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Stratos CO-230 Lathe by Colt-Riss

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Review by Underdog posted 04-27-2019 12:03 PM 902 views 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Stratos CO-230 Lathe by Colt-Riss Stratos CO-230 Lathe by Colt-Riss Stratos CO-230 Lathe by Colt-Riss Click the pictures to enlarge them

Link to Website: Stratos CO-230 Lathe by Colt-Riss
NOTE: This has a link to the vendors under “Where To Buy”.
Here’s a link to their brochure.

4/27/19
I was the glad recipient of this lathe in a drawing held at Johannes Michelson’s booth at the 2016 AAW woodturning symposium in Atlanta. I was working on this review when my father passed away and interrupted a lot of things. I intended to finish this review ever since, but of course one thing led to another and soon it was forgotten – several times. I finally figured I might as well post what I’ve got with a couple of updates and get on with other things. So here you go. Pardon me if the review isn’t professionally written. Hope this helps.

A Review – 7/14/16

Delivery and packaging

Lathe arrived promptly on Holland Trucking in good shape. Pleasant driver who allowed me to open and inspect the crate before signing off.

Lathe was well packaged and in good shape. Lathe was palleted, head stock protected by 2×4 frame, wrapped in plastic, covered with cardboard, and strapped in place.

Uncrating, Assembly and Setup

After uncrating, parts were hand carried up to the shop. Legs, bed extension, tool rest, tailstock, box of accessories, box of fasteners etc.

One item of note: Bed, headstock, and motor all are connected by wiring, and cannot be easily separated. If one does not have help, it is too heavy to be carried in one piece. One needs help or method of moving into shop, such as good hand truck or drive up access. I missed the modular approach taken by the manufacturers of my previous lathes where the motor, headstock, and bed could easily be separated for easy carrying and assembly. One wouldn’t need the assistance of a friend to pick the lathe bed/head assembly up and put it into place on the temporarily braced leg/board assembly. One could simply turn the bed ways upside down, bolt on the legs, then turn it back over, only then placing the motor and headstock on the bed ways. This can be managed by one person. Most of us turners don’t have friends just hanging around just waiting to help us move heavy cast iron. And in some places that help simply isn’t available at all.

I wound up snipping a couple of wires to separate the headstock and motor from the bed, and reconnecting once I had the lathe assembled. Don’t tell the vendor that!

Once parts were all in place, assembly was quite easy, and fit was good. The castings were well machined (with one exception), and went together well. Manual was well written and instructive on this subject.

The only exception to the machining was the bed extension. I could not get the bed to line up correctly for three reasons. First, the bed ways were not machined exactly the same thickness, ( extension about 0.010” thinner) so were difficult to get matched up so tailstock didn’t “bump” as it went across the seam. The second, and biggest problem, was that the bolt holes didn’t line up perfectly. I had to drill the 7/16” holes in the bed extension oversize to 31/32” before the extension could be raised enough that the seam was acceptably smooth. Third, the gap between the ways of the extension wasn’t exactly the same as the stock bed. I just matched it as close as possible and called it good. One wonders if the extension will hold position if something like a big bowl blank is dropped on it? Maybe I’ll have to get it exactly in place, then drill for some large pins to keep it in place. I did not contact Colt-Riss about this or they may have sent a replacement. The extension worked after mods, and I just never got around to letting them know. I’ll have to rectify that, and thank them again for the lathe.

The tool rack and the remote switch bracket were bolted on to the bed, and the centers and accessories put in place. The remote switch has a magnetic base that allows it to be placed almost anywhere on the lathe. Mostly though it will sit on the bracket at the tail stock end of the lathe. I like that I don’t have to reach across the “firing line” to shut off the lathe. Both of these are very nice features! I would love for the tool rack to have a few more holes for ALL the accessories though. I did drill a couple more holes for either the knockout rod or one of the other pins. I plan to eventually extend it so I can put a few more tapered accessories in the rack. The only other problem with the rack is that the supplied faceplate wrench sticks up above the ways just enough that the bottom of the tool rest base contacts the wrench as you slide it down the bed. I plan to move the rack down just a touch so that doesn’t happen, and it keeps the wrench with the lathe. Right now the wrench is floating around the shop, and I forget what it’s for after a few months. It pings the brain enough I know it’s important, but not enough to remember where it goes…

The headstock can be rotated so that one can turn off the end or either side of the lathe bed. The bed extension can also be bolted to the legs in any position to allow for this turning. The extension also comes with a tool rest extension to accommodate the different heights needed. I really liked this feature to allow larger than 18” turnings.

Before firing up the lathe, I lined up the headstock with the tailstock using the supplied double-ended morse 2 taper, and then tightened the headstock rotation lock. I found this to be a very satisfying features since I could not get the centers on my previous lathe to line up despite getting two replacement tailstocks, and subsequent “adjustments”.

Firing up the lathe.

Headstock:
This lathe has the standard 1-1/4” x 8TPI spindle with #2 Morse taper commonly found on this size lathe in the US, so all my chucks and centers worked with this lathe.

This model comes with a 2HP TEFC moter with electronic variable speed, and conveniently runs on 220 Volts. Luckily the shop is wired for this, so the only thing I needed to do was install the matching plug on the cord. The motor is a 2HP TEFC with inverter. Blah blah blah. Stuff I don’t understand here. I don’t research electronics to the nth degree like some. I’m mostly a mechanical guy. Suffice it to say that it’s 220V variable speed. LOVE.

I found the motor and spindle to be quite smooth up into the 2,600 RPM range. Once past that, there’s a slightly noticeable harmonic vibration that sets up. I found that it’s very much worse if the motor pivot isn’t tightened up – OOPS. Once I tightened that up, the vibration settled down quite a bit. I doubt I’ll be turning in that range though. 1,800 RPM is fast enough for me.

One thing I really like is that one can easily keep track of numbered indexing positions visible through the window in the belt cover. I was lining up a roughed out bowl and was trying to get it evened out, and it was extremely easy to find the 180 degree point using these numbers.
There’s also a spindle lock to help with removing faceplates and chucks.

Another very nice feature about this lathe is the easily replaceable belts. Other popular lathes require removal of the spindle from the headstock. This one only requires flipping the bail on the belt cover, raising the cover, loosening the locking handle on the motor and removing the belt off the end of the pulleys.

The one drawback to this setup is that the back end of the motor protrudes into the swing area around the spindle. I found out on the first bowl I turned on this lathe, that it requires large jam chucks to be made to do any reverse turning of medium deep bowls that might have been accessible otherwise. The puzzling thing to me is the nose of the lathe is built out as if the original intention was to provide access room on the headstock side of a turning, but that access is reduced by the motor interference. Perhaps Stratos could utilize a more stubby motor in the future?

Controls:
The magnetic base remote switch has four controls; red emergency stop button, green start button, silver reverse/forward toggle, and a black RPM knob. The only drawback to the E-stop button is that is a momentary contact button instead of a push lock type. So if you just bump it, the lathe will be shut off at speed. Then if you forget, the lathe will start at whatever you had the RPM set on last. I prefer to slow the speed completely down, and then push the stop button so as to prevent the above scenario. The only other control, the ON/OFF switch is located on the bed just below the headstock end. I like this because it seems to isolate the electronics from voltage surges when not in use, and I don’t have to unplug the lathe every time.

Tailstock and Toolrest:
Tailstock center is decent but unremarkable. I would add a removable cone tip over a threaded cup center underneath so as to have the ability to use custom made centers and adapters much like other lathe manufactures at this price point.
The tailstock itself is well made, but I miss the hole to place things in that my Jet 1642 had. I notice the Powermatic 3520 has put a cover over theirs to hold smaller items. I would suggest that the current tailstock be redesigned so that the hollow on the reverse side, was on the front, and add a door to it.

Tailstock and tools rest have great banjo fittings that operate smoothly and lock very firmly. The quill moves in and out well, and has an adjustable locknut/guide bolt to take up slack. The tool rest is the typical 12” cast iron with 1” post we’ve come to expect on this size lathe. Thankfully I’ve got a 4” and 6” rest bought earlier.

Even with the extension this lathe weighs in a bit lighter than other lathes in it’s class- except for the Nova 1624 which is even lighter at 251 pounds. The Powermatic 3520 weighs in at 700, while the Jet 1642 is around 600. The Stratos with the 30 pound extension comes a distant third at around 490. Shelves or custom box could easily be added however, and a bag of cement or sand added. The leg castings have integral shelf brackets to allow for such custom additions.
I didn’t double check all the weights so if I might be a bit off here or there.

Update 4/27/19
After a few years of using this lathe, I notice significant scratching of the bed where abrasives have been caught under the tool rest castings. The tool rest doesn’t seem to slide as well or as easily on the cast iron either. I don’t know a lot about cast iron, but it seems a little softer than what I’m used to.

The tool rack is a great idea, and provides a place to put knockout rod and the centers drive spurs.
I would make three changes to it however. I’d make it larger to accommodate more M2 tools, add a hole for the knockout rod (or was it the tailstock center rod?), and I would at least lower it so that the tool rest didn’t interfere with the supplied wrench.

All in all though it’s been a good lathe, and I’ve enjoyed it. It’s powerful enough for anything I want to do, and large enough to turn longer spindles and big diameter columns. I’m really loving the indexing feature also. It’s come in handy several times. There are so many good features that this should be a lathe you consider when looking in the $2000-$4000 range. I think Colt-Riss has a good product and hope they continue to improve it.

-- Jim, Georgia, USA




View Underdog's profile

Underdog

1304 posts in 2397 days



11 comments so far

View doubleDD's profile

doubleDD

8327 posts in 2405 days


#1 posted 04-27-2019 01:19 PM

Nice review Jim. That lathe looks like it will handle anything. I never heard of that brand but I don’t know much. Looks like you are enjoying having it around.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View tyvekboy's profile

tyvekboy

1893 posts in 3375 days


#2 posted 04-27-2019 02:18 PM

Thanks for such a in depth review. I think you should change your handle to LUCKYDOG.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12773 posts in 2742 days


#3 posted 04-27-2019 04:29 PM

Looks like a win-win. I too have never heard of the brand but it seems to be working for you. I assume you’ve tried waxing or oiling the bed to make it slide easier.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

2622 posts in 2496 days


#4 posted 04-28-2019 10:24 AM

Is there a North American vendor for this lathe?

-- Bill

View Underdog's profile

Underdog

1304 posts in 2397 days


#5 posted 04-28-2019 11:49 AM



Is there a North American vendor for this lathe?

- Wildwood

Apparently there are three:
http://colt-tools.com/en/kontaktmanager_midi

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View Mikhail2400's profile

Mikhail2400

9 posts in 54 days


#6 posted 04-28-2019 03:02 PM



Is there a North American vendor for this lathe?

- Wildwood

I spoke with Bradley M of Spiracraft who says Colt is pulling out of the American market. He says they are receiving all the existing N.America Stratos stock and parts. They had advertised the FU230 at $2500 w/5 year warranty but with Colt stopping shipments to the US they dropped the price to $2000 with no warranty. He said they had 2 left with one of those being held for me to purchase on May 3rd. If your intrested in this lathe you better jump now as they wont be available soon.

Underdog thank you for your review. It came out just in time to help me make up my mind on this lathe completely.

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

2622 posts in 2496 days


#7 posted 04-28-2019 04:16 PM

Went to all three sites listed and could find even the Midi lathe. Did find couple UK links. So guess previous poster has latest scoop on Colt lathes.

-- Bill

View Underdog's profile

Underdog

1304 posts in 2397 days


#8 posted 04-29-2019 01:55 AM

I wonder how easy it will be to get parts for this thing?

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

View Mikhail2400's profile

Mikhail2400

9 posts in 54 days


#9 posted 04-29-2019 04:16 AM



I wonder how easy it will be to get parts for this thing?

- Underdog

Bradley told me that his company, Spiracraft, was taking possesion of all Stratos parts currently in the US. He also said if needed they would help me in any way they can to get parts from the UK. Also HOPE Woodturning in the UK sells the Colt lathes and its accessories and their web site says they ship to the US. Their shipping rates arent bad either.

View Mikhail2400's profile

Mikhail2400

9 posts in 54 days


#10 posted 05-04-2019 12:16 PM

Little update. I did buy the Stratos lathe yesterday and so far I love it. I also bought the extension and quick connect plates to go with it but that was an easy decision with the price being about half of the advertised one. Couldnt believe how much bigger it is when your standing in front of it. The pics didnt do it any justice. Its also alot quieter than I expected.

View Underdog's profile

Underdog

1304 posts in 2397 days


#11 posted 05-05-2019 12:28 PM

Congratulations on the new lathe! Here’s to many happy hours of turning squares into rounds!

-- Jim, Georgia, USA

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