MAG proved it knows how to use machine tools, as well as build them, by developing a process that used a horizontal boring mill (HBM) and specially designed tools to cut 588 teeth in a 19-meter (62.5 ft) diameter gear assembly weighing 60 tons (54,836 kg). The two-piece gear assembly, made of ASTM A290 steel, consists of a 24-section track, which serves as the base, and a 12-section upper gear rack. The MAG team designed dedicated fixtures for each operation and special tooling for cutting and finishing the gear teeth on an HBM.
"We cut the gear teeth on an unconventional machine," said Mark Huhn, project manager at MAG Fond du Lac. "In most cases the tooth involute would be generated by the machine itself, but we used a tool with the involute built into the cutter, which was accomplished by grinding the tooth form into the cutter first."
The gear teeth were manufactured to American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA) Gear Quality No. 6, and the gear was assembled to a pitch diameter concentricity of .8 mm (.031 in). The track, comprised of A148M Grade 620-415 castings, required a special cutter to produce a 2.127 degree surface angle. "The angle was circular interpolated onto the track surface and we designed a special cutter to cut the angle on one of our gantry-type machining centers," Huhn said.