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Thread: PSI 12" Turncrafter Commander VS - Review

  1. #1
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    PSI 12" Turncrafter Commander VS - Review

    I received my new lathe via UPS last Thursday night (8/21). I opened the boxes mainly to check that the contents were OK, then called it a day.

    Overall, everything was packed well, as you can see below. It's a good thing there's plenty of styrofoam and other padding. Box one, on the left below, held the main section of the bed which was supposed to have the motor mounted to it. As I started to lift the bed out, I noticed the motor was loose under it so I pulled the plastic bag away from it. The motor could hardly move due to the packing material. I unplugged the motor cables going to the control box, removed the bed from the box, then lifted the motor out and placed it on my bench. There were no damages. Box two, in the center below, held the head stock, tail stock and some other items, all of which were fine. The third box contained the extension bed. The only casualty from box three was the small plastic zip lock bag holding the hardware to attach the extension to the main bed was torn open - one of two flat washers were missing, but I had plenty in stock.

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    After spending a few hours on Friday assembling the lathe, this is what it looks like. I checked both speed ranges with no load, except my hand, and everything seemed in order. Further checking showed the speeds to be different from what is published on the PSI web page for the product. I was getting 300-1800 on the low pulley setting and 1000-3800 on the high. The published speeds are 150-1900 and 300-3900 in the online manual and 150-4100 on the specification section of the web page. Not that it will make a lot of difference, but I wanted a response about the difference. I sent an email Monday, then called PSI this morning. The CS desk put me through to the technical manager, Joe Roberts, who told me the speeds could be set to pretty much whatever I wanted. He had me open the control box, tweak two controls and in less than a minute, I had the speeds set to the lower low end. One adjustment covers both speed ranges.

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    As a little better test of the speeds under more load, I grabbed a section of a dogwood log. I centered a drive spur on one end and the tail stock live spur on the other. There was a little vibration at the low speed due to the log, of course. I roughed it out until it was fairly round, then ran the speed up to the high end of around 1800rpm with the pulleys on the low range. The lathe ran very smooth and showed little loading, even when I held my hand on the log.

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    Now, y'all know I'm not really a turner, but I'm working on it! So far, I couldn't be more pleased with the decision I made to buy this lathe.
    Last edited by Bill Arnold; 08-27-2014 at 05:07 PM.
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

  2. #2
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    Looking good! Interesting that it was that easy to adjust the speed, on my PM you have to re-program the VFD somehow.. I like the big numbers on the readout

    The banjo maybe looks a smidge light? I've talked to a couple of folks with similar looking (grizzly) lathes and that seemed like a weak point (at least one person had broken theirs) - this one has a bit different looking geometry though so wasn't sure.

    How well does the tailstock hold to its line on the rails?

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Mooney View Post
    Looking good! Interesting that it was that easy to adjust the speed, on my PM you have to re-program the VFD somehow.. I like the big numbers on the readout

    The banjo maybe looks a smidge light? I've talked to a couple of folks with similar looking (grizzly) lathes and that seemed like a weak point (at least one person had broken theirs) - this one has a bit different looking geometry though so wasn't sure.

    How well does the tailstock hold to its line on the rails?
    Yeah, the big numbers are good for me, too! The DC motor seems to maintain torque well, but I haven't tried to sling a 12" hunk of wood on it, yet.

    The banjo isn't as substantial as the one on my old lathe, the Jet 1236, but it stays put. The tool rest shaft diameter is 5/8", the same as other midi and mini lathes.

    As I was mounting the head stock to the bed, I put spurs in it and the tail stock and matched them up. Vertically, they were dead on and I kept them matched horizontally while I tightened the head stock bolts. Both ends match as they should. The tail stock wiggles a little when you move it, but settles in well when tightened in place.
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

  4. #4
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    Great review, Bill. I'm pleased to see that the guy at Penn State was able to walk you through tweaking the speed controller. Now let the fun begin!
    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

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the review Bill! Let us know how you like it after you get some more curlies on it!
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
    My Website


  6. #6
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    That lathe is too pretty to get dirty. (that is a compliment in case you didn't figure that out)

    I am glad that it arrived safely and got assembled without four letter words.

    I hope you have an absolute ball with it and that it does everything you want it to. (That sort of sounds like one of those Irish prayers that you hear every now and then.)

    Enjoy,
    JimB
    First of all you have to be smarter than the machine.
    VOTING MEMBER

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Arnold View Post
    Yeah, the big numbers are good for me, too! The DC motor seems to maintain torque well, but I haven't tried to sling a 12" hunk of wood on it, yet.
    Yah, in theory the DC motor should have a pretty good power curve, although I only know a smidge of theory there and even less practice so its good to hear that reality meets theory

    Sounds like it should be a good little worker! Looking forward to seeing some projects out of it!

  8. #8
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    Bill, that's a decent looking lathe you got. The motor sure looks big enough to develop all the power you will need. Have fun with it.
    "You got to learn from the mistakes of others. You won't live long enough to make them all yourself". (Author unknown)

    "Time flies like..... an arrow,,,Fruit flies like..... a banana." Groucho Marx

    Ah,,,to live in Paradise!

    Registered voting member

    Fighting for all I am worth, and praying every day.

  9. #9
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    May 2007
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    Thomasville, GA
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    Tony, this 12" model has a 1hp DC motor. I kinda looked at the 10" which would have saved me a little, but it has a 3/4hp. Kinda figgered I should go for the gusto!
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
    My Weather Underground station

  10. #10
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    I think you were wise to pay the extra for the additional .25 horses.
    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

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