View Full Version : Vicmarc Lathes

Five Thumbs
17th Nov 2004, 09:45 PM

I have been reading this BB for a while and have enjoyed the comments and the humour. Our group (Vietnam Veterans' Federation - Canberra ACT) is setting up two workshops (woodwork and metalwork). We are looking at one of two lathes for the wood shop - the VL175 (electronic variable speed - swivel head with outboard attachment) and the VL200SM (fixed head and 6 speed)

Most of the users will be new to woodturning but an experienced turner has offered to teach us. Any comments please on (1) how useful an outboard attachment may be and (2) whether a swivel head lathe has any inherent problems.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Five Thumbs

Cliff Rogers
17th Nov 2004, 10:18 PM

That's a bit of a Holden v Ford or Toyota V Nissan sort of a question. :D

The very fact that they make & sell both models means there is a
market for both.

I have had & still have several lathes. None of them are/were swivel head &
only one allows outboard turning & I haven't used it BUT...
that's because I build myself a pedestal lathe & it is a dedicated bowl/platter
lathe & negates the need for outboard or swivel heads.

I would put more value on the electronic variable speed that the 6 pulleys so,
I guess given the choice of only 2, I'd go for the VL175ESV.

Five Thumbs
17th Nov 2004, 10:46 PM

Thank you for the prompt reply :) .

Five Thumbs

17th Nov 2004, 11:14 PM

The questions you asked are more complicated than first thought.
1).Vl 175 is a variable speed lathe with 180 mm center height 1000 mm between centers, a swivel head and comes with a Vicmarc outboard turning attachment.
2). VL200 of your description is a 6 speed, stepped pulley fixed headstock lathe with 200 mm center height, 1000 mm between centers, no outboard turning attachment as standard.

First of I want to rid you of any generalization.

1).You ask about usefulness of an outboard turning attachment. Most outboard turning attachments are huge compromises and I would haste to say that the Vicmarc one is not a compromise but a very useful piece of gear. It makes it possible to turn outboard, i.e. on the left end of the headstock with both the 175 and 200 lathe. However it also allows you to turn at any angle between 0 gegrees ( normal turning ) and 90 degrees on the VL 175. Besides enabling one to turn larger than lathe swing blanks on the outboard, turning any size blank ( face turning) at 90 degree as is possible on the VL 175, makes it easier and more comfortable hollowing objects out, because the turner does not have to reach over the lathe bed. The hollowing/turning is done straight/ headon and it is much easier to see what one does, the turning position is more comfortable, lightning is usually better etc etc etc. Therefor my answer in short is: Not all outboard turning attachments is useful.

2).Does a swivel head have any inherent problems. The problems are structural. On many lathes the design of the swivel is such that the headstock cannot be secured securely, stable etc in the swung position. Some even have a problem with securing it in the standard position. Let me assure you that the VL-175 is NOT one of those. The VL-175 is a well designed, well constructed lathe with more stability than one could ever require in either the conventional or swung setup.

3) The VL 175 can be compared to an auto sedan and the VL200 that you mentioned to a manual sedan. There is a huge difference in the ease of use, however different people have different likes and dislikes. The VL175 has a 1 hp motor as standard, a 1.5 hp is available as an option, whereas the VL 200 has a 2 Hp motor. The center height of the VL 175 is 180 mm as opposed to the 200 mm of the VL 200 inboard, however for beginners and a club the chances that you will need the extra horsepower or even the inboard diameter is very remote. The outboard distance between the headstock spindle height and the bracket that attaches the outboard attachment is 700 mm on the VL175 which gives a theoretic diameter of 1,400 mm. The VL 200 will not vary much from this but I suspect that it is less. Most woodturners will have difficulty to perceive the size of a 1,4 meter diameter bowl. The centre to centre distance is the same on either lathe. Because of the outboard turning AND swivel head of the VL 175 it is an extremely useful and comfortable lathe to use and I would not class it as a 'smaller' lathe than the VL 200.

4) On all the Vicmarc lathes a safety lock ring is used to mount the same chuck or face plate as inboard on the outboard thread. The reason is because the thread is right handed on both inboard and outboard spindle end. Most other lathes have a left hand thread on the outboard which makes the normal inboard accessories unsuitable for outboard use. The VL 175 has a reverse switch but I am not sure about the VL 200 manual speed.The lock ring is also used for inboard reverse turning for sanding etc.

I can sing the praises of the Vicmarc equipment, more so the VL 175, for hours but that is not necessary. They definately don't need my endorsement....they can stand alone any day.

A question that I would ask myself if I was going to set up such a turning club is: How many members have we got that will be wanting to learn woodturning. Given that there will be an 'instructor' of some sorts, will it not be more beneficial to have more than 1 lathe, thereby getting more value out of every hour that the 'instructer' spends in house. Ultimately that boils down to, can we buy more than one lathe with our funds available, or will it be necessary to look at cheaper lathes to ensure that we get the most out of our turning time. In short what I am saying is that one doesn't need a Ferrari to learn how to drive........a Vdub will suffice....maybe not as smooth but has all the necessary knobs and levers to get the experience. I do not knock Vicmarc, I just query the viability of the exercise. Vicmarc is proudly Australian made and we'll be hard pressed to find better quality! Yes you have guessed it: I am a Vicmarc lathe owner.

Sorry it is long winded.................but it is just a few notes on a discussion that can last days, weeks, months................................

Good luck with your venture
Most important is to be happy and hopefully keep turning.

Five Thumbs
18th Nov 2004, 07:43 PM
Hi Joe

Thank you for your most informative response. Today we had an older type Australian built lathe, 1000mm between centres, donated and coincidentally it also has an outboard attachment.

I think we will now go for the smaller VL100EVS to take advantage of the Electronic Variable speed. This seems to offer us the best of both worlds. A reasonable size lathe for longer work and a very good quality Vicmarc so there can be two students working at the same time. The savings can certainly be put to good use for other tools.



19th Nov 2004, 07:59 AM
Another option is to get several MC900s which are fine for beginners, and if things take off invest in a 175.

Five Thumbs
19th Nov 2004, 10:06 AM

Thanks for that suggestion. I think we will need to consider all options. Should be a lively debate.


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