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Something Different: Ames Benchtop Mill

Mark Schneider

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
11/14/2018
When a relative of mine retired from Continental Machine of Savage MN in 1999 he picked up a benchtop engine lathe and this Ames horizontal mill to do some hobby projects in his spare time. The Ames was missing parts that he was always going to fabricate someday...well most of you know how that can go. It turned out that nothing was done with it for the 19 years he owned it. On a recent visit there he donated it to me...for better or for worse!

I was looking for something that could be used for keyway work. I have an ancient Flather 14x40 engine lathe (also a donation) that has a homemade milling attachment of sorts but really not suitable for any kind of keyway work. My goal is to see if I can find the missing parts for the Ames and make it functional again.

I'm no machinist, no training, but I understand the basic concepts...I think! The mill looks pretty basic. Look forward to the input from those of you that actually know the proper way to make this machine work. Any of you familiar with this rig?
 

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Noyes

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
02/19/2019
Check out Atlas MFB mills and AMMCO bench mills they are similar. Check the taper in the spindle it probably will be 2MT. Reprints of Atlas mills are avaliable for free on Vintage Machinery,com a very good resource for old machines created by Kieth Rucker.
 

s100

Registered
Your little mill is quite a bit different from the ones on the Lathes website, but the text there, taken with the pictures, imply to me that the mill will have the spindle bored for either 4C or 5C collets or arbors. Easy enough to check, and if it is either of those you should be able to find an arbor on the dreaded online auction site. Then all you have to do is make a drawbar and you're off to the races. In fact I thought I might have had a 5C arbor but turns out it is NMTB 30.

With an arbor and a few cutters as well as a set of centers that machine should be a good tool for cutting keyways.
 

Mark Schneider

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
11/14/2018
I got a few items that came with the mill...2 homebuilt drawbars, a Craftsman drill press vise that someone attempted to install a t-slot anchor on and a steel cube that appears to be precision ground on all sides...used as a square of sorts?

The spindle bore is not Morse Taper as I have #1 through #4 on hand to try. When I search "Ames Mill" on Ebay 1AM and 3AM collets show up...and not many of them. It appears that Ames had their own collet profile and is probably now a long obsolete design.

The short drawbar pictured must be the one for the mill as the length seems right and the bushing fits nicely on the backside of the spindle. The internal thread specs are 1 1/8"x 24 TPI if that helps.

The picture of the Ames collet is from a Vintage Machinery site brochure describing the Ames #3 bench lathe. I suspect the same collet got used on the mill as well. This illustration is a pretty close match to what I'm seeing on Ebay.
 

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tdmidget

Registered
The first thing you should do is get that nameplate back where it came from. You did not show enough to tell if it is all there. Does it have a motor? That is about all that is missing. Probably need a new belt and lubrication. The rest is tooling. What kind of keyways do you want to cut? The 14 inch lathe will accommodate work pieces that way beyond the capacity of this mill.
 

Mark Schneider

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
11/14/2018
After some research it appeared that the mill took 1AM collets. A lot of three came up for sale on Ebay reasonable so thought I'd buy them and try them out. They fit the spindle taper and drawbar threads to a T. Had the good fortune of 2 of the collets being 1/2" rounds which matches the shank size of many key seat cutters.

The drive motor and pulley set up with the reversing switch is all intact and functions well. The flat belt drive looks like it's an OEM leather one and is kind of loose. I plan on trying it as is with some belt dressing.
 

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Mark Schneider

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
11/14/2018
I decided that a universal clamp kit for work holding would be simpler in the long run vs. fabricating workable clamping for each project.

First test run with a woodruff key cutter. Shaft is a scrap piece of 3/4" stainless. This test had a specific purpose as I need to make a new water pump shaft for my Twin City 17-28 and this is both the key cutter and shaft stock that will be used. The cutting went well enough but even though I soaked the leather drive belt with dressing it slipped pretty badly on this small job. It looks like I'll have to replace it or come up with some sort of tensioner.

Next goal is to see if I can come up with the components to be able to run sidemill cutters...looks like 3" OD will be the max.
 

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Mike Monnier

Hoarder
Age
43
Last Subscription Date
12/18/2019
Contact Lee Pedersen (site sponsor) to get a new belt. He will need to know width and length. I removed 2" from my measured length on a belt for my 9" South Bend lathe. He cut and laced a new belt for that and I don't think it cost me $20. You will need to add a few bucks for shipping; but that is the easiest option if you don't have the right size belt and a lacer.
 

Mark Schneider

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
11/14/2018
1. I put together this belt tensioner from pieces I had lying around. It made a big improvement in belt traction. The challenge now is to remember to release the tension on the belt when finished.

2. This picture will prove beyond any shadow of doubt that I am not a machinist. I've wanted a keyway in this 1 3/4 X 4ft shaft for some time. Figuring out how to clamp and support it on that narrow 1 slot table took some head scratching. This rather precarious set up was not for the faint of heart!

3. Completed keyway on the 1 3/4 shaft.

4. I needed a blind gibb key and used the mill to remove the head.

This mill has turned out to be a nice compliment to the engine lathe. I can see a couple of modifications that would make it more versatile. ;)
 

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Jeff Blaney

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Age
32
Last Subscription Date
01/14/2015
Mark, that is a slick little mill you have there. I have only used a horizontal mill once, but it was a large machine for large jobs. This unit of yours appears to work well for these key way projects as you mentioned. I am curious how it will perform will a regular end-mill?
 

Mark Schneider

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
11/14/2018
One of the things that limited the versatility of the Ames was the narrow single slot table. It made mounting and clamping a real challenge. I remedied this somewhat by mounting an aluminum 8"x 12" T-slot plate on top of the original table. This made mounting projects much easier.

1. Cutting a new keyway on a Rowse D-9 mower gear box shaft.

2. Drilling a steel screw out of an aluminum carb body.

3. Squaring off an adapter I was fabricating.

4. Extending the keyway on a hardened input shaft.
 

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grub54891

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Age
62
Last Subscription Date
06/08/2010
Nice to see an old mill repaired and put to use! I have a question though, I'm no a machinist but don't the cutters normally get lubricated while cutting?
 

Mark Schneider

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
11/14/2018
The arbor speed on the Ames is quite slow. A steady supply of coolant is not needed to keep the cutter from overheating.
 

Mark Schneider

Subscriber
Last Subscription Date
11/14/2018
Some more attachment progress on the Ames. Previously I was limited to tooling that would chuck directly in the collets. Pieces needed for driving side milling cutters recently came my way mostly via Ebay.

1. A good stroke of luck here...a brand new Hardinge 1AM collet with a 1" bore. This is the maximum shaft size the Ames will accept.

2. I was able to find a 1"x 12" horizontal milling arbor that had a #30 taper on the drive end and came with the end nut and set of spacers. I cut it down to what you see here...also had to rework the outboard end to a accept the dead center on the Ames overhead arm.

3. My first need for this tooling was slitting saw use. This is what the setup looked like.

4. I need to re-drill the drive holes on the clutch discs for my Twin City 20-35.
The part is 14" in diameter and I need to locate and drill 6 equally spaced holes on the perimeter. I don't have a dividing head but came up with an idea to adapt the lathe for the job. I'm in the process of building an expanding pilot for the through hole on the lathe head to hold an indexing mechanism. Here I'm slitting the taper portion of the pilot.
 

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