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DRO on ZX45

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  • DRO on ZX45

    Hi all,

    I just purchased a Bolton ZX45 for our prototype shop at work. Unfortunately, I didn't buy it with a DRO already installed. I have purchased a 3 axis DRO from Grizzly to install on it. The x axis and y axis are fairly straightforward to install, but the Z is puzzling me. All the instructions associated with it show it being installed on the column. That seems completely useless to me. I would think it should be installed on the quill, right?

    So the question is, how can I install the z-axis on the quill? Anyone have a setup like this that they can share a picture or two?


  • #2
    There are lots of DRO quill attachment articles for RF-45 clones on the net, featuring scales similar to the Grizzly ones.

    Here are a couple:



    • #3

      The concept is to use the z-axis crank much like a knee on the Bridgeport. However, in practice, you'll find it's tough to dial in a measurement using the crank: stick/slip, tightening the locks changes the position, pulling down on the head will cause it to fall a bit. The remedy for most of the following is to raise the head to your cutting measurement rather than lower it. Of course, that's usually not possible or inconvenient. I've reworked by gib and locks to eliminate most of what I've described. Nontheless, I still use the quill as my Z adjustment 95% of the time (the handwheel dial is not accurate BTW).

      All that being the case, here's what I recommend. Go ahead and mount the Z encoder to the head/column as the kit does by default.

      For a quill DRO, go to the Yahoo mill/drill group, subscribe, and look for my posting of "poor man's quill DRO". Basically, it entails mounting a $40 digital slide scale on the front panel of the mill. The slide is attached the quill. The whole idea works great for me...

      Good luck!


      • #4
        I have a ZX45 equivalent and installed a 3 axis 6 years ago.

        The link above you will have problems and asking for trouble off the depth stop screw.
        Other method no room to do it, two speed handles above in the way.

        Mines mounted on the left side of the head casting at rear.
        Make up something substantial from quill to reader.
        Next step beef up the grub screw that stops the quill rotating, ie reduce the play.

        X axis better off the front but in my case needed the T slot for carriage stop and power feed trip outs. Then i have an 8" rotary table on with dividing plates overhanging the front, so scale had to go on the rear.

        Might have a some piccies in general?


        • #5
          Can just see an aluminium bar off the quill doubling up as a coolant feed.

          Can also see where i originally had a scale attached off the quill with alum lug. Reader attachment bracket in to casting, two tapped holes either side of the depth stop.
          Too much play in that depth stop to fix off.


          • #6
            If this helps, here's a couple pics of my PM 45 w/Z azis DRO. In the last year, the Z-axis DRO reading was used once (maybe). More useful is the quill DRO I made and installed -which gets used on a daily basis...

            Oh, and by the way, I'm the guy that originally posted the "Poor Man's Mill Quill DRO" but that's located on another site.

            Last edited by Ray C; 06-13-2011, 11:38 PM.


            • #7
              Clarification... I posted a "Poor mans quill DRO" for a 45 clone on another site. Pics are shown on the steps to make it. The phrase itself has been around a long time and certainly, many people have done it before me...


              • #8
                Thats the sort of idea Ray with your quill scale.
                Mine has the quill lockup in same place as yours and a dro C scale wont fit needs to go where taper is at rear.
                These will not fit on front either due to the two levers on mine interfering, plus needed the depth stop operational.
                Can also see in Rays the grub screw that stops quill rotating, make new tighter tolerance one up.

                Also share pointless exercise in putting a dro scale on upright column, different if a knee mill. Though i do have a scale i have never fitted.

                Contemplating junking the X axis C type scale and cover for a magnetic type. I could get this on the front then but a lot dearer as fitted to lathe Y and tailstock.