The Importance of Regularly Checking and Maintaining Machines

MachineryJust like the oil in your car needs to be regularly checked and changed, high tech machinery in your manufacturing process also requires regular attention. Many times, floor managers and other workers won’t notice a problem until they either hear strange sounds during the process, or experience some form of equipment failure. The trick is to prevent problems, rather than react to them later.

Very often, the only actual problem with a machine is that it needs to be cleaned. Debris can quickly pile up and interfere with the proper functioning of a machine part. Getting rid of this “gunk” can ensure a smooth operation and prevent headaches down the road. Hiring trained professionals to check on equipment is another way to keep machinery working optimally.

Some companies sell vibration analysis that promises to find and diagnose future machinery failure. The problem is that these analyses don’t always work. They try to pick up frequencies in machines, but that frequency isn’t always picked up, or even present, before failure. They are expensive tests that rarely work. Instead, a better option is to go in and have a trained professional inspect the parts on a regular basis and actually see what needs to cleaned, repaired, or replaced. It’s a much better investment and will end up saving you money, since you won’t be paying for ineffective tests and repairs that wouldn’t have been necessary if the problem was found and dealt with properly the first time.

For more information about machine maintenance and repair, stop by our site or tweet us for tips.

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The Benefits of Replaceable Tapered Inserts

When running large boring mills, one common problem is damage to the spindle bar taper.  These bars can be upwards of 8 feet long and 7 inches in diameter, making them difficult to repair once they have reached the point of no return as far as in-place grinding.

It is possible to grind and chrome plate the taper back to OEM specifications, however, due to the type of machining being performed and the natural flex of the bars, the chrome may start to flake.  To remedy this problem, Locher, Inc. designed a process of modifying spindle bars to accept a Locher, Inc. -designed replaceable taper insert.  They can be installed in 4” diameter bars and larger.

The inserts can be manufactured to standard taper dimensions or set to use Big Plus Tooling from #40-#60 sizes.  They function in machines with or without tool changers and with drawbolts or drawbars.  We normally hold .0002” TIR on the inserts installed, but the spindle-bar run-out and condition of the bearings affect total run-out on the insert.

In-place installation takes about 5 days.  Installation at our facility will take about 3 weeks.

A major benefit of the insert is that it’s replaceable in the event of a crash.  It can be replaced in about an hour, minimizing down-time.  We also recommend that tapered inserts be reground in-place as many times as possible before replacing.

A major crash with the insert installed can still damage the ID piloting bore in the bar, so if a new insert is installed you may still have excess run-out.  In this event the ID of the bar is still able to be cleaned up to a diameter and the insert made to the new larger piloting diameter in the bar and installed back to like-new condition.  It allows end-users to repair the bar in-house without needing complete spindle-bar repairs which are costly and have extended down-times.

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Trains Get Us from Point A to Point B, But How Do Train Wheels Get There in the First Place?

TrainTrains have been a reliable source of mass transit for hundreds of years. Over time, they’ve undergone some structural changes for a more efficient and comfortable ride. New York subway riders recently got a chance to step back in time, catching a ride in 1930s-era subway cars to commemorate the re-opening of a stretch of track that was damaged by Superstorm Sandy.

Travelers noted how different the interior of the cars were, with wicker seats and ceiling fans starkly contrasting today’s train features. But aesthetics aside, not much has changed in the overall mechanism of locomotion: which involves train wheels gliding over a rail. It sounds simple, but a lot of work goes into creating wheels that can smoothly roll over the track.

Train wheels need a conical shape to fit the angle of the rail. This allows the train to travel and make turns without the constant threat of derailment. As an added safety measure, flanges lock the wheels in place over the track. A good illustration can be found here.

To create this precise form, the train wheels need to be properly machined. If a machining center is not in place yet, the first step is to design one to suit your needs. Once this is taken care of, the next task is finding a way to move the wheels from storage to the machining center. Implementing a custom conveyer system takes care of this requirement. And having an automation that flips the wheel allows it to be machined on both sides, increasing efficiency and usability.

For more information on custom conveyor and machine systems to transport train wheels, visit

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Locher: Celebrating Over 20 Years of Quality Service

When we stop and think about our business today, the spindle expertise we’ve brought together and even the physical shop space we now need to house our machines and perform our range of services, it can be hard to recognize ourselves as the small traveling repair business we began as just 20 years ago! Today, Locher employs multiple traveling technicians, in-house technicians, and office staff. It’s a big contract, to say the least, from building equipment in a family garage.

But there’s a reason why we’ve grown. Our re-designed machines, spindle inserts, and CNC knowledge fulfill industry-wide demands. The company may have expanded, but we’ve never lost sight of our commitment to quality repair work and individualized attention. You can see that just by taking a look at our long-time customers; they’ve been with us since the beginning.

Prioritizing these relationships, taking quality to heart, and putting in the extra time has allowed us to expand our knowledge of replacement, repair, and maintenance solutions for CNC machining – and we look forward to sharing the insights and tips we’ve picked up along the way here on our new blog. As we continue to expand our Carroll, Ohio and Fort Worth, Texas facilities, acquire new equipment, and build relationships with new customers, we’ll continue to be here for you as your complete spindle management resource!

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