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I purchased a Shimpo VL Lite brand new about three weeks ago.
I also purchased some plastibats to go with it. I got it in and put together and threw on it. When I went to center the clay, it wouldn't center perfectly. I like my clay to center so my hands glide perfectly over it with no movement. When I centered on the wheel, there was movement in my hands, a bump, if you will.
My husband (who knows nothing about ceramics) noticed the wheel head didn't seem to be moving in a perfect circle--there was a gap between the wheel head and the bats. I assumed maybe I got bad bats, so I sent them back and bought Wonder Bats. I also had the company send me a new wheel head, just to be on the safe side. Fast forward a week. Same exact situation. The clay will not center exactly, and as I'm throwing, I can only go up about 4 inches before the clay gets so off center it flops. I'm really unhappy. I messaged the company, sent them videos, and to be honest, the guy from the company I purchased the wheel from has kind of disregarded everything I've said. I called Shimpo and on Friday, the woman I spoke with was convinced the wheel axle was bent, but she e-mailed me back today and said "there is nothing wrong with the wheel."

When the wheel was shipped, the box was badly beat up.

I was a ceramics major in college just a few short years ago. I have taken a few years off, but I know what a wheel should feel like when I'm throwing on it, and I'm just not sure what else to do.

Am I doing something wrong? What suggestions do you have for me?

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This is all hindsight so you probably cannot take this advice now. But in the future when you receive a delivery in a damaged box, you need to address it immediately. If it came by UPS, the driver is required to stick around while you inspect the contents of the package. You can officially tell the driver that you think the contents may be damaged. The report goes into the UPS system. Then contact the seller right away to let them know it was delivered in a damaged box. That way, if you determine that the wheel is toast, the seller has a clear path for getting reimbursed by UPS.

 

I think your best option now is to locate a Shimpo repairman who can visit you in person.

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I get that little "bump" with mine more often than not, too. I just figured it was my bats not seating fully (speedball - I literally have to whack them over the pin sockets with a hammer to seat them fully.) Maybe it's not, though.

I'll pull the pins and throw without a bat for a bit and see if the bump is still there.

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Have a knowledgeable individual take a look at the wheel. Your wheel should be evaluated without clay or bats on it, using a fixed point of reference on multiple points on the wheel head and a level as well. The wheel is a piece of equipment, and it's either functioning properly, or its not. Its performance has nothing to do with what takes place on it. I mention this because even a flawed wheel with a wobbling wheel head can be used to produce perfectly round pots. That being said, you should in no way accept a flawed piece of equipment if that is the case....

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Put a bag of clay on the wheel table next to the wheel head. Stick a needle tool into the clay so that the end rests just above the wheel head at the outer edge, like 1/16". Turn on the wheel and see if it runs at a consistent level from the needle tool. If not, then either the head is not flat (which can be tested by putting a straight edge on it), the head is not mounted properly, or the main shaft is bent.

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I get that little "bump" with mine more often than not, too. I just figured it was my bats not seating fully (speedball - I literally have to whack them over the pin sockets with a hammer to seat them fully.) Maybe it's not, though.

I'll pull the pins and throw without a bat for a bit and see if the bump is still there.

 

Yeah, I just bought a dozen Speedball bats, for my classroom.  They work well enough, but even brand new, they have a slight "up and down" wobble to them.  Most of the students don't even notice.  The more astute pick up on it though.

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If the bat is not completely flat on the wheel head, that may be the problem. Once the bat is on the pins, use your fists to pound the top of the bat directly over the bat pins. Then, spinning the wheel at medium speed, hold your finger at 6 o'clock on the top edge of the bat as it revolves. If your finger moves up and down, the bat is not level. Some people can compensate for this, but it makes many struggle. I've had some bats fit so tightly on the pins it made them difficult to put on AND remove. Most bats eventually wear enough to solve the problem, but on one wheel we had to replace the bat pins to solve the problem, so maybe we had a slightly large pin?

 

Also, is your wheel on a level surface? That can also be problematic. Use a level to check the wheel head AND the wheel table. If they are not on the same level, your shaft or wheelhead may be damaged.

 

The suggestions to try throwing without a bat are an excellent way to diagnose. Sorry you're finding frustration when you should be happily spinning clay!

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On 4/9/2014 at 9:38 PM, Stellaria said:

It's freakin' IRRITATING. Ugh. Makes me doubt my centering.

Stellaria, did you ever get a resolution to your wobbling problem? I bought a Shimpo Lite (used) and I'm having the same issue, even with new bats...and I've been at this for a while -- pretty darn sure it's not my throwing ability. Incredibly frustrating. Should've held out for a different wheel. Ugh!

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I do not think she has been on the site since 2017

Most beginners are super sensitive to any bat uneven issues.

You need to check as Neil describes above weather the wheel head is running  flat or it just a warped bat issue .

My guess is its a bat issue

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I use one of these on a slightly warped bat system (the kind with a master bat and inserts).  Works really well to stop it from knocking.  It's just a piece of thick "sticky" shelf liner from the dollar store.  I put it under the bat and magically no wobbles.

Not exactly a perfect solution in this case, but works well.  

 

My shimpo rk-2 is 50 years old and is hard to keep level so I keep a round spirit level in my studio and re-level it every few weeks.

sketch-1536252614762-621x540.png

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Thank you Mark C., Oldmuddy and liambesaw! I appreciate all of the feedback. I’m definitely going to try the shelf liner. My shimpo is a “Lite” so it’s belt-driven and maybe I need a new belt...? Need to look into that as there’s some side-to-side motion going on. 

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10 minutes ago, Jderen said:

Thank you Mark C., Oldmuddy and liambesaw! I appreciate all of the feedback. I’m definitely going to try the shelf liner. My shimpo is a “Lite” so it’s belt-driven and maybe I need a new belt...? Need to look into that as there’s some side-to-side motion going on. 

Side to side motion may indicate a bearing issue.  When it's off can you move the wheel side to side? If so you're probably looking at a bearing.  I don't know what they're like to replace on a Lite but they're a pain on the rk2

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1 hour ago, Jderen said:

Thank you Mark C., Oldmuddy and liambesaw! I appreciate all of the feedback. I’m definitely going to try the shelf liner. My shimpo is a “Lite” so it’s belt-driven and maybe I need a new belt...? Need to look into that as there’s some side-to-side motion going on. 

If there's side to side motion, you'll want to check if the entire wheelhead is moving side to side, or if it just looks that way because the outer edge of the wheel isn't perfectly round. If it's just the outer edge, it doesn't matter. If the whole thing is moving, then there's something loose below.

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Just now, neilestrick said:

Why do you need to level the wheel?

The two feet on the right side are adjustable screw in feet and I guess they settle because I end up lifting that side every month or so.  I have been meaning to build a wooden riser for it anyway because it's a little too low for my stool (I'm 6'2" on a 18" stool).  Just haven't gotten around to it.

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I have an ancient RK-2 that came out of a local studio that had been around since the 70s and closed about 10 years ago. Since I got it right around the time I began handbuilding, I haven't thrown on it much, but whenever I did it kinda drove me nuts and I was never sure if it was me out of practice or the wheel.  After reading this thread I took a 360 digital "bubble" level to it and discovered that the wheelhead is actually closer to being level than any other surface I checked in my house. Teeny tiny bit of vertical wobble. However the old plastibats which came along with it are a hoot. Some of them knock horribly (worn holes) and the few that actually sit pretty tight on the batt pins are definitely not centered on the wheel head - so I have to ignore the edges of the bat while I throw. 

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On 12/31/2018 at 4:30 PM, Pres said:

For wonky bats, I sent in a CM Quick tip that was published in Dec. of 2016. I have also posted the article on my blog site here:

https://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2017-06-05T17:08:00-04:00&max-results=7

Hope it helps, and best thing is . . .its cheap.

That's pretty cool, Pres! Will it work with Masonite bats, too?

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I have used it with solid plastic, plywood, and Masonite bats. I would not think it would work with the reinforced plastic bats that have the honeycomb like structure underneath. I would think it would work with plaster bats also.

 

best,

Pres

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On 12/31/2018 at 6:14 PM, Nancy Chestnut said:

I have an ancient RK-2 that came out of a local studio that had been around since the 70s and closed about 10 years ago. Since I got it right around the time I began handbuilding, I haven't thrown on it much, but whenever I did it kinda drove me nuts and I was never sure if it was me out of practice or the wheel.  After reading this thread I took a 360 digital "bubble" level to it and discovered that the wheelhead is actually closer to being level than any other surface I checked in my house. Teeny tiny bit of vertical wobble. However the old plastibats which came along with it are a hoot. Some of them knock horribly (worn holes) and the few that actually sit pretty tight on the batt pins are definitely not centered on the wheel head - so I have to ignore the edges of the bat while I throw. 

Thanks Nancy, @Rae Reich and @Pres ! It does appear to be a bat issue...although the sound of the motor isn't "consistent" (?). I assumed the new masonite bat(s) I bought were nearly perfect but nope. I've been closing my eyes during centering and that seems to help (so I don't get caught in the rhythm of the wobble - ha!). Regardless, I'm ordering new plastic bats this week. I also used some shelf liner per @liambesaw 's recommendation and that has helped a lot!

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