Serial # 7-M-3796

In January 2007 I took advantage of an opportunity to get one of these mills for free.  Cleaning & prepping the machine delayed a number of projects, but its in fine shape and I'm looking forward to getting it running.

I eventually got it to the patio, removed the table & motor;

My dad came over to help, we got the mill over onto its back, then down the ramp into the basement.  The casting is blocked up with a length of 2x4, keeping the back end of the spindle from bearing on the sled.

And down, safe & sound!

Then after a week of stripping & cleaning;

Nichols made several versons of the head, here's a closeup of mine;

February 2007, now painting;

Paint is Sherwin Williams "Hyper Blue".  Two coats were applied, with the addition of an alkyd enamel hardener.  32oz is about right for the mill.  The paint hides brush strokes relatively well but tipping the coat about an hour after application helped the finish considerably.  Overall I'm quite happy with how the paint worked out- it makes the other machines seem drab rather than understated. We'll see how it stands up to oil & chips.

The Nichols manual specifies "600-W" oil for all the zerks, in this case its not viscosity but the name of a manufacturer's brand.  Another Nichols owner traced to an approximately ISO 350 lubricant.  I bought some ISO 220 grease for the spindle, I tried it out, and it works fine but makes a mess when the excess is flung clear- so installing a guard around the pulleys will avoid laying down a racing stripe on neighboring items. I switched to Vactra #2 on all the sliding members which is lots easier to clean up.

My mill has the 5-groove pulleys and uses an A59 sized belt.

The motor gearbox was dry but drained clean when flushed with WD40. The manual mentions a "dipstick" for checking the oil level in the motor's gearcase, if the tag shown in the manual is missing, the dipstick is easily found. Locate the air vent between the motor & gearbox. When facing the output shaft with the vent upwards, the dipstick is the small screw seen on the left of the mouth of the vent. There is a gearcase vent on the right of the mouth. Both are unscrewed for their respective service. The vent on mine was painted shut, a soft wirewheel cleaned it right up.  I have some DTE Heavy/Med gear oil in there now, which is thinner than the specified 40W Motor oil- I will get the proper stuff in there shortly.

In operation, some oil drips out around the gearcase shaft, so moving the pulley out 1/8" or so will let it drip clear and not be flung all over creation. 40W oil is a definite improvement over the DTE in this case.

I mounted the vfd's speed control pot in the start/stop cluster, should make tweaking the speed handy.

This shows the jury-rigged vfd & power.  The drum switch connects to the vfd's fwd/rev input.  The toggle connects the vfd output to either the aux outlet or the Nichols motor.  The lower box contains a transformer, diode bridge and relay.  The start button latches the relay on, stop turns it off.  The latching relay connects the fwd/rev circuit through to the vfd.  So, the start/stop, fwd/rev and speed control work for the aux outlet and the main motor.

I put the R head onto the mill for a motor & bearing test;

The R head is a bit too big for the mill, it takes up a good deal of the envelope and is clumsy to tram.  A smaller head would be a better fit, though an R or M head will certainly work. 


Threaded flange for the y axis nut- the bronze acme nut will thread into this & be soldered into place, then everything will be turned & faced to size.

I did the flange first so I could do all the work on the nut in one setup.

The nut is SAE660- it turned wonderfully.  Its a welcome break from various bits of mystery metal- one of which I made the flange from.  The step on the nut is an extra .020" finishing allowance after the flange is screwed on & soldered.

I didn't nail the threads exactly but the fit is pretty good.  The visible face here will be removed by the finishing passes.  I sucessfully single-pointed the internal acme threads (10tpi), using the y axis screw as a go/no-go gauge.

Showing nut turned for OD w/ grease groove, and flange turned and faced after soldering.  You can see the little band of solder right in the joint between the bronze & steel.   The sludge in the acme threads is some grease I wiped in to make sure the solder didn't wick inside.

Parting was nice and smooth.... :)

And here all nice & pretty, looks good so far huh?

And heres what happens when you don't snug the jaws down tight enough on the dividing head...  Only a cosmetic problem, but a drag nonetheless.  Because I lost zero I had to increase the clearance on the 3rd hole..

And here a test-fit on the y axis screw...

And here, installed.  The y axis feed feels quite good.  I think I succeeded in a centering fit, there is no discernable backlash either.  Cosmetics aside I'm quite happy with the new nut.

June 2007

In April myself and two others went shares on a Nichols parts machine, it took me a while to get their parts shipped out.  A minor point I'd like to stress- when going shares on a parts machine, negiotiate both the shares of the purchase price and the shipping.

One of my parts was an overarm support.  Its an older one with bronze bushing that was badly wallowed out.  I replaced it with a steel plug bored true to the spindle, into which I'll fit a needle bearing.

The support clamp is loose on the overarm so it slides as the table is moved inwards, making the boring head cut the bushing true to the spindle.  It would've been better to push the overarm with an angle plate, or clamp the support and let the overarm slide, but there wasn't room to do either.

And a picture of the daughter, taken one evening we spent in the basement;

Here I finally got to finishing the front face of the arbor support.  Naturally I discovered I left the bore .0015 or so too small, so at some point I'll have to try and replicate the setup...

12/2007, 1/2008
I had an occasion to repair a Nichols knee gib that was cracked in 3 places. I milled about 1/8" off the back of the gib and fit a strip of steel of similar thickness. I put a screw in on each side of each of the 4 bolt holes. Worked like a champ, and the gib is in service now. There appears to be some tendency for knee gibs to break around the middle two bolt holes, perhaps due to excessive tightening of the knee lock.

Having gotten the gib figured out, I reassembled the machine and did the first job on it. In this case, cutting away the bulk of the webs on an inexpensive import angle plate. I made a movie of the finish cut on one of the webs here;


Here's a 5" diameter shell end mill by P&W, very nice- unused, a bit of surface rust in spots due to poor storage, looking forward to trying it sometime;

;;; eof