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 Post subject: Club lathe replacement
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 6:28 pm 
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Our club, Northwest WA Woodturners, has been grappling with the issue of replacing our large club lathe for some time now. I thought we had it all but decided until our board of directors met last night and the whole thing got thrown open again for debate.

Initially I and two other members of the 'lathe committee' did what we thought was a fairly thorough job of looking at all the options, perameters, and requirements and had settled on recommending the Robust Sweet Sixteen lathe. The one option that was in question was whether or not to go with 220v power or 110. What's contentious about this choice is that 220v may not be available on the few, perhaps two at the most, occasions during the year where the lathe would be used somewhere other than our normal meeting venue. The attraction of 220v is the larger 2hp motor that's only available at that voltage.

The consensus was that it would be better to stick with 110v & 1 1/2hp motor, then it was asked why we were suggesting spending that much money (close to $US6,000) on a lathe that is capable of a 30"+ swing (with gap bed removed) that would most likely be underpowered at 1 1/2hp.

So the whole issue has been thrown back in the pot to stew around. I bore you with all the back story before coming to the point:

We have mostly local, Puget Sound region, turners who come to our monthly meetings to provide the program material. Once a year we host a major nationally known turner at an all day event open to anyone who cares to travel here to see it. Thus the lathe gets used perhaps as few as 12 times a year.

What in your collective expertise would be the minimum size/power you'd want to have available to provide and evening's demonstration on whatever topic you consider your strong point? What's the biggest size work piece you'd consider working with if you were to do a club presentation? Given that thought process, which lathe would you consider appropriate for our needs?

We've gone through a Jet 1642(?) - the bigger one - that was replaced because it was considered too heavy. It was replaced with a Nova DVR. We're considering replacing the Nova now as the controls are unfortunately foreign to most of our guest turners plus it lives in our equipment trailer between meetings, in rather cold temps and takes at times an hour to warm up the electronics to the point where it operates. Nothing against the Nova, we just need something more 'standard' and reliable given its housing situation.

I'm open to suggestions and comments; eager to hear whatcha all have to say.

Thanks ...

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 11:27 am 
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Mornin' Dennis I must fire a question back to hopefully assist. The club I must assume has been in action for awhile, your members will dictate lathe size, have you voted on that?? Well realize that some members turn items than one needs a magnifier to see & others turn HUGE items. To invest into a large lathe is not necessary for a group meeting ( our group uses a Oneway 1224 ) to demonstrate style & technique. Each demonstrator has a different approach / tool choice & sharpening of which is more important than size of turning object. Please remember that the larger the lathe / workpiece the lathe will have to be well anchored otherwise your demonstration will start out in Northwest WA & end up in Southeast WA .. you get the picture !! When we have guest turners it is strictly to watch & learn from their expertise ...... it is not going out to fell a tree then waste time trying to have it lathe mounted & spend hours watching chips or streamers fly. Each guest turner has their own way of doing things as you will find out with Cindy Drozda ... enjoy her demonstration. Long story short ...... what the majority of the members turn will dictate lathe size, but please remember that there are "others" !!


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 4:27 pm 
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Knot Rite wrote:
Mornin' Dennis I must fire a question back to hopefully assist. The club I must assume has been in action for awhile, your members will dictate lathe size, have you voted on that?? Well realize that some members turn items than one needs a magnifier to see & others turn HUGE items. To invest into a large lathe is not necessary for a group meeting ( our group uses a Oneway 1224 ) to demonstrate style & technique. Each demonstrator has a different approach / tool choice & sharpening of which is more important than size of turning object. Please remember that the larger the lathe / workpiece the lathe will have to be well anchored otherwise your demonstration will start out in Northwest WA & end up in Southeast WA .. you get the picture !! When we have guest turners it is strictly to watch & learn from their expertise ...... it is not going out to fell a tree then waste time trying to have it lathe mounted & spend hours watching chips or streamers fly. Each guest turner has their own way of doing things as you will find out with Cindy Drozda ... enjoy her demonstration. Long story short ...... what the majority of the members turn will dictate lathe size, but please remember that there are "others" !!


KR:

Thanks for the comments.

RE: lathe size - for the most part our monthly programs consist of guest turners from around the area, other clubs and occasionally from out (nearby) state. Annually, as I indicated, we invite a nationally known artist for an all day demo. We have had at least one occasion since I've been active in the club where a demonstrator has specifically requested a lathe with enough power to 'hog out' a good deal of wood in a short time to maximize the detail part of the program. But as we all know, turning isn't about brute force so much as finesse and technique. Thus I personally would set aside the argument for higher hp in favor of more readily available 110v power.

Granted it's seldom that a guest artist chooses to work larger than say, 10" diameter and granted even that size if not initially balanced can indeed lead to a 'moving' experience, thus the Sweet Sixteen seems a good choice between mobility and mass. Speaking of mobility, the integrated caster setup for this lathe is brilliantly designed in my opinion.

In the end I guess what I was really looking for was opinion(s) relating to 1 1/2 vs 2HP for a lathe to be used in the settings I originally described. But your points are well taken, KR, I'll weigh them along with all the other factors.

Thanks ...

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 12:36 am 
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Dennis,

My thoughts are to go with the 110V Sweet Sixteen. In that configuration, it's capable of turning the same things as 99% of the club members turn or are capable of turning themselves. Although interesting, I learn nothing from watching turn something the size of a washtub because I'll never be doing that myself. I think most of the members would feel the same way. We're interested in either learning the basics or honing our skills by learning from others as we progress in our own abilities.

As far as physically being able to turn a 30 inch piece, but not having the power I think that argument is a non starter. I would imagine if I turned my headstock outboard I could mount a 30 inch piece also, but don't have the power. I don't plan on turning anything that size so the power I have is just fine.

Having said that, I think our position should be that we tell the guest turners up front what equipment we have and ask them to tailor their demonstrations to the capabilities of our equipment.

That's my two cents worth. You can keep the change.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:38 pm 
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Hi Dennis,
I just looked at the specs on the Sweet Sixteen and it comes in at a diminutive 450+ lbs. My feeling is once you get that sucker bolted down, you aren't going to be packing it up and loading it in the back of the mini-van for those two excursions to other venues. My suggestion is get the Sweet Sixteen in the 220v, 2HP configuration for around the club house, and keep the DVR for road trips.

About the DVR, the electronics on mine work fine in my unheated, frozen home shop. Yes, it is confusing to change speeds, unnecessarily so (hear that Teknatool?), but you can ask your demonstrators for their favorite five speeds and pre-program them into the lathe before hand. Or switch to the 8-speed 1624-44 which features old-fashioned belt changing. They certainly aren't as nice as the lathes from Robust, but they're more likely the kind of lathes novices should start on, and they aren't back-breakingly heavy to move around.

Jim


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 30, 2014 5:56 pm 
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Thanks for the reply, Jim.

RE: the weight - we have a special built trailer & ramp setup with a small boat winch making traveling a not too burdensome issue. Still it's a two person job to say the least.

We don't have the luxury of a permanent home for our club equipment so we're faced with off site storage (in the trailer) and unloading/loading for each meeting, monthly.

220v would of course be preferable but the vagaries of 220 between various locales where we might want or need to use the big club lathe makes it another issue to be dealt with. We've pretty much determined that 110 will be suitable along with the max 1 1/2hp. Turning is, after all, as much finesses as it is brute force.

A big issue is maintenance and housing a large piece of cast iron in a damp cold trailer during the months of winter takes its toll. The Robust lathes have stainless steel ways and a superb, what appears to be, powder coat finish. This solves one ongoing problem with respect to keeping any lathe in good condition.

Appreciate your input.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:00 pm 
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Sorry about that. I assumed you guys had a central location. Has your club tried to find a steady home or does everyone just think it better to invest in really nice equipment instead? Feel free to ignore the question if you think it too nosy.

20 amps should be plenty for the motor size, and on those rare occasions when it isn't, you can always spin the work by hand before hitting the switch and help it get started.

I also hear what you're saying about cast iron and sudden changes in temperature. There is nothing like the panic of opening a cold shop on a warm day and start seeing condensation forming on your tool surfaces. I looked real hard at the Robust lathes before my last purchase and really wanted the stainless bed ways. Unfortunately the swiveling headstock is a very addicting feature for me.

Anyway, good luck with your purchase.

Jim


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