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Please help me choose between Thomas Stuart vs. Shimpo VL Whisper wheels. Stool suggestions are also welcome.


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#1 MichaelP

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 11:24 AM

I'm thinking about buying a new wheel for my home hobby studio. My experience with wheels is next to zero, but I tried VL Whispers and am aware of how totally silent they are.

I don't think I'll ever need to turn 75 or 100lb of clay: I'm not into the monumental size pottery. :)However, I may envision vases up to 1 1/2' tall and 1' wide as the max imaginable size I may ever want to make. I have no idea how much clay those will need. As I see it now, 99% of my work will be at or below 1'x1'x1' or so.

Based on the reviews I read, my choice came to the following models: either Shimpo VL Whisper or one of the 1/3 HP or 1/2 HP Thomas Stuart wheels (you can see some models here: http://www.clay-king...ery_wheels.html )

I assume that if I go with one of the Thomas Stuart models, I should choose a large removable pan vs. the small one of the Prodigy or the non-removable of the Classic model. Is this a correct assumption? How convenient are those large pans in terms of actual working on the wheel, keeping tools and a bucket of water nearby or need to remove the head in order to take off the pan? Do you prefer those pans over the two part ones of the Whisper? And yes, I will use pans with my wheel.

How noisy are Thomas Stuart wheels? Do you think that paying extra for a 1/2 HP model will make any difference for my needs?

Any suggestions on a comfortable stool suitable for an average male and female?

Thank you in advance.


Mike

#2 justanassembler

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 12:20 PM

Generally I feel as though wheel preferences are just that--preferences. Certainly a VL-Whisper does not match up in terms of torque to some of the more powerful wheels, but I have thrown large pots on mine and am not bothered by it... What wheels have you used?

#3 neilestrick

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 12:20 PM

I'm a huge fan of the TS wheels. I've got 11 of them. 10 are 1/3hp, and I have yet to make anything that bogs them down. I make a lot of 50 pound planters and 25lb platters with no problem. The large splash pan holds about 4 gallons of slop, and will keep your floor much cleaner. Get the built in splash pan. It makes the wheel even heavier, and the solid sides are nice to brace against when making large pots. It's just as easy to clean, and you won't be cleaning it every day anyway.

I do not like the Shimpo Whisper at all. The silence drives me nuts, and they have very little torque.

Attached File  torque.gif   7.58KB   25 downloads

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#4 JBaymore

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 12:33 PM

If you can, go get a chance to throw on those wheels. That should tell you a lot.

There a re a lot of threads asking this same kind of question here...... look around a bit too. Lots of opinions.

best,

..............john
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#5 MichaelP

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 03:19 PM

I read everything I could find in the Net, including this site. Still many unanswered questions remain...

Trying to compare is nice, but were do I find a place that will allow me to try and compare wheels before I buy one? :)src="http://ceramicartsda...ult/smile.gif"> Besides, I'm not an expert to immediately find pluses and minuses. I can more or less make a technical assessment of how well the wheel is built, but I don't have enough skills to assess it as a potter.

Even such a seemingly simple issue as a preference for certain pan types appears to be too complicated. I've heard that many people hate built-in (non-removable) pans, yet Neilestrick likes this design. How do you clean them, Neil? Do you find removing the stuff from them as simple and effective as rinsing a removable pan? What model of TS you have? Where do you keep your water bucket and tools when you're working? What's the largest size of a bat you can use on the wheel?

#6 clay lover

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 03:42 PM

Big difference to me is that the TS wheel head is belt driven, so it stays stopped when I stop it, so I can alter pots on the wheel with out the wheel moving around while I work. Shimpo is not a belt and it free wheels, I HATE that.

TS is a large wheel, you will sit a bit farther from the center of the wheel that with the Shimpo. If you have short arms, or are small, that may be a problem.

Big TS splash pan, I like. I put water and most used tools in the pan, close to me. The removable TS pan, not the round,, but the pan the shape of the wheel base, is easy to remove along with the head, I rarely take it off, only when I recycle. I dump trimmings out and into a pug mill. I put a roll of insulating foam around the pan edge, it abraded my knees! works well.
Don't want a Shimpo, saw too many burn out at school. and don't like free wheel head. If the noise is a problem, turn up the music!

#7 Surubee

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 03:50 PM

Where are you located? Are there any local community art centers or studios near you which may have different wheels set up so you could go and try them? Maybe you could call and ask if you could come in to test them out, or perhaps sign up for a one semester class so you can have access to the facilities. Even though I have a studio at home, I like to take occasional classes elsewhere just for fun and to meet other people making pottery.

Susan

#8 neilestrick

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 03:59 PM

I read everything I could find in the Net, including this site. Still many unanswered questions remain...

Trying to compare is nice, but were do I find a place that will allow me to try and compare wheels before I buy one? Posted Image Besides, I'm not an expert to immediately find pluses and minuses. I can more or less make a technical assessment of how well the wheel is built, but I don't have enough skills to assess it as a potter.

Even such a seemingly simple issue as a preference for certain pan types appears to be too complicated. I've heard that many people hate built-in (non-removable) pans, yet Neilestrick likes this design. How do you clean it, Neil? Do you find removing the the stuff from it as simple and effective as rinsing a removable pan? What model of TS you have? Where do you keep your water bucket and tools when you're working? What's the largest size of a bat you can use on the wheel?


A lot of people don't like splash pans, period. The TS pans are 3" from the front edge of the wheel head, so they don't crowd the wheel like most other pans. I never used a pan when I threw on a Brent. Way too close to the wheel from comfort. Never had a problem with the TS.

To clean it, I just pop off the wheel head (twist and lift), and scoop out all the crud. If it's really dirty, I scrape down the sides with a wooden rib. About once a year I clean it completely with a scrubby sponge and water. Remember, this won't be in a community studio where you have to get it clean and shiny after every use. Nothing wrong with leaving it dirty. But I can clean it as fast as the removable pan. Scoop out the crud, wipe it down with a scrubby and a sponge and you're done.

A 16" bat will fit inside the splash pan. For anything larger, they make a shaft extension. But you can throw a 22" platter on a 16" bat.

I primarily use a 1/2hp with the built in pan. My other 10 are all 1/3hp. 3 of them have the built in pan, the rest have removable pans.

My water bucket sits in the pan, my tools go on a bat resting on the corner of the pan. For several years now I've been meaning to build a removable shelf system to go on the pan.....
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#9 levoslashx

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 10:24 PM

I work with a 1/2 horse TS with the removable splash pan and the SSX drive. It's pretty quiet, and the foot pedal is nice and sensitive. I guess I'd say it's smooth, if that means anything. The wheel head isn't too difficult to remove, and the splash pan holds a lotta mess. I've thrown 24 lbs on it and it handled it with ease. I have a little quarter circle of wood that I put on the corner of the splash pan to set my tools on, else they can get lost in the slop.

In all I really like it. I can't speak for Shimpo's as I've never used one, but a Thomas Stuart is definitely a quality wheel.

#10 OffCenter

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 10:38 PM

Thomas Stuart is a good wheel. Convenient that the graph Neil shows left off the Brent EX which is more powerful than the Thomas Stuarts. I've owed TS, Brents and Shimpos. A wheel I have never owned but have used and I think is the best of all is the Soldner. They don't advertize so it's often overlooked. Not only is it a great wheel but they have sense enough to know that the splash pan should be an option instead of automatically making it part of the wheel.

Jim
E pur si muove.

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#11 MichaelP

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 02:34 AM

Thank you for sharing your experience, guys.

I just noticed that Neil is my neighbor. Neil, is there a way I could visit your studio and check your TS wheels? I'll be happy to pay for the opportunity.

Mike

#12 neilestrick

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 08:29 AM

Thomas Stuart is a good wheel. Convenient that the graph Neil shows left off the Brent EX which is more powerful than the Thomas Stuarts.
Jim


I'm not sure the EX was available at the time that graph was made. The EX has a rating of 450lbs in a 1.5hp motor, the TS Pro has a 400lb rating in a 1hp motor. TS is using their power more efficiently. The EX also costs more. So I'd say the TS wins.Posted Image Soldner also figured this out a long time ago-smaller motors used more efficiently.
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#13 neilestrick

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 08:30 AM

Thank you for sharing your experience, guys.

I just noticed that Neil is my neighbor. Neil, is there a way I could visit your studio and check your TS wheels? I'll be happy to pay for the opportunity.

Mike


Any time, no charge. Give me a call.
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#14 OffCenter

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 09:08 AM


Thomas Stuart is a good wheel. Convenient that the graph Neil shows left off the Brent EX which is more powerful than the Thomas Stuarts.
Jim


I'm not sure the EX was available at the time that graph was made. The EX has a rating of 450lbs in a 1.5hp motor, the TS Pro has a 400lb rating in a 1hp motor. TS is using their power more efficiently. The EX also costs more. So I'd say the TS wins.Posted Image Soldner also figured this out a long time ago-smaller motors used more efficiently.


I don't know. Every time I center 450 lbs I'm glad I've got that extra half a horsepower.

Jim
E pur si muove.

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#15 neilestrick

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 09:52 AM



Thomas Stuart is a good wheel. Convenient that the graph Neil shows left off the Brent EX which is more powerful than the Thomas Stuarts.
Jim


I'm not sure the EX was available at the time that graph was made. The EX has a rating of 450lbs in a 1.5hp motor, the TS Pro has a 400lb rating in a 1hp motor. TS is using their power more efficiently. The EX also costs more. So I'd say the TS wins.Posted Image Soldner also figured this out a long time ago-smaller motors used more efficiently.


I don't know. Every time I center 450 lbs I'm glad I've got that extra half a horsepower.

Jim



ROTFL!
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#16 MichaelP

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 01:13 PM

Just came back from Neil's studio. Yes, there is, certainly, a difference between Shimpo VL Whispers I tried before and Thomas Stuart models Neil allowed me to try. Although I checked TS only briefly, I found out that it feels very sturdy. The pan is large, and even the removable one is so stable that you can easily use it as a very reliable support for your hands (which is impossible with Whisper's pan). Another difference I noticed is that the speed control is better: the pedal changes the speed very smoothly and less abruptly than Whisper.

The torque at the lower speeds appears to be similar to Whispers, but on high speeds it definitely feels higher (and I compare 1/2hp Whisper with 1/3 HP Thomas Stuart).

I was surprised to hear how little sound the unit produced. I listened for three wheel. One, probably, had bad bearings and was noisy. Another one was almost as totally silent as Whispers are. And one more produced a clearly discernible sound of an acceptable low level.

The wheel doesn't have the free rotation feature Whispers provide.

The process of removing the head and taking the pan out appears to be easy, very quick and straight forward. Looks like the pan removal and insertion on Whispers (and more so on Brent wheels) might be more complicated than that. And, naturally, volumes of TS wheels is a way higher.

One very important deciding factor for me is the country of manufacturing. I've heard that Whispers are made in China. I'd like to reconfirm it with Shimpo.
If so, I won't be too eager to bet my money on Whisper. Especially, since the electrical design of those is significantly more complicated (=more chance to malfunction, more expensive to fix), and we don't know how reliable they are in a long run.

And Neil, thank you so much for allowing me to come to your studio. It was a real pleasure to meet and speak with you.

Mike

#17 smastca

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 04:56 PM

As a relative newby I've only used the Pacifica 400 series wheels. What are people's opinions of them? They seem to be a nicely priced option - we have 8 of them at our guild.

#18 Claypple

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 05:24 PM

Although I checked TS only briefly, I found out that it feels very sturdy. The pan is large, and even the removable one is so stable that you can easily use it as a very reliable support for your hands (which is impossible with Whisper's pan). Another difference I noticed is that the speed control is better: the pedal changes the speed very smoothly and less abruptly than Whisper.

The wheel doesn't have the free rotation feature Whispers provide.

The process of removing the head and taking the pan out appears to be easy, very quick and straight forward. Looks like the pan removal and insertion on Whispers (and more so on Brent wheels) might be more complicated than that. And, naturally, volumes of TS wheels is a way higher.


Mike


This all sounds like my Clay Boss that is priced new for $499. (1/2 Hp)

#19 MichaelP

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 12:26 PM

A Shimpo rep just confirmed that their VL Whispers are, indeed, made in China. :(

#20 Nancy S.

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 01:49 PM

I was surprised to hear how little sound the unit produced. I listened for three wheel. One, probably, had bad bearings and was noisy. Another one was almost as totally silent as Whispers are. And one more produced a clearly discernible sound of an acceptable low level.

The wheel doesn't have the free rotation feature Whispers provide.

The process of removing the head and taking the pan out appears to be easy, very quick and straight forward. Looks like the pan removal and insertion on Whispers (and more so on Brent wheels) might be more complicated than that. And, naturally, volumes of TS wheels is a way higher.


I have a TS Prodigy (no SSX), and I don't think that it's too loud -- in the studio, I often have music or am on the phone (no one's complained yet), but it's not like heavy machinery-loudness levels. Posted Image It's noticeable, but not bad. I think it's a tad louder at low speeds than at high ones!

The wheel head does come off easily with a little jiggle, and you can also put a dab of Anti-Seize (available at your local auto parts store) on the shaft so that it doesn't get "stuck" after being on for a while. I do this twice a year and it helps immensely.

True, it doesn't have the "banding wheel at 0 RPM" feature...but you can still turn the wheel when it's off. It just doesn't spin freely.

Hope this all helps!




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