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Deckel FP4 manual mill / newbie with simple questions


Mar 31, 2020
Hello all,

I used to read and attend other forum discussion earlier in my life. However, it soon became too much of a pain with cocky persons and other people just ruining a perfectly good thread. So, here we go again. This is my first post here and might be a long one. For those who want to skip to my questions, they are listed in the end of this post.

I've developed an interest in hobby machining during last few years and after having a heated shop built to our farm, I've had the chance to start acquiring machinery. Sure, these machines will help fix our farm equipment also and they won't be just sitting there. I come from automotive repairing industry and my tooling and knowledge has mostly been acquired from that side. Therefore, I recognize being a newbie and assume I know nothing about real machinist tools and work.

My first mill was a Schafner W12, a small Swiss made universal mill from the 50s and I still own it. I just love the nostalgic touches of it and will keep it for smaller work. But unfortunately that's what it is capable of...smaller work. Therefore, I just bought a Deckel FP4 manual mill from a Internet auction(!)... without seeing it. I know I know, that's not the way to go. Where I live, these gems just don't pop up often, so I had to take a chance. It's from 1978, so it has seen some miles. I bought it from a machine shop which decided to clean up their facilities and they still have one Deckel for odd jobs.

What I thought as being a well serviced machine by responsible users turned out to be basically a machine with many signs of wear and damage. Now, I don't know if my expectations are too high for a machine older than I am but my other mill from the 50s is still very accurate. This Deckel had basically no way wipers, since every one of them is worn beyond service limit. The spindle has been repaired, apparently due to someone crashing the table in Z direction, since the intermediate piece (between ram and spindle) has been welded in few places. The housing cover at the rear of the machine has also been butt welded together from two pieces. Few knobs are missing or repaired by using a bolt etc. I haven't done any work yet but tested the machine by running it through its speeds and feeds. Everything seems to work fine and no disturbing noises from the spindle.

Since the wipers were missing I decided to check the gib adjustments. X and Y seems to be ok and has plenty of adjustment left but the Z axis was a disappointment. The adjustment is more or less bottomed out. There's maybe 2 mm (0.08") left to tighten the gib and I'm positive that in my usage this will last a long time. However, I haven't tested the Z axis play now and in general the accuracy of the machine, so I'm not sure yet if this qualifies as a machine to last my lifetime. I hope I can still remedy the years of neglect. In theory, what could you do to repair the Z ways? Turcite? Larger gib and have the ways grinded?


1 The Z axis feels quite heavy to manually move in upwards direction (full travel and not only in both ends). My other mill has a table which you can remove and lift by one person, so I might be asking for too much, but should you be able to move it effortlessly the full travel without having to pause somewhere between to shake your arm or shoulder muscles? Maybe the gib is adjusted too tight now or is the machine intended to be moved only with power feed? How would I check for correct adjustment in this machine?

2 How are you supposed to use the electric oil pump? Keep it on for several seconds or just a short burst enough to hear it build up pressure?

3 Electric cabinet has three contactors with timers. What are these used for? (I don't have electric diagrams)

4 On user side the control panel has buttons starting from left: Stop button, Start button, an unknown rotary switch and the coolant switch. What should the unknown third switch do? I hear a contactor or something from the other side of the machine but nothing really changes. No symbols or texts are visible around the switch,

5 Written in the manufacturer's plate, this is a FP4 model from 1978. How long did Deckel make before and after this year similar FP4 mills? Are the NC versions basically the same base machine with just added automation?

6 What are e.g. FP4A or FP4M models? Is this a FP4M (as in (M)anual)? Franz Singer Gmbh identifies e.g. way wipers with model designation FP4 2700 where I assume the number has to do with machine serial number range? I'm really having trouble identifying differences between models and which parts are therefore interchangeable. Reason for my question is, let's say I want to buy a high speed spindle or horisontal support from Ebay. Is it reasonable to assume I might get a part which doesn't fit my machine, even if it's for a FP4?

7 Is the X axis nut adjustable? There's quite much play in the handwheel right now. If so, how is this procedure done?

8 Everyone by now thinks I should get the manual and parts diagrams for this machine but due to reasons mentioned before, I'm not sure if I would get the right one. I have one manual in german but there are some differences already with this machine and its not that thorough. Could this Deckel FP4, FP4M Operation Manual | store.lathes.co.uk be the correct one? Are there manuals available for service personnel (with more detailed repair procedures)?

Thanks in advance!


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1. The Z-axis on this model is a workout. The Z-axis has a ball screw and only moves half the distance per handwheel revolution. With the fixed table you are probably lifting 1500-2000lbs with the handwheel.

2. Not sure mine is manual.

3. Would one be for the lube pump? Otherwise I'm unsure.

4. 1978 is a somewhat later model for this machine. They started in '68 or '69. Yours has a moveable horizontal quill (uncommon) and could possibly have had power drawbars.-- on edit-- actually I bet yours has a motor brake- I would guess the spindles will spin freely when you activate the switch but will be 'locked' otherwise.

5. Earliest would be as above: '68 or '69. Latest would be a few years after yours probably- maybe '80 or '82?

6. FP4M is a much smaller machine- both in mass in somewhat smaller travels. FP4A may have had multiple versions. At least one version being a CNC instead of a manual machine.

7. I've had the table off mine but I did not look closely at the nut-- I suspect not.

8. Hard to say if that is the manual. I believe yours is a 2800 series machine. Most of these are 2700 machines but I believe the 2800 series machines had the adjustable horizontal quill. I assume Franz Singer could supply you with both the correct manual and parts book- Probably more economically than the link you note. I have never seen a service manual although the manual does give some information on disassembly of both the vertical and horizontal quill.

It's not quite clear to me which part (on the front of the machine) has the weld repair. The transmission clutch on these (between the motor and main transmission) is a bit quirky. It should slip under extreme load but I get the impression they are not always working correctly.
I'd like to share my future plans on this machine. Old thread but will probably open a project thread if people are interested. Please let me know.

The machine has pretty much been idle since I acquired it. I've found out since then that spindle taper was worn after all these years of using OEM collets. Spindle taper has now been reground and bearings checked / lubricated. A test arbor runs now in the tenths at the other end.

However, the box ways are worn pretty bad. They are now about 0.002"-0.003" concave and I will therefore start a complete rebuild on the machine. The table is just sagging too much. Other surfaces have mostly their original scraping marks left so I presume I will only need to touch up those. We'll see. If anyone has some tips for working with the box ways, all information is welcome.

I haven't done much scraping but the machine is pretty much scrap value anyhow. I doubt it will have much value other than in parts. I have much to thank (and blame) for Alex at "An Engineer's Findings" on Youtube. He pretty much showed how to do this kind of rebuild with hand tooling and somewhat primitive measurement devices.
For reconditioning your mill start with a good survey of the existing geometry.
Need to know where you are to start.
You will need a good 36" long straight edge scraped true to a know master surface.
Know good master surface (surface plate grade "B" or better)
Good known rigid square
Scraping tool (Carbide edge preferred)
Some type of lapping or fine grinding setup to sharpen the scraper.
Blue high spot indicator (Dykem)
Tenths test indicator and magnetic base. Surface gauge 123 blocks etc......
Nice to have: a qualified granite square...maybe 12-14" tall

And above all else a copy of :" Machine Tool Reconditioning" by Edward Connelly

Oh and of course you will need lifting equipment that allows moving the heavy parts about (gantry)

I suspect your machine is old enough that the vertical box ways can be scraped. Later machines had the way surfaces hardened to the point that they can't be scraped and would require grinding to
recondition...A simple test with a scraping tool will tell which you have.

I have done a full rework on an FP3NC and i have some postings on this board on that project...might do some searching here.
Good luck,you have your work cut out for you.
Cheers Ross
Thanks Ross for the thorough answer. I will check your project next.

Good news is I've got pretty much figured out what you mention. What I immediately understood I need to have is:

- Good known straight edge; I acquired a 1000 mm (pretty close to 36") triangular straightedge DIN 0 (I guess close to grade A).
- Large enough surface plate (my old cast iron plate just too small)
- Scraping tool and everything that goes with it, Sandvik chosen. Not with BIAX (at least not yet :D )
- Good reliable indicator and stand
- Test arbor

Still to figure out what type of equipment would be best for maneuvering the machine - probably a rolling gantry is the way to go in my shop. Our farm equipment has the power but not the sensitivity to move this around.

I did do some checking on the machine before disassembling it and found out the table is rocking quite much with the Z-gib adjusted as tight as I can without binding the table in the extremities. Table is tilted forward, so that the indicator reads something like 0.1 mm / 300 mm or 0.004" per 12 inches. Box ways have the most wear - so much that the previous shop has already scraped crude flaking for oil retention. Luckily I can get the original dimension from both ends. When the complete Z saddle/carriage was removed, the operator side had almost all its lubrication holes plugged with gunk.

In general, is this all reasonable work for this particular machine - probably not. Is this something I enjoy doing and learning - heck yeah, very much. Just need to take it carefully and check my progress. Luckily I got other surfaces in good shape so that I can have something to check my work against.
Welcome to the world of scraping :)
You sure will get plenty of practice on that machine.
Investigate carefully and make good plans.

I have the same machine and it is for sure well worth the effort BUT before scraping - go through the gearboxes, linkages and spindels and spindle bearings. If any of these are gone you may consider directing your scraping effort to a different object as spares for these are not... regularly availble at Walmart.. make sure to learn fully the spindle bearing regreasing procedure before comencing work.
Nice, I got the same machine, only a greener version.
The unknown button next to start/stop/pump is not a button, it’s a 6V plug for all the accessories that use that voltage. Next to it should be a small white push button, that activates the 6V plug for a period of time ( hence the timer in the cabinet) .

Nice, I got the same machine, only a greener version.
The unknown button next to start/stop/pump is not a button, it’s a 6V plug for all the accessories that use that voltage. Next to it should be a small white push button, that activates the 6V plug for a period of time ( hence the timer in the cabinet) .

Yes, those are on the far right-- the two smaller round circles stacked vertically in the image-- but there is an extra button on the control interface in the image. Compare the two images below.


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