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Would YOU put a small mill and lathe on casters?

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Flyinfool

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consider this point naysayers....
almost every naval vessel over 100 feet in length, will undoubtedly have a fully functional machine shop on board.
the machines are never level when underway.

can anyone tell me how the navy machinists can make just as accurate part when underway, as you can on your perfectly leveled lathe or mill to .0005"????

the naval machining must be magic, or, possibly too much emphasis is put onto esoteric gymnastics.

the latter appears true, in my pee brain
It is not the "level" of the machine that matters. The machine being "level" just makes certain setups easier. What IS important is the machine be solid and square. The machines in the shop on a navel vessel are mounted very solidly to the floor so that they have no twist or flex happening. This also keeps them from flying around in heavy seas. That is what is ultimately important. It is just easier to get it right at level than by other means. This just means that those sailors have to work a bit harder to get the machine initially set up, and may also have to work a bit harder to do setups for individual parts.

Erik, this will also apply to you. As long as your base is solid enough to not allow flexing you will have no problem with mobile machines. You will just have to work a bit harder to square up a part while doing a setup since using a level will not be an option. Yes it can be done. But mobile just means that it will not be level (because garage floors are never level) which does not really matter to the function of the machine.
 

francist

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Nice bicycle shop. Love that vertical tool rack -- very nice :encourage:

-frank
 

wrmiller

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It is not the "level" of the machine that matters. The machine being "level" just makes certain setups easier. What IS important is the machine be solid and square. The machines in the shop on a navel vessel are mounted very solidly to the floor so that they have no twist or flex happening. This also keeps them from flying around in heavy seas. That is what is ultimately important. It is just easier to get it right at level than by other means. This just means that those sailors have to work a bit harder to get the machine initially set up, and may also have to work a bit harder to do setups for individual parts.

Erik, this will also apply to you. As long as your base is solid enough to not allow flexing you will have no problem with mobile machines. You will just have to work a bit harder to square up a part while doing a setup since using a level will not be an option. Yes it can be done. But mobile just means that it will not be level (because garage floors are never level) which does not really matter to the function of the machine.
I'm curious as to what setups are easier if the lathe is level?
 

Flyinfool

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I'm curious as to what setups are easier if the lathe is level?
Checking oil levels in the sight glass(s).
I sometimes use a level on my chuck jaws to index a part because it is faster than indicating the part.
These are just the first 2 off the top of my head.

I often use a level while setting things up on the milling machine just because it is faster than indicating it in with a dial indicator.
 

mattthemuppet2

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I've got to say that there's an awful lot of room in that work shop, especially on the walls and ceiling. I have less than half that space and have twice the amount of machinery. It really is worth starting with as blank a slate as possible - if you look at the set up as it is, all you will see is the set up as it is, not what it can be.
 

pontiac428

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All those blue Park tools... mmm... Organized.
 

erikmannie

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Nice bicycle shop. Love that vertical tool rack -- very nice :encourage:

-frank
My family let me have the whole garage for myself, but there were two large water heaters in it! The vertical tool racks cover these water heaters. They are pegboard mounted on 1" steel square tubing frames with locking casters.

Precision Matthews charged my credit card for 20% of the lathe/stand/tools order which is back ordered until December. My wife wasn't too pleased that I spent $4,000 without asking her.

I will post pictures of my locking caster/rigid solution which will hopefully be nearly 100% level.
 

Dabbler

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mill on casters, no brainer, go for it!!! lathe on casters, no-go. It is extremely easy to set up lathe skates that can move your lathe when you need to - I built mine in a weekend.

Let me explain:

The mill is inherently self-stable.as long as it isn't rocking while you use it, such that you might pinch your toes, nothing changes in machine operation for a floor standing mill. Even a bench standing mill won't suffer much from having a slightly unstable bench. Yes, your base has to be stable enough so it won't tip over - we are all responsible adults here.

No for a lathe - I differ because not only is the base used to support and straighten the bed, but is a vital part of vibration dampening, which will show up in both cut quality and accuracy ( unless you make only parts that are very tiny -- OR make parts to wide open tolerances) I tend to think of accuracy in terms of tenths of a thousandth of an inch. It is harder to learn cut speeds and feed rates if you also have to take extra vibration into account. Both my lathes have a nut on the top and bottom of the contact area of the lathe in order to make the levelling feet solid. One of my mentors was a Naval Machinist - Ships with lathes have the lathes bolted to a floor that is usually over 1" thick steel: you could operate a lathe at a 45 degree angle and get great accuracy on those machines... all the support andvibration dampening goes to the bigger structure. (and they normally don't mcahine under way).

On lathe skates, If you have a welder, they can be whipped up quickly, and if you don't bolt together version are also good for lathes in the <2000 lbs category. My skates can handle up to a 5500 lb lathe with normal headstock weight distribution... Nice thing is that they can be made if/when you need to move the lathe.

My small lathe has a boltable pair of wheels to move it, and i just move the carriage toward the headstock and pick up the tailstock end and drive it around like a wheelbarrow.

For mobility on the mill, I made my base wide enough for my pallet jack, which can move anything in my shop except my big lathe.

I'll send you pictures if interested...
 
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Karl_T

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I have the same problem - two lbs. of stuff in a one lb. space.

I have several machines mounted to a steel plate with riser blocks, enough to get a hand pallet truck under it. To work - I take the better half's car out of the garage, then use the pallet jack to wheel out the machine of the moment. when done, it all gets stuffed back in the corners. then put her car back.

This is FAR more sturdy than casters. less expensive, too. Anyway, that's my solution to this all too common problem.
 

brino

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To work - I take the better half's car out of the garage, then use the pallet jack to wheel out the machine of the moment. when done, it all gets stuffed back in the corners. then put her car back.
That would sure make it tough to run out for a quick resize of something.
It would probably make me save up jobs until some threshold was reached, then do all the mill jobs at once.
But you gotta do what you gotta do!
I would rather do that than not have some of the machines.
-brino
 

gaston

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I had work tables,, welding carts and a small lathe on wheels. I got tired of chasing them across the shop so the wheels came off all but the welding carts. my shop is layed out the way I like it with mills and lathes, drill presses and grinders etc in their work space so they dont move . anything that needs to go to the job site ( cars, welding project, repair of some kind) has wheels
 

Aaron_W

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I am far from experienced, and honestly everything I know about from machining comes from people on this site, and a little from youtube.

One thing I will say that is counter to the general consensus on lathe / mill mobility is the size of the machine matters.

Many of the members here have large, very capable machines worthy of commercial use where a firm footing is very important. What I have been told is with "smaller" machines this is less critical since they are not nearly as subject to twisting under their own weight. A small lathe like my Sherline or an Atlas 6" are basically designed to be portable and be used on a table or workbench and being relatively lightweight they incorporate a solid frame into their design since they are not expected to be firmly mounted and precisely leveled, but are still expected to produce accurate work.

It is impractical to carry around larger lathes, so their design assumes a solid footing, including a solid frame to reduce twisting on a 1500lb lathe would probably double to triple the weight.

Where a PM1030 falls on this scale, I can't say. I have a 10" Logan / Powermatic and it is clearly designed to be fixed in place and leveled so following the advice I've received that is what I did. My Logan is an underdrive with an integral cabinet and the whole thing weighs 900lbs, the PM 10" lathes are designed as benchtop lathes that weigh less than 300lbs so it is not a clear apples to apples comparison.


Welcome to the site, I've heard good things about the SRJC Machining program, and have thought about going to it next year after I complete the series of welding classes at Mendocino.
 

erikmannie

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My neighbor across the street went through both the welding and machining programs at the SRJC. He seems to have received a great education.

In a few years, I will have enough seniority at my job to take an early morning shift so that I can go back to college (which will be machining classes at the SRJC) after a 25 year hiatus.

I have been attending vocational schools that one can go to for short classes (1-30 days). I have to save up all year and use all my vacations to do it, but these classes have greatly helped me.

I am a UPS driver, and I got YouTube Premium. I download YouTube instructional videos & listen to those about 10 hours a day on a Bluetooth speaker.

Unfortunately, 50-60 hours a week doesn’t leave me much time or energy to work in my garage/shop. Sometimes it is only on Sundays. If I have a 8-9 hour day at work, I can get in a few hours in the evening.

My favorite thing is working in the shop with a buddy. That is always a great time.

Sounds like we might see each other in the machining classes at the SRJC. My name is my user ID.
 

erikmannie

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I placed the order for the PM-25MV mill on August 31 and they said I can expect it about a month after that. The DRO installation added time.

I won’t get the PM-1030V lathe until December because it was back ordered.

This is all fine because I am still wiped out financially from those two purchases. When I get some money, I can buy some casters and steel.

Working in the shop the last two Sundays with a buddy, I see that I need casters everywhere that I can put them.
 
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erikmannie

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I had been waiting patiently for an email from Precision Matthews with a tracking number, but yesterday I was pleasantly surprised with a phone call from a trucking company saying that the 400 pound pallet was at the local depot.

I rearranged my work schedule so that I can be here the first half of the day for the freight delivery. I hope the truck driver is kind enough to move the pallet up into my garage. It is a short distance, but there is a slight incline in the driveway.

I will post pictures here of the bottom of the PM base. I will definitely be putting the mill on casters.
 

Downunder Bob

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It is not the "level" of the machine that matters. The machine being "level" just makes certain setups easier. What IS important is the machine be solid and square. The machines in the shop on a navel vessel are mounted very solidly to the floor so that they have no twist or flex happening. This also keeps them from flying around in heavy seas. That is what is ultimately important. It is just easier to get it right at level than by other means. This just means that those sailors have to work a bit harder to get the machine initially set up, and may also have to work a bit harder to do setups for individual parts.

Erik, this will also apply to you. As long as your base is solid enough to not allow flexing you will have no problem with mobile machines. You will just have to work a bit harder to square up a part while doing a setup since using a level will not be an option. Yes it can be done. But mobile just means that it will not be level (because garage floors are never level) which does not really matter to the function of the machine.
All very true, I spent most of my working life as an engineer on cargo ships. all of them had very well equipped machine shops, some better than others, but all pretty good. the deck (floor) in the machine shop was very rigid, and each machine was mounted on it's own very rigid subframe that was fixed to the floor in away that if the floor did flex the subframe did not.

Now consider that any point on a ship can be be flat and square at numerous times, but never constantly. much in the same way that a clock that does not run will be correct twice a day.

The machines will almost never be flat and square like on steady ground, what is important is that they are square within themselves. The bed must be straight without twist or bend. The line between centres must be true and straight and parallel to the bed. At the same time time the machine might be tilted 35 to 40 degrees from flat as per a spirit level.

One ship I worked on for two years Used to roll 36 deg from port to stbd and back again every six seconds. this ship was so bad we used to joke that it would roll on wet grass. It never stopped me from doing quality machining. A ships machinist soon learns to avoid doing certain operations under certain conditions such as don't do critical finishing cuts while the ship is bouncing around. You will always get a better finish when the ship is fully loaded in a calm sea, and many others.

It is generally considered that a lathe should be mounted so as to be parallel to the longitudinal axis of the ship. And most of those that I have seen and worked on were. But some were not and it made very little difference.

My last ship before I retired was 300M long and carried 136,000 tonnes of crude oil. considerably heavier, but slightly shorter that the largest aircraft carriers ever built. The workshop on that ship was well equipped with a decent lathe, combination mill, vert, and horizontal. A shaper and good sized drill with X Y table and power spindle feed . Also 3 ph welding set and full oxy acetylene gear. It was a rare day when at least one of these machines was not being used, and we always managed to turn out good quality precision work.
 

C-Bag

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Facinating Bob. I was surprised there was a shaper as part of the equipment as they have been seen as obsolete by most. Is it possible to give an overview of some of the projects you made? I have no reference at all what you would make for a ship.
 

Downunder Bob

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Facinating Bob. I was surprised there was a shaper as part of the equipment as they have been seen as obsolete by most. Is it possible to give an overview of some of the projects you made? I have no reference at all what you would make for a ship.
Thanks, Yes the shaper was rare, it was the only ship in my whole career that had one. it was part of a composite machine An all in one. A lathe, I forget the exact dimensions but around 14" x 36" with gap which increased the swing to about 20" from about 6" from the face plate, but very useful and all the usual extras, including a very good tool post grinder. I was very strict about using it.

Mounted outboard of the headstock was a combination mill, horizontal spindle with overarm support, we could remove the spindle and support and crank out a vertical spindle head. The table was mounted on a knee, which could be cranked right down low and open a cover and out came a shaper ram. the mill was only of modest size and the shaper quite small, but none the less very useful. It saved a lot of filing. the shaper was mainly only used for internal keyways and a few other similar jobs. The mill was also used for keyways and splines, gear repairs, which were a lot of fun because we didn't have divider head or anything similar.

We also did a lot of repair work on pump shafts and impellers. we had dozens of pumps most of them centrifugal and ranging from about 5HP up to 100HP. These larger ones would just fit onto the lathe and sopin in the gap, normally would have them mounted on their own shaft and run between centers so they were running true without complex setup. The main job here was to machine off the worn out wear rings and fit new ones. Many other jobs, including repair damaged bolts big cylinder head studs 90mm dia.

Also make new special tools, As I had originally trained as a tool maker I often saw that I could make a special tool that would make our life easier.

I think the most challenging job I ever had was to make a new spool for a hydraulic spool valve. The valve was mounted out on deck an was used to control a deck crane. the sea water had got to it and caused the chrome to peel off the spool which made it useless. I said I would make a new one, the other engineers fell about laughing knowing that it had to be finished to a tolerance of about 2 tenths of a thou. perfectly round and parallel for its length. The spool was 80mm in dia. and about 700mm long. They said it couldn't be done had to be chrome plated and precision ground. I agreed that would be ideal, but we can't do that, I also said to them that quite clearly they didn't think they could do it. But don't think for a minute that I can't. (me and my big mouth) I now had to do it and prove to them that I could I did it. It took a while. I used a piece of an old head bolt that was damaged beyond repair, they were a special high tensile steel the at machined beautifully. I spun it between centers. Taking it down slowly and getting any taper out of the setup, at about 0.02to finish I changed the tool to HSS and slowed the lathe down to just under 100RPM. From about 0.0005 oversize I took it down with fine emery cloth. I'd had a couple of other guys dismount the valve body and bring it down to the workshop, so I could trial fit it, eventually got it to just fit and we reassembled it back on deck. It worked perfectly. The other guys weren't happy, I had showed them up I just told them as long as they think they can't do something they'll never learn to be any better. I think two of them got it but the other two never did.

BTW shapers are not obsolete, they are very useful try making an internal keyway or spline on a mill. People who have never used one just don't appreciate how useful they are.
Thanks for asking.
 
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C-Bag

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Thanks for sharing Bob. Great overview and story. Would have loved to see pics of the combo machine you describe. I get a vague idea but it sounds like a very unusual machine/setup.

Very often I took it upon my self to make a tool to be able do some job that kept coming up that either the shop didn't have a tool for or there never was one made for it. Not until I got out of car repair and got in fruit packing did I have access to actual machine tools like lathe and mill. So my early stuff was often modding an existing tool. One such was while at the Nissan dealership we kept getting jobs to service the wheel bearings on a front wheel drive car. Unlike other makes it could be pressed apart and not damage the bearings but was impossible to put in a hydraulic press because of the shape of the steering knuckle. So I made a couple of pieces that would attach to the steering knuckle that made it so I could mount my SnapOn puller and push it apart. Then the press could be used to press it back together once the bearings were packed again. So even now most of my projects are just the right size for my smaller equipment. I finally have a project that I wish I had a larger lathe not for diameter but for length and thru hole.
 

Downunder Bob

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Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of that combo lathe, and it was the only one I have ever seen that was of that size, and with the mill being outboard of the headstock. I suspect it might have been a special model built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, for use on ships. It was ideally suited for shipboard use the ship was built by them in Japan, and just about everything in it was also built by Mitsubishi.
 
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