View Full Version : Afraid of tilting the mill head? Hell No!

03-29-2007, 01:19 AM
After reading pages of posts here some time ago saying how many will not tilt their mill heads for fear of having to tram it again I say Bunk!

Have been going nuts making shop tools and decided to make an indicator plate for the tailstock on my lathe. Had it on the mill, bored it and then needed to slit it so I could drill and tap and have a clamp action when using it to keep it fast on the tailstock barrel.

Have been wanting to use my new slitting blade so I cranked the head 45* and the slit the plate. Worked like it was meant to and maybe better. When done righted the head and trammed it in minutes.

The moral of this story....... If I can do it so can you!:cool:

03-29-2007, 01:55 AM
I tilt mine at least once a week, and the more you do it the faster you can re-tram it.
I try to save a few angle cuts to do each time but that does not always work out.


03-29-2007, 02:41 AM
I tilted my a few days ago an discovered it can't tilt to 45' without hitting other parts of it. Kinda hacked me off as I was really depending on this tilt for a project. I rotated the workpiece instead but it was less precise.

When I put the head back to vertical I missed it by a small amount and now I have to tram it. Damn index marks are useless :)

I do have to confess to having an appreciation for dished surfaces churned out by an out of tram machine - far more attractive than the interleaved swirls from a perfectly aligned machine. I keep telling myself this. It's art, not imprecision!

John Stevenson
03-29-2007, 04:49 AM
Seeing as a milling machine spends most of it's life removing big chunks off metal is it imperative that it needs to be trammed to a thou of a gnats bollock on EVERY use ?

I can understand if you are doing a V8 cylinderhead or similar but that new vise jaw at 3/8" wide will be out by an order of microns that your machine isn't ever capable of achieving let alone measuring.

Last time I had mine over at an angle contary to what I normally do and go back to the marks I did tram it it, mainly to check the marks and to do a large flat mounting plate.
I noticed yesterday that it's now off and that's been caused by just general milling operations.
This is on a Bridgeport BTW and not the lighter machines.

Unless you have a dedicated fixed vertical or one where the head is doweled to the ram then this will occur.


03-29-2007, 05:54 AM
Theres a easy to do it,However I don't know the correct name for a Angle plate so I not saying.....

Don't want to get bashed...........:rolleyes:

Your Old Dog
03-29-2007, 06:25 AM
I've never tilted my head yet. I think I picked up some bad habits in woodworking. When working wood things happen much faster, at least for me they do. I feel like I can build an entertainment center in the time it takes to get set up doing the most basic machining operations. I hate changing setups and heaven forbid I have to go back to repeat a setup I just left!

But I suppose, like most things, the more you do it the more proficient you get. I also can understand what John is saying about them going out of tram on there own after a bit of use.

A.K. Boomer
03-29-2007, 06:49 AM
Iv got to tilt my mill head when I need a lathe, if its a small job I just keep it vert. but if i have allot of pieces then I tilt it and throw on my chuck and quick change and lock down the quill, The biggest surprise to me is how stable it is, i expected a chatterbox but it really works nice...

03-29-2007, 08:09 AM
One of the benefits of the year at CC was a demo by the instructor of
how to tram a Bridgeport, and how to center in a 10" 4J. Instructor did
either of these procedures in less than 2 minutes while explaining and
demonstrating the method to the group. B'ports are easy compared to
tramming a milldrill column or 3n1 but the principle is the same. Of course
it helps to have tight gibs that are not worn and keep the table in the
same plane as it moves in both directions. That is one of the secondary aspects of tramming. Finally squaring the vise (or work) is not much
more difficult.

03-29-2007, 08:25 AM
Theres a easy to do it,However I don't know the correct name for a Angle plate so I not saying.....

Don't want to get bashed...........:rolleyes:
Yabut...you've been here forever now (35 posts) so you could get away with it :D

03-29-2007, 08:27 AM
I try to avoid tilting it, hardly fear its just a pita. On a full size mill by the way, you should have someone on the head when tilting, its a lot of weight on that worm and if something breaks, disaster. I was taught that in high school and always thought it made sense. I'd probably have to tilt more often, but luckily I have an adjustable angle plate :)

A.K. Boomer
03-29-2007, 08:43 AM
I may use the worm to lower depending how it "feels" But I never use it to raise, it is too much load for my liking, i put one hand on the mill head and use a ratchet and socket with the other, I only put so much pressure on the worm and push the motor up with the other hand while turning.

03-29-2007, 08:44 AM
The B-port I'll be bringing home someday soon is currently set up with hard conduit to the motor. It obviously hasn't been tilted since it was installed.

By the looks of it the vise hasn't been off the table since forever either so you know no one's been oiling the half nuts.

None of the table locks appear to work.

It's got grease pumped into the ways from the zerks but we'll just consider that to be preservative!

I'm gonna bring it home anyway.


Peter N
03-29-2007, 09:07 AM
Tilting the head on my old 6x26 resulted in a nightmare trying to get it back in tram. Evertyime you nipped up one of the bolts it would move out of tram as the casting (bondo???) flexed, and not just the odd thou' or so, considerably more than this.
30 minutes or so would get it close enough, but made me yearn for a tilt and swivel vice.

However, on the Bridgeport it is *much* faster and easier to tram in again after tilting, no more than a couple of minutes tops. It does help that I have a pair of huge parallels to use on the table, but the thing hardly moves when you nip the bolts up, and this is where the time is saved.

The downside of the Bridgeport is that it has so many joints in the head that heavy-ish cutting will move it after a time and you need to do it again.


03-29-2007, 12:09 PM

Funny how the grass is always "greener" over the fence, I've had a small tilt and swivel vice for years and always yearned for a decent tilt head. At least with the Bridgeport I suppose I can claim I now have both.

Are you up and running again after the flood?



03-29-2007, 12:27 PM
I was always told to tram it everytime. Especially with the school machines, as who knows who was working on it last, what they were doing, or if they knew what they were doing. But at home, I try to check it at least once a day, and absolutely check they vise. It only takes 2 minutes to check anyhow.

kap pullen
03-29-2007, 03:39 PM
I had to tilt the head over on the Prototrak/Bridgeport at work to do some c-bores inside a box.


We had no other way so I got elected again.
Here's the finished job.


Heard today, the customer liked them and ordered a couple more.
No sweat, with experience, to retram things.

Put a little oil, or grease on the worm before you tilt her over.
That makes it a bit easier going vertical again.


Peter N
03-29-2007, 05:22 PM
Are you up and running again after the flood?



Hello Keith, nice to see you over this side.

Will be running again next week. Machines should have been back in this week but had a slight hiccup with transport, so they won't be in until Monday.

Still, it did give me the chance to build a better bench that I'd been promising myself.

Incidentally, now I have the Bridgy I also have a nice abwood tilt and swivel vice as well, so get the best of both worlds.


03-29-2007, 09:02 PM
I tilted the head on my exacto "bridgeport clone" to 72 degrees, with a 4" long 1.25 diameter roughing mill in the collet, put the knee all the way to the top and vised up a 1.25 diameter tube and fishmouthed it, actually i did 8 of them at 72 degrees.....It worked out very well, all though it took a bit to get setup as it was my first time at fishmouthing on this mill....Oh ya, i was able to leave the quill all the way up as well....:D

03-29-2007, 09:13 PM
I have had the head on my Millport upside down twice to move it from shop to shop. I have no problem with laying it over to any angle I wish.

kap, why couldn't you clamp the box to the table and machine it? That is an interesting angle you have it in. I have done much the same to get the head as close to the table as posible. The boss didn't have and wouldn't buy an angle head attachment so I had to be creative as you were.

What is puzzling to me is we got a job for keyways in small blind holes so he bought a shaper attachment for the Bridgeport. We only ran the parts a few times and the shaper attachment was seldom used after that. I had to make all the tooling for it. It cost him about $1500 I think, but he wouldn't buy the angle attachment for about $500 that we would use more often.

03-29-2007, 09:47 PM
Newby thought. I have only trammed mine twice and it probably needs to be checked. I did it using 2-3-4 blocks and an indicator in the spindle, but I found the indicator touchy when contacting the blocks. I was thinking a better way to do it is with a used optical flat normally used to check precision lapped surfaces. These things can come as a 8 or 10" glass disk about 2"thick and parrallel to 0.000001". They get less transparent and scratched after heavy use and get scrapped after a while -but perfect for tramming. The advantage is the indicator stays on the tramming surface for the whole adjustment. I think I have seen used ones on ebay at resonable prices. Jim

Spin Doctor
03-30-2007, 12:48 PM
The optical flats maybe flat but that is not the same thiong as parallel. If they are the same thickness over the whole surface sounds like a good idea. Use an indicator and a Jo Block or 1-2-3 block myself. Trick is to swing the indicator to the side you want to check and then pass the block under the indicator.

03-30-2007, 05:07 PM
For what it's worth, I bought a cheapo surface plate (9" x12") to tram the mill, and worried about the parallelism. I turned up small diameter feet for the plate, epoxied the feet to the back of the plate, cleaned the mill table, clamped the plate and feet upside down on the table, and took a light cut on the feet to get them all the same height. No, not perfect, but it should be as good as the mill will cut anyway, it's plenty good for the class of work I normally have to do.


03-31-2007, 10:41 AM
I have only trammed mine twice and it probably needs to be checked. I did it using 2-3-4 blocks and an indicator in the spindle, but I found the indicator touchy when contacting the blocks.


I tram directly off the table. For me, it's just as easy, and it takes out any error associated with blocks, parallels, brake disks,... I Just angle the indicator point away from the direction I'm sweeping, and slow down the sweep when I'm crossing the T-Slots. The T-slots on the mill table are beveled anyway...