Around the Woods

Repairing the Reeves Drive

Regular maintenance is part of the job.

While turning a piece I needed to speed up the lathe while roughing and then slow it down to hollow with a hook tool. The lathe did not want to slow down which meant that the pulleys on my Reeves Drive on my Craftsman 15" variable speed lathe were stuck. A Reeves Drive is old and reliable technology that allows for variable speed and good torque, but it does jam from time to time. Basically, the pulleys stick due to built up grunge as sanding dust accumulates in the lubricant. I should have cleaned the system when they started moving with difficulty but... Please note that my lathe is well out of warranty.

I loosened the head of the lathe so that it could rotate freely and give easy access to all area of the headstock. You also need a length of 1/4" all thread as well as nuts and fender washers. More about this as we go along. woodturning lathe disassembly
Remove the top and side plates of the lathe. These are each held in place with 4 bolts and need a 3mm Allen Key. woodturning lathe disassembly
This gives access to the pulleys. woodturning lathe disassembly
The upper pulley arrangement consists of a snap ring, cap, spring, movable pulley, belt, and stationary pulley. The snap ring needs to come off before anything else. woodturning lathe disassembly
Obviously the snap ring is easily accessible but there is a lot of tension on the spring behind it. If you loosen it the whole thing is going to come firing at you. woodturning lathe disassembly
A piece of all thread with a fender washer and nut on either end will hold things in place but does not allow for control of tension nor is there room to get the snap ring plers in place. woodturning lathe disassembly
woodturning lathe disassembly
So I took a piece of mild steel and drilled three holes; 7/32", 1/4", 7/32" each centered 3/8" from the edge. The middle one was centered on the piece and the centers of the other two were 3/4" from the first center. woodturning lathe disassembly


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