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Union graduate or Wadkin bzl lathe?

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KingAether

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Does anyone have experience with both and opinions on which is a better machine? Its about time i upgraded the lathe and have the chance to buy a BZL and of course the Grads are common on the used market with multiple local to me. Very similar specs, the union seems to have a better reputation but Wadkin is Wadkin of course.
Personally i like angular, tanky look of the wadkin a lot but don't know if there are any issues i should keep in mind with either.
thank you
 
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peter-harrison

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I have a Graduate which I like a lot. They are reputed to be a bit short- doesn't bother me because I too am a bit short!
There are lots of spares and accessories out there for the Graduate. I have no knowledge of the Wadkin, but from using other machines of theirs I would expect it to be well built.
 

Blister

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I would advise buying something more modern with a cast iron bed , swivle head and variable speed
 

Phil Pascoe

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I suspect your advice is good, nice as Grads and Wadkins are. I doubt people who haven't used swivel heads realise how useful it is to be able to turn the head just a few degrees, especially if your back isn't what it was. They think it's just for large outboard work but it's not. The same goes for variable speed - once you're used to it you'd never go back to a lathe without it.
 

KingAether

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I would advise buying something more modern with a cast iron bed , swivle head and variable speed
I plan on getting a 3ph machine and VFD so speed control is not such a worry, I do like the idea of a swivel head and initially was looking for a lathe with one but i just don't like the idea of having to realign it every time i move it. seems like one more point of failure to consider also.
If i where to look is there anything you could recommend on the used market(budget) that would still be around £750-1000, swivel head, variable speed and can take roughing 30" x 10" hardwood logs ?
 

Phil Pascoe

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A plus for the swivel head, possibly, is that although you have to align it after moving it (most afaik have an alignment method) it can at least be aligned accurately - possibly more accurately than a fixed one. If it's critical I use one of these -
Axminster Woodturning Lathe Alignment Centre 2MT as the alignment pin on mine is inaccurate.
 

Blister

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Some modern lathes that have swivel heads also include indents
and " Click into place at 0 / 30 /90 degrees " My lathe has a steel bar that will only slide into the zero position when at zero and yes its allingned , The Coronet herald has the indents , Other lathes probably do ,
Ask before buying
 

KingAether

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Good to know, ill keep my eye out! The more pressing issue for me would be cost, would still be looking for something heavy and solid enough around 500-1000 which i imagine puts many modern, heavy, lathes out of my range
 

Phil Pascoe

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Some modern lathes that have swivel heads also include indents
and " Click into place at 0 / 30 /90 degrees " My lathe has a steel bar that will only slide into the zero position when at zero and yes its allingned , The Coronet herald has the indents , Other lathes probably do ,
Ask before buying
My Poolewood has a pin that drops through when the holes in the base and the headstock line up. Unfortunately it puts the headstock an eighth of an inch out of line. :)
 

Blister

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Good to know, ill keep my eye out! The more pressing issue for me would be cost, would still be looking for something heavy and solid enough around 500-1000 which i imagine puts many modern, heavy, lathes out of my range
Best to save up some more cash , What size / type of work are you planning on doing ?
 

minilathe22

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Check what headstock thread the BZL has, if its an unusual and the lathe does not come with many faceplates it can be difficult to get hold of matching parts. The Union Graduate is a bit better supported in that regard.
 

OldWood

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I have a Wadkins Bursgreen, and having double checked against Google images, it is a BZL. I haven't done the homework but there appears to be a BL as well which may have other differences but doesn't seem to have the bed cut-out that mine has to allow a full 9" swing. The bed length on mine is well over a metre - there may well be long bed Graduates but I have a feeling that the one I know isn't as long as mine.

There is certainly the advantage of mass and solid workmanship with either of these - a friend got a Graduate about the same time (15 yrs ago) as I got the Wadkins, and neither has given any bother. Both are on VFD's, mine came with one and a corresponding delta arranged motor, but I had to dismantle my friend's motor to find the star point, which I didn't find a problem but many others would.

The main downside of older machines which hasn't been mentioned is that the headstock thread is always something different from the M33 that modern lathes and chucks use. So a chuck backplate always has to be involved. Similarly faceplates will similarly require that 'non-standard' thread, or have to be bushed.

Reputation is based on mass market experience and I think the Graduate had a significanlty greater educational market penetration, so has a reputation built on shear numbers.

I can't pass comment on the swivel head - I did three excellent 18" diameter platters on mine and wouldn't really want to go any bigger. I do have access to machines at the local wood turning club that have such heads If I wanted but have never felt the need.

Come back or PM if you wnat any more input.
Rob
 

KingAether

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The main downside of older machines which hasn't been mentioned is that the headstock thread is always something different from the M33 that modern lathes and chucks use. So a chuck backplate always has to be involved. Similarly faceplates will similarly require that 'non-standard' thread, or have to be bushed.
Reputation is based on mass market experience and I think the Graduate had a significanlty greater educational market penetration, so has a reputation built on shear numbers.
I believe the wadkin has a faceplate on the outboard and a chuck with many, many plates and parts over the bed and i see most unions come with at least the large alu plate so im not to worried about that; i assume there are some kind of arbor adaptor i could buy or have made also if necessary.
the comment about reputation and numbers actually really helped with something else; someone offered money for my meddings. I preffer my Kerry 8 speed but because of the reputation meddings has im hard up to let it go but its purely a numbers thing there too i belive!
Personally im, hopefully, a good 20 years out from worrying to much about back problems, between that and the outboard im not sure i would want for the swiveling headstock.
Curious thought but i wonder if anyone has ever used a saddle over the bed to sit out and put you right in front of the work
 

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