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Workshop Equipment

Choice of Machine Tools

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Stuebabe20/08/2020 23:48:37
4 forum posts

Hi all,

New Starter

Before I begin, I wish to apologise for the long intro; I thought it necessary to paint a picture so that people reading this would know where I am coming from.

I have recently decided to keep myself gainfully occupied by pursuing model engineering activities under several guises and have been looking at the internet for inspiration & contacts. I have also been purchasing both the Model Engineer and Model Engineering Workshop in order to assist.

I live in Leeds and have been looking at all the local Model Engineering Clubs in my area, which due to the current situation has not been too encouraging!

I have converted my garage into a workshop, insulated the roof, garage door and have installed benches, lighting etc, The garage already has it own single phase power board so I feel I am ready to go!

My first project has been to build, from scratch, a scaled model boat, constructed from the original ship manufacturing drawings, which has provided the initial reintroduction to bench work; the ship was designed by the shipping company I sailed for as a marine engineer many moons ago and I actually sailed many voyages on this particular vessel.

In order to find projects of interest I intend to proceed with nostalgic features associated with my background i.e. scaled model boats, large marine diesel engines, again associated with those I sailed with and some of the auxiliary equipment associated with marine plant.

Since retiring and relocating, some six years ago, I have joined the Rolls Royce Heritage trust and have visited the Derby site on several occasions; for those who have never visited the site, all I can say is, it is awesome! and strongly recommend a visit; anyway I intend to look at building models of some of the Piston aero engines designed and built by RR.

Now to the real purpose of this first communication:

In order to commence my new hobby I am looking to purchase a lathe and milling facilities for my workshop; I have visited the Chester showroom and looked at their equipment which was a good 1st move, I have also scoured the internet for equipment, which included the Warco equipment.

During my investigations, I haven't seen many second hand Chester or Warco machines, yet have read several interesting articles in respect of this equipment; I am wary of going for other second hand equipment following the warnings generously given on several forums.

There must be model engineers out there that have equipment supplied by both Chester and Warco and I would appreciate opinions on their quality/accuracy also the companies so I can take my next step; my interest of each companies products are:

Chester: DB10 VS lathe, Champion 20V Mill

Warco: WM250 VS - plus Optional Milling attachment or WM 14 Mill

Can anyone owning similar equipment from these companies please provide informed references or warnings? You comments would be much appreciated

David George 121/08/2020 07:43:37
1386 forum posts
448 photos

Hi Pauline I bought the slightly smaller Champion 16V mill and wished I had bought the one you are looking at but I was satisfied with the quality of the machine in general other than the small clamp handles for locking the axis. The ones supplied were not up to the job and I replaced them with a better quality item. The other thing I did was to fit a DRO from M DRO and that transformed it and makes it so much versatile to work with. I didn't have it fitted when I first bought it as the cost was controlled by she who must be obeyed, but a later birthday gift helped to cushion the additional cost. I would recommend buying the DRO if you can as it makes it so much versatile.


Brian H21/08/2020 08:42:50
1862 forum posts
106 photos

Hello Pauline and welcome. Absolutely agree with David above. A DRO enables working in Imperial or metric as the need arises. It is also useful for drilling holes in rows or circles and many other tasks.

I can understand your reluctance to go for used equipment but there are some good companies who supply quality items such as Premier Machine Tools (**LINK**) and Quillstar (**LINK**), both of which I have used personally although no other connection. There will be others but I have no personal experiences of them.

Is your shipbuilding project to be in wood or metal?


Samsaranda21/08/2020 09:28:31
995 forum posts
5 photos

Hello Pauline,

I have a Champion V20 mill and have fitted Digital Readouts, as David has said it transforms the mill, so much easier to use. I have an older Warco lathe which I purchased new 13 years ago, no problems with either supplier just need to remember these are “hobby” machines not production tools.

Dave W

Bob Worsley21/08/2020 12:55:39
59 forum posts

My two pennyworth.

I had a South Bend, like the Boxford, and access to my dad's ML7 when I bought another lathe.

Three things drove me to drink with the SB and M7.

1 - That the chucks were held on a screw thread, meaning that grief had to be imparted to get them off. A lathe with a taper fitting, my Harrison has an L2 taper, or the newer Camlock type are really worth the cost.

2 - That the SB etc had a spindle bore that seemed to allow only a pencil to go through it. The Harrison has 1.3/8" and that I would say is a good size.

3 - That some form of quick change gearbox is essential. My Harrison has a full Norton box, but the alternative of just three speeds or pitches is worth its weight in gold. I do almost no threading other than at 48tpi, so changing gears wouldn't be too much of a pain. But feed rates are a completely different thing, and being able to quickly change is essential otherwise you just don't bother, and power feed finish is so much better than by hand.

Don't dismiss secondhand, look on,uk for a changing selection.

To test a lathe do the following. You will need a micrometer reading to tenths of a thou, or 0.002mm, preferably the fiducial type.

1 - Get a bar, 25-30mm is fine, of free cutting steel in the chuck. Even brass will do.

2 - Get a round nosed tool, needs to cut equaly well to the left and right, with a nose radius of 1mm or so.

3 - With a parting off tool cut two grooves in the end of the bar. One about 10mm from the end and the second another 10mm from the end of the groove just cut. Both grooves need to be about 3mm deep.

4 - Set lathe to run at a suitable speed with a feed rate no coarser than half the radius of the tool.

5 - Position tool in the outer groove with a depth of cut of 1mm at least. Clamp cross slide so it can't move.

6 - Set feed direction to the left.

7 - Start lathe and cut to the left until reaching the inner groove and stop the feed, leave lathe running. So this has surfaced the bar with a 1mm depth of cut.

8 - Quickly move the carriage to the right until the tool is in the outer groove. A spiral cut will appear in the just machined area.

9 - Stop lathe, reverse feed direction to the right, start lathe.

10 - Engage feed so the lathe now cut the bar to the right. When off the end of the bar stop the feed and the lathe.

11 - Measure the diameters of the two sections just machined, one to the left, one to the right.

12 - Weep.

What you have done here is check the saddle for skew as it moves under a small cutting load to the right and left. If the readings agree within 0.01mm then the lathe is good, normally it would be 0.1mm or even worse.

Try this on a new lathe in the showroom and see what excuses are brought forth.

On a second hand lathe, Colchester, Harrison and similar, the bed is hardened and the wear will be in the saddle, not hardened, so it can be scraped out. My Harrison had an error of about 5 thou, but after scraping it is 2-3 tenths.

Good luck!

not done it yet21/08/2020 13:23:03
5133 forum posts
20 photos

My two pennyworth.

While the tapered nose and camlocks are likely best (I’ve never owned either type) the threaded mandrel for screwed on chucks is far better than a lathe where the chuck is bolted to a flange on the mandrel (I’ve had both).

I have not had any trouble removing chucks from either of the two lathes I have used (with threaded spindles) - and I change chucks quite often (I use independent and self-centring chucks - both in 160mm and 100mm sizes - and an ER32 collet chuck as well.

Edited By not done it yet on 21/08/2020 13:25:14

Nick Clarke 321/08/2020 13:47:58
937 forum posts
33 photos

I am sorry Bob, but I consider your advice, while probably technically accurate is total inappropriate to be given to a beginner thinking of setting up their first lathe in a garage.

Suggesting an industrial class machine like your Harrison would take up most of the space in a small workshop and would lessen the area available for a model and a bench on which to make parts for it. I also think for a model boat builder it would not be an appropriate size machine.

Cost wise, while second hand Harrisons or Colchesters are probably better value for money than a Myford, if not actually cheaper the essential accessories(many of which are sold separately by a dealer) would be far more expensive than their Myford or Chinese equivalents. And as for the cost of spare parts!!!!!

Screw on chucks can tighten up when you don’t want them to and unscrew without warning if you ever run the lathe in reverse. Bolt on chucks are a pain to fit and remove, but they do avoid both of these problems without the expense or room taken up by more industrial alternatives and unlike NotDoneItYet, with whose other remarks regarding taper or CamLoc chucks I agree, I have not fallen out with them yet.

A beginner would not necessarily be able to judge the condition of a lathe until it would not perform as they wanted and as for your advice suggesting that someone new to machines scrape a saddle to ensure it runs accurately – I think it just could not happen I’m afraid.

I am sorry, but my advice for an absolute beginner would need to be to buy a new machine from any of the major retailers – Amadeal, ArcEuro, Axminster, Chester, Warco etc and have the benefit of a guarantee, advice and spares at the end of a phone line.

If this first lathe does not do what the OP wants after some time they can upgrade, should it prove necessary, as you did yourself, when they have the measure of what they want to do based upon direct experience.

Bazyle21/08/2020 14:21:58
5565 forum posts
207 photos

The lathes you mention are not small. If you are building for a model boat you wouldn't need anything that large. There are many many threads on here about machine purchase. Use the search engine on the site front page not the one at the top of this page to fnd them. Once you are abe to get to a club they will help too and may well know people selling suitable equipment. A club is also a good place to pick up the little bits and pieces toolwise.

Nigel Bennett21/08/2020 14:35:52
369 forum posts
11 photos

Hello Pauline

It sounds as if you've taken on a challenge with your proposed RR aero engine!

A combined lathe/milling machine is very much a compromise, but an excellent one if you're short of space. Having a separate lathe and milling machine is much to be preferred. Remember that a milling machine takes up a lot of room if you factor in the full movement of the machine table.

People will argue ad infinitum as to the merits of this or that machine tool. Assuming it's big enough, any half-decent tool can turn out excellent work if the operator is up to the task! If you buy a new one from Chester/Warco/Axminster or whoever, you'll have some sort of comeback if it turns out to be a "Friday Afternoon" machine. Second hand, it's a bit of pot luck, but doing some kind of test piece on such a machine should help to assuage doubts. You are allowed to walk away if it doesn't suit!

You need to consider what you are going to make and how big your components are likely to be, but remembering that a bigger machine can do smaller stuff.

Having selected the sort of size of machine that you want, then that narrows down the choices. I would agree with the Davids above that a DRO on a milling machine is an excellent investment - I wouldn't be without mine. (I have a Chester Lux mill and I've been very happy with it.) You are really likely to reap the benefits from a DRO if you're making aero engine parts - especially if it's a V12 or something...

I think you will find that you will use the milling machine far more than the lathe for your projects, so that's the one to mull over most of all.

As an aside, I'm in Garforth to the east of Leeds, so if you need an extra pair of eyes to look at something with you... PM me if you would like.

Mick B121/08/2020 14:59:08
1774 forum posts
91 photos

Hello Pauline,

I used a Myford Speed 10 for 15 years, then changed to a Warco WM250V. I've found the WM250V as good as I could want it to be. The powered crossfeed gives a very good surface finish on facing. There are good T-slots on the crossslide where you can mount an accessory baseplate - mine carries a Myford double-swivel vertical slide and milling vice. The powered crossfeed comes in again when using the vertical slide for milling or flycutting.

My plans to buy a mill keep getting put back, because I haven't yet found anything I need to do but can't, with what I have.

There are a couple of gotchas, but these are also there with any machine tool. For example, in my first week I inadvertently engaged longitudinal feed when I meant crossfeed, on a locked carriage. That bent the carriage pinion and fractured a keyed bush in the geartrain, and the leadscrew shearpin didn't break as it should have. I found I could straighten the pinion with a crowbar without dismantling, and Warco replaced the keyed bush without hesitation. I replaced the shearpin with a weaker one.

The chuck I got is the best standard 3-jaw I think I've seen - it will grip true within about 0.0006". There's been no electrical or electronic issue. I suspect the later Chesters may come from the same maker, but I don't know them.

Tony Pratt 121/08/2020 15:39:12
1269 forum posts
5 photos

Plenty of advice here & I won't add to the confusion but I will say if you have the space/budget definitely go for a lathe & a mill as separate machines, these combo things can only be a compromise at best.


Neil Wyatt21/08/2020 16:38:22
18320 forum posts
718 photos
77 articles

Welcome to the forum Pauline,

I think the second-hand market for imported machines like these is 'slow' for three reasons:

  1. They are relatively recent, so there are not large numbers available from people who have left the hobby.
  2. As they are relatively inexpensive, resale values are correspondingly lower.
  3. These lower values mean people tend to hold on to them rather than moving them on.

I'd be interested if other people agree?


David Colwill21/08/2020 16:56:21
672 forum posts
34 photos

A friend of mine has recently bought a machine off one of the suppliers mentioned in the original post. The machine as supplied had a problem with the spindle. The supplier has been very helpful and has offered to take the machine back but this was rejected and new parts were sent out FOC for my friend to fit. Whilst by no means the norm this is not uncommon either.

I mention this only to highlight the fact that in order to benefit from the excellent service you do need to realise that there is a problem. Lathes and milling machines can have quite subtle faults.and those new to the hobby may not be aware of them until it is too late.


Bob Worsley21/08/2020 17:00:58
59 forum posts

It was my opinion.

It was a series of decisions I made when upgrading. Take it or leave it.

No one has commented on the testing of the lathe. I am not surprised, the number of times I told people at exhibitions that a readout is just an accessory, doesn't do anything for accuracy, and not one, not one, person ever came back and said they had tried it.

Keep an eye on the auctions, nice machines for just a few hundred, got to move it though!

Stuebabe21/08/2020 17:07:50
4 forum posts

Hi Folks,

Many thanks for your comments; if you notice, there are no adverse comments with respect to the suppliers that I was looking at, which pleases me no end; there are also no major adverse comments about the equipment supplied by the selected companies, which again is comforting!

Nigel, thanks for the offer, I may take you up on your kind offer should I choose to look at a second hand piece of kit, one of the links that Brian H appears to be promising (Thanks Brian) so I will investigate this a little more. Whilst I am in contact with you Nigel, can I ask if you are part of any model engineers club? if so which one? I have looked Keighley and Huddersfield during my investigations, but have not managed to get a chance to speak to anyone linked to either club.

Neil, Being member of the RR heritage trust (Only £8 per year) you are free to get up real close to all the equipment on show, a lot of it is sectioned too, with no restrictions on Photos, so there are ways of gathering information to make scaled models; just the same I have recently contacted the RRHT to ask if I could get access to archive drawings to obtain prints or take photos of the same.

I have not had a reply because of the current Covid situation, but always hold out hope as they are a very accommodating bunch in Derby; if you have never been, maybe I could pick you up and introduce you to the RRHT the next time I am going down!

Thanks again to all, I will post my eventual activities once I have had a chance to absorb all your comments.

Rik Shaw21/08/2020 17:19:03
1370 forum posts
373 photos

"As they are relatively inexpensive, resale values are correspondingly lower."

Neil – I replaced my WM 250 V some time aqo because of the flaky speed controller. The chap who bought it remarked to me on collection that he could not understand why this and other similar Asiatic imports held their price so well.

Just another blokes observation but it does seem to be at odds with your No.2.

But on another point. I think that folk are quite happy to recommend individual suppliers to the hobby on here but are less likely to gripe. Why? Free speech really could come at a cost if you end up in court.


Edited By Rik Shaw on 21/08/2020 17:48:53

Nigel Bennett21/08/2020 17:35:21
369 forum posts
11 photos

Hello Pauline

I'm with Leeds SMEE. Sadly we lost our track at Eggborough Power Station last year due to redevelopment, but we're on the hunt for another site. We used to meet at Darrington Golf Club for formal evening meetings, but until we all get vaccinated or something, it doesn't look like starting up again any time soon. Like a lot of clubs, I imagine!

Our website: **LINK**


Howard Lewis21/08/2020 17:58:28
3766 forum posts
3 photos


Firstly Welcome.

Now the bad news.

With regard to whatever machine that you buy.


It may have been a precision machine when new, if ex Industry, but will now, most likely, show signs of wear or abuse.

It had to earn it's living!


If we are talking hobby machines, they will not be Toolroom quality. They have been designed and produced DOWN to a price. Effectively we are talking Lada rather than Rolls Royce. So the degree of precision is relative..

Don't misunderstand me, but do not have unrealistic expectations! Sadly, there are "Friday afternoon" machines out there from time to time. If your purchase does not live up to expectations, before you start "adjusting" it talk, in detail to the supplier. If you unwittingly turn the wrong screw, you might make matters worse, rather than better.

Testing a machine in the showroom, may be a bridge too far for you, unless you know what you are dong. (Some newbies are disappointed that their new 3 Jaw chuck does not hold work absolutely concentric. It won't, unless a very unusual sample, an eccentricity of 0.075 mm is not unknown )

Apart from me, others on here can provide lots of advice. Read a lot of other, older, threads, and some of the info will be applicable to you, in principle if not directly..

Before making your purchases, it might be worth buying a few books, so that you have a grasp of the basics, before you "take to the water".

My suggestions for Turning would include:

"The Amateur's lathe by L H Sparey,

"The Amateur's Workshop" by In Bradley

and for Milling ; all from the Workshop Practice series.

No.2 "Vertical Milling in the Home Workshop," No 49 "The Milling Machine"

Two others that may prove to be useful in the long term are

No 12 " Drills,Taps and Die", and most useful reference book, "The Model Engineers Handbook" by Tubal Cain.

This may seem to be a lot, but they contain a huge amount of useful information which you will be likely to need at some time in the future.

Also, the budget will need to stretch to measuring equipment.  Don't rush, find out what will be the minimum that you need to start with.  You can add more, later when you can more use of the new kit.think ab

Don't start worrying about screwcutting until you have accumulated more experience!

Having started on "War and Peace", I hope that all these ramblings will be of some help.



Edited By Howard Lewis on 21/08/2020 18:03:11

Steviegtr21/08/2020 18:03:39
1638 forum posts
197 photos

Hi Pauline & welcome to the Forum. I live in Leeds myself. I went down the same sort of route as you are doing. I ended up buying older machines. I have a Myford super 7B lathe & a Tom senior light vertical milling machine with the M-DRO kit fitted. Which i am very happy with.

I do not think you will go far wrong buying new machines. The ones you mention do not get any horror stories to tell. There are lots of youtube video's of people who have them & some have done tasteful mods to them. One guy who is called Ades workshop has just done a DRO kit on his mill which i think is a Warco. He has also been doing a powered X axis drive.



JA21/08/2020 18:42:51
1008 forum posts
54 photos


May I suggest a Bristol engine.

Being Derby based you get a very strange view of aero engine history. I know Bristol is further from Leeds than Derby but I believe we made better, but less glamorous, engines. There are also Halford’s (de Havilland) engines that were simpler than Derby and Bristol engines.

I have stirred the pot enough, welcome.

JA (a volunteer at RRHT Bristol in good times)

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