I have a chance to get a Delta 46-541S lathe this Saturday at an auction. It looks to be in pretty decent shape. Anyone know anything about this machine?
A fairly plain vanilla tool, 1980's vintage, sort of a light/middle weight machine. The thread is 1" by 8TPI which is a common size. The tapers are #2 Morse. Swings 12" over the bed, 16" in the gap.
These were commonly used in schools, make sure it isn't 3 phase which many school shops were wired for. You could change out the motor on a 3 phase machine, or get a converter, but you'll have to factor the extra expense of doing that into the price.
The gap in the bed is short, so it won't allow you to turn large deep bowls at the largest diameter. The outboard end of the spindle is threaded to take a faceplate, but I doubt if you could turn anything much bigger than what would fit over the bed on the inboard side.
If it has a variable speed drive controlled by a lever on the cabinet, it may need some disassembly and greasing to get it running smoothly, this will take several hours of work. If the belt needs replacing it could be done with a link belt saving a lot of work disassembling the headstock. The simpler step pulley drive is sturdier and typically trouble free, and adequate for most turning jobs.
It is old enough that you probably won't be able to get parts for it from Delta, so don't buy it if it is missing anything.
People seem to be asking around $600 for one with the variable speed, but nobody bid on one on E-bay at that price recently. It isn't a great classic machine, but it would be a good machine for someone needing to do the occasional turning job. It would be worth bidding a few hundred dollars for, but I doubt it is worth more than $500.00 in most markets.
John White, Shop Manager, Fine Woodworking Magazine
John White Shop Manager for FWW Magazine, 1998 to 2007
I have a Delta 46-541s lathe in my shop. It's the variable speed model. It's never been used and is still on the pallet it came on. I never got the chance to use it over the years our shop went into more custom work. It is in mint condition with the acessory Lexan hood. I need some help pricing this item as well as other stationery tools in my shop, all of which are clean fully functioning machinery. After 42 years in the business I'm closing the shop.
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