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IndustryArena Forum > Metalworking Machines > Benchtop Machines > Does the LMS solid column conversion kit make a big difference?
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  1. #1
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    Does the LMS solid column conversion kit make a big difference?

    Well I was thinking about making some kind of a column support plate to reduce the flexing/vibration of the column of my Micromark SX2 mill, but the more I think about it, I like the idea of the extra inch of Y and two extra inches of Z travel that I would get with LMS' solid column conversion kit.

    But before I try to cough up the money, I'm wondering, has this mod been shown in practice to make a big difference in terms of flexing and vibration?

  2. #2
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    I knew that LMS was going to come out with a solid-column conversion kit for their version of the SX2, but didn't realize that it was available until I saw your post. So thanks for posting it.

    I have a regular X2 - and I have been planning to stiffen the column, however now I am considering shelling out the $$ to get their solid column and the matching base. Since I am planning to convert it to CNC, I haven't decided whether or not to get the longer Y-axis feed screw (but maybe I will use it manually for a while before doing the conversion, so why not get it).

    To save others the job of looking it up, here is the link to the conversion kit:

    Solid Column Conversion Kit, HiTorque Mini Mill - LittleMachineShop.com

    The installation instructions:

    http://www.littlemachineshop.com/Ins...versionKit.pdf

    The replacement Y-axis feed screw (for the X2 from HF or Grizzly, they have a different one for the Micro Mark which has a different pitch to match the hand wheel calibration marks):

    http://www.littlemachineshop.com/4031

  3. #3
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    By the time that you add in the $22 for the Y-axis screw, and $52 or so for shipping, it's a bit on the steep side (it comes to almost $250.00).

    For that price I could buy some steel bar stock and a cheap Harbor Freight welder and learn to weld my own column stiffening bracket (I've been meaning to learn welding anyway). Or even do a bolt-together column add-on, and save the additional $$ for something else.

    So I'm probably not going to do this upgrade.

  4. #4
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    Yep, that's a lot of money for those parts, and the shipping is a killer. Especially considering that you're left with the useless old parts, which, if you had to buy them, would apparently cost almost as much as the new ones. Too bad there's no trade-in program for the old parts whereby a person could save a few dollars.

  5. #5
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    This is what I did, I'm very happy with it, and it's featured on HOSS's site.

    Shop Info

    http://www.cnczone.com/forums/994630-post20.html

    I talked to Chris at LMS a little bit about his kit, but didn't get it to "how much better is it", he just said it works, well... mine works... and it looks nice too.

    Here is a picture of the column bracket I drew up.


  6. #6
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    Hello B-RAD,

    That's a nice job you did there. BTW which mill is that, is that the LMS 3900?

    I think if I had the 3900, I would just make my own support bracket like you did. But in my case, getting the LMS kit also gives me more Y and Z travel, which I think will come in handy...otherwise the LMS kit probably wouldn't be worth $250 to me.

  7. #7
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    There is no such thing as useless old parts.

    Think of such parts as things you have yet put to work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nelson_2008 View Post
    Yep, that's a lot of money for those parts, and the shipping is a killer. Especially considering that you're left with the useless old parts, which, if you had to buy them, would apparently cost almost as much as the new ones. Too bad there's no trade-in program for the old parts whereby a person could save a few dollars.
    At best they could offer you scrap metal rates.


    I can't comment on the solid column for you as I've never tried it out and don't have an X2 anyways. The first question in my mind is: are you having issues right now? If so I'd look at all the possible avenues to an upgrade including replacement with a better machine.

    It is like this, would an upgrade be throwing good money after bad for you. I can't answer that as each person uses his machinery differently. Many seem to over subscribe their machines, that is try to take on more than they can realistically handle, if this is your case a bigger machine might make more sense.

    Since this is a known weak area on the X2, your other option is to search the net to see the avenues others have taken. Bracing and infil being two common approaches.

  8. #8
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    To be truthful, the weak link in the X-2 is the column to base support.

    To solve this, a backer plate that bolts the back of the column down to the back of the base plate is really all that is needed.

    With just the column to base stiffer, this will cover you with the stock motor and an motor controller up grade to get the motor to put out full power.

    Now if you are looking at upgrading the motor into the 2HP range, then forget the upgrade kit since it still will be the weak link (flex between the column to base support. plus you get into the other parts of the machine not being able to hold it own with that much power down to work piece to resolve the chatter city cuts).

    B Rad, just looked at your drawing, and it's missing the most important part, being the bottom of back plate to base tie in.

    If you look at DJ's mod, you can see that the stock column has only the two front brace bolts, leaving the back of the column supported from just the front points cantilevering to the back. His small brass deals with this issue, being that the support bracket is adding bolting point for column at the back to stiffen the base to column support system. This alone goes a long way to resolve chatter, with some of the other more beef up mod's to stiffen up the entire column as well.

  9. #9
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    Im not missing anything, infact mine is more adjustable and still mounted to the base..... Look at all my contact points while still having adjustability, DJ's is just mounted there.... Mine easily adjusts for nod, his you have to loosen the main bolt to shim it, even then it isn't the full length of the column... I could go on and on defending my design.


  10. #10
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    B rad,
    I was just a tad lost in your drawing since I didn't see any base bolt supporting bolting in it, but now understand how you have that covered in your design.

    Cheers,

  11. #11
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    Understand, I should of said that is a drawing of the shape of the bottom of the colunm, so then he has something to build off of. I figured you clicked my links and were calling out my design. Sorry.

  12. #12
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    There was a Link????????
    (just caught in when I took a second look).:idea:

    Looks good, and so much in fact, thinking about trying reinvent the wheel on my X2. Since I can dial in pretty much angle I need off the table (sine vise, angle plate rt and such), would love to just break out the Tig, and just go weld happy with a C channel to just unify the base to column once and for all.

    Only problem is trying to keep the column/Head trammed with the heat stretch/shrinkage of the welds. But them again, even with the column that solid, still way too much slop in the rest of the mill that will induce chatter on deep cuts to even begin to get to the point of taxing such a stout column/base support.

    Don't get me wrong, my X-2 is working fine for the small projects that I use it for, but every now and again, run into those projects that you would like to knock at the house after dinner, instead of having to go to the shop to do them instead.

    But such an concept can wait/sit on the back burner, since the one mod that I still do need to get around to is increasing the Spindle through bore on the 8x14 lathe to at least 1".

    P.S, If anyone is having threading problems/ clean cut problems with the power feed on their 8X14, can tell you the one area to check. Lock the half nut, then move the entire rest by hand left and right with the machine off. My machine start off semi decent, but the slop in the left support for the lead screw became way over the top (read had a good 1/4" movement in the left support for the lead screw). Found the fix was not so bad since you can remove this slop via just re-machining the adjusting disc to correct the problem.

    As for why they call it an adjusting disc, I don't have a clue since is a solid piece. Maybe at one time, the center section of the disc was thread to the outer flange section, and you could thread the inner section on the outer flange section to adjust the slop out. But either way, you have cast parts on both side, with a steel bushing/sleeve on the lead screw pinned to the shaft in the middle of the two, and would have been nice to at least see a few bearing here instead of the current set up.

  13. #13
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    Total newbie comment...

    I understand stiffening will give you better precision when dealing with harder material or taking deep cuts.

    Is there a reason to take deeper cuts at once other than the time savings? Lots of passes would get the same job done right?

    Sorry I'm brand new to this and I'm trying to evaluate if I want to stiffen my x2 for some future project that may need it.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by CodeMonkeyDan View Post
    Total newbie comment...

    I understand stiffening will give you better precision when dealing with harder material or taking deep cuts.

    Is there a reason to take deeper cuts at once other than the time savings? Lots of passes would get the same job done right?

    Sorry I'm brand new to this and I'm trying to evaluate if I want to stiffen my x2 for some future project that may need it.

    Lets back it way up to the factory machine and go from there,

    In stock from, a X-2 is motor output hobbled so it will not blow the plastic gears (350 watts_. Even in this state, there is a lot of flex of the column to the base, and this will present problems with chatting cuts even in light cuts .

    Once you blow your first set of gears (happened to me just by the head dropping down on it's own on a cut to crash the machine), then you will belt drive the machine instead. At the same time to prevent a crash again, time to rethink the spring assist on the machine, and in my case, added the air assist in conjunction to the spring assist, so if the head does wander, it going to do so up, instead of down and crash the machine again.

    Now that you have the belt drive, no more reason to hobble the motor to less than full output, and a quick motor control board swap solve that for around $20 (now motor can put out the 495 watts is rated at, hence 110v at 4.5 amps, instead of the 90V at 3.8 amps the factory has it set at).
    Note: the SX-2 is rated at 500 watts, but since it's a VFD drive, the question comes down to if the X-2 motor unleashed full speed has more torque mid speed in low belt setting, then the SX-2 has at the same speed? All I know is with the motor not hobbled any more, it a whole new animal from what you start with (if you get the machine solid enough to use the new found power).

    Now at this point, if you though that the flex in the column to base support was causing bad chatter cut problems before, it going to be out of hand with the motor putting out full power that you can put down to the work piece.

    So, yes, out the gate, you want to stiffen the column to base support first thing, and depending on the amount of power that you are looking to upgrade the machine in the end (even if to just de-hobble the motor it so it puts out full power), then think about stiffening the column as well. Even to add here, lapping in the saddles when cleaning up the machine before using it does wonders as well, , Hence if you have to leave the gibs on loose side to prevent binding of the axis, then this slop compounds the problem with a lot of chatter in the cuts as well.

    So to short bus it, you have a cutter on one end, and a work piece on the other end of the math. The more solid the two are retained together as a unit, the smoother and more precise the cuts will be in the end.

    And as for 10 finish cuts, verses one rough cut to do the same, up to you in the end, but kind of a waste in the end.

  15. #15
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    Plus your arm would be sore.

  16. #16
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    Actually the SX2 should be "big" enough for what I want to do (and due to size and weight constraints, i.e., mobility constraints, it is all I can reasonably have right now), I just don't want it with any "major", if possible.

    I knew before I bought it that it had some "issues" - column flex being one of them - that's why I didn't buy it until it went on sale for 25% off. Basically I bought it from the perspective that I was buying a "fancy drill press", which may afford me some light milling capability.

    A few months ago, however, I happened to come across [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Siwbp9Pfm4s"]this video[/ame] on youtube, demonstrating the column flex problem, and that sort of shocked me...as I didn't realize that the problem was that bad. That looks like some serious displacement going on there.

    Anyway, so far I've been working only with plastics, and not very aggressively, so column flex hasn't been a problem. In the future however, I'm sure I'll be working with metals, and I'm sure the day will come when it will be an issue, so I want to do something about it now, and not later, when I'm in the middle of something.

    The braces I'm seeing here look like an elegant solution to the problem...but the thought of getting a little more Y and Z travel (by using the LMS kit) is tempting.

    Before I spend that kind of money though, I was hoping to have someone state: "I installed the LMS kit and it really made a big improvement..."

    Quote Originally Posted by wizard View Post
    Think of such parts as things you have yet put to work.

    At best they could offer you scrap metal rates.

    I can't comment on the solid column for you as I've never tried it out and don't have an X2 anyways. The first question in my mind is: are you having issues right now? If so I'd look at all the possible avenues to an upgrade including replacement with a better machine.

    It is like this, would an upgrade be throwing good money after bad for you. I can't answer that as each person uses his machinery differently. Many seem to over subscribe their machines, that is try to take on more than they can realistically handle, if this is your case a bigger machine might make more sense.

    Since this is a known weak area on the X2, your other option is to search the net to see the avenues others have taken. Bracing and infil being two common approaches.

  17. #17
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    The LMS solid column kit solves the problem that same way as the back plate mods, being that it put 4 bolts on the column to base to hold it solid front and back, instead of just the two bolt at the front with the cantilevering of the base behind the back front mounting bolts.

    On my machine, I just used a 1/8" plate (was either that, or the 1/2 plate that I had sitting around) to make the mod back plate, and came up the column about 6" higher than the back main bolt. So two bolts into the base with spacer shims to maintain tram front to back on the column once I had that true, then 6 more counter sunk bolts up the side with the main large bolt to hold the plate solid to the column.

    Don't over think it, since its the base to the column support that you are trying to stiffen, with stiffening the column itself only really needed if you going to put major powder down to the work piece instead.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nelson_2008 View Post
    A few months ago, however, I happened to come across this video on youtube, demonstrating the column flex problem, and that sort of shocked me...as I didn't realize that the problem was that bad. That looks like some serious displacement going on there.
    That's my video. Since then, I added braces to the stepper mount, and built a big beefy brace for the column. It made a significant improvement to the machine.

    I had planned on shooting an updated video showing the difference, but I wound up selling the machine before I got around to it.

    Frederic

  19. #19
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    X3 Solid Column

    I ordered the solid column, base, saddle, and long table from LMS. I have 2 basket case HF X2 mill that were bought about 11 years ago. I completed 3, X3 cnc retrofits for friends and I disliked the column mounting so much that I abandoned the 2, X2 mills I was making for myself and my old shop teacher. I ended up making the X1 mill with the long X and Y for both of us. I plan on using the new and old parts to make a new, to me, X2 cnc mill. If I can get it together, I post the progress. Tex in VA


    Here are some photos:

    This is the Solid Column and new Base from LMS:



    Here it is with the new, long Table:



    The LMS parts with the HF's:



    This photo is of the 2 tables:


  20. #20
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    How much wider are the dovetails on the larger table than the standard X2s? I ordered one from Grizzly (Well, the G0727 table.. I think its the same.) for a CNC project but it's on backorder.

    If it's close I may be able to recycle an X2 saddle instead of having to scratch build or order a SX2 saddle.
    Q: How many tools does it take before a simple task becomes a project?
    A: Just one. I'm the Tool that turns a simple task in to a project.

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