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You have probably seen the bench top drill press conversions.  The results of these conversion seem to be questionable at best.  So I decided to try something a little different.  I have been a long time wood worker and found the Shopsmith multi-purpose tool to have some nice features.  I have found several Model E / ER machines made in the late 40s early 50s.   These machines I have set up as single purpose tools such as a drill press and lathe.  Although no longer supported by Shopsmith, they are pretty easy to come by, in-expensive to purchase and restore.  In the fall of 2003 I set one up in drill press mode and added a cross slide drill vice from Harborfreight to test the idea.  I set up a fly cutter and put some of the Gingery lathe castings in the vice.   I was very surprised at how well the operation went considering there was no modification to the machine and only a basic attempt made to square the table to the cutter.   With this test proving positive I felt comfortable converting one to full time "mill" mode and the search was on to find another machine.  

Shortly after my experiment I found that I was not alone in this idea.  Bill Cleary has documented his conversion of this machine.  You can see his work in this document.   There is also an article in The Home Shop Machinist by Robert Bailey titled Lathe Ball Making Accessory.  This article starts in the 2003 Nov/Dec issue where he specifically mentions using his "modified Shopsmith" for milling the parts for this project.  Could be I am not so crazy  :)

So stay tuned for the up dates to this adventure.

The basic machine is a mostly stock model ER.  Made from about 1947 to 1950.  They are cheap and use off the shelf replacement parts (belts, bearings).  The main castings are cast iron a nice weight advantage over the newer Shopsmith models.  They use two 1.75" round ways to support the carriage and headstock as well as the pivot support.  On the older models these tubes are about 1/4" thick making them plenty strong and resistant to bending.  
The base is a recycled table saw frame and cast iron saw top.  Drilled the frame to mount the top using the existing saw carriage holes.  The Shopsmith is bolted to the top.  No modifications to the Shopsmith were made.  After some use I have found that some vibration and movement is a result of this stand.  A replacement wooden stand with a heavier base and storage is in the works.  stay tuned.


2 - 3 - 08  After using the machine for a while now I have decided the base is not stable and adds considerable vibration.  I think I will be replacing the base as well as the Shopsmith mounting castings.  Got a short warm spell end of January.  Couple pieces of 2' x 2' x 3/4 MDF makes a nice square box.  It is much stiffer than the original base.  The Tubes go through the top and rest on the shelf.  There is a hidden piece that looks like the tie bar inside the case.  It keeps the tubes aligned.  It has made a HUGE difference in vibration.  This would be an ideal base for those who just want to use the SS as a dedicated drill press.  I have removed the SS cast iron base.  So far the tubes have not moved. 

The DC motor is a Pacific Scientific.  These were popular at the time I purchased it. Offered on the surplus market as new at around $30.  This one is a 120v DC 1.5hp 11 amp 4800rpm continuous duty. Two 5/8 keyed shafts.  There was no mount so I made a simple pattern and cast one in aluminum.   So far it has proved to be plenty of motor for my needs.  I kept the stock pulleys to give me variable speed within 3 speed ranges.  This allows me to have plenty of torque at low speed.  It is great when using a 1" bit and have the spindle at the proper speed for drilling.  :)


Look under the pulley on the far right.  There is an index wheel for a digital tachometer I purchased from Littlemachineshop.  More on this later...


DC motor control.  Original plan was to use a Cycletrol 150.    They are made by Danfoss and now available from Grahm.  I had one hooked up for about a year.  Then I decided to do the DC conversion on my 9x20 lathe. While doing the research I ran across a new KB electronics Penta Power KBPC-240D.  This is an amazing piece of hardware.  I just had to play with it and hooked it to the mill.  WOW I am impressed.  I seem to get much better motor response and better torque.  I added the reverse switch as well as an AC line switch and Run/Jog switch.  All stock parts from KB.  All come pre wired with terminals on the board.  The reverse switch is not just a standard DPDT switch.  It forces you to stop before switching from forward to reverse.  This prevents feedback from the motor causing damage to the controller.  A feature I will need on the lathe while threading but not a big concern on the mill.  I doubt there will be much need to reverse the motor in a hurry on the mill.  Now that I have used this controller I want one for on the mill.  :)  At the moment there is no mounting scheme for a controller till I decide what I want to do.  These things are not exactly cheap.  I have about $190 in this one with all new parts off of Ebay.  That is a bargain over purchasing one from a KB supplier. 


OK we are building a mill so will need some form of cross slide table.  I thought about building one but decided that would only delay the project and add to any frustration.  This is a standard import offered from many Ebay sellers as well as Enco.  The top is 6" x 18" with 11" x 7.5" travel.  The base is 8"x 10.5"and stands about 5" tall.  There are two T slots that take a standard 1/2" bolt and clamp sets.  I paid about $100 shipped to me from an Ebay seller for the table.  I also have a standard import 1/2" clamp set for about $35 from Enco.  While it is not a high precision table it is amazingly smooth.  Even the screws are pretty clean.  I will work on modifying the screw/dial mounts and look into modifying it for better backlash control.  I doubt I could have done a better job without having a mill to get it done.

Now we have a table we need to mount it.  Original plan was to use the stock Shopsmith table saw support and table.  This would allow tilting the mill table.  Problem!  It just was not sturdy enough.   I thought I would add a second carriage and modify the Shopsmith table.  Same result.  NEXT  :).  Lets keep the 2 carriages and use an angle plate.  Great till I find out a plate big enough weighs about 100lb and will cost near as much as a mini mill.   Off to the scrap box to find some 1/2" plate and bed rail.  Now practice my welding skills.  The piece sitting against the carriages is the 1/2" plate.  Its bolted on through the 2 holes originally used for the table raising cranks.  The upper supports are 1.5" x 2" x 3/16 angle.  The lower supports are 1" x 1/8" angle.  Its not a perfect 90deg but darn close.  I still need to tram the table to the support.  I did not modify the carriage locks.  So far it has not been a problem.  With the two carriages there is very little play when you move the whole assembly up and down.  

Here is the first shot of a basic DRO (digital read out) This is a standard 6" scale mounted to a piece of aluminum which is mounted to the headstock.  I had to drill 2 small holes through the head stock into the quill hole.  Fortunately there is a recessed area in that hole for the screw heads to hide.  The bottom is bolted to the quill stop through the stock set screw hole.  The head remains stationary and the scale moves up and down with the quill.  Future plans are to have scales on the table (X,Y) and eventually hook them up to a Shumatech

Fine down feed.   Plan is to make a worm and gear to mount on the left side of the headstock.  This set up will sit in a casting that replaces the return spring housing you can see in the picture above.  I will use the existing spring.   Click HERE  for info on making the worm and gear.  More to come on the housing to hold everything.


Spindle.  I used this machine because of the difference in how a drill chuck mounts.  The Shopsmith uses a 5/8" straight shaft for a spindle.  Accessories mount using a set screw.  This should prevent the typical loosening problem associated with the standard drill press mill.  So far it has worked well.  I use a standard 5/8" saw arbor to mount slitting saws and a 1/2" router chuck to mount fly cutters and end mills..  


I am considering making a new spindle to handle mill tooling such as R8.  After considerable thought I decided that an R8 would simply be to big for this machine.  I will go with ER32 collets.  These are  pretty cheap and I can use the same set on my 9x20 lathe.  This will require making a Quill extension to hold a larger bearing to support the collet chuck.  I should be able to keep the upper bearing as well as the drive pulleys in place.  Here are the 2 ER32 straight shank chucks I picked up as a pair cheap from Ebay.  Far right is the ER 32 MT3 chuck and collets I got from this Ebay seller.  Initial testing with the MT3 Chuck and collets in the lathe indicates very good results.  Much better than the 3 jaw chuck.

December 9 2007

Spindle replacement has begun -----  I had some problems with the half nuts on my lathe.  They were stripped.  :(  So much for zinc castings.  The new ones are bronze with smoother performance.  This led to another setback.  My tumbler reverse ran rough.  It was built without bearings i the gears.  Its being fixed at the moment.  :)

Stay tuned for more updates.......

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