Rebuilding and improving a 1941 Powr-kraft wood lathe.

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Blog entry by Cyrus Fillmore posted 02-01-2015 03:35 AM 13714 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So back in July of this past year I was collecting some Walnut Logs a friend had offered for the wonderful price of FREE. While there he turns to my Dad and I and says “Hey do you guys have use of another Lathe?” Dad and I looked it other back to him and said “What do ya have?” SO out to a shed behind his house we go. He swings the doors open and against the side wall near the back is a very old lathe(almost as old as my Dad LOL). He had no idea what brand it was it had been his fathers he had never used it and was pretty sure he never would. I asked him how much he wanted for it, “Hell you get it outta my way you can just have it.” I had to ask him if he was serious sure enough he was. With no room in the truck for the lathe (because of the logs) we said we would come back the next day to retrieve it. So we did and here is what we ended up with.

I could not see taking it and giving nothing and my friends wife had gone nuts for one of the turnings I had shown them so I gave it to them.

Not a bad trade in my estimation.

So we dusted the old machine of sanded off the rust on the ways and promptly found out it had a 1-1/8 inch arbor with 7 tpi. NOTHING I have will fit such a size. So I wrote down the serial number and got on Google. It turned out to be a 1941 Powr-kraft Lathe that was sold by Montgomery Ward. And sure enough others who had found these machines ran into the same problem that I did. So it sat for many months against the wall of the shop untill one day, we pulled the Arbor out and Dad took it to a friend of his and he turned it down to 1 inch and threaded it to 8 tpi.
Then I had to do something with that stand. Way to Bulky and the plywood top made it difficult to move the tool rest and tail stock. So out came the welder and this happened.

Next I needed to get a motor on it. It had come to us with a little 1/2 horse motor on it but that just wasn’t going to cut it for our intended purposes for this machine. Recently I had removed the 2hp motor from my Grizzly lathe and put on a 2hp DC motor for the variable speed. So I had the old motor from it just laying around perfect. I had the original Reeves drive pulley on it and I decided that could be put to use as well.

I built a pivoting mount and added an arm to it that would allow it to be moved up and down from the front, then Dad made a great suggestion. Add a screw to move it up and down with giving us a wheel activated speed control. (kind of like some of the older Vega lathe models. So that is what I did.

The motor pulley is centered on the rib between the 1st and 2nd steps of the arbor pulley so I can run it on either one this ends up giving me a range (from the math) of 390 rpm to 2500 rpm. (better than I thought I would get.
I still need to get the lower braces welded in and anchor tabs on the legs. After that I am thinking I will repaint it with a Green that matches the original Powr-kraft color,at least as close as I can find anyway.

All in all its Fun to take a good old American Made item like this and get it back to usable and in our shop it will see plenty of use.

UPDATE 2/4/15
I got free from work a little early today so decided to work on the Powr-Kraft actually managed to get it sanded and painted. Still have to add the shelf at the bottom and get a real power switch for it but hey it turned out pretty good as far as I am concerned.

8 comments so far

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

4079 posts in 3533 days

#1 posted 02-01-2015 02:49 PM

Nice lathe and a nice gesture to give your friend a turning. I’m confused about the speed adjuster though. Is that a tapered pulley on the motor with the belt position determining the lathe speed, or is the variable speed taken into account on the driven side?

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View Cyrus Fillmore's profile

Cyrus Fillmore

27 posts in 2537 days

#2 posted 02-01-2015 03:32 PM

The Pulley on the motor is made in two pieces and widens or pushes together according to the adjusted. There is a spring on the shaft of the motor that keeps them pressed together until pressure from the belt causes them to split apart, this in turn changes what diameter the belt is riding the pulley at and varies the speed. Google “Reeves Drive” and I’m sure you will find better explanations than I can give.
Oh in the last pic it was running and the pulley was at its widest in the pictue of the motor by itself the 2 halves are all the way in.

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

4079 posts in 3533 days

#3 posted 02-01-2015 04:18 PM

Thanks for the explanation. I think I got it now. Very clever.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View NormG's profile


6574 posts in 4285 days

#4 posted 02-02-2015 12:22 AM

Great way to bring back to life. Wonderful idea on using the motor and the pulley assembly also

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View KJListman's profile


2 posts in 2350 days

#5 posted 06-23-2015 04:09 AM

Great Project! Inspired some alterations to my own—a 1948 version of this same lathe (84FD2005 – “before” photos @ vintage machinery) I feel very fortunate indeed to already have the 3/4-16 arbor!

I am replacing the original power plant—1/3 HP PACKARD motor and 4 step pulley system—with a 90VDC 1.5 HP motor and speed control circuits, from a used treadmill. This will be sufficient for my intended use (pool cue R & R) no serious wood turning.

Photos of your stand inspired me to use more of the treadmill (frame) as raw material to construct a stand quite similar to yours. I’ll post photos when I get this out of the “Parts” phase…

Thanks Much

Kris J.

View enigma3654's profile


1 post in 2159 days

#6 posted 12-31-2015 01:41 AM

I have this same lathe and looking for a chuck for it. Where would I find one to fit and is this what you are talking about with having the thread changed?

View Wetherb6's profile


5 posts in 2498 days

#7 posted 12-08-2016 04:28 AM

CYF – I have a lathe like this one and have been using it for about three years with very few problems. However today my forstner bit that I put in the tailstock got stuck and when I tried to remove it the advance/retract wheel would not expel the bit. I ended up twisting the bit out by hand. In the meantime the spindle was retracted as far as it would go and I couldn’t advance it toward the headstock. I removed the nut that holds the wheel onto the tailstock, took the spindle out, lubricated it and reinserted it into the tailstock and put the wheel back in place. Now I can’t get the wheel to advance or retract the spindle. It shouldn’t be this complicated as there aren’t that many parts involved in this mechanism. A threaded spindle, wheel, nut and washer. Can you look at yours and help me understand how to install mine correctly. Thanks.

View Wetherb6's profile


5 posts in 2498 days

#8 posted 12-08-2016 01:47 PM

CYF – Problem solved. The reason the spindle would not advance or retract is b/c I discovered that it is actually two pieces, a sleeve that holds the mandrel and the threaded bolt tied to the handle to advance and retract. I had inadvertently jammed the spindle onto the bolt by retracting it to far. Upon this discovery, I heated the spindle, turned the handle counterclockwise as far as it would go and it unseized itself from the bolt to work properly. Thanks for listening.

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