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Which New Lathe; choices, choices...

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EtheAv8r11/11/2010 13:09:06
111 forum posts
3 photos

I am planning on buying a new lathe for a new hobby workshop I have just built.  I am a beginner, and looking forward to getting my pension soon, and I have no machining experience but do have lots of practical DIY, R/C aircraft and helicopter building and full size homebuilt light aircraft building experience.>>

I started off looking a cheap micro/mini lathes, and as my research went on, decided to go a bit bigger and almost settled on a Chester DB10V Precision Variable Speed Lathe, which I am sure will be all I ever need, and you certainly get a lot of metal for your money.>>

However whereas they are perfectly adequate and excellent value for money, I do also see a lot of criticism about these Chinese built machines, and problems with accurate setting up and reliability, and backlash and the like.  I do like quality and precision, and would like to be able to make batches of items with as straight forward repeatability as possible (without going CNC).>>

I have therefore shifted my focus to something that is still small (I need to be able to get it physically into my workshop with relative ease using a max of 4 people to haul it there), but built to high standards of quality and precision and alignment/set-up.  There seems to be remarkably few options, probably due to the substantial price jump, and I am down to a choice between the Ceriani David 203VS or the Wabeco D3000E, D4000E or D6000E (the latter may prove just a bit too pricey).>>

The probable answer to my question is that a lathe from either manufacturer will be totally wonderful and delightful, and maybe I should chose based on the lowest overall price of the configured ‘bundle’ of components I will need to get me up and running.  However there may be other very good advantages of one over the other, such as robustness, accuracy, ease of use, wear or reliability, or maybe the ability to use cheaper OEM tools, attachments and add-ons (or lack of due to proprietary or non-standard fittings) that may sway the decision. 
One aspect is that the Ceriani bed does not appear to be hardened, but the Wabego is – is this likely to be an issue?>>

If there is anyone who can provide any insight or guidance to assist my decision, please do!  No calls to get a second hand Myford, or Boxford or the like - I am not interested as they are too big and heavy to get them to my workshop, plus I don't know enought to tell a good 'un from a rogue.

KWIL11/11/2010 14:04:11
3562 forum posts
70 photos
E the Aviator, very good.
Two suggestions, go to the Model Engineering Exhibition next month at Sandown Park and see/compare  the goods for real, contact your local Model Engineering Club and see if you can pick up some hands on advice.
blowlamp11/11/2010 14:14:58
1634 forum posts
105 photos
Having seen the Chester lathe, I came away quite impressed with its construction and finish.
A hardened bed is nice to have, but plenty of lathes don't have one, for instance Myford and Boxford to name two and It doesn't seem to put many people off owning them.
The main cause of wear is by allowing swarf to get between the moving parts, so keeping things clean and lightly oiled is the way to go.
Remember that you will spend a fortune equiping your new purchase for work, so don't blow all your funds on just the lathe.
Keep us updated with your thoughts.
David Clark 111/11/2010 15:04:11
3357 forum posts
112 photos
10 articles
The Myford connisseur has induction hardened bedways as standard.
The lower spec models have it as an optional extra.
regards David
KWIL11/11/2010 15:50:56
3562 forum posts
70 photos
The two references given above are for two quite different machines.
EtheAv8r11/11/2010 16:03:59
111 forum posts
3 photos
Posted by KWIL on 11/11/2010 15:50:56:
The two references given above are for two quite different machines.
 Just for clarification:  Are you referring two the (effectively 2) machines in my original post (Ceriani vs Wabeco), or the two posted by blowlamp, which to me are under the spec and capabilities of the DB10V I was originally going for (one of them is a smaller sibling), or to the fact that the two from blowlamp are quite different to my two shortlist?
Terryd11/11/2010 16:16:25
1936 forum posts
179 photos
Dear E,
Don't be put off Chinese lathes by the comments of the few.  Unfortunately it is normal to hear complaints and horror stories but satisfied users rarely kick up a fuss, there are very many of these machines in use by satisfied users.
There are some very good products on the market at reasonable prices , I am just replacing a Boxford which has been a faithful servant for many years with a Warco 280 F V (of Chinese origin) which will do all that I need and it comes with a good range of basic equipment (Chucks, steadies etc) which many lathes don't, they are extras and can cost an arm and a leg.  I bought it at the Midlands Exhibition and managed to get a lot of extra kit such as a set of indexable carbide lathe tools, live centre etc just for the asking.
As for setting up, even the best lathes need to be properly installed and set up to ensure accuracy, it is just a matter of degree and you can learn much about your machine in this process.   These machines are capable of very accurate work and as for backlash, every machine which uses screw threads for control has backlash to some degree, it is a function of the technology.  The ability to overcome the effects of backlash is part of the knowledge and skill of the turner.
With regard to batch production this is generally aided by various attachments, many of which can be made in the workshop.  Accessories such as carriage stops, 4 way indexable toolposts, tailstock turrets and chuck backstops are all useful additions and plans for these appear regularly in the magazines and also abound on the internet.
I can't really comment on the reliability of the lathes as this will be my first Chinese one, but I have used a small Chinese Milling Machine for some years and have had no problems so fa (except that it was destroyed in a workshop fire recently ), but take others advice and go to the showrooms and exhibitions and talk to the traders who are generally honest and open about their products, inspect the machines and then decide according to your needs.  As for size and weight if you buy a machine bigger than the 'baby' Mini Lathes you will need some kind of lifting and moving equipment as they are all heavy.  In fact the heavier the better as this will influence the accuracy as the more robust machines absorb and resist the deflections and twisting caused by the turning process.  I moved my Boxford myself by dismantling it and moving it in small sub assemblies and then rebuilt it on site but this involved all sorts of adjustments etc to get the machine accurate again.
Many people are afraid of Chinese products but remember that most electronic and electrical products are now made in China for better or worse, even Ipods, Ipads and computer modules and they seem to be reliable and well made.
By the way, if you paste your text from Word, use the 'Paste from Word' facility, it's the icon in the top bar of the comment box, then you won't get those pesky smileys all over the place where you don't want them .

Good luck,


P.S. get a Warco catalogue as well as a Chester one as many of the machines are identical except for the colour and price.


Edited By Terryd on 11/11/2010 16:16:51

JasonB11/11/2010 16:49:03
23029 forum posts
2767 photos
1 articles
One other make you could look at is Emco, good build quality and the same capacity as the 4000 series Wabeco. I had a geared head version for twenty odd years of fault free use. Pro Machine tools do both makes. Don't know what you intend to make with the lathe but be aware that a 200mm swing can be a bit limiting when it comes to stationary engine flywheels as a lot of designs are based on what will fit into a myford gap bed which is a shade under 10" dia.
The Warco 280VF is what I have had for the last two years and am very happy with it just a loose cross feed nut that needed tightening. They may be a little rough around the edges but the work that comes off it is as accurate as I want. Me and my father got it into teh wortkshop and up onto the stand so if you have 4 people it won't be an issue
wheeltapper11/11/2010 17:21:26
424 forum posts
98 photos
Posted by blowlamp on 11/11/2010 14:14:58:
Having seen the Chester lathe, I came away quite impressed with its construction and finish.
thats the one Ive got, I cant find much wrong with it. I see the price is quite low at the moment.
If you get a chester or warco do yourself a favour and throw the cutting tools they give you in the bin and buy some decent HSS tools.

Edited By wheeltapper on 11/11/2010 17:22:47

Martin W11/11/2010 17:57:48
921 forum posts
30 photos
Hi E
I have a DB7V from Chester UK and have been very happy with it. The work it turns out is good and I have been surprised by its ability as a small lathe. As per normal a little setting up was required which was no more than cleaning the protection grease from it and adjusting the gibs etc; nothing serious.
Also I have a Warco WM14 mill and this too went from box to bench and produced good results. Again a bit of fine tuning and it is turning (pun not intended but will do) out quality work. Using a fly cutter or sharp mill and the finish is almost mirror like and silky smooth.
Both Chester and Warco have good support teams and who really want to help and will try to resolve any problems one may have (usual disclaimer re involvement).
As Roy says either ditch or resharpen the carbidetipped tools supplied with the lathe and start with a set of HSS. That said I use HSS, carbide tipped and carbide insert tools on the lathe and all produced good finishes. The carbide inserts took a little getting used to but playing with the cutting speed and feed rates soon overcame any initial problems. 
In my opinion these Chinese lathes represent excellent value for money and if they had not been available I doubt whether I could have afforded to have my own little workshop.

Edited By Martin W on 11/11/2010 17:59:29

John Olsen11/11/2010 18:46:02
1256 forum posts
94 photos
1 articles
Don't let the weight of an otherwise ideal machine put you off. You will only move it a few times in a lifetime, and OK, it can be a hassle, but is worth organising for. The main thing is to avoid makeshifts, especially direct lifting and carrying, instead use things like rollers, temporary plank ways across lawns, and so on. I have three machines that would each weigh somewhere around a tonne or so, and I can shift each of them on my own. Well, on my own accompanied by a couple of prybars and at least three solid rollers about an inch diameter. That is moving them around on a concrete flooor, it gets a bit harder on slopes and soft surfaces of course.The general principle is that if it stays down low, it can't fall on you. Also the less people involved the less the confusion.
Those big machines don't need lifting onto a bench or stand, a smaller machine will of course.  but by that time you are in the workshop, presumably with a flat floor, and possibly a sturdy beam above. So it becomes easier to use either an engine hoist or a tackle attached to a beam for the final lift.
blowlamp11/11/2010 20:23:33
1634 forum posts
105 photos
The Comet is a slightly smaller machine than the DB-10V, but does have the advantage of having power crossfeed as well as a rather useful looking top slide that has a larger than usual range of travel. The top slide also has machined tee-slots for mounting tooling/accessories, or workpieces for milling. I don't recall seeing that combination on any other lathe in this price bracket.
One other feature that is a 'must have' for me is continuously variable spindle speed, as I find being able to tune out chatter whilst parting off or drilling is very convenient.
wheeltapper11/11/2010 20:59:36
424 forum posts
98 photos
one of the reasons for getting the comet was the power crossfeed.
one thing I'd suggest, take the splashback off and spray it white, a black one just sucks all the light up.
Lathejack11/11/2010 21:24:09
312 forum posts
329 photos
Hi all and the Aviator.
 I've just joined the forum and am very interested in the views on Chinese machinery.Your choice of possible lathes is quite good. Although the dovetail bed of the Ceriani is not hardened it does at least use seperate slideways for the tailstock allowing a long saddle, much better than Myfords ML10, and should last many years. As already said lots of lathes have unhardened beds and still give many years of service.
 The Warco 280 VF is a very nice machine and is in fact a Chinese copy of the Wabeco D6000 that you considered. Apart from a few small details most of the castings are the same, and thankfully the Chinese have copied the large and very wide bed slidways and hardened them so they should last a long time. As well as that you get a screwcutting gearbox and a separate feedshaft giving power cross and longitudinal feed all for much less than half the price of the admitedly very well made but very basic Wabeco. Dammit, i fancy one myself and if i didn't already have two lathes  i might have treated myself to one.
  I have been examining and fiddling with Far Easten machinery for the last twenty years, and use a Taiwanese made Warco VMC mill and for the last five or six years a Chinese made Warco 1330 geared head lathe. While most of the individual components are well made they can suffer a bit in the hands of the factories that assemble them, but this does vary a lot. So a lot of machines will be fine but faulty machines do exist, particularly the lower priced gear head machines like mine. Don,t worry about backlash on the topslide and crosslide feedscrews and carraige handwheel as you get that on all lathes to some extent no matter wherethey are made.
 My machines are however very accurate and i can use them with confidence to turn out good work.
 Most complaints and horror stories, at least by people who actually own them, are justified, i have cast iron proof of if myself, but Chinese stuff is still worth considering, any faults will be put right by the dealer and if you get a good one your laughing.
 All the best.

Edited By Gene Federici on 11/11/2010 21:25:55

Edited By Lathejack on 11/11/2010 21:30:30

Edited By Lathejack on 11/11/2010 23:42:41

Terryd11/11/2010 21:51:32
1936 forum posts
179 photos
Posted by Lathejack on 11/11/2010 21:24:09:
 Most complaints and horror stories, at least by people who actually own them, are justified, i have cast iron proof of if myself, but Chinese stuff is still worth considering.......................

 Hi Lathejack,
I wasn't trying to say that these complaints etc, were not justified, just that there were many more satisfied customers who don't make a fuss.  Unlike the Victor Meldrews who often make their views felt with some force on these forums.
David Colwill12/11/2010 10:09:19
779 forum posts
40 photos
I have had a Warco BH600 for about 5 years. I had it from new and apart from a few niggles which I sorted out as I went along I have had no trouble with it. Recently I have had more turning work and have now replaced it with 2 lathes, a Smart and Brown 1024 and a Dean Smith and Grace 13x30. I can now see both sides of the British v Chinese argument. The two British machines are in a totally different class altogether but they are considerably heavier and 4 people will NOT lift either of them. I have seen beautiful work carried out on the roughest looking machines by people who have almost limitless care and patience but this approach means that things take much longer and require more planning etc. As a beginner I would try out as many machines as possible before opting for any one in particular and I wouldn't buy one until you have had a go on it. Also remember that a shiny new lathe on its own is pretty useless, most people have the same value as their lathe in accessories and tooling (not necessarily acquired all at once) so don't forget to allow budget for tooling and other bits that you will need. 
Good luck.
EtheAv8r12/11/2010 10:21:49
111 forum posts
3 photos

Well there is some good stuff to think about here…. And as I said originally I do believe that the Chinese machines offer a lot of value for money.

I had indeed also considered the Warco range and concluded that the machine I would want from that range is the WM-280V-F with power crossfeed, but that at 210Kgs it was too heavy – as is the WM-280 Variable speed at 190Kgs (Chester DB10V is 120 Kgs) and that the machine that did fit the weight requirement was the WM-250 and this is of less interest.  The  WM-280 Variable speed seems to have the low minimum speed advantage of 50RPM with good torque over the WM280V-F with a minimum of 125 RPM – which is too fast for a beginner like me for threading operations.  They are also rather big (wide), similar to the Chester DB11V which I have seen in the flesh after a visit to Chester Tools, where I determined the smaller size of the DB10-V or Ceriani is more appropriate to my circumstances.

I have to get the machine from my front gate, round the house and across the garden (including about 30 metres of soft grass), through a Laurel hedge (gap cut for access) and across a ditch (filled in but a fair level drop) into the field (very soft) where my new workshop has been built.  I have no suitable rollers, and they would not be practical for much of this run, so the machine has to be man-handled.

I also believe the Ceriani and Wabeco machines will be quieter when running and am willing to pay the extra price for the quality of the core machine.  The Wabeco motor has twice to power of the Ceriani - but I am not sure how relevant this may be.  However I would like to be able to use other less premium priced accessories and tools easily.

Terryd12/11/2010 12:57:27
1936 forum posts
179 photos
Hi E,
I have moved a Harrison M300 (not sure about the actual weight but it must be over a tonne) over a distance of at least 60 metres using lengths of electrical conduit as rollers.  I raised the machine using a crowbar and  shims of of timber by raising each end a little at a time and slipping another shim under and using shims and blocks under the crowbar.  As it got higher, shims were replace by blocks etc.
Of course I was on concrete but you can get the same effect using a couple of scaffolding planks (borrowed, begged, hired from local firms).  In fact you'd need four planks, two under the machine and two to place in front for the next stretch.  If you're worried about the softness of the ground, a few lightweight concrete building blocks under the planks would probably suffice.
'Where there's a will there's a way'.  If the ancient Egyptians could build the pyramids and the ancient Britons, Stonehenge!!!!
JasonB12/11/2010 13:39:51
23029 forum posts
2767 photos
1 articles
Some of the specs for the 280VF are wrong on the warco site & in their catalogue, they have altered some but most refer to a belt drive machine. You will find that the lowest speed is infact 50rpm, I can get a bit lower than that on a cold day.  I actually went down to Warco to confirm what teh speeds were and they got a lathe out of the warehouse (no display model) uncrated it and pluged it in then left me to play with it.
Its a very quiet machine the only bit of noise is from the gear bango and a lot of that can be reduced by setting the gear spacing up correctly.
You should also note that most of these lathes have two speed ranges, the variable does not cover the whole 50-2000 in one go, there is a belt and twin pully to give 50-950 or 100-2000, I find the slower of the two OK for 99% of the time.
Do bear in mind that the weight is for the lathe with both chucks, faceplate, steadies etc and its a quick job to remove topslide, tailstock and even the motor so you can get the weight down quite a bit when it looks like this. I then bolted it to a bit of 8x2 timber and rolled it most of the way on some lengths of 110mm soil pipe, engine crane to get it onto the stand.
The only downside you may find with the Wabecos is the small spindle bore and for a 11" swing lathe(6000E) the 100mm chuck is a bit on the small side. I also think they use a similar chuck mounting to the Emco which is not easy to machine a backplate for so you will have to buy their expensive chucks etc.

Edited By JasonB on 12/11/2010 13:42:11

Peter Gain12/11/2010 15:22:55
103 forum posts
When studying the photos that accompany the build articles in ME, in many instances it is possible to determine the lathes used. It is interesting to note that of the several well known "names", some use British machines, others use Far Eastern ones. The one thing that they have in common is that the end product is almost invariably excellent. This suggests that it doesn't really matter which is employed if the operator knows what he is doing. The "Second Hand British v Far Eastern" discussion/argument will keep emerging simply because it can be so interesting/provocative. I have concluded that any lathe is better than no lathe!
Peter Gain.

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