View Full Version : BUILD LOG: Gerber system 48 conversion

14-02-2013, 07:10 PM
Had this for a while now & due to some problems I had like a spindle that had to be returned to seller & drivers that I couldn't figure out I decided that rather than rushing ahead to see if it would work ok I would go back to the start & do the job properly as I originally intended to do.
The machine was bought as spares or repair, previous owner had spent quite a bit trying to fix it & was no further forward than when he started so decided to buy a brand new machine. I was going to have a go at fixing it myself but due to lack of service/technical information I took Jazz's advice & went for replacing the electronics with modern components.
The machine was a bit tatty & covered with a combination of swarf & dried cutting fluid plus the acrylic sacrificial strips had seen better days. I've not got any work for it to do plus I still need to learn how to use the software properly so now I am doing what I should have done to start with & completely stripping it, cleaning & painting it & replacing any parts that need replaced.
Pictures below are as I got it, all the old electronics have already gone but not done a great deal else to it yet.



17-02-2013, 09:11 PM
Lookin forward to hearing how you get on :-)
I finished my system 48 rebuild about a year ago.
Its now a great tool :-)

21-02-2013, 11:08 AM
Question for those with more experience building machines. Been stripping the machine down so I could refurbish the frame which has a lot of dried cutting fluid/swarf stuck to it which I will clean off & probably then repaint the frame.
The frame is a steel construction & very heavy & the gantry seems to be very solid as well but the x & Y axis run on what I am guessing is 1/2" linear rail, not measured it but it's an old American build machine which is why I say 1/2" rather than 12mm. The Z axis runs on smaller unsupported rails. The rails & bearing blocks all seem to be in good condition still despite the machines age.
Question really is what sort of advantage would there be in replacing these with a larger size rail, profile rail is out of my price range so not an option & from what I can see at the moment it wouldn't be to easy to change the rails although obviously not impossible.
The Z axis I know I will need to do something about & looking at ways to build a new Z axis at the moment.

21-02-2013, 06:06 PM
Yep they are indeed 1/2". I just cleaned mine and ultrasoniced the linear bearings all re assembled. I have a contact for a "nice man" in the states that can still supply the slides if you need new ones :-)

21-02-2013, 06:35 PM
Stu, thanks for the reply, they are actually in very good condition but because of the size I would like to know what sort of improvement upgrading them to a larger size rail would make & if it would really be worth it considering that there will be quite a bit of work involved changing them.

22-02-2013, 09:54 PM
Martin, those machines had quite a good reputation in the sign-making world. Unless you want to cut metals I would feel inclined to stick to cleaning, painting and just replace any mechanical parts that need it. If it aint broke don't fix it!! G

22-02-2013, 11:24 PM
Geoffrey, your quite right they did have a good reputation but they are 30 years old & a lot of things have changed over time. It was broke lol so in the course of fixing/converting it I thought it would be a good idea to look at all the options available, the costs & benefits of making changes could then be looked at. I already know I am going to have to do something with the z axis as it runs on unsupported rails that look to be less than 1/2" plus it is driven by a trapezoidal screw rather than a ballscrew. X & Y axis are belt driven & I don't see me changing that because of the work involved. As I'm still not sure what I will be doing with it once it is completed I would like to try & keep the costs down but if I have to spend some more on it then I'm prepared to do that.

23-02-2013, 01:17 PM
Martin,I know much has changed over time and that you have already replaced the electrics which will make the machine much better (modern steppers would also improve performance). The Z axis would certainly be improved with a ballscrew, although many machines run quite successfully on trapezoidal leadscrews. The Z axis travel is very short, so I do not know if the "skinny" unsupported rails are likely to cause you a problem, depending of course on what you are cutting.
Out of interest, did Stu alter the Z? or is it still as original. I knew someone who was running one of these machines 20 years ago, and he is still full of praise about how good it was.
Anyway, good luck with whatever you do and I look forward to hearing you are soon up and running. G.

16-08-2013, 12:11 PM

I've made the permanent trek down to Melbourne and have just noticed the following item on eBay:

Gerber System 48 CNC Router in Melbourne, VIC | eBay (http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Gerber-System-48-CNC-Router-/200953414442?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_15&hash=item2ec9c1c32a)

It's close-ish to my final resting place so I will pay a visit to inspect it before placing any bids.

I was planning on doing my own build from scratch as per http://www.mycncuk.com/forums/router-build-logs/4751-diy-build-aluminium-cnc-wood-router-without-workshop-tools-6.html#post37710 but am now wondering whether I could garner enough worthwhile parts from this eBay item as a starting point?

Any thoughts on it's likely value please?


16-08-2013, 01:43 PM
I would guess about 600 to 800 uk pounds if its ok. I paid about 1400 for my one (its got a bed double the depth) but have put new motors and re leveled it. Its probably most useful for its bed its all seriously over engineered and super strong. I think that's the original spindle, they are very noisy! I would just upgrade motors and spindle if the bed is big enough the rest was built to last forever. Hope thats some help


16-08-2013, 02:41 PM
If it's close enough then I would say definitely worth a visit, as Stuart says the frame is a serious bit of kit so think about that for lifting & transporting. From the description the guy has already replaced the original electronics but check the motors as the original motors if still fitted may need replacing, the magnets on the slo syn motors deteriorate with time.
Forget the starting point, if the machine is still in good condition then it will work fine as is, although you may want to consider changing the spindle. The porter cables are very noisy as Stuart has said. Mine now has a 2.2Kw water cooled spindle & VFD.
Price is always a difficult one, have a look at it first but also work out what it would cost you to buy the same components & that's without all the time required to actually build a machine.

16-08-2013, 07:40 PM
Hi Andy, good luck with your move down under, I hope it suits you well. I don't understand the comment about bed size being 12200x800. I have always understood that the system 48 (then name changed to AR 400) had a working area of 48"x48". Lots has been said by owners Martin and Stuboy on this thread, but I have seen the odd machine on ebay and they seem to make anything between 400-1500, but at the lower end they would almost certainly require the electronics replacing. If this is up and running, why strip it for parts, unless of course you want to cut ally!!
Anyway, good luck with whatever you do. G.

16-08-2013, 09:44 PM
Not so Geoffrey, there were 2 models one with a shortish bed & one with a longer bed. One I have is the shorter bed model, Think the maximum length for machining is just over 700mm but width is 1270mm
You can actually fit a 5' wide sheet on the bed but would obviously need to support the overhang on the length.
No problem cutting aluminium Geoffrey, cut a few bits on mine already, Gerber produced these for the signmaking market where they would be expected to cut foams, plastics & composites but the machines were hugely over engineered for their intended use.

Yes good luck with what ever you decide Andy.

16-08-2013, 11:18 PM
Thanks Martin. I have only encountered the larger model then. Glad to here that you have been cutting ally, but I suspect that you have been using sensilble DOC's. As you say, for their intended use they were well over engineered, which is why quite a few are still giving stirling service. G.

25-08-2013, 11:29 AM
The Gerber-48 was within about 40km which in Aussie terms is very close, but unfortunately when I went back to eBay it had gone, so guess somebody did a Buy-It-Now. Oh well, if you snooze, you lose!
Thanks All for your helpful responses though!
Cheers, Andy