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Friday, February 28, 2014

34706 Maintenance

Go ahead and click the blue wordings if you wish to go see it on the Harbour Freight website.
Anyway, it is time to do maintenance on it. I have promised at least two people that next time I done this, I would snap some photos and do a blog entry about general maintenance and such on this lathe.
So here goes.
First of all, I wish to talk briefly about this lathe.
It came from Harbour Freight. It was less than three hundred dollars after taking off for a twenty percent coupon and then adding back for the two year extended warranty. Now, one can very well go spend much, MUCH more for a lathe. I won't sit here and argue if one lathe is better than another lathe. I know there are better, and more expensive lathes, that I would love to have. Since some of us don't have huge budgets though, I feel this is one of the best lathes out there for someone without a bank roll of cash.
One of the first things that should come to mind when you talk about maintenance on any lathe is your bed. It doesn't matter if you have a pipe bed lathe, a flat bed lathe, or whatever. Your bed needs to be clean and all parts moving freely. This involves sometimes removing rust and waxing it. If you do find rust, maybe you need to consider waxing it more often. As a matter of fact, I think it would be quite difficult to wax your lathe bed too often. Waxing it is what keeps things moving on it freely.
Speaking of things moving on the lathe bed, let's look at how things are held secure on the 34706.
Here are the parts to the tool rest holder. The tail stock parts are exactly the same underneath. It operates on a draw bar concept. You have a handle that turns a bent shaft. That bend, when turned upwards away from the bottom, pulls a draw bar tight to clamp the accessory to the bed securely. This is adjustable by tightening or loosening the nut on the draw bar.
I recommend getting familiar with how this works. There is a fine line between tightening the nut enough to have it clamp with no chance of movement while still having it loose enough to allow free movement when the handle is turned to move the accessory.
The next thing I like to pay attention to is the motor. The motor is a fan cooled unit. If too much crud and dust gets around the fan, it cannot properly keep the motor cool. If you don't believe this makes a difference, clean any dirty fan blades, even on a shop fan, and feel what difference clean blades make.
I have seen some terrific filter systems made for this machine by different people. I think they are a great idea. I do not use one. I do have my reasons. When I am feeling well, my lathe sometimes goes for hours on end without being shut off. I have felt the motor on this lathe after turning a large bowl. It gets hot enough to fry an egg on. While the filter idea may work wonderfully for some, I simply don't want to make the trade off by restricting air flow on my machine.
So while doing maintenance, and more often if I feel it's needed, I remove the fan cover by taking out three philips head screws, and blow the excess dust out around and off of the fan on the motor.
Next we need to oil the belt drive system.
There is one screw on top of the belt cover, two on the side, and
Then there's one underneath it that is hard to see until you get down there looking for it.
Remove all four screws and remove the cover.
This is the Reeves Drive system. It is the belt drive system that allows quick changing of the speeds on this machine.
I have heard a lot of good and bad about these systems. My opinion of it is that it works, and does what it is supposed to do. The few people I have talked to personally who have had issues with the Reeves Drive System all had one thing in common; they never oiled it. This is a mechanically controlled system. Unlike the much higher priced electronically controlled systems, anything mechanical requires routine maintenance and oiling.
I oil mine about every three months.
The first thing you need to do is to look at the condition of the belt. Is it frayed? Does it look torn or worn underneath it? They put some pretty crappy belts on these machines at the factory. That is nothing against the machine. A lot of manufacturers skimp on things like belt quality.
I'm sure there is a belt size in just about any brand you have at your local parts house. Just take off the old belt and take it with you. It is easy to figure out how to take it off. Simply push against the springs until you have enough play to wiggle the belt off.
This photo shows the NAPA part number for the belt I have on mine.
While talking parts, let me discuss what I oil mine with. I like Marvel Mystery Oil. It is a brand name, but it is simply a light machine oil. You can also use household 3-N-1 oil. I have heard of people using grease. I would NEVER put grease on this machine. From my experience, grease and anything that puts out a lot of chips or sawdust simply do not mix. When it is mixed, it simply creates a gunky mess that will need to be cleaned off later. I'm not saying it's wrong. I'm only saying I would never do it.
Next, turn the machine on and set it at it's lowest speed and the belt system will look like it does in this photo when you turn it off.
Turn it off, go back around to the back side of the machine and put a few drops of machine oil on the pulley shaft for the side closest to the front of the lathe.
In this photo, look near the top of the photo and you'll see a spring. Just below that spring you see a clean spot on the shaft. This is where that pulley slides back and forth on the shaft. Put a few drops of oil right there.
It is important that you get oil only on the shaft while doing all of this. Anywhere else and you chance oil on your belt and you will have belt slippage.
Now turn the machine on and turn the dial up to it's highest speed and shut it off again and it'll look like this photo.
Notice the pulley driving the headstock moved out and allowed a smaller turning diameter, while the drive pulley moved closer together forcing a larger drive pulley.
Now, put a few drops of oil right there on the shaft under the spring where the pulley half slides back and forth.
Now, at this time I like to work the speed up and down a few times and watch the pulleys as they move in and out just for my own piece of mind. It allows me to look for any potential problems while the cover is off and giving me a clear view of everything.
After that, reinstall your belt cover.
Now I want to talk about  aligning the points of the lathe.
Install something with a center point into your headstock and tail stock. Now bring them together and lock down the tail stock and see how well they line up.
Let me stop there. I know there are arguments about how important it is for the two points to be perfectly aligned. I have read about folks in the opinion that it doesn't matter much. If that is so in your opinion, that is fine. I though am a little picky about my tools and insist on mine being aligned. Besides, I like to reverse chuck my bowls without any issues. This is only done successfully (again, in my opinion only) with properly aligned center points.
So, back to those points.
Are they aligned both up and down and side to side?
If they are off side to side, just remember that this lathe has a rotating head. Play with it until you get the head tightened down into a position where it is aligned.
Now if they are off alignment up and down, well that is a bigger issues.
I have talked with several people who own this lathe and no one had ever had issue with the points being out of align up and down......
Except mine.
I think I am just unlucky like that.
If the headstock is higher than the tail stock, I suggest either learning to live with it or returning it for an exchange if you bought it new. I have several ideas on how to attack that issue, but none simple enough to explain here.
If the tail stock is higher than the headstock, then the headstock needs to be raised. This is what I had to do to mine.
The first step is to loosen the hold down handle that holds the headstock into position.
Next, you'll have to get down low under the back of the headstock and remove two lock nuts.
Then you keep unscrewing the lock down handle until the back hold down block comes off the threaded rod. Remove the front hold down block from the front and this is what you are left with. This is the hold down assembly that holds the head of the lathe down.
With that removed, you can lift and move the head completely off the lathe, and out of the way.
This shows the orientation of the hold down bolt on the rotator ring below the head. The angles inside edges hold the ring while tabs above that grip the head. You need to see how that works in order to be able to reinstall the head unit.
With the head removed, this is the rotator ring. It is held down with three allen head screws and kept aligned correctly with two pins that protrude from the bottom of the ring and go into holes on the lathe bed.
I am not removing mine at this time because I already have it shimmed perfectly for my lathe. I only took it this far apart to show the process.
You can see three tabs sticking out from under my rotator ring in this photos. Those are slices of a Coca-Cola can folded in half that I used for shims. You can use pretty much anything for a shim as long as it is a material that will not compress upon itself in time. For minute adjustments, I've always found that soda cans work well.
And installation is reverse of the removal.
Don't be surprised if you do not get the points aligned perfectly on the first attempt. The problem is that you cannot be sure until you completely reassemble it and tighten down the head unit onto the bed and check it. If it is still too low, you have to disassemble again and add more shims. If it is now too high, you have to disassemble and use less shim material.
It can be frustrating. Some may say this is the fault of a cheap machine. I counter though that I have heard of the same sort of issues on machines that cost five times as much. Luckily, once you get it right, it is right from now on.
And that is all there is to maintenance on this lathe. I think I covered all that could come up with basic maintenance. If there is anything I left out, or questions, please do not hesitate to leave a comment or contact me via email.
So until next time my friends,


  1. Great instructional blog. Thanks for taking the time to document the process.

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