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How should I check a milling machine?

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Iain Downs03/12/2019 17:52:18
678 forum posts
612 photos

Hi, All.

I'm going to look at a Aceira F3 on Thursday which sounds like a good machine ( positively drools).

The machine is old. Likely even older than me and I wanted to make sure that I would be able to detect any general issues.

I can check that all the bits that should turn or move under power do so. That's easy.

I'm more concerned about wear on the ways which would require significant remedial work.

What I thought I should do is something like the following:-

Backlash in the X and Y axis. ideal with an indicator in the spindle, but possibly just by the feel of the wheels.

Worn ways. try and wiggle the bed / head at each end and in the middle. Check that the force required to turn the wheel is similar all the way along the movement.

What I'm not sure about is if this is something I can do by feel or if I should bring some indicators with me. If so what a reasonable movement is under hand pressure.

Any advice on what to look for would be much appreciated!


Tony Pratt 103/12/2019 18:05:34
1182 forum posts
5 photos

Definitely check under power, yes take indicators with you, try & ascertain spindle bearing & taper condition, table I imagine will be tight either end of travel as are most used milling machines, very difficult to give a precise movement under hand pressure maybe .01 to .03 mm? Backlash in the screws isn't always a deal breaker but less is better. Will they let you take some cuts on a piece of mild steel or ally, that's what I would do?


Emgee03/12/2019 18:17:51
1652 forum posts
224 photos

First impressions of machine appearance can tell you something about it's working life, if it has been in an industrial use all it's life there may be some wear issues, you can be sure it was a very well made machine and usually quality counts for a long working life.

It seems you have a pretty good idea of checking the machine over, you may want to check spindle drive and bearings, both horizontal and vertical.
It's important all accessories you are likely to need are included, failing that be prepared to pay excessive prices for them at a later date.


Chris Evans 603/12/2019 20:06:45
1725 forum posts

If it is a good one they are a nice machine. We had one in the spark eroding shop where I last worked, it was like new and I only used it twice in 15 years. The type of work I needed to do suited a Bridgeport better. Good Luck.

Nigel McBurney 103/12/2019 22:14:09
727 forum posts
3 photos

Aciera apart from wear issues which would be hard to correct, anything to do with this machine and other continental mills of this type is just expensive. the spindle size is a bit limited ok for making small very precise items Make sure that the machine has all the equipment and accessories,as you will not find anything on the used market,apart from the odd collet. I bid a couple of years ago for an f3 ,immaculate with ALL the equipment,it went for over £6k ,A bridgeport is a better bet for the model engineer,you should not run out of capacity,whereas capacity is limited on these small continental mills, I worked on a Deckel 50 years ago ,just superb at a price,

Nigel Rice04/12/2019 11:24:39
12 forum posts


I bought an Aciera F3, sight unseen, about 4 years ago and have not regretted it. The machine had been neglected and abused, main motor and coolant pump burnt out, about 12 collects, but all this was reflected in the price.

There is a users group **LINK**

that is very helpful and has detailed drawings of the machine on file.

I stripped my machine completely, a delight to work on and logically engineered. The bedways are well sized and showed little wear even after years of neglect. Someone had attempted to pump grease into the slideways! Gib strips required a little scraping and a good clean and repaint. Motor replaced with Chinese cheapo and VFD.

The Schaublin W20 collet syatem is a pain as the collets are expensive. I now have an adapter and use E32 collets. I enjoy using this robust machine, would sometimes like a larger table, quill, DRO, etc, but need to have something to dream about!


Iain Downs07/12/2019 10:42:24
678 forum posts
612 photos

The machine I saw was quite lovely, but I decided against a purchase. Mainly because My head is trying to be metric and the machine was imperial. Add to that the cost of W20 tooling and the relatively low capacity and it ended up as a no.

I will, however, hold something of a regret for a while as I'm pretty sure that whatever I end up buy will be a much less smooth and accurate machine.



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