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For those who use a mini-lathe from Harbor Freight do yourself a favor and check where they placed your power cord into the machine. My lathe went down and the cause was the belt to the motor had cut the power cord. They had run the power cord next to the belt and over time it slowly cut it. The solution is to run the cord under the motor. So check it out. It is not often you can stop a problem before it starts.  (Adam Vigil)


Hi, anyone with capacitor start motor experience:

I have a JET lathe with a growing problem that has now become critical.  For months now on startup, occasionally the motor makes some weird vibrating/grinding sound, but its definitely NOT grinding.  The sound continues, so I try again.  Trying again usually solves the problem and I'm able to use the lathe as always - no loss in power or performance.  Now, especially when the motor warms up, I have to try and try and try again to start it and to get it to run normally - time to do something!!

This lathe has a 2 HP 2-phase motor with capacitor start.  The noise is definitely coming from the motor and not the lathe relay bank above the lathe.  But, who knows, maybe some problem in the relay bank is affecting motor operation causing the noise?

One day, I got a little wild and let the noise continue for maybe 25 seconds.  Something, presumably the motor began to smell like hot insulation.  Half an hour later, the lathe worked fine.  The problem has obviously returned and I'm not going to get "a little wild" again . . . any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!

Oh, yes, I called a tech. at JET (can't remember the name of the company) - no help at all, thank you.

conceivably, I could take the motor off the lathe, but It's quite an ordeal as I cannot directly access the motor mounting screws.  I only know its a capacitor start motor because I removed a cover from the side of the motor and discovered the capacitor. 

JET manual says its a single phase 220v 2 HP motor!  (Ted Godfrey)

    When I bought my South Bend, I was told the capacitor was bad.  I have to grab the pulley and spin to get the motor going.  It does not make the noise you described though.

    Why not try spinning your chuck and see what happens?  (Rich Jezioro)

      Thanks for the advise on spinning the head, but have tried that to no avail.  The problem also occurrs the same in forward or reverse direction of motor spin.  The problem also occurs in the "jog" type start as well as normal starting with the drum switch.  Not a bearing problem as the lathe runs fine - for hours at a time in fact - if I can get it past the start up problem.  The lathe was put in service in 1997.  Actually I have noticed this problem before - perhaps years ago, but dismissed it as it occurred only rarely.  I really wonder about the contacts in all those magnetic switches!  I'm going to go tighten up a few dozen connections on those switches.  (Ted Godfrey)

        Radio Shack used to have a contact cleaner spray. Relay contacts corrode and oxidize over time and with use. A spray such as the one I mentioned clean up these things.  It might be worth a try. There are ways to check capacitors but my memory fails me on how to do that.  (Rich Jezioro)

          And mystery continues.  Messing around with the lathe, I have determined what each of the 3 magnetic relays do.  Not that it is any help but one is for forward, one for reverse, and one does the emergency shutoff.  I guess it's not a relay as the problem persists in forward as well as reverse!  I am afraid that I'm stuck with getting a new motor - how freakin nice!

          I wonder if there is a US equivalent motor for this "thing" with correct mounting type and shaft diameter?  Cost a wee bit of cash I suppose.

          WELL, WELL:  just crawled back of the lathe to look at the motor to try to find out what type it is.  I had removed the cover from the capacitor (for no particular reason) and it had been simply hanging down by its pigtail connecting wires.  I had been running the lathe just a little to try to determine which relay did what.  Well, the damn capacitor is warmer than the motor despite being in a better ventilated situation!!

          I disconnected the capacitor, spun the head of the lathe and tried starting it, but it hardly turns.  The so called "grinding" noise is gone, the motor sounds normal, but no power at all?  (Ted Godfrey)

            Sounds like it maybe the start capacitor. You should be able to take it off and take it to your local AC tech and they can throw motor on bench and check it out for you.  Sometimes they will do it for free, or take it to a place that rebuilds motors or sells new motors they can fix you up.  (Dave Henney)

    Try a Google search on "motor start capacitor" (quotes included).  Look for one the same physical size and rating as you now have.  They are a LOT less than a new motor, cheap enough to justify replacing the old one to try it.  You'll probably pay more for shipping than the cost of the capacitor, unless you can find one locally.  I expect it's soldered in, so unsolder the old one and solder in the new.  (Neil Savage)

      NOTE, Ted and everyone, "Before" you do "Anything" with changing the capacitor, "DISCHARGE" it. Take a screwdriver and short across the terminals of it, you should hear a pop. That was the electrical charge in it that would have given you one nice "ZAP". Ounce you have it out take it to a local electric shop, you should be able to get one for just a few bucks.  (Jimi Genzling)

        An excellent point, Jimi, although if the capacitor is bad it won't hold a charge, hence no "zap".  Also, unplug the motor first.  (you shouldn't have to be told that, but...)  (Neil Savage)

          Operative word, "If". It is not uncommon for a cap to short out some plates internally causing a change in capacitance and causing a malfunction but still hold a charge, (don't ask how I know). Better safe than to scare the wife and pets with your yelling.  (Jimi Genzling)

          Will look into it on Monday and get a 125 working volt, 600 mfd capacitor from MSC or McMaster-Carr.  The only local fix-it shop open in these parts today (sleepy guy answered the phone 10:00 am this morning) said he only carries small 125 - 300 mfd caps.  I may buy 2 and put them in parallel as a temp fix.  (Ted Godfrey)

            Make sure you get an AC capacitor.  The DC type will explode if you connect to AC.  (Neil Savage)

    Although I have fixed the problem finally, I will be buying a new capacitor tomorrow and some other parts if available.

    And the story went like this:

    I borrowed a capacitor off another motor, but it did not help.

    AT this point, I was really at a loss!

    then called a relative with immense experience with electrical and mechanical repairs who advised that I should either replace the brushes in the motor, fix the thermal switch (I can hear a switch action inside the motor), or somehow tighten the springs that work the brushes.  He said that the brushes were hanging up causing the noise and I better not run the motor lest it burn up.  I said I did indeed smell hot insulation if I ran it for a minute or so.

    I took the motor off the lathe - it weights perhaps 50 lbs and is quite a problem to handle.  Got it on the bench and discovered I could not remove the pulley wheel off the front shaft to access the brushes - it was "frozen on".  I worked at the back end of the thing removing the rear housing, the fan, and then found a centrifugal switch connected to of all things, the freakin CAPACITOR.

    I finally got to see inside the front end and low and behold:  NO BRUSHES.

    To finally end this thing, I removed the centrifugal switch, took apart the contact board and cleaned up the highly damaged contacts.  I reassembled the thing, put in the damn, hot running old capacitor back on the motor,  and all is up and running just fine now.  I can't make it fail!

    I would like to get a spare switch board with fresh contacts, and at the very least find out what the heck the frame type is of this import motor - its not listed on the motor plate.  I'd like sometime to get a motor by a US company made to our specifications -- even if it is actually assembled offshore!

    So ends the lathe motor saga - about wore me out tugging at the lathe and the motor!  As far as motors are concerned, buy "made in the US."  (Ted Godfrey)


A couple of years ago someone mentioned boring out the headstock of the Taig lathe to accommodate a bit larger blank.  At the time my lathe was still boxed up from the move.  Now I want to do it but for some reason the archives won't accept my password; will work on that later.  Does anyone recall how much the headstock can be bored out?  (Carey Mitchell)

    John Boegeman bored mine out when I placed my order about 4 years ago.  He unfortunately has passed away since then and the business is no longer around as far as I know.   I ordered 2 heads, the bored one has a hole thru of .600" which is a significant increase from the .350" hole on the regular head I got from him.  My guess is that you would be better off and have to a shop do the work than to try it yourself.  I figure the expense of the tooling, making a new custom tool post and possible modifications to the cross slide for only one application and maybe just a slight amount of aggravation would make it worth it.  While it's out you can split some cane, press a few nodes, plane some strips, have a micro-brew, relax and keep a level head.  (Brian Smith)

    I had one and bored it out my self, I just chucked a 1/2" drill bit in the Jacobs chuck mounted on the tailstock and slowly fed it into the headstock, 3 jaw chuck wide open, naturally. I went very slowly and pulled the bit back many times to clear the chips and so it didn't overheat and it seemed to be fine when I was done, at least I never noticed any ill effects.  (John Channer)


I just bought an old Craftsman 6X18 Lathe, Model #101.214, Serial #011709 Any ideas on the age? It's needing a tail stock, chuck, and a few other small parts. It's pretty rusty and crusty and needs a good cleaning. The gears look fairly good through the old grease and grime. The motor runs and the spindle spins, so I think it could be a good lathe. Any ideas on where to get the needed parts? Seems like someone on the List is running an old Craftsman/Atlas Lathe.  (David Dziadosz)

    eBay is your best bet.  They have Craftsman lathes and parts showing up there all the time.  I think there's also a Yahoo group dedicated to that lathe.  (Mark Wendt)


I just fried the motor I had running my 5x48 Atlas  Lathe. Shucks, it  was only about 60 years old. Come to think of it, so am I.  Hmmm.

It was 3/4 HP, I probably should have more than that. I am basically  baffled by the various types of motors Do I want a capacitor start  single phase? Where's a good place to get one?  (Tom Smithwick)

    Assuming your old motor was single phase, a single phase cap start motor will be just fine. I'd go to eBay personally...  (Larry Blan)

    Check Grainger.  They're probably the biggest distributor of electric motors in the US.  (Mark Wendt)


I got a motor from Harbor Freight to hook up to my lathe.  It looks like a rugged unit, but came with no power cord, and no switch. The instructions are woeful for someone like me, who is not 100%  confident with electrical stuff. At the very least, I want to hook up  the motor to run off the lathe switch. The wires coming off the lathe  switch are black, white and a green ground wire. My preference would be to be able to change the motor direction by  means of a switch. I don't have a clue how to go about that. The lathe sits in front of a wall, so I could put some sort of a box  behind it on the wall to deal with the switch and wiring. Can anyone guide me into a simple way to get this done?   (Tom Smithwick)

    It depends on the motor.  Some WON'T reverse.  Also, if it's one of the compressor duty motors they sell it may not work for a lathe that runs for a longer period at a time.  If it's one of those, I'd take it back.

    A motor that can be reversed requires a double pole double throw (DPDT) switch and some electrical knowledge to hook it up.  (Neil Savage)

    Is it a DC motor? Most AC motors won't reverse. The reversal on a  lathe is generally accomplished with gear changes.  (Jerry Foster)

      MSC (and others) offer TEFC motors that reverse direction via a "barrel" switch.  I just installed a 0.75 hp motor on an old Heavy 10 South Bend by the "Monkey see, monkey do" method, imitating the professionally wired Myford in the shop.  These motors can be wired to run on either 110 v or 220 v depending (again) on how you connect it.  I have replaced or swapped maybe a dozen of these setups.  All the wires in the motors (there are seven of them) were labeled the same in each instance or I would still have a pile of unconnected motors in the corner.  The motors are described as "general purpose" and (perhaps by accident) all had automatic thermal protection.

      I don't know another way of achieving reversible spindle rotation than through a reversible motor.

      One final note:  The motor must come nearly to a complete stop before reenergizing it to rotate the other way, otherwise it will simply start rotating "forward" again even though the switch is in "reverse".

      This whole business is a wiring job for a professional, unless you can locate a single phase (most small lathes) wiring job to imitate.  (Wally McMurray)

    Take it to a motor shop.

    Most fractional hp ac motors that we would use for a lathe can be reversed.  These motors have two windings, one is the running winding and the other is the starting winding. just reverse the starter leads to reverse the direction of  rotation. If the motor is rated for continuous duty,  it will run a lathe just fine. Take it to a motor shop and they will set it up to run either  way.    Even    those    from    Harbor   Freight     that    says non-reversible can be reversed but, it is a real pain in the butt to get it done.  (Jerry Drake)


Does anyone know where to pick up a set of lathe bearings for a Craftsman lathe -- 109.21280? Its relatively rare, but I figured maybe someone on list has experience.  (Don Peet)

    Didn't Atlas make those lathes? Google Atlas lathe parts. (Steve Weiss)

      No, Atlas did not make the 21280.  It's the last lathe that craftsman made.  I looked at Atlas parts, and the bearings are smaller and the spindle is as well.  (Don Peet)

    I don't mean to sound flip but have you tried Sears?  Here in Salt Lake City Sears has a repair facility.  I haven't visited the place for a few years but their computers have breakdown drawings of nearly every machine they ever sold with part numbers, etc.  Or you could try Sears Parts Direct.  Another route would be Kaman Bearing.  Not sure where you are but they have places all over the country.  Try their web site.  Good luck.  (Bill Ernst)

      Not flip at all.  Sears had nothing -- actually they had no idea what I was talking about.  I'll check out Kaman, thanks for the link!  (Don Peet)

    Might try Sears Parts Direct.

    They have some parts for my 101.21400, but be prepared for a shock!! A bearing for mine was $147. Hope I never need it!! First stop on the search would be e-bay for a manual. Next stop will be the Craftsman 109 Lathe Forum.

    I think there are some Rodmakers that use Atlas/Craftsman Lathes. Maybe they can be more help.  (David Dziadosz)

    Try here. Clausing has the parts for the old atlas/craftsman lathes.

    If the bearings you are looking for are the babbit ones you are SOL. Mine were babbit and they are no longer available. Set up the headstock, bored it out and put in a turned bronze bearing. Works great.  (Jerry Drake)

    If they are Babbitt (sp.?) bearings, in the old days they used to re-melt them and recast them.  No idea how it was done though.  (Neil Savage)

    Try this site I have been able to get part for my 109.  Bill Hardin is the man’s name who has the site from my understanding has been sick but he knows all about these lathes and he has replacement and after market upgrades. (Rick Barbato)

    Not sure what bearing this will have on the bearing problem in the previous thread, but my Atlas lathe manual describes adjustment of babbit type bearings by simply removing headstock bearing caps and removing shims ~ (peeling one .002" shim from first the right hand bearing, reassembling, then repeating with the left hand bearing if required.) A lathe with Timken bearings should not need adjustment, but if necessary is done by turning a thrust nut located at the back end of the spindle.  (Vince Brannick)

    Thanks to all for the suggestions about the bearings.  It turns out that Kaman bearing has a plant about 20 minutes from me.  I am going to contact them this week.  I am a member of the 109 group on yahoo, but no one had any info prior to the post here.  Once again, the list pulls through!  (Don Peet)


I just picked up an Atlas Craftsman lathe, it is fairly accurate off a couple of thousands at 6". The only problem with it is, the gear that engages the lead screw is missing, would anyone have one for a price, or know where I could purchase one. (Larry Downey)

    I got almost all of the missing change gears and other parts off of eBay for my 618 (Atlas), 100.214 I think for Sears. Sears still has a lot of parts but pretty pricey! Check out places that sell Boston gears, also.

    Just a few thousandths 6" from the chuck?? I'd like to see that! LOL  (David Dziadosz)


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