'91 Haas VF-1 Rebuild
I decided to start a thread detailing my 'rebuild' of my 1991 Haas VF-1. I have never owned a mill, CNC mill or even messed with one in my life. I love to fabricate anything, and I'm looking to take my projects to the next level. One of the things I hope to accomplish with this thread is having people giving me pointers about my rebuild along the way. So with that said, don't hesitate to give me tips along the way.
So I have been wanting a CNC machine for ever. I stumbled on this '91 Haas VF-1 on Craigslist a couple months ago. It was listed for $10,000 and I thought it was a great deal. I went to look at it and decided I wanted it. I asked him how much he was asking and he said $7,000. I didn't question the difference in price, but I asked if he'd throw in some tooling to sweeten the deal; he agreed. The only issue mentioned with the machine was the it dropped tool...very regularly. He said that he would have his repair guy come fix it before I picked it up. Over a month passed an his guy never made it. I know he was trying to get him down because his other VF-1 had a new power supply sitting there that was waiting to be installed. He finally called a couple weeks ago and said the he had about given up hope and just wanted to get it out of there. If I came and got it as is he would only charge $6,000 and I'd still get the tooling. I happily agreed to the deal and that weekend I was going to get it.
To save money, I moved the machine myself (I had a co-workers help). I used a 8,000 lb capacity forklift (it weighed 13,300 lbs!) from work to do most of the moving. I also borrowed on of the hotshot drivers 35' gooseneck trailers and went and rented a 20' bumper pull trailer for the forklift. It took all day, but I got the machine moved the 15 miles to my house. To get it in the garage (I have a 7' door) I had to remove the service loop and lay it down and remove the Z-axis servo motor. With a smaller 4,800 lb capacity forklift and a pallet jack I moved the Haas to it's final resting spot in the 3rd stall of my 3 car garage. To allow the service loop full travel I had to cut a hole in the ceiling of the garage, but it's well worth it.
I'm running the machine off a 20 hp American Rotary phase converter that I have semi-hard wired into the garage. All 3-phase lines were run inside the grey pvc-like electrical conduit. I'm running the Haas, a Wilton 7040 horizontal bandsaw, and a 20" disc sander from the phase converter. After I got the machine plugged in and running, it started overheating VERY quickly. I read that the voltage was most likely too high. I measure my 3 phase and I had two poles at 242V and one at 252V. The machine came with a couple transformers that he used to step up the voltage. I re-wired that to set down the voltage. I how have two lines of 225V and one line of 235V going into the machine.
Next came fixing the issues with the tool holder. This was already documented in the thread below. The tool holder is now adjusted and works great. There is a slight upward pull on the carousel when the draw bar grabs the tool holder, but I think I can live with that.
'91 Haas VF-1 Drops Tools - ATC Issues
After I had it machine tore down to fix the tool changer I figured 'why stop there'? So in my true nature of doing everything overboard, I found myself ripping my new-to-me machine apart and cleaning everything. I've found that Simple Green and Brillo pads work pretty good. Today I took the way covers and all the plastics up to work and power washed everything since they had some heavy build up. The power washer up there is heated and pumps in some heavy duty 'rig cleaner' soap. The way covers are in great shape except for the way wipers (I'm getting all this terminology from A&A website since them manufactured the covers). I noticed on their website the rebuild them as well as offer rebuild kits. I plan on calling them tomorrow to get pricing on both. I will probably get the kit because I don't want to have too much money wrapped in a machine that repair parts will probably be hard to come by.
So that's were I'm left at the moment....cleaning a lot of way and aluminum cuttings from every nook and cranny in the machine. All covers are off and everything is exposed. I don't need to eat off every surface, but if I can easily get to it I will make an effort to clean it. As best I can tell, the ball screws are tight and the linear slides are in pretty decent shape (at least for what I want to do on a 20 year old machine). I have a list of parts that I need to order from Haas, so I'll probably do that tomorrow. Here some pics:
Underneath where the front Y-Axis way cover goes, I see that the X-Axis motor cable sheathing is broken. This is a common area for it to break due to the Y-Axis traveling back and forth. The coolant oils slowly make everything brittle and crack, even the inner wires. Inspect all these wires closely and/or replace this cable. Inspect it again at least 1-2 times a year for any damage. A short here can take out any combination of the axis motor, cable, or servo drive.
Good luck with your project.
You will want to also remove the long vertical pipe to the coolant line, I am betting that it is half clogged with gunk and rust, I replaced mine with a stainless steel tube. On your way covers, to seperate them lay them out like in the picture, starting with the outermost pull the bottom up toward you – much like taking a drawer out. I cleaned mine, worked out some bad dings then used a random orbit sander with 120 grit, cleaned again and did three coats of paste wax and “painted” the inside with a light coat of Cosmoline. Your machine looks as bad as mine did, most of the work is cleaning and well worth the effort.
Last edited by BGL; 10-31-2011 at 05:01 PM.
Sealant & grease
You will ask this when you reassemble, I highly recommend 3M Marine Adhesive Sealant 5200 available at That orange big box store. Lucas multipurpose marine grease most auto and marine stores. Both products work well resisting coolant.
Originally Posted by haastec
Thanks, I'll look into that!
Is the sealant for the outer plastic housing? What needs greased with the marine grease?
Originally Posted by BGL
Timing couldn't be any better!!
I also just purchased a 1991 Haas VF1 from a gentlemen in Ohio. I don't have it yet, I am still trying to get shipping straightened out. I live just north of Atlanta. I do have a couple of questions since you have already moved yours into the garage.
1. How easy was it to move with a pallet jack for final positioning?
2. Did you push the back of the mill up to the wall? I wanted to position mine in a similar way, in my garage as well, but I was concerned about having access to the electronics in the rear cabinet.
3. How hard is it to remove the Z axis servo and what tools did you need to do it?
Thanks for the great thread and as soon as I get mine I hope to add to it. Best of luck, it looks great!
Here is mine before it was loaded up. Sorry about picture quality, they were taken with a phone.
Yes I used it on the housing, bonds well on clean surface, only use it wear the original seal was, you will want to be able to remove the side covers. Also where the covers attach to the table, just a 1/16” bead is all you need around the outer edge and bolt holes, I went a bit overboard and regretted it when I had to take off the rear Y axis cover – that stuff is strong!
Grease is for the Z axis cover rails, rub a light coat on the strips, assemble with a bolt /nut at the ends, finger tight! Put rails in place, remove the temporary bolts, just get bolts run up on one side, loose on the others, slip in the covers, collect them up in the "closed position and slip a spring clamp to hold them, tighten the bolts - wipe off the excess take out the clamp and test the movement. Every once and a while use a small brush with the grease to keep it in shape. There are support arms on the X and front Y axis covers, you can see the rub lines as you look down on the rails, just a few daps there. I also used it on the drawbar retention balls and spring - not too much, just enough coat the parts. Also do the edges of your tool carousal doors, cam and tips of the forks.
I was lucky and only had some wear on my Y axis cable cover, wrapped it with spiral cable wrap, it runs nice and smooth.
Clean your limit switch roller with isopropyl alcohol or a plastic safe electric contact cleaner, drop of 3 in 1 oil on the pin/roller. It’s good that you are going so far to clean it up.
STJ7780, You will want to be as far from the back as possible, measure the width of the door and add six inches no closer to the wall than that and you'll be fine. You can hug the wall on the left side [viewed from operator position] but make sure its enough that you can pass by even if your sideways.
We hired riggers for a 1.3 mile trip - money well spent, quick, careful and most importantly - insured! They had these trick low profile three wheeled casters, one jack and a rollback truck.
I didn't move it with just a pallet jack. I used a pallet jack in the rear and a fork lift in the front. The pallet jack was a 5,500 lb unit and it would barely lift it. I had to pump it 10 times to get it jacked up an 1/8". At one point I had just the pallet jack underneath it, but with two people we still couldn't move the machine.
Originally Posted by STJ7780
No, it isn't against a wall in back. I have my welders behind the machine and there is about 2' between my TIG and MIG welder and the back panel.
The Z-axis servo wasn't too bad. If I knew then what I know now it would be EASY. I first suggest removing the spindle cover (the black cover). With this removed everything is easily accessible. Next, remove the cover underneath the Z-axis servo. Then using two wrenches remove two opposite bolts on the flex joint that connects the servo to the ball screw 9I made sure the spindle was all the way down and supported by a block of wood). Lastly, loosen the service loop and CAREFULLY lay it down sideways.
Cool, will do! I also like the 'tarp' in the pictures that STJ7780 posted that protects the rear covers. Those were recently replaced on my machine, so I want to protect them.
Originally Posted by BGL
So today I ordered all new covers, plates, and springs for the tool changer. I also ordered a new X-axis cable, way wipers, and a lot of other miscellaneous stuff. I'll post up more progress when I get the parts in.
I need some more advice here. I have seen the issue, but I have purposely ignored it since I don't want this rebuild to drag out too long. I finally can't keep ignoring it because it's not the way I do stuff.
All the small plastic line that carries the way to the ball screws and linear slides appear to have shrunk over they years. That left several lines very tight at the connections and nearly kinked. I don't know how much way should be on the slides and ball screws, but they look fairly dry.
How big of a deal is this (I'm sure I know the answer)? If they need replaced, is there anything special about that line? It appears to be the standard 1/8" line that is used for automotive oil pressure gauges. I already placed my order with Haas, so is there anywhere else to get the line and new compression fittings?
If you can replace them fine, but the amount of oil that flows through the lines is minuscule. Unless really kinked, the oil will flow.
However, while you have it all apart, this would be the best time to do it.
Either way, now is the time to work the lube system by hand (lifting a allowing the plunger to fall numerous times) and insure that the system is getting oil to all of the areas.
Haas used Bijur oilers, 5/32 and 1/8 lines (at least on our used machines). You can get tubing from an industrial supply, (Applied Industrial, MSC, McMaster,) and furrulles, fittings, etc. Bijur, Trico, and Shawa wil interchange for inch sizes, Trico and Shawa are a little less $$$. Good job, keep up the story, don't "wrustle" us.
I understand your desire to "fix" it. But rails look in excellent condition and the lines you show are purposely run tight.
On my machine I knew from experience that once the pump rod was pulled that the pressure should peak then take 30 - 60 seconds to reach zero. It was the first thing I looked at and mine and took less then ten seconds, I found a leaking connection at the first T connection. The line was not set in the collar correctly may never have been right, whittled a new hole in collar and reset it. Seriously, If your pressure is ok, leave it because from the look of the rails your in good shape!
Just when I thought i had the only one left. i've seen alot of these on e-bay that should be in the bone yard because they've been ran beyond repair with no care taken of them. I'm suprised you can still get parts for these. Mine is also a 1991 serial No 1418. I also had quite a cleaning chore when i put it on the floor. I made sure i have at least 3 ft of clearance on the side and back for access, it's code here and you'll want that anyway. I've replace all the way cover seals, replaced the keyboard, it would only run above 70 degrees, replace the tool release button, tightened the drive belt and replaced the air muffler restricter valve the operates the drawbar release piston, and just replaced the polycarbonate air regulator bowl. Next up is to replace the leaky oiler on the x axis and to take the same advise haastec gave you and replace the x-axis cable as mine looks like yours. It's nice to find more of these out there and people are willing to put back into service. Good luck with yours, I'll certanly be watching your progress
If you grab the ball screw and you have oil on your hand then it is most likely getting the oil. Disconnect a fitting forward of the areas of concern and manually pump the lube to see how much flow you are getting. Use your judgement regarding replacement of the lines, but in your present state, you have the best access now.
Another thing to look at is the stone type lube filter, at the pump, and the metering units for the individual axis. These can get clogged by sludge which prevents proper lubrication to the ball screws and ways.
To check them, just take off a line after the metering unit and pump the system. It will take a little bit, but you should see some droplets after a minute or so.