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Thread: Nova Comet II - My Review - Long

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Fredericksburg, TX
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    Nova Comet II - My Review - Long

    There is limited information out there on the new Nova Comet II lathe. After being without a mini lathe for over a year, I received and e-mail from Teknatool about their sale at Christmas for the new lathe. The little video and review sounded too good and the price was good also. I was interested in a lathe light enough to carry for demo or to group activities and for the grandchildren to use. The 12 swing, HP variable speed, 250 to 4000 rpm, reversible, and less than 90 pounds were right in line. (#1 & 2)
    IMG_5801.JPGIMG_5800.JPG
    The first lathe shipped was a Model 46000. There were several assembly issues and a casting issue with the base of the tailstock that I made the correction or modification, but the technical service said that that lathe was not supposed to have been shipped. Design issues that could not be corrected were the flimsy belt cover (plastic already cracking) and poly belt slippage in the slow speed range. The lathe came with rubber feet, but manual said to bolt or clamp. On rubber feet, the lathe is limited to spindle or very small balanced bowl/boxes.


    IMG_5805.JPGIMG_5808.JPGIMG_5809.JPGIMG_5810.JPGIMG_5791.JPGIMG_5812.JPG

    I did make some riser blocks and bolted the lathe to a 12 wide 1 scrap board to use as a carry board to clamp to a table or B-D Workmate, and lathe was fairly stable, but headstock bolt holes are close together and wood will give with flexing. I did turn a 9D green ash bowl (#7) with difficult y at the slow speed because of unbalance but belt slippage and not motor power was the issue. The motor and electronic controls worked well and lathe with issues worth working out problems.

    A Model 46001 was later shipped and the Model 46000 returned. The new model had corrected the tailstock casting problem, changed the belt cover to a heavier plastic with screw lock, change on/off switch to dust covered push buttons, and changed to a rubber multi groove belt from original poly. There were still assembly issues: Motor again was not tight on mounting plate, pulleys had to be shifted for belt clearance with thicker rubber belt hitting the spindle lock mounting screw, motor mount/lift hits ways and makes belt changing hard, and set screw on tailstock handle loose. The rubber belt seems to reduce slippage, but slow speed range still has a major belt slippage problem. An 8" green ash bowl was turned (#5 & 6) with better results.

    I have found the mid speed range to work reasonably well for normal bowl use. It worked well for turning the inside of bowls I turned outside of the rough green wood on my Powermatic 3520B. The small lathe was actually enjoyable to use with the tailstock being a one hand removal, and you can easily work from the end of the short bed.
    Pros:
    Variable speed control works well and reverse handy for sanding
    Light weight for portability
    12 position index locks well, good for hand sanding spots also
    Mid speed range (530 1420 rpm) good for most bowl work
    High speed range (1380 4000 rpm) good for most spindle and pen work
    Optional accessories grinder, sander, flex shaft not for me, but may have some appeal to those with limited space and tools.

    Cons:
    Slow speed range (250 680 rpm) has excessive belt slippage issues under medium load at all speeds
    Tailstock has 1 to 1-1/4 travel depending on #2 MT inserted
    Motor mount needs to be checked and possibly modified to fully release belt
    Assembly and preparation needs to be done with care. Check all bolts for tightness.
    Handwheel does not have lock screw I drilled and tapped to provide one, and also added wood ring due to sharp edges
    Headstock bolt holes are inset a brace is suggested to strengthen attachment to the mounting surface (#8)
    Riser blocks are needed to elevate lathe above mounting surface to ease clearing shavings
    Permanent magnet DC motor has 16 catches when rotated by hand and not a smooth rotation like normal induction motor takes getting used to but runs smooth
    General surface finish could be a lot better. I did have to ease the corners on the ways and tailstock for easier installation

    Summary:
    It is a light weight lathe at medium price but has what appears to be good motor power and electronic controls. Light weight has most impact on unbalanced larger work and that would be a problem. I think the lathe will work well, firmly fastened down, for balanced bowl blanks , lidded boxes, and spindle/pen work. It should not be looked at as a 12 bowl lathe with the belt slippage in the slow speed range. It should make a good travel lathe and compliment a larger shop lathe that can handle the unbalanced work. Id buy it again, but wish the headstock would be redesigned to provide more mounting strength and larger drive pulley for the slow speed range.

    .

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Harrisburg, NC
    Posts
    798
    Good write up.
    I purchased one for my daughter. It was between it and a Rikon, the Comet came up on the bay as a wuttenbut that I couldn’t pass up.

    Not really any problem with the fit and finish but the screws from the headstock to the bed were loose and needed to be tightened.
    Your idea of the riser gave me an idea (but I find mine very sufficient except under the motor). I checked and 2X5 tube steel is <$1.00 per foot so a section for the head and tail stock may run $20 if each is 12” long. I did decide on the Nova for my daughter because she will have to move it and the grinder can be attached so she only has one thing to move. You inverted T plate may interfere with mounting accessories.
    As to pro and cons I would add the following.
    Controls on the right hand side is a +.
    Tailstock locking handle at the end rather than the rear is a +. Yours appears to be locked when in front and perpendicular to the bed. It is easy to change and for me it is locked parallel to the bed and unlocked perpendicular to the rear. My daughter prefers yours because she is left handed. I also like the quill lock on top rather than behind the tailstock.
    No problem here with belt slippage.
    Tailstock travel is about 1.25”. They should have milled the slot longer. It will travel the 2.5” but will not lock in the slot for the full distance. You have to keep unlocking more as the guide pin works up the slope. Does not matter unless you are drilling and then if you are unaware it could cause a major problem. I did email them about it.
    I agree with adding a wooden faceplate to the hand wheel and pilot holes are already there. I would also turn a wood handle cover for the banjo lock; the tool rest lock is fine.
    "I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity." - Edgar Allan Poe

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Goodland, Kansas
    Posts
    22,605
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and info on the lathe.
    Bernie

    Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.

    To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Fredericksburg, TX
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    2,426
    Michael,

    There is a review on Amazon that sounds like it could be yours. I did read it before ordering.

    My tailstock handle is set to provide tightning and also to allow for maximum clearance to install the tailstock after being removed. The 1/2 turn on the screw does not provide much clearance and I eased the bottom of the ways and top of the leading edge of the locking plate to make installation easier, but it is still tight. It is a one hand operation and nothing like the 3520B tailstock.

    I checked the tailstock and there is about 1/2" thread engagement at end of slot. Not much to gain there and you need the slot to prevent rotation. Just something to live with. The #2 MT on the supplied live center is about 1/4" shorter than the Nova or Oneway live center, and also my drill chucks are about 1/4" longer than the longer live centers. I'm not going to cut off a MT to gain the additional travel.

    I did use the slow speed range this morning applying some Wood Turner Finish to inside of a Box Elder end grain form, and found it helpful. Sometimes we just need to learn to work with what we got.

    I question using the grinder attachment because of having to remove work piece to get the right speed range for the grinder and also attaching a grinding jig. My hand sharpening leaves a lot to be desired. I'll be looking to see how people report on it in the future.
    Last edited by Thomas Canfield; 03-27-2013 at 9:47 PM. Reason: Added grinder note.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Harrisburg, NC
    Posts
    798
    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Canfield View Post
    I checked the tailstock and there is about 1/2" thread engagement at end of slot. Not much to gain there and you need the slot to prevent rotation.
    I think the problem is not the amount of internal thread at the end of the quilll but the length of the slot on top. It is sloped up at the end rather than flat for the full length.
    It's a pretty stout piece of metal and I think the slot can be extended without losing any strength.
    The quill is still engaged when extended 2+ inches so the slot would have to be made .75 - 1" longer for the guide pin to remain in the slot. Nova should have caught that.
    Somewhere I have a cross vise for the drill press and I am thinking of using a carbide bit from a router to mill the slot longer (if it will cut mild steel). I will let you know when/if I get around to trying it.
    "I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity." - Edgar Allan Poe

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Mechanicsville, VA
    Posts
    101
    I almost bought the Nova Comet II after my Delta 46-460 purchase went horribly south. Instead I went with the PSI Turncrafter Commader 12". I wish I'd gone with the Comet instead, even with the issues you mention. :-(

  7. #7
    Thanks for the write up. I was considering the comet II, it seamed like a lot of lathe for the money. The few reviews out there hinted of the manufacturer cutting corners. I went to my local Nova dealer to see one, and get their impression of quality. They had never even seen one, I didn't want to take chances so I opted out and ended up with a 1624. The comet II still sounds like an OK lathe, but having only one lathe I ended up with something that works better for me.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Phoenix, AZ
    Posts
    362
    I have had my Comet II for a little over a year now and it is a good first lathe capable of many turnings. However on larger turnings at slow speed there is some belt slippage and with slightly out of round pieces slippage is even worse. Mine had one of the Early motors that decided to give up the ghost. Teknatool did not hesitate at shipping me a new motor and controller assembly. She works better than before and I am pleased with the lathe. I also bought a Ringmaster segmenting tool just after I bought the lathe. It works very well on this lathe and I have turned out a few nice bowls with it.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    238
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Harkrader View Post
    I almost bought the Nova Comet II after my Delta 46-460 purchase went horribly south. Instead I went with the PSI Turncrafter Commader 12". I wish I'd gone with the Comet instead, even with the issues you mention. :-(

    Rich what issues have you had with the PSI Turncrafter Commader 12" as im looking at getting my first lathe and it looks like that they are a pretty good deal but maybe not.

    Thanks Todd
    War Eagle!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Fredericksburg, TX
    Posts
    2,426
    I did a demo last month turning multi-axis piece. I did all the practice on my Nova Comet to be sure that members with mini lathes could do it, and also the club has a Oneway 1224, smaller than my Powermatic 3520. I started my practice work and the on/off switch went bad and had to be replaced. Tektool sent a replacement and offered to send the whole controller which would have been more work to change. The short travel on the tailstock made drilling more of a chore, but it did the job. One just has to remember it is a small lathe. I had a new turner over last week and had him turn on the Comet with sharp tools to show him that getting his tools sharpened was more important than getting a bigger drive with dull tools. He was impressed, but I had to keep him off my Powermatic.

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