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Project: Building the MLA-18 Filing Machine

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  • Project: Building the MLA-18 Filing Machine

    Hi everybody,
    I've decided to keep a web log of my (mis) adventures in large projects. With pics and all, for the benefit of any who might attempt something similar. In this case, I'm starting work on the MLA-18 die filing machine. http://mlatoolbox.com/MLA-18.html

    It has been a goal and a dream of mine for about a decade now, to own one of these little machines. For those who are not familiar, they are a set of raw castings and miscellaneous parts and plans offered by Metal Lathe Accessories. http://mlatoolbox.com/index.html
    The proprietor is Andy Lofquist, and he is good to deal with -- very straightforward, honest, and helpful. I also ordered his kit for the boring and facing head, http://mlatoolbox.com/MLA-7.html. This head has all the same functionality as the "big" names, especially the facing function. Most of MLA's kits are designed for lathes like mine, but they could be used with anything such as Boxford and Hercus, etc.

    Shipping was very reasonable for both kits. and I am sure the post man hates me now! The boxes arrived *very* well-packed and surprisingly heavy -- Andy doesn't spare the iron. There must have been at least 3/16 (say 4mm) extra in every dimension. This is comforting because it allows for some learning curve or "engineering design changes" The castings themselves are extremely high quality -- no voids or cold shuts, no hard spots, no core shift, perfect snagging and no free sand. The drawings and instructions are extremely good, full-size pages with just the right amount of detail. Much of the instructions are taken from those who have already machined these kits. They include photos of various setups to help.

    I may invite Andy in on this thread to comment. Meanwhile you all get to see it in near real time, which will be pretty slow for me. Probably only one or two postings a week, but I'll try to have photos for everything.

    Continued in the next post --
    Last edited by nickel-city-fab; 05-08-2021, 12:47 PM.
    25 miles north of Buffalo NY, USA

  • #2
    Project continued:

    Click image for larger version  Name:	mla18-1.png Views:	1 Size:	2.91 MB ID:	1941984

    The first series of cuts is on the main body of the machine. This is basically a challenge in workholding and general good practices. For size reference, my chuck is a new 125mm (5-inch) 4-jaw. Note the 60 holes drilled round the rim of the backplate
    I gripped the "spud" end in the chuck and rough-turned the diameter of the base down to just over 6" (150mm). Even in back gear at 50 RPM this was a chore. Once I had it turned so somewhat uniform, I was able to reverse it in the chuck and center the spud. This is important because that is the "business end" of the machine, where the tool goes. So I want that spud to be well-centered.

    I then turned the OD of the spud (shown here gripped in the chuck) down to 1-3/8" dia (35mm). This allowed me to reverse the part once again and do the final OD turning on the machine base which you see here. Making the two concentric. I then took a series of cuts across the face of the base. Power Feed is your friend here. It took a long time to do this at 50 RPM but I had to keep the speed down due to the unbalanced weight and interrupted cut.

    I took my time and spread it out over a few days to do this. When finally done, I had two or three reference surfaces that I can use for the rest of the project.
    Last edited by nickel-city-fab; 05-08-2021, 12:55 PM.
    25 miles north of Buffalo NY, USA

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    • #3
      Thats a good looking project, i'll be watching. Hopefully you won't have to wait another ten to find a cache of files. I finally got a good selection two years ago, but the die filer sat for a long time waiting for that
      in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Mcgyver View Post
        Thats a good looking project, i'll be watching. Hopefully you won't have to wait another ten to find a cache of files. I finally got a good selection two years ago, but the die filer sat for a long time waiting for that
        Nope, bought brand-new files from Falcon Tool (doing business as Boride Abrasives) out of Michigan: https://www.falcontool.com/PublicSto...s,577,183.aspx
        25 miles north of Buffalo NY, USA

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        • #5
          A fine project! This will be fun to follow.

          For what they are and the idea that the files are proper good quality the prices are not out of line at all. That's a big plus.

          Chilliwack BC, Canada

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          • #6
            ooh, super neat, thanks for the web log and I look forward to the rest of it. Chop chop

            I'm really interested in that boring and facing head, I've checked that out several times and even had some idle "how would I make that myself" thinking sessions.

            Also great to see a nice old SB9 getting a good work out too!

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            • #7
              I built the MLA-18 about 20 years ago. Handy tool.

              I made one change, though. I found that when running the oil in the bottom end seeped up along the shaft and made a bit of a mess, so I replaced the O-ring sealing the shaft with a lip seal. No more seeping.

              -js
              There are no stupid questions. But there are lots of stupid answers. This is the internet.

              Location: SF Bay Area

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              • #8
                I've just started on drilling and boring for the tool holder bushings. These bores have to be aligned pretty good because the tool holder is a single piece of drill rod that runs through the height of the machine. The kit has a couple pieces of bronze bushing stock, with generous allowances. The nominal tool holder rod is 1/2" (12mm) and the nominal OD of the bronze bushes is 7/8" (22mm). Rough OD is over an inch. I'll get them roughed out in the usual way, then think about making a boring bar between centers, if need be. I don't think it'll be too far off, though, I will test it with a piece of drill rod before deciding.

                We're running 240 RPM now (no more back gears) and it is absolutely smooth. Once again Power Feed is my friend. Taking about .020 (0.5mm) DOC. That is how this lathe likes it, that is it's "sweet spot".

                In this pic, I have the 1/2" starting hole drilled thru the base (2" / 50mm thick !!) and starting with my small boring bar. It's less than ideal but it works OK for a roughing cut when your starting hole is small. Later I will be able to use the big bar and not so much flex. I'm using CCGT 2151 and 3252 inserts throughout the project. Will post back when I have some more interesting things to show -- boring is boring!

                Click image for larger version  Name:	mla2.png Views:	47 Size:	2.50 MB ID:	1942055
                Last edited by nickel-city-fab; 05-08-2021, 08:36 PM. Reason: more typos
                25 miles north of Buffalo NY, USA

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jim Stewart View Post
                  I built the MLA-18 about 20 years ago. Handy tool.

                  I made one change, though. I found that when running the oil in the bottom end seeped up along the shaft and made a bit of a mess, so I replaced the O-ring sealing the shaft with a lip seal. No more seeping.

                  -js
                  Hrm, that's interesting -- thanks for the tip! I wonder is that why Andy included the felt rings? No, I think those are just to keep the swarf out. I'll have to go back and read again.
                  25 miles north of Buffalo NY, USA

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mattthemuppet View Post
                    ooh, super neat, thanks for the web log and I look forward to the rest of it. Chop chop

                    I'm really interested in that boring and facing head, I've checked that out several times and even had some idle "how would I make that myself" thinking sessions.

                    Also great to see a nice old SB9 getting a good work out too!
                    Matt- the boring and facing head is *designed* for the SB spindles, it threads directly onto yours and mine..... I can't wait to build that kit, but i need to get a dovetail cutter first. I have everything I need BUT that.
                    25 miles north of Buffalo NY, USA

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                    • #11
                      that's pretty cool, I didn't know that. I have a dovetail cutter you could borrow if you let me know when you need it. Just a single tcgt insert on a 1/2" shank but it works very well. I made over 20 OXA tool holders with it.

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                      • #12
                        I've thought of several more of Andy's kits... I met Andy at NAMES, I think it was 2016. I bought his T Slot cross slide and Radius tool for my 9" south Bend. Also built the quick change toolpost that was published in HSM. Andy is a first class guy!
                        I cut it off twice; it's still too short
                        Oregon, USA

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                        • #13
                          Looking good! I had one on my to do list for several years, but then a friend offered me a die filer in trade so I never ended up making one. I do want to make one of the milling attachments though.
                          I just need one more tool,just one!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by nickel-city-fab View Post

                            Nope, bought brand-new files from Falcon Tool (doing business as Boride Abrasives) out of Michigan: https://www.falcontool.com/PublicSto...s,577,183.aspx
                            They are just a few doors down from my office. I knew they made polishing stones but was unaware of other products.
                            George
                            Traverse City, MI

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                            • #15
                              I've had an MLA-18 kit on the TODO shelf(/ves) for a couple years now. Maybe your build will inspire me to finally get started

                              Also thanks for the info on the Falcon files

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