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Replacement bellows needed

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Peter G. Shaw09/10/2018 19:08:02
1040 forum posts
43 photos

I have an X2 type milling machine. It has not been used much yet two sets of bellows on the Y axis have failed. They have split along the folds. The first set were those supplied by the manufacturer, whilst the second set were a set of dip moulded rubber concertina bellows supplied by Arc Euro Trade. I have tried, with limited success, gluing some cycle inner tube pieces over the splits, but in reality it is a lose-lose situation.

So, the first question is why are they splitting? Are they affected by cold, my workshop being a cold & draughty garage? Similarly, are they affected by heat - it gets very warm in the summer?

Secondly, can they be protected against splitting? Here I am thinking of perhaps something like olive oil. (Apparently vegetable oils can be used to lubricate the (rubber?) lipseal on caravan toilets.)

Thirdly. What about replacement with something totally different? I believe Harold Hall once mentioned using old cereal boxes, cut, folded and varnished. Anyone tried it? What about a piece cut off a large, eg car or wagon, inner tube? Apparently someone on another forum has done that and says that the curvature of the tube helps to throw off the chips. Again, has anyone here tried it?

Of course, I can always go back to Arc and order up another set of bellows, in which context, would the bellows made of laminated fabric be any better?


Peter G. Shaw

blowlamp09/10/2018 20:14:03
1245 forum posts
82 photos

I followed this video a few weeks ago.

Neil Wyatt09/10/2018 20:53:33
17334 forum posts
690 photos
77 articles
Posted by Peter G. Shaw on 09/10/2018 19:08:02:

I have an X2 type milling machine. It has not been used much yet two sets of bellows on the Y axis have failed. They have split along the folds. The first set were those supplied by the manufacturer, whilst the second set were a set of dip moulded rubber concertina bellows supplied by Arc Euro Trade. I have tried, with limited success, gluing some cycle inner tube pieces over the splits, but in reality it is a lose-lose situation.

Strange, My X2 was, I think, number 3 in the first ever batch Arc sold. The Y-bellows is still fine.

So I don't know - do you use coolant?

Peter G. Shaw09/10/2018 21:30:51
1040 forum posts
43 photos


If I do, it is likely to be paraffin for aluminium, Neatcut from Warco for steel. In both instances it is brushed on before the cut.


Frances IoM09/10/2018 21:58:05
716 forum posts
25 photos
is it in bright sunlight during the day ? - soon rots many fabrics/paper especially at folds
Bandersnatch09/10/2018 22:46:53
1470 forum posts
42 photos

I got mine years ago from LMS years ago and it's never been a problem. Ambient conditions are good though (indoors, basement, stable temperature no sunlight) and I don't use floods of coolant.

Peter G. Shaw10/10/2018 09:08:57
1040 forum posts
43 photos


What video? I can't see anything.

Frances IoM,

No windows so no sunlight.


It wouldn't surprise me if it was adverse ambient conditions. It's a single skin garage with a felt roof, roll-upfront doors, and a single back door into a porch and hence the house. No heating so it does indeed get cold in there. And hot in summer. As a general rule, when it (and the lathe) are not in use, they are covered by a piece of cloth over which is placed a plastic bag (sheet for the lathe). Both machines have been fitted with a small self-regulating cabinet heater (RS 360-4059) in a largely successful attempt to prevent rust by keeping the equipment slightly warmer than ambient when not in use. Short of a dedicated building, there's not a lot more I can do. The trouble with LMS is their location!

Peter G. Shaw

Michael Gilligan10/10/2018 09:18:44
14979 forum posts
638 photos
Posted by Peter G. Shaw on 10/10/2018 09:08:57:


What video? I can't see anything.


dont know Video is clearly visible on my iPad

Here's a link: **LINK**


SillyOldDuffer10/10/2018 09:40:41
5333 forum posts
1090 photos

Extremely mysterious!

As it's happened twice to you, and no-one else has reported similar, it must be something local. I liked Frances' sunlight suggestion. Shame there's no window!

One thing that leaps out at me as a tad unusual is the "small self-regulating cabinet heater (RS 360-4059)". Looking at the specification, I see this type covers a range of temperatures and wattages. The model with the lowest running temperature is 65℃ and the highest 155℃.

Is it possible that your heater is cooking the bellows? Perhaps they insulate the warm mill causing a local hot-spot underneath the bellows. Easily tested, it shouldn't feel hot underneath.


Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 10/10/2018 09:41:53

Zebethyal10/10/2018 11:00:04
191 forum posts

The bellows from my SX2 that have not seen much use, they were removed when I installed the fixed column and extended base in July 2015 and just sat under the bench since then, not used the Mill much inbetween as I was concentrating on House related refurbisment.

I thought about putting them back on the other month and they just ripped apart in my hands with absolutely no effort whatsoever, so this is not an isolated case.

My garage also sees some extremes of temperature - keeping anything rust free in there is a mission.

Sam Longley 110/10/2018 11:34:05
735 forum posts
26 photos

I use "Hi Load" DPC left over from a building job. A 50 metre roll of 225mm wide is not that expensive & you can always use it as a starter for a new workshop !!!!!!!!!

Peter G. Shaw10/10/2018 11:49:29
1040 forum posts
43 photos

Dave (SOD),

I appreciate and understand what you are saying, but...

I have two of the 10W heaters fitted to the underneath of the bed of my lathe. In fact they are running at 19W each which is within the specification that I saw when I first fitted them. In terms of temperature, they have never felt anything other than slightly warm. I think that if they had reached 65 deg C it would have been far too hot to touch would it not? Maybe I'm a bit out there but isn't hot water from the tap supposed to be around 60 deg C? Anyway, the effect on condensation has been nothing short of marvellous, ie absolutely none and the lathe has never had that bone chilling numbness that cold metal can achieve. Furthermore, the bright surfaces now remain rust free, prior to fitting the heaters I had to regularly spray them with WD40 after removing the rust patina.

I've looked at the specification you pointed to, and it isn't the same as what I first saw, although there is one phrase under Product Details which I think explains it - "Mounting on an aluminium plate increases power consumption and decreases surface temperature proportionately". And that's what I'm relying on. In terms of the lathe, that means a continuous 38W, 24/7/365. For me, a small price to pay.

In respect of the milling machine, I've only one fitted, and that is to an aluminium plate about 150-200 x 100-120 x 13mm. This plate is wedged underneath between the bottom rails (sides?) of the base. Yes it feels warm, but nowhere near hot. In fact, it is not generating enough heat because I discovered the other day that the table top had a slight covering of rust - it's been cleaned and now is sprayed with WD40, something I haven't had to do to the lathe (yes, correct word) for many a year. Which is yet another problem to overcome - how to fit an electric heater to a chunk of metal that slides around!

As an aside, I've even taken to using a fishtank warming mat underneath a sheet of aluminium on a shelf. Resting on the aluminium are two chucks, one T -slotted topslide and a vertical milling slide. No idea what the temperature is, but they are remaining rust free.

Zeb (etc!),

Where do you get a name like that? Just curious!

Anyway, thanks for the confirmation - that appears to be exactly what happens to mine. Which suggests that the answer is indeed the extremes of temperature. Which brings be back to the original question of how to stop it.

Peter G. Shaw

p.s. Just an afterthought. I can only report on my experiences. Ie, if it works, so be it.

Edited By Peter G. Shaw on 10/10/2018 11:53:27

JasonB10/10/2018 11:58:00
17283 forum posts
1859 photos
1 articles

My X3 did not come with any bellows and they still don't supply them with any. After 12 years of constant use there is no swarf damage to the ways. Wonder if they are worth fitting as they just seem to be a swarf trap to me.

Zebethyal10/10/2018 13:51:42
191 forum posts

Zebethyal (actually Zebethyial - Demon Queen) is a character from the lesser known Red Fox comic book series. It is also sufficiently unique that it is unlikely that anyone else will have used it on any other message board.

With regards refitting, thus far I haven't - I occasionally put pieces of blue Tork hand cleaning paper over the bed to prevent too much swarf falling on and clogging the Y axis screw thread, which also makes it easy to pick up the swarf and just dump the whole lot in the bin, but mostly don't bother.

Jeff Dayman10/10/2018 13:56:08
1758 forum posts
45 photos

Peter, I've had good luck with 1/16" thick neoprene rubber sheet from a gasket supplier, cut to suit. I have fastened one end to the mill slides and left the other end loose, held to the mill by a magnet so it can be draped as required during travel. It only gets moved once in a while, I find. Very durable, puncture resistant, oil proof, and relatively cheap (cheaper than custom bellows but not as cheap as varnished cereal boxes). The open end and non corrugated surfaces make it easy to shake or brush chips off it periodically. It will likely take a lot of heat and sun although mine do not have to deal with much of either. Just my $0.02 worth - your mileage may vary

Nick Clarke 310/10/2018 15:40:30
559 forum posts
14 photos

What about in Birmingham UK??

Peter G. Shaw10/10/2018 17:24:16
1040 forum posts
43 photos


Does the X3 then have wipers of some description? Because that could possibly an idea to try.


Thanks for the explanation, and yes, it's certainly unusual.

Jeff & Sam,

I might try both. I have some dpc somewhere. And I have an old inner tube just waiting to be cut up.


Thanks for that, I'll keep them in mind, but given what's happened so far, I'm more interested in experimenting with other ideas. After all, I might just happen on something suitable.

Peter G. Shaw

Bandersnatch10/10/2018 18:22:07
1470 forum posts
42 photos

Posted by Peter G. Shaw on 10/10/2018 09:08:57:

The trouble with LMS is their location!


If it's any consolation, Peter, LMS shipping costs are just as much a deterrent up here in Canada too. The original source is apparently China though ......

Edited By Bandersnatch on 10/10/2018 18:22:54

bricky10/10/2018 19:16:05
412 forum posts
48 photos

I use the thin [rubbery] baking sheets sold in supermarkets.I stick them on my SX3 with earth magnets as there is an oil point for the Z axis against the column.I know, they collect swarf on the magnets but they are only small.The sheets are realy flexible.


Howard Lewis11/10/2018 21:50:39
2886 forum posts
2 photos

Somewhere, fairly recently, I saw that in p-lace of the bellows a small (narrow) roller blind had been fitted to protect the ways on a mill. It looked as if the original blind material had been replaced by this rubber sheet, hopefully EPDM or something similar. Vinyl / PVC may do just as well, (Not sure about EPDM withstanding oils)


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