Turning Archive 2005

Trying a New Lathe

Bill Grumbine (Kutztown PA)
>Greetings all

Well, it doesn't exactly fall under John Lucas' title of weekend plans, but Friday SWMBO and I took a ride down to Baltimore to see John Trant and spend some time on his Vega 2400. John was gracious enough to give me free run of the shop Friday afternoon, and I arrived with a couple of "test pieces" of wood.

This whole thing arose from the thread I had started on the Jet 1642 vs Nova DVR lathe last week. Mark Kauder threw in a curve, and the next thing I knew, I was standing in John's shop in front of a lathe I had never seen before except for a few pictures. It was very impressive.

Here is a shot of the lathe after I had made a mess of the place throwing chips all over the room. It will probably never win a beauty contest, but what it lacks in looks, it more than makes up in power and performance. It boasts 26" of swing over the bed, 17" spindle capacity, a 2 HP 3 phase motor, and 500 lbs of steel and concrete to hold it on the floor. I did manage to get it rocking a time or two, but I was there to push it for all it was worth.

Here I am turning the "warmup" bowl, a small piece of curly maple that needed to be roughed before it turned into pen blanks and kindling wood. If you compare pictures, you can see that the tailstock is not in the way. It comes off (and goes back on) in a matter of seconds, allowing complete access to a bowl or hollow form.

Here is the "main event" bowl. This is another piece of curly maple from the same tree, but it is much larger, approximately 14" x 8" to start, and it was waaay out of balance. We started it out between centers, but I drilled the hole out a couple of times with the spur center and my 3/4" Glaser gouge, so we ended up grinding a flat and putting a faceplate on. I think I ended up with a better shape as a result.

Like I wrote above, I got it to rock a couple of times, and I squealed the belt, but what can I say? I'm just not used to those old fashioned belt drives anymore. :o Overall it did a great job, and I was very impressed, impressed enough that I will be on the phone with the folks at Vega Monday. Of course, I may have to sell a few more bowls first, but this lathe just made it into first place for that empty space in my shop.


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