The concept of the EZ-TRAM developed over many years. It began long ago when I was an apprentice in a job shop. One day I was performing a slotting operation on a short run mill part (20-30 pieces, I don't remember exactly) when I broke the endmill I was using. I was in a hurry and didn't want to take the time to check the head to see if it had moved, besides it was a small endmill and the head shouldn't have moved. So I replaced the tool, finished the job and sent my parts off to inspection.
The next morning I got the bad news. About half of the parts were out of tolerance and unsalvageable (scrap), the head had indeed moved. Needless to say, I learned my lesson.
Over the years as I gained experience and worked on more complex and close tolerance jobs, I found that I was spending a lot of time checking the squareness of the mill spindle to the table, or resquaring the head after moving it for angle work and the occasional broken endmill.
I tried all the tricks of the trade:
• Dialing in on the bed of the vise. This can be fast if you don't have a job set up in the vise, but it is far from accurate and hard on the indicator.
• Using 1-2-3 blocks on either side of the vise. This worked okay on the x-axis only, but I had to be cautious to keep from bumping the indicator.
• Moving off to the side of the vise and tramming in the head on the table. Fast but not accurate due to the sag in the knee and saddle. Again, interrupted contact with the indicator tip.
• Removing the vise and/or work set-up and indicating on the mill table directly over the work area. This is very slow and rough on the indicator.
• Removing the vise and work, using a precision ground ring sitting directly on the mill table in the work area. This provides a nice smooth surface which is gentle on your indicator but it is also a slow process and may not always be accurate.
One day it struck me that if there was a way to put an extremely flat ring above the vise and parallel to the mill table, life would get better. So in my spare time I set out to fabricate a tool that would have these features. After about three weeks I had something that was accurate and functional and began using it. Then everybody in the shop started using it! It worked better than I had expected. One day someone said to me "Dan, you ought to start making these things, people could use them". Well, that was all I needed to hear and, as they say the rest is history.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. Do you have a story to tell? An idea for a tool that could make your job easier? If you do, I hope you take the time to explore the possibilities to make your dream a reality. I wish you success.
Daniel R. Kenner