Thread: Warco Major?
Hi all, i've just posted on the introductions thread - this is the associated question. Please pardon my dropping it in cold.
I'm shaping up to buy a light mill or more likely mill drill for use in my mixed wood and light metal work shop - having more or less given up on the lack of precision and shoddy build of most budget pedestal drills. More expensive drills tend to favour engineering use - are more accurate, but still have a small work envelope. A mill drill seems a good idea, in that the milling capability it would bring would open up all sorts of possibilities.
The requirement is to cover the classic woodworking tasks first - a good wide speed range, long lever operated spindle travel (125 - 150mm) and a decent sized work envelope. The x/y positioning table of a mill/drill adds some very nice additional capability. The requirement on the metal side seems unlikely to be high precision or demanding in toolroom or heavy milling terms, but a solid, accurately aligned, reliable, sweet running and consistent machine (that won't vibrate badly/shake itself to bits at high RPM) capable of getting within say a couple of thou on light milling, slotting and routing jobs over a reasonably sized piece would be nice.
3 axis CNC conversion to enable the production of relief panels might be a future interest.
A geared machine with a tilting head would be nice for convenient speed changes and flexibility in use - but something like an Arboga U2508 in decent condition at a reasonable price is proving hard to find - and spares are horribly expensive.
I find myself looking hard at the manual version of one of the Eastern made belt drive mill drills - like the Axminster ZX 30 or more likely the Warco Major. Simple, not too expensive, easily modified and a nice big work envelope. Probably in 230V 3 phase form to take a VFD if needed to bump the speed up for overhead routing tasks and convenient speed changes. Been around for a long time, so hopefully the bugs have been knocked out long ago. The round column issue is not a show stopper - if nothing else a geared head square column machine of similar envelope is just too expensive.
The issue that's proving hard to bottom is the likely quality of one of these - there's very few indeed over here, and the distance makes any problem doubly inconvenient. Neither supplier is geared up to respond very effectively to detailed engineering queries - perhaps no surprise given the price point. I've heard good reports, and seen a few problems mentioned (e.g. possible backlash in the quill drive) but judging by budget pedestal drills quite a bit could depend on getting a good example/one from a good factory. It'd be a disaster to end up soemthing as badly made as a budget pillar drill.
To ask the hard question. What's the story on these machines? Who does the best? Can anybody offer an experience based view on the likely quality of one or other taken at random off the shelf? Does there exist a significant risk of getting left with a clunker? Warco say they provide a test report with each new machine for example, which sounds good. How effective does the warranty response tend to be in the event of problems? Etc…. all thoughts appreciated.
Last edited by ondablade; 14-03-2015 at 04:21 PM.
I don't own a mill/drill but I can tell you my experiences of buying a Warco pillar drill. The machine was very well made, well priced, and when I contacted customer services to ask about what initially appeared to be chuck runout, they called me straight back to offer advice and support. In the end it was the drill bits (which I sourced elsewhere) which were the problem not the drill. I've been delighted with the drill so if I was in the market for a mill or mill/drill then I'd certainly consider a Warco.
They display at various trade shows around the country so you might be able to see the machines in person. They bring a range of mills, drills, and lathes along so even if they don't have the actual machine you are interested in there should be something in that range to give you a feel for how they are made.
I've got a WARCO Major GH mill and I'm pretty happy with it. However I'd recommend not getting a round column mill as you lose position when moving the head up and down which can be a right pain sometimes as you then have to find centre again before carrying on. Yes it's a Chinese mill so not a patch on s bridgeport but if you don't want it for production (just one offs) then it's fine. I've used mine for machining parts for my cnc router, making one off pieces at work, jigs etc. I've also been happy with the response I got from them when I had a problem getting the arbour out of the spindle.Neil...
Ta guys. Part of the reason for the thread is that i'm in ireland, and can't easily get to see the machines. Coming over is an option, but it only coveres the bases so far too.
I should say that the feedback on Warco i've seen has been positive, and the machines hold their value well. Which bodes well. They seem to have a pretty minimalist approach, but to cover the bases. A specialist supplier with a brand to protect sounds like a better bet than a box store type operation anyway.
I'm aware of the round column issue Neil, but the trouble is that a square column model with anything approaching the same size of work envelope gets expensive. Work arounds seem feasible. I've run Bridgeports and the like, and appreciate that this is different territory - but the aim isn't tool room capability anyway.
Guess the big issue is whether or not an off the shelf Major can be expected to be a good one. Whether or not there's a significant risk of getting a bad machine...
PS interested to see both your avatars/pics. I flew quite a lot of F3A R/C comp aerobatics until the early 90s when work got in the way. There seem to be quite a few involved in modelling here and on other machining sites..
Last edited by ondablade; 14-03-2015 at 07:19 PM.
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