Tuesday, October 20, 2015

More about German Heavy Metal

After the first three-day class was completed, I found myself with a day off today, and that was a happy coincidence as the Zimmermann FZ-5V pattern milling machine, all the way from Northern Germany, via an extended delay in customs and various other hassles I'd rather not mention, is finally in town. It's at a location now about 15 minutes from my shop. This German monster is too heavy and bulky, at 5500 lbs, for me to move myself, with any degree of convenience and safety, so I have hired some riggers to move it for me.

The crate had many nails and interior framing elements, and stood some 94" tall. I was curious, to say the least, to see what was in the box, and confirm that this machine would actually go through the shop doors without requiring any disassembly.

One of the students in the class, Andy, offered to give me a hand to remove the crating, which was very kind. Here, after 20 minutes work, we've got the top off and one of the sides:

A while later:

The beast is revealed at last:

The 'foot' of the machine measures 24" x 45" approximately, for reference.

The main spindle is rotated 90˚ to the side for shipment, and the rear spindle assembly has been removed:

It is well fastened down to the pallet.

A view from the back:

That was exciting, and a little intimidating. It's a big machine.

Back at the shop, I unpacked the box of parts which came with the machine. Here we have a good selection of hook spanners, and a DRO linear scale:

I'm not sure why the scale was not attached to the machine, or whether it had ever been attached. It will all be revealed soon enough I guess.

A number of ISO 40 taper tool holders came with the machine. There is the large collet chuck:

I have 4 collets for that holder, all metric, so I'll be looking to expand that into some inch collet sizes as well. To the right of the pic you can see a boring bar spindle, which I think is missing some parts.

There's a very nice helical cutter in a shell mill holder, hardly used:

This chunk is the 90˚ angle accessory, and it is a heavy mofo:

I have no idea as of now how that even goes on the machine. I'm glad to have it though 'cause it could certainly come in handy somewhere down the line.

Included were two drilling chucks, one for the main spindle and one for the high speed spindle:

The chuck on the left is 5/8" capacity.

A couple of tool holders for fitting various shaped cutting discs:

Loads of hold-downs and bolts to attach parts to the main table:

An original brochure:

Here was an unexpected find - a fairly complete set of components to fasten stuff down to the work surface:

I had been thinking earlier on that at some point I would need to invest in a set like that for this machine, and was pleased to find that this would be at least one expense which need not be made.

I also obtained a special and unusual Mitutoyo Digimatic caliper with the machine, which I'll show in a later post.

I'm thinking that I might be the only one in North America with this model of Zimmermann, though if there are other owners out there, I'd be delighted to hear from them.

All for now. Class two, an intro to Japanese joinery, starts tomorrow and runs for three days, followed by a 1-day class. Then it looks like a blizzard of work might be coming my way. All for now - thanks for visiting!


  1. Why does a woodworker need a metal milling machine - are you going to make your own metal parts ie hinges, feet cups etc?

    1. Ralph,

      Thanks for the question. It's not a metal milling machine. It's a pattern milling machine, designed primarily for use on wood and foam by pattern makers. You know, pattern-making, where wooden forms are created for obtaining castings? This machine is unusual in North America. Oliver used to make a pattern miller a long time ago, as did Wadkin.

      This machine is also capable, however, of working various metals, and plastics, and yes, I will be using it when required to make metal leveler feet, and other hardware, repair and fabricate parts for other pieces of equipment, custom tools, etc., etc. For woodworking it gives me the capability for overhead cutting, and 4-axis travel below, with a wide variety of cutters. And it will be a precision drill press, something I've long wished I had. It will eliminate a lot of the jig making I did previously for the fabrication of odd-angled parts. I think this machine opens up a lot of possibilities in my work, and I'll show some of the applications and uses I come up with as I get using the Zimmermann over the next months and years.



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