Rockwell 46-450 Reeves pulley bushings replaced-cheap and easy!

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Forum topic by robzman posted 11-24-2012 06:15 PM 6979 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 2247 days

11-24-2012 06:15 PM

Topic tags/keywords: rockwell wood lathe reeves drive pulley speed control bushing replacement 46-450 tip

Hi out there. I just joined for the express purpose of posting this info.
I recently bought an old Rockwell 46-450 wood lathe that had some serious wear issues. Mainly, the center pulley in the Reeves drive was completely flopping around and clanking and not allowing full range of speeds. Also the speed lever would not lock and hold a speed. (new washer and a readjustment of the hex screw cured this) I took it apart reluctantly. Never even seen one of these before. The problem was obvious. Bushing of the center pulley was worn to almost nothing. Took it to the auto parts store/machine shop. They said they could mill out new ones out of some bronze transmission bushings and install them for $100. But the machinist was going on vacation for a week. Looked all over the internet for advice or parts/repacement contacts. Found a lot of people moaning about Reeves drives and the good folks at Popular Machinist who just milled their own new ones. No practical advice for the common man. Next day I went to Ace hardware in Taos, NM with the center pulley in hand and found that they had stock bronze bushings in their collection that looked like they would fit inside the pulley but had a flange on one end. Kind of doubted they’d fit the shaft but I’d worry about that later. I bought 2 at $4.40 each (they are only one inch deep and pulley center is 2 1/4 inches.) Took them back to the shop and slid one onto the shaft and lo and behold! You all know that feeling of YES! SCORE! it was a perfect fit. Slid on nicely and spun free. I filed a groove through the old bushings in the pulley and they came out easily. Pressed the new ones in, one from each side and left enough to sawzall the flange off and then filed them smooth. Cleaned up the edges and slid the pulley into place. Put the outer pulley on, aligned the pin holes and tapped in the pin. Center pulley slid back and forth on the shaft easily and engaged both sides of the other pulleys well. Assembed back into the lathe (after cleaning all the gunk and rust out of the spiral slot on the body of the Reeves casting till it moved smoothly) .....and what a wonderful feeling to turn it on and hear it hum and go through the speed changes smoothly and quietly. And lock in place and hold. Yes. So I wanted to pass this tidbit along because I can’t be the only one that’s had this issue of the thousands of these school lathes that are out there.
There is a question I have about using link belts on Reeves Drives. Is anyone doing that? Does it help? Is it worth doing? Couldn’t find that out either

3 replies so far

View oluf's profile


260 posts in 3277 days

#1 posted 11-25-2012 02:32 AM

Could you please give us a Ace Hardware part number for the bushing. I would not use a link belt for the drive. T hese people are a great source for belts and belt information. Vbelt Global supply, or call at 888-291-5450

-- Nils, So. Central MI. Wood is honest.Take the effort to understand what it has to tell you before you try to change it.

View Wildwood's profile


2527 posts in 2373 days

#2 posted 11-25-2012 12:20 PM

Old North American & European reeves drives more reliable than shorter mounted on headstock Asian reeves drives. If do not know anything about how reeves drives operate or know someone who does hard to fix. Today people wiser to opt for new mini lathes with EVS or lift motor and move belt lathes.

My second made in America lathe via Taiwan, Delta 46-700 was one of those Asian reeves drive lathes with hit or miss quality. I got one of the bad ones, neither I nor service reps in the area could fix it. Solved problem at local machine shop removing reeves drive, mounted regular pulley on lathe spindle, and remounting motor on movable bracket. Lifting the motor and moving belt along pulleys made speed changes a snap. Since upgrading to Jet 1642 with EVS, old lathe rest on floor back of the shop.

Jet’s 1236 & 1442 seemed to work better than Delta’s imported reeves drive. They have the same problem when reeves drive go bad. When they go bad cleaning & oiling usually does not help. Same story for other vendors carrying Asian reeves drive lathes under a $1,000. Some vendors importing those lathes may not import spare parts.

-- Bill

View passiton's profile


1 post in 1595 days

#3 posted 09-07-2014 02:51 PM

Nice fine and you can find a lot of helpful hardware at Ace. I also have a Delta 46-450 lathe (actually two of them) from a recent purchase. I am now troubleshooting a magnetic starter problem (Furnas system) that was modified by some HS shop teacher. What a mess! More on this later. I live not too far from you in Santa Fe.


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