Thoughts on a Shizuoka Model AN-S

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Well-Known Member
Sep 26, 2012
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Good day all,
I’ve been working to get my shop set up for what feels like years now and now that I’m getting closer I am giving this mill more thought.
I talked to the seller months ago and have a fair understanding of the shape of the machine. At the time I was just getting started on my shop and didn’t want to work around a 4600lb machine (plus all the crap I have in there now).

The controller on this machine is still functioning so it could be programmed manually with Gcode if one knew how to code g code... it looks to be in pretty good shape.

He said he can’t let it go for less than $2000usd.

From my reading these machines were imported as manuals and a US based company added the servos and controllers. For what the are they waaaaay over built and rock solid.

Transportation is just going to be inconvenient but not a major issue.

Long term I would get away from the controller on it and go to a pc based unit.

This would only be used for hobby work.

Does anyone here have experience with one of these units and willing to share thoughts?

Thank you for reading.

Thank you Jason.

That fella has a lot of projects goin on.

Even at $2000, I would say money would be better spent on one of these vs an x2 or x3 to convert. If a guy has room for it...

I’m trying to get things together to go look at it next weekend.

These machines were built in the factory as high end (at the time) CNC machines but were supplied without any motors or electronics apart from the spindle motor. Technically, mine's an AN-SB which differs slightly from the more common AN-S in having a fixed ram (no horizontal movement of the head) and a fixed 1:1 drive between the motor and spindle. Rather than use the mechanical varispeed arrangement, it originally came with a pukka variable speed 6500rpm Hitachi motor and an ancient Yaskawa VFD. That suits me, as electronic speed control is easy and it is fitted with solenoid control of the high-low ratio.

The bearings and ballscrews are all NSK or similar. I have the ballscrew reports for my machine and the original precision was breathtaking. That was ~35 years ago, so it has lost some of that precision by now. However, my machine had only one previous user who did precision work and looked after it very carefully, using neat cutting oil, so I got a good example (I managed to track him down and got him on the phone). It was stored for 10 years after the guy retired and although it was stored indoors, there was condensation damage to the spindle bearings which are relatively exposed.

I've pretty much rebuilt all the moving parts apart from the table, saddle and knee themselves. It's pretty straightforward stuff including the spindle and luckily the bearings are all standard metric sizes. I made a point of buying decent quality Japanese matched bearings with defined preload etc. That cost me a few hundred coupons in all but you only do it once and it was a lot cheaper than some of the custom bearings you read about.

I was lucky enough to get all the paperwork with mine, back to the original sales receipt (you could have bought a family house for less). That included the manual and parts list, although it turns out the parts list with all its cutaway and exploded views is for the AN-S model. It has still been very helpful, since 90% of the machine is clearly identical.

These base machines were completed by a variety of companies. Mine was done by Matchmaker, here in the UK. It got SEM brushed DC motors, a Parker Hannifin servo system and a Micon CNC controller. I managed to get it jogging at one point but it was such an oddball and limited system that it clearly needed to be ripped out. Bizarrely, even the g codes themselves were unique. I finally ended up with an Acorn controller and DC servo controllers. Most of the US machines seem to have been fitted with stepper motors. It's a fine machine now and is able to do stuff its previous owner would never have imagined, with the advent of modern HSM toolpaths etc.

There's another guy in the US (Matt Wortley) who converted his AN-S to LinuxCNC. I scanned the AN-S parts list and he's added a link to the PDF document if you look carefully. There's also some photos of his journey there. I took loads of photos of my own AN-SB work but only started to create the blog part way through. Consequently, some of the interesting early stuff like replacing the spindle bearings probably isn't on there. I can share that if it's helpful though.

As for value, an original machine is almost worthless as a CNC machine, even if it still works. The capability is minimal by today's standards and if it were to fail (which it could at any second), you'd not be able to repair it at a sensible price, if at all. So the commercial value is either the scrap value of the iron or whatever the market would pay for a 3t conversion / donor. A machine of this size is beyond most hobby users and would be a folly for a commercial outfit, so that market is actually very limited indeed. I paid £1000 for mine, which is more than it's worth, but the middle man had paid several times that and he swallowed a fine loss with good humour. Besides, it was in excellent shape. And of course, the cost of transportation and conversion is going to be more than that. I've probably spent about £3-4k on it in parts but have ended up with a really nice machine. I'm not looking forward to moving house (soon), as this will be quite a beast to shift.

The main downside of these turret-type machines is the limited Z axis movement - for the AN-S and AN-SB, it's 6". So when you set up your work, that 6" has to accommodate not only the maximum movement of all the tools in the toolpath but also the retract / clearance moves AND the range of different tool lengths. At times I've resorted to a spreadsheet to figure out the required height position of the table to allow the controller to agree it's even possible without exceeding the soft limits. The key is also to use stub drills, collet chucks etc to keep the tool length range reasonably small.

Let us know how you get on. If it's not too worn on the slides and ballscrews, it will be a robust, quality machine. You'll see the slides are chromed (on one surface) and have box sections (3 gibs per Y and Z slide). That's a bit of a challenge to set up, particularly when you have motors connected but puts it on a whole different level compared to the Sieg hobby machines.

Best regards - Murray
Thank you very much for your knowledge!!

I did make it down to see the guy Saturday. Ended up almost hanging out chatting for an hour. Everything from cnc, trucks, work, to off roading.

He, like you is using an acorn. After looking at his setup it truly looks like the way to go to me.

As far as the machine itself, it looked to be in great shape. Everything seamed time move nicely. He was was playing with the vfd and goofed the setting so I didn’t get to hear the spindle run.

This guy also has a super max that looks to be in great shape. A bit smaller (still bigger than my J2 Bridgeport) but still pretty clean. My draw to it is that the mill he converted is 40taper and the super is 30taper. This man was given a pile of 30t tool holders and the like. Iirc he said he wanted $3400 for it “but would probably talk about it”.

With 45+ tool holders, a 90deg spindle, and possibly the 4th axis he has, I would say that would be the better deal.

This week i am making a strong push on the shop. Mini split will be here Wednesday and hope to install it this weekend and maybe start painting.

All this is on hold for a while. I know it will take a lot of time and money to get one going but I would say it would be way more useful than a grizzly table top unit. And the money isn’t that big of a deal as of now with just the dog and I.

Thank you all for your input.

If you have any thoughts on the ANS VS the super max please comment.

I don't know anything about the Supermax and presumably they have made various sizes of models over the years. But it sounds as if the one you are looking at is a little bigger than a BP but smaller than the Shiz. If it comes with a load of tooling, that could be useful, as I've found 30 taper tooling costs a fair bit more than 40, as it's much less widely used.

The main differences are going to be the size and weight, plus the rigidity. My BP can't shift anything like as much material as the Shiz before I get into chatter / judder but it can be picked up and moved around with an engine crane. With the Shiz, I can genuinely develop 2+ kW of spindle power at 6000rpm without being held back by chatter. The table on the Shiz is big enough to lay someone out on, so requires more floor space and I will have to remove the motor, the power drawbar and the top of the head to get it out of the roller shutter door. I value the power and rigidity of the bigger machine but it depends what you plan to do and how much space you have.

If the Supermax is still using its original controller, that may require a lot of time and money to replace. From the low price (particularly as it sounds like a more popular / convenient size), I assume it's fairly old too. Sounds as if the Shiz is ready to go. It's your call but personally I'm the kind who would go for the biggest machine I can get away with.
I'm the kind who would go for the biggest machine I can get away with.

I’m in the same bot there. I just got excited about all the tool holders.

Both of these machines have original controls.

I think the an-s is the way to go.
Will do.
Hope to start painting on the shop this weekend so things might be a little closer than I think.