This week I got to train two people on a Haas VF3, and what a delight it was. This machine was old I mean 1996 but still a great functional machine tool.
I like to see myself in a similar way, really old but still functioning, well at least as I write.
It took me back to when I first set up my business of training people on CNC machines. My first two victims were at Armitage Shanks in good old Wolverhampton.
1996 was the year I started out on my own CNC Training and these were the first machines I trained on. I did so many I got pissed off with the sound of my own voice (which I rarely do).
Because all the machines were the same I was saying the same things and quoting the same tired old anecdotes day after day.
Fortunately, I went on to train on all the well-known CNC machines like Mazak, Mori Seiki, Matsuura, Bridgeport to name a few. Quite a lot of the not so well-known ones like Maho, seen below.
The machine above has a Phillips control and they were the absolute dogs’ bollocks. It even had rigid tapping. You could hit feed-hold while it was tapping and you got the option to reverse the tap out! Training people on these was an absolute delight.
Don’t forget we’re talking mid 80s here.
Shut up David this sounds like a big plug for the CNC Training Centre, or maybe it is.
CNC Training Centre (Home of the CNC Program)
There is pub by us and on the sign, it says “The Home of the Roast”.
You have to queue up to get your food and a young lad carves the meat in front of you. If he don’t like the look of you, which obviously with me he didn’t, you get two or three slices of turkey, so wafer thin, you can see the pattern on the fuckin plate underneath.
Now I don’t want to knock the people of Nuneaton, being as most of my family live there, but honestly there are some greedy bastards about.
After you get your meat and a few accoutrements you follow a long line of people adding cabbage and peas and all sorts of vegetables and potatoes to their plates. This bloke in front of me was scooping so much on to his plate it was flowing over. It was like a fuckin bowler hat as my late father would say, sans expletive.
In those days you didn’t swear in front of ladies, unless of course it was their turn.
I was just thinking “did you like not eat for a fuckin week?” You can imagine his kids at school saying to the teacher “oh, we’re not eating at our house this week miss”. The teacher then asks if this is some precursor to a religious festival or some such thing.
“Oh no miss, we’re booked in at the carvery for Sunday lunch” she gives them a knowing nod.
Anyway, I looked at this blokes plate with utter middle class disgust and vowed never to go there again.
My mate was about three people in front of this bloke and to my amazement my mate’s plate was so full of food, it made his look like he’d paid for the children’s menu.
Always a pragmatic man. He later explained to me that there is a special technique involved in the way you arrange the potatoes and vegetables. This vastly increases the capacity of the plate. There was enough to feed a family of four as well as some left to keep the dog in scraps for a week.
Must admit I was quietly proud of him, forever the entrepreneur. This was not greed or avarice it was an engineering structure at it’s finest. Not steel, carbon fibre or concrete no no. Mashed potatoes, vichy carrots, petit pois, roast potatoes in diesel oil, and all bonded with congealed Bisto Vegetarian Gravy.
CNC Training Centre (Home of the CNC Program)…… yes it has a ring to it
Haas Machine Features
The good shit that’s on these old Haas machines never ceases to amaze me and I must admit I’d forgotten some of it.
Had to have a quick peek at the manual when no one was looking.
Authors Note 1
If an applications engineer ever says “I just need to check a few parameters” Believe me it’s bullshit it really means “just leave me a minute or two I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing”
How I ever got 13 five-star ratings on google I’ll never know, oh and they are all genuine. Ask my brother he wrote every one.
Yes I know the unit looks a shithole from outside but it’s really nice inside and you get to be trained by me on the most awesome simulators around today.
Haas VF3 Press The F4 Key
When you are running a program you can actually edit that program. The one that’s running that is. Once you hit reset, after your program finishes running, it gets updated.
What you do is you type in a program number like O0001 then press F4 and your program is displayed. This can be the program you are running or some other one.
Oh and when you’re done just press F4 and it reverts back to your running program.
People used to literally shit themselves when I told them this thinking it was dangerous. Get a grip it’s not fuckin dangerous it’s useful.
Once you realise just how useful this is you’ll love it. Please, come on, trust me on this one.
Spelling and Grammar Police
What the fuck is all this with the word literally. I mean I am literally so sick of people just literally saying literally all the fuckin time. I mean it just literally pisses me off. Please use the word literal in its literal sense only.
Back To Background Edit Haas VF3
Anyway I think it’s really useful to be able to edit the actual running program while it’s running. You get to a line and you think “bollocks, I meant to alter that feed on tool two” . You now have to remember to alter it when the program stops and you probably won’t.
Everybody seems to have mental health issues these days (even celebrities) and these things don’t help. Get yourself an old Haas VF3 to replace alcohol and valium.
If you are a celebrity reading this please ignore and just buy yourself another Ferrari should make you feel way better.
Armitage Shanks En-Suite Bathrooms and the Haas VF3
Armitage Shanks used to make toilets and bath taps and all things plumbing and khazi related.
The Haas VF3 I worked on was for making taps for bidets. A bidet is a clever little sink strategically placed in your bathroom for washing your arse.
They are also good for soaking dirty dishes overnight which we often use ours for. Ha ha got you there, obviously we rinse it out first.
Just to add. These are usually very low down for ease of use. Otherwise it would be a bit like trying to photocopy your bollocks to send to the boss as a leaving present.
I remember my mum coming home from work and talking about the bosses new house that had an “EN-Suite Bathroom”. I remember thinking when I grow up I want one of these in my house.
Eventually I plucked up courage to ask my dad what an “en-suite bathroom” was. Please remember that you could be thrashed to within an inch of your life in those days for asking questions.
I remember an older boy at school saying he needed to “scratch his knackers” and stupidly asking my father what it meant. The resulting punishment certainly kept me from ever scratching my knackers in public as friends will now testify.
“En-suite” my dad said “it’s when you have a shithouse in the bedroom”. Seemed really strange and I thought of the smell. It sort of made me glad we weren’t rich.
We Really Need to Talk About the Haas VF3
At the risk of repeating my self which at my age you do all the time. The program restart on these old Haas machines if nothing short of shit hot bollock-naked brilliant. You can pick up any line in a program and hit cycle start. The machine has a short memory lapse, a slight stammer then it’s off on it’s merry way. It starts the spindle, turns on the coolant, everything a boy could want.
To my surprise these guys had it turned on. Setting 36
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before but the Haas engineers used to switch this off for some reason. I still go to loads of customers who have this switched off.
I’m sure these guys drive with the windows open on a hot day and don’t realise they have air conditioning in their cars.
I did work out exactly why they switch it off. That’s because on a Fanuc control you have to restart on a tool change line like this.
Now what the Haas will do if restart is on is as follows:
It picks up the previous tool and then changes to the tool you want. Now obviously this pissed them off and confused them in equal measures.
Please don’t fret, it’s easy…… pick up the line after.
What the control is doing does make sense because you are telling it to start at this line. In other words it’s ready to do this line.
This control can also edit two program at once so you can split the screen and switch between the two program, gabbing bits from one and adding it to the other.
What No End of Block?
Another thing if you are in MDI and you key in some code with no end of block it still works. No alarm when you press cycle start.
Fanuc punishment above.
When Haas were designing this machine they obviously took a real good look at the competition. They must have had a field day because there were and are so many stupid, simple things about other controls. At the time it must have been easy to improve on loads of stuff which they subsequently did.
OMG My Machine Stopped Moving
For example when you move a CNC to the end of it’s stroke you get an alarm?
There must be some cleaver bastard out there who can tell me why this is so.
It’s like you just farted in front of the queen or released a tiger in a crowded shopping centre.
Why the blue arsed monkey fuck do you have to have a sodding alarm? Oh and as if you wern’t already as angry as a bag of fuckin bees you have to move the table back in and press reset.
Guess what happens on a Haas??? Answers on a postcard.
Yes, it stops, nothing else, no world war three warning, no sprinkler system activated, no dash for a defibrillator. No nothing it just stops.
How cleaver is that?
Impress Your Mates With This One
No not at the pub when you’ve just finished your 14th pint of lager.
In MDI key in G G54 X Y then press input
Amazing you get G00 G54 X0 Y0
It’s always difficult with anything old, do you replace or keep on repairing it. Bit like my old Volvo V70 I just love it. Last one I had I got it up to 300,000 miles and it needed a gearbox. Fortunately the guy who bought it had the skill to swap the gearbox himself so to my knowledge it’s still going.
My current one is on about 122,000 miles and still going strong.
In these days of climate change we definitely should be repairing things and extending their life. I know my wife has been seriously thinking of swapping me in for a much younger model.
(That’s me by the way, not the younger model)
With Haas machines there are plenty of people out there repairing them contact this guy if you need yours fixing ex Haas and absolute wizard
Don’t forget to mention me (I want a fat commission)
To be totally honest and I’m as honest as the any government minister. I don’t think CNC controls have improved that much over the years. You must have heard me banging on about these old beasts (click picture to read article)
Yes new machines are more accurate and faster but they are not cheap. Do your research before you buy a secondhand machine and see what support is around. Maybe you can fix it yourself which is even better.
You can usually get the word on the street with regards to what is likely to fuck up when it gets old.
Check for things like how you will get programs in and out of the machine. The old Haas machines still have floppy discs.
Yes you may laugh but you can get a remote floppy for your PC and this will still work really well. Much better than pissing about with RS232 shit.
If the machine has a Fanuc control checkout what options it has. There are loads of variations. Macro for example is a really useful option. To check if a control has macro in MDI key in #1=2. and press cycle start. You will get an alarm if it does not have macro.
This old VF3 has macro too. I think it was standard on all Haas machines for years till the mean bastards made it an option.
As I have often said don’t get too excited about Macro till you know you have it.
So all in all a great old beast if you can put up with the orange and grey screen you can make a lot of part on these old dinosaurs.
Coolant Nozzles (don’t forget the coolant nozzles)
Can’t believe I forgot to mention the programmable coolant nozzles. Absolutely amazing. Still not on other machines (correct me if I’m wrong).
The coolant pipe is motorised so you can change it’s position.
Each nozzle position is a number in the tool offset file. Move nozzle to the position you want and record it.
Oh yea, and you can even alter it in program.
Many thanks Rob for mentioning it on Linkedin (programmable coolant nozzles).
To sum up, I can’t really remember what my point was in this article. Really sorry you won’t be able to get back the ten minutes of your life you just spent reading it.