Shapeoko 3 – XL Upgrade Part 1 (Long)

I received my XL upgrade for my Shapeoko 3 the other day and started to install it a couple of days ago.

When it originally arrived I was concerned that it wouldn’t work for me, since I had designed my table so that I could upgrade my¬†Shapeoko by swapping out the two Y rails and the XL upgrade is designed to swap out the single X rail, but I decided that I could get away with rotating the machine 90 degrees on the table.

The starting point. Before the tear down.

The starting point. Before the tear down.

The XL kit also came with the new Z axis plate which is stiffer, so I’ll be swapping that in too.

The first step, of course, is to tear it all apart. Oh joy. So I cut off all my carefully wrapped linen string, since I would need to pull some of the extra wire I had left through the looms for the longer X axis, and unbolted the Y rails from the end plates. This let me lift the whole machine off the table.

Machine removed from the end plates.

Machine removed from the end plates.

I unbolted the cable carrier from the left Y rail and pulled the Y rails out. I then set the X rail and Z assembly aside so I could work on the new end plates.

The new end plates had pressed in nuts right where I wanted to put bolts through them to bolt them to my table. On the plus side the holes were already drilled and the correct size. On the minus side, there were inserts in the holes. But a punch and a hammer took care of that issue.

Punching out the inserts.

Punching out the inserts.

The next step was to bolt the old Y rails to the new end plates and see where I wanted to mount it on the table.

Test fitting.

Test fitting.

I decided to put it near the back of the table and that meant I could re-use one of the t-nuts that held the old machine down. But I needed to add three new inserts to hold the new end plates. I measured the hole centers (43-5/16″ in the X and 23″ in the Y if you are interested) and laid out some center marks. I set the assembly down again to make sure the holes lined up – they did – so I drilled them and threaded in the inserts.

Inserts.

Inserts.

Once I got that sorted out I realized that the holes in the new end plates where the rails bolt on were too small to allow for any adjustment, so I had to drill them out. To the drill press!

Drilling out the end plates.

Drilling out the end plates.

After I drilled out the end plates I loosely bolted them to the table with the risers. They need to get bolted first because the bolts end up under the rails.

Then I remembered someone commenting that the ends of their rails were not cut square, so I decided I’d better check that out.

Are they square? Not quite.

Are they square? Not quite.

You can see a little sliver of light there, none of the ends were quite square. Not even the new rail. So I clamped them down and took a file to them. It didn’t take too much filing to make them acceptably square.

Filing the rails square.

Filing the rails square.

After that it was time to move the Z assembly and the end plates to the new X rail. When I made up the wiring harness I left lots of extra wire for machine expansion, so I was able to just pull what I needed through the cable guide.

End plates and Z assembly (and wires.)

End plates and Z assembly (and wires.)

I slid the Z assembly onto the X rail and bolted the end plates on. I pulled enough wire through the cable guide that the Z assembly could travel all the way down the rail. Luckily for me the cable guide is long enough that if I bolt it just past the center of the Y rail it will allow full travel for the Z assembly! (More pictures of that later.)

Y rail assembly.

Y rail assembly.

Here is a picture from the back showing the approximate location for the cable guide.

Back view.

Back view.

That’s all the further I have gotten so far. More updates as I make more progress.