I checked to see. There was a thread about this a while ago, but there were only two posts, so I thought I’d bring it up again.
Does anyone have the Durston Olivia Rolling mill or thoughts about it? Most rolling mill reduction gears have a 4-1 or 5-1 gear ratio. The Olivia has a 50-1 gear ratio. That’s a huge difference!
Rio Grande does a good job of explaining the Olivia mill and rolling mill reduction gears on this video.
From watching the Rio video, it looks like the Olivia is a mill with pros and cons. I’ve seen the Olivia at jewelry trade shows, but have never tried one.
Again, I’m curious if anyone owns an Olivia mill and what they think? Or if anyone has thoughts?
Look in the Bench Exchange, there was a Lady who got one for Christmas last year and her Husband mounted it up for her…
Sarah Buddle “vqfarm”…
I hope this Helps…
question…re: rolling pattern plates…is it best practice to do only one pass thru the rolling mill?
if so, it would seem like the olivia would be good for that type of requirement…where you need to complete the task in one pass…ie: taking one, bigger bite…
he seems to be using quite a bit of force to turn his C130 handle with “15 units” (looked like a 1/4 or 1/6 turn…?)
regarding rolling sheet or wire…
i just wanted to mention that you can take a smaller bite that requires much less force…if force is an issue…
i roll forged ingots down, taking much smaller bites…like 2 units, and i can turn my handle with a few fingers…reducing about…oh…say….0.10mm at a time? (i am going off memory)
i guess my point is, for rolling sheet or wire, on a mill with a 4:1 reduction gear, one does not need to exert the effort he exhibits…if one just takes smaller bites…and the process still goes pretty fast…
John Sartin made a telling point at the end of his presentation when he said “The Olivia is the next best thing to an electric mill.”
An electric mill can run at 0.1 RPM, which is watching-paint-drying slow, up to an astounding 60 RPM. Fifty turns, no matter what the task, vs speed adjusted to the task, and simple jobs done quickly.
An electric mill would take zero effort, compared to modest effort, and could also be used sitting down. A Durston electric would cost more, but the Olivia is not cheap, so the price differential is less great than between a standard mill and an electric.
When the Olivia came out I couldn’t understand the point given what an electric can do. The only reasons I can see for an Olivia would be lack of electricity, or the price differential being too great for an individual.
I still don’t really see the point of it. My 2 cents.
Same 2 cents here Neil…Rob
Like you I didn’t really see the point of it either, 50-1 Gear Ratio, but after talking with a lady who didn’t have the strength to turn a regular Rolling Mill, even only taking “smaller bites” as Julie suggested, but she could use the Olivia without any problem, I began to understand.
A Rolling Mill is an almost Indispensable Tool for a Jeweller, if you don’t have one or access to one, you are very limited as to what you can do, other than ordering most of the stock and sheet that you use. Then when you add to the equation, a lack of strength, arthritis or other health related issues that make it difficult to impossible to rotate the handle with any amount of force and even though you have a Rolling Mill, you can’t really use it effectively without causing your self pain.
I believe that is why the Olivia was introduced, as not all Jewellers are as vigorous or as dexterous as the rest of us and though (50) rotations of the wheel may seem a lot, it’s (50) relatively easy rotations as opposed to (4-5) vigorous rotations or (4-5) rotations with a good deal of resistance. The lady that I talked to could use the Olivia sitting down (as standing for any length of time for her was difficult) and without exerting very much energy rotating the wheel. Also, the price difference is quite a bit, at least to me it is anyway…
The Durston Olivia Rolling Mill costs a little over $2,500.00, whereas the Durston Electric Rolling Mill costs around $3,750.00… So, I don’t know about you guys, if I had to choose one or the other due to strength or health reasons, I could definitely use the extra $1,250.00 to buy even more Tools, Metal or Supplies, instead of spending it on the convenience of electricity, when all I would have to do is easily rotate the Olivia (50) more times around to get the job done…
What I should have added is, if a person is too weak to use a standard mill, due to lack of body strength, age, health reasons (e.g. COPD) on the day you buy the Olivia, what will your condition be like in 5 years? A mill at that price is a long term investment and one should factor in declining strength with time.
No argument on the price differential of the Durston mills. Durston is not the only solution, though. Pepe has an electric for the same price as the Olivia.
Long term, as a lifetime investment into old age, electric makes a lot more sense to me. At 95 if you can get out of bed you could still use one.
Very true and something that they should certainly consider… The Electric would definitely be the way to go, if you could afford it, but the Olivia is still available if you can’t… I personally think that it’s unusually nice that a company like Durston has thought about those people and provided them with a Rolling Mill that they can actually use, granted they’re making a good amount of money from it too! Many of the Tools that we Jewellers use aren’t exactly “accessible” to all people, though there are almost always work-arounds for those who are determined to be creative the realm of Jewellery…
I still want one. Bad shoulders and a dominate hand that only has 79% max usage after a horrible fall. Each of us has to look at what we make, and the ability our bodies have. I’ve rolled thousands of feet of wire through rolling mills of all types. I hate those cheap $200 versions. Just figure if you do a lot of rolling you will need serious shoulder work. My electric is very old and I think no one else could figure out the kinks that keeps it going. My Durston 130 is still sitting in a box until I’m back on my feet and can sit at a bench for more than a 1/2 hour at a time. The Olivia sounds like heaven.
I get maybe 20:1 or even more, but 50:1 just seems extreme. Then again I have never experienced it, so I accept that I might be wrong. I have been often and accept it when I am. Durston makes good stuff and I trust that they have done their research. I hope that a 50:1 ratio meets the needs of a lot of people…Rob
i was just thinking…teeny bites make it easier…and more gear ratio makes it easier…
do you think there is an equivalent in terms of effort…?…like a 1 unit bite at 4:1…might be a similar effort to 25 units at 50:1…
like an effort conversion comparison…?
I guess I’d have to watch a video…50 to 1 means you would have to turn the wheel about 15 to 25 times to do most tasks. Exerting a little more effort and turning the crank twice might be more convenient for some people. I’m just sitting here miming the motion of 15 to 25 turns and it takes a while and is tiring.
So IDK…and then it’s $2230 plus the shipping, whereas you can probably do most of what it will do with a cheap Chinese mill for $100. You are gonna have to sell a lot of jewlery to pay for that mill. -royjohn
i wonder…if you spin the olivia wheel…if it will continue to spin on its own for many revolutions…?…
Thanks for so many great comments and thoughts!
I only ever think about whether a rolling mill has a reduction gear, not what the reduction gear ratio it has. In some recent forum posts a couple of people asked me about the reduction gear ratios in my mills. I actually didn’t know.
After doing a bit of research it looks like almost all mills with reduction gears have a 4-1 or 5-1 gear ratio. That means that while rolling mills are varied in quality, construction, price, etc. mills with reduction gears have gear ratios that are all basically the same.
With a 50-1 gear ration the Durston Olivia mill stands out as a very different concept.
The two things that stood out for me with the Rio Grande Durston Olivia video was how slowly metal moved through the mill and how many times the operator has to spin the handle. Maybe it doesn’t take much physical strength to use this mill, but just moving your arms that much seems like it’d have to be a bit of an aerobic workout. The other thing is that it’s not a discount mill. It’s fairly expensive, maybe not compared to other Durston mills, but compared to other mills.
Even though I don’t think this mill is the right mill for me, I’m sure the Durston Olivia mill is perfect for some folks and like Jonathan said it’s great that there is another option available.
Again, thanks for your thoughts and comments!!
So I’m planning on getting the Durston Molly F165, which is the bigger version of the Olivia. I’m only 38, but I have horrible carpal tunnel, and using a PepeTools flat rolling mill is killing my wrists. I do a lot of chasing and repoussé, I need large sheets to do what I do, and to make large sheet like 6x6 inches to 7x7 inches takes a long time and a lot of force, and my wrists aren’t happy about it. I could get an electric, but to make sheet that large and that often, I’m sure I would end up burning the motor out and then being stuck back at square one. Whereas one of these rolling mills, it’ll probably last the rest of my life and be fine and could produce the size of sheet I want with ease. I’m a strong person, I can lift and hammer metal with a 2 lbs hammer for hours and tolerate it just fine, but my wrists can’t so I’m having to look into different ways to spare my wrists as much wear and tear as possible. I would imagine that carpal tunnel is a pretty common issue among smiths so it’s not really age alone that creates health problems that would make one of these rolling mills necessary, yanno? I’ve had carpal tunnel since I was 33 because I’ve spent a lifetime being hard on my body because I thought I was invincible. Turns out I’m not lol
The Olivia and the Molly are extremely well built. Your new mill will last forever. Congratulations!!
Hi Everyone, my 2c as a disabled person who owns a DRM C130 and thought it was a huge step up from the DRM100 without the gear reduction but had progressed to the point with my medical condition (MS) that I was considering an Olivia or an electric because I too was lacking the strength to roll sheet. I do my own recasting of scrap for rod and ingots and make my own pattern plates and incorporate patterned metal in my designs such as bracelets, rings, pendants etc, and ended up selling all my casting equipment because there wasn’t any point if I couldn’t roll it. Enter one of my wonderful Youtube subscribers from Germany with her Moos Gummi (Foam rubber) sheets. Not only does it make it easier to roll the metal, but leaves a much deeper impression in the metal as well. I can now put off upgrading to an electric for at least a while longer.
That’s awesome! Thanks for sharing Sonja!!
@neil_a3 I couldn’t agree with you more on this one. I was diagnosed with MS in 2010 just as I was starting my journey with metalsmithing and even though I was still early in my diagnosis with minimal impairments, I struggled long and hard about investing even $700 in a DRM100 rolling mill, but I did. Three years later I needed to upgrade to a DRM C130 mill with gear reduction and 5 years after that I was struggling with that. Where I live there isn’t a huge market for people wanting to buy used rolling mills (very small community, over 1000k away from any major city). So if a person as a progressive medical condition it would be more cost effective to buy equipment that will accomodate the future of the disability or even the natural process of aging. 13 years ago an electic mill right from the start would have been cheaper in the long run.