General 160-1 Lathe
by Jim Shaver


I have been turning with my General 4 speed 160-1 for about 8 months and thought I might take a few moments to write up a review. Being a recent turning convert and well schooled by Bill Grumbine and Tom Trager I have had fun making bowls, plates, pens and the such. I envisioned this tool as being able to produce legs and columns to support my flat furniture designs and needs.

As some of you may know General is a Canadian company located in Drummondville Quebec. I also confess to being a General fan and own their 350 Cabinet Saw and 15" Bandsaw. I purchased my lathe used, it was formerly used in a high school wood shop and had been purchased by the person I bought the lathe from. At first look it is a very stable looking machine, 38 1/2" between centers, 12" swing, #2 MT in both the head and tailstock, total weight about 300 lbs. The lathe came equipped with a 1 HP Lesson motor that is currently wired for 110Volts. Aside from my misadventures with a stuck Nova Chuck (Left = Loose, Right = Tight) the lathe has been a pleasure to use and learn on, I can't imagine needing "more" lathe for my wood working application but would not want less.

The tailstock is heavy and robust in design, travel on the spindle is 2". I have a live center mounted in it but can easily insert my 5/8-drill chuck for drill work. It travels easily on the bed and stays firmly put when clamped in place.

The Banjo and assorted tool rests are all of heavy cast construction and easy to position and use. I have a 4" and 6" straight tool rest along with a 90 degree tool rest.

The headstock has a 1"-8 tpi thread spindle and with a 5 /8" diameter hole making it simple to buy chucks and tools for. The outboard wheel also comes off the spindle enabling outboard turning if you feel the need for bigger pieces.

I have been able to determine that my speeds from the pulley diameters are 850, 1 375, 21 60 and 3500 RPM.

The bed is all cast, heavy and machined to a very clean finish. It's mounted to a steel base that is welded to shape. The only thing that I find a bother is switching the belt from pulley to pulley to change speeds, it's the way it is and the variable speed would be nice.

I have a Del Stubbs video where he uses a General 160-2, he uses a clutch he made that enables him to stop and vary the speed with out turning off the lathe or adjusting the belt to a new speed. I have also seen Raffan use this same lathe is his videos.

I had the bearings replaced recently as the machine has seen heavy school use and the date of manufacture is 1982.

In conclusion I find it to be an excellent lathe for most wood working projects, more serious turners would be limited by some of it's function but for my needs it fits well into my applications.


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© 2003 by Ellis Walentine by special arrangement with Wayne Miller of Badger Pond. All rights reserved.
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