Monday, January 10, 2011

Old # 406...

I have wanted a cnc mill ever since I started working in a machine shop in high school.  I had no idea how to run or program one, but I knew I had to have one.  I started looking for one in earnest about three years ago.  At the time the machining industry was still going strong and prices of decent machines were still way out of my price range.  I went back and forth between finding a 2 axis cnc knee mill to a full legit VMC to trying to retrofit a old machine myself.  After keeping my eye on several vmc's on that Internet auction site, I ran across HGR Industrial Surplus in Cleveland, Ohio.  Their website is awesome, take a look.  HGR    I watched their site for several months until this came available:

I knew nothing about Fadal's but my coworker Jersey Tom ran one in college.  I figured that was a good enough reason, so a deal was made and #406 was brought to the shop.

The mill is a vintage 1987 model with vintage 1987 circuitry with a vintage 25 pin RD232 port.  The initial hurdle we had was finding a computer that had a RS232 port.  After that, we found out that the communication board was bad, probably the reason why the company sold it to HGR in the first place.  After some google searching, I found  I talked to the owner, Dave, about our problem and he suggested that we find updated drive boards out of a newer machine to replace our old ones.  Not only would address our communication issues but it would greatly increase the machine's memory from the whopping 40Kb it originally came with.  As an interesting tidbit of useless knowledge, Dave also told me that he was one of the original owners of Fadal before they sold it in 1995 and that Fadal is an acronym for his father's and brother's names, pretty cool.

Francis, Adrian, David And Larry

About the same time, I was on a business trip for my full time job.  Over dinner one night with a customer, the conversation turned to machining and eventually to my situation with the Fadal.  He suggested that I contact one of his friends who has a machine shop and possibly some extra parts.  Well, it turned out that he just scrapped 3 complete Fadal machines do to fire damage recently at his shop but kept all of the circuit boards.  I ended up working a deal out for the boards and sent them to Dave to let him work his magic.  I got them back, plugged them in and instantly brought my machine into this century.  Everything worked great, I could now communicate and start to machine.