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DRO for Boxford Lathe

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Peter Cole 401/04/2019 17:56:31
4 forum posts


I have a Boxford lathe and would very much like to fit a 2-axis DRO. I've looked at the offering from EMS International and saw one of theirs fitted to a Myford lathe at the Alexander Palace Exhibition in January, However the sides of the Myford cross slide where the scale fits are essentially straight, whereas the sides of the Boxford cross slide have a significant bulge.

EMS speak of integrating the scale into the cross slide to overcome the problem but don't respond with further details. Has anyone done this and can shed any light?

Thanks in anticipation

Peter Cole.

Meunier01/04/2019 19:42:44
448 forum posts
8 photos

Hi Peter, unable to comment on Boxford but assume the underside of that cross slide is flat, as is the ML7 so here is a link to video of M-DRO fitting to a Super7, I seem to remember a write-up in MEW not too long ago. The mod uses an embedded scale on the underside of the cross slide. HTH


JasonB01/04/2019 19:48:34
22017 forum posts
2540 photos
1 articles

EMSi do show one with it mounted to the side of the slide, just starts at the rear of the bulge and extends beyond the rear edge, look under gallery on their site.

Though if you have enough metal to machine away the integrated option would be nicer as it is hidden out of the way and you can get to any gib screws and don't loose tailstock travel.

John Paton 101/04/2019 22:49:41
317 forum posts
17 photos

Hi Peter

I recently fitted DRO to my Boxford VSL and fitted magnetic reader to the cross slide with it mounted to the right hand side of the slide, starting just to the rear of the oiler and projecting to the rear. The bar is fixed to some tee nut material clamped in the end of the tee slots and the top of the assembly comes no higher than the top surface of the cross slide so does not hinder use of that area.

the advantage of magnetic readers is a slight ly greater installation tolerance and the ability to cut to the required length.

i went for Easson units from machine DRO and they produce a special bar section for the Boxford which is similar to my set up but comes a shade above the cross slide and impinges about 10mm over the surface of its right hand edge. Not the cheapest DRO but reassuring warranty, helpful support and the DRO has been a delight to use.

my philosophy is to do it right first time and hope not to have to replace it for many years.

The arrangement adopted allows access to saddle oilers and gib screws but your saddle may be a shade different in that respect.

i made a separate reader for the topslide using a cheap digital vernier as 'donor' (5only works when set at 0 degrees or thereabouts) which can be fitted and removed in seconds and does not get in the way during use.

Peter Cole 403/04/2019 11:01:13
4 forum posts


Thanks to all who responded to my question about fitting a DRO to my Boxford. There's lots of useful information and suggestions to digest.


Speedy Builder503/04/2019 12:09:19
2501 forum posts
196 photos

Saw this one, but it "hides" the locking screw for the top slide and gib adjuster screws.


Nick Thorpe03/04/2019 13:31:59
53 forum posts
6 photos

Hi Peter. I have a Boxford lathe without DRO's but fitted them to my Tom Senior mill. I found Machine DRO to be very helpful and although it seemed like a lot of money at the time I now see it as money well spent.

They do have promotions from time, but if you are in a hurry you could ring them to see if they have any 'seasonal promotions' on DROs at the moment - you might get lucky!



Machine-DRO03/04/2019 16:26:25
31 forum posts
25 photos

Good Afternoon Peter,

We, "Machine-DRO" have recently brought out various dedicated Boxford DRO-KITs.

These are not currently listed on our website.

Please feel free to call us on 01992 455921 for more information,

Best Regards

Alice Coles

John Reese04/04/2019 02:07:16
1015 forum posts

I fit a DRO to my South Bend 10K. I believe the shape of the cross slide is similar to that of Boxford. My lathe had a taper attachment so there was something to which I could anchor the outboard end of the magnetic scale. I needed to mill a flat on the side of the slide and make a suitable spacer. If there would have been no taper attachment it would have been necessary to mill a flat on the right side of the cross slide and mount a rectangular bar to which the scale would be mounted.

There was not sufficient space to mount the read head inside the bed. It is mounted behind the bed. That means the scale has to project quite far behind the bed. The mounting for the scale did block access to the mounting holes for the follow rest.

I may still have some photos of how I did it. Send me a PM if you want me to try to find the photos.

Speedy Builder504/04/2019 06:47:48
2501 forum posts
196 photos

Just a thought - perhaps a bit crazy ?? But could you replace the cross slide 'leadscrew' and nut with a linear ball leadscrew and incorporate an encoder on one end ? Perhaps a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but once developed and proven, would be a neater idea and would leave the gib screw and topslide locking screws clear.


Edited By Speedy Builder5 on 04/04/2019 06:49:23

Micky T04/04/2019 07:38:18
73 forum posts
29 photos

Hi Peter here is a link to a DRO being fitted to a Boxford Lathe



Nick Taylor 204/04/2019 09:07:49
102 forum posts
Posted by Micky T on 04/04/2019 07:38:18:

Hi Peter here is a link to a DRO being fitted to a Boxford Lathe



I purchased this same DRO from banggood for my Chipmaster. 200mm scale for the cross slide and 600mm for the saddle. Cost £125 delivered using the discount codes and have to say I am very impressed with it.

I’ll do a write up at some point but as the scales are low end and optical, they are quite bulky, not a problem on the saddle scale but with the cross slide scale I had to mount the scale and read head ‘outboard’ which required some brackets to be made to support everything. No space for nuts and bolts so the brackets are all welded, made from 2mm mild steel angle which is nice and rigid.

Speedy Builder504/04/2019 09:17:49
2501 forum posts
196 photos

Interesting that the 'pinch screws' for the top slide are at the front, because mine are at the back. Perhaps possible to re-drill and change the position on my Boxford?

SillyOldDuffer04/04/2019 10:26:05
7921 forum posts
1725 photos
Posted by Speedy Builder5 on 04/04/2019 06:47:48:

Just a thought - perhaps a bit crazy ?? But could you replace the cross slide 'leadscrew' and nut with a linear ball leadscrew and incorporate an encoder on one end ? Perhaps a sledgehammer to crack a nut, but once developed and proven, would be a neater idea and would leave the gib screw and topslide locking screws clear.



Edited By Speedy Builder5 on 04/04/2019 06:49:23

Not crazy at all, but the youtube video highlights a few problems including backlash and high-maintenance. One I hadn't thought of was that ball-screws get hot, and temperature changes introduce inaccuracies! I guess scale and sliding head systems are cheaper to make, more reliable in operation, and don't need a ball-screw. Their big disadvantage is fitting the scales in the first place: often awkward. I think anyone who came up with an affordable easy fit system would make a lot of money.

There's a compromise system where the scale is replaced by a steel wire pulling a potentiometer mounted at one end like your encoder. As the wire takes up less space than a scale the system would be easier to fix to a machine. Doesn't seem to be their selling point though, rather it's claimed they keep up with high-speed machine movements for which slides are too slow. No idea how much wire systems cost, the blurb has a 'if you have to ask you can't afford it' feel.


Speedy Builder504/04/2019 12:07:27
2501 forum posts
196 photos

An old friend of mine (havn't seen him for 15 years) is BW electronics and I use one of his 'wire' systems for the 'Z' axis on the mill drill, very useful as my old WARCO only has a rule for the depth.



Tony Simons04/04/2019 12:31:33
37 forum posts

I fired an EMS-i kit to my Boxford AUD.

I machined a pocket in the apron for the reader head, and a rebate in the bottom of the cross slide for the tape.

Speedy Builder504/04/2019 14:44:12
2501 forum posts
196 photos

Tony, that looks interesting, could you give some more details, Model / type of encoder(s), readout etc. I looked at the EMS site, but didn't find a kit EMS - 1 there.


Tony Simons04/04/2019 17:50:10
37 forum posts

Contact Dr Mark Hudman at EMSi, he will advise the different options. I have EMSi kit on all my machines and very pleased with them.

Speedy Builder505/05/2019 16:01:51
2501 forum posts
196 photos

Today, I moved the RW Electronics MPS DRO from the mill to the Boxford AUD lathe. The DRO is a 'pull wire' system which has seen me good for the last 18 years or so on the milling machine, but as I hope to install a different system on the mill, the MPS 'came free'.

I didn't want to extensively modify the Boxford or spend too much time installing it. At the rear of the saddle, there are two un machined pads that would take a couple of 2BA bolts to mount a bracket onto, but as I have no access to the rear of the lathe, I removed the saddle by removing the rear slideway locking plate, the front saddle lock screw, the Thread indicator and the 2 hex cap screws that attach the saddle gearbox. This leaves all the leadscrew, feed gears etc in place without disturbance.

As accuracy isn't an issue, I drilled the two holes with a battery drill and tapped 2BA. At the same time, I drilled and tapped a 6BA hole adjacent to the Topslide Locking grub screw which the free end of the MPS wire would attach too. Again, nothing fancy and did it by eye.

I folded up a bit of 16 SWG plate to make the bracket for the MPS, drilled it to suit the centres of the 2BA screws and a couple of 1/8" diameter holes to suit the existing cover holes of the MPS.

I re-installed the saddle and fiddled to get the saddle lock screw back in.

My first attempt on mounting it all together showed that the tailstock lever fouled the readout, so I turned up a couple of spacers about 5/16" thick to place between the rear of the saddle and the mounting bracket.

The pull wire needed a pulley to change the direction of the axis of the wire. Lucky to have a small shouldered bearing in the come in handy box, machined a block of Al alloy to mount the bearing onto and then superglued the bearing block onto the bracket.

And that was about it ! A bit of electrical work to take a 9volt supply from the existing RPM display.

These modifications still allow use of the travelling steady and full use of the gib screws and minimum fouling of the tailstock / saddle.

rw electronics dro1.jpg

Finished job showing the line of the 'pull wire' and blue crimp connector at the free end


rw electronics dro2.jpg

Bearing and mounting block


rw electronics dro3.jpg

Free end of the pull wire and blue crimp connector held by a 6BA screw


rw electronics dro6.jpg

Upside down photo of the mounting bracket - perhaps a bit flimsy, but it seems to do the job. Note cutout to clear cross feed screw and nut.

Edited By Speedy Builder5 on 05/05/2019 16:04:19

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