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Chester machine tool machines

Opinion

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Shaun Coope09/04/2022 14:28:25
6 forum posts

Hi,

what’s the opinion of the quality of Chester machine tools?

I’m looking at the centurion 3 in 1 lathe mill.

thanks

Steve Neighbour09/04/2022 15:21:28
120 forum posts
1 photos

Hi,

They're mostly Chinese import - but that's the norm for nearly all UK sold brands. There are pro's and con's for all of them, but generally they do what they say on the box.

I have a Chinese made lathe (branded Warco) which was new in 2019 and has not been any trouble and turns out good accurate work, although I did completely strip in down when delivered, cleaned thoroughly and re-assembled.

Their shop is now open again, maybe pop over if you can and do the touchy feely stuff !!

Steve

Bezzer09/04/2022 15:38:03
172 forum posts
16 photos

I had a DB10G lathe for fifteen years that I sold last year, never had any problem with it at all over that time, still on the original belts as well. Don't rate the customer service much though, don't know if it's improved recently.

Do you know why you want the 3 in 1 as they are a bit of a compromise? If you've got the space a lathe and a seperate mill is a much more flexible option.

Martin W09/04/2022 16:12:37
921 forum posts
30 photos

I bought a DB7VS lathe 14 years ago and it is still going strong. Other than the standard adjustments i.e. gib strips, initial degrease etc. it was used straight out of the box and has to date proved to be very accurate, reliable and gutsy little machine. Whether their offerings are the same now only they might know. Like Bezzer I would recommend having a separate lathe and mill rather than a composite machine. As Steve says if your close enough to the likes of Chester or Warco then drop in and have look and get your hands on the machines on display, that was one of the benefits of attending the shows as one could compare machines virtually side by side.

Martin

Nick Clarke 309/04/2022 16:19:22
avatar
1475 forum posts
64 photos

Essentially the same machine is sold by Machine Mart (both with and without the mill) and you may find it easier to see one 'in the flesh' there as they have more branches.

Mick B109/04/2022 17:04:09
2223 forum posts
125 photos

I'd expect Chester to rate about equal to Warco, and I've no complaints about the WM250V I bought from them.

I do most of my milling in the lathe, using a Myford vertical slide on a modified Warco baseplate.

When I looked at Machine Mart's 3-in-1 machine with the overhead milling spindle (admittedly this was over 20 years ago), I thought it'd been so casually assembled that I'd've needed maybe hours of adjustment and testing time before I could even decide whether it was any good. The geometry of the thing also looked like it'd make for a cluttered lathe and a not-very-rigid mill. I walked away, and have heard nothing since to make me think otherwise.

C T09/04/2022 17:48:57
avatar
54 forum posts
2 photos

Chester customer service is not the best say no more.

Chester 3 In 1 is for sale on this site in the machines for sale by members based in the west midlands sounds good value and you don't need to have Chester customer service

Edited By C T on 09/04/2022 17:50:25

Howard Lewis09/04/2022 18:18:03
6306 forum posts
15 photos

From what I have seen, the combined lathe and mill machines will do the job, but not as well a separate lathe and mill. To fulfill both functions, both aspects are likely to be compromised in some way.

AFAIK, Chester are now the only suppliers of such machines,in UK, which may mean something.

Used within their limitations, no doubt, good work can be done on them, but would not be my first choice, for a number of reasons.

With regard to service from Chester, my experience has been that it is not as good as that provided by two of their competitors. (In one instance, I have been waiting for a number of years for the response to a query. A mention at a Show, to my contact, provided almost a shrug of the shoulders ).

A competitor provided the lathe spares that I wanted, from the same source probably, for half the price.

Howard.

Shaun Coope09/04/2022 19:58:38
6 forum posts

Guys,

thank you to all of you who have taken time to reply….the reason why I’ve looked at the 3 in 1 option is that I thought it might give greater flexibility having the mill drive option.

My intention is to have a milling machine as well when funds allow.

What are the reasons why a stand alone lathe would be better than the 3 in 1 please? As I said I’d be looking for a milling machine but will have to wait to gather the funds hence looking at the 3 in 1.

thanks in advance

Shaun

Howard Lewis09/04/2022 20:43:36
6306 forum posts
15 photos

The 3 in 1 machine is a dated design compared to what has been available for quite a few years.

It had been around for some time before I bought my new lathe in 2003.

Machine Mart and Chester seem to be the only suppliers in UK.

A friend has one, and have had to help him out with the odd problem, to improve the machine. Also a 4 jaw chuck for one is more expensive compared to a 4 jaw for most other machines. The chuck fitting is unusual compared to other machines, which probably accounts for higher price.

Other machines can offer a wider range of accessories, should you need them.

It depends on how wide is the range of work that you plan to do.

Milling is a process that requires rigidity. (it is effectively, a series of interrupted cuts ) In my book a 3 in 1 machine does not offer greater rigidity, or as much, as a dedicated Mill or Mill/Drill.

The Cross Slide is effectively the X axis of the mill, with the travel along the bed the Y axis, and is limited compared to that of a conventional Milling machine.

Having said that, if you are prepared to accept limitations and compromises, you might find that it does all that you want.

As always, you pays your money and makes your choice.

Howard

DMB09/04/2022 21:48:41
1350 forum posts
1 photos

In my opinion, it's much better to have separate machines because otherwise, you will be constantly setting up and breaking down, which is very time consuming. You could argue that it doesn't matter as it's only a hobby but I think that over the course of umpteen hours building a big ish project like a loco., it will make a significant difference to the length of time to complete.

Most clubs have a lathe if they have a workshop, so if on a start up budget, it could be better to get a vertical mill on which all your drilling can also be done and join the club for access to a lathe. Forget buying a drilling machine. Mills have a built in advantage over drilling machines of having co ordinate tables.

john halfpenny10/04/2022 10:28:52
250 forum posts
24 photos

I have had a combination machine for 25 years, so I can speak from experience. The mill is perfectly usable, but you must go carefully, taking light cuts because of the obvious lack of rigidity - so milling is slow work. I now have a separate mill, which is certainly preferable. The lathe is fine for a bench top machine, and has no disadvantage for having a mill on top - the mill is easily removed if need be. Any four jaw chuck can be fitted; you don't need to use the makers version - just make a simple backplate with diameter registers to suit. My lathe has features which I like - a bolt on chuck, a tee-slotted saddle, fast and slow leadscrew feed, vee belt drive and a good swing- and some less good, like poor tailstock reach, no half-nut, and a slowest belt speed which is too high. Over the years I have remedied all the less good features, and it does everything I need whilst taking up little space. Yes, switching between functions takes about a minute, but is not a big disadvantage for a hobby machine.

Shaun Coope10/04/2022 10:51:01
6 forum posts

Thanks again guys for the replies.

As long a having a combination machine is not detrimental to having a dedicated lathe then it seems it doesn’t matter which type of machine I go for, taking into account I will be purchasing a dedicated milling machine next.

Am I correct in saying this? The main reason behind going for the combination route is Chester machines have a good offer on a 800mm between centre machine which on purchasing a dedicated mill would become a lathe only but with the added bonus of drilling say cross holes or flats on diameters in situe if required.

Thanks again would appreciate your thoughts on my reasoning.

Shaun

Nick Clarke 310/04/2022 11:08:33
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1475 forum posts
64 photos

How much space have you got?

I would have had space for one of these machines but instead went for a very small mill and a mini lathe - where the same issues on rigidity might arise (but, touch wood) have not as I try always to be careful.

My thinking is that in a restricted space like me you may have rigidity problems from small lightweight machines or rigidity problems due to the nature of a combined set up - you pays yer money and ............

Of course if you have bags of space ignore these comments.

The machine for sale on here with a four jaw seems a bargain and might be worth looking at if still available.

Shaun Coope10/04/2022 11:42:00
6 forum posts

Hi Nick,

I’ve got plenty space about 13x9 portion of a garage having just had a garage extension.

I have messaged about the one for sale on here, I’m still waiting a reply to see if it’s still available.

When ready for a milling machine I’m going to see if I can pick up a Bridgeport mill, well that’s the plan.

Dave Halford10/04/2022 11:44:14
2091 forum posts
23 photos

Machine mart have discontinued this style of lathe.

If 800mm between centres is important to you the long bed will be more flexible.

There's a reason why beds that long are very expensive. You may need to consider something industrial and 2nd hand.

mgnbuk10/04/2022 12:48:56
1205 forum posts
72 photos

Machine mart have discontinued this style of lathe.

Still showing on the Machine Mart website :

Clarke 3-in-1 lathe

It was the original Chester version, seen on their stand at a classic bike show in the early '90s, that initially got me interested in the idea of a workshop at home. In the end I went a different way as other opportunities arose, but I have since seen good work done by others on these machines. Like most things, it probably comes down to learning to live with their limitations.

Nigel B.

Hugh Stewart-Smith 111/04/2022 09:36:14
14 forum posts

Shaun,

can I suggest that you take a look at the inside front page of the MEW magazine? I know for a fact that the company in question has just taken delivery of their third consignment during the pandemic and you might find just what you are looking for.

Hugh Stewart-Smith

Derek Lane11/04/2022 10:14:48
avatar
788 forum posts
175 photos
Posted by Shaun Coope on 09/04/2022 19:58:38:

My intention is to have a milling machine as well when funds allow.

Shaun

I see you mentioned in one post that at sometime in the future you want to buy a stand alone mill so why buy a combination. The money you save from the combination will go towards the mill.

I am new to model engineering and have brought a Warco lathe and a separate mill so far not encountered any problems as they are both under a year old

Jim Nic11/04/2022 10:38:31
avatar
388 forum posts
220 photos

Nigel B

Although Machine Mart still have the 3 in 1 machine in their on line catalogue there is a note at the top of the advert that says "Sorry. This product has now been discontinued."

Jim

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