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rod lathe low torque
Posted by: Phil Nichols (24.92.185.---)
Date: December 11, 2019 03:35PM

I have an American Tackle rod lather, 110 vac. I usually turn my rod by hand but sometimes, toward the tip, I like to use the motor. When I set the rheostat for a desire speed, the motor seems not to have enough torque. Using the rheostat the motor does not want to turn and with a small increase the motor wants to over speed. The proportional foot petal does work pretty good, but only at higher speeds. I don't know if I have an issue with the rheostat, proportional foot petal switch or the motor. Can anyone help me with this issue? Or, is this something I will have to deal with?

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Re: rod lathe low torque
Posted by: Tom Kirkman (Moderator)
Date: December 11, 2019 04:38PM

In effect, that type of variable speed system does not provide full torque at low speeds.


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Re: rod lathe low torque
Posted by: Phil Nichols (---)
Date: December 11, 2019 05:34PM

Thank you for the reply

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Re: rod lathe low torque
Posted by: Donald La Mar (---)
Date: December 11, 2019 08:01PM


Bad news - you get to live with it. I've found a sweet spot combination of rheostat value, foot pedal position, and just a wee touch of turn with my off hand that usually, but not always, works. When it does not work and the frustration threshold is reached I remove the belt and continue with a seriously overpriced, manual lathe.

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Re: rod lathe low torque
Posted by: Spencer Phipps (---)
Date: December 11, 2019 08:18PM

Change your gear ratio, a bigger wheel on the lathe's chuck side will improve your torque and slow your lathe's speed.

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Re: rod lathe low torque
Posted by: Tom Kirkman (Moderator)
Date: December 11, 2019 08:38PM

...But will then make it harder to turn the rod by hand unless you flip the belt off the pully.


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Re: rod lathe low torque
Posted by: roger wilson (---)
Date: December 11, 2019 09:25PM

A video:


This is an example of a 24 volt DC motor with a DC motor speed controller and power box. The system was built with a reverse switch, a hand operated speed dial, useful for drying, as well as a foot pedal for power wrapping.

In this example, the power head is one of the New Alps improved chuck with the small DC motor placed under the chuck. The power is connected to the head stock by use of an XL cogged belt and XL cogged pulleys.

This was a unit that was built a few years ago.

Here is another video of a unit that was built a couple of years ago, using a 32 rpm 24 volt DC motor with a variable speed controller and a 24 volt DC power supply. If one wished, one could add an appropriate foot pedal to replicate the speed changes that are observed with the hand dial. In this case, the unit was built for drying, using a flex coat chuck with an integrated clutch to stop the rod if needed when applying finish.


The reason for the video is to demonstrate the simplicity and total control that one can achieve by using a DC gear motor to be rid of large and small speed changing pulleys as well as the use of a polarity reversing switch to easily reverse the direction of the motor when wrapping to correct a mistake or to reverse the motor to apply finish. I prefer to have the top of the rod turning toward me when wrapping. However, I prefer to have the top of the rod to turn away from me when applying finish.

By the way, with a DC gear motor, it is very difficult to turn the rod by hand, due to the gear reduction attached to the motor. But, with the excellent speed control and the ability to reverse direction under power, there is really no reason to wrap by hand.

Best wishes

When I first started building rods years ago, I wrapped one rod by hand. After that one rod, I made a vow to myself to never ever ever wrap another rod by hand and I haven't. But, I have built a very very large number of rods over the years and have always used a power wrapper of one sort or another to assist with the job. I started with the conventional AC sewing machine type motor and associated foot pedal. Then, I added a couple of jack shafts and various pulleys and belts to further slow the speed of the system. Then , I found a right angle drive with gear reduction, using the similar AC/DC universal motor with an appropriate AC motor speed controller that worked very well. But, there was one big downside. The right angle gears were very very very noisy and quite objectionable in a quiet rod shop wrapping for hours on ends. Then, I discovered the use of DC motors and in particular DC gear motors where the motor speed reduction is in the form of a very small compact set of gears on the end of the motor to give a slower maximum speed when the motor is running at its maximum speed. In today's world, DC gear motors are available with various supply voltages and various top speed ranging from sub 1 rpm to 5-500 rpm as well as 600-6000 rpm top speed. So, for the person who wishes to use a dc motor it is a matter of choosing the appropriate motor with a desired top speed, a power supply and speed controller along with an appropriate foot pedal that will instruct the speed to control to vary from its minimum to its maximum motor speed.

In past years, I thought that the maximum speed of a motor would be 1000 rpm. Then, I thought that an 800, down to a 600, down to a 400 rpm or less top speed would be functional for a 1;1 pulley system or direct drive system for a power wrapper.
Now, I find that in fact, that the typical rod wrapper would be very useful if the top speed of the motor and a 1:1 pulley system would work well at 100-200 rpm. i.e. the very majority of rod wrapping is done at speed of 1 rpm to 20 rpm. Once in a while for a long butt wrap,one might want to have a rod speed of 100-200 rpm. But, one finds that it is not often when a rod is needed to be turned at a speed that is greater than any type of rod wrapping.

So, yes, to your original post. The typical AC/DC universal motor that has a top speed of 7,000 rpm is very very very very difficult to have a reliable low speed of 4-10 rpm which is likely to be the range of a lot of wrapping. Yes, one can use a bunch of pulleys and shafts to get the top speed of the wrapper down to 200 rpm, but it comes at the expense of a lot of bulk and construction to achieve this speed reduction. Then, when one uses an AC type dimmer to lower the power to the motor, it turns out that the AC motor when driven by low power, generates very little torque and very uneven speed. But, the fix is readily available by moving to a dc gear motor and controller system with an integrated reversing system and switch.

Best wishes.

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Re: rod lathe low torque
Posted by: Mark Talmo (---)
Date: December 12, 2019 12:00AM

Listen to and possibly employ Roger Wilson; he is a retired EE, has been building rods for more than 40 years, and has built many wrappers and dryers for many people. He is a gift to the rod building world!!!

Mark Talmo

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Re: rod lathe low torque
Posted by: Lance Schreckenbach (---.lightspeed.hstntx.sbcglobal.net)
Date: December 12, 2019 12:26AM

Dang Roger, you are the man! It looks like you even painted the control box and that belt set up you have on the Improved Alps chuck is the shitzz nizzle. Thank you. Not sure where you live but if you ever get close to Houston, Texas I will buy you dinner.

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Re: rod lathe low torque
Posted by: John Shear (---.ams.hpecore.net)
Date: December 12, 2019 01:52PM

I hold the pedal at the point where the motor is buzzing, then turning with one hand is easy.

John Shear
Chippewa Falls, WI

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Re: rod lathe low torque
Posted by: Phil Nichols (24.92.185.---)
Date: December 12, 2019 07:48PM

Thank you for all the comments and suggestions, especially Roger for your detailed information. I learned that to improve the low speed torque I will have to invest in motor/control upgrades. As of now I will have to work with my current set up. Thanks again to all.

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Re: rod lathe low torque
Posted by: roger wilson (---)
Date: December 13, 2019 01:47PM

One thing that one can do with a current setup, is to increase the size of the driven pulley to the very largest possible diameter consistent with the height of the head stock shaft. By doing this, the overall of the speed of the headstock will be reduced. i.e. both the top speed as well as the lowest speed will be reduced by the ratio of the increase in the size of the driven pulley.

Or, if you can reduce the size or the motor drive pulley, you will also help to accomplish the same thing. However, one needs to be careful about reducing the size of the motor pulley too much, or you will have insufficient torque to turn the head stock shaft.


For example: here is a picture of a drive system that I made several years ago, using a common sewing machine motor and foot pedal with a double belt system and a jack shaft with different pulley sizes to get a top speed of about 400 rpm, rather than 4000 rpm for a nice rpm range for very good rod building speed control:


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/13/2019 01:51PM by roger wilson.

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