Hi Estelle and all.
Lots of great discussion already, but I figured I'd chime in. I manage a community clay studio in which we have a Shimpo VL Whisper and a Brent CXC. I use a Soldner S-100 at home.
I can confirm that a Brent splash pan fits the S-100 perfectly. However, the larger half must be placed at the front of the wheel. On the Brent CXC, you can position the splash pan with either half closest to you. I really like having the smaller side close to me so I can remove it to slide pieces off the wheel without standing up. I pop it right back on and throw my next piece. Throwing at home on the Soldner, it's a bit more of a process... I end up needing to stand up and set the larger piece of the spash pan aside before sliding my piece off the wheel. Inconvenient and a bit messy... but nothing's perfect, right?
The Shimpo's splash pan has it's own issues. For a while, it's design leant itself to coming apart randomly and often, resulting in messy feet and floor. The design has been changed so that the two halves of the pan snap into a locked position. This is a huge improvement, but if you're like me and often remove the splash pan, it's still a bit of a hassle. If you are thinking about a used Whisper, look for one with an updated splash pan, or plan to buy a replacement. Shimpo was very helpful when we figured out there was a new design.
Old Shimpo Splash Pan Design:
Old Shimpo Pan Design.jpg 1.46MB
New Shimpo Splash Pan Design:
New Shimpo Pan Design 1.jpg 1.04MB
New Shimpo Pan Design 2.jpg 1.08MB
For me, the Soldner has a couple of other strengths which make it a superior wheel:
- The holes in the wheelhead are threaded for 1/4 20 bat pins. No more wing nuts! Your bat pins will never loosen again, as they screw right into the wheel head. But don't crossthread! I didn't know about this feature when I got my Soldner wheel used and forced a bat pin with a different thread. The pin ripped in half when I tried to remove it, leaving a jagged piece of metal sticking out of the wheelhead. I ended up needing to take it to a machine shop to be ground down and new holes tapped.
-The pedal is ultimately responsive and smooth. Best I've ever used.
-It feels like a stronger wheel, capable of reaching a faster top speed and handling more clay. Given that you're working small, this probably isn't a huge concern.
-The legs of the Soldner adjust super easily. One knob on each leg loosen and tighten in seconds. I set my wheel up on a roof one summer and this feature was great in levelling the wheel on a slanted surface. The Shimpo adjusts, but only to a few different settings. Each leg has two phillps screws that must be removed in order to adjust height.
My only major complaint with the Soldner (it's been said already in this thread) is that it is a beast to move. On occasion I have taken my wheel to farmers' markets and craft shows to do demos... these events are almost always followed by a trip to my chiropractor. The underside of the Soldner has a cage/grate thing to protect you from the belts and the belts from you. But it's sharp in spots and can make carrying the wheel awkward if you're doing it by yourself.
When I'm at the community studio, I almost exclusively use the Brent CXC. In addition to the CXC and VL Whisper we have 10 Pacifica GT400s. I love it almost as much as my Soldner. The pedal is great (though not Soldner great), it has a strong motor and a smooth drive. It's easy enough to move around. In order to adjust height, you need to buy leg attachments, or keep some bricks handy. It needs an uncommonly long bat pin due to the design of the wheelhead's underside. It has a smaller deck than the Soldner, but it's plenty of space for tools.
Hope this helps. I can send a picture of the Brent splash pan mounted on the Soldner wheel if you haven't yet received one.