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I was recently given a Delta 46-715 lathe, but when I turned it on, it made some worrying sounds. I took it apart and noticed the pulleys were beginning to crumble. I went online to order another set to replace it and found that this particular lathe is no longer manufactured and several important parts are becoming obsolete. I read some reviews about it and also found that any sort of heavy turning can just cause the pulleys to crumble again. I found a replacement pulley for 70 dollars, but I'm worried it's going to happen again. The handle to change the speed is also prone to breaking. Another problem I found was that the slowest speed didn't go below 600 rpm, seems a little dangerous for roughing out large bowls. I'm used to spindle turning but really wanted to take the next step for bowl turning, having done a few on a really nice lathe (unfortunately one that didn't belong to me.)
I don't know whether or not I should try to replace the parts and fix it up as best I can, hope it lasts for awhile before things start breaking again and the parts really aren't available, or spring for an affordable Nova 1624-44 lathe. Would the investment in the Delta be worth it or pointless?
And if anyone has used the Nova, how is it for bowl turning?
I'm also open to recommendations of any quality lathe under 2 grand.
 

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There's no such thing as a free puppy. I guess the same goes for free lathes. So far, you've only noted the deficiencies you can see. Who knows what else could be wrong with it, and it could nickel and dime you to death. For what it's worth, I bought a Nova 1624 this year, and LOVE it. Rockler puts them on sale for $999 every now and then. You can get it, the outrigger tool rest, a couple of nice chucks and some tools, and still be well below your $$ limit.
 

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I can't speak to the Delta as to whether it is worth it to repair or not. According to the specs it is 3/4 HP which is a little light for larger bowls.
I've had the Nova 1624 for about 6 years with narry a problem. I really like the swivel head and rotate it to about the 22.5* point when hollowing out any bowl. It gives plenty of room for tool handle swing without removing the tailstock. For long items, such as table legs, you will need the extension (chair legs etc are fine as is).
Tools-Plus normally has the 1624 for about 1,000 but they do not list them now. They do list the DVR XP at 1899 and free shipping. http://www.tools-plus.com/nova-lathes.html

If you go with the Nova you may want to think about the outrigger before buying it. I bought it when I bought my lathe and sold it at a $100 loss four years later because it was only ever used to hold the knockout bar.
 

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From what I can gather, the original pulleys on the reeves drive is the one weak spot on that Delta. Other machines use reeves drives without issue, so it may be possible to find aftermarket parts that are better than the originals or pulleys from another machine that would fit. I would probably just ditch the reeves drive and slap on a set of stepped pulleys - and maybe add a variable speed DC motor out of a (free) treadmill for added range and a bit more horsepower. Most other parts, if needed, are off the shelf or pretty easy to obtain. Given the choice between throwing a little bit of cash (<$100) at the machine you already have, or going out and paying a premium for new, the choice would be easy for me :)

Cheers,
Brad

PS: I have an older Delta lathe with stepped pulleys and a 1/2HP motor. It's lowest speed is ~800 rpm and I've never had an issue turning rough blanks up to about 10". Never tried anything larger, but it's only an 11" lathe, so much bigger isn't really an option for me.

PSS: I've read where there is a Grizzly pulley set that will work as a replacement. The only issue seems to be that it might throw the belt at the highest speed. Grizzly part is here: http://www.grizzly.com/parts/P0462009 - $35. Might want to research that option if you want to keep the reeves setup.
 
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