Got the gantry installed on the table rails today and started working on the Z-Axis. Most of the Z-Axis is now assembled. I need to cut the Acme Lead screw down a bit. You can see it hanging down under the Z in a couple of the pics. I'll be ordering the belts, pulleys and electronics soon.
Time has been hard to come by with one full time job and various side jobs, so this project is moving quite slowly. Anyway I've been working on the gantry and think I've finally got it assembled correctly.
I received my Garolite (fiberglass epoxy laminate) gantry plates a while back. I bought them from "SlyClockWerkz", a guy in the Ox CNC forums on OpenBuilds.com. I believe he cut the plates out on this same machine. They were very nice quality. I painted them orange, attached all the wheels, bearings, and proper spacers. Relatively painless process although I did have to drill out the pre-routed holes in the plates since the screws were a bit difficult to insert.
I didn't anticipate any issues assembling the rails and side plates together... you just cut the v-slot aluminum rails, tap the ends, and bolt it together, right??? Nope!!! I didn't anticipate that cutting the v-slot rails to length could be such an pain. I cut them on my chop saw with a non-ferrous blade. They felt "almost" exactly the same length... but almost doesn't quite "cut" it! I put it together and the left and right plates (the orange plates) were not perpendicular to the rails. I took it apart, cut micro amounts off them, reassembled, disassembled, flipped the rails top to bottom, side to side, screwing it all together and taking it apart each time. Not only were the rails not precisely the same length, the saw was not cutting the ends "exactly" 90 degrees! The end of each rail was angled slightly. Finally figured out I would have to square up the ends of each rail using the sanding wheel on a bench top sander (not an easy thing to get right), then line up all the rails flush on one end, clamp them together and file the crap out of the other end (all 3 rails at once) to get all the rails on the other end flush and square on all sides.
It's all together now and real damn close to perfectly square. If I had to do it again, I would try to find a shop that could cut all three rails at once and guarantee 90 degree cuts... if that's possible. Oh and by the way, when you get the rails, the ends were probably not cut perfectly square to begin with, at least mine weren't. So I would have the shop clamp all the rails together and cut both ends.
Good to have a large space to work in... but where the heck am I going to put this beast?!? The area with the gray carpet is where my super awesome scale Mini-Z track is going to be built (see my R/C Track blog). Maybe my wife wouldn't mind never parking in the garage.