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Thread: Lathe motor question and gloat..UPDATED NOT A GLOAT ANYMORE

  1. #1
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    Lathe motor question and gloat..UPDATED NOT A GLOAT ANYMORE

    Well, the motor on my lathe has decided to quit spinning. It's probably at least 35yrs old so it gave my grandpa and I a good run. It was/is a GE 1/2HP probably from a squirrel cage blower. The question I have is...It seems to work fine without the belt attached, but won't spin without a gentle push on the pully or not at all even without a blank loaded. It just groans as if the pully is to much resistance. Do older motors have brushes that can be replaced? Or is it somehthing else that could be repaired? I wouldn't mind using it to make a disk sander or something.

    Now for the gloat.....I'm picking up an older 1HP 1750RPM 115/220 Baldor with capacitor this weekend from a guy I met through craiglist for $40 so I set to upgrade DOUBLE from the 1/2HP I had before. I might ask some questions on wiring, and the possible jack shaft I might install later this week.
    Last edited by Jeff Bower; 03-24-2008 at 09:13 PM.
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
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  2. #2
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    Apr 2007
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    Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
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    Awesome, Jeff!
    I'm sure you'll enjoy the extra power.
    More Power! Ooh Ooh Ooh!

  3. #3
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    If you need the extra power, it's hard to beat the price. But i think the 1/2hp motor might still have a lot of life left in it. There's a good chance it's a simple fix. The start capacitor may be shot, or it may have a lot of sawdust packed in it which is fouling the centrifugal switch. If it's a Repulsion start / Induction run (R.I.) motor, you may also have worn brushes or a fouled commutator. I'd start with the no-cost option - dirt. Most older motors are "open" with vent holes in the motor housing. This helps cool the motor, but also allows in sawdust and dirt.
    The refusal to start spinning at all makes me think it's an induction motor (no brushes) with a fouled centrifugal switch, or a Repulsion start/Induction run motor with starter winding issues - probably the brushes. There could be other causes, but these seem the most likely to me, and they're easy to ferret out.
    Since it's a lathe, the motor is probably either a capacitor start induction motor or an R.I. motor. You can tell the difference easily by looking for the telltale cylindrical tube (the capacitor) attached to the motor. Without that, it's probably an R.I. motor.

    If you've never had a motor apart before, it may sound intimidating, but they're pretty straight forward. And, if it's already not working, what do you have to lose? The cleaning process, start to stop, should take 30 to 90 minutes. I'd start by marking the location of the rear bell housing to the main motor housing - marker, metal stamp, tape, etc. so that you reassemble things correctly. I'm assuming you have the motor on your workbench and unplugged. Remove the bolts or screws that hold the bell housing in place. On a motor that size, you've probably got 4 to deal with. I like to make sure there's enough clean space on my bench to lay out removed parts in an organized manner. Take pieces off carfully and set them asside deliberately so that you can reassemble everything in its proper order.
    Once the bell housing screws are removed, you'll need to tap the bell housing off of the main housing. They're still held together with a friction grip. I like to use a wood block or broad flat blade screw driver to begin to drive the pieces apart with light taps working around the perimeter of the motor so that it all comes apart without wracking and binding.
    Once the rear bell housing is off, you may be able to easily remove the armature (assuming you've already removed the pulley and any heavy dirt/corrosion fouling the shaft as it comes out of the other bell housing. If it comes out easily, remove it and set it aside. Now, you'll likely see decades of dirt packed in. I like an old toothbrush and a small paint brush or two to go after the dirt. Be carful poking anything rigid in there - you don't want to damage wiring. Once i get a good enough view of how things are arranged, i'll usually use a stick of wood to scrape off the large chunks. Occassionally, i'll use compressed air, but turn the pressure down to about 40 psi and wear eye protection. You may also inspect the centrifugal switch at this point to make sure it's clean and can move as it should along the shaft of the motor. There are different configurations, but they're pretty obvious to figure out when you're looking at them. Also, look for cracked, broken, or missing parts on this switch. There are springs and weights to account for. Any damage should be readily apparent.

    You'll also want to take a minute to inspect the wiring connections to make sure things aren't cooroded or broken where you wire the cord to the motor. I'd also check the bearings to see that they don't have too much play or make any grinding or chatter noises.
    Once it's all cleaned up and you've inspected the other items, reassemble the motor and give it a test.
    I've "resurrected" a number of motors just with a good cleaning. Once i had a centrifugal switch that was sticking - a little cleaning brought it right back. The rest of the times, just getting rid of the dirt took care of the problem.
    If the power cord looks iffy at all, i replace it. It's not always necessary, but it's only a few bucks, and there's no easier time to do it.
    If things don't come back to life, take the capacitor with you to a motor repair place or an industrial supplier (Grainger, McMaster Carr, etc.) - they will test it for free before selling you a replacement. My last capacitor replacement was $7 - not expensive and easy to swap out.
    I hope this helps some.
    I hope others look this over to see where i may have left something out or may be missing something.
    Have fun with it.
    Paul Hubbman

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Hubbman View Post
    I hope others look this over to see where i may have left something out or may be missing something.
    Have fun with it.
    Paul Hubbman
    Paul, "left something out"?????? I doubt you did. Thanks so much for taking the time to write all that you did....I will try all that you mentioned. I didn't think about cleaning it out. Never occured to me that might be the problem. I've wanted to upgrade the motor anyway, so getting a 1HP motor for $40 seems like a no brainer to me, but hearing that a good cleaning may be all I need to use the motor again makes me feel good and I will have fun with it. As many of you know my grandpa made the lathe and putting the motor to another use would keep with his values of fixing something many times before you give up on it....he rebuilt a tiller motor problably a dozen times when I was young and used it for many more years than that.

    thanks again.
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
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  5. #5
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    Good Luck with the motor Jeff, Paul gave you a lot of options there.As for Grandpa he sounds like mine, never give up on anything, where there's a will there's a way. There's also a pile of motors and old tools in the to-do pile.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brad Hungler View Post
    There's also a pile of motors and old tools in the to-do pile.
    I resemble that comment. I just recently got the shop reasonable again. There are 3 motors that need work (a 1/3hp, a 1hp, and a 2hp - all R.I. motors), a lathe from the late 1800's (from my dad), an Atlas 8" table saw (for a friend of mine), a Craftsman / King Seeley jointer (also for a friend), a Companion 15" scroll saw (hopefully leaving soon), and the finishing touches on a table raising mechanism for my drill press.
    I need to clear some clutter.
    Paul Hubbman

  7. #7
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    I also have a 1/4HP motor that needs a new switch that I'm going to make buffer out of......someday.....been saying that for 6 months. The lathe motor will be fixed/installed this weekend though.Why am I so confident it will happen?....Hello, my name is Jeff and I'm a woodturner. It's been about 72 hours since my last lathe session.
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
    My Website


  8. #8
    Jeff, I'm kind of new to turning but it sounds like I've been where you are; I had a similar problem with my drill press motor; Dirt/dust was the culprit there. It just had NO power whatsoever all the sudden. I ended up just using compressed air very throroughly (probably not as safely as I coul've-my output is set at 95psi), but I luckily didn't damage anything, but certainly got more than a faceful of dust. i wasn't expecting there to be so much in there. Suffice to say that after I cleared my eyes and sneezed a couple times, the drill press worked good as new.


    As for your lathe, I only got my lathe this fall, but I modified it in short order, swapping out the 1/2 hp motor for a 1.5HP leeson which I originally had put on my bandsaw as a replacement for the 3/4HP taiwanese motor on my ridgid 14" bandsaw. I ended up with a 2HP baldor with the spin-down brake that I don't know what to call it.

    Anyway, I put the 1.5HP motor on a rockwell 46-111 and put a delta "jackshaft" pulley setup on it that I found on ebay for less than $50. I just put a couple of pieces of plywood across the back, and put some mounting blocks with a routered groove and wingnut bolts so that I could slide the entire assembly back and forth to use the factory step pulleys on the headstock. I have to also move the motor to do this, which is a PITA!!! But, its very worth having a 300rpm low speed vs. the 900 rpm that it was before I modded it. Try turning a large out of round blank at that speed and watch it walk around the floor by itself!!

  9. #9
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    Nathan, Thanks for the info...I don't suppose you have any pics of the jack shaft setup? I'm more of a visual person and would really appreciate you posting them if you do.
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
    My Website


  10. #10
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    Frustrating day so far....

    Well, I got the new/old motor wired with a simple switch and a new power cord. It starts up just fine, but then either the power strip breaker or the breaker in the house box trips afte about 20 seconds??? Any ideas as to why this would be happening? Remember I don't know much about eletrical stuff

    I also took the old motor apart cleaned it, tried it again and it still just humms. I think it is done for good. That on top of shoveling about 4 inches of wet snow has made this not such a great sunday....
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
    My Website


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