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Chester 836 Milling Machine

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Colin Heseltine21/03/2019 18:26:45
327 forum posts
77 photos

Does anyone on this forum have one of the above machines and what are your thoughts on it?



fishy-steve21/03/2019 19:14:46
117 forum posts
30 photos

Hi Colin,

I use one in work. I'd say it's a bit light for Industrial use but a good machine for hobby use. It has had light use in the 5 years that we've had it from new. The one shot lube pump broke pretty early on.

If you need more info just shout.


Graham Williams 1225/07/2019 22:07:31
41 forum posts

Hi Steve,

I am new to this forum, arrived here after searching for suitable machines to set up a workshop. I would be very interested in any information you can give me on this machine (as interested in this and the identical Warco 4VS). I am setting up a workshop for making Air Rifle prototypes to give you an idea of the size of parts I would be milling. I think my workshop will be just large enough....had enough of trying to work out which smaller Chinese mill to buy so now erring towards a second hand Bridgeport size machine.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.


Graham Williams 1226/07/2019 07:29:13
41 forum posts


please disregard my first post as thinking of wrong machine....brain completely frazzled after days of searching and checking specs of machines - this machine is equivalent to Warco WM20 not 4VS and size wise seems to fit between the bench mills and Bridgeport size machines.

I have been to see the Warco WM20 and basically liked the bottom half with a pretty decent table etc. but not happy with the spread of speeds - 100 to 1000 rpm and 1000 to 3000 rpm. The high and low range was achieved with a belt change, which meant removing a cover, slackening the motor mounts and I guess lots of other jiggery pockery! I was told I would keep it in the low range all the time anyway! Doesn't seem a very good idea if constantly changing between a large end mill one minute and drilling very small holes the next. This would be far more useful if more like the Bridge port type machines where you have a more useful range from say 400 to 3000 rpm high range and just dropping into low range when required - which is a flick of a lever.

I am assuming the Chester offering is the same in this respect so could really do with your input on this Steve.

This was a deal killer for me... a compromise too far! If anyone has a different perspective on this I would like to hear it and is there a way round this with motor change or something? because otherwise this is a nice useful size machine.


Graham Williams 1226/07/2019 07:41:00
41 forum posts


would just like to add a warning to anyone considering the Warco WM20...the machine you would get is not what is pictured in the catalogue and on the website - I think someone has been creative with photoshop!!

The picture shows basically a Bridgeport esque head (without the Vario speed dial) and the small lever on the side for instantly changing from high too low! Also the cover and levers and a really horrible bodge at the top of the spindle are not shown. Unfortunately what is pictured is exactly what this machine needs to be!! There is nothing in the spec that would alert you to this! If you look at the 836 on the Chester web site this is pictured correctly (although the area around the top of the spindle seems better finished!)

And by the way, the cover you have to remove involves removing four screws and I think loosening 3 motor mounting bolts if it was explained to me correctly. Definitely not something you would do on a regular basis!

I could live with a hinged cover and toggle clamp.....


Edited By Graham Williams 12 on 26/07/2019 07:51:49

Edited By Graham Williams 12 on 26/07/2019 07:59:09

SillyOldDuffer26/07/2019 09:34:19
4723 forum posts
1010 photos

Posted by Graham Williams 12 on 26/07/2019 07:29:13:

...but not happy with the spread of speeds - 100 to 1000 rpm and 1000 to 3000 rpm. The high and low range was achieved with a belt change, which meant removing a cover, slackening the motor mounts and I guess lots of other jiggery pockery! I was told I would keep it in the low range all the time anyway! Doesn't seem a very good idea if constantly changing between a large end mill one minute and drilling very small holes the next. This would be far more useful if more like the Bridge port type machines where you have a more useful range from say 400 to 3000 rpm high range and just dropping into low range when required - which is a flick of a lever.


This was a deal killer for me... a compromise too far! If anyone has a different perspective on this I would like to hear it...


Hi Graham,

Belt changing is one of the compromises made to keep costs down and quite typical. Not everyone needs to change speed quickly, and those who do have to be prepared to cough up for the extra convenience. Likewise, many lathes come with a set of manual change gears for screw-cutting rather than a nice gearbox, but the extra convenience costs, especially if a wide-range of threads are needed!

In practice, I try to plan work to suit the limitations of my workshop. Reorganising the order of operations to minimise tool and belt changes is often possible, as is redesigning the object to simplify production.

Most hobbyists work within a budget, and our time is free. A few extra belt-changes don't matter. Commercial production is a different game; they aim to make a profit and because manpower is so expensive, it's often cheaper to buy tools for streamlined production, borrowing the money if necessary.

Many modern mills come with electronic speed control, or can be retrofitted with it. Might well be 'good enough'.


lfoggy26/07/2019 19:25:37
81 forum posts
8 photos

I bought a Chester 830VS last year and I'm sure it would be more than adequate for what you describe as well as being a little more compact than the Chester 836 or Warco VM20 if your workshop is tight for space as mine is.

Happy to provide more info if required....

Clive Foster26/07/2019 21:25:49
1845 forum posts
59 photos


Can't comment directly on these machine but I do have some "used similar" experience.

Far as I can see these are pretty close to an old type Round Ram Bridgeport fitted with J-Type head.

A friend of mine had one so equipped which I fitted with VFD drive. It worked well with all reasonable size jobs. largest things he did were re-boring Hitman Imp cylinder blocks to take over-bore liners and machining up a twin overheard cam alloy head conversion for the Imp engine supplied (found) as a rough casting. So if the build quality is decent the machining size and capability is there. He pretty much just used one of the two middle pulley settings on the Bridgeport head deciding whether it was a faster or slower speed job before he began. But of course he had the back gear system too.

I had a square column Chester Lux style bench mill with two speed belt drive, VFD controlled motor and R8 taper spindle. Metal shifting capacity was up in the Bridgeport region but obviously the machine was smaller overall with less workspace. Shifting the belt was a right faff and something to be avoided. The two VFD controlled ranges were 125 to 1400 rpm and 250 to 2800 rpm. I used the lower range most of the time. If I had to switch to the higher one it stayed there until I had to downshift. Lots of overlap between the ranges made this a practical proposition although I'd have liked a lower bottom speed for fly-cutters and slitting saws. But the corresponding drop in low range top speed would have enforced much more belt changing.

If the top speed in low range is only 1000 rpm you will not "keep it in low range all the time". Maybe do-able if you have 1,200 rpm available but my experience suggests that 1400, or even 1500 if bottom low doesn't become too high, is more the ticket. Smaller tooling will be running under-speed but but generally things will be tolerable.

As Dave says its matter of getting the compromises in the right place for what you do.


Edited By Clive Foster on 26/07/2019 21:26:53

Graham Williams 1226/07/2019 23:24:08
41 forum posts

Hi all

thanks for the replies.

Dave, totally understand I need to adopt a model engineering mindset after being spoilt with the kit I have had access to in past employments! I don't mind adjusting belts as long as the machine is actually designed to enable this. Also with a better spread of speeds with a good overlap I wouldn't need to change pulley's very often. For example I am considering the Warco 290V lathe. You still have to change a belt for high and low range but the spread of speeds is Low 30-450rpm and Hi 150-2500rpm. This is great, a good overlap and 90% of the time I would be more than happy to stay in the high range of 150-2500 (just going through a belt change and dropping into low range for screw cutting or very rarely large diameters), especially as the inverter drive should deliver constant torque throughout the speed range. And even when you do need to do this - very occasionally - the access is pretty quick with removal of a cover just secured with a couple of knurled nuts....fine.

Iffoggy, thanks for this as I had missed this offering from Chester. My immediate thoughts are that it is the same as the Warco VMC Vario which I had discounted with the table just a bit on the small side at 660 x 152mm. But when I looked at the specs was pleasantly surprised to find the 830VS has a more useful table size and is a bit larger (and heavier) all round. Looks a really good choice. The only problem I have with this is the price. The slightly smaller/lighter Warco - like for like - is £2382 including VAT and delivery. The Chester is now £4,802 (without Ram) and £5056 with ram, PLUS VAT and probably plus delivery. Thats a very big difference, but you're right....really like the spec and I will be taking you up on your kind offer of providing more info. I presume your model is without ram?

Clive, thanks for the insight into the similar early Bridgeport with belt drive head. yes, very similar capabilities to the machines in question once you fitted the VFD, but as you point out, crucially, it had the benefit of the back gear. This has been my point all along...if the WM20 had just had the back gear it would have been great! (as it is illustrated as having!!!!!) (Roger at Warco said he was getting this changed on website etc.) I find your comments re the Chester Lux style bench mill having metal removal rates in Bridgeport territory interesting and this sort of info is great for giving me more of a perspective on the capabilities of these machines....also as you point out the VFD controlled speed ranges where both very usable with a large overlap....I would be more than happy with this range.....

Thanks again guys and any more comments welcome


Vic27/07/2019 00:10:34
2258 forum posts
11 photos

Dave is right, slipping belts on a machine aimed at hobbyists is not a problem. At least it’s not for me as it’s not something that’s done that often. Changing speeds on my VMC is no bother at all.

Graham Williams 1227/07/2019 01:47:34
41 forum posts

Hi Vic, thanks for your input.

I do not have a problem with slipping belts. Please read my posts. The VMC has a toggle latch and a hinged lid with a quick release clamp on the motor mount...its a belt drive machine designed for quick ratio changes by slipping the belt....of course its no bother! If the Chester 836 and WM20 had a similar system I would be happy...



Edited By Graham Williams 12 on 27/07/2019 01:49:49

lfoggy27/07/2019 08:24:05
81 forum posts
8 photos

My Chester 830VS is the model with the round ram which makes it very versatile. I agree price is a bit high but managed to negotiate a 10% discount and free delivery (maybe becuase I am very close to their warehouse) whhich helped. Speed range is continously variable 200-2250. I am planning to add a few more pulleys to give a very low speed option and a higher speed option but for 95% of my work the standard speed range is excellent. The machine is built in Taiwan, not mainland China and build quality is very good compared to other machines from Chester and Warco. Hence the higher price....

Graham Williams 1227/07/2019 22:54:32
41 forum posts

Thanks for the info Ifoggy......I think I've narrowed it down to a choice of two now!!!!

Chester 830VS and Warco Super Major Vario. I accept build quality probably better on 830VS but get more for less money with the Warco offering...2 axis DRO and power feed on X.

Chester (in basic form) £6070 + delivery

Warco (with 2 axis DRO and x feed) £3750 including delivery.....tricky choice ain't it??

Warco has slightly bigger table. Both have variable speed drives but Warco has Inverter drive and low range selected with a twiddle of a knob...(75 to 2500rpm)....great!

Ones a Turret mill with a pretty decent knee.....the others a fixed bed machine....oh and Warco has power feed on Z

Great for us old timers....

Any opinions welcome....

Oh, and I should also mention I found Warco very friendly and helpful when my brother and I visited their showroom a few days ago.

Just looking forward to getting some machines and cutting metal now....just a small matter of making a workshop


Edited By Graham Williams 12 on 27/07/2019 22:59:01

Graham Williams 1228/07/2019 13:33:17
41 forum posts


just re-read my reply to you. it looks a bit curt.... my apologies for that. I asked for different perspectives and I got it! I do understand where both yourself and Dave are coming from and I totaly agree with you both and I certainly understand compromises have to be made...just trying to find the right combination I can live with.

I will try and explain my circumstances and my frustrations....

I am 62 now and have been retired early for medical reasons. I haven't got good private pensions and have a sum of money to eek out till I get my state pension. Because of my age and medical history I do not rate my chances of securing employment. So I do what a lot of people in this situation do - I try to turn a hobby into a small business to try and maintain a bit of income. The more money I spend on machines the more income I need...

I've always been fascinated by airguns and for years have harboured a dream of becoming a custom airgun maker....just never been able to get in the situation to do it! I've also always yearned for having my own workshop to enjoy doing model engineering projects - particularly a steam engine, but with kids and mortgages etc. never been able to do it. If I was making a model I would be happy to use basic machines etc. I've always loved overcoming problems and improvising which is the way of the model engineer...

I have one successful air rifle prototype made some years ago - the parts were made my brother who was in a position to do so at the time (He has now left engineering to do bespoke handmade furniture). This means I have to get parts made by expensive sub-contractors. Because of this I am over critical of all my designs, spending time trying to second guess everything and dotting the I's and crossing the T's. This has lead me to this point where I am going to build a workshop in the garden and equip with machines.

Once I arrive at a successful prototype I then have all the decisions of what to do with it. My preferred option - in mind of age and health (and because stress has been very damaging to me) is to tickle along making a few a year, as a bespoke item.

I realise that I have a foot in two camps.

I am trying to find machines suitable for a single phase supply and smaller size to fit in a garden workshop setting, but possibly forcing them into a small light production environment - and of course I want them to last me out! The biggest workshop I can get in I think is about 4m x 3m or 16' x 12'.

I keep alternating between Bridgeport size machines and Super Major size machines. I found a Bridgeport type Mill I really liked from Excel but they only do the longer 49" table. Whilst I might just get away with 42" table I think by the time I allow for access and table travels that's just too big! (and also a really big stretch on my budget! - a stretch too far I think.) I recall seeing a post on this forum where a chap had a Super Lux (I think) size machine then bought a Bridgeport and found it so much better to use with the larger table etc. Having used it he felt he couldn't go back to being without it, even though the smaller machine was perfectly capable of making the parts. I have been similarly spoilt. I suppose in an ideal world we would all have Bridgeports or similar...and of course it would be CNC....

So I then switch my thinking back to which machines (hobbyist) is nearest to what I need. I think I've narrowed it down to the 2 in my earlier post: lffogy's recommended Chester 830VS and Warco Super Major Vario, with a leaning towards the Warco offering for the reasons stated in that post.

I've only ever used Bridgeports, XYZ's etc. so know what I would be getting if I went that way. I really don't have any experience with these smaller machines, so really hoping that with the range of experience and knowledge on this forum you can help me, now you hopefully understand what I am trying to do.

My frustration was having thought I'd found that ideal compromise with a machine that appeared to bridge that gap - the Warco WM20 (Chester 836). It was totally spoilt - for me - by the choice of drive.

Whilst writing this I've just noticed a main difference between the Warco and Chester. Warco 100 - 3000 rpm (Inverter drive) which I know is split 100 to 1000rpm and 1000 to 3000rpm - which I had an issue with. Chester is 0-2000. Is there a Low range or is it completely variable between 0 and 2000rpm - I could certainly live with that!!!! I presume the fact that its starting speed is nought that implies NO back gear and infinitely this right??? - will ring Chester Monday.

Its also worth noting the 830VS is in the same price bracket (over £5000) as the 836, but the 836 (looks) a much sturdier machine - with sturdier table and Bridgeport like column - and again the 836 comes with 3 axis DRO and X power feed!! Suspect it comes down to better quality Korean made machine VS Chinese made with more features.






Edited By Graham Williams 12 on 28/07/2019 13:47:29

Edited By Graham Williams 12 on 28/07/2019 13:49:46

Edited By Graham Williams 12 on 28/07/2019 13:55:12

Edited By Graham Williams 12 on 28/07/2019 14:02:58

lfoggy28/07/2019 14:08:02
81 forum posts
8 photos

My 830VS has continously variable speed from 0 to 2250. No back gear, just direct drive to the spindle via a single pulley and an inverted drive to the motor. The machine is however advertised as having a speed range of 200 - 2250 implying that speeds under 200 shouldn't be used. Chester themselves seemed unable to advise whether using the low speeds was permisable. Torque at very low speeds is still good however and I have used the machine with a flycutter at 50rpm without a problem so it seems to work ok.

Edited By lfoggy on 28/07/2019 14:12:01

not done it yet28/07/2019 19:40:00
3375 forum posts
11 photos
Posted by lfoggy on 28/07/2019 14:08:02:
Torque at very low speeds is still good however and I have used the machine with a flycutter at 50rpm without a problem so it seems to work ok.

Does it have a separate motor cooling fan?

Vic28/07/2019 21:31:42
2258 forum posts
11 photos

Graham, no need for the apology I wasn’t offended. It was my fault, I should have read your earlier post more thoroughly. I’m very interested in your Airgun projects by the way. I bought a Feinwerkbau 10M gun some years back with the hope that I could double the power output so I could use it for Field Target shooting. After much head scratching and fiddling I made a new regulator body and valve and that did the trick. Lovely Airgun and it shot nicely but the guy behind the trigger could have done better! Good luck with the mill purchase, let us know how you get on.

lfoggy28/07/2019 21:53:00
81 forum posts
8 photos
Posted by not done it yet on 28/07/2019 19:40:00:
Posted by lfoggy on 28/07/2019 14:08:02:
Torque at very low speeds is still good however and I have used the machine with a flycutter at 50rpm without a problem so it seems to work ok.

Does it have a separate motor cooling fan?

There's no seperate cooling fan so maybe overheating the motor is a risk. It would be very easy to add a second pair of pulleys to gve a low speed range which is what I am planning.

Ian Skeldon 228/07/2019 22:14:27
390 forum posts
29 photos

Hi Graham,

It's funny how many of us on this forum shoot air rifles and also modify them and make parts for them etc. I have not made a reg yet but have made a reg tester and tool for polishing the nylon/synthetic face accurately. Modified my EV2 and am over the moon with it now.

If you want to manufacture even on a small scale then I think a cnc mill the same as the one used by Jason, on here would possibly be a good consideration. Look at page 5 of the thread named Sieg KX3 & KX1.

If you can manage without cnc and want a Bridgport knowing it has been serviced properly, have a look at this LINK

Good luck.

Graham Williams 1228/07/2019 22:54:51
41 forum posts

Thanks for info Iffogy. Just thinking of a reply to you and realised there's something just not making sense here...apart from me that is. I'm going to ring Warco tomorrow to check the figures I have for the speed ranges...1000 rpm for the lowest speed in high just ain't sounding right.

Vic, good to hear from you and to talk with a fellow air gunner. When you mentioned Feinwekbau I thought you meant the earlier recoil-less spring guns where the whole action slid back to absorb recoil - like a artillery gun. Obviously a latter PCP. I presume you increased the pressure in the plenum chamber and/or increased the volume in said chamber and re-valved to get better flow?

Did you get up to 11.5 FPE?

My main area of interest has always been SSP (single stroke pneumatics) in particular one that will have an output of 11.5 FPE with a light weight gun and easy compact single cocking stroke. I have always believed this is possible...most believe its not, so a very interesting challenge!

My first attempt achieved about 9.5 FPE with one pump. Only about 20 lbs effort on a 300mm lever. This was an air conserving type, so only used a portion of the air in the reservoir, so had to be charged with about 10 pumps at the start of a session, thereafter just one pump to replenish after a shot. I then changed this to a 'dumper system' which as the name suggests dumps all the for a shot. I was not getting enough swept volume on this gun and on this particular prototype I had too many constraints to change it. So I made it a 2 stroke. Now takes 2 very easy pumps to achieve 11.5 FPE at muzzle.

A few years ago, Daystate - one of our premier airgun makers - undertook a similar project. Theirs could be pumped more times to give higher power for the American market. For the UK market obviously it was restricted to our legal limit of 12 FPE. The Americans didn't like it as the effort required on the large lever was very information is that even for the UK version the effort required on the lever for the second pump was 60 lbf. This - as with all the other attempts - has been the downfall.

So, measured against this, I feel my MK1 is already a success....just desperate now to get the next one built - test rigs first though...

Unfortunately Vic, you've started me off on my favourite subject



Edited By Graham Williams 12 on 28/07/2019 22:56:34

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