Putting Old CNC Machinery into Service

If it's running, that 1986 machine can be put to work, with or without updated controls. July 21, 2006

We have in our shop an old Thermwood 1986 5X10 CNC that was here when we bought our building in 2004. Someone who worked here for the previous business and ran this machine said that it had been in use up until they went bankrupt in 2001.
We have a Busselato and don't necessarily need this machine, but are contemplating getting it updated and running it again. Has anyone done this before? I had some people look at it who said that it was in good shape, but that it would be so expensive to update. I have also heard that new controls can be retrofitted reasonably. Basically just trying to see if this machine could be upfitted or if it is just a big boat anchor.

Forum Responses
(CNC Forum)
From contributor T:
Depending on what you want to do, I would see if you can program this older control with some form of CAM software. The older Thermwoods supported a format called Osborne and they have some software to run it or convert to this format. If you can get the machine to cut parts, what other updating might you need?

From contributor B:
Thermwood retros older machines for customers on a regular basis. They have a department that does just that. Your best bet might be to start by contacting the Upgrade Services Manager at Thermwood. They could go over your options. Then, even if you decide to go another route, such as: have another company retro your machine, leave it as is or try and sell it... you'll know where you stand.

From contributor J:
Both of these guys have given you good advise. But... that old iron will cut just as it is. Thermwood sold us a translator to convert m and g code to Osborne and we use our 1986 5 x 10 to cut 2 axis MDF parts to support our other two 5 axis routers. The downside is that you are limited to a 5.25 floppy disc.