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Views on warco Major Mill

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Jim C12/01/2016 12:03:09
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61 forum posts
4 photos

Looking to purchase a Mill to more or less complete the workshop prior to retirement.!!! The above Mill looks to be a really robust machine tool at a reasonable cost. I appreciate it is belt driven but I think I could live with that? Just wondering if any of you have experience of this machine good or bad?

Many thanks in anticipation.

Mark P.12/01/2016 12:14:11
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603 forum posts
6 photos
Not got any experience of one of these but I do have a Warco WM16 and a Warco VMC,I think that the VMC is a better bet if you have the room and not much more money.
Mark P.
NJH12/01/2016 12:19:50
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2314 forum posts
139 photos

, Hi Jim

I have a Warco round column Mill . It is a sturdy machine and I don't find the belt drive a problem - it is reasonably quiet ! The real snag with the machine is the round column. This means that , unless you can work within the confines of the quill feed, you lose alignment if you need to raise/lower the head. There are workarounds for this but life would be easier if the height of the head could be changed whilst maintaining alignment. (The good thing is that it does make you think before starting to machine!)

Norman

David Clark 112/01/2016 12:22:38
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3357 forum posts
112 photos
10 articles

The VMC would be better if you can afford it. It has dovetails all over rather than the round column of the Warco Major. The latter may be a disappointment when you need to lower or raise the column because of loss of alignment.

Roger Vane12/01/2016 12:45:28
91 forum posts
18 photos

I started off with a Warco MInor (read 'small Major' before upgrading to a VMC.

The VMC is a far superior machine, such that although I still have the Minor it has been relegated to the very occasional drilling duty. As others have said, the round column is a real pain when you have to adjust the height range. When comparing the two, the Major has a larger table, more traverse and a greater distance between spindle nose and table. Depends on how large a table / traverse you need. The downside of the VMC is the smaller spindle nose to table distance, but I overcame that problem by making a 100mm spacing block - machine transformed! It's certainly worth comparing the specs for the two machines.

Advantages of the VMC are the knee (far superior to the round column), the availability of R8 taper (much better that a Morse taper) and three phase versions. (I ordered mine from Warco with a 240v three phase motor as a special, and then fitted an inverter - infinitely variable speed control at the turn of a knob without the need to change belts all the time).

Hope this helps - good luck with your deliberations.

Vic12/01/2016 12:51:26
2255 forum posts
11 photos

I've got a VMC and its proved to be pretty good. The belt drive is no bother at all, I tend to use one of three speeds and it takes only a few seconds to slip the belt to change speed. I chose MT3 so I could use Morse taper bits directly in the quill. I've also made a self ejecting draw bar for it although it's not really needed.

Nigel Bennett12/01/2016 13:27:43
297 forum posts
11 photos

There are similar-sized machines to the Major but with a dovetail column. Warco do one (GH Major) and Chester do their Lux and Super Lux machines. Axminster and Amadeal probably do them as well. This gets round the loss of alignment problem quite well. (Unlike the VMC, they can be bench-mounted and so take up a little less room.)


These are all geared-head machines, so are perhaps a little noisier than belt-driven ones. I don't find my Lux too bad, but some set-ups need ear defenders if the job starts "ringing" - but that would be the same with a belt-driven machine.


Try to have a look at somebody's machine before you buy. Where are you?

Martin Connelly12/01/2016 13:37:09
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853 forum posts
99 photos

I often have ear defenders on when using my belt driven machine, the covers over the belts can ring quite well.

As for the difference between the VMC and the Super Lux styles there is a big difference in the size of the table and the best way to compare them is to see them side by side. If you can, get to a showroom. or somewhere else where you can compare them easily.

Martin

Martin Connelly12/01/2016 13:46:38
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853 forum posts
99 photos

p1080952.jpgp1080951.jpg

The same bracket on two different Chester mills. A VMC style and the Super Lux.

Martin

Jim C12/01/2016 16:52:20
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61 forum posts
4 photos

Hi Chaps,

Many thanks for the numerous replies and the informative comments made. I have particularly noted the one regarding the miss-alignment of the head when moving the Z axis.

I am in the Isle of Man and so need to contact the local model engineering group to see is I can view one in the flesh.

The VMC is looking favorite to date. Thanks Jim.

Martin Cottrell12/01/2016 22:02:54
296 forum posts
18 photos

Hi Jim,

I too was in your position last year, looking to upgrade my trusty Axminster RF25 mill. The RF25 was a round column mill and suffered from the drawback of realignment difficulties if the head position was changed as others have stated which ruled out looking at the Warco Major for me. My choice was eventually narrowed down to the Warco VMC or the Warco GH Universal Milling/Drilling machine. Both machines are pretty much evenly priced but the GH Universal machine has a larger milling table, longer X, Y (& quill) travels and a much larger maximum space between the bottom of the quill & the milling table. The GH machine has a geared head with 6 quickly changed spindle speeds but the icing on the cake for me was the powered downfeed on the quill. A trip up to Surrey to the Warco open day allowed me to view both machines in the flesh and it was soon apparent that the GH machine offered much more capacity in all areas for the same price.

Since buying my GH machine, I have fitted a 2 axis DRO kit and a power feed unit for the x axis and have found the machine a pleasure to use. I should perhaps add the usual disclaimer that I have no link with Warco other than as a very satisfied user of the above mentioned mill and also a geared head lathe purchased about 12 months prior to the mill.

Good luck with your eventual selection! Regards Martin.

Vic13/01/2016 08:53:42
2255 forum posts
11 photos

One of the reasons for my choice was the easy install. Warco's driver Dave just wheeled my VMC just straight into the workshop (garage) and plonked it in place!

Jon Gibbs13/01/2016 09:07:37
738 forum posts

With apologies to the OP because I'm not sure whether it's a hijack to this thread or not, but what are the work-arounds to the round column issues on these mills?

I'm in the process of considering a cheap RF25 and wondering whether I'm going to be buying a pup.

Many thanks

Jon

Clive Foster13/01/2016 10:06:11
1840 forum posts
59 photos

Martins pictures of the tables on the VMC and dovetail column mills are interesting but slightly misleading. Although the dovetail column mill table is substantially larger in the Y-axis direction the spindle axis is not able to cover the whole Y dimension of the table so in practice the actual machining envelope is very similar. Indeed I think that my Lux style machine had a slightly smaller Y axis envelope than the VMC style machine. Something I accepted at the time as there was no way I could accommodate a VMC in my then workshop.

Something easily overlooked with smaller machines are set-up problems due to the head getting in the way. Dovetail column varieties suffer badly in this respect as the head is a large rectangular box which inevitably obscures more of the table than the slimmer VMC or even mill-drill (should really be called drill-mills in my view) head. Of course with a VMC you can rotate the top through 90° for near unobstructed access. On moving up to a Bridgeport I was surprised by how much easier having plenty of room to set up made things. I expected an improvement but the gain was far greater than anticipated. Another point to be wary of on the dovetail column types is the unbalanced weight of the head should you wish to tilt it. Some sort of strap or restraint is pretty much essential. I nearly had major disaster the first time I tilted mine. At 40 odd I was still strong enough and fast enough to hold it up whilst making things safe. Now I'm 61 I almost certainly wouldn't be able to despite being pretty fit. Of course the big dovetail column machines are unparalleled at fitting maximum machining capability into minimum space and have the strength to swing large cutters without chatter and similar problems.

In the ME world milling machine selection is bedevilled by "making the best of things" compromises in price, performance and capabilities. Its rare to be able to afford the ideal machine in both, or even either, financial and space considerations. Realistically a Bridgeport is about where the hard compromises stop. If you can't do it on a Bridgeport you can't lift it onto the table! I always feel it would good if any relatively inexperienced person considering purchasing an expensive mill could spend some quality time driving a Bridgeport to get a feel for how the different compromises inherent to various machine designs will affect their work. It being easy to restrict travels et al to mimic candidate machines. Nothing worse than spending pots of money on something which turns out to have one glaring "fingernails on the blackboard" issue that drives you nuts. Especially when the second choice clearly wouldn't suffer so.

Clive.

NJH13/01/2016 11:04:41
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2314 forum posts
139 photos

Jon

"what are the work-arounds to the round column issues on these mills?"

The first thing to consider is the work that you are likely to use the machine for. My interest is in the smaller end of things so the limitations are not so bad. The quill has a travel of 4 1/2 in. (114mm) so you need to plan your workflow to ensure that all those things that need to be done without moving the head can be achieved ( this includes tool changes). If you do need to move (rotate) the head then, of course, you will need to return it to the same position afterwards.

There are a couple of ideas for this. There was, a while ago, a design published for a location jig ( In M/E ..or maybe "the other mag" ?) . This consisted of a block with two rollers which clamped to the mill column and a hardened tongue which fixed to the head. When setting up the machine the clamp is adjusted to the correct position on the column to engage the tongue and tightened. If it is necessary to move the head it could be raised (and any tool changes etc. made ) and then lowered again with the tongue guiding the head back to the original position. Another possibility would be to fix a laser ( the sort that projects a thin line of light ) and set it to a datum scribed on the wall.

I guess your decision is :- will most of your work be within the " 4 1/2in " quill travel and how cheap is the machine you have seen? From choice I would not now go for a round column machine but nothing else was available when I bought the mill. Whilst it is a bit inconvenient it does what I need and, as others have said, it is a beefy drill!

Norman

Jon Gibbs13/01/2016 11:43:53
738 forum posts

Norman,

Thank you very much for the suggestions. The ideas give me hope that there are work-arounds out there. I'm hoping to pick up the drill/mill pretty cheaply. Your beefy drill comment is well made and this choice of mill was motivated at least in part by the desire to replace my cheapy pillar drill that has been resurrected more times than I care to remember.

I am pretty new to machining and so may have to be prepared to go through at least one upgrade iteration once I've cut my teeth and decided where my priorities lie.

As it happens I've been messing with low power laser indicators and this would be fairly easy to try I think and take advantage of the error multiplication effect over the length/width of the workshop.

Many thanks again

Jon

David Clark 113/01/2016 11:55:04
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3357 forum posts
112 photos
10 articles

There is a workaround for vertical alignment for a round column mill.

What you do is to use a wobbler. Starett or similar top hat version is best. You either need two wobblers, a long one and a short one, or one wobbler and an extension. Just wobble the first set of operations, either the long or short one, do them then change the wobbler for the other one.

This solves the problem of alignment. I used this method when I had a a Dore Westbury round column mill.

I did have long wobbler but it was the only one I have ever seen so you may have to use the extension option.

Martin Connelly13/01/2016 12:54:15
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853 forum posts
99 photos

Vertical alignment of round column machines:

Another work around is to have a variety of tool holding options. For example if you have an R8 spindle and plenty of R8 collets you can put long tools in them, mid length tooling put a 16mm R8 collet in with an ER32 collet holder with a 16mm shank and for short tools put a 16mm collet in the ER32 chuck and put an ER11 chuck with a 16mm shank in that. There may be run out issues if the quality of the various parts is not great but they will all share the same centre of rotation. It is also useful to be able to use ER11 in tight spots where a larger collet or the spindle itself may be too big for access and you are using small drills.

You can loosen the R8 collet and move the ER collet up and down on its parallel shank as well if you plan ahead and set it to a suitable starting position.

Martin

Jon Gibbs13/01/2016 13:54:27
738 forum posts

Many thanks Martin and David - the additional solutions are much appreciated.

I can see that it's something to be avoided if possible but not a show-stopper.

Thanks again

Jon

Chris Evans 613/01/2016 15:04:14
1478 forum posts

Plus 1 with Clive, The Bridgeport for me any day, however budget/space/finding one ? Mine is in good order and cost me £2500 with readout fitted. I do not think many will come up on the IOM though they are over there.

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