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My LMS Mini Mill

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Fabrickator

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#1
I decided to finally post the mods I made on my LMS Mill, even though it's a few year old now.

I ordered my mill with the power feed they offer, and installed it upon unpacking. I've been more than happy with the performance and I use it whenever I have the chance. It is a bit pricey, but I think that it's worth the cost unless you plan on going CNC in the future.

I also did the air spring conversion to get rid of the cumbersome torsion spring and make room for the DRO. It is also a great mod, very easy, reliable, clean and affordable.

I also purchased the LMS rotary table and 3-jaw chuck and my only complaint is the depth it robs from the Z axis. While I had my mill apart, I did some R&D to see if I could find another few inches of Z axis because I've run out of room in the past trying to change out the drill/R8 collet with the rotary table/3 jaw. I discovered that an additional 1" is an easy task, but 2" are possible with a few more extensive mods. I'm still researching my options there, but I'll post it if/when I do it.

I then found that I got some chatter when trying to cut anything over .020" steel. I researched a lot of threads and found that the remedy was to add a stiffening bracket to the column. There were as many designs on the web as people posting them and so this is the design I came up with. 4" steel channel on a piece of 3/8" steel plate. Welded, drilled and mounted to the back of the column and then trammed. I read where some others were experiencing "head drop" and I found that I had to take a bit off the mill base because it wasn't let the new plate seat properly. After I did that, it trammed out fine.

Note: Most of the threads on this subject are centered around the similar Sieg model and not the LMS. The Sieg column is designed/mounted differently in the base (or vice versa) than the LMS. In other words, the LMS column is set back inside the base by 1/8" and the Sieg is set out by about the same amount. Here are some pics of my bracket.

I also mounted the I Gaging DROs from Grizzly to all 3 axis and here some pics of my mod. Nothing to notable here other than I don't know I waited so long. I just recently installed them when they've been sitting around the garage for over a year now. It was after my last project (Elmer's #15) that I promised myself I'd get them done before starting any other projects.

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TIGL

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#2
Call me Icona Pop, because I love it!! I can't wait for mine (and 60lbs of aluminum stock :p) to get here monday. How hard was it to install the DROs? I've been eyeing them but I'm concerned about drilling and tapping cast iron. The gas spring and power feed may also be added but that will be much later
 

Don B

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#3
I decided to finally post the mods I made on my LMS Mill, even though it's a few year old now.
Nice work..!

I have an Emco that has had a few modifications and improvements over the years, I might have cursed them as doing them but each one has paid off.

I'm sure your improvements will make your machine more pleasurable to use.:))
 

Fabrickator

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#4
Icona Pop - Congrats on your new purchase. I'm sure you'll love it. The DROs require you making some brkts and drilling/tapping the cast iron is a breeze. I made a few pics of my brkts but took very few measurements. Although, it was on drafting paper (1/4" square type) so you may be able to transcribe them. Then after they're made and installed on the sensors, you could layout where to drill the mounting holes on the machine. I don't have them today and so I'd have to try to remember to take a pic tonight.

What I've noticed and several others have commented on with these mini-mills is the Z Axis can sometimes be restrictive. For me, its while I'm changing out my 1/2" drill chuck in tight quarters. I found a way to gain an additional 1 1/2" of travel w/o losing anything off the bottom. I researched a longer gas strut and found one that works. The only mods were to spot weld the LMS kit bottom boss on one end of the strut and make a new head stock "stop". This mod gives the LMS High Torque a full 12" of Z-Axis travel over the Std. LMS specs of 9.3".

The strut is for a mid-80-early 90's large GM hood support (Caddy, Buick, Olds). About $20 new, I found mine at a surplus house that I have nearby, used for $10. As you can see from the pics, anymore than 1 1/2" and you run out of "gear" to raise and lower the head stock. It still has 3 of the 4 gib screws securing it at the high end, so it's safe to do. I don't think that I would perform any heavy milling at this height, but I've never had a need to anyway.

http://www.liftsupportsdepot.com/value-10292w-strong-arm-gas-spring-lift-support-10292w/

IMG_0643.jpg IMG_0630.jpg IMG_0632.jpg IMG_0634.jpg IMG_0636.jpg
 

Fabrickator

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#5
Here are the tracings of the IGaging DRO sensor brackets that I made for my LMS High Torque. The 1/4" drafting paper should help in creating the rough dimensions so you don't have to start from scratch. I used M-5 cap screws for mounting mine, but anything will work. All of the sensor mounting holes are the same (about 1 5/8"?) so you only have to figure that out once. My pics above are a bit dark but show the proper mounting positions to have full movement w/o any binding at the extremes of X, Y and Z Axis. I chose to mount the Y Axis on the high side (re-drilled) to still have clearance for the left-front mill base hole. All of the DROs were installed w/o disassembling anything. But, I do have a Harbor Freight Close Quarters Drill which helped on the Y Axis under the table.

http://www.harborfreight.com/38-close-uarters-drill-60610.html

I hadn't finished my head stock stop block yet when I first posted and so here are a few pics of it installed to complete my Extended Gas Spring mod. I later figured out that I also gained almost an inch at the bottom as well as 1 1/2" at the top (compared to the LMS gas spring kit) giving mine a total stroke of 13", which is a significant improvement over the LMS standard stroke of 9.3". :thumbsup:

Still to come:

Plexiglas cover/shields for X & Y Axis.

Forward and Reverse spindle control mod that I seen on another website. I installed the switch but haven't hooked it up yet.

Nice aluminum spindle handle and wheel knobs to replace the cheap plastic ones.

IMG_0651.jpg IMG_0656.jpg IMG_0618.jpg IMG_0654.jpg sx2_forwards_reverse.jpg
 

Fabrickator

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#6
Re: My LMS Mini Mill - Cooling Fan

After reading another post where a guy fried his LMS Mill motherboard (possibly exceeding the duty cycle) I decided to take a proactive approach and install a 3" cooling fan that I had picked up at a surplus store for $5. I found that it was a pretty good fit on the side of the control box by simply making an adapter plate, installing a switch and tapping the power source. I used Plexiglas for the adapter plate because I thought that aluminum would just retain more heat. The plate covered four of the existing holes, but I cut in a full-face opening for the fan that nullified that issue. I also bought a snap-on fan screen/filter to ensure that nothing gets in there.

The fan draws in cool air from the opposite side creating a slight turbulence in the box that draws heat away from the heat sinks and other components. It's 115V, whisper quiet and pulls almost no amperage. I installed "piggyback" connectors on the main power cables and the existing connector boots covered them up nicely. It won't be necessary to run the fan all the time, but when working on a heavy cuts or for long duration's of time, it's cheap insurance.

UPDATE: I popped over to my local electronics supplier and picked up the fan cover/filter for $5. Here's a pic of it installed.

IMG_0693.jpg IMG_0678.jpg IMG_0681.jpg IMG_0685.jpg IMG_0688.jpg IMG_0698.jpg IMG_0707.jpg
 
Last edited:

AlanR

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#7
Why wouldn't you let it run all the time? Most cooling fans do and in the long term it's better.
 

Fabrickator

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#8
Just not sure that it's necessary to run it all the time, but you certainly could.
 

KenS

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#9
I researched a lot of threads and found that the remedy was to add a stiffening bracket to the column. There were as many designs on the web as people posting them and so this is the design I came up with. 4" steel channel on a piece of 3/8" steel plate. Welded, drilled and mounted to the back of the column and then trammed. I read where some others were experiencing "head drop" and I found that I had to take a bit off the mill base because it wasn't let the new plate seat properly. After I did that, it trammed out fine.
Fab,

Could you provide some dimensions for your stiffening bracket. Am I correct that the big nut is off center?

Note: Most of the threads on this subject are centered around the similar Sieg model and not the LMS. The Sieg column is designed/mounted differently in the base (or vice versa) than the LMS. In other words, the LMS column is set back inside the base by 1/8" and the Sieg is set out by about the same amount. Here are some pics of my bracket.
I'm having a little problem understanding this. I have a Sieg X2. Maybe a little sketch would help.

Ken
 

Fabrickator

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Fab,

Could you provide some dimensions for your stiffening bracket. Am I correct that the big nut is off center?


I'm having a little problem understanding this. I have a Sieg X2. Maybe a little sketch would help.

Ken
Yes, it's off center by about 1/8". Don't ask me why...

I have a sketch on drafting paper if that would help you with getting some rough dimensions.

In you statement, "problem understanding" I assume that you are referring to the LMS base-to-column offset. The LMS column is negative (less than level to the base about 1/8") and the Sieg appear to be protruding about the same amount from what I've seen in pictures. That's why neither one can have a single, straight piece of metal to stiffen it w/o a dog leg or machining the base flat.

Look at these examples of some Sieg mods. Hope this helps.

IMG_0561.jpg IMG_0563.jpg IMG_0589.jpg column%203.jpg column%20rear%20support%201_800x600.jpg
 

KenS

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#11
It sure does-- the photos really let me understand the positive and negative offsets. You'd think these all come from the same factory, but I guess there are different foundries casting the parts.

The sketches also help. The absolutely worst problem with my X2 is the miserable head drop followed by the less-than-rigid column and lack of a spindle lock. Using your design, I'll probably fix the column first and then tackle the others.

Thanks again for the helpful posts.

Ken
 

Fabrickator

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#12
UPDATE: Forward and Reverse Spindle control. My circuit board lead(s) finally arrived from Hong Kong to complete the spindle reversing mod. Aside from researching to find the correct circuit board plug, this mod was as easy as soldering 3 wires to a switch and plugging it into the circuit board as was described earlier in this post from a thread I found on another website.

I was a little bit nervous doing this for the first time and I was hoping that the guy knew what he was talking about, although he seemed very knowledgeable on circuitry. I plugged it in and voila I now have forward and reverse at the flip of the switch. Now, you most likely will never use reverse, but it sure will come in handy to back out of a threading operation.

If anyone is interested in this mod, I have a few spare, pre-wired plug leads available that we could "cost share". PM me.

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Fabrickator

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#13
I had previously mentioned that I planned on making some cool, new aluminum handles for my LMS Mill to replace the plastic ones and so here they are. I chose not to make them "round balls" with my new ball turning fixture because I wanted to keep the original look and feel, like I did on my G06020 lathe.

The Z axis handle knobs are tapped for M-8.

The X & Y Axis are drilled through and counter bored. I made these with a much tighter tolerance to keep them for rattling when I'm "fast" advancing the table with the power feed.

Next, I want to make a larger wheel w/ knob (maybe 3" or so) for the "Fine Feed" feature because the little one cramps my aging hands after a little while.

Rick

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kbconv

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#14
Excellent material and pics here Rick, thanks for the post! I just got my HF cleaned last week and am now re-assembling, lubing and setting it up today (which is why I'm searching for pics of where everything goes now, ha).

When making the brace, did you position and fasten the 2 seperate support brace pieces to the machine and then place the welds? Were the results of your column brace measurable? I think you mentioned you got chatter at .020" beforehand.

Do you think anything would be gained by using angle iron as the bottom support piece and then welding the lower "ears" of the column's channel iron support to the top "shelf" of the angle iron fastened to the base? I didn't know if that would provide more rigidity or if the complexity is even needed, and I'm not even sure what's available locally.
 

coolidge

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#15
Fab you have exceeded the manufacturers recommended volume of fun on that mill, nicely done!
 

Fabrickator

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Thanks for your support guys.

I thought about several ways to make the column support and yeah, you could do whatever works for you or materials at hand. One thing was I wanted to point out the differences between LMS and Sieg/HF base locations. I was going to add angles from the side base tops to the column but decided that it really wouldn't add much. The main idea being that it "supports" the column to the base, which it wasn't doing before.

I tack welded the pieces in place and then removed it and did a some more welding on the inside off the machine.

I haven't had the opportunity to machine any heavy-duty steel operations but I'm sure it couldn't have hurt anything. It does seem much more rigid when I'm plowing through .060" cuts of aluminum though.
 

Fabrickator

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#17
I recently completed a couple of projects that involved a lot of chips flying off my LMS mini mill and making a big mess on the floor that I was constantly chasing with a broom and shop vac. I ended up using a piece of mat board and a magnet to help deflect the mess and I decided for my next project a proper chip guard was in order.

The mill came with a clear plastic finger guard that was attached to the mill head and didn't do much to contain chips. After thinking about a real chip guard, I decided that the most effective way to build it would be to attach it to the table. I use my mill vise most of the time and anything that is anchored to the mill head can’t get low enough to deflect chips when sweeping from left to right w/o running into the vise. So, I utilized some existing holes on the front of my vise and made a pair of dovetail brackets. It follows the work and lifts on/off easily when needed to take a measurement, change tools or for cleaning-up. My method of clean-up is to vacuum up the big piles and blow everything else to the back wall and then vacuum it up when I’m done, so chips flying out of the back side are OK.

You can see in the pics that it worked pretty good in containing the chips and from getting under foot while I was doing some testing on a cut-off piece of 3/4" aluminum I had in the scrap can.

It won't work for any set-up, but I can't think of a guard design that would. I may be able to make one or two more dovetails to adapt it to another set-up though, only time will tell as the need arises.

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Crevice Dog

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#18
I had previously mentioned that I planned on making some cool, new aluminum handles for my LMS Mill to replace the plastic ones and so here they are. I chose not to make them "round balls" with my new ball turning fixture because I wanted to keep the original look and feel, like I did on my G06020 lathe.

The Z axis handle knobs are tapped for M-8.

The X & Y Axis are drilled through and counter bored. I made these with a much tighter tolerance to keep them for rattling when I'm "fast" advancing the table with the power feed.

Next, I want to make a larger wheel w/ knob (maybe 3" or so) for the "Fine Feed" feature because the little one cramps my aging hands after a little while.

Rick

View attachment 76468 View attachment 76469
Did you make or find a larger wheel for the Fine Feed Z-Axis Knob? This is an upgrade that I too need. I think everyone should have it, as you can't get a smooth feed with that knob, and it does tire out the old hands. I'm setting my X2 mini mill up to also do some lathe work with a 4 jaw chuck. I think a folding or quick detaching handle that gets out of the way may be beneficial and safer.
 

Fabrickator

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#19
No, I never made the larger fine tuning knob. I got to thinking that you may lose sensitivity and drop too much too quickly.

I love your idea of a quick-detach extension lever w/knob that I can use for some applications though. Maybe make the lever with pins and knob and then drill a couple of 1/4" holes in the existing knob to drop it in. I may put a series of 6 holes so I'm always close to the most comfortable position for use, just with more leverage.
 

Ken from ontario

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#20
If anyone is interested in this mod, I have a few spare, pre-wired plug leads available that we could "cost share". PM me.
Hi Fabricator, I'm planning on installing a reverse switch on my mini mill, just need to to know where you got the female plastic plug that's supposed to fit in the 3 pin connector? would I be able to find them at Home Depot? what is the proper name for that connector?
Thanks.
Ken. IMG_0703.jpg
 

Fabrickator

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#21
Thanks for checking out my mods. No, I had to order them from CHina (about 3-weeks) for a pitance. I think I paid less than $10 for 10?

PM me with you mailing address and I'll send just you one.
 

Ken from ontario

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Thanks for checking out my mods. No, I had to order them from CHina (about 3-weeks) for a pitance. I think I paid less than $10 for 10?

PM me with you mailing address and I'll send just you one.
Thanks very much Fabricator for your kind offer, I have bookmarked all your mods and use them for reference often. they are well explained and the pictures are priceless.
I will send you a PM for that connector.
 
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