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Thread: Comparing Vicmarc VL240 and VL300

  1. #1
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    Comparing Vicmarc VL240 and VL300

    These are my thoughts

    The VL300 has a 2 kw motor the VL 240 has a 1.5 kw motor is the additional 25% (0.5 kw) a deal breaker

    VL300 fixed head VL240 swivel head

    My understanding is the swivel head mechanism on the VL 240 is a good example of a swivel head My question is can dust and debris cause an issue with the lathe

    Stuart Batty recommends a fixed head because of the issue with dust and debris becoming trapped beneath the headstock but is this an issue with some lathes but not the Vicmac Vl240

    Does the option of the swivel headstock outweigh any disadvantage

    Cost

    United kingdom VL300 5450 VL240 5250 a difference of 250

  2. #2
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    I do 95% of my turning outboard on swivel head lathes. I prefer to turn that way, as does my back.

    I have used both Vicmarc and Woodfast swivel heads... can't say that debris has been an issue. A bit of graphite helps to make the swivel turn smoothly.

    On the extra 0.5kW, what would you use the extra power for? IME, with the exception of large diameter coring, 1.5kW/2hp will turn everything that I can fit on a lathe of that size. If you expect to do some heavy duty larger diameter coring, which I find is the most demanding on the power/torque, the extra 0.5kW might be worth it.

    The only other situation I can think of in which the power/torque could be topped out is with doing heavy duty roughing scraper cuts. If you are into turning that way you might also benefit from the extra 0.5kW.

    I have a mate who turns professionally on Vicmarcs and he prefers to do most of his turning on the smaller VL175 swivel head that only has 1.5hp than on his larger VL300, but then he does have that if he ever needs it.

    Glenn Lucas uses VL240s in his workshop/classroom and said it has 'plenty power'...
    Neil

    About the same distance from most of you heading East or West.

    It's easy to see the Dunning-Kruger Effect in others, but a bit of a conundrum when it comes to yourself...



  3. #3
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    I have been using the VL175 lathes with a swivel head on and off for years at my turning club, we have three of them. They are and have been used daily in the time I've been a member, with the exception of the pandemic. Their swivel head mechanism is identical in it's design and probably all of the associated hardware needed for a swivel head as the VL240 lathe.

    One of the best aspects of the swivel head is the ability to do a 45 swivel and still use the OEM banjo attached to the bed, this is a very comfortable position to turn. Another aspect, particularly if you are left handed, is the ability to safely* run the lathe in reverse whilst at a 45 swivel and work on the right side of a bowl/platter. I have seen one person doing this at the club.

    If you are going to use the swivel head all the way, then you may need to factor in the cost of the outboard turning kit, which is not exactly on the cheap side, but it is nonetheless really heavy duty and doesn't move as it can be grounded, literally, for great support.

    The VL300 is about size, power and outboard turning using a tripod (or similar) mounted tool rest, where your turning size is dictated by the height above the floor level.

    Whichever lathe you get, consider getting a set of Vicmark tool rests, the standard is 300mm in length. I had Vicmark make a set of tool rests for my lathe, 100mm, 200mm and 400mm to compliment my OEM 300mm tool rest; definitely one of the best things I have acquired.

    I do coreing on a regular basis with a 2.2kW 3 phase motor, that grunt certainly is handy when coreing. It is not necessary to have the more powerful motor, but it certainly makes life a lot easier.

    * https://vicmarc.com/product-page/lat...collars-detail

  4. #4
    I own a 240, and have had it about 3 years now. It is my favorite lathe to turn bowls on. My other big lathe is an American Beauty, and I also have a Robust Liberty, their 16 inch sliding headstock lathe. I do not like turning bowls on long bed lathes. The problem is that you have to hold your arms out away from your body to turn, and this is worse when turning the inside of the bowl. I don't want to lean over. As for dust and other stuff getting under the headstock, that is a very minimal problem. I have found it to be more of a problem with the tailstock. I do brush off the bed before sliding the headstock. One thing Stuart had yet to figure out, in my opinion, is that the vibration issues he talks about with sliding headstock lathes, is caused in part by headstock design. The Oneway, and Robust lathes have the headstock spindle mounted in a bell housing, the purpose of which is to make the spindle removable in one piece. What this dies is move the mounting point out another 2 or so inches from the headstock tower. With the Vicmark, the headstock spindle mount is pretty much right on the headstock tower. This does make a big difference to me. The Laguna lathes built a big cone to extend their mounting point out. This cantilevering off of the tower is supposed to be for 'easier access to the bottom of the bowl when reversed'. I am done with the bottom when I reverse, so a non issue for me. Another source of vibration issues on sliding headstocks is the pressure plate on the headstock. A friend got a big Shopfox lathe, and the pressure plate on the bottom of the headstock, tailstock and banjo were all the same, maybe 2 inch diameter. Way too small. That was only one issue with the lathe, he ended up sending it back... On my AB, the pressure plate is the same size as the headstock tower, which to me is the way it should be done. On my PM, it was a block, 4 inches wide by 5 inches long. I consider that to be adequate.

    As for the pivoting headstock, it has 3 set positions. One is parallel with the bed. 2 is at 30 degrees, and I think the old ones were at 45 degrees, but don't know. The other setting is at 90 degrees for turning 'down to the floor' pieces. The outboard set up for the tool rest is a bit awkward for standard bowls. The banjo on the lathe works fine at the 30 degree setting. To rotate the headstock, pull a set pin, swing into position, insert the pin, and setting is dead on. I did find it a bit difficult to place the pin, and rounded off the point on it a bit, and put indicator marks on the pivot plate. There is also a lever on the rotation plate to lock it in place once you rotate the headstock. I didn't see it in the instructions, but figured it out by myself. I just may not have seen it.

    I believe mine has a 2 hp motor. One other major asset as far as I am concerned is it has 3 speed ranges, as does my AB, which was one of the first ones out. The advantage to this is that low speed is too slow for a lot of the bowls I turn, and high speed is too high for coring. Mid speed range is just right. I don't like having to stop the lathe to change belt speeds.... Maybe some day some one will invent an automatic transmission for lathes other than the Reeves drive. Oh, the speed on the Vicmark goes down almost to zero before the lathe turns off. The tailstock does swing to 90 degrees, but when you swing it back, it fits into place perfectly. I do like the gas assist on the AB. It is the best 'get the tailstock out of the way so you don't get a hole in your elbow' solution of all I have seen. I did have Brent walk me through adjusting the inverter on my AB to get a rotation of about 15 rpm in the low speed range. I need this for sanding my warped bowls. He cautioned me to feel the motor to see if it is heating up. It actually runs cooler when I sand than it does when I turn bowls. As near as I can tell, when sanding, the motor is working more as a brake and less as a drive mechanism. You can get a bowl spinning pretty fast with the angle drill. My 3520A, which was one of the first ones, would go down to almost 0 before it would turn off. When they came out with the B, they had the slow speed down to 50 before it would turn off. I asked them about it and they commented "Your motor will over heat and you will fry your electronics!" I told them that I had sanded out thousands of bowls at those speeds and had no problems at all. They responded, "no, we have done tests in our labs and your motor will overheat and you will fry your electronics." Not true at all......


    One side note, the farther your pieces extend out away from the headstock, the more vibration issues you are going to have. If that doesn't make sense to you, think hollow forms. With bowl turning, if the tailstock is engaged, there are no vibration issues. You will still get some when you core though.

    I don't think anyone in the US has them in stock. Some one over on the AAW forum picked one up from Canada. Craft Supplies said they could get one, but it would take 2 months, or some thing like that. Not sure about Woodworker's Emporium.

    robo hippy

  5. #5
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    Thank you Neil ,Mick and Reed for your comments and advice

    In Summery
    The Vl300 has the following advantages
    Fixed headstock (Stuarts preference) A 2kw motor compared to the VL240 at 1.5kw The benefits of a larger motor are coring and heavy scrapping

    The VL 240 has rotating headstock which provides greater comfort

    My questions

    Does the extra 0.5kw of the VL300 make a discernable difference in day to day turning and my question to Mike, Neil and Reed is If you were purchasing your first Vicmarc now which model would you choose

    Other Simon Hope who a Uk distributer of Vicmarc lathes his personal lathe is the Vicmarc 240
    Last edited by Brian Deakin; 06-13-2022 at 2:16 PM.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Deakin View Post
    Thank you Neil ,Mick and Reed for your comments and advice

    In Summery
    The Vl300 has the following advantages
    Fixed headstock (Stuarts preference)
    I wouldn't let Stuart's personal bias influence you to much. He's a great turner, but the only professional I know of that consistently recommends against sliding and pivoting headstocks Many professionals and countless of us hobbyists successfully use Powermatic, Robust, Nova and other brands with a sliding or pivoting headstock. I don't own one, but I think that VL240 is a very sweet and well made lathe. If I was looking at replacing my lathe, it would be high on my list.
    "Only a rich man can afford cheap tools, as he needs to buy them again and again"

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Deakin View Post

    ...my question to Mike, Neil and Reed is If you were purchasing your first Vicmarc now which model would you choose
    If I was purchasing a lathe here now in Australia to be my only lathe it would probably be the VL240, because I much prefer to turn outboard. My preference is for swivel head over sliding head as the headstock set at 90 to the length of the bed provides a counter weight when turning larger out of balance pieces. The VL240 would have more than enough power for my everyday purposes, including most of the coring I might want to do in green wood.

    But, having said that, the outboard toolrest arrangement for the Vicmarcs (that comes at an extra cost) that is needed to allow you to swivel to 90 has that heavy steel post that goes right down to the floor and is too cumbersome for my liking. I much prefer the outboard rigs that attach to the lathe, like these that have been on on all of my Woodfasts over the last 50yrs...

    Woodfast outboard rig.png
    And, they are not very
    expensive as a retrofit

    Nova and Record have ones that also attach to the lathe without the post going right down to the floor, but look quite flimsy to me.

    At least with the sliding headstock lathes you get a very satisfactory toolrest arrangement, but that also come at an additional cost for larger diameters pieces. In the sliding headstocks I would probably go with the Laguna Revo 18/36 Lathe. Its 2hp and outboard swing of 32" would be more than enough for me nowadays.
    Neil

    About the same distance from most of you heading East or West.

    It's easy to see the Dunning-Kruger Effect in others, but a bit of a conundrum when it comes to yourself...



  8. #8
    As I said before, there are things Stuart hasn't considered as contributors to vibration issues. I still would opt for the Vicmark 240. I could learn to turn bowls on a long bed lathe, but don't like having to hold my arms out away from my body, or lean against the bed of the lathe, which I consider risky. The option for that is a pivoting headstock or a sliding headstock. You can stand straight up for all phases of bowl turning, and that makes your back feel a lot better at the end of the day. I have had sliding headstock lathes for all but 2 years of my almost 30 years of turning, and I mostly turn bowls. I liked my 3520A very much, and the headstock spindle mount was right on the headstock tower, pretty much the same way it is on the Vicmark. When they came out with the B model, they added a cone to extend the mounting point farther off of the headstock, and changed the speed settings. I like the A better than the B or C. I like my Robust AB as well, and got it because I figured I needed 3 hp because I could easily stall my PM lathe. Well, I had no problem stalling my AB as well, and in chatting with the late great Bill Grumbine, he commented that he hadn't met a lathe he couldn't stall. There are several reasons for belts slipping in the pulleys. If I do add another full sized lathe to my shop, it will be another Vicmark 240. It is a comfort thing. Only problem I have with it is that because it is made on the other side of the equator, they do things backwards there, and the speed control goes the opposite way compared to my other lathes.

    There used to be claims that the beds on the lathes would flex if the headstock was in the middle. My AB bed is 6 feet long. I could get up on the bed and jump up and down in the middle, and not get any vibration at all, and I ain't little. There used to be claims that the steel tube beds didn't dampen vibration the way that the cast iron did. As near as I can tell, the only real difference is that they make different noises when you turn.

    Stuart is a good demonstrator. There are a number of things he says that I don't agree with. His claim of 'no tear out' on his bowls.... Me, being me, went up to feel one of his 'no tear out' bowls after he was done. While true, if you were not looking at under good lighting, you would see little to no tear out. Put your hands on the bowl and you have no trouble feeling it. Not sure if he still does this part, since he does change things some times, but he used to say that the end grain is what causes spindle roughing gouges to catch when you try to turn bowls with them. One example he uses is the video that Ian 'Robbo' Robertson, from Australia did. Hmm, since the end grain comes around twice each revolution, and Ian was turning for 'hours' the night before and couldn't get a catch, in my book, that means there must be another cause. If you watch that video, and I suggest it, what causes the catch is that Robbo extends way out off of the tool rest, then he raises the handle. Once you come off the bevel on that peeling type cut, which does work on spindles, you are pointing your fingers into the spinning fan blade the wrong way, so of course you get a catch. He used to say that you could not do a 40/40 grind with a V fluted gouge like the Thompson or D Way. He has changed that now, emphasizing that you have to roll quickly from nose to wing. He does learn.

    robo hippy
    Last edited by Reed Gray; 06-14-2022 at 10:42 AM.

  9. #9
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    Thank you to everyone for you content and advise

    Can anyone please clarify/confirm if the lower power 1.5kw (2 horsepower ) motor of the Vl240 presents and disadvantages when compared to the Vl300 other than coring

    I view Stuart as a superb trainer/demonstrator and believe he should be particularly applauded for his 34 Videos on Vimeo

    https://vimeo.com/woodturning

  10. #10
    I may have turned on a 300 once, but don't really remember. To me, the important factor with horsepower is the pulleys. Proper pulley rations will generate all the power you need. I don't see any difference in the available power between my 3 hp Robust and my 2 hp Vicmark 240. Both have 3 speeds. You most likely need as much torque for heavy roughing cuts as you do for coring. There seems to be no difference in the two lathes when I am roughing out my bowls with the 1 inch wide Big Ugly tool.

    Stuart is very entertaining. I hope it didn't come across as a bashing, but I don't agree with everything he says. I don't agree with every thing I say either, which means I am constantly experimenting and trying to find out what works best for me. I don't take anyone's word as gospel about anything, including mine, as in I reserve the right to change my mind if I discover some thing else. I have made a bunch of videos as well. The one I consider the most important is 'Standing out of the line of fire'.

    robo hippy

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reed Gray View Post

    Stuart... Not sure if he still does this part, since he does change things some times, but he used to say that the end grain is what causes spindle roughing gouges to catch when you try to turn bowls with them. One example he uses is the video that Ian 'Robbo' Robertson, from Australia did.
    I remember well that short video made by 'Robbo'. I refrained from commenting on it at the time as the intention of the video was to warn novice turners about the dangers of using SRGs in cross grain turning, which I fully endorse, so didn't want to distract from that.

    If anyone hasn't seen it... the catch happens at 2mins 45secs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOhHeyoZLaY

    However, any experienced bowl turner could see that catch coming well before it happened. As Robbo said at the beginning of his video, the standard grind profile that is used on spindle work is the problem and especially with the way he presents it to the wood in the video... or as Robbo said "the way a normal person would". But, an experienced bowl turner wouldn't present that tool to the wood that way or with that grind.

    Final shear cutting, as distinct from roughing down, on the outside of a bowl with a continental gouge (or SRG) the way you have shown you do Reed is a different proposition altogether.

    Elsewhere I put a more nuanced position on the use of SRGs on cross grain bowl work... which Robbo agrees with... in which I said...

    However, I fail to see the difference between using a milled 1" SRG with swept back wings and longer handle, and a 1" 'U' bowl gouge to rough down the outside of the same bowl blank. I wouldn't recommend either for the novice turner, but suggest it may be a closer call for a very experienced bowl turner who wants to give themselves a workout...
    On Robbo, he is a master spindle turner on anything up to very long, large and heavy pieces that required overhead cranes and forklifts to get them on and off the lathe. He is one of the last turners (at least here in Australia) to make a living with the skew which he did for 30yrs (now retired). Robbo is a generous teacher and his 7 part YouTube series called 'Treatise on the skew' is well worth seeing if you haven't yet mastered that tool yourself... https://www.youtube.com/user/Ozwoodturner1/videos
    Neil

    About the same distance from most of you heading East or West.

    It's easy to see the Dunning-Kruger Effect in others, but a bit of a conundrum when it comes to yourself...



  12. #12
    I chatted with Robbo a few times via the Australian turning forum. Really nice guy. When people ask about taking their chucks apart to clean them, I refer them to his videos on the Nova and Vicmark chucks. His videos are much better than the ones from the manufacturers.

    robo hippy

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reed Gray View Post
    I chatted with Robbo a few times via the Australian turning forum. Really nice guy. When people ask about taking their chucks apart to clean them, I refer them to his videos on the Nova and Vicmark chucks. His videos are much better than the ones from the manufacturers.

    robo hippy
    Agreed!

    And, here are his chuck cleaning videos if anyone would like to see them...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TNSbMA2U_w

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-S-NZSqaPuo

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PF3IfVkbCxE
    Neil

    About the same distance from most of you heading East or West.

    It's easy to see the Dunning-Kruger Effect in others, but a bit of a conundrum when it comes to yourself...



  14. #14
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    Brian,
    Might not be a factor for you but for me, the primary factor in choosing the VL 240 was maintaining a comfortable posture because of back & neck issues. I've only had the machine for a few weeks but can honestly say being able to swivel the head has been a game changer for me. It does make a difference for me especially in turning the inside and sanding for twice turned bowls. Not a lot of info available online for this machine but here's a couple pics that show the swivel head.
    Lazy Turner 4a.jpgLazy Turner 3a.jpgLazy Turner 2a.jpgLazy Turner 1a.jpg
    Member Turners Anonymous Pittsburgh, PA

  15. #15
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    Reed states
    "There used to be claims that the steel tube beds didn't dampen vibration the way that the cast iron did. As near as I can tell, the only real difference is that make different noises when you turn"

    I spoke a number of years ago to a member of staff who worked for a supplier of lathes with Steel tube beds
    The employee said the reason for using steel tubes was it allowed the Chinese manufacturer to pack more disassembled lathes into a cargo container so it saved substantially on shipping costs
    Further he stated it was essential when assembling the lathe to ensure the tail stock and headstock were assembled so the point of a cone centre in the tail stock matched exactly with the point of a drive centre placed the headstock

    I
    Last edited by Brian Deakin; 06-19-2022 at 10:24 AM.

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