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  1. #1
    Member
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    Sep 2004
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    Dallas, TX, USA.
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    Harbor Freight lathe questions

    First off, I think my pulleys are misaligned. I can fix that but my belt is pretty chewed up. Any idea where to find a replacement? I figure I'll take it off tomorrow and check the likely places, see if I can find one. It seems like kind of an odd size though (not the diameter, the cross section)

    Second bit is, I think the headstock is misaligned. I have several reasons I suspect this. Say, for instance, that I put a pen mandrel in the head stock. I'll have to push the other end of the mandrel a bit to meet the live center on the tail stock. Or, if I put a blank between centers, rough it out to a cylinder, and turn a tenon to stick into a chuck, once I mount it in the chuck and turn it on, you can see that the rotation is eccentric. How would I go about adjusting this?

    Don't get me wrong -- having a lot of fun with the lathe except for these problems ;)

  2. #2
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    Sep 2004
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    Dallas, TX, USA.
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    RE: Harbor Freight lathe questions

    Forgot to mention, I have the one that is the clone of the Jet 1236

  3. #3
    Member
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    Mar 2004
    Location
    billerica, massachusetts, usa.
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    RE: Harbor Freight lathe questions

    Just from my own biased/opinioned perspective, I'd have to wonder if you just found out the difference between the HF and the Jet. I've had a hard time believing that the price difference is only in the paint job and the name. Although they look just alike, the missalignments and slightly strange parts might be the difference.

    Anyone else out there have experience with both, that can speak to this?

    Dietrich

  4. #4
    Member
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    Sep 2004
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    Dallas, TX, USA.
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    614

    RE: Harbor Freight lathe questions

    I'm no great defender of harbor freight, but I would probably not have gotten a lathe, at least not now, if I had to pay $500 for the jet. If the issues I'm having are due to the quality of the HF vs. the Jet, I'm still having fun and making stuff, without any real problems. The alignment is an annoyance more than anything else, it's not severe. The belt thing might be a pain though if I can't get that properly aligned.

    I kind of thing the belt problem and the headstock alignment problem might be related.

  5. #5
    Member
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    Nov 2004
    Location
    Central, Illinois, USA.
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    331

    RE: Harbor Freight lathe questions

    I don't know if I have the same one as you or not, but here is the lathe I own...

    http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/cta...emnumber=34706

    The problem I encounter is mostly with the motor. It doesen't have much torque. If I turn a bowl with any sufficient diameter, say 9-12 inches, it gets to be too much of a load on the motor and causes it to bogg down until I pull the tool away. Only when I pull the tool away, will it speed back up. The larger the bowl, the less pressure it takes to "stall" the motor. This is my biggest gripe with this machine.

    As for your belt being chewed up, I had the same thing happen to mine. I replaced it with an automotive belt for about 4-5 bucks. Much, much better and has lasted a lot longer.

    There's a lot of play in my tailstock too, which it makes it tricky to center it with the headstock.

    Beyond the disadvantages, this is my first lathe and has been a good one to learn on. I told my wife the other night that I'm quiclky out-growing it. However, it will be quite some time before I can upgarde. Until then, I'm going to build a much sturdier base from dimensional lumber. A bowl blank of any sufficiant size, if it's not round, will shake the hell out of it. Simply too much for it.



  6. #6
    Member
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    Sep 2004
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    Dallas, TX, USA.
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    614

    RE: Harbor Freight lathe questions

    yeah, it shakes pretty easy. I actually cut a board from some leftover shelving material to fit across the base, and screwed some small leftover flooring strips across the bottom to hold the shelf down. So basically I added a shelf across the cross supports at the bottom. I store all kinds of crap there most of the time, and the few times I've had bad vibrations I stack some heavy stuff down there. I haven't tried turning any larger bowls on it yet though.

    The alignment problem I described may indeed be due to the fact that the tailstock has some play in it. Not sure though.

  7. #7
    Member
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    Sep 2004
    Location
    Hagerstown, MD, USA.
    Posts
    373

    RE: Harbor Freight lathe questions

    I would take off the existing belt and go to a good auto parts store... find a Gates Green stripe belt that is the same size and use that... it will definately stand up better than the factory belt..
    I use the Gates belt on my Jet 1236 and it works like a dream...
    I found that my local NAPA auto parts store had a good replacement, made by the Gates Rubber Company. The NAPA number is 3L240 and it cost about $5.
    Here is a good link on how to change the belt on the Jet.. if you HF is a true clone it should help.
    http://www.newwoodworker.com/bltrplcjwl1236.html

  8. #8
    Member
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    Mar 2004
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    billerica, massachusetts, usa.
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    RE: Harbor Freight lathe questions

    I'm not meaning to completely knock the HF lathes. I'd imagine you get what you pay for, more or less, and that it works fine for the money. Play in the tailstock or headstock, however, is a big problem when you try to get a really nice surface on a piece.

    As a starter lathe, the HF offers you a bigger swing than the Jet Mini, if not the quality. If that's the telling factor for you, the the HF would be the way to go. I only have a problem when lathe quality detracts from safety. Or from enjoyment sufficiently to discourage someone from continuing turning.

    One thing to know. If you try to modify the mounting on the head or tailstock to true it, be very careful about removing any material. Once removed, it can't be replaced. Try using thin metal shims instead and consider if you will need to rotate your headstock or if it's simply better to leave it locked once you have it accurate.

    Good luck and enjoy,
    dietrich

  9. #9
    Bill G
    Guest

    RE: Harbor Freight lathe questions

    Rusty, the HF lathe is not the best lathe on the market, but you probably already know that. I cannot help you a whole lot with your pulley problem, but the headstock misalignment problem is endemic to pivoting head lathes. The ones at the bottom of the food chain have a detent to align the headstock. It NEVER lines up. My $5000 Poolewood has a pivoting headstock, and it would not line up with a detent either, so they left it out. What you need to do is to line up the head and tail by eye, or do what I did and buy one of those double ended Morse tapers from Woodcraft. It is money well spent. You will find that your lathe does not line up on the detent, but who cares? Line it up and check it on a regular basis, and you will be much happier. Even the Poolewood goes out of alignment, especially when I am doing a big blank or some really heavy cutting.

    Bill

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Marero, La..
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    9

    RE: Harbor Freight lathe questions

    Rusty I have the same lathe and I also have the same problem.
    What I found with mine is the headstock moves when I have an out of balance piece or I have a bad catch.The indent to align it with the tail stock is all but useless.

    To get it aliened keep the lock down on the headstock snug,run the tail stock up to the headstock and lock it down.Then run the tail stock shaft out with the hand wheel until it almost touches the center point on your drive center.If they don't line up right,take your hand a hit the back of the motor in the direction the headstock need to move in order for it to align.When it gets aliened lock down the head stock.You should be good to go.

    At least till the next time.:)

    As for the belt.

    As others have said go to Napa and get that one.It will make live allot better for you.

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