Live Steam CNC Defender

This forum is dedicated to the Live Steam Hobbyist Community.

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Re: Live Steam CNC Defender

Post by Trainman4602 » Sun Sep 16, 2018 4:37 pm

Not unlike CNC tooling I keep a turning tool , facing tool ( sometimes I use the turning tool to face) several ER collet holders set up and a few blank stations for taping or threading with a die. I have the automatic threading attachment set up with a 40 pitch thread follower. It usually takes me about a half an hour to set the stops and tool positions on the DIAL. These lathes are accurate to .0005 tolerance that plenty good enough for any live steam work more than that your building space ships.

Tomorrow I will be setting up to make valve bonnets. I will do the video. You will be amazed how quickly I can turn out these parts. I just love


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Re: Live Steam CNC Defender

Post by Dick_Morris » Sun Sep 16, 2018 5:56 pm

I've often wished I had a cnc mill, but here in the land of no industry it's unlikely I'll ever get one. As Dave shows, many parts done on a cnc lathe can be done on a turret lathe. I'm not aware of a similar substitution for a cnc mill or machining center.

Just out of high school I took a machining class at the local community college. The shop had an NC (numerical control) vertical mill. No computer, just paper tape for programming. I never saw it run, but programming probably wasn't for the faint of heart.

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Re: Live Steam CNC Defender

Post by DavidF » Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:53 pm

Lions and tigers and bears "Oh my!" Yep, just placing a book mark...

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Re: Live Steam CNC Defender

Post by Dick_Morris » Tue Sep 25, 2018 5:20 pm

On Railway Preservation News are several photos of a CNC machine making a new set of side rods for a full sized locomotive.

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Re: Live Steam CNC Defender

Post by FKreider » Tue Sep 25, 2018 5:59 pm

AnthonyDuarte wrote:
Sun Sep 16, 2018 3:14 pm
I decided to invest in a piece of equipment that was more than capable of producing aerospace or medical device components in the event that making only live steam parts wasn’t producing sufficient income. This would be out of reach for someone looking to CNC for a hobby, but now with Tormach and similar brands, there are very decent entry level CNC machines available that are more than adequate for building locomotives.
Hi Anthony,

Do you mind sharing what CNC machine(s) you are using? Your work is very nice!
-Frank K.

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Re: Live Steam CNC Defender

Post by Rich_Carlstedt » Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:34 pm

Well, I am jumping into this thread, not to make points or be on top, but to inform those who do not know CNC or are fearful of G codes.
There are five words that you should know.
1. Conversational Programing
2. G Codes
3. Can Cycles
4. CAM or Computer Aided Machining
5. Post Processors

1. Conversational programming is the easiest method for CNC Work. Because it is simple does not mean that it cannot do complicated work ! It can . it was created in the 1970's by the Hurco Company (Indianapolis IN) and asks you questions about what you want to do and you fill in the blanks to write the program . For example, the first page may ask if you want to - Mill a Line, Mill a Pattern, Mill a Circle,Mill Letters. Hurco led the world in this format, but lost a critical patent right in court about 15 years ago and that allowed other Machine Tool companies to add conversational to their menus. Only Prototrak mills , other than Hurco , have true Conversational programing. because so many companies were already in the "G" code format, it is a slow process changing to this method. Another value of Conversational Programing is that it draws the part for confirmation of your data entry

2. G Codes are a coding method using "G" ( means "GO") and a list of numbers , like 01 or 03, or 40 to tell the machine control what to do. This method was a development from the old "tape" controlled machines which started in WW II , so it is a very old proceedure
While the numbers are easy to follow from a chart , they are STRICKLY controlled in methods used by a particular machine tool. Many "procedures" or "rules" of format ( writing steps) are universal, but most machine makers have their own idiosyncrasy in procedure or text creation. There are also "M" codes ( Motor) to turn the spindle on, of, reverse ect. and other steps for operations

3. Can cycles were created to shorten the time of writing G code or simplify the steps. There are drilling cycles and boring cycles for example. Some tools have lots of can cycles available . So instead of writing 200 lines of code for drilling a hole, it can be done in about 10 lines

4. In order to simplify manual programing of G code machines , CAM computer programs were created. CAM is similar to Hurco's Programing , but does it on a separate tool, the PC ! So you enter the needed moves on the screen and the PC writes the appropriate G codes and will even draw your part so you can see it. The program will also accept ( in some cases) a Cad drawing to assist writing the program. So in industry , you have CAD to CAM to CNC to produce parts.

5. Post Processors are convertor programs that rewrite a CAM written program for YOUR machine specifically. So if you write a machining program in a CAM unit, you have to specify your mill in order for the "POST' to correctly wire the G code sequence. They are very important , but usually come with most CAM programs .

For most home shop work, the Conversational Programming method is ideal, and it is a cracker jack method for one off or experimental machining or inventors. I don't understand why more Hurco's or Prototrak's are not in our shops. ( I think Tree mills too?) It is direct machining and far easier method than G code and eliminates CAM and Post Processor equipment . And it is fast !!!!..... besides being far easier to learn as it follows the natural way of making a part. The one detriment is that while you determine the cycles of steps , you do not control all the moves and some, while unnecessary are fast for a single part, whereas in a production setting that lost time (called "cutting air" ) is not wanted and can be reduced with a G code program....but that has to be written ! (an example is clearing over clamps with the cutter- a machinist will write the cutter retract to just clear different height clamps during moves , where in conversational it does all the same height.) Not all CNC machines are the same !

My background.
I First used G code on "Bandit' conversions of Bridgeport mills in 1983.
I programmed and taught machinists to program G code and run a 5 Axis- 5 Inch Bar using the greatest CNC program ever ( GE 2000 Program).
The GE program was a pure Parametric programing method that allowed "all" math formulas to be used in the code. We did not have a CAM unit and did it all manually and used math to dramatically impact our programs. In 1985 We had 6 dies that weighed about 11,000 pounds each and we did not have time to machine them all in our shop and we jobbed out 3 to a aircraft job shop in LA. They ran the drawings through their CAM unit and produced a G code program that was 200 pages long , while we could do the exact same program with 12 lines of code on the GE 2000 control. What happened to the 2000 program ? It was dropped in 1987 (?) for being too expensive ..too bad it was awesome.

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