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Warco WM240B

It has taken me months of looking and comparing lathes to get to the point where I ordered this lathe.

I looked at the Quantum lathes and on paper they look great, but when I went and spoke to the UK importer and had a look at a lathe they were no different to any of the other Chinese imports. The supposed "German" quality checking and engineering really was not in evidence. The warning I got from the Quantum importer was that the variable speed units had a habit of failing. This comment made me wary of the other variable speed lathes which may be unfair (would love to know your experience).


Review

So the Warco WM240B was ordered and delivered 3 weeks later (delivery included) and the delivery person was happy to deliver and move the lathe to a point that I could then unpack and install.

With the chuck and steadies removed it was just about possible to lift the lathe between two of us. Although I do think we will both know we lifted it for the next couple of days!!.


Specification:

  • Centre Height: 120mm
  • Maximum Swing: 240mm
  • Between Centres: 400 mm
  • Turning diameter over carriage: 145mm
  • Cross slide travel: 110mm
  • Headstock: MT3
  • Headstock bore: 21mm
  • Tailstock: MT2
  • Motor: 550W
  • Spindle Speeds: 125, 210, 420, 620, 1000, 2000rpm

The tool clamping bolts have a square head and the lathe comes with a special T-handle box spanner. So it is very easy to change tools. I made some packing pieces out of different thicknesses of aluminium as even the 12mm tools need packing to get to centre height.

Having used aluminium tool packing for some time I would not recommend it as it has a tendency to pick up any pieces of metal left behind and they get embedded into the aluminium. The result is they do not always sit flat. A better way is to use brass shims or an old set of feeler gauges.


One of the first things that struck me when first using this lathe was how stiff the toolpost is allowing you to take very large cuts.

This is of course helped by the 12mm tools that just do not budge.

I bought a left-hand and a right-hand TCT cutting tool from Glanze. These work great as the 12mm tool is so stiff and so very precise cuts can be made.


The cover over the belts and gears is made from fibreglass and is fixed in place by two knurled thumbwheels.

This is one of the more tacky pieces of the lathe and is just not to the same quality as the rest of the construction.

Also the safety switch consists of a steel pawl fixed to the cover and this locates into the other side of the switch that is fixed to the headstock. The alignment of this is tricky to get right.


The gears are steel and from the limited running to date are very quiet.

One thing that is lacking with this lathe is the lowest speed of 100rpm. A toothed belt drive is used to get the reduction to a 3 stage v-belt pulley and the toothed drive is very quiet.

Will have to see if somebody out there has designed a further reduction drive - my other thought was to fit a 3 phase motor and then an inverter speed control - thoughts? ed


At the top of the photo on the left you can see the toothed belt reduction pulley.

As yet this has been running fine, but have thought that I ought to buy a spare belt...


The motor drives a toothed belt reduction drive for the three lowest speeds in the range with a V-belt pulley with 3 steps that then drives the spindle.

The motor also drives a V pulley with three steps that is used for the three highest spindle speeds.

Changing speed is quite a simple task of slackening the tensioning roller, moving the belt and then re-tightening the tensioner pulley.

You don′t need to go mad and tighten the bet too far.


I made up a piece of 1/4" steel packing as it is very useful sometimes to use 1/4" square HSS tools as they can give you a bit more access, especially when machining a recess.

The 1/4" steel tools tend to be much shorter and so not possible to catch them under the wider spaced bolts, but the first two bolts give an adequate clamping force.


I have been machining a cylinder for a new engine and so using a parting tool to cut the grooves for the cooling fins.

After lots of broken tools and some very poorly formed fins I realised that the saddle was moving under the load.


It took me some hunting in the manual to find how you lock the saddle to the bed.

As you can see there is a large caphead that you tighten to achieve this.

I tried moving the bed with this tightened you can still move the bed slightly - you will need to have a play and get used to how tight it needs to be to stop the bed moving.

Also, clearance on the cross-slide adjustment bolts is not great with an allen key left in this bolt - also be careful to release before you apply the auto feed.


Changing the Chuck

First of all make sure that the lathe is unplugged.

I then use the chuck key to hold the chuck and with a spanner loosen the nuts at the back.

This should not be too hard as hopefully you have not over tightened it the previous time.


You will need to loosen the nuts and then slide the chuck forward as you will not be able to get the nuts off otherwise.

Be carefull as the chuck is heavy and best not to drop it on the bed - if anything protect the bed with a piece of flat wood.


Before putting any chuck onto the lathe ensure it is clean.

Any swarf caught between the mating surfaces will damage the surface and cause misalignment.


The headstock spindle nose.


...again ensure that the spindle nose is clean before replacing the chuck.


Tightening the chuck up.

I go around and do each bolt an amount at a time and then go around again.


Collet Chuck

This is an ER25 collet chuck with 100mm recess and backplate - total cost is approximately 70

The backplate does take a couple of hours to machine and get correct, note that Warco do not supply bolts to fix the collet chuck to the backplate.

read more...

Face Plate

I have had this lathe quite a lot of time and this was the first time I needed to use the face plate.

I have to say that the faceplate that was sent with the lathe is massive.

This shows it fully in-place and bolted-up, but this was easier said than done...


When I say this is a tight fit, I mean tight.

The studs that were supplied were totally the wrong length - I ended up cutting them down and so removing around 10mm of the overall length.

The face plate was so tight that I had to tight the bolts in stages and so wind the face plate onto the headstock. This worried me as it would not be so easy to remove.

In use the headstock worked fine and I managed to machine a hole through the base of the tiny half beam engine that I have been working on.

As I thought though the removal of the face plate took some effort, slackening off bolts and gentle giving it a nudge with a wooden mallet, rotating and again giving a whack.


The chuck guard rests on the edge of the face plate which is a problem as it needs to be lowered to activate the safety switch...

The faceplate is solid enough and great for big stuff, but does need some work to make it easier to fit and remove and something needs to be done about the safety guard.


Proving that this lathe is capable of turning some very large metal.

a piece of 115mm OD aluminium 6082 that is being bored out to 85mm - I was able to take 0.5mm cuts at 210rpm.


If you have experience of this lathe or would like to discuss another lathe then do drop me a line editor@glue-it.com.

Price: 975 from warco.co.uk as of May 2012

Conclusion

Ordering process and delivery was first class, all the parts were there and in very good condition.

  • 4 months old: a cracking piece of equipment that I would highly recommend. I would like a milling machine of the same quality if possible - with the belt drive.....
  • 3 years and 8 months old: this is the workhorse for all of the metal turning that I do. I have machined wheel hubs for a rally car, cylinder barrell for an air-cooled IC engine with some difficult deep fins and have machined some finer detailed parts at 1000rpm. I have been around and tightened up saddles and taken some backlash out of handles, as expected really. I have thought about fitting a 3 phase motor and inverter, but quite frankly the range of speeds is good and as of yet with the work I have done with this lathe have not found it lacking.

See also: Glanze Tools, Soba HSS 12mm Tools, Tools.


Some examples of models built using this lathe:

Poppet Valve Engine

A single cylinder poppet valve engine.


Oscillating Engine

An agricultural looking oscillating engine with an intention to expand the exhaust gas through a turbine.


Paper or Book Press

A wooden framed paper press, I turned the nut and screw handle parts on the Warco lathe.