Now the fourth axis finally looks at home on the CNC plate. The new gantry sides are almost 100mm taller than the old ones and share a similar shape. While the gantry was off the machine was a good time to attach the new Z-Axis which gains a similar amount of Z travel. Final adjustment of where the spindle sits in its holder are still needed but it makes sense for the cutting edge to be fairly high up when the Z-Axis is fully retracted as shown.
After a day of great success early on a day of great problem solving arrived before the attachment was possible. The day of great success involved testing the two new sides to see if or how well they attached to the mount points at the base of the machine. These holes in the gantry were hand marked, drilled, and tapped so there was some good chance that they were off target enough to not work well. But those all went fine.
The second success was mounting the Z-Axis to the existing points on the gantry. I had in the back of my mind the thought that one side (the three holes on the bottom of the mount) to line up and attach fine but the top holes to be out of alignment. Both of these plates, seen in horizontal in the image above, were made by CNC so the holes should be where I intended. Though these plates were both mounted to the Z-Axis and the bottom plate goes right through to the lower steel bracket so the alignment might not have been 100%. I registered both plates to the smooth side of the spindle backing plate so the alignment in that axis should have been ok. To great surprise and joy the top holes also aligned perfectly and the second phase fell into place.
It was only when putting the new sides onto the gantry that interesting things started to happen. I will have a new blog post on that part soon and likely a video of the problems and solutions for that part. One thing I will say now is that it helps to have washers, bolts, and spare skate bearings on hand for this process depending on how you have designed your far side gantry upright.