Wiring a motor to go in reverse--but it's not cooperating!

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Forum topic by Thuzmund posted 05-11-2014 07:02 PM 2791 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Thuzmund's profile


156 posts in 2190 days

05-11-2014 07:02 PM

Hi all,

I am trying to wire a motor to go in reverse. It’s a lathe—and you will tease me, but it’s a harbor freight lathe. The 12 inch type, model 34706. This one:

I successfully wired my previous lathe to go in reverse when I flipped a “double-pole, double-throw switch.” It was a smaller Dayton motor and it had a nice wiring diagram on the motor housing. Easy as can be.

This HF motor is not so nice. There is no wiring diagram or information plate of any kind on the motor housing (not even to tell me how many amps it’s drawing, which I think is a safety concern. I emailed tech support but we’ll see if they even bother to email me back!)

But let me cut to the chase: when I switch the wires that I normally would to reverse direction, the motor continues to run forward. I have tried every combination, except swapping out the upper wires for the lower ones (I’m not that expeditious so far).

Anyone have an idea of what gives? The only info I have on the motor is that it is a capacitor start (the cap is bulging out of the top), and it’s the kind that has a switch or solenoid click on when it runs (I can hear the solenoid or whatever closing when the motor shuts off). The HF manual is, of course, not so helpful.

-- Here to learn

11 replies so far

View bigblockyeti's profile


6115 posts in 2281 days

#1 posted 05-11-2014 07:08 PM

All single phase induction motors that I’ve worked on have specified how to reverse the direction if they are in fact reversible. I have worked on such motors that are not reversible and the information given is usually lacking, much like the motor that you have. It’s very likely that the less expensive motors on many harbor freight tools are not reversible.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4209 days

#2 posted 05-11-2014 07:11 PM

It may not be reversible, but to find out for sure you’re going to
have to get deeper into the motor case and see how it is
set up internally.

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 2509 days

#3 posted 05-11-2014 10:07 PM

You wouldn’t change the direction in the switch box. In my experience the direction is changed in the box on the motor.

View jonah's profile


2092 posts in 3859 days

#4 posted 05-11-2014 10:41 PM

Not all motors are reversible, and as Shawn said, it isn’t going to be at the switch.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3048 days

#5 posted 05-11-2014 11:06 PM

If all else fails, buy a longer belt, remount the motor and twist the belt.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Thuzmund's profile


156 posts in 2190 days

#6 posted 05-11-2014 11:14 PM

I guess I was confusing the DPDT switch I installed with the switch I posted in the pic. I will take off the motor housing and see underneath. Thanks for now guys.

-- Here to learn

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 4108 days

#7 posted 05-11-2014 11:46 PM

Replace your motor with an old 3 phase motor and wire a static converter and run the motor whichever direction you want. A cheap 1 hp 3 phase motor would do exactly what you want with great ease. Smaller 3 phase motors have almost no value and you might be able to get a seller to pay you to come get the motor.

-- .

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 2509 days

#8 posted 05-12-2014 02:51 AM

Jerry I like where you are going. Let me one up you just a little. While you are thinking 3 phz, If you go with a vfd you can have reverse, electronic variable speed, soft start, and many other things I am forgetting. It would make your HF lathe perform similar to some of the top dollar machines out there.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18742 posts in 4237 days

#9 posted 05-12-2014 03:02 AM

It is not reversible. Not enough wires in the picture.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 4108 days

#10 posted 05-12-2014 03:08 AM

Yeah yeah, just what Shawn said, that is what I was saying :) lol

-- .

View ronh50's profile


1 post in 759 days

#11 posted 11-09-2017 04:15 PM

I purchased the 12×33 habor freight lathe about a month ago. I was able to reverse the motor by changing wiring inside the motor.

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