My adventures with my RF-30

ARC-170

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In this thread I will document my adventures in getting this mill from the dealer to up and running in my garage. I have another thread here that documents some of the early research and mills I looked at.

I just bought an RF-30 clone. It was originally sold by Rutland Tool, which I remember as a local SoCal company in the 80's. I bought it at a machinery dealer in Pomona, Wheeler Machinery. Nice people, very reasonable to deal with. I was pleasantly surprised. I got the mill and a 5" Kurt vise for $975 out the door. After the sale I asked if I could get a t-shirt, too, and they said yes.

1. LOADING
They loaded it with a forklift into my truck. I have a Chevy 1500 so the 600lb weight was no problem. The put a 2x4 between the quill and the column and picked it up with a forklift. It balanced really well and the 2x4 held the weight just fine.
IMG_20201026_165216372.jpg

Once in the truck they pushed it to the back with the forks.
IMG_20201026_165515507.jpg

I tied it down with just two straps wrapped around the column. It didn't move at all.
 

ARC-170

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2. UNLOADING

I bought a used engine hoist on CL. My 15-year old son and I used it to get the mill out of the truck and onto some moving dollies.

I used some scrap blocks to get the strap to clear the plastic belt cover. I used a strap under the mill between the quill and column and another behind the column just to be sure. We lifted the mill up about 2" off the truck bed to make sure it was stable. I moved it by hand and it wasn't tipping so we moved the mill back and lowered it to the floor.

I used a 4x4 on this side, and another 4x4 underneath.
DSC00297.JPG

I used a block of wood on the other side to get the strap to clear the belt cover.
DSC00298.JPG

I used another block of wood to take up slack in the strap I ran on the rear of the column. I was not comfortable with just one strap, even though it balanced fine. Better safe than sorry, and the instructions show two straps.
DSC00299.JPG
 

ARC-170

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3. MILL TABLE DESIGN

I need a table for this. There needs to be an access hole underneath to access one of the leadscrew nuts in order to lubricate it. How big does the hole need to be?

I've drawn an oval in the general area I think it needs to be. Can someone tell me the minimum sizes for dimensions A, B and C? If it's just a round hole, that's fine, I just want to know the size and location.
RF mill access hole location.jpg
 
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martik777

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You don't really need an access hole. You can oil the leadscrew from the top. I just checked mine after several years and it's still covered in oil.
 

mickri

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Have you looked underneath the base? On some of these you can access the nut from below and some of them you can't. Mine is one of the ones that you can't access the nut from underneath the base.
 

Manual Mac

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The Y leadscrew on my RF30/31 clone (Grizzly G1007) can be oiled simply by lifting the chip guard rubber sheet & oiling it, the Y leadscrew is out in the open.
Maybe older machines cannot be oiled in this fashion?
The tag on my machine and also the motor lists mfg date of June 2004.
 

mickri

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On my Ecel EC30B which seems to be similar to the RF 30 manuals I found online the back of the nut for the Y access is at back edge of the table and the Y lead screw is exposed as you move the table to the front. However to get to the fastener that holds this nut in place I have to remove the table. The X axis nut is a pain to deal with. It is sandwiched between the table and the base. You can see it from either side and with a long wrench you can get to the bolts that hold the nut in place. But you can't reach the nut with your fingers. Plenty of access to lubricate the X lead screw because it is exposed on the underside of the table.

On mine to get to the X nut you first have to remove the X lead screw and then the table. To put it back together is not simple. There is nothing that holds the X nut precisely in place on mine. I have to leave the bolts just loose enough so that the nut can shift into position as you screw the lead screw through the nut. Once the lead screw is back in place I have to carefully tighten the bolts as I move the table from one side to the other. Back and forth several times. If I don't do this the nut and the lead screw will bind up. On some models the X and Y nuts are adjustable. Mine does not have this feature.

Attached are 3 manuals.
 

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DavidR8

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The nut on my RF30 clone is not adjustable for backlash but it is located with a pair of roll pins making reassembly fairly easy apart from having to try and cram my hand between the column and underneath the table to hold the nut and start the bolts.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

pontiac428

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Congratulations, it looks like you've got a good one!

@DavidR8 I thought all of the RF mills have trapezoid nuts to adjust backlash. You could cut a slit in your nut then drill and tap for a pinch bolt, effectively converting it into a trapezoid nut. That's an old trick.
 

Manual Mac

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I guess I am kinda confused?
Why do these machines need an access hole in the middle of the table.
I always thought some of these RF30 clones needed the hole to oil the Y leadscrew & nut.
My machine does not need the hole in the table to lubricate the Y or the X leadscrew or nut.
What am I missing?
 

mickri

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Manual Mac The hole is not in the table. The hole we are talking about is in the top of the stand to gain access to the underside of the base.

Pontiac428 mine does not have adjustable nuts for backlash nor does it have any locating pins like Davidr8's. Mine also doesn't have dials that you can zero. Another difference is that it has 4 pulleys instead of 3 to change the speed. The other big difference is how you engage the fine feed on the Z axis. Most have a plastic nob on the outside end but mine has knurled sleeve between the outside end and the head to engage the fine feed. So these machines are similar but different in many respects. Why? I don't know.
 

martik777

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Maybe the differences are between machines made in Taiwan and China, Taiwan are considered superior quality.
I've never had an issue with my either the X or Y nuts from oiling just the leadscrew. Every few years I completely disassemble the X/Y tables, clean, inspect and re-lube.

When I first got the RF31 the spindle would heat up which was caused by dry grease on the 2 bearings. I simply cleaned and repacked them to solve the issue.
 

DavidR8

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Mine is a 1980 LC-30 (Long Chang) made in Taiwan.
MT3 spindle taper
I can't zero the dials
Non-adjustable nut
Knurled fine-feed sleeve
Three pulleys
Z-axis mechanism does not have a removable cover
Three bolts to secure the head, the middle one has a big hub with tapped holes similar to the down feed lever
 

Manual Mac

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Mickri, by table (with hole) I meant the table (stand) that the mill sits on. Not the mill table itself.
Unfortunate use of words on my part.
Sorry for the confusion.
The mill stand I have is the heavy sheet metal one that many company’s sell for the RF-30/31. Came with the mill when I purchased it.
I will be building a steel one with adjustable feet. Been saying that for a long time but you know.....
I will be making it 2 or 3 inches higher than the supplied one which positions the top of the mill table to about 37.5”.
My X&Y lead screws are made out of bronze (or brass?), not cast iron.
The X screw is adjustable for backlash, finally figured out how to adjust it.
ARC-170, congrats on your machine.
I use mine a lot, & couldn’t be happier with it.
Cheers
 

martik777

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1997 Taiwan RF30
Column bolted to base 1/2 way up instead of the bottom of base
40" table height, 3 pulleys, rear is not stepped after VFD conversion
R8
All Dials zero
$600 CAD with power feed + 2 clamps sets + angle vise - purchased in 2013
 

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mickri

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Mine is an Excel EC30B made in Taiwan. Don't know the year.
4 pulleys
Knurled fine feed
R8 spindle
Can't zero the dials and have decided that I like that feature. It allows me to precisely position the table to a prior location.
Non adjustable nuts
3 bolts to secure the head.
Removable front cover plate.
Study stand on casters
I paid just under $500. Don't remember the exact price. No tooling other than a 15" Walther rotary table that would not fit on the table. Sold the rotary table to a local machine shop for double what I paid for the mill/drill.
 

martik777

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I'd appreciate seeing a picture of the sleeves you made.
Sorry, I misspoke the sleeves were on my sold RF25 but I found a photo.
Clamp the handwheel to the shaft with a setscrew and insert a washer/spacer between it and the notched dial
 

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ARC-170

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3. MILL TABLE DESIGN (continued)
I took a look at my mill and it appears I can lube the cross feed nut from the top. This is a view looking from the side of the mill at the back of the table. The nut is just visible at the left of the screw threads. I took the chip cover off.
DSC00303 (2).JPG

I can see under the mill since it's on moving dollies and it looks like I might only need access to the cross feed nut if I ever replace it. I saw what looked like a horizontal screw on the bottom of this part that faces the rear of the machine and is in line with the y-axis, but it's not on the parts list at Grizzly.com for the G0705, which is, I think, the same mill.
A 3" diameter hole will be sufficient for that.

Here is the table design:
mill  table sketch 2.jpg
The mounting holes in the front of the base are at the front corners, but the mounting holes in the rear are about 3.75" in from the back. So I added another cross piece in the rear. I will drill holes in the front cross member and the third cross member from the front so I can have the bolts go thru the table, into the frame. The bolts will stick out the bottom.
I was not fond of just bolting the mill to the table top. It's going to be 3/4" plywood with a 16Ga steel top.
 

ARC-170

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4. MACHINE SPECS/FEATURES
For the "roll call" of machines, you mentioned some specs and features I have questions about. Here's my roll call with my questions:
A. I believe mine is a Rutland Tools RF-30 clone based on the other one that was for sale with it that came out of the same shop and had the ID plate on it (mine does not). The motor on mine has a 2009 date.

B. Number of pulleys: I have 3. I think I read that RF-30's have 3 and RF-31's have 4. Anyone know?

C. Fine feed type: how would I tell what I have? Here's a picture of the down feed on my machine. I took the handles off:
DSC00305.JPG

D. Spindle type: I have R8

E. I can zero my dials. Here's a picture:
DSC00304.JPG
F. What are these "adjustable nuts" and how do tell if I have any?

G. What is this "front cover plate" you are all referring to?
 

mickri

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4 B I have a manual for an RF31 and it shows only 3 pulleys.

4 C You have the typical plastic knob to engage the Z axis fine feed. I'll take a picture of the fine feed on mine after dinner and post it later this evening.

4 F The horizontal screw you mention in your post #20 is probably the backlash adjusting nut we have been referring to. Look at the parts diagram in the RF 30 manual I posted above. Look at part 15 on the last page. On the G0705 parts list it is part #233. You can see the adjusting screw head on the bottom of the part.

4 G The front cover is an aluminum plate on mine that covers a hole in the head casting that allows you to lubricate the quill. Your post #61 picture 3 in your previous thread is a good picture with the front cover removed on your mill/drill.
 

mickri

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Here is a picture of the knurled fine feed locking sleeve on mine. Screw the sleeve in towards the head to engage the fine feed and screw out to disengage. I found the dials on the X and Y to be accurate. Not so on the Z axis. One rotation of the Z fine feed on mine is supposed to be .090. In reality it varies around .085 give or take. Never the same and not consistent.

IMG_3940.JPG
 

Manual Mac

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ARC-170, as I understand it the “adjustable nut” in question F is the X axis lead screw nut.
Facing the mill, look under the right hand side of the table.
You will see the X axis lead screw, & the block/nut that it screws into is what I am referring to.
It will be real oily/greasy (hopefully) and hard to see, as it is towards the center of the table.
If you move the table to the right it will be closer & easier to see.
The adjustable one will have a 4mm allen head screw on the nut. This is for adjusting the backlash.
The nut itself will probably be brass or bronze. I have read some have cast iron nuts, I do not think these are adjustable, but i’m not sure.
Cheers
 

ARC-170

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4A. I think my machine is model Rutland #26660530. Rutland was bought by MSC awhile back. I looked on the MSC website and was able to find Rong Fu's, but that number returned ""3 Phase, 16-3/8" Swing, Step Pulley Mill Drill Machine" as no longer available. They don't seem to have any parts available, either. Incidentally, the alternative (a Rong Fu) retails for $2739, on sale for $2574.66.

4C. Yes, I have the plastic knob that screws in to engage the fine feed. Works well. Is one type better than another, or are they all equally good, but just different?

4F. It appears I have adjustable nuts. I've included some images.

My machine is on moving dollies, so I can look under it. This is a view looking up under from the front. You can see the back of the Allen bolt.
DSC00306 (2).JPG

Here is the same thing except from the rear of the machine. You can see the Allen bolt.
DSC00308 (2).JPG

Here is a view of the table nut. There is one Allen bolt on this side.
DSC00307 (2).JPG

4G. So the front cover is just the plastic cover over the z-axis screw, and the aluminum plate is that plate that has a sticker on it that unscrews, correct?
 

DavidR8

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4A. I think my machine is model Rutland #26660530. Rutland was bought by MSC awhile back. I looked on the MSC website and was able to find Rong Fu's, but that number returned ""3 Phase, 16-3/8" Swing, Step Pulley Mill Drill Machine" as no longer available. They don't seem to have any parts available, either. Incidentally, the alternative (a Rong Fu) retails for $2739, on sale for $2574.66.

4C. Yes, I have the plastic knob that screws in to engage the fine feed. Works well. Is one type better than another, or are they all equally good, but just different?

4F. It appears I have adjustable nuts. I've included some images.

My machine is on moving dollies, so I can look under it. This is a view looking up under from the front. You can see the back of the Allen bolt.
View attachment 342459

Here is the same thing except from the rear of the machine. You can see the Allen bolt.
View attachment 342461

Here is a view of the table nut. There is one Allen bolt on this side.
View attachment 342460

4G. So the front cover is just the plastic cover over the z-axis screw, and the aluminum plate is that plate that has a sticker on it that unscrews, correct?
4G strictly speaking there isn't a Z-axis screw. The spindle is moved by way of a gear that rides in matching grooves in the back of the spindle.
So the cover is really only covering the front of the spindle.
Screen Shot 2020-10-30 at 1.48.02 PM.png
 

ARC-170

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4G strictly speaking there isn't a Z-axis screw. The spindle is moved by way of a gear that rides in matching grooves in the back of the spindle.
So the cover is really only covering the front of the spindle.
View attachment 342466
You are correct, sir! The part I'm referring to is called the "Depth Stop Assy" that attaches to the "Quill Clamp" and has the "Depth Stop Block" on it.
 

mikey

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4F. It appears I have adjustable nuts. I've included some images.
The mills made by Rong Fu have an adjustable nut like yours. When properly oriented, the Y-axis nut has to be accessed from underneath the mill or you will have to raise it up to adjust backlash. It would be wise to provide access from the bottom. The X-axis nut backlash adjustment can be accessed by cranking the table all the way to the left.

It is clear that the clones of the RF mills have differences.
 

ARC-170

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3. STAND (continued)
I called the welder to see when could start on the stand and make sure the changes I made wouldn't cost any extra as he noted when we talked, but he said he forgot to include the material in the quote he gave me over the phone and the price was now $375. I have a call in to another welder, but I'm thinking a metal stand is going to cost a bit much. I thought the original $220 was pricey, but it was acceptable. He also told me the material was over $150 but I got quotes at a local metal supply place for about $100. I know welding isn't cheap, but I had something similar made a few years ago for $100. I can't find the name of the person though!

So, I designed another stand I could make out of wood. It's 4x4 posts supporting 2x4 cross members. Everything is bolted together with 3/8" bolts and nuts and washers. After seeing them load my machine in my truck supported by one 2x4, I think it's safe to build the stand out of wood like this.
In addition, I have 1/2" plywood panels screwed and glued to the outside. The bolt heads are installed flush so the plywood can go over them. I may even glue the 4x4's and 2x4's together. I will drill holes in the 2x4's to put the mounting bolts for the top in. The mill can then be mounted to the top. I plan to make the top at least 3/4" thick and may even double it up.
This design matches the rest of the garage (I built cabinets everywhere) and will help with any shear (think of the stand moving from a rectangle to a trapezoid).

I looked online for 2x4 load calculators and found one (http://www.timbertoolbox.com/Calcs/ddsimplebeam.html) that was easy to use that gave me a max load of 1130 lbs using "#2 Doug Fir-Larch" which is available at my local big box stores.

By the way, when I typed in one 2x4 for a 25" span and 660 lbs, the calculator indicated that this would hold without fail.

Here's a sketch of my design:
wood stand sketch.jpg
The mill rests on the top, so the load is spread out over the 4 posts and all the cross members, but the front and rear cross members are able to support the weight.

The depth dimension is driven by the depth of the mill base and location of the mounting holes, and the width dimension is driven by the width of the tool chest I'm putting under this.
 

Manual Mac

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ARC, look up instruction manual for Grizzly G1006/1007 mill drill. I believe this will pertain to your mill.
From your pics yours is pretty mush identical to my G1007. Mine says made in Taiwan in 6/2004.
Now would be a good time to buy a welder & a Harbor freight hand held band saw, they have the saws on sale often for $89. & I use mine often.
Prolly be a wash money wise instead of having one built. Just a wee bit further down the rabbit hole. And a 4-1/2 inch hand held grinder while U R at it.
If the wife complains, U can blame it on me.
Mikey I wonder why the sheet metal stand that most places sell with these mills don’t have the hole in them to adjust the Y leadscrew backlash? I guess cause not all the mills have adjustable screws. EDIT; also the tin top is designed to hold coolant, I forgot about that.
The stand I build will have that access for sure.
Cheers
 
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