PSI Variable Speed Midi Lathe Conversion Kit

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Review by Chris Wright posted 10-14-2009 08:27 PM 10668 views 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
PSI Variable Speed Midi Lathe Conversion Kit No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Here at the arts and Crafts Center we’ve been doing a lot of turning classes (mostly pen, but also the occasional bowl or bottle stopper) in conjunction with the Wounded Warrior program at Walter Reed and with the help of the local chapters of the American Association of Woodturners. Through them we’ve been able to have donated or loaned to the shop, lathes, chisels, chucks and other supplies. One of the lathes that was donated to the program was a Fisch Midi Lathe (essentially a Rickon clone). The motor was bad so it was decided to purchase a new one. We wanted a variable speed motor as well so the decision was made to purchase the PSI Variable Speed Midi Lathe Conversion Kit.

After pulling it out of the box we plugged it in and tested it, it ran fine. The spec sheet says the motor goes from 640 – 4400 RPM and it comes with a 3 step pulley attached. We found though that the old 6 step pulley from the old motor fit on the shaft and lined up perfectly so now there’s a huge range of speed available (sorry, can’t really guess what that range is now). There’s plenty of cord length so the only difficult choice is deciding where to mount the controller box. The only real problem that we ran into was how to mount the motor to the lathe. The mounting plate that came with the kit didn’t fit on the lathe, so we ended up drilling new holes in the original motor mount that lined up with the screw holes on the new motor.

Even though I would have preferred a 3/4 HP motor, the little half horse motor seems strong and have enough torque to do small bowls as well.

I would recommend this upgrade for anyone wanting to upgrade an old mini or midi lathe from a step pulley to variable speed.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

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Chris Wright

541 posts in 4335 days

3 comments so far

View rustfever's profile


797 posts in 4164 days

#1 posted 10-15-2009 12:40 AM

Great that you have found a variable speed device for your lathe. I would be lost without mine.

-- Rustfever, Central California

View justinwdemoss's profile


148 posts in 3749 days

#2 posted 12-28-2011 01:55 AM

I have been looking at this conversion kit since I got my newest Penn State catalogue. All of the reviews on their site say it will work perfectly with my harbor freight lathe. I have only one question, you said in your review that it comes with a step pulley. Does the variable speed still require you to manually change pulleys to get the full range of speeds?

Sorry, second question – does the new motor have enough power to turn bowls up to 9 inch diameter?

Thanks for the review


-- Justin in Loveland, OH

View Chris Wright's profile

Chris Wright

541 posts in 4335 days

#3 posted 12-28-2011 07:42 PM

Justin, yes, this lathe motor does require a manual change to get the full rang of speeds. Most variable speed mini lathes still require a manual change to get the full range of speeds. Even some full size lathes are the same way (i.e. the PowerMatic and some of the Nova’s). I hope this helps. It’s a great motor.

-- "At its best, life is completely unpredictable." - Christopher Walken

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