the vise footprint into account).  Durn shame.  T'would have been a good easy test of Y axis Tram. 

I have a faint suspicion that my mill head leans inward just a hair.  If you look at the plate you see the flycutting looks fainter along one long axis.  That was the side near the column.  I have read many webpages where folks found Y axis issues with their X2 heads.  Aluminum foil fixes and all that.  I had the head off yesterday morning while I was playing with the quill gear (shaft was very grungy and the fine adjustment had been sticking and no, it isn't necessary to remove the column to detach the head or remove the quill handle/gear) so I see where the shim would go, but sheesh, couldn't they have done that at the factory?  If they didn't want to put it together right (or polish out the tool marks on the gibs) why didn't they just drop the price a little and send us a box of loose parts as a kit (as Jinma did for my 8" wood chipper a few years ago, a 5' 3/4 ton crate of metal parts with instructions for assembly written in Chinese)?  Yeah okay, maybe a head shim is in my future too.  Don't know yet.  For 99% of anything I anticipate doing here the fact that the mill head is possibly the thickness of a cat fur off in angle at the bed really won't matter worth a durn.  Trust me, the lawn mower won't care.    :)

But anyway, the X2 work aperture is small, but I have no room (or funding, or electricity for a real machine (LoL let's crush the basement floor with a real machine, NOT).  Still for well less than a $1G it is a durn nice accessory for any work at home mechanic type.  There is just so much to learn with it.

Offline MetalMuncher

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Re: Tramming an X2 without an indicator
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2014, 10:48:24 PM »
Just wanted to say that the Y axis on mine was off a bit as well. I remember I put a shim in at the base of the column. I don't remember how thick it was (I used a feeler gauge).

To tram mine I clamp a piece of precision ground steel plate 4" wide x 7" long to the table, and then use a Baker back-plunger indicator in a collet, so I can swing the full circle without having to jump the T slots with the indicator. As I recall, the Y axis was off a few mils, and once I added the shim to raise the front of the head I got it down to about 1.2 mil difference front to back, and decided to accept that, as trying other thicknesses didn't seem to get any closer to plumb.

But well done on your indicator-less method! One thing that makes me notice I need to check the tram is when my R8 flycutter starts cutting more in one direction than the other, along the X axis. It seems to me like the big nut they have to hold the column in tram on this model of mill is not the best solution, so I made a large turnbuckle and added it to the left side of the column (facing it) so that when I crank down the big retaining nut the column can't move. I used what amount to miniature tie rod ends, welded to steel tube, with a nut welded in the middle for a wrench to turn it. I take the end play out just like you would with a lead screw, by always starting out of tram a bit to the left. Then by turning the turnbuckle to extend it, I bring the tram into center with the indicator by moving the column clockwise. I got tired of seeing a variance in tram every time I tightened that nut. ;)



Offline Stilldrillin

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Re: Tramming an X2 without an indicator
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2014, 03:29:12 AM »
I used a bit of drinks can alloy, to shim in Y.

Later, replaced my spring saucer, with a 5/8" thick washer..... http://madmodder.net/index.php/topic,7643.msg81954.html#msg81954

The column didn't move, as I trammed and tightened.
Also, it hasn't moved out of tram over the past two years. Fit n forget!  :thumbup:

David D
Still drilling holes... Sometimes, in the right place!

Still modifying bits of metal... Occasionally, making an improvement!

Offline Brass_Machine

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Re: Tramming an X2 without an indicator
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2014, 09:25:45 AM »
I ended up buying a tramming tool off of EBAY. Some machinist was making a few... Cheaper than my time and parts to make my own. I can't seem to find him, but the Edge pro tool is on Sale on EBAY



We used to have instructions on how to make your own... But for $99 why bother?

Eric
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Offline MetalMuncher

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Re: Tramming an X2 without an indicator
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2014, 11:07:50 AM »
I used a bit of drinks can alloy, to shim in Y.

Later, replaced my spring saucer, with a 5/8" thick washer..... http://madmodder.net/index.php/topic,7643.msg81954.html#msg81954

The column didn't move, as I trammed and tightened.
Also, it hasn't moved out of tram over the past two years. Fit n forget!  :thumbup:

David D

Nicely done! I looked at a lot of different ways to do the column stiffening, and I am leaning toward the methods that fasten the column to the base casting. As many have mentioned, I've never found the need to tilt the column on a job. When you bored that hole on the lathe, did you use a 4 jaw chuck? I have one, but it isn't big enough to hold a 4" square. I do have a boring head for the mill, so I would probably have to do that hole with the boring head. Any thoughts on steel versus aluminum for these plates? I have a piece of 1/2" thick  6061 that is 5 inches wide I could use.

Do you think the fact they used the "spring" washer is what contributes to the column flexing, compared to using the flat plate?

Another thing I saw last night was some mention of the head to column fit, and bolts, not being very good on newly arrived mills. And that cleaning and tightening the head bolts on at least one rig totally eliminated the need for the Y axis shims we mentioned above. I know I was in the head once (had to replace a stripped gear before I got the belt drive). But I don't remember if I actually removed the head from the column or had it attached while lying on the bench. Wouldn't I have had to remove it to access the internal gears? Memory isn't so great anymore. :)

I did the cleaning suggested on one of the mini-mill websites during the initial setup, before using the mill. But that was almost 10 years ago. :)


Offline MetalMuncher

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Re: Tramming an X2 without an indicator
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2014, 11:15:25 AM »
I ended up buying a tramming tool off of EBAY. Some machinist was making a few... Cheaper than my time and parts to make my own. I can't seem to find him, but the Edge pro tool is on Sale on EBAY



We used to have instructions on how to make your own... But for $99 why bother?

Eric



I've looked at these things several times, and the same question always came to mind. Perhaps you can finally answer it for me? When you mount a pair of indicators this way, aren't they somewhat adjustable as to being vertically plumb? And if so, how would one ever know they are adjusted perfectly? Or are they rigidly mounted, with no user adjustment for zero, and perfectly calibrated when made? 

Thanks!

MM

Offline Stilldrillin

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Re: Tramming an X2 without an indicator
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2014, 02:57:09 PM »
Eric.
Having been here, while those were Modder produced. I still don't get them. They seem a complicated way to solve a simple problem. Also, introducing their own problems.  :scratch:

Unless, I'm mistaken.......   :palm:


Lawrence.
I'm sure the spring washer, flexing the hollow column face, is a factor......

That is a big nut. I would use no less than 1/2" thick steel. Wider than the column.

Easily drilled/ bored on the mill.
My stud is 2mm to one side of the column centre line. Check before making an "offset" plate!  :thumbup:

David D
Still drilling holes... Sometimes, in the right place!

Still modifying bits of metal... Occasionally, making an improvement!

Offline Baron

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Re: Tramming an X2 without an indicator
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2014, 03:26:10 PM »
Eric.
Having been here, while those were Modder produced. I still don't get them. They seem a complicated way to solve a simple problem. Also, introducing their own problems.  :scratch:

Unless, I'm mistaken.......   :palm:
David D

I'm one who set to and made my own !  It terms of money 20 plus some time.
In my case the supplier of the dial gauges sent two slightly different ones.  Apart from the differences that can be seen in the photos, the stem of one was 1/4" longer than the other.  It doesn't actually matter if they are not exactly the same stylus hight since you just rotate the scale to get a zero reference.  Obviously you have to calibrate each gauge but that is very easy.  Indeed all you need to do is pick a point on the machine table and set one gauge to zero. Rotate  the whole lot 180 degrees and zero the other gauge with the stylus at the same point.  From this point on any head tilt will be shown on the gauges.  One will be plus something and the other will be minus something.  Now all you have to do is move the head until both gauges read the same.
Best Regards:
                     Baron

Offline MetalMuncher

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Re: Tramming an X2 without an indicator
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2014, 04:47:07 PM »
Eric.
Having been here, while those were Modder produced. I still don't get them. They seem a complicated way to solve a simple problem. Also, introducing their own problems.  :scratch:

Unless, I'm mistaken.......   :palm:
David D

I'm one who set to and made my own !  It terms of money 20 plus some time.
In my case the supplier of the dial gauges sent two slightly different ones.  Apart from the differences that can be seen in the photos, the stem of one was 1/4" longer than the other.  It doesn't actually matter if they are not exactly the same stylus hight since you just rotate the scale to get a zero reference.  Obviously you have to calibrate each gauge but that is very easy.  Indeed all you need to do is pick a point on the machine table and set one gauge to zero. Rotate  the whole lot 180 degrees and zero the other gauge with the stylus at the same point.  From this point on any head tilt will be shown on the gauges.  One will be plus something and the other will be minus something.  Now all you have to do is move the head until both gauges read the same.

Aha! I had not thought of the rotating method of calibration. And I see now that when you say "both say the same" they may or may not actually show "0". Somehow I was thinking they would both be zero'ed when the tram was done, and that is why I couldn't see how it would work. Thanks for the explanation. I now see this would indeed be handy, and if one had a pair of indicators of similar size rather easy to make. Faster than my method of rotating a back plunger indicator from side to side, for sure. And I presume the longer one would make the center bar the more accurate the tram would be.

Offline MetalMuncher

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Re: Tramming an X2 without an indicator
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2014, 05:10:12 PM »
Eric.
Having been here, while those were Modder produced. I still don't get them. They seem a complicated way to solve a simple problem. Also, introducing their own problems.  :scratch:

Unless, I'm mistaken.......   :palm:


Lawrence.
I'm sure the spring washer, flexing the hollow column face, is a factor......

That is a big nut. I would use no less than 1/2" thick steel. Wider than the column.

Easily drilled/ bored on the mill.
My stud is 2mm to one side of the column centre line. Check before making an "offset" plate!  :thumbup:

David D

Yes, I was surprised to see in all this reading about this project that the pivot bolt is not in the center of the column. Strange. Do you know if anyone has a good drawing of the dimensions locating the hole on the column? I saw a couple CAD drawings, but although they worked off a "centerline" (not on center!) through the big hole, they did not include dimensions to get to the line from the edges of the column. Or, do these dimensions vary across the X2 clones? That might explain why the drawing did not show them.

Why would you suggest the plate be wider than the column? I would think as long as it is flush with the outside edges that's about as much support as you can use.

1/2" or greater steel plate that size I would have to order. I do have a 5/8" thick by 4" wide x 12" long 6061 plate but I did have other plans for it. I did see one column plate a fellow made from aluminum that was really pretty. He milled the forward side of it to get a flush fit against both the base casting legs and the back of the column. Looks very professional. :)

Offline Stilldrillin

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Re: Tramming an X2 without an indicator
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2014, 05:39:19 PM »
Lawrence.

I didn't need a drawing for the offset. I measured my own machine........

For wider than column. Read not less than column width......

David D
Still drilling holes... Sometimes, in the right place!

Still modifying bits of metal... Occasionally, making an improvement!

Offline MetalMuncher

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Re: Tramming an X2 without an indicator
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2014, 10:11:09 PM »
Lawrence.

I didn't need a drawing for the offset. I measured my own machine........

For wider than column. Read not less than column width......

David D

Gotcha! Thanks! Upon further research I decided that the "stock" to use for the plate does indeed need to be wider than the column, IF one intends to bolt the bottom corners into the base casting. It would depend on what style of plate one selects.

Offline MetalMuncher

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Re: Tramming an X2 without an indicator
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2014, 10:30:47 PM »
While looking over all the different stiffening solutions for the X2 column, I have run across an interesting post on another forum - how to check the alignment of the spindle to the column, and how to adjust it if needed. I'm going to check into that, and since any adjustment involves having the column removed so it is easier to pull the head assembly, I can take the needed measurements to locate the pivot hole while I have the column lying down.

This also gives me a good excuse to tidy up around where the mill sits on my bench. ;)

Offline philf

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Re: Tramming an X2 without an indicator
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2014, 03:49:51 AM »
Eric.
Having been here, while those were Modder produced. I still don't get them. They seem a complicated way to solve a simple problem. Also, introducing their own problems.  :scratch:

Unless, I'm mistaken.......   :palm:

David D

David,

I've never used a twin-gauge tramming device but I wish I'd had one when tramming a Bridgeport at work. Normal left/right tramming was easy enough but if some kind soul had been on the machine and tilted the head forwards or backwards it was a real pain to set. The problem being that the pivot point was a long way behind the spindle axis. You couldn't just tweak the head to a dial gauge reading - you had to tweak it a bit, take two gauge readings after rotating the spindle through 180 degrees, tweak it a bit more and keep repeating until you got two readings the same. A tramming tool with two gauges would have been a boon. (I used to use a square against the quill to get it somewhere close to save a bit of time.)

Not only did some of my colleagues always seem to have a need to angle the head, I once started a job and took the first cut only to have a broken cutter flying past my head. Someone had put the head almost back to being in tram but hadn't clamped it up and it spun round as soon as it started to cut metal. No-one ever owned up to to it.

Another of my pet hates was the idle ****s who took the vice off and just bolted it back on without clocking it up.

Phil.

Phil Fern
Location: Marple, Cheshire

Offline Baron

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Re: Tramming an X2 without an indicator
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2014, 04:54:38 PM »
Eric.
Having been here, while those were Modder produced. I still don't get them. They seem a complicated way to solve a simple problem. Also, introducing their own problems.  :scratch:

Unless, I'm mistaken.......   :palm:
David D

I'm one who set to and made my own !  It terms of money 20 plus some time.
In my case the supplier of the dial gauges sent two slightly different ones.  Apart from the differences that can be seen in the photos, the stem of one was 1/4" longer than the other.  It doesn't actually matter if they are not exactly the same stylus hight since you just rotate the scale to get a zero reference.  Obviously you have to calibrate each gauge but that is very easy.  Indeed all you need to do is pick a point on the machine table and set one gauge to zero. Rotate  the whole lot 180 degrees and zero the other gauge with the stylus at the same point.  From this point on any head tilt will be shown on the gauges.  One will be plus something and the other will be minus something.  Now all you have to do is move the head until both gauges read the same.

Aha! I had not thought of the rotating method of calibration. And I see now that when you say "both say the same" they may or may not actually show "0". Somehow I was thinking they would both be zero'ed when the tram was done, and that is why I couldn't see how it would work. Thanks for the explanation. I now see this would indeed be handy, and if one had a pair of indicators of similar size rather easy to make. Faster than my method of rotating a back plunger indicator from side to side, for sure. And I presume the longer one would make the center bar the more accurate the tram would be.

Its true that the longer the bar the more precise you can be !  But, there is always one" if you make the bar too long, you rapidly run into diminishing returns, because you are then trying to tram to fractions of a thou.  I chose 8" simply because I had a piece of 1" square black bar that length.  If I was doing it again I would have made the bar 6" in length because my mill table is 6" wide and it would have made checking for nodding easier.  As it is I take two readings with the bar set as far diagonally across the table as I can.  Then rotate it the other way and re check.  My mill nods about 1.5 to 2 thou forwards.

One other thing to note.  I originally drilled the ends for 8mm indicator spigots.  the ones supplied turned out to be 3/8".  I've since purchased another one.  0.01mm and this one is 10mm diameter spigot.  Which since its a metric gauge I suppose would be correct.

Best Regards:
                     Baron

Offline MetalMuncher

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Re: Tramming an X2 without an indicator
« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2014, 06:36:29 PM »
I've always been frustrated by the total lack of standardization for indicator holding hardware. I have 3 indicators and non of them mount with the same diameter shaft. IMO they should all be identical in their mounting stems. It is like making rulers in 12", 11 19/32", and 13.045mm.  :)

Offline superc

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Re: Tramming an X2 without an indicator
« Reply #18 on: February 21, 2014, 08:23:10 PM »
After my frustration with a no name brand (Chinese?) indicator and clamps obtained via Ebay I did more research on Dial Test Indicators (DTI) and tripped across a lovely company that repairs such things and best of all they have a lot of usable information and also offer a by brand name comparison of different makes of DTIs. 

http://longislandindicator.com/p14.html

They also offer a lot of useful information (including brand comparisons) on dial calipers.
http://longislandindicator.com/p11.html

In fact IMO there is good to know stuff all over their website.