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IndustryArena Forum > MetalWorking Machines > Benchtop Machines > Retrofitting and old benchtop mill - Town Labs 512
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  1. #1
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    Retrofitting and old benchtop mill - Town Labs 512

    This machine was my first dip in the CNC pool. It's not the best tool out there but it was almost free by the time it got to me. I used it for several months making a few things but eventually spent more time tweeking it to get it to work correctly than using it so it was shelved and I was confident enough by then to drop a knot of money on a Tormach.

    Anyway, I found in my stash a Probotix 3-axis kit that I bought for a long abandoned CNC router project. Even though I don't really have a planned use for this machine if I can get it to work with the retrofit then I think the experience of doing this small one will help me decide if I want to tackle a larger machine that I have the also needs a retrofit but that I have to buy parts for.

    Fail cheap and small first or succeed and push forward

    Guess I'll find out!

    Attachment 429208

    Attachment 429210

    Attachment 429212

    Attachment 429218

    Attachment 429214

    Attachment 429216



    And a video of the disassembly if that interest you.

    https://youtu.be/re2-72BH_l4

  2. #2
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    Re: Retrofitting and old benchtop mill - Town Labs 512

    Hi, with CNC you're transferring the accuracy from the person to the machine......if the machine is not up to it, it will never get better...…..whereas with a person you learn by your mistakes and eventually get better.

    A manual mill is very forgiving because the person working it is the deciding factor, but with a CNC mill, if you go cheap, it will never become a workable entity......best of luck....I would recommend doing it up as originally designed and sell it on, the money you make will go to getting a more impressive new mill.....you can't make a silk purse out of a Sow's ear.
    Ian.

  3. #3

    Re: Retrofitting and old benchtop mill - Town Labs 512

    Quote Originally Posted by ecdez View Post
    This machine was my first dip in the CNC pool. It's not the best tool out there but it was almost free by the time it got to me. I used it for several months making a few things but eventually spent more time tweeking it to get it to work correctly than using it so it was shelved and I was confident enough by then to drop a knot of money on a Tormach.

    Anyway, I found in my stash a Probotix 3-axis kit that I bought for a long abandoned CNC router project. Even though I don't really have a planned use for this machine if I can get it to work with the retrofit then I think the experience of doing this small one will help me decide if I want to tackle a larger machine that I have the also needs a retrofit but that I have to buy parts for.

    Fail cheap and small first or succeed and push forward

    Guess I'll find out!

    Attachment 429208

    Attachment 429210

    Attachment 429212

    Attachment 429218

    Attachment 429214

    Attachment 429216



    And a video of the disassembly if that interest you.

    https://youtu.be/re2-72BH_l4
    So small.
    http://cncmakers.com/cnc/controllers/CNC_Controller_System/CNC_Retrofit_Package.html

  4. #4
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    Re: Retrofitting and old benchtop mill - Town Labs 512

    Quote Originally Posted by handlewanker View Post
    I would recommend doing it up as originally designed and sell it on, the money you make will go to getting a more impressive new mill.....you can't make a silk purse out of a Sow's ear.
    Ian.
    I hear what you're saying. Unfortunately the parts required to bring it back to original specs would be a few hundred dollars, which is more than I have in it, whereas the parts I have for the retrofit are free (paid for long ago). I don't really "need" this machine for making parts as I have a Tormach I bought new and it's currently the workhorse in my shop. The real value isn't in having a precise machine when I'm done but rather the knowledge and experience to have the confidence to tackle a larger project that's in the corner. For this one, the most I'd likely trust it with is engraving; if at all.

  5. #5
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    Re: Retrofitting and old benchtop mill - Town Labs 512

    I say go for it and chalk it up as a good learning experience! No harm done.

    What is the make of that machine? Kinda looks like the older Harbor Freight mini mills but not quite the same.

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    Re: Retrofitting and old benchtop mill - Town Labs 512

    Quote Originally Posted by kb0nly View Post
    I say go for it and chalk it up as a good learning experience! No harm done.

    What is the make of that machine? Kinda looks like the older Harbor Freight mini mills but not quite the same.
    Exactly!

    It's a TownLabs mill; I believe it's a titled a 512. Their website doesn't seem to exist anymore.

  7. #7
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    Re: Retrofitting and old benchtop mill - Town Labs 512

    I got another day of work in on the tiny mill. Just some assembly but it has to go back together before it'll work!



    Attachment 429652

    Attachment 429654

    Attachment 429656

    Attachment 429658

    Attachment 429660

    Attachment 429662



    https://youtu.be/lwZgf2nQQao

  8. #8
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    Re: Retrofitting and old benchtop mill - Town Labs 512

    If you have the machine and the parts and are willing to devote a bit of time-why not do it?At best you will have increased your knowledge and gained a useful machine.At worst you will have wasted a bit of time.My guess is the lessons will be extremely useful.Even if the leadcrews are prone to excessive backlash a new set of Chinese ballscrews won't cost too much.

  9. #9
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    Re: Retrofitting and old benchtop mill - Town Labs 512

    Quote Originally Posted by routalot View Post
    If you have the machine and the parts and are willing to devote a bit of time-why not do it?At best you will have increased your knowledge and gained a useful machine.At worst you will have wasted a bit of time.My guess is the lessons will be extremely useful.Even if the leadcrews are prone to excessive backlash a new set of Chinese ballscrews won't cost too much.
    Can't argue with any of that!

  10. #10
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    Re: Retrofitting and old benchtop mill - Town Labs 512

    Not many more pictures to show as the machine still looks mostly the same since the last update but here's a video of the wiring process and some testing.

    https://youtu.be/GlAnTECjpFU

  11. #11
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    Re: Retrofitting and old benchtop mill - Town Labs 512

    Some test cuts.

    Attachment 431082

    The accuracy is a little off but that may be due to some adjustments needing to be made in the software and the need to tighten up some parts. The linear bearings were less than impressive so maybe different ones will straighten it up a little. I'm guessing there's about 0.005" that be tightened up and another 0.010" that needs adjusted in Mach.

    An engraving test as well. This is what I am hopeful to be able to use this thing for so even if I can't get that last little bit of error out it seems to be plenty close enough for engraving

    Attachment 431084




    https://youtu.be/Khw4VxkY-qk

  12. #12
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    Re: Retrofitting and old benchtop mill - Town Labs 512

    Well at least the mill works......the engraving looks quite good.

    I see you have the dial caliper off zero needle problem...….me too, I like the dial calipers because they don't run out of battery power when you want to use it like the digital ones do, but the needle zeroing at the side or bottom is a pain.

    I'm thinking of a way to get at the needle through the front cover glass, like they do with a barometer, to be able to move the needle back to the top zero position...….it means having the needle a friction fit on it's spindle so I can move it back...…...I've made a few mistakes reading the dial when the needle zeroed down at the bottom of the dial.
    Ian.

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