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Quick Q about Warco/Sieg Lathes

Backgears, torque, brushless motors, etc.

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William Ayerst20/10/2020 08:21:40
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Good morning gents,

I'm in the market for a small lathe that I can use for small live steam (G1/3.5" as well as static engines (<7" flywheel). I have done my own research and believe I've narrowed down my choice to one of a) a Sieg C3 from Arc, b) a Warco Super Mini, or c) a Warco WM180.

I have strongly considered a Myford/Boxford/Colchester but I have decided that this isn't for me - I just don't know what I don't know and don't want to risk buying a lemon.

My question is twofold: should I get the WM180 or a mini lathe, and if a mini lathe is there a compelling reason to buy from Arc over Warco because the specifications suggest Warco is a better choice.

WM180 vs 'Mini Lathe'

  • All are 7" swing lathes, but there are some differences. The 'mini' lathes have a backgear and brushless motor, whereas the WM180 doesn't. I've tried to contact Warco to find out why and if this will affect torque at low RPM, but haven't heard anything. Any thoughts?
  • The WM180 also doesn't have a backgear, whereas both the C3 and the Super Mini do.

Mini Lathes - Sieg C3 vs Super Mini

  • While Arc has a good reputation, it no longer fettles the lathes. Whether that is due to their quality or the economic unfeasibilty I don't know, but Warco do.
  • The Super Mini comes with a 4" chuck, thread dial indicator and metal handles. the TDI/handles are available from Arc for a £60 surcharge, but the gent on the phone there suggested that if a 4" chuck was retro fitted onto the C3 it would also need new bearings.
  • The Super Mini has a 50mm longer swing, splitting the difference between the two Sieg C3 models.

Any thoughts or advice would be gladly taken.

Many thanks,

JasonB20/10/2020 10:08:05
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Posted by William Ayerst on 20/10/2020 08:21:40:

 

WM180 vs 'Mini Lathe'

  • All are 7" swing lathes, but there are some differences. The 'mini' lathes have a backgear and brushless motor, whereas the WM180 doesn't. I've tried to contact Warco to find out why and if this will affect torque at low RPM, but haven't heard anything. Any thoughts?
  • The WM180 also doesn't have a backgear, whereas both the C3 and the Super Mini do.

Mini Lathes - Sieg C3 vs Super Mini

  • While Arc has a good reputation, it no longer fettles the lathes. Whether that is due to their quality or the economic unfeasibilty I don't know, but Warco do.
  • The Super Mini comes with a 4" chuck, thread dial indicator and metal handles. the TDI/handles are available from Arc for a £60 surcharge, but the gent on the phone there suggested that if a 4" chuck was retro fitted onto the C3 it would also need new bearings.
  • The Super Mini has a 50mm longer swing, splitting the difference between the two Sieg C3 models.

Couple of facts not correct there.

The WM180 does not use a back gear but has two pully ratios which have the same effect.

As far as I know Warco have never offered or carry out as standard any Fettling service on their machines

ARC have not sold the C3 for at least a couple of years, they now do the SC3 Brushless lathe which is direct drive with no choice of gear ratio or back gear.

Edited By JasonB on 20/10/2020 10:08:45

Frances IoM20/10/2020 10:23:29
854 forum posts
26 photos
The WM180 has a couple of annoyances - there is no tumbler gear so can't reverse the leadscrew and the banjo is rather restricted - there is no t-slot on the cross slide so milling in the lathe is difficult (tho that may not worry you if you have a mill)

Edited By Frances IoM on 20/10/2020 10:23:52

William Ayerst20/10/2020 10:51:07
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58 forum posts

Thank you both, sorry for the miscommunication. I meant the SC3-400 or SC2-300 from Arc. JasonB, could you elaborate a bit about the pulley ratios? It's not explained anywhere and I'm a bit confused. I like the idea of a more substantial machine but don't want to end up paying £300+ more for no reason...

re: warco fettling- this is what I meant, maybe it was the wrong words:

  • Each machine is fully tested by a member of our team and comes with an individual accuracy test report.

With regard to milling - it seems that every YouTube machinist I've come across has a separate mill, but I'm not sure how much of a requirement that is for general use? Thinking of small cast iron castings and components for small live steam.

I have seen some guides on making a milling 'pallet' that sits on the cross slide and allows an angle plate and then a vertical milling slide to be mounted - but then also heard that milling on a lathe is limited and better to spend a few hundred pounds on a dedicated machine? The SC3 has a milling attachment available direct: https://www.arceurotrade.co.uk/Catalogue/Machines-Accessories/Lathes/SIEG-C3-SC2-SC3-Mini-Lathes/C3-SC2-SC3-Accessories/C2-C3-SC2-SC3-Milling-Attachment but I've heard it's not very robust...

I am not clear on the requirement for a tumbler gear for 'normal purposes' - I don't know how many left handed threads I'd want to cut?

 

Edited By William Ayerst on 20/10/2020 10:53:07

Edited By William Ayerst on 20/10/2020 10:57:04

Bo'sun20/10/2020 11:07:23
233 forum posts

Hi William,

While I can't fault Warco's customer service, I've found the claims for "exceptional quality" and "fully run and tested" a bit misleading when I recently purchased a WM240, later to be replaced by a WM250.

William Ayerst20/10/2020 11:10:49
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58 forum posts

For the same price (£1250ish), 90% of the spec is identical, the only differentiators I can see are:

Warco WM180:

  • Larger chucks
  • Larger brushed motor
  • Graduated Tailstop handwheel
  • Thread Dial indicator
  • 40kg heavier
  • DRO

Arc SC3-400

  • 100mm extra length between centres
  • Smaller Brushless motor

Unfortunately there are no versions of the WM180 with a longer bed, the next one up is another £400 which I guess I'd 'put' into a Mill.

Are there any objectively more important factors in those differentiators than others?

JasonB20/10/2020 11:15:38
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The WM180 has a 600W (assumed input wattage) brushless motor and to get enough torque at lower motor speeds uses a lower pully ratio from motor to spindle this is their quoted "low range" of 0-1250rpm which will actually do for most work and in reality will be more like 50-1250. There is also a "high range" of 0-2500rpm that is more suited to small dia parts in non ferrous metals and will likely be 100-2500.

The SC2 & 3 have a more powerful 500W (confirmed output) brushless motor that has more torque at lower speeds so does not require the two pully ratios that gives quoted 100-2500rpm but if anything like the Sieg mills will actually run from 50-2500rpm. This saves having to change belts when wanting to use the whole speed range. Does have reverse of the leadscrew

Both these machines don't have any additional gearing from motor to spindle so no gears to strip in the spindle drive train.

The "Super Mini-lathes" from warco has a 450W (assumed input wattage) brushless motor that uses gears to give the two speed ranges rather than the pullies of the 180..

On all three machines I would not really class them as having a backgear as that is a much reduced ratio of about 1:8 from the belted speeds, they are really just two ranges that can then be adjusted by use of the vari speed facility.

The "team" are the workers in the far eastern factory and the cert is as good as when the machine was tested but they are likely to move during shipping and as the castings settle.

 

Edited By JasonB on 20/10/2020 11:23:53

Bo'sun20/10/2020 11:42:13
233 forum posts
Posted by William Ayerst on 20/10/2020 11:10:49:

Unfortunately there are no versions of the WM180 with a longer bed, the next one up is another £400 which I guess I'd 'put' into a Mill.

The WM240 will give you 400mm "between centres" and will accept a milling head (from the WM14 I believe) if that's an use to you.

Dave Halford20/10/2020 12:20:52
1011 forum posts
9 photos
Posted by William Ayerst on 20/10/2020 08:21:40:

Good morning gents,

I'm in the market for a small lathe that I can use for small live steam (G1/3.5" as well as static engines (<7" flywheel). I have done my own research and believe I've narrowed down my choice to one of a) a Sieg C3 from Arc, b) a Warco Super Mini, or c) a Warco WM180.

I have strongly considered a Myford/Boxford/Colchester but I have decided that this isn't for me - I just don't know what I don't know and don't want to risk buying a lemon.

My question is twofold: should I get the WM180 or a mini lathe, and if a mini lathe is there a compelling reason to buy from Arc over Warco because the specifications suggest Warco is a better choice.

WM180 vs 'Mini Lathe'

  • All are 7" swing lathes, but there are some differences. The 'mini' lathes have a backgear and brushless motor, whereas the WM180 doesn't. I've tried to contact Warco to find out why and if this will affect torque at low RPM, but haven't heard anything. Any thoughts?
  • The WM180 also doesn't have a backgear, whereas both the C3 and the Super Mini do.

Mini Lathes - Sieg C3 vs Super Mini

  • While Arc has a good reputation, it no longer fettles the lathes. Whether that is due to their quality or the economic unfeasibilty I don't know, but Warco do.
  • The Super Mini comes with a 4" chuck, thread dial indicator and metal handles. the TDI/handles are available from Arc for a £60 surcharge, but the gent on the phone there suggested that if a 4" chuck was retro fitted onto the C3 it would also need new bearings.
  • The Super Mini has a 50mm longer swing, splitting the difference between the two Sieg C3 models.

Any thoughts or advice would be gladly taken.

Many thanks,

If back gear style torque is important to you and you envisage long running times at around 100 rpm then you should either raise your sights to the Warco 240B, or look again at a Boxford. You can run at a low speed and keep the motor cooler on both of those + less electronics to over stress.

not done it yet20/10/2020 14:24:38
5124 forum posts
20 photos

The way I look at chinese items is this: Unless they are certain that out-of-spec items will be returned (at their cost), the quality can easily fall below (expected) specification in some way.

My only experience of this was around 20 years ago (at a company I worked at, for a short time) where one, and possibly more, container loads of electronic (mainly) items were returned to China on quality control inspection results. The problem did not re-occur on later consignments🙂 ).

I expect that an awful lot of items bought by individuals are in that category. Some surplus and good, some OK for hobbyists (but sub-standard for industry use) and some just plain sub-standard for anyone’s use. That is why I don’t buy anything direct from china without first weighing up all the pros and cons - and then only If I can afford to throw them away if no good.🙂

William Ayerst20/10/2020 14:30:54
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58 forum posts

Thank you all for the sage advice, I guess it seems like a case of choosing the lesser evil - smaller vs lighter, etc. etc. - I will think about it. Given there is no 'perfect' choice I am thinking to myself: why not shoot for the moon and reconsider the Myford ML7 or Super7? Ah well, time to have a hard think.

Thank you!

HOWARDT20/10/2020 14:42:55
617 forum posts
15 photos

I have an SC3 from new, getting on for four years. While this size is adequate for a 3 1/2” loco, 7” is pushing it without taking light cuts at a higher speed. Low speed cuts suffer from frequent tripping of the controller. If you are used to working a lathe then you can work around the limitations on cutting diameter, but straight out of the box 7” is difficult. Having said all that I like the lathe and shall upgrade my mill to a larger one and stick with the lathe as I have now got it to do all that I want.

William Ayerst23/10/2020 16:43:53
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58 forum posts

I think maybe 3.5" or Gauge1 loco or a 6" dia flywheel stuart is about the biggest I'd be after, capacity wise.

I've found a Myford ML7 local to me that looks to be in good nick, with a set of tools, change gears. Both 3/4-jaw chucks, faceplate, dead centre and jacobs chuck.

Is there a reason why I shouldn't buy it over a Sieg C3 or WM180?

William Ayerst23/10/2020 16:45:44
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58 forum posts

By the way, it doesn't come with fixed/moving steady, a live centre or a collet chuck - which I would buy with the C3.

JasonB23/10/2020 16:55:16
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Provided the "looks in good nick" is not just the result of a rub over with Scotchbrite and a lick of fresh paint then it should be OK. If looking closer reveals wear etc then thats another matter.

Nick Clarke 323/10/2020 18:26:26
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935 forum posts
33 photos
Posted by William Ayerst on 20/10/2020 08:21:40:

WM180 vs 'Mini Lathe'

  • The Super Mini comes with a 4" chuck, thread dial indicator and metal handles. the TDI/handles are available from Arc for a £60 surcharge, but the gent on the phone there suggested that if a 4" chuck was retro fitted onto the C3 it would also need new bearings.
  • The Super Mini has a 50mm longer swing, splitting the difference between the two Sieg C3 models.

I have the SC3 from Arc and am very pleased with it. I cannot comment on the Warco though, and I would be tempted to check if someone commenting on both if they have actually bought and used both - or are they working from hearsay?

I have used several club Myfords over the years and they range from the hardly used to shockingly worn out. I haven't used a Boxford for nearly 50 years so can't really comment, but if I were looking for a larger lathe - my fancy (but not informed choice) would be to look at them.

I agree that the larger chuck might cause premature wear of the Mini lathe bearings, although it has not happened to my machine as of yet, even though it has 4" chucks fitted - but are you sure that the lathes supplied with these from new have the upgraded bearings or are they the plain ball bearings as fitted to the Seig and as likely to give problems?

Regarding the bed length - the longer the better. With a chuck on a backplate and a drill chuck holding a largish drill there can be precious little space left between the two.

Edited By Nick Clarke 3 on 23/10/2020 18:27:15

Nick Clarke 323/10/2020 18:35:50
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Just looked at Warco and Arc sites - the SC3 is £200 cheaper than the Warco and in stock, while the Warco is on backorder.

William Ayerst24/10/2020 09:32:01
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Awwsome, so it's down to an SC3-400 or a Myford ML7. JasonB the lathe has the original paint with no movement on the tailstock/carriage, 5 thou on the top slide and 10 thou on the cross slide. Bed hasn't been reground but looks smooth and no indication of tight or slackness during the carriage travel.

Brian Wood24/10/2020 10:16:25
2287 forum posts
37 photos

William,

I have no particular reason other than familiarity to think that a Myford lathe is 'better' than the Chinese made Sieg, but as a long term owner and user of Myford lathes and with you actually finding a nice one nearby to see and test, I would be inclined to go for that.

Steadies can be found on ebay

Regards Brian

Bob Stevenson24/10/2020 11:25:20
440 forum posts
7 photos

Just to add to this topic;

I had a Chinese mini-lathe (conquest) for 10 years and liked it, but have had a Warco WM180 for the last 3 years and like it much better!.....It's vastly better engineered and designed.

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