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Thread: Craftsman Verriable Speed Model 351.217150

  1. #1

    Question Craftsman Verriable Speed Model 351.217150

    Having a very confusing problem with this lathe. I was turning a 2 inch spindle, starting on the finishing pass. It just slowed down, and started making a sound like it was binding up. It was running about 1200 rpm, then just slowed down. I took the piece off, turned the chuck by hand. There doesn't seem to be anything restricting it from turning. I turn it back on, it runs, but starts to catch someplace. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I have never turned anything large, or heavy on it. In operation about 5 years.
    Last edited by John Ledrich; 05-26-2013 at 12:15 AM. Reason: Additional information about the lathe.

  2. #2
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    Craftsman Verriable Speed Model 351.217150

    John, I'm not at a computer right now to look up the model number, but I suspect that lathe has a Reeves drive. I used to own one myself.

    From your description, it sounds like the movable pulley sheave is not sliding freely. Thus is a common problem with these lathes. A but of cleaning and lubrication of the shaft the sheave slides on should take care of things. When I get back to a computer I'll see if I can find some old threads here that describe how to take things apart for servicing. In the meantime, try a few searches here for "Reeves drive" and chances are you'll find some info you can use.


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  3. #3
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    I had the same lathe and it hit the scrap yard about a 1 1/2 yrs after I bought it. Sears sent a repairman out 3 times and rebuilt it. Then getting parts for it was impossible. So I just bit the bullet and bought a Nova lathe. I am guessing like Vaughn said it is the reeves drive causing problems. I had mine apart more times than I cared to. When you lube it use a good graphite. Oil just collect dust.
    Bernie W.

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  4. #4
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  5. #5
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    I'll second probably a Reeves drive issue. There are actually three belts on this machine though. A primary drive belt, a variable drive(Reeves drive) belt, and one in the front that drives what appears to be a mechanical governor. I have had issues with all three! The single screw on the top of your lathe in the red cover allows you to drop the red cover on it's hinges and see what is happening with your Reeves drive and Reeves drive belt. Probably the issue. I see no significant danger running with this cover open to view operation. A small tip, I recommend replacing that screw with a couple pieces of Velcro to give easy access to the spindle lock/indexer.

    No documentation on pulling the plastic front cover that hides the little belt and that is what I would check next if the Reeves drive appears OK. There is an O-ring where the spindle housing comes through the black plastic. Push in gently on the plastic and remove that O-ring to remove the front cover and check that little belt. Mine hopped off once for reasons unknown. I put it back on and life has been good so far. Check all set screws for pulleys as you go through things, one was loose letting a pulley walk on me, maybe one for this little belt, I forget now.

    One more thing, if you have to take the Reeves drive apart, build and buy the tools recommended. It is also remotely possible to do with a helper but a hazardous undertaking. That innocent looking spring on the Reeves drive is about fourteen times longer than I expected it to be!

    As you may guess, I still own and use this fabled lathe. I am learning to turn wood on it and haven't had a problem once I took the Reeves drive apart, sanded all the parts that should slide with a very fine grit and then cleaned them. I lubricated everything with LockEase, available at most hardware and NAPA stores. It is colloidal graphite, which is just to say graphite in a solvent that helps it get in places and then evaporates. It is excellent to use on guns and in gun bores, anywhere you want a dry lube, and surprisingly considering the name, it even works on locks! I get the squeeze bottle, lasts until I lose it.

    'nuther edit: Take a quick look at that little belt up front before disassembly even if you think it is the Reeves drive. Might save you a lot of work and it is a five minute job.

    Good Luck,
    Hu

    Vaughn,

    That lathe and the Reeves drives may do more to create new members than anything else. We come seeking help and get sucked into the maw!
    Last edited by hu lowery; 05-26-2013 at 03:05 PM. Reason: note to Vaughn

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    Quote Originally Posted by hu lowery View Post
    ...There are actually three belts on this machine though. A primary drive belt, a variable drive(Reeves drive) belt, and one in the front that drives what appears to be a mechanical governor...

    ...Vaughn,

    That lathe and the Reeves drives may do more to create new members than anything else. We come seeking help and get sucked into the maw!
    The third belt is a fan belt, according to the manual for that lathe. I had forgotten about it being there.

    I don't know about that lathe creating new members, but I'll bet a lot of Jet, Nova, and Powermatic lathes have been sold because of it. Still a decent machine for the price (especially if purchased used), but it's also great motivation to purchase a better lathe.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  7. #7
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    Vaughn,

    Oddly enough my manual parts schematic gives no indication of a fan although it is mentioned in the parts list and there is a squirrel cage type blower mechanically driven in mine from the looks of things. There is also a centrifugal switch as I mentioned under the front dust cover that the same little belt drives. I couldn't see if it drove anything else on the other side too or not, looks like maybe. Taking the front cover off was a mistake. That led me to inspect with the back cover down since the top cover has to come off to get the front cover off and the back cover was already hanging down. Top pulley half sheave hung part way. Nothing to these Reeves drives Hu says three hours later with an aching back, a springed stomach, and sore hands. Quite a mess to clean up too! Oh yeah, one more thing. The bowl tweaking tool makes a fine Reeves drive gentle tweaking tool too. May have to turn a bigger one though.

    Hu

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn McMillan View Post
    The third belt is a fan belt, according to the manual for that lathe. I had forgotten about it being there.

    I don't know about that lathe creating new members, but I'll bet a lot of Jet, Nova, and Powermatic lathes have been sold because of it. Still a decent machine for the price (especially if purchased used), but it's also great motivation to purchase a better lathe.
    YUP! It was this Craftsman lathe that resulted in me getting my PM 3520B.

    FWIW, the lathe was built by Palmgren except to Sears specs. I've been told that the Palmgren is better. It was also almost $200 cheaper new.
    Billy B.

    "It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first." - Ronald Reagan

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