I spent a couple hours recently replacing the way covers on my Industrial Hobbies RF-45 mill.  The ones I have seen on most RF-45’s are pretty low quality and not very durable.  I had been getting by with some magnetically mounted covers, but wanted to get back to something more secure and trouble free before the mill goes into its flood enclosure.  It’s all fine and well to adjust way covers and splash guards fairly frequently when you’re standing right next to the mill and can access it from all sides, and it is quite another matter when it is inside an enclosure where access from some angles will be difficult.

Way covers, for whatever reason, seem uncommonly expensive, so I keep an eye out for them almost everywhere.  A long time ago, someone in an auto parts store said to me one day, “Parts is parts.”  This came up because he had a part to fit the car I was repairing, but it was from a completely different make.  It was a good point–if the part fits and does the job, it doesn’t have to be from the same make.  Consequently, I’m always on the lookout for parts.  When it comes to import machine tools, they can be hard to come by, but there are some useful sources.  Grizzly does a pretty good job of delivering parts that can be ordered from their web site.  Another great source is Tormach, who will also let you order from the web site.

Consequently, when it came time to replace the way covers on my RF-45, I went around to the usual suspects and wound up ordering a brand new set from Tormach.  I knew they were well made as I remember looking at them on a Tormach mill.  I also liked the way the Y-axis covers were angles to encourage chips not to pile up there.

It took a little bit of fabrication of some adapter plates, and I had to drill and tap a few holes in the column, but here is what I came up with:

Way Cover Parts

Set of parts including the bellows and the adapter plates I fabricated…

Z-axis Way Cover

There is the Z-axis way cover in place…

Y-axis Way Cover

And there is the Y-Axis way cover.  You can see some of the mess these covers are designed to deflect away from the sensitive areas of the ways and ballscrews!

Getting a new set of way covers in place was one of a couple of operations I wanted to get done to the mill before it gets installed in its new flood enclosure.  I have one or two other things to do yet, and I am expecting a new 3000lb capacity gantry mill to be delivered to the shop this coming week as well.  That should make short work of moving the mill.  More photos when I get it into the enclosure.


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