Okay folks, let’s talk about modern products. Unfortunately, nowadays, I feel that both the well branded and low-end products are awful. To avoid frustration with the poorly designed products, I have adopted the mentality that the customer is the final step in the production line. A customer has to find the shortcomings in the “almost-finished products” and fix them. Otherwise, the customer has to struggle with the awful quality, or soon throw the broken product into the garbage bin. With many cases, I feel the products are badly designed in purpose. They last only for so long that the customers are hooked into the features the products offer. But once the products fail, customers are forced to buy new. The money might temporarily go to the competitors, but if the whole industries are flooded with these problematic products, then the markets become more dynamic. Cash is frequently spent for various reasons, and the customers are adapted to accept the hassle. The likelihood increases that a product is being bought and more regularly. Decreasing the production costs is not an explanation in all cases. I have seen extra efforts done with weak designs instead of using rough, but more straightforward and robust parts that would more logically suit for the low-end products. This is unacceptable and unecological.
Today I show you how I enhanced my low-end drill press with a couple of tricks. I simultaneously fixed a problem and added a feature. The problem was the huge play in the wrong-type factory bearings and the play between the quill housing and quill itself. The new feature is the added tolerancy to various load types. More detail below. Taking into account the above reasoning, I don’t want to disclose the brand and model of the drill press specifically. As said, these problems cover whole industries, why I don’t want to point and blame a specific manufacturer. The principles described here are more important, and I believe they can be applied on various brands and models. And once again, if you decide to follow these principles and fix your drill press, I don’t take any responsibility for your acts and the outcome. I cannot guarantee the proper and safe functionality of the drill press after these modifications. That out of the way, let’s start!
THE FIRST SOLUTION! The factory-assembled spindle bearings were standard single-row ball bearings. Everybody familiar with the bearings knows that these standard bearings are not suitable for axial loads, they are designed to tolerate moderate radial loads. No wonder the bearings had a lot of play after a while of usage. I bought two double-row angular-contact bearings to handle all kinds of loads, axial, radial, and momentum load. The increased tolerance against axial loads is crucial for the default usage of the drill press – drilling. But I also tend to use my drill press for other purposes. Sometimes I insert a brush in the chuck and feed the part I want to clean from the side. This causes both radial and momentum loads. Now with the better bearings, I’m also considering to try careful milling. But I don’t have any experience of milling yet, and I don’t even own a proper chuck for the job. So take these milling considerations with caution! The bearings I used were 3201 2RS, NACHI (upper) and 5204 2RS, KOYO (lower). Notice that they are taller than the single-row factory bearings, why I needed to verify they fit into the device without problems! More details below.
THE SECOND SOLUTION! The better bearings do not solve the play between the quill housing and the quill. To fix that issue, I found this handy tutorial on how to tighten the quill housing to get rid of the play. Many thanks for the Steve Vine who invented this clever solution! I will extend the approach a little to cover quill housings through which threaded rods cannot be inserted without collision with the quill. I made external S-pieces that can be used to pull the sides of the quill housing closer together by tightening an external bolt.
In the following series of photos, I show roughly the steps I did. Enjoy!