Trouble with treadle lathe

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Forum topic by Bob Downing posted 12-31-2010 09:06 PM 2814 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Bob Downing

43 posts in 2826 days

12-31-2010 09:06 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question lathe

I’m a little embarrassed to ask this question, but I have run out of things to try to solve this problem. After all this was solved hundreds of years ago. I finished building a treadle lathe a couple of days ago and I was excited to start using it. I mounted a blank to try it out, but within 2 minutes of turning, the rope I’m using to drive the pulley had so much slack that it just slipped on the pulley. I shortened the rope and tried again. Same result. I have tried nylon/poly rope and cotton rope with no difference. No matter how tight the rope is, it goes slack within a couple of minutes. Following Roy Underhill’s suggestion, I tried using maple syrup to increase the friction between the rope and pulley, but because of the slack in the rope it doesn’t help.

I’‘m hoping there is a couple of guys out there that have some experience using a treadle lathe and can give me some advice.

-- BobD Chandler, AZ

11 replies so far

View Loren's profile (online now)


10401 posts in 3648 days

#1 posted 12-31-2010 09:11 PM

Rope stretches a lot. It takes a lot of stretching before it stabilizes.
Different ropes vary a bit. I used to work a lot with sailboard rope
and I build a setup for stretching it before I used it.

You might want to try the belts used in sewing machines, a leather
flat belt, or the link belts we use in machines.

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Bob Downing

43 posts in 2826 days

#2 posted 12-31-2010 10:05 PM

Thanks Loren. I did try that same thing. I tied one end onto a leg of my table saw table and attached the other end to the face vice on my work bench and opened the vice to stretch the rope. As the rope stretched I pulled some more. After a few hours of this stretching I put the rope back on the lathe and it stretched even more.

The link belt idea sounds like it would work. I have to think about that though. Not sure I want that red belt on my lathe. It’s a matter of looks.

I’ll look into the leather sewing machine belts.

-- BobD Chandler, AZ

View Bureaucrat's profile


18339 posts in 3652 days

#3 posted 01-01-2011 01:53 AM

I seem to remember that natural rope (not nylon or other synthetics) stretch considerably when wet. Try wetting the rope and stretching as far as possible then use it on your treadle lathe. When the rope dries, it will shrink. Might solve the problem, might break the lathe too.

-- Gary D. Stoughton, WI

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Bob Downing

43 posts in 2826 days

#4 posted 01-01-2011 02:01 AM

I tried soaking the rope and then putting it on the lathe wet, stretching it as much as I could by hand. Still ended up with slack. I went on e-bay and found 1/4” round leather treadle belts. Not that expensive either. May end up going that route.

-- BobD Chandler, AZ

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2600 posts in 2997 days

#5 posted 01-01-2011 02:11 AM

The rope made from “jute” might be better, it does slip and stretch as much as poly or nylon. I used to use ” link belts” on my seed cleaning equipment (Only because it was convienient to replace) They stretched real bad when under any kind of load.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

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10880 posts in 3116 days

#6 posted 01-01-2011 02:24 AM

when you put on the rope then turn it an exstra round or two on the smaller wheel at the top
even consider to cross the rope so it looks like an 8
and then build in one of the small wooden tighting wheels to have the same funcktion
as in a car engine
hope the point gets truogh my pure English

Happy New-year and good luck

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1004 posts in 2829 days

#7 posted 01-01-2011 05:24 AM

Do a double wrap on the pulley then it woun’t matter the slack. Or tie a weight to a pulley and run the rope belt through it on the return end of your rope belt. Secure the pulley and weight in the center so it don’t move.

-- Have a great day.

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Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3713 days

#8 posted 01-01-2011 05:40 AM

Climbing ropes are designed to stretch, there are static lines (ropes) that do not stretch (and because of that they are dangerous to use for climbing…no shock absorbing stretch to slow a falling climber). You may want to talk to the folks at Mountain Equipment Co-op about ropes, they may be able to help.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2984 days

#9 posted 01-01-2011 05:57 AM

When using jute, sisal or hemp rope you need to stretch it with weight prior to use. Much the same as they did with a hangman’s rope to take the stretch out before using a new rope for hanging the condemned. Poly and nylon is very difficult to stretch.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

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Bob Downing

43 posts in 2826 days

#10 posted 01-01-2011 07:08 AM

Thanks for all the input guys. I’ll try the jute and double wrap the pulley.

-- BobD Chandler, AZ

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18272 posts in 3676 days

#11 posted 01-01-2011 10:18 AM

When I was a kid, i rememer all the pulley run equipment I saw running with leather belts.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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