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Round column milling machine basics

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Jeremy Smith 216/07/2020 06:09:04
55 forum posts
8 photos

I restored an Rf30 milling machine a while back, and now I am learning how to use it. Keep in mind I am a rookie.

i trammed the head to the table as close as i could get it. My next question is - when you clamp parts down, do you retram the part to the head, and shim under the part if needed, to get it square, or just keep the part flat on the trammed base of the mill?


Maybe I am overthinking this. These questions are all in regards to removing material from the top of a part, parallel to its base. How about with a milling vise...retram the actual part to the quill (after it is clamped in the vise) before making any passes?


anybody have a how to guide on milling for dummies lol?

Edited By Jeremy Smith 2 on 16/07/2020 06:09:54

John Haine16/07/2020 06:53:15
3185 forum posts
172 photos

The whole point of the mill is to make flat surfaces parallel to the table. Once you tram the head, leave it alone (unless it shifts). The vice base on which you mount the part should be parallel to the table if the vice is s good one. Mount the part in the vice on parallels if needed to get the surface to be milled above the jaws, then off you go.

I strongly recommend that you buy a book on milling, all this will be explained! I think Harold Hall has written a good one and there was a series in MEW a few months back.

Nicholas Farr16/07/2020 06:58:13
2318 forum posts
1137 photos

Hi Jeremy, I suppose it all depends on the accuracy you are wanting to achieve, personally my mill head is trammed to the table and the work is either clamped to the table or in a vice or even a rotary table, but I don't tram to the vice or the R/T.

Regards Nick.

old mart16/07/2020 17:23:15
1829 forum posts
148 photos

The drill mill at the museum is similar design to the pictures of RF30's that came up by googling. It has no way of tramming the head to the table and I would be interested to find out how you did it. There is a joint between the column and the base, but it would be difficult in the extreme to successfully make any adjustments there.

Martin Connelly16/07/2020 17:34:04
1401 forum posts
164 photos

Shim the joint between the column and the base.

Martin C

Brian H16/07/2020 17:55:36
1680 forum posts
109 photos
Posted by Martin Connelly on 16/07/2020 17:34:04:

Shim the joint between the column and the base.

Martin C

Exactly what I did with my second hand Graham Eng. mill drill.


Nicholas Farr16/07/2020 21:56:17
2318 forum posts
1137 photos

Hi, I also shimmed my Chester Champion to get it to it's best, which was slightly out in the Y direction.

Regards Nick.

Stephen Spindler16/07/2020 22:45:54
5 forum posts

I have an old worn RF25 and when I stripped it the base/column had a shim inserted. I reshimmed when I reassembled and its close enough for the type of work I do. The main thing to remember is think through operations and tool lengths to avoid needing to raise or lower the head and losing datum.

Jeremy Smith 217/07/2020 04:18:31
55 forum posts
8 photos

The machine was actually dropped at one point, and took some abuse. I had the base welded up, with a reinforcement plate also structurally bonded to the top, over top of the weld.I shimmed it the best I could get it. I will have to get the top of the table surface ground at a machine shop, as it was pretty rough when I got it.

not done it yet17/07/2020 08:38:06
4748 forum posts
16 photos

I will have to get the top of the table surface ground at a machine shop, as it was pretty rough when I got it.

Are you sure? It may not be smooth, but may be level and flat.

Robin17/07/2020 10:53:35
349 forum posts

I shimmed my column and discovered a little bit of adjustment from the torque of the bolts holding it down so I was able to aim for perfection.

You may need to modify the tapered Gibb strip adjustors. Mine had a bit of slack so the slides were tight in one direction loose in the other.

I heard rumours of XY slides not being perfectly at right angles on later production but that could be fake news, mine are fine.

Howard Lewis17/07/2020 17:22:34
3401 forum posts
2 photos

Once the head is trammed,parallel to the table in X and Y planes, the problem is is maintaining position after the head is moved up the column.

Stan Bray advised having a cheap laser mon the head, aimed at a line on the furthest wall.

With a cheapie laser line. from a DIY shop, aimed at a pencil line ten feet away, it keeps things within a thou or so.

For greater accuracy, you need to be consistent whether you use one side or the other, of the centre, of the pencil line. the further the line is from the machine, the more accurate you can be.

DON'T ever look at the laser if you value your eyesight!


One day I'll proof read before SEND!

Edited By Howard Lewis on 17/07/2020 17:23:31

Michael Gilligan17/07/2020 17:56:42
15894 forum posts
693 photos
Posted by not done it yet on 17/07/2020 08:38:06:


... It may not be smooth, but may be level and flat.


Sorry, ndiy ...

I’ve been pondering that statement all day, and I still can’t get my head around it.


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