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Thread: Home-made bowl lathe

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
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    Lake Burton, Northeast Georgia
    Posts
    110

    Home-made bowl lathe

    I am considering a home-made bowl lathe. I haven't yet looked at it, so I'd like to discuss what to look for.

    The structure of the lathe is 3 heavy steel I-beams. The bed beam is about 7' long, and sits atop two shorter (about 30") cross beams, which form the base. Massive locking wheels. Weighs about 500 lbs.

    The motor and spindle are mounted on 3 stacked-and-welded-together pieces of what looks like 6" square steel tube, each about a foot in length. The motor is a 1 hp Leeson direct current permanent magnet motor, with a Leeson Speedmaster variable speed drive. Runs on 240 or 120 volt. There is no tail stock. A fairly massive tool rest. Several face plates; no chuck included. Don't know the spindle size/threading yet. The swing must be about 36", plus or minus.


    . big-lathe.jpg

    Concerns:

    1. Is the motor under-powered for something this massive? Replacing the motor would probably be expensive.

    2. Don't know the speed range; will take a laser tachometer and check it out. What would you suggest is a desirable range for this sort of lathe?

    3. How can you assess the condition of the spindle bearings? This thing is old.

    4. The spindle drive pulley is exposed at the back end of the spindle. Not the safest setup!

    I"m thinking it might be worth taking along a big bowl blank of the sort I'd probably use on it, mounting it on the face plate, and give it a spin. See how it spins up, how the tool rest fits, etc.

    What would you be looking for, besides the above?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Myrtle Beach, SC
    Posts
    872
    2hp minimum for a big bowl lathe.

  3. #3
    I would consider ease of use. Can the tool rest be moved around with any finesse? Is the spindle a common thread so accessories are easy to obtain? Are the spindle bearings in good shape?

  4. #4
    unless those beams are made of aluminum, I'd guess it weighs a lot more than 500#

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Fredericksburg, TX
    Posts
    2,422
    My eyeball thinks that the tool post looks light and there will be flex in the extended position. Also a single belt will have problem delivering enough power for large bowls and the 1HP seems under power thinking about my 2HP Powermatic 3520B with wide multi-groove belt.

  6. #6
    Well, I don't think I would call it a bowl lathe, but you probably could put some porch columns on it. For a lathe that size, if you are wanting to do bowls, I would put a good 3 hp 3 phase motor on it with the 1 inch wide belts, and probably 2 or 3 speed ranges. If you are planning to max it out with a 36 inch bowl, then 3 hp for sure. Cheap, maybe, but you would have to put a lot of work in it.

    robo hippy

  7. #7
    My opinion is that even if it were free, any money that you spend on it trying to remake that Rube Goldberg into the lathe that you really want will be money wasted.
    Bill

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    East Troy, WI
    Posts
    55
    Something else to consider is that with those soft tired wheels, and relatively narrow stance, is if you get a out-of-balance bowl blank on that thing, it is is going to bounce all over. If you buy it, one of the things for you to consider is putting some feet on the ends of those legs that screw down and make solid contact with the floor.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Fort Pierce, Florida
    Posts
    3,496
    I tend to agree that despite the lack of a tailstock, that is suitable for turning columns not bowls. Typical dedicated bowl lathes have just enough bed to hold the tool rest (and tailstock until it can be removed) but allow you to stand at the end to turn. With this beast, you would have to straddle the beam.
    Retired - when every day is Saturday (unless it's Sunday).

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Gainesville, GA
    Posts
    35
    During the time that this piece of junk has been listed on Clist there was a really nice bowl lathe in Atlanta listed for $900. That appeared to be a good deal.

  11. #11
    I am not as negative about this machine as Harold but don't care much for it.
    1 hp is too small for this much swing
    A single I-beam does not have nearly enough torsional stiffness to support the tool-rest for large diameters, it will flex driving you crazy.
    If it really weighs 500 lb; that is too light, 1500 lbs would be much better.
    If you do decide to buy it, don't worry about the bearings too much; they could be replaced fairly easily for reasonable cost.
    _______________________________________
    When failure is not an option
    Mediocre is assured.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Green Valley, Az.
    Posts
    1,202
    A lathe with that long bed isn't a true bowl lathe. The motor is way too small. I had a bowl lathe custom made by John Nichols. It had a tailstock which I seldom used. It had a 21 inch bed which allowed me to turn while facing the vessel. If you are going to turn HF's that is a must for hollowing. It weighed 800 lb. but it had a container built in for sand. I had 400 lb of sand which gave me a 1200 lb lathe. It had a 3 hp DC motor. The motor was v speed with speeds of near zero to about 2000 rpm......it was a very satisfactory lathe and I would still have it I had room in my shop.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Ford View Post
    I am not as negative about this machine as Harold but don't care much for it...
    I don't see Harold as being negative. He is giving a perhaps brutally frank, but yet honest answer that will serve the OP much better than responses that don't take a hard nosed look at what he would be getting versus what he really wants -- which I assume is to be able to turn really large bowls.

    i would suggest that the OP start off by looking at one would expect to find in a heavy duty bowl lathe. Look at the VB36, the Robust AB, the Vicmarc 300, and the Oneway 2436. Aside from the obvious things like power and structural rigidity is conformity to standards that enable it to used with myriad of accessories that are available. If the spindle doesn't have standard threaded nose and Morse taper socket then that is a very serious limitation. It appears that the tool rest is another deficient part of this lathe and how many of us would honestly say that we wouldn't mind if we had to give up the tailstock on our lathes. BTW, I see the bed is a WF beam and not an I beam.

    So, what what features does this Franken-lathe bring to the table?
    • A midi lathe size motor
    • flexible structure to get you into the "sway" of turning
    • an absurdly long bed (unless making columns)
    • a headstock that probably can't accept accessories such as chucks and drive centers
    • a clumsy tool rest arrangement that probably isn't exactly amenable to moving and height adjustment
    • Who needs a stinkin' tailstock anyway
    • wheels to give it that needed bit of "bounce"


    If I were related to the seller or if I liked to tinker with stuff more than I liked woodturning then I might say, "go for it". But, in good conscience, I can't offer any encouragement beyond suggesting things to take into consideration and not be blinded by visions of massive bowls.
    Bill

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Spring City, TN
    Posts
    1,537
    1. Is the motor under-powered for something this massive? Replacing the motor would probably be expensive.
    All this depends on how much the lathe is, but to make into a nice VFD controlled 3 hp is not that bad.
    http://dealerselectric.com/item.asp?...=132&PID=24075

    This is just an example of what you can do. There are cheaper options as the HP is reduced. Again, depends on what the lathe costs.


    2. Don't know the speed range; will take a laser tachometer and check it out. What would you suggest is a desirable range for this sort of lathe?
    I'd prefer 0 or 100 to 1000 for big stuff

    3. How can you assess the condition of the spindle bearings? This thing is old.
    Most likely all you can do is grasp the spindle and try to rock it. It shouldn't show any play. If it runs, then start it up and listen to it, they should be quite.

    4. The spindle drive pulley is exposed at the back end of the spindle. Not the safest setup!
    Adding a guard shouldn't be too tough.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    E TN, near Knoxville
    Posts
    8,324

    Lissi's big bowl lathe

    You could compare it to what Lissi Oland uses to turn bowls. Big bowls.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PME...feature=g-vrec

    I don't remember what she said about the motor horsepower, but you can at least see about what speed she used. Cores with a chainsaw!

    Wonderfully friendly person, always has time to chat. The last time I visited (right before she moved back to Denmark) she loaded up my vehicle with some great wood.

    JKJ

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