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Reverse Engineering of 40 year Old Geared Drill Head with Integral Slideway

Mabey Bridge manufactures the world’s most popular range of modular bridging, based on the legendary Bailey Bridge developed during World War II. When natural disasters or conflicts occur anywhere around the world; governments, aid agencies and military forces turn to Mabey Bridge for rapid and easy-to-assemble modular bridging. Mabey Bridge fabricates the modular bridge panels at the company’s state-of-the-art Lydney facility in Gloucestershire.

The machine which drills the critical Link Pin holes that hold the bridge panels together was originally manufactured by AMT Birmingham around 40 years ago. However, no engineering records exist for the machine. In 2011, Mabey Bridge decided it was time to refurbish the heavily worn machining heads. Spindle Services and Odin Engineering were selected to carry out the project, which consisted of 4 distinct phases:

  1. Regrind the ways on all (4) machining heads to recreate slide way integrity
  2. Reverse engineer an existing head during the 4 week phase of the slideway rework
  3. Manufacture a new head which can be used as a spare
  4. Carry out a planned full remanufacture of all (4) heads as a rolling program, using the spare to free up the old heads, (1) at a time

Odin Engineering commenced work in March 2011, using its large capacity (4.0m x 1.5m x 1.5m) Waldrich Coburg Gantry Slideway grinders to rework the slides, manufacturing new gib strips to suit.

While Odin worked on three of the heads, Spindle Services tore down the 4th and reverse engineered the entire head. The head uses a mechanical gearbox which also provides the slow feed for the slide lead screw. All gears had to be identified, and consisted of Spurs, Helicals, Bevels and a Worm-Wheel set.

The biggest challenge was the main casting and for this we turned to 3D Scantech of Coventry.

Using their Digital Laser Scanning equipment, they carried out a full scan of the casting. This data was then converted into an Iges format which we were able to import directly into our 3D modelling software, enabling the reverse engineering to be completed.

We are now completing the spare head manufacture to enable Phase 4 of the project to commence.

The full refurbishment of the old heads will replace the entire gear train in each and every head with new, along with replacement of all wear parts, lead screw nuts, bearings etc., and a final slideway re-grinding from Odin Engineering.

Find out more about our Reverse Engineering capabilities at Spindle Services.

Read more of our case studies:

Read our case studies to showcase what we have done for some of our clients in different sectors to give an insight into what we can do for you.

Spindle Services and our staff have supplied, designed and been involved in many different projects. Whether it be Special Purpose Machines or General Purpose Machinery we will almost certainly have the experience required.

Get In Touch Today

We offer a one-stop spindle refurbishment service for precision machined parts from design and prototyping through to doorstep delivery.

Please call us on +44 (0)24 7663 7771 or email sales@spindleservices.co.uk today to discuss your requirements and to see what we can do for you.

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