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  1. #1
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    Mazak VQC 15/40 Retrofit

    Hello everyone! First time poster here. This thread will be a log for retrofitting my Mazak VQC 15/40 mill. Hope you guys follow along and enjoy the show. I'm also looking forward to getting some tips and suggestions along the way so feel free to jump in at any point!

    So I'll start off with a little back story. I've been working at my family's machine shop for almost a decade now and all we had were CNC lathes, no CNC mills just an old Bridgeport knee mill. Being an engineer I've always wanted to make my own creations but having only access to CNC lathes I always felt limited. So for a number of years now I've wanted to get my hands on a CNC mill. I eventually came across an old Mazak VQC 15/40 on an online auction site. Not much info was posted about the machine on the site but I figured if the controller was dead it wouldn't have mattered as I was planning on retrofitting anyways. I just hoped the machine was mechanically sound and knowing Mazak's reputation I don't think that was to much of a worry. I went ahead and bid on it and crossed my fingers. Luckily the bidding didn't go to high and made out with what I think was a good deal. That was back in November.

    When it arrived at our shop I was able to take a close look at what I got myself into. At first glance the machine looked really well put together; a nice solid design. That being said though I don't think the previous owner has the word "cleaning" in their vocabulary. I don't think the machine was cleaned in a day of its life. It was caked with coolant and chips everywhere. So I knew I had a lot of scrubbing ahead of me. Check out the photos to get an idea.

    The first problem we ran into was getting the machine into the shop. For whatever reason the z axis wasn't lowered onto wooden blocks and was left in the highest position and measuring the height as best we could we knew it was going to be a tight fit through the door. I looked around on the web to see if and how to lower the spindle manually and couldn't find anything. So I took off the covers on the spindle to get a better look. I noticed a brake on the z-axis ballscrew and tried to manually release it by pushing and pulling on the flanges but no luck. We decided to give it a shot and see how much we're off by. Long story short we had to take a piece of weather stripping off from the top of the door and remove 3 tiny hex screws that held the grill over the spindle cooling fan and then it just barely slide into the door way with the forks of the forklift skidding on the ground. I found out a way to lower the spindle manually so I'll do a short post about it when I get a chance so other's won't be stuck in the same situation I was.

    Once I got a close look I was able to make a plan and set goals on what I wanted to get done.
    So the plan:
    • Remove all the panels so I can thoroughly clean the base of the machine and all the critical components (linear rails, ballscrews, etc).
    • Sandblast the panels and repaint them to give the machine a fresher appearance.
    • Fire up the machine to see if it even works and fix whatever needs to be fixed (hopefully nothing).
    • Retrofit the machine with a new controller.


    Here are some photos before I started to take it all apart. I don't know why I didn't take a wide shot of the entire machine or of the pallet changer.

  2. #2
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    Re: Mazak VQC 15/40 Retrofit

    Here are the remaining photos from Day 1. I began to take panels off from around the tool changer magazine. It is here that you can see how bad the coolant and swarf is caked on to everything. Lots of fun ahead!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_0208.jpg   IMG_0209.jpg   IMG_0210.jpg  

  3. #3
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    Re: Mazak VQC 15/40 Retrofit

    Here are some photos from Day 2. I took apart the tool changer magazine to get a thorough clean. I'm amazed that this thing still functioned (assuming it was still functional) with so much filth everywhere. There's also a photo of the over machine with some of the panels removed as well as the pallet changer. Not much going on here just removing panels and cleaning.

  4. #4
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    Re: Mazak VQC 15/40 Retrofit

    Photos from Day 3. Took off the x-axis way cover and discovered a heap of swarf sitting on the servo motor. These chips got in everywhere! They'll find any nook and cranny and just pile up inside. The photo is after I removed most of the chips away. I started to explore the pallet changer and just felt overwhelmed with the amount of cleaning needed to be done. As they say... one step at a time. In another photo you can see some good progress on the base of the tool magazine coming along quite nicely. I used purple power to clean all the dried up coolant. It does a good job at cutting right through that gunk.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_0229.jpg   IMG_0230.jpg   IMG_0231.jpg   IMG_0232.jpg  

  5. #5
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    Re: Mazak VQC 15/40 Retrofit

    Photos of Day 4. I took off the main enclosure panel from the machine. I had to move the pallet changer away from the machine in order to remove the main panel. I used a car jack and placed it up against the base of the machine and pushed the pallet changer away. Then added some wood blocks and placed the car jack back in place and repeated the process until the changer was far enough out of the way for us to get the enclosure off. With all the panels off and out of the way you can begin to appreciate the solidness of this machine. Box ways on the z-axis and linear guide rails on the x and y axes. The one thing that I can already tell will be annoy is that I won't be able to have anything overhanging off of the table otherwise it will crash into one of the columns. It seems like it has happened before as there were a couple of dents on the main enclosure panel right in the line of fire.

  6. #6
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    Re: Mazak VQC 15/40 Retrofit

    Day 5 photos. More cleaning progress. Some detailed photos of the tool changer magazine components being cleaned. I decided to buy new bearings for the sprockets and the Geneva cam driver shaft because they had a rough grinding feeling when they were spun and that's not ideal. Although there is nothing "high speed" about the tool changer I felt it was a good idea to replace the bearings just for peace of mind. Plus they were dirt cheap on ebay so it worked out alright. Again purple power making it easy. Just wear gloves cause it'll make your hands really rough and dry especially during the winter time.

  7. #7
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    Re: Mazak VQC 15/40 Retrofit

    Day 6 photos. Nothing really interesting here. Just more cleaning. Started to clean the bundle of wires and hoses. I took apart the tool measure arm. I wish I snapped a photo but my hands were covered in grease and I hate having to go wash my hands every few minutes just to take photos but the inside of the tool measure arm was the most disgusting mass of crap I ever seen. It looked like a translucent yellow cottage cheese. It didn't smell good either. I guess the seal around the plunger wasn't a seal anymore and let coolant seep in. Once all the parts were cleaned up I took a close look at the seal. Seems like over the years the rubber material expanded and didn't form a seal on the plunger anymore. The seal is very similar to the ones used on SMC pneumatic cylinders so I look around on the web for replacement seals for a pneumatic cylinder with a rod diameter the same as the plunger on the measure arm. Ended up paying 5 bucks off ebay. God knows how much Mazak would have charged for a simple part like that.

    The interesting thing here is that the measure probe uses proximity sensors. I didn't know proximity sensors were very repeatable but I guess they are. There's two sensors inside the arm and my guess (after watching: this video) is that the top sensor, when triggered, tells the control that a tool is touching the probe and to advance further at a slower speed. The controller then continues feeding the z-axis at a slow rate until the bottom sensor triggers. At this point the z-axis has probably over shot a tiny bit so it backs off at a very slow rate until the bottom sensor turns off and the control records the measurement at that instant. That's at least my guess on how it works or at least how I would implement it. Whether or not I use this for my retrofit I'm not sure but I would love to hear what you guys think.

  8. #8
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    Re: Mazak VQC 15/40 Retrofit

    Day 7 photos. Here I reassembled the tool changer magazine. Things are looking a lot cleaner. I probably should have repainted the forks but I was eager to test the machine and see if it was functional so I just reassembled it completely. I will probably take the forks off and repaint them when I get to painting the enclosure panels.

    Some things to note about the tool changer magazine for retrofit informational purposes is that it utilizes a number of different sensors. It uses 5 proximity sensors, 4 of them to determine which tool position the magazine is currently in using binary logic, and 1 proximity sensor on the Geneva cam driver to see when the magazine is in position. It also utilizes an optical sensor which shots a beam of light at a reflector (not currently mounted) and checks to see if any tools are in the fork so that the controller knows whether it can place the tool it currently has in its spindle away into the magazine. Luckily this setup requires just simple logic to implement so it shouldn't be to difficult to retrofit into the new controller.

  9. #9
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    Re: Mazak VQC 15/40 Retrofit

    what controller are you useing?

  10. #10
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    Re: Mazak VQC 15/40 Retrofit

    Hey Aventtini! Glad you asked. I'll be using a Kflop along with a Kanalog board and a Konnect board for additional outputs. After studying the wiring diagram I concluded that I'll need 38 outputs and 58 inputs not including the analog outputs for servo amps and spindle drive or the quadrature encoder inputs. I'll be using the existing servo amps and spindle drive. The machine is currently equipped with resolvers so I purchased some high count encoders to take their place. I'll get into more detail in a later post so stick around!

  11. #11
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    Re: Mazak VQC 15/40 Retrofit

    Wow, quite an undertaking you got there. I know how you feel about the endless cleaning. My restoration feels like 80% cleaning, 20% progress. Keep posting before and after pics, very satisfying.

    Can you spin the spindle by hand? How does it feel?

  12. #12
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