Baby needs new shoes

(Paolo Nutini)

One of those jobs you really don’t want to do but, like a frozen pipe or overflowing toilet, it’s best that it gets done sooner than later. In this case, installing leveling feet on the mill. I knew this mill didn’t come with levelers but since it had threaded holes through base casting, I hoped it had provisions for adding them. I didn’t ask because I didn’t want that to be a reason to get cold feet. But noooo, the machine is meant to be bolted to the floor and leveled with shims (?!?). The base is open. Hmmm, hmmm. I think an ideal base would be square a tubing surround of the base but since I don’t have a crane, I would not be able to install it. So I came up with these shoes, which work fine but were a pain in the arse to fitup and install.


The leveling feet are Bosch units with M16x2 (5/8″) threaded posts on steel pads that I got at the scrap yard decades ago just knowing that would come in useful one day. I put a piece of paper under one corner of the mill and traced around it, cut some 1/2″ steel plate and made what you see above. Stared at it for a while and decided I would screw it to the base (it needs to be attached so they can’t walk away but loosely so if as the mill settles, they don’t crack the cast iron base). So began the no fun dance: jack up one side of the mill, slide in a foot, lower the mill, note which way the tab needs to bend to match base curve, try to stand up, mash head on feed handle, say “ouch” in many different dialects, jack up mill, try remove foot, jack up mill some more, remove foot, mash head, over to the bench, tweak, repeat. That was the easy part.
Then mark, drill and tap holes in base. Do it poorly, lying on floor to try and drill level, repeatedly mashing head, back and forth to the bench to file out the tab hole so the screw fits loosely when the foot is weighted. And the front two are installed.

feets plateOK, they work. For the back two, stream line the process and correct a stupid.  The tab is 1.5″ high so there is some meat at the bottom of the tapped hole. The 1/2″ plate worked well. Inset the tabs because it looks better if you can see that the mill is firmly on steel. By making the part symmetrical as shown, there is minimal measuring, just rotate, push against the stop, make the cut. For the holes, I played with a feature of the mill: storing points. There are five steps: spot drill, pilot drill twice, drill to size, tap. By storing each location, I could do an op, push a button on the DRO, move to (0,0) and repeat. Do a tool change, repeat. Way nice when a tool change can involve climbing a ladder to loosen the drawbar.

Just because it is cool, here is power tapping one of the holes. Sooo much nicer than grunting one these big taps.

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