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Thread: live center on an old lathe

  1. #1

    live center on an old lathe

    I recently bought an old lathe, cheap! It is a Powr Kraft model #TRT - 2020. I think it was sold through Montgomery Wards in the 1960's
    It is in good working condition, except. . . . the live center is very dull and I can not get it to dig into the wood enough to keep it from just spinning on the blank I am trying to work with. The lathe has a 5/8" spindle with a flat on a portion of it and the center slips onto that and it has a set screw that is tightened by an allen head wrench. I have searched the internet high and low for a replacement. I have found photographs and mention of this exact lathe but no information about how to adapt it to a different live center. All of them now use a morse taper I understand.
    At this point it seems as if this lathe is of no use to me. Does anyone have any ideas of how I may solve this problem

  2. #2
    I have a similar PowrKraft lathe. I believe what you are referring to is the head stock spur center. It does indeed have a 5/8 inch round armature with a flat spot and the spur center slips over that and tightens with an allen screw. You can use a center drill and drill a slight hole for the point and then use a mallet to start the spur and then reattach it to the lathe. (PIA) but the only way I can see to do it. When I first got the lathe I was told that a shop smith lathe spur would fit it. Never bothered to find out. The lathe was actually a well made little thing, but the bizarre spur center attachment cause me a lot of frustration. As I recall it has a standard dead center in the tail stock. Hard for some modern turners to comprehend, but the only game in town when I turned with my dad in the 1960's. A little heavy weight oil, shorteniing or beeswax on the wood to lube it and it works fine. So the only advice I can give is to check to see whether a shop smith spur center will work. (Or start looking for a lathe with a head stock with usual threads.)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    San Diego, Ca
    Maybe I misunderstanding. By "live center", I suspect that you mean a spur drive center that is mounted in the spindle and is supposed to dig into the wood in 5 or more places? The spurs can be sharpened. Also, some kiln dried woods need some coaxing to accept the spur drive. If the wood is hard, I often drill a hole for the point and put in an "X" with the bandsaw.

    Some people refer to the center with a bearing that is supposed to freely spin as the live center. This would be located in the tailstock.

    Live centers are not hard to buy if you are working with a Morse taper. But your lathe sounds like the center is held in with a set screw. Is there enough material left of the center to re-sharpen it?

  4. #4
    You are correct. Shop Smith has exactly what I am looking for. Thanks for the information and the link to their site.

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