One Saturday a few months ago I stopped by a garage sale in my
neighborhood. Amid the various pieces of junk I spied a very rusty old
Delta lathe. Although there were pieces missing, I asked "how much? and
was told $35. I thought about the missing parts, as well as all of my
other uncompleted projects, and took a pass. The owner said, however,
that he was putting out a few more things on Sunday. Early Sunday
afternoon I happened to be near the sale, so I thought that I would stop
by and see if there was anything worthwhile. I looked over at the lathe
again and noticed that the various missing parts (tool rests, etc.) were
now there. Again I asked "How much?" This time the answer was $25. I
couldn't help myself -- I had to say, "Would you take twenty?"
As soon as I got the lathe home I wrote down the model number and serial
number. On Monday I called Delta gave them the numbers, and they told me
they would send what information they had on this lathe. I also asked
when it was built and I was told 1944, making the lathe two years older
than I am. A few days later I received a copy of a 5 page manual and a
I completely disassembled the lathe and began cleaning it up and
removing the rust from the machined surfaces. I thought the wooden stand
was a home-built unit until I noticed the Delta name tags on the two
To make a long story a little shorter, I completely disassembled and
rebuilt the lathe. I de-rusted all machined surfaces, then masked them
and the identification tags. I then removed as much surface rust as
possible and applied Rustoleum Rust Converter to all unmasked surfaces.
I then primed and painted everything that needed painting. I then
reassembled the lathe. I replaced the bearings, setting the preload by
I replaced the motor, an old Challenge 1725 rpm, 1/4 hp unit sold by
Sears, with a Dayton 1725 rpm 1/2 hp TEFC motor that I picked up at
another garage sale for $20. The original switch was a standard
household light switch mounted between two small blocks of wood under
the top of the bench. I replaced this with a new switch mounted in a
metal outlet box. I added a modified switch guard that was designed to
make it hard to turn a switch on or off. My modified version makes it
nearly impossible to accidently turn the switch on, but very easy to
turn it off.
The lathe came with two face plates but no spur drive, so I added one. I
also replaced the original dead center with a live center.
I also disassembed and cleaned the countershaft assembly. There is some
wear on the shaft and bushings, so someday I may rebuild this unit as
well. The shaft is a standard 18" x 3/4" unit that can be purchased for
about $20. I will need to find press-fit 15/16" OD x 3/4" ID bronze
bushings (and a suitable reamer), however.
So far, my $20 lathe has cost approximately the following:
paint, rust converter, etc. 20
used motor (in new condition) 20
one new belt 7
4-position pulley (sheath) for motor 13
new 15', 14 guage power cord 8
switch, box, cover and guard 5
misc. hardware 5
live center 15
4-spur drive center 20
There is a certain sense of satisfaction in having taken a piece of
machinery that was likely destined for the scrap heap and returning it
to nearly-new condition. In the process of rebuilding this unit I have
learned how every part functions and have thus gained a level of
knowledge I would not have with a new machine. I also have an excellent
lathe at a very reasonable price.
I have posted a couple of pictures on alt.binaries.pictures.furniture.