Old lathe restoration

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Ok, I need some advise. I have a Blount wood lathe, cir 1929. It's in preetty rough shape, but that's not a problem for me. I can get it working like new in about 6 months, I'm a machinist too. I've restored several old machines but this one has me questioning my morals. The Lathe is huge, and has a cross slide saddle that acts kind of like a metal lathe. I think it is a pattern lathe. The tail stock can be rotated, it is marked in degrees! I think this is for turning perfect tapers.
Here is my moral delema; The motor is integral to the head stock. It is a 3 phase, 8 speed, 5 horse monster. The switching box alone is a work of art, there must be at least 60 connections. The problem is that where I live there is no 3 phase power. A phase converter for this motor will still require me to upgrade my electric service. The phase converter will cost about 3 grand! I cannot spend all that money, but I really want to use THIS lathe, I have fallen in love with it. My plan is to gut the motor keeping only the shell and the central shaft. I'll machine a pulley and press it onto the shaft. Then I'll cut a hole in the bottom of the motor and install a variable speed DC motor below the original motor and belt the power to the original motor shaft. From the outside nothing will be visible without really close inspection, I'll even use the original speed selector switch to run the new motor.
Is this blasphemy? Is it wrong to so radically change this machine just so I can use it? Will the gods of machine tools strike me down? Or will they smile upon me for saving and using one of their lost children? Every other tool I have restored has been faithful to the original. If original parts weren't available used or new, I have machined new parts so well that you can't tell I did it.
I live in Half Moon Bay, CA and anyone is welcome to come and see this baby!
Please advise
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$3k? you could build a rotary converter for a fraction. Why the power upgrade with a converter?
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I've talked to a handfull of motor shops, and across the board they all tell me that with the horsepower of this motor, and the fact that it has 8 speeds I need a heavy duty converter.
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Mine is more philosophical, rather than mechanical.
Can you make the switchover to a more modern, useful tool, but still retain the option to go back to the vintage if need be in the future?
I had to make a similar decision, with a different type of "tool" some 20 + years ago.
The "tool", still in use and much sought after, is a 1961 Fender Jazz Bass that, with the original parts, will easily bring around $10 - 12K to the right collector.
I chose to remove the original "engine" (vintage pickups) and replace them with something that was more modern, gave more tone options, and worked better for more types of music in the studio.
It was a hard decision to make, and while I kept the original pickups which could be put back, the hard core collector would know and would shudder to think of the conversion.
In short, you will be slightly unhappy whatever you do, so pick the option that gives _you_ the most satisfaction.
In my case, I made the decision to be able to continue to use the tool in a modern world and gain the satisfaction that comes from using it.
Tough decision ... hope this helps to settle your mind.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 7/30/06
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<sniperoo>
An apt comparison.
What is better, a tool or instrument rendered unusable by value or age, or a tool modified to do the job?
I face the same thing with a bunch of tools and goodies that I got from my grandfathers garage last year, after he passed.
I have a box he made, very nicely, for holding 78 rpm records. I'm NOT going to store records in this box. So I need to modify it for other purposes? Is this blasphemy? Heck no, it would be a shame for something to go unused simply for sentimental reasons, or because somebody thinks something should be kept "just so".
So, IMO, modifying something, whether a tool, instrument, or other item so that it is useful is a good thing, a sign that the only thing that really matters is usefulness.
Mark
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A new academic discipline is born, Old Iron Ethics!!
If you really want to preserve the original, in all its glory, you are restoring an industrial machine that would not fit into your situation very well. It becomes something you put on a display and tell everyone what an interesting piece of history it is.
If you actually want to use it, well............, that is a whole 'nother thing.
It seems to me if you went to all the trouble to restore the thing, you would want to use it. And if that meant adapting it to fit into the modern world in some fashion, that would be understandable under the circumstances.
On the farm I grew up on, almost all the farm equipment that we used with our tractor was originally horse drawn equipment. It was cheap, sturdy and easily adaptable. I once asked my grandfather, who used to farm and log with horses, what the horses would think that we were pulling around "their" equipment with a gasoline powered tractor. His answer was that they wouldn't mind because they would not have to do the work.
Whatever circumstances that the machine is in now is very different than it was a long time ago. The old iron gods will forgive you. Whatever changes and adaptation you make to this old machine, its spirit will live on due to your thoughtful attention and hard work. You have nothing to worry about. Your soul is safe.
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A California question if I ever saw one, but I understand. Remember, it's yours and would probably be melted for Toyotas if you had not rescued it! If you want a lathe to use, put the modern drive in and enjoy it! Is it possible to get a pulley on the back end of the motor shaft, so the motor could stay and you'd just drive through it? That would save a lot of work and not take out the original motor. Is there room for a pulley behind the chuck. I can imagine a machinist mounting a pulley rim on the back of the chuck, even if there isn't room on the shaft. I can also imagine a pulley squeezed between the chuck and the alignment shoulder. I can even imagine an adapter long enough to carry the pulley with a female thread to go on the headstock and a male thread to carry the chuck. More work than gutting the motor, but keeps the original setup.. Wilson

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Yeah, there is room on the outboard side for a pulley, and that was my first idea. I do hate having exposed belts though, even with a guard. Plus it will really change the look of the beast (vanity, I know) but I spend a lot of time in my shop and I keep it really pretty! I rejected the outboard pulley as the motor guts on the original shaft weigh about 60 lbs, and that will add to the start-up load for whatever motor I put in.
As an aside, I'm not repainting it to the original colors, I never do. I use Hammerite brand spray paint and usually do a 2 tone or 3 tone job that is just a feast for the eyes. Most people who see my rebuilt tools want to touch them and learn about them, even those who aren't usually interested in tools at all!
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Got any pictures of the paint jobs? Sounds interesting...
Clint

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I'll bring some in tomorrow and post them.
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It never would have occurred to me to paint my stationary tools with a custom theme until now. Might make the shop look just a little less jumbly. I like the idea and look forward to seeing what you've done.
- Owen -
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Oops......I have heard but do not know for sure that if you drive a motor, that it could, under certain conditions act as a generator. Like I said not sure, but if there is the possibility I would look at removeing the old motor. Has anyone else heard of this happening? I have not heard of a rotating tail stock used for tapers, I have off set the tail stock on my metal lathe to cut tapers. Is there a chance that this is part of a "back knife" lathe? Sounds like a oldie but goodie. I have one made in the 1860's flat belt drive. The last time it was used much was when the remodeled the mission at Santa Barbara. it is a 6" by 11ft. lathe (wood bed) I still use it from time to time just to play.

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Not could, will. It' s been 25 years since power conversion class, but I'm not aware of any motors that would be precluded from generating electricity when turned mechanically at the proper rotation speed. (Just turning a motor with your hand isn't going to cause any dangerous voltages)

+--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+ If you're gonna be dumb, you better be tough +--------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
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For an AC motor, you'd need an exciter current . Not a problem here.

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A California question if I ever saw one, but I understand. Remember, it's yours and would probably be melted for Toyotas if you had not rescued it! If you want a lathe to use, put the modern drive in and enjoy it! Is it possible to get a pulley on the back end of the motor shaft, so the motor could stay and you'd just drive through it? That would save a lot of work and not take out the original motor. Is there room for a pulley behind the chuck. I can imagine a machinist mounting a pulley rim on the back of the chuck, even if there isn't room on the shaft. I can also imagine a pulley squeezed between the chuck and the alignment shoulder. I can even imagine an adapter long enough to carry the pulley with a female thread to go on the headstock and a male thread to carry the chuck. More work than gutting the motor, but keeps the original setup.. Wilson

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I don't see a problem with it at all. A well done conversion is simply a tribute to the machine. It simply means that it is worth the effort to convert for your use rather than replace it.

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Do you want to look at it or use it? Restore accordingly.
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On 3 Aug 2006 09:36:47 -0700, wade snipped-for-privacy@pacbell.net wrote:
[much snippage]
Coupla things.
Go over to WoodCentral (http://www.woodcentral.com ) on the Main Message board or the Turning board and ask your question. Include a plea in the subject line for Forrest Addy to weigh in. What he doesn't know about the motor situation you describe probably isn't known nowadays (see if he doesn't suggest a VFD--variable frequency drive).
Respectfully restoring old ahrn vs new fancy paint job. Strikes me you can't have it both ways. If you're getting all ethical about preserving the sanctity of the antique, then you're in for a pound--no fancy paint job. That's alright, though, because if you're willing to compromise your morals for the paint, then making whatever mechanical mods you need to isn't a dillema at all. Just do it.
--
LRod

Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
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wade snipped-for-privacy@pacbell.net wrote:

One question- do you have any info to expect the motor is currently working? If so I think you should seriously consider keeping and using the motor. Typically, a 5 hp 3phase motor would run fine off a 7.5 hp rotary converter, 1 size up. Someone in a similar situation posted many details in a post on the machine shop forum, see www.practicalmachinist.com/ubb/ultimatebb.php/topic/3/632.html#000000
They had a motor that was 440 volt only (so a transformer was needed), was only 2hp, but really used a lot of juice (amps) at the low speed, almost 3 hp worth. If yours really uses a lot of juice on the low speed, you might need a 10 hp rotary converter- if you want to turn really big stuff.
On your motor you could use a 5 hp single phase VFD, or a 10 hp 3 phase vfd if it didn't have phase loss protection. A VFD can be stretched some past its normal rating; it will put out 150% for a minute. So if you don't turn stuff big enough to need all 5 hp, you can stretch to a smaller VFD.
A direct drive is so much smoother; this really counts on a lathe. A 2hp DC motor will be way less power, but cost you plenty $. (The smaller ones are cheap, but bigger DC get $ on ebay.)
A 5 hp VFD will run fine off a 30 amp 240 volt circuit, especially since they are a bit easier on the circuit breaker than a motor. To run a 7.5 rotary phase, you need a 50 amp circuit, 10 hp even more. The extra electrical costs of these options point to buying an appropriate (no phase loss protection) used 10 hp 3 phase VFD off ebay for $300 or so- single phase 5 hp VFDs are rare there. If the motor is 440 volts, you need to buy a big (single phase) transformer; they can be cheap but are real heavy, best to buy local. The plus is you can get a 440 volt VFD for a lot less on ebay.
MAchine shop forum referenced above a good place to read up on the info here.
Wade in TX
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I opened up the old motor this weekend and found a mess inside. Most of the wire power leads are fused and at one time were molten. Much of the wire windings around the electro magnets are fused and at one time were molten. Funny thing is that it turns by hand really easily. I think all thoughts of using the motor "as is" with a power converter are gone now. I'm going to proceed as planned with the conversion and see how it works.
Thanks everyone for all the advise. I'm pretty fuzzy on how to post pictures so if anyone who wants to see them emails me, I'll make up a form letter with attachments and reply.
Wade
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