By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
Forum sponsored by:
Forum sponsored by Allendale Jan 24th

DRO on a Mill/Drill?

All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
HasBean23/09/2011 16:38:13
141 forum posts
32 photos


After much loss of sleep, gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair I've decided to do what I should've done in the first instance and ask those who know!

Basically is it worth fitting a DRO system to my mill/drill?

It's a Warco RF30 which I've had for a good 12 years or so, hasn't done a lot of work but when the need has arisen I would've been lost without it.
In an ideal world I would have won the lottery so a nice variable speed turret mill with 3 axis dro would be winging (or should that be floating) it's way to me..........but I haven't!

With limited funds, and space, a replacement would mean something smaller, trading in is a non starter living in the Channel Islands and I'm unlikely to be able to sell the Warco due to lack of demand (I've been trying to sell my old far eastern lathe now for 11 years on and off unsuccessfully).

Admittedly the round column annoys me as does the leadscrew backlash with 'self adjusting' gib strips but the X-axis power feed and 26" x 8" table is nice.

So do I go ahead and bite the bullet and fit a dro (which should help with the backlash and , to some extent, the tool changing i.e. move table to one side, change cutter, move back with a better chance of being where it started) or is the old phrase silk purse and sows ear' coming to mind?

Any thoughts would be much appreciated.



Edited By HasBean on 23/09/2011 16:39:15

Gray6223/09/2011 16:59:18
1056 forum posts
16 photos
Hi Paul,
If budget is a consideration, I would stay with the existing machine. there is nothing wrong with round column mills.
Have a look at MEW Issue 108, this gives details of an add on to a round column mill which aids in registration. I implemented this on my Warco ZX15 and it was extremely sucessful.
As far as fitting a DRO, I would highly recommend that upgrade. The RF30 type of machine is a very capable mill, with the addition of a DRO and the column registration mod, it will no doubt surpass your expectations and be a much cheaper option than selling and upgrading


NJH23/09/2011 17:06:49
2314 forum posts
139 photos
Hi Paul
I have a Warco round column mill - don't remember the model but, looking at the current catalogue, it sits between the " Economy" and the " Major". As you say it does have shortcomings but is capable of good work. Some years ago I added a digital scale to the down feed and this has been very useful. About three years ago I added digital scales ( of the digital caliper type), with remote readouts, to the X and Y axes. Again these have been useful but can present a problem in cold weather however they are certainly much improvement on relying on the micrometer dials and dealing with the backlash. I too have a bit of a quandry. I really cannot justify changing the mill - I only make quite small things so all are within the capacity of the machine. I would however like a more sophisticated DRO and I have been browsing the offerings from Machine-DRO at the latest shows. They look good to me but, at present, I trying to persuade myself that a change is essential!
A rather long winded reply I'm afraid but I guess my opinion is that a DRO of some sort will certainly make your workshop time more productive and enjoyable.
If you would like to see a few photos of my installation please send me a PM and I will take some.
dcosta23/09/2011 17:08:32
496 forum posts
207 photos
Hello Paul.
I have an Optimum BF20 Vario milling/drilling machine and installed on it a pair of DRO from Warco. You can see them here:
I can only say I'm happy with it. And they were very easily fitted.

Best regards
Dias Costa
Baldric23/09/2011 17:32:27
176 forum posts
19 photos
I have fitted this head to the Warco economy mill with simple scales and have been happy with them. Since fitting them I have found them very useful. I to have wondered about going for a more expensive option but decided against it because of the cost. If I need to put holes on a PCD I will jsut work out the coordinates and do it that way.
Jon23/09/2011 18:23:12
1000 forum posts
49 photos
I have the Clarke lesser RF25 that is now redundant the last 7 years. This was fitted properly with the scales and remote 3 axis readout early 2000.
Some of my best work have been with this small machine, phenonimally accurate within 1/4" at 100 yards.

Scale type ok if no liquids are being used. Water will find its way any where, mine were covered and all three packed up. Mind the price has substantially dropped in 11 years.
Warco used to do a 3 axis readout £150 inc the leads to attach to scales. The only others at time were the single or double at bottom of this link
What i would do if you want vertical accuracy is to make up a quill clamp and mount vernier off that direct to casting. Mine doubled up as coolant feed with tap.
Les Jones 123/09/2011 18:34:28
2243 forum posts
153 photos
Hi Paul,
You could think about a DRO that you can build from a kit. I have built two DRO350's one for my mill and one for my lathe. They work with the Chinese digital caliper type scales but can also be used with glass scales. The parts are sold in the UK by
There is also a more modern design (By the designer of the DRO350) called the DRO550 but you have to buy the parts directly from the designer in the US. This is his website.
dcosta23/09/2011 18:47:16
496 forum posts
207 photos
Hello Jon.
In my first attempt to fit DRO to my Optimum BF20 Vario I used independent scales and independent displays, connected with independent cables.
Two problems arose: The first was the oil going where it shouldn't (inside the electronics carriage), the second was the tricky connectors in the side of the rules which are too frail and fail easily. For this reason some people soldered them.
In the two sets (each a scale with an attached display) I bought two years ago from Warco,
the carriage is a closed box and no liquid, in normal working conditions, can enter it. And their price is a temptation...
Best regards
Dias Costa

Edited By Dias Costa on 23/09/2011 18:49:53

michael cole23/09/2011 21:48:12
164 forum posts
Hi Paul
I will second the Shumatech DRO. I have been using the 350 for the last 5 or 6 years. Makes a vast difference to the useabilty if the mill. It has the centre find, circle bolt hole.
Clive Hartland23/09/2011 22:16:36
2758 forum posts
40 photos
if any one is interested the Wabeco web site shows that the Milling machines have been reduced in price.
Approx £250 which is not too bad a drop!
Nice macines and well made.

Edited By Clive Hartland on 23/09/2011 22:16:56

David Colwill23/09/2011 22:23:38
774 forum posts
40 photos
Hi Paul
I used a DRO from machine DRO on my BH 600 lathe. I had it for 5 years and never had any trouble with it. Much of what I make ( I use my workshop as part of my business ) has to be made in a hurry and off the cuff, I found that things were generally much more accurate and much faster to make. I have heard comments that some of the vernier type scales can lose accuracy as the battery weakens so that would tend to discourage me from going down that route. my bridgeport has a newall system on it and I don't think I could manage without it.
I have sold the BH 600 and have not yet fitted the DRO (which I took off) to the new lathe a job which I MUST get round to!
Gone Away23/09/2011 22:37:12
829 forum posts
1 photos
Posted by David Colwill on 23/09/2011 22:23:38:
I have heard comments that some of the vernier type scales can lose accuracy as the battery weakens so that would tend to discourage me from going down that route.

I use "vernier type scales" with my Schumatech DRO (which I third btw). Battery state doesn't enter into in that case it because you leave them out - power is supplied by the electronics.
I can't imagine going back to manual (handwheel) scales. Yuk!

Edited By Sid Herbage on 23/09/2011 22:38:39

ady24/09/2011 00:00:48
612 forum posts
50 photos
Get a digital vernier for a tenner, fit it onto the unit and see what you think.
Beats dials any day of the week, switches between metric and imperial at the touch of a button and eliminates any measurement backlash issues.
HasBean24/09/2011 09:57:09
141 forum posts
32 photos
H Guys,
Thanks for the replies.
I had fitted an Ortec DRO to the Z axis a few years ago which made a great difference so this in a way is what is swaying me towards doing the other two axis'.
Graeme, I've dug out my copy of MEW 108 and I see what you mean, there is a nice uncluttered flat face on the right of the head which would suit that mod nicely. If I could eliminate (or certainly reduce) the grief of relocating the head then haviing a dro would give me alll the bells and whistles I'd need (for now at least  
Norman, I reckon you have the same type as mine, just had a look and it's marked as a MD-30N dated 1995, didn't realise I'd had it that long!
I hadn't considered the Shumatech system but that would certainly fit the bill.
You've all convinced me that a dro is the way to go (not that much arm twisting was required), just a matter of which one now.
HasBean25/09/2011 13:01:36
141 forum posts
32 photos
Hi Rob,
The gib strips have a habit of moving of their own, the adjusting screw isn't quite up to the job, allowing the strip to move of it's own accord (I really need to make some new ones that fit better, it's somewhere on the to-do list ). As for the lead screw backlash adjustment, there's nothing obvious! I assume that it's a split nut but taking the table apart seems to be the only way to access them, the backlash on the x-axis is about 1mm from memory but bearing that in mind the table movement is pretty accurate.
mgnbuk28/09/2011 19:50:03
1102 forum posts
70 photos
the backlash on the x-axis is about 1mm from memory
I have a Taiwanese made, "Tru Tool" branded RF30 that appears to be identical to the Warco machine. That too had a lot of lost motion in the X axis when I bought it second hand. It turned out to be the two bolts holding the nut bracket to the saddle were loose, allowing the nut bracket to move through the hole clearance. No pins or tenons are employed to take the thrust, so if the bolts loosen the bracket can move.
Nigel B.

All Topics | Latest Posts

Please login to post a reply.

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of Model Engineer or Model Engineers' Workshop? Use our magazine locator links to find your nearest stockist!

Find Model Engineer & Model Engineers' Workshop

Latest Forum Posts
Support Our Partners
JD Metals
Eccentric July 5 2018
rapid Direct
Eccentric Engineering
Subscription Offer

Latest "For Sale" Ads
Latest "Wanted" Ads
Get In Touch!

Do you want to contact the Model Engineer and Model Engineers' Workshop team?

You can contact us by phone, mail or email about the magazines including becoming a contributor, submitting reader's letters or making queries about articles. You can also get in touch about this website, advertising or other general issues.

Click THIS LINK for full contact details.

For subscription issues please see THIS LINK.

Digital Back Issues

Social Media online

'Like' us on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter
 Twitter Logo

Pin us on Pinterest