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Shaper help

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  • Shaper help

    I have a 16" Heavy Duty Plain Gemco shaper. For the last year I have been just compensating for wear in the machine, either by shimming stuff on the table, or put the table support down and then lower the back of the table before locking the vertical gibs on the knee. I think the wear is in the table ways. Is the best way to correct this allignment problem to just machine the top of the table? The table has a sag from back to front of about .010"(15" table length). It is 0,0 from side to side but has the sag going from front to back. I tried adjusting the gibs and can only take about .003 out, but at the cost of making the table extremely difficult to traverse. I can't see any other adjustments on the ways except the gib on the top way. The bottom way for the table doesn't have any adjustment that I could see that would raise the table. I will try and take the camera to the shop tomorrow and grab a few pics. So any advice on how to correct this from some of you experienced shaper hands?

    I am still looking for a manual for this machine too. I have looked at the one on ebay for sale by hillsguns, but it doesn't even look like a manual, just specifications.

    Since I am a glutton for punishment I am still looking for a small shaper (less than 1000 pounds) too. It needs to be somewhere in the intermountain west. Preferably within a 10 hour drive of southern Idaho. Oh, and not a basket case I still have some of those projects that haven't even been taken out of the box yet. Thanks


    Hello, my name is brian and I'm a toolaholic.

  • #2
    Could the gibs be wore?

    I know it sounds half baked but how about shimming (tapered) the gibs, the fixed portion? Or making new gibs? JRouche


    • #3
      This shaper has a knee that moves the table up and down like mills do don't it? First you said the taper is from back to front and then you said the sag is going from front to back. Which is it? If the table is leaning out, that is the front of the table is lower than the back of the table then the knee dovetail and gib are worn and stressed from use. I think you should always lock the knee and use the support when cutting to take the shock load off the knee dovetails. That ram is hammering the work on every stroke. You may be able to jack the support up enough to get the table level with the ram during the cut. It would be a major job to repair the knee wear. I would continue to indicate the work in using the ram. That's assuming the ram is not loose and moving up and down. Have you checked for slop in the ram dovetails?
      Last edited by Carld; 01-19-2007, 01:38 AM.
      It's only ink and paper


      • #4
        Sorry the sag is from back to front, the front of the table is lower that the back. And yes, I always lock the knee and use the support. Some of the time I set the support and then lower the table until it is level from front to back, then lock the knee but that takes quite a while to indicate in and it is difficult with the vice mounted. Plus every time I want to move the knee I have to re-indicate. Yep, I have checked the ram and it is nice and tight. The ram has a pressurized oil feed so the wear on the slide is almost nonexistent. But the table ways don't seem to have any provision for oiling with the exception of what drips off the ram and can make its way under the felt wipers.

        The gib is worn a little but is adjustable. The problem is the lower table way. The top way is square with the table hooked over the top with the gib on the back side of the slide. I can tighten the gib on that and pull it up a little but then the movement gets too tight. I am afraid that the sag has crept in because of wear on the bottom way. It is simply a flat surface that the table bears against. I thought about shimming this surface but it would be tough. When I jack the front of the table up so it is level I can insert a .002 feeler between the table and the way, so I am not sure how to hold a shim like that in. The other alternative that I tossed around would be to try and machine that surface on the table out, insert a gib with some screws behind the gib to make it adjustable for wear. The problem I run into there is the weight of the components. I haven't got a crane to move them around and using the hyster is a two man job. And I haven't studied out if there is enough material there to allow that type of a solution though. I wish I had the manual. I would have thought that there would have been some provision to take up the wear, since that appears to be the surface where it is most likely to occur and it throws the table out of square.


        Hello, my name is brian and I'm a toolaholic.


        • #5

          I don't have a shaper, so I am not speaking from experience and maybe I am missing something. But if the sag is consistent at different heights of the knee, couldn't you just use the shaper itself to take the droop out by skimming off the top of the table?


          • #6
            That is exactly what I was contemplating, but before I start cutting my table I want to make sure that there isn't a more excellent way to fix the situation.


            Hello, my name is brian and I'm a toolaholic.


            • #7
              I have the same shaper. Does yours have the power down feed on the tool slide? If so I would like to ask you a few questions about it. I too am looking for a manual and also a better vise.
              Mark Hockett


              • #8
                I have an Ammco 6" that could be eaten for breakfast by your machine!!!

                A couple of years ago I took it apart and discovered that the ram ways were not only worn vertically but also side to side (0.012" wider at the front compared to the back). As well, the "hook" that holds the table to the frame was "loose". After a rebuild which included machining the ram ways, resulting in the need for a new thicker gib, it is now pretty accurate.

                After running it in for a while I did a final gib adjustment and then did the following (which I had read somewhere and which was confirmed by a friend who was a tool and die maker):

                1. Set the table to a height that allowed skimming of the surface.

                2. Locked the table support.

                3, Lowered the table rising adjuster screw so that all the table weight was on the support.

                4. Locked the table in position.

                5. Took a minimal cut across the table.

                Now when I true up a piece of metal to the machine's capacity of 6", it is out by 0.001" - front to back. I did find however, that a heavy cut would result in a bigger difference (up to 0.010") with the front of the piece being thicker than at the back. I put this down to a combination of mass (lack thereof) and the effect of the wayoil in the ram ways.

                Your machine, being so much bigger, may not exhibit this variance with light and heavy cuts.

                Hope this helps.




                • #9
                  this topic came up not to long ago.this might be of help.


                  I will quote what vmill3 said


                  Just hold off on the resurface of the table, what you want to do first is put some Vactra II in the ram ways, and by hand for now you can hand turn crank. If the shaper has a transmission, shift into nutral position, that will let you drive the slide block on the bull gear, moving the ram. This is done by placing a hand crank, or Johnson bar and socket on the sq. drive shaft that adjusts the stroke. You want the Vactra to be on all surfaces of the ram's slide ways. When in operation the ram is to float on the oil.

                  Next you want to level the shaper, using a good level sitting on the machined boss on the ram, where the ram lock lever or bolt is, leave the shaper alone for a week or so, recheck level again after a week. While your waiting, you can check to see if the table's gib is adjusted, where it is hung on the apron.

                  As you stated eariler this shaper is flat belt drive ( built before WWII), there will be wear along the apron ways. After the week is up, and the gibs are adjusted, and oiling the ram ways again, mount a dial indicator on the ram, and the dial tip on the table, you can hand crank the ram through it's stroke (the length of the table less an inch). Then traverse the table across the apron , checking dial readings (front to back of table) as you move the table, while cranking the ram. Let us know your readings.

                  My little 14S Elliott came from a high school envroment, it's table was sagging at the front. 005 to .006". After proper leveling and oiling, and adjusting the gibs, the table was with in .0005" all over. Placed the vise on the table and tightened down, laid some parallels along the jaws, the dial reading was .0001". No table resurfacing required.
                  Last edited by thistle; 01-19-2007, 10:06 AM.


                  • #10
                    Hi Mark,

                    It looks like your machine is a universal shaper instead of a plain like mine. Sadly mine doesn't have the power down on the tool slide, when I want to use the slide to cut down I have to stand there and crank it down. I was actually looking for a universal when this shaper fell into my lap. The price was right and metal working machines are as scarce as hens teeth here in southern Idaho so I took this one. I have often wondered how hard it would be to finish machining the casting and make the parts to implement the power downfeed. Where does the drive for the downfeed come from? If you ever find a manual I would like a copy too. This machine came out of a high school shop so it is a little beat up. I suspect that is why it is worn the way it is, the front support probably wasn't used like it is supposed to be all the time. There used to be a guy down in Texas who had a vice for a 16" gemco. I think it was johnoder over on the PM sight who had it. Be warned shipping is the gotcha they weigh about 3-400 pounds. To get my vice on and off the table is a crane job. I think two burly fellows could probably do it but it might be a strain. The only literature that I have is a pdf of a gemco sales brochure, but it does have a list of controls. If you want it let me know and I will email you a copy.


                    I don't see the flexure that you are taking about in this machine. Light and heavy cuts are the same with the exception of surface finish. When I am roughing I usually take a cut .250 deep and .030 wide using a roughing tool. When I come back and take a finish cut the depth of cut is very uniform. This machine weighs right at 4800 pounds with every thing including oil. I haven't take the ram off but with an idicator mounted on the table and the ram fully extended I can't make the ram move by more than about .0003 side to side and .0002 up and down. I haven't taken it off because it looks like it weighs 4 or 500 pounds at a minimum and it seems tight if I was measuring right.


                    I read that thread with interest when it first appeared on the board here. I think it only sort of applies to my shaper because the gemco's of this vintage have pressurized oil feed to the ram ways. There isn't any way to manually crank this shaper unless you took the gaurds off and turned the motor by hand. At least I haven't found a way to do it, but I don't have a manual either. I agree with some of the comments that were made in that thread, I can't see that leveling would make that much difference, it is a massive lump of cast iron in a small space, except if level you could use a level in some of your set ups. Talking to several old timers I was led to believe that it was common to true the table by taking a skim cut. Since I don't have a manual, I'm not sure if that is the method that is recommended to keep the table true to the ram or if there is another mechanism available. Since I don't think these tables are commonly available I am reluctant to cut it if there is another method available. I have been considering a subplate but one thick enough to have T-slots would add a considerable amount of weight to the table.


                    Hello, my name is brian and I'm a toolaholic.


                    • #11
                      Try checking the table sag with the table left, center and right on the cross slide. If there's wear it's probably worst in one area, usually the center. If the sag is constant across the slide the quickest solution is to do a light cut on the table, otherwise scraping the surfaces where the table bears on the slide may be in order. As extreme as it sounds, an occasional skim cut on the table was accepted practice on shapers and planers "back in the day".



                      • #12
                        ANOTHERT THOUGHT IS THAT THE CLAPPER - AHHHHH CAPS LOCK- is worn and as the cut progreses the slop is taken up and the tool self feeds down - another thing to eliminate , i need to work on my clapper its very loose.


                        • #13
                          I finally got around to getting the pictures uploaded so I will attempt to post a few of the relevent ones. Here is a side shot of the shaper.

                          Here is a link to a movie of the shaper roughing a piece of 1" x 2" crs to make some more t-nuts. The depth of cut was .250" with a feed of .030. It didn't turn out like I wanted, I was trying to catch the chips flying but you end up not really seeing anything except the cut progressing at the beginning of the video.

                          Here is a picture of one of the chips.


                          I have checked the sag all over, with the table up, down, left, right and center in multiple locations. The amount of sag is very uniform.


                          No, my clapper is pretty tight. The sag that is showing up is measured with an indicator off the top of the table. Like I told optics it is very consistent.

                          I think what I might try is to machine a subplate and then just drill thu it to access the t-slots and bolt the vice down. A plate like that won't have to be very heavy to take up the sag and 90 percent of what I do is in the vice anyway. I still haven't ruled out skimming the top of the table completely either though because there is a lot of meat there before I do any real damage. I would still like to know if table skimming is the method that was recommended to keep your table parallel to the ram. Here is a pic of how the table is attached.

                          I think that most of the wear, or at least the wear I can't compensate for is in the bottom way. The top way has an adjustable gib to take up wear, but I can't see anything on the bottom way.


                          Hello, my name is brian and I'm a toolaholic.


                          • #14

                            Your sub-plate idea is the correct way to test if skimming the top will work for you. If sag is uniform regardless of table position (height, left/right offset) then a series of really shallow cuts (.002 per pass) should result in an accurate reference surface on the table.



                            • #15
                              So, is skimming the method that the manufacturers recommended to keep the table parrallel?


                              Hello, my name is brian and I'm a toolaholic.