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Thread: Got My Sears Craftsman 15 inch wood Lathe fired up today...

  1. #1

    Got My Sears Craftsman 15 inch wood Lathe fired up today...

    OH BOY< I got problems!!!

    Got the old Sears 15 inch wood Lathe fired up today, after not running it for a few years.. Need to clean the surface rust off the cast iron bed !! Had a heck of a time getting that 4 prong spur drive center pull out of the head stock. It's rusted pretty bad, and the prongs are dinged up # 2 MT , it is.''


    1. What do you all suggest for a new 4 prong spur center ?? I checked, and some stores are back ordered for at least a Month.

    2. How do you get that live center out of the tail stock ? It seems stuck...

    3. What's that loud grinding noise in the Motor ? Is it the Brass gears ??? Is that normal ???

  2. #2
    Both headstock and tail stock will have a through hole to allow you to use a knockout bar to unseat the MT drives. If you have the spur drive out and it rusted while unused, it's a pretty safe guess the MT has rust as well. I wouldn't put a new drive in until you get that cleaned out and fixed.

    I think it's pretty clear no lathe should make a loud grinding sound from the headstock while running. Safe guess this is a reeves drive and those require maintenance to keep them running and the gears functional. I've never owned a reeves, but I have seen plenty of negative commentary about those sears models with a reeves drive, they are known to have problems.

    I'll be honest, you should think hard about spending time and money fixing this one. Other owners report having to fix the reeves on a pretty continual basis. I would legitimately take a modern, new pen lathe that sells for $200 over what you are describing.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Houston, Texas
    Clarence, to answer a couple of your questions:

    #1 - I use and prefer a Steb center over a four-prong drive.
    #2 - Most tail stocks are 'self-ejecting', so one way to get the live center out is to put a wide skew chisel or a piece of hardwood an inch or so wide laid flat on the tailstock between the body of the tailstock and the back of the live center, and then turn the hand wheel to retract the center. This may (hopefully should) pop the center out of the tailstock.

    I'm not sure about number three. I wish you luck regarding all three issues!
    Don't let it bring you down,
    It's only castles burning,
    Just find someone who's turning,
    And you will come around

    Neil Young (with a little bit of emphasis added by me)

    Board member, Gulf Coast Woodturners Association

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    sykesville, maryland
    If that's the same Craftsman I used to own (variable speed DC motor), the tail stock should eject when you retract the extension all the way.

    It should not make much noise when running. That sounds like a bearing issue or something. At least bearings can be replaced. But, I'm not sure I'd put any money in it

    I purchased my Craftsman from a co-worker for $75 including a cheap set of chinese turning tools. At the time I had no idea how to use, and I really didn't have any interest. It got moved around my shop for about 4 years without ever being used. Then one day I decided to give it a try. Well, it got me hooked on turning..... and then proceeded to die. On mine, it was the controller board. There are no replacement parts available. So I gave it to another guy to use for parts and bought a new lathe. Since then I've spent $1000's on lathe, tools, and supplies. If you don't want to get caught in that vortex. Leave it be. Let it collect dust or sell it

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
    Hoschton, Georgia
    Fixing up the old Craftsman lathe could be an interesting project but just realize that you are probably throwing money down a dark hole. I would concentrate on that "loud grinding noise" first. Bearings can be replaced. Damaged Reeves drive parts may be very difficult to locate. I turned an old Rockwell Delta belt and pulley lathe into a fine disc sander and Bealle buffing station. No need to change speeds now.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Wayland, MA
    I too wouldn't get a spur center at this point. I've been using a traditional "dead" center (marketed as a "safety" center now). Cheap new, and cheaper on ebay. Unlike a spur center that will tend so dig in split your stock and sent it flying in event of a major catch, with the dead center the work just stops spinning. You back out look at what happened, perhaps tighten it down a bit more, and go on. Great for skew practice! I have found no downside; I take pretty heavy roughing cuts and it's very rare that I get an inadvertent stall. Re-centering work is also trivial and completely reproducible, I always found spur drives problematic in that regard. I used to have a steb center but found it didn't actually hold as well. I think the spring in the center is counterproductive.

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