Saturday, October 10, 2009

Telescopic Way Cover for X3 Mill

Owners of these small mills will know that the Y axis is the most vulnerable to metal swarf and contaminants as the ways can become exposed while machining.  The X axis is never exposed directly, and the Z axis is vertical which provides some protection as the chips just fall off.  Given I have CNC converted my X3 mill, and have added flood coolant and ball screws, it is even more critical for me that the Y axis be protected.

Several months ago I noticed the CNC version of the X3 Mill from Sieg had been released.  Harbor Freight sells it under the name KX3 (HF P/N 66051).  In the pictures I saw of it elsewhere on the web, I noticed several very nice features.  One in particular that interested me was the telescoping metal Y axis way cover.  I went out on a limb a bit as I was unsure if the part would fit my X3, but I was betting that Sieg used the same castings for the table and column - the two parts the way cover had to mount onto.

After a few unsuccessful attempts to get a price or availability info from Little Machine Shop (retailer of parts for Chinese mills), I contacted Harbor Freight's tech support division and requested information on the way cover using the parts diagram in the back of the manual for the KX3 (available from Harbor Freight's web site).  I was pleased that they were able to get me a quote in just a couple days so I ordered it up.

It took several months for it to arrive, but it was shipped from China.  Also, since these mills were new at the time, I expected a delay in the supply chain for spare parts.

Upon arrival I test fitted it and, to my delight, it fit perfectly!  It is now mounted on the mill and works perfectly.  To mount it I only had to drill and tap a total of four holes.  Some small 10-24 cap screws were perfect for the job.

Update 3/23/2010: I had someone inquire about this and I found that Harbor Freight apparently no longer lists the KX3 on their web site. If you want to order a way cover for your own X3, when contacting Harbor Freight's tech division (, the two key pieces of information I used to order mine was:
  • The part number for the KX3 mill: 66051
  • The item number from the parts diagram for the way cover: 177
Just remember, your results may vary and I make no guarantees on fitment on your setup.  Best of luck to you!