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The Monster Milling Machine Project

I have a 1985 Wells Index CNC milling machine. This machine worked 10 hours a day, 6 days a week for decades. Back around 1999 or so I met Mark Maki who was the owner of a machine shop called NC Dimensioning.  The mill was located at 21110 Nordhoff St Ste J,  Chatsworth, CA 91311 in an industrial complex where it was from the day he first bought it around 1986 or 1987. He ran the machine until the day I got it. His shop is now closed unfortunately.

I helped Mark on a few projects, and eventually flew out there for a week to help him with some electronics. During our conversation, he said that he was going to scrap out  the Wells Index to make room for a newer machine.

I was like WHAT ???

He said that nobody used a machine like this professionally anymore... so he was going to bust it up and sell it for scrap.  

( Seriously ??? )

I asked what he would sell it to me for... and he said that because of the help I gave him... I could have it. I just needed to figure out how to get a 3500 pound machine and a 1200 pound controller home. Well... I decided I was going to strip out the controller... only keep the power supply... so 1250 pounds went away. Then since I worked in telecommunications, I called my buddies literally right down the street, and got them to bring it to St Louis... for a case of beer.

In St Louis I got the machine running... and we had build sessions almost every Friday night...(FNBS)  the ROBOMO robot group usually kept me pretty busy making parts. When I moved to Texas in 2008 or so, I was forced to leave my machine in storage as I had no place for it here. Time passed (slowly), and eventually we bought a house, and I started to get the funds together to move the beast down here so I could finally have my shop back.

I'm making a series of videos as I make progress... and I wanted a place where I could have them all in one place so that someone like YOU could follow along and see what the current status is... and my efforts to get here.

The Move - May, 2014

Once I got the mill back to Texas, we needed to connect it all up and test out the power... it had not been run in over 5 years. Everything needed to be tested, aligned, and rebuilt to get it running right.

Power Testing -  June, 2014

With the power section working properly, it was time to set up the electronics and begin getting some functionality to the machine again.  I had decided to pull the old PC (Now an antique running Windows 95) and replace it with a Dell Optiplex running LinuixCNC.

If you are interested in setting up your own machine, you can find all the details for setting it up and programming it,  and you can download the install CD or DVD files for FREE here:

Setting up the Mill, Update #2 - July 5th, 2014

 Soon the mill was set up and responding to basic G-Code commands... so now it needed a full test... cutting steel.

Cutting Steel - Update #3, July 13, 2014

There is only one way to test a milling machine... you need to make a part. I decided to use the machine to fix some steel parts I had made by hand that needed to be corrected. When I  made them, one of the holes was improperly positioned and didn't fit right. I turned the circular hole into an oval and was able to salvage all the parts.

Eve's Doll Project - Using the A-Axis to position complex drilling.

Eve wanted to be able to accurately drill the arm and leg holes in her doll. We explored one possible way to do this using the A-Axis to turn a fixture.

Shop Tour - October 2015 

Here is a tour of the shop from October 26, 2014... Eve is giving me a bit of grief...

Probe Fail - November 18, 2014

I was trying to get the probe to work... my graphic on the screen was fine... but not detecting when I actually used a probe routine like G38.2 for example. I figured it out... the signal needed to be linked not just to my graphic... but to an internal prbe signal. (motion.probe-input) Once I did that... it worked great. If you want to see the posts, they are on the LinuxCNC Forum.

Home Sweet Home - Update #4, January 7, 2015

As I was building, I had people ask what kinds of motors and electronics I was using... so I put this together to explain how the quadrature encoders work.

Quadrature Encoders -  January 13, 2015

Now that the machine is working well and cutting parts... I need to add a real touch probe so that I can do insanely accurate measurements and adjustments. This will allow me for example to center on a hole to re-drill it larger without taking hours of setup time.

The Touch Probe Part 1 of 2 - January 26, 2015

Touch Probe Part 2 of 2 - Testing the machine - January 27, 2015

I am still working on my probe routines... finding that while things may work just perfect today... on another material I may have issues and need to put in time-delay or tweak the code a but. It can be fustrating... but I do enjoy it as a puzzle, and get a lot of satisfaction from solving it.

Making iWeights with CNC

The GoPro cameras are a bit light for the iGlide camera stabilizers unless you have the waterproof case on them. As the case blocks a lot of sound, I like to use the lighter open frame. I had to design a simple weight that mounts under the platform. Now I can make these with CNC much faster.

Be sure to also visit my blog: to see what I've been up to.

Thanks for stopping by,