|Review by Jon Spelbring||posted 04-04-2012 02:12 PM||6560 views||0 times favorited||12 comments|
I bought this used, and having used it for the past couple of months, I thought I’d post a review.
For background, my first lathe was a Jet Mini. I turned on that for about a year, then wanted to do larger work, so I upgraded to a Nova DVR. Both of these are excellent lathes. I have become much more serious about turning, and I’m moving toward larger hollow forms, and large platters/bowls.
When I decided to upgrade (again), I researched quite a few large lathes – Robust, Stubby, and Powermatic were all on my short list – the PM 3520b. I had written off the 4224 in favor of the 3520 because of the movable headstock feature on the 3520. No sooner had I done that, then I found the used 4224. Being a used machine, it was cheaper than a new 3520, and was local, so no tax or shipping (yes, I’m aware of Amazon’s deals, but this was cheaper still).
So, I made the move and got the beast (now called Godzilla) transported to my shop – all 900 lbs. This involved a forklift, some heavy duty casters, and a trailer. I did have a bit of help getting it the last few feet (had to lift it up and over the doorstep into the shop – no room for a ramp). However, it’s now safely in it’s (final) resting place. I really like the look and feel of it too (as to the color, well…). It’s in good company with it’s heavy, cast iron bretheren – a MiniMax MM20 band saw and a MiniMax FS30 12” jointer/planer.
Once in place, I wired a plug for it. The previous owner had been a cabinetry shop. The used it a few times for turning table legs, and had it wired directly to a breaker box.
I spent some time getting it cleaned up (and out). I did have to disassemble and clean the remote switch, as it would not always work. This is a known issue with both the 3520 and 4224 – the remote switch is prone to getting chips/dust inside and failing to close the circuit properly. I also gave the variable speed controller a good cleaning, as it was a bit stiff.
So, on to the actual performance review:
It turns like a dream! There is no discernable vibration. Yes, I can make it shake with a large enough blank that is far enough out of balance, but I think that’s true of any lathe that’s not actually bolted down. I do feel that I can turn larger pieces (unbalanced) much faster than I could with the Nova. Speaking of which, I really like the simple dial for speed control. Frankly, I never really liked the Nova’s up/down button control.
So far, I’ve been unable to bog it down, or stall it out. The largest thing I’ve turned so far was a piece of Elm weighing in at about 100lbs. Again, the 3HP motor takes it in stride. It’s also very quiet. I think a spinning, square spindle blank makes more noise than the motor.
Everything about the machine says “mass”. The only downsides that I’ve found are that the thing is a bear to move (I removed the casters, as they made the spindle height too tall for me), and removing the tailstock – it’s a bit of a workout. Size-wise, it’s a little longer than the Nova it replaced. The Nova had a 44” bed length, while Godzilla has a 42” – but with a larger headstock.
The finish is good, though there is some scuffing and a chip or two from it’s former life in the cabinet shop.
I don’t know if I’ll ever exceed the 24” swing, but should I desire a larger platter or bowl, I can always turn outboard (providing I get a standalone tool rest).Things that I really like:
- 24” swing – No more trimming large blanks down to fit the lathe swing (well, not yet anyway)
- 3PH 3 phase motor (with the phase converter unit). As much power as I could want
- Self ejecting tailstock (a small thing, but convenient)
- Bed long enough that I don’t need to remove the tailstock for a regular bowl – just hollow forms
- Spindle lock has a screw-on lock for the spindle lock (I think the 3520 just has a push botton – need 3 hands to remove the chuck)
- Lots of mass. I don’t feel the need to add extra weight to it
- Remote switch failure issue (the solution seems to be a ziplock baggie over the switch housing)
- No swing away options for the tailstock. I had it on my Nova, and there are 3rd party options for the 3520b, but not the 4224. I may have to build a dedicated cart for this.
- The low end of the variable speed doesn’t seem to go as low as I thought it would – if the readout is to be believed, it’s low end speed is 75rpm or so? Maybe a new/better POT?
- No sliding headstock. This is minor, and a give/take. I would like to have it, but I’ve also read that for larger hollow forms, a fixed headstock is more stable. No idea if that’s true or not. As other 4224 owers have said – I can always throw a saddle over the ways if I want to turn a bowl without leaning over.
- The cover over the motor tends to be a dust/chip collector. I have to remember to get rid of the chips before sliding the tailstock too close to the headstock.
Overall, I give it a 5 out of 5 stars. Unless I stuble across a killer deal on an antique pattern makers lathe, I think this will be the last lathe I’ll ever need.
-- To do is to be