Just a quick note – I started writing this on December 17, 2012. Then Christmas happened. I had hoped to finish it up on the week between Christmas and New Years, but events conspired against me.
If you have been following along, you’ll have seen pictures of my lathe. It’s a Delta Shopmaster Midi Lathe, which was also sold as an LA200 under model designator 46-250. Late this summer, the original drive belt broke. It’s no shame, it’s been on the machine for ten years at least. My first attempt to find a replacement led me to the conclusion that Delta had been purchased by DeWalt and that I could order parts from a DeWalt Factory Service Center. “Great!” I thought, because the local DeWalt FSC is a 15 minute walk from my house. With my daughter in the stroller I set out on the quest. When I arrived at the DeWalt store, after having impure thoughts about a thickness planer, the helpful counter service person told me that yes, DeWalt had bought Delta/Porter-Cable, but the Delta division had split off to become its own thing about a year ago and here, call this number for parts. Ok, fair enough. I’ve been out of the scene for a while, people break up, I can dig it.
The next attempt was to source it from an online parts supplier. I’m not going to name them, but they’re apparently popular. They wanted, with shipping to Canada, around $50.00. Per belt. Really?
About a month later I happened to be walking through the Busy Bee Tools that’s around the other corner from my house and I spotted a Craftex CX801 lathe on display. I popped open the inspection cover and saw that the belt looked pretty similar to the one on my Delta so I asked the friendly and helpful sales associate if they happened to have a drive belt for said lathe in stock. She looked up the part number in the online manual, then checked their inventory system and found that yes, ULTRA FLEX BELT 7 X 3.4 X 600 was in stock. I had gotten lucky before at Busy Bee, finding planer knives for my Trademaster thickness planer, so I was willing to take a chance on spending $8.00 for this belt. Ten minutes later I was home with my lathe’s headstock dismantled only to find that the ULTRA FLEX BELT 7 X 3.4 X 600 was about ¾” too short. Curses, foiled again.
After more digging around on the internet, and contemplating making my own damn belt out of leather, I found this forum post on Canadian Woodworking. The belt is, in fact, a standard size, model number 250J3. Three weeks or so went by before I was able to make my way downtown to try ordering one from General Bearing Service. The counter associate at GBS told me that particular belt was normally a regular stock item but they were out. They called their supplier and assured me they would have one in the next day. For good measure, I drove across town and checked with Motion Industries, who also promised next-day delivery. For good luck I swung by Ottawa Fastener Supply. I didn’t find any lathe parts, but I did find another thickness planer to have even more impure thoughts about as well as a new band saw to lust after.
The next morning, true to their word, I had phone messages from both Motion Industries and GBS. My belts were in. Huzzah!
The actual procedure of changing the belt is pretty straightforward. First, remove the handwheel by backing off it’s set screw a few turns, then unscrew the handwheel from the spindle. The handwheel is attached to the spindle with a left hand thread, so turn it opposite to the direction you think it should go. On my lathe, I was able to take it off using only my hand to turn the handwheel and the bar that comes with the lathe to keep the spindle from turning. Once the handwheel is off loosen the two set screws on the pulley, then lightly tap the left end of the spindle with a soft faced hammer, or a hammer and a block of wood. It didn’t take much for me to to get it moving. Once the initial seal was broken I was able to slide the spindle to the right just enough to slip the new belt on. I didn’t see the need to remove the whole works, but I suppose if you wanted to, now would be a good time to clean things up. In my case, I didn’t need to.
Assembly is pretty much the reverse of, umm, dismantle-y. The use a small ruler to roughly line up the pulleys, install the handwheel and lock it in place. I set the belt to the lowest spindle speed and turned the power on to let the spindle pulley line itself up, then tightened down it’s set screws. Back in business.