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epicfail48
08-09-2017, 03:33 AM
So, i managed to screw up my mill using a facemill, which will surprise none of the people who warned me it would happen. Ironically though, the face mill wasnt the problem, I was. Few details, i was using the face mill to square up a piece of 416 stainless, barely skimming the edge of a 3/16 bar, maybe 10thou DOC. Nothing extreme by any means. I did, however, ignore some unplesant sounds and a crappy surface finish left y the cut, chalking it up to a new material i wasnt used to working with. Turns out, the bolt securing the mill to the arbor had worked its way loose, allowing the cutter itself to drop down. So, a .010doc suddenly turned into a 1/4" doc at full speed. Cutter crashed, plastic gear shrapnelized, and the force actually knocked my vise out of tram by over .1", all because im a bloody idiot and ignored a funny noise.

At any rate, i needed to replace some parts. I was torn between just ordering a few plastic gears, going with a metal gear, or biting the big bullet and converting to belt drive. After 20 hours of overtime at work, i ended up going with the belt drive, ordered from Little Machine Shop:
http://i.imgur.com/coPKRl4m.jpg

Ive put a few hours of time on it now, so i hope you all wont mind if i share my thoughts on it.

First, the good. Installation was dead easy, i was worried it was going to be some huge "dance naked in the middle of a field with 72 virgins whilst giving a lecture on quantum physics", but in reality it was about 8 screws. The entire process took me about 30 minutes, and a good chunk of that was me disassembling the motor after i dropped a bloody key in one of the vent shafts. Smart people would have it done in a lot less time. Also nice is the noise, the gear system was ridiculously loud, with the belt drive all you hear is the annoying whine of the universal motor. Also handy is the speed, the 'low gear' now encompasses 90% of the speed ill be working with, and the 'high gear' speed has nearly been doubled. Im sure thatll come in handy at some point. Also nice is the spindle seems to spin smoother, it doesnt seem to have the same impacty sort of thing as the gear system did, and it seems like the surface finished are improved. Could just be placebo effect on that

Now for the bad, which in this case is the cost and build quality. Everything is made out of solid milled aluminium, but i cant say that the machining process was well done. Now, everything fits and runs properly, but theres a lot of sharp edges, pretty massive burrs, just not what youd call a quality finished product. The, ahem, 'belt guard' is a particular POS. Its about the cheapest, thinnest plastic you can imagine, every edge is ragged enough to make you wonder if it was cut by a chainsaw, and i dont believe for a second it would stop the puny belt if it broke free. All of this would be a mere annoyance if it werent for the price; for $160, i expect much higher build quality.

Honestly, that build quality is the biggest issue i have. The improvements are honestly marginal, the extra speed is one of those "meh, least i have it if i ever need it" things at best, and while the noise is improved over the gear system, the motor is still noisy as all get out. Now, im not saying that those improvements arent nice, but i cant say theyre worth the price i paid. Still though, i dont regret the conversion, if nothing else ill never have my mill out of commission for a week because i did something stupid and destroyed a gear. At any rate, thats all i have to say.

Wait, nearly forgot something; 416 stainless is magical, machines like a dream. So much nicer than 304

RB211
08-09-2017, 04:15 AM
Yes, for that price, I would expect no burrs, and a decent enclosure. It would be a dream come true if mass didn't play a role in machine tools.

johnnyd
08-09-2017, 05:58 AM
Just an "fyi".....303 stainless machines just as well. Plus, it's available in more shapes & sizes. (probably cheaper too)

wheeltapper
08-09-2017, 06:37 AM
I have the same mill ( well,a clone ) from Chester UK and like you, I shattered the gearbox using a flycutter.
I made my belt conversion from plans on the net and boy, does it sound better, and runs better.

the only problem I had was getting the belt, they don't seem to exist in the UK, I had to get them from Little machine shop so I got three, the postage was the same as one.

I'm well satisfied with mine.

btw, my finishes are better too.


Roy.

wierdscience
08-09-2017, 08:56 AM
Did the same to mine years ago,basically because I hated the noise.Same issues with the kit,did my own deburring.If they left the needless belt guard off and spent the time deburring it would be a better product.

epicfail48
08-09-2017, 06:14 PM
Good to know I'm not the only one who saw issues with the quality.
It's really not a bad kit, I do like having it on the machine and think it's just a much better solution than the gears, but the price is just insane. I wish I was able to go the home made route, but ironically you kindve need a mill for some of it


Just an "fyi".....303 stainless machines just as well. Plus, it's available in more shapes & sizes. (probably cheaper too)

I've heard that 303 is also a dream to machine, but it's almost a unicorn in my parts. My normal metal supplier is one of the largest in my region (Rose metal in Springfield Mo), and they only carry 304 stainless, 1018 hot and cold roll, 6061 aluminium and 360 brass. Calling around nobody had 303, least not in quantities less than 200 feet, and only one place had 416. At least the 416 is proving to be awesome to work with, it's enough to get me to stomach the $60 per 12ft bar cost

epicfail48
09-06-2017, 10:26 PM
So, further update on the conversion, its still working decently enough, but turns out i got a crappy belt and it split after just a few hours of use. Some of the internal fibers were twisted which caused a twist in the belt, and the edges of the pulleys chewed it to shred in fairly short order. Wouldnt be much of a problem, except for the fact that 2l belts are apparently a unicorn in my parts. Adding to the entertainment value is the fact that, while belt changes would be fine if you had a stock setup with the tensioner arm, if you have an air-spring like the one LMS sells, belt changes are impossible without removing the motor completely

Now, logically i understand that this isnt LMS's fault, but at the same time im still pretty irritated that i paid $160 for the setup. Being perfectly honest, i cant say its worth nearly that much

IanPendle
09-06-2017, 10:36 PM
Wheeltapper,

Do you have a link to plans on the net?

Ian.

Bob Ford
09-06-2017, 10:53 PM
These guys have belts. Need part # or length. https://www.vbeltguys.com/

epicfail48
09-07-2017, 12:46 AM
These guys have belts. Need part # or length. https://www.vbeltguys.com/

I found the belt pretty easy online, but unfortunately that doesnt help me much when i need it now. Ended up ordering through Grainger, price is a little higher but theyre midwest center is 10 minutes away from me so i can save on shipping. Just have to wait till Friday

Of course the last day of my vacation is friday though

wheeltapper
09-07-2017, 08:22 AM
Wheeltapper,

Do you have a link to plans on the net?

Ian.

here you go,
http://www.hossmachine.info/BeltDrive.pdf

I recommend that you check important dimensions as all these mills are clones and measurements can vary slightly.

IanPendle
09-07-2017, 08:41 AM
Hello,

Thanks. I took a look at one of these machines from a local seller.

As I live in an apartment noise is/could be an issue. I was thinking of ordering the belt drive kit from the US but the price is extortionate (and I will certainly have to pay customs/import duty). I will study and see if this is workable - even if I have to get some milling/cutting done locally.

Once again, thanks,

Ian.

epicfail48
09-07-2017, 06:59 PM
Hello,

Thanks. I took a look at one of these machines from a local seller.

As I live in an apartment noise is/could be an issue. I was thinking of ordering the belt drive kit from the US but the price is extortionate (and I will certainly have to pay customs/import duty). I will study and see if this is workable - even if I have to get some milling/cutting done locally.

Once again, thanks,

Ian.

If you can manage, make one. There's nothing in the kit that would even be particularly difficult for a home shop to make

J Tiers
09-07-2017, 07:40 PM
For noise issues, at least structure-borne noise, put a soft rubber pad under the table legs.

Directly under the mill base would reduce the "drum effect" of the tabletop.