View Full Version : Help! Boxford 125 TCL CNC lathe

20-11-2012, 11:35 AM
Hi folks, new to all this.

Firstly, I am an Engineering teacher in a school in Cork, Ireland. I have only recently began working in the school and I am currently sorting, tidying and just trying to improve what equipment is here.

My problem is with a Boxford 125 TCL CNC lathe. It is currently not working; It is not plugged in, not connected to a computer, nothing - it is simply gathering dust. The previous teacher has retired and anyone here in the department cannot remember it working for at least 10 years, possibly longer (your guess is as good as mine....)

I have searched everywhere in the room for documentation on it and I haven't found anything. I understand that I will have to spend money on it, but I'm not sure what sort of a budget will be available to me.

To be honest, I haven't a clue where to start or what to do with it, but I want to sort it out.

Any advice is greatly appreciated guys.


20-11-2012, 12:48 PM
Hi 'sir' (pun on teacher)

Ok, I am new to this, but have read a lot in the past few weeks and I do not doubt I will be corrected if I am wrong. But I believe the most simple thing you can do is 'convert' it. Think im right in thinking the native Boxford equiptment used BBC micro's. which im sure you will agree are long since any use to man or beast.

Most of the home made CNC routers / millers etc you see on here and on youtube, are done with components that make up the automation side of the cnc, essentially you buy some stepper motors mount them to the machine. you then buy a controller for each stepper, and a suitable power supply. you then connect these 'controllers' to a break-out board and the break-out board is compatable with most of the reasonably cheap CAD/CAM software available in the modern internet age. Mach3 is a common tool used to control the machine and will take DXF files staight from autocad etc.

perhaps something like this

a mach3 licence.

and some tinkering to connect the steppers to the axis drivescrews and jobs a good-un. Have a look on you-tube there are loads of videos of boxford conversions.

so in answer to your question sub 500 (or whatever that is in euros). Good project for the kids!!

here some related links from a quick google

boxford 125 tlc | Model Engineer (http://www.model-engineer.co.uk/forums/postings.asp?th=49343)

remember, dont take anything ive said as gospel. do some research and keep us posted with your plans.


20-11-2012, 01:52 PM
So do you get anything at all if you do try plugging it in? There are a few posts on here about the machines if you try a search but most of them will relate to converting them to run with more up to date electronics, something that your budget might not stretch to.
Some of the other forums have info on the machines so worth trying them as well.

Best of luck with it, shame to see it just sit there gathering dust.

20-11-2012, 03:21 PM
This guy might have manuals etc as hes selling one on ebay Link (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Boxford-125-TCL-Training-Computer-Lathe-/350591264827?pt=UK_Home_Garden_PowerTools_SM&hash=item51a0de283b) you could try to contact him and ask if he has the manuals and if he could photo copy them for you? :smug:

Boxford 125 TCL Training Computer lathe

The 125 is a bench top slant bed CNC training lathe. It is the ideal machine for introducing CNC to students or for use in workshops

Compact and portable it cuts steel

This Machine can be operated in manual mode without the computer.

Lathe Specifications and capabilties:

Swing over bed (single point tooling) dia 160mm x 125mm
Swing over X Axis slide dia 70mm x 125mm
Swing over gang tooling sub plate dia 50mm x 125mm
Programmable spindle speeds 40 to 3000rpm
Main drive moter 0.44kW
Programmable feed rates 1 to 300mm/min (04 to 12''/min.)
Rapid traverse rate (100%) 350mm
Programmable thread pitches (inch and metric)
Tailstock - swinging body arrangement to clear multiple tooling set ups, in simulated chucking cycles
Axis drive system - pre-loaded ball screws and stepping motors in both X and Z Axis.
Lubrication - permanent grease on spindle and ball screws - oil lubricators on slides

20-11-2012, 04:39 PM
ok, this is an ideal lathe to convert to Mach3, which is a pc based controller.

Inside the Boxford 125 you'll have 2 stepper drives, a spindle drive, a power supply, and a motherboard.
It may look a bit more complicated than that, but that's basically what you have.
What you need to get to allow a computer with Mach3 installed on it to operate the Lathe is:

1. A breakout board - to interface the computer to the lathe
2. A 0-10v isolated spindle drive board - to interface the breakout board to the spindle drive
3. You may need some form of level shifter to allow the breakout board (5v logic) to control the stepper drivers (12v logic)

That's about it, you ditch the old boxford controller and wire in the items above.

Oh yes i nearly forgot, a lot of patience.

21-11-2012, 04:11 PM
When the machine is plugged in, I have power but no control manually-cannot run the spindle, cannot use the jog keys to move the axes etc.....a few lights are coming on alright. I have since found out that the machine was bought in 1986/1987 and ran on the old 5inch floppys. Computer has long since been thrown out, and all documents and floppys too!

Thanks for the advice guys I'll go with this much and see first! Much appreciated! :)

21-11-2012, 04:25 PM
check the estop is not in, i think the older 125s may not run manually without the original computer connected. Check if the steppers are being energised, they should clunk when the machine is turned on and be hard to turn by hand.