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  • Nichols mill is home!

    Picked it up this morning, and got it installed in the shop this afternoon.



    (The other thing is a monster Edwards bar shear- it's about 500 pounds all by itself.)

    Mill's in pretty good shape, but horribly filthy. Somebody packed grease on certain parts, obviously in preparation for storage (the leadscrew, for example, is packed- not just covered, but packed) but it's then been in storage long enough for the grease to get gritty with dust and dirt.

    It's also been painted at least twice, possibly three times (plus the original factory paint) without being properly cleaned first- bolt recesses and allen heads are frequently full of gunk and old rusty swarf, with two layers of paint making them almost smooth with the casting.

    So it's coming apart. I already have it partly disassembled, but I'm hoping for a little advice from the Nichols guys before I do the spindle or table. Any suggestions for a proper plan of attack?

    Doc.
    Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

  • #2
    Hi Doc,

    The Nichols manuals suggest "600 W grease" for the sliding elements, but its actually 600 W oil they're referring to. Which I think causes lots of people to use actual grease, which makes a huge mess. Vactra or equiv is the right stuff. I tried using grease myself, and its awful- takes forever to clean out of the machine.

    The table and saddle can come off as a unit, put the table on the ground face-down and you can get at the guts of the assy for cleaning. The gibs are held in place by screws, you'll need a big heavy screwdriver and wrench as helper to get them out.

    To remove the knee after removing the table, raise the knee till the screw exits the nut. Put a strap around the knee, hooked to whatever protuberances are convenient. Remove the capscrews on the left side (they hold down the gib), and the knee will come free- ensure the gib doesn't drop out the bottom of the knee. Do not omit the strap, the knee will attempt to pitch forward when the last capscrew is removed. Even if you have a helper, the weight will come on suddenly, the strap lets you avoid drama.

    If you can avoid removing the spindle, that is preferable. If you feel you need to, here's a method that worked for me. Remove front and rear bearing covers. Remove preload collar from the back of the spindle. Gently but authoritatively drive the spindle out from the rear- you have to push it out of the two bearings. With the spindle out, raise the knee so the overarm support bar can be laid along the top of the knee, end into the spindle bore, contacting the end of the spacer cylinder around which the elevation segment pivots (it will just fit thru the front bearing race. Remove the screws from the face of the head that lock the spacer cylinder in place. Use the overarm bar to drive out the spacer cylinder and rear race. This will fully release the head from the elevation mechanism and it can be removed from the machine. Please leave the spindle and head in place if possible. It is possible to remove the head gib to expedite cleaning, which leaves the head still on the mill, just loose in the dovetail and avoids issues related to the spindle.

    Regardless, the preload collar should be snugged but not tight, it had worked loose on my machine.


    From your comic strip, it seems you have a Bridgeport mounted on the ceiling- which if put right side up will do fine for the gibs should they be loose. I did them for my mill, a straightforward job to take .004 or so off their mounting faces so the dovetails close in, it really improved the machine. Before you disassemble it might be nice to try some deflection measurements w/ a test indicator, and get a sense of how snug things fit. Then once you have everything apart for cleaning you could mill the gibs while you're at it.

    Regards,

    Greg
    Last edited by Greg Menke; 06-12-2008, 08:06 AM.

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    • #3
      Good find, looks to be a real heavy machine. What size table and what horsepower motor?? JIM
      jim

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Greg Menke
        Before you disassemble it might be nice to try some deflection measurements w/ a test indicator, and get a sense of how snug things fit.
        -It's entirely too dirty. I'm loathe to even move the table or knee at all, as the grease, in many places, resembles lapping compound. I don't know if it's because the mill was filthy before, and they greased it afterward, or greased it for storage and it got left near a dusty road for a week, or what.

        I was considering just hitting it with a pressure washer and some of the usual engine cleaners, and then immediately regreasing everything to force any water and grit out, but I think I'll be happier if I give it a full disassembly. If nothing else, it'll let me give it a proper paintjob as well.

        I'll give extra thought before pulling the spindle, though. Might be easier to pressure-wash with a WD-40 chaser...

        Good find, looks to be a real heavy machine. What size table and what horsepower motor?
        -Can't recall the table specs off the top of my head, something like 8" x 30" I think. It's not a huge machine, sitting on the floor it's only around five feet tall to the top of the casting. In fact, it's a bit short for me, I'm already considering making a spacer or platform to set it on, to raise the whole thing up about six inches or so.

        But it's built heavy- Greg and others say it's some 1,200 pounds, which I don't disbelieve. It sagged the back of my truck quite a bit when they loaded it.

        40 taper spindle, 1HP 3ph motor, five speeds, table Y-axis has both fine/screw feed and lever/rack rapid-traverse feed, the head moves up and down on a heavy dovetail... it was meant for production work from back in the pre-NC/CNC days, but this one (the "toolroom" version) has the fine feeds for day-to-day use as well.



        Doc.
        Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Doc,

          wrt the spindle, I had good luck just flushing out the old grease with the new. Once the machine is running the spindle pumps the grease around inside, so you can push out the old stuff easily. Watch your guards, the grease dripping out will tend to lay down a racing stripe around both ends of the spindle. Took about 1 full tube of grease to flush out the old.

          Given its that much of a mess, I'd go for taking the table & saddle off, and the knee- then pressure wash them individually. Its not hard to clean the water out from them if you can get to all the nooks and crannies. Not having a pressure washer, I hand-washed mine in the big sink. The table & saddle will need 2 people or a shop crane, the knee is a bit over 100 lbs so can be carefully single handled.

          Looks like you got the usual drum switch and mag starter- the drum handles reversing the motor, the starter is a locking relay operated by the start/stop buttons.

          I have a deep slotting job coming up, with as narrow a slot as I can manage. I'm going to try the production feed, so I can cut just a bit at a time with a thin saw and repeat ad nauseum- which would wear you arm out on a feed-screw machine.

          Regards,

          Greg

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Greg Menke
            Looks like you got the usual drum switch and mag starter- the drum handles reversing the motor, the starter is a locking relay operated by the start/stop buttons.
            -Yep, most of which I probably won't be using. Barring a better idea, I'll be wiring it like I did my Sheldon, using a VFD. Let the electronics take care of stop/start/reverse and all that.

            That said, I took pains to keep the wiring intact- apart from disconnecting the three wires at the motor, and the three at the button head, it's all still together... just in case.

            Doc.
            Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

            Comment


            • #7
              Doc Nickel's Nichols has a nice ring to it. Keep us posted on your progress.
              Jon Bohlander
              My PM Blog

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              • #8
                Let's see, a Nickel's Nichols would be a dime, right?

                I somewhat accidentally managed to spend the day- the entire day- stripping the mill... with a pressure washer. It's now almost bare, and probably twenty pounds lighter now that inch-thick wads of swarf-filled grease and impacted crud are gone.



                I scraped a full two pounds of grease and swarf out of the knee. Out of the inside of the knee, where somebody would have had to... I don't know, intentionally blow it in there with an air hose or something. I really don't see how it could have fallen in there...

                I also discovered my mill has corks. This pattern of six on the front:



                And eight more on the left side:



                I can't imagine they are or were factory- if so, I can't even guess what they might have been for, other than where a jig or fixture was attached as the column casting was machined.

                Anyway, somebody, some time, had jammed corks in each hole, shaved them flush, and painted over 'em. On the front, the lower four are tapped, the upper two are smooth. On the side, the large one towards the front of the mill is tapped, the rest are smooth.

                I figure I might try to find some cast iron plugs (or make some mild steel ones) and fill them all up properly before repainting.

                Last, there's this reservoir of some sort on the right-hand side of the base:



                It had a plain, unmarked and solid aluminum cover (probably fabricated) and inside was an inch of old smelly oil. What I can't figure out is what it's for. It's a dead hole- there's no drains, taps, threaded plugs or anything, Just the square opening.

                The coolant drain below the knee goes into the main base of the casting- this little recess is an entirely separate compartment. Total capacity of perhaps most of a gallon, if you fill it to the brim.

                What's it for?

                More pictures later.

                Doc.
                Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Corks and reservoirs... weird. No sign of any holes like that on my mill, or the older version either. There are copies of a "How to run a Nichols Mill" type document available on ebay showing lots of creative setups, I guess the jig/fixture idea is reasonable. Seems like somebody went to a lot of trouble to put them in though...

                  That reservoir is funky- the usual coolant sump is as you suggest. It might be intended to handle drips of oil out of the motor's gearbox, avoiding having them mix in with the coolant.

                  Regards,

                  Greg

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Doc Nickel
                    I figure I might try to find some cast iron plugs (or make some mild steel ones) and fill them all up properly before repainting.
                    A pipe tap and same black iron pipe plugs, then grind flush, might be the quickest way.
                    Mac

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                    • #11
                      The reservoir is just that it is for oil and there should be a oil pump there. The coolent tank fits under the mill from the back you can see the opening for it in some of Doc's pictures . Ken

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Greg Menke
                        Corks and reservoirs... weird. No sign of any holes like that on my mill [...] I guess the jig/fixture idea is reasonable.
                        -Workholding jigs or fixtures was the only thing I could think of, but they're pretty low on the casting for that sort of thing. Also the side holes, being mostly smoothbore, struck me more like they were drain or vent holes. But again, for what?

                        We'll probably never know, this machine was owned by at least two separate factories before I got it (American Drill & Bearing and CBC somebody-or-other) so lord knows what sort of work it did.

                        The serial number is 7516 (or ends in 7516, anyway) is there any way we can tell roughly when it was made? (Same serial, by the way, for the table, head, body casting and gibs.)

                        It might be intended to handle drips of oil out of the motor's gearbox, avoiding having them mix in with the coolant.
                        I suppose that's probably it. It's positioned right, and my motor has already dribbled a little puddle on the table after I took it off.

                        I'll clean it out, and probably make a little aluminum tray/scoop to go there.

                        A pipe tap and same black iron pipe plugs, then grind flush, might be the quickest way.
                        -Good idea! I'll have to see if I can find some solid ones, most of the iron plugs I've run across have been hollow (cupped on the inside.)

                        The reservoir is just that it is for oil and there should be a oil pump there.
                        -Oil pump for what? The motor has it's own enclosed gearbox, nothing on the rest of the mill has pressurized oil feed, and using a separate oil flood/cooling system would need a bigger reservoir and most of it would dribble into the (water) coolant catch bin.

                        That's what had me stumped. 'Course, it also seems strange to have a recess specifically cast into the base to catch oil drippings from the motor. Wouldn't that be like designing a drip-tray into the frame under the engine of a Harley-Davidson?

                        Doc.
                        Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Doc, did you get the manual with the mill? If you did not I have one scanned in the comp. One of the fellows here on the site loaned me one and I scanned it.
                          I may be able to get it on a CD and send it to you. Its about 68MB.
                          Here is a couple of pic of my mill. First pic is what it looked like at first and the second is what she looked like after getting the face lift. In the second picture,the air/oil operator is the gold looking thing at the right of the table.

                          One more thing, the motor on mine was full of metal chips, I mean chips inside on the windings. I washed off the chips with paint thinner and what did not come off I very carefuly picked them off. With all of that, the motor checked out good.





                          Hope I did not steal your thread.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Charlie C
                            Doc, did you get the manual with the mill?
                            -No. The only documentation I have is the "handbook" that was linked to, in one of the PM threads on the Nichols. Greg gave me the link and I downloaded it from there, but I don't recall the URL.

                            All it covers is the basics of operation, lube types and schedules, and the various adjustments. I'd love to see something that has some exploded views and such.

                            Hope I did not steal your thread.
                            It's all good. Nice pics, and in particular, nice idea for the feet, if those are, in fact, your own mod. As I said above, I'm considering lifting the thing about six inches, but I'm not sure yet whether I'm going to make a stand, platform or just extended feet.

                            Doc.
                            Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Doc Nickel
                              As I said above, I'm considering lifting the thing about six inches
                              Hmm, a lift kit for a mill? Will you put neon under it for the floor glow ?

                              Anyway, nice machine. I'd probably seal those extra tapped holes back up with the corks (!) and put a bit of body filler over the results.

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