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Forum topic by Chris_Tx posted 02-23-2019 04:13 AM 378 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Chris_Tx

5 posts in 29 days


02-23-2019 04:13 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question lathe turning

Hi everyone
I have been hunting for a heavy duty wood lathe, and have the opportunity to buy this Thayer Houghton sliding gap pattern-makers lathe, dating from 1858. It has been fully restored and equipped with a 2 Hp 3-Phase motor with a variable speed controller. It comes with a spindle adapter to 1.25” 8TPI, and 5 various sized face-plates. He is asking $3500 for it.
I would like to have the ability to turn a table top up to around 42” and this lathe caught my attention due to its 48” swing. I also like it’s distance between centers, around 7 feet.
I would like everybody’s feedback on what they think, is it’s age going to be a problem? Does any one out there have any experience with one of these? Does that seem like a fair asking price?
I intend to go see it before purchasing, and the guy has said that I will be able to see it run so I will be on the look out for vibration issues, and the alignment of head-stock and tail-stock, is there anything else I should look at?
Anyway I would be sincerely grateful for advice or comments, I don’t want to buy it and then regret it later.
Thanks in advance.


14 replies so far

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

2570 posts in 2432 days


#1 posted 02-23-2019 12:02 PM

Don’t know current prices but would rather see you buy these sliding head stock lathes and buil your own tool rest base system.

2020B
http://www.powermatic.com/us/en/p/2020b-lathe-2hp-1-or-3ph-220v/1792020

3520C
http://www.powermatic.com/us/en/p/3520c-lathe-2hp-1ph-220v/1353001

Might have more control with tone of these modern lathes.

-- Bill

View Nubsnstubs's profile

Nubsnstubs

1480 posts in 2028 days


#2 posted 02-23-2019 02:20 PM

Unless you’re in love with old vintage machinery, I would pass and go with what Wildwood posted. The exposed belts look like they would be a problem as wood chips could get caught between them and the pulley. Then you have all that rotating stuff near your left shoulder that might present a problem in the future. The price the seller is asking in pretty close to the links above. ............... Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson) www.woodturnerstools.com

View Chris_Tx's profile

Chris_Tx

5 posts in 29 days


#3 posted 02-23-2019 06:32 PM

Hi there,
Thanks for the advice,
I have looked at Powermatic, but they are ether well out of my price range, or have insufficient swing/bed length .The asking price of $3500, is at the high end of my budget, so that pretty much excludes powermatic.
I am trying to start a small woodworking business, specializing in traditional tilting-top tea tables, so I need to be able to turn table tops up to around 42” as well as spindles up to 32”. I would also like to have the ability to turn longer pieces occasionally.

I have found this Rockwell wood lathe on CL and the seller there is asking $1100, it has a distance between centers of 38” but I cant tell whether it has an outboard spindle or not. Does anyone know whether this lathe would suit my purpose? Also is this a fair asking price?
I really do favor vintage machinery, for one thing I like that they were made here in the U.S. instead of overseas.
Anyway I appreciate any help or advice.
Thank you

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12640 posts in 2678 days


#4 posted 02-23-2019 06:42 PM

This is aimed more at beginner lathes but you might find some of it useful.
http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/p/how-to-buy-vintage-lathe.html?m=1

The Rockwell lathe is like the ones we used in shop class, old workhorses in their time.

The pattern makers lathe is very impressive. I bet moving it will be fun unless you move heavy stuff a lot.

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

View Nubsnstubs's profile

Nubsnstubs

1480 posts in 2028 days


#5 posted 02-23-2019 07:09 PM

I have that same lathe sitting here collecting dust. It does have outboard spindle threads.
I paid a whole lot less than what you indicated what this one is selling for, but I also got mine about 8 years ago. Since then, I’ve seen that same price on several of them.
If or when you go to check it out, go through the speeds to see if the Reeves Drive is working properly. It’s missing the handle for the speed selector. When checking it out, don’t be too concerned with the rumbling noise it should make. It’s the cabinet it’s sitting on that causes it to rumble. If you think it’s excessive, investigate it further, and try to get a lower price. ........... Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson) www.woodturnerstools.com

View Wildwood's profile

Wildwood

2570 posts in 2432 days


#6 posted 02-23-2019 08:22 PM

Lot of vintage lathe designed for spindle turning and there lowest RPM’s might not safe turning something 48 inches in diameter. Yes they made 3-leg stand for outboard turning but those were not very safe. Think Powermatic still sells one of those. Finding left hand faceplates or left hand thread adapters for a chuck might prove difficult.

Big reason for recommending a Powermatic lathe is that sliding head stock and low RPM’s and safety. Yes would have to build your own tool rest base and tool rest same as Norm did turning a table top on his old obsolete Delta steel lathe. Norms made of wood and non-adjustable either backward or forward or up and down.

https://www.woodcraft.com/products/powermatic-short-bed-lathe-model-pm2020

This lathe might work with it’s sliding and rotating headstock for many of the same reasons recommend Power matic.

https://www.woodcraft.com/products/jet-1640evs-lathe

Examples:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShQsQTbwXZI

http://www.rudieswoodwork.com/images/Shop%20Tools/tool%20rest/Tool%20Rest%20Artical/obtr%20photo27.jpg

https://i.pinimg.com/236x/c5/bc/93/c5bc9349f670468c7f861f002a28ed49.jpg

-- Bill

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

7243 posts in 2497 days


#7 posted 02-23-2019 08:56 PM

That 1958 lathe is a beast… but way overpriced IMO (and I really dislike Babbitt bearings).

3-phase and a VFD is the way to go though, given what you want to do… I can only imagine what a 42” table blank would weigh, or what it would want to do initially when out of balance – even at really slow speeds (btw: That Rockwell has a min. RPM of 340 IIRC).

If you put your location on your profile page, others may be able to point you to a good deal in your area.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

5606 posts in 3961 days


#8 posted 02-23-2019 09:24 PM

Just my personal opinion … I would steer clear of any lathe with a Reeves drive (unless you intend to gut it and install a new motor, pulleys, and a VFD). Reeves drives can be a maintenance/repair nightmare, and typically their slowest speed is far too fast for larger or out-of-balance turnings.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Chris_Tx's profile

Chris_Tx

5 posts in 29 days


#9 posted 02-24-2019 06:04 PM

Thanks everyone for your advice,
I am glad I asked before buying a lathe that wouldn’t do what I wanted it to.
I have updated my location on my profile, I didn’t know I could do that.
Thank you Jerry @ Nubsnstubs for your help. I was hoping that someone would actually have one and could give me advice. I don’t like the sound of having a lathe that rumbles.
Thank you Wildwood for all of the links, I like the look of those DIY tool rest stands. I am going to reconsider powermatic, I had not thought of the difficulty of finding accessories for a left hand thread spindle, so I really didn’t understand the point of a sliding headstock.
Thank you TheDane for your advice on Reeves Drives, I had heard that they could be problematic, what is your opinion on the 1885 pattern-makers lathe? Any thoughts?
And thank you Woodknack for your article, I found it very helpful.
If anyone has any more advice or any thoughts I am still here and would be grateful.

View bigJohninvegas's profile

bigJohninvegas

585 posts in 1760 days


#10 posted 02-24-2019 06:38 PM

Hi Chris, What sort of budget do you have?
I agree that $3500 for that old beast is way over priced. Not to mention all the other issues.
So $3500 will get you a lot of lathe. And there are many out there that are cheaper.
So check the other brands. Laguna, Grizzly, and Jet to name a couple. All have sliding head stocks.
I have never seen a 42” table top on a lathe. I agree with others that it would be a challenge to balance a blank that large. I have made table tops like that and larger. But I use a circle jig with a router vs trying to turn something that large.

-- John

View Nubsnstubs's profile

Nubsnstubs

1480 posts in 2028 days


#11 posted 02-24-2019 07:57 PM

I am on another site in Australia, www.woodworkforums.com. One of the members turns round window frames. I believe one he did was over 5 feet diameter. He does a lot of that stuff. He uses 2X4’s, 6’s, 8’s and maybe 2×10’s. A lot of glue up, and off to the races.

Chris, keep looking and you’ll find what will suit your needs. .. ....... Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson) www.woodturnerstools.com

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

5606 posts in 3961 days


#12 posted 02-24-2019 10:31 PM

Thank you TheDane for your advice on Reeves Drives, I had heard that they could be problematic, what is your opinion on the 1885 pattern-makers lathe? Any thoughts?

Don’t really have an opinion on them … actually know nothing about them at all.

The only thing I would add is that you have to figure out what you want to do, then find a lathe that will do that for you. Along with that, you need to decide if you want to spend your time restoring/repairing/upgrading old machinery or if you want to turn wood. For some guys (including folks on this forum) restoring and upgrading legacy machinery is how they get their kicks. At my age, I’d rather just turn wood … that’s how I wound up with a PM3520C.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View mike02719's profile

mike02719

80 posts in 4084 days


#13 posted 02-24-2019 11:40 PM

Chris, if you intend to start a woodworking business, the last thing you need is downtime while repairing equipment. As safety in your shop is concerned, that lathe looks like a people eater. I have a 60” round dining room table in my dining room right now that I made with a router just like one of the LJs described. This method is much faster and safer. Absolutely no speed or vibration issues. However, restoring that old beauty would be an interesting project.

-- Mike, Massachusetts

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2152 posts in 2287 days


#14 posted 02-24-2019 11:51 PM

I agree with mike – a router would be my choice. The Grizzly G0766 or G0835 are within your bgt and could turn something that size off the end of the bed with an outboard tool rest.

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