Questions about converting a lathe over to variable speed

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Forum topic by Bieser posted 06-10-2014 03:58 AM 1377 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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176 posts in 2235 days

06-10-2014 03:58 AM

I have a delta 46-715 with the revees drive for variable speed. Needless to say the Revees system is completely shot and needs replaced. I cant seem to find a replacement and I have read that one from grizzly may work. The more I think about this the more I am interested in trying to convert this to electronic variable speed. I am thinking about using a motor from a treadmill or something similar. I know its much cheaper and easier to do this with a 3 phase motor but I don’t have access to that nor want to go there. Have any of you guys converted yours if so what suggestions do you have.


6 replies so far

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1422 posts in 1930 days

#1 posted 06-10-2014 01:27 PM

I did that once. It worked great. I had full torque at the slowest rpm and never had the motor stop when I took too big a bite. I even had a scale that would give me my heart rate and tell me how many calories I burned as I was turning. It also had a timer that automatically shut down in one hour. I would restart and keep going, or would look at time remaining and push the rest button and never have a pause. My problem came when I went on a 2 week trip and forgot to cover the control board. Since I work oputdoors, the sun got to it and caused it to stop working.
I then went all over Tucson, the internet, Goodwill, treadmill websites and even the desert trying to find another circuit board or treadmill so I could replace the bad one, but that was like looking for that proverbial needle in a haystack. I eventually went the 3 phase route with a 2 hp and VFD… Happy ever since except I don’t have full torque at low rpm.
If you do get a treadmill, get one with at least a 2 hp motor. Remove the control board noting where all the wires go back to the motor. Make something to mount the board, and you will be in business. The only drawback to the traeadmill motor is they are 120 volts, and tend to draw about 17+ amps, where a 3 phase motor draws less amperage.
If you do find one with the pulley that uses a multi groove belt, it’s not an issue. If you align the motor properly, the regular belt will stay on track. I did make my own multi groove pulleys as I have access to a machine shop….... Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

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176 posts in 2235 days

#2 posted 06-10-2014 01:44 PM

Thanks for the response. I am gathering info now on this I am guessing I will find it to be cheaper to start over with a new machine

View Wildwood's profile


2473 posts in 2335 days

#3 posted 06-11-2014 11:45 AM

Another option is do a mechanical switch, that involves completely remove the reeve drive and add a 3 or 4 slot pulley to the headstock spindle & motor, bolt swivel bracket to mount motor to side of bed.

You swing motor in to move pulley along pulley wheels to change speeds.

-- Bill

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1422 posts in 1930 days

#4 posted 06-11-2014 12:29 PM

Bieser, if you have a Goodwill store near you, you can get treadmills for under 40 dollars. If you like challenges, and have mechanical abilities, you could make that conversion rather easily…... Jerry (in Tucsaon)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 3161 days

#5 posted 06-11-2014 01:44 PM

My reeves drive went out, too. I used that as an excuse to buy a new lathe.

View Woodknack's profile


12430 posts in 2580 days

#6 posted 06-11-2014 03:28 PM

I believe all the VS midi lathes use DC motors, same as a treadmill. It’s just the easiest way to get variable speed in a tight space, cheapest too. You may have seen me post on this before: hp ratings on treadmill motors are a little different as the flywheel is included in the calculation. Without the flywheel it may be a 1hp motor, with the flywheel it may be rated at 2hp (that’s a made up example but similar to what you will find). They are also rated at “continuous” and “treadmill” duty, and those ratings can be very different. Since the Delta is a bigger lathe, look for a bigger, more modern, brand name treadmill, they will have bigger motors. Attach it to your largest pulley on the lathe to preserve low end torque and get slower speeds because DC motors can run at ridiculously high rpms.

-- Rick M,

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