A List and Review of the new PowerMatic 3520b lathe features

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Jeff Jilg, Jul 26, 2005.

  1. Jeff Jilg

    Jeff Jilg

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    The new PM3520b lathe was unveiled at the AAW symposium in Kansas City last week by WMH Tools, the parent company of the PM brand. I spent quite a bit of time in the booth looking the lathe over and discussing the features with the product director. Please note that I am not affiliated with the company in any way. From my observations, here is a list of the new or modified features below. There are 6 total pictures....one is attached in the next posting.

    New or modified features:
    • RPM: a new RPM display readout on the headstock facing the turner
    • Headstock: top of the flat headstock now has a slight recess across the entire top, which holds a rubber corrugated mat so you can put stuff up there (nice idea)
    • Controller: a different controller on the back, not substantially different from the old one
    • Indexer: built-in indexer on the inboard side of the spindle on the headstock
    • Tailstock: crank was chromed and slightly redesigned
    • Legs: supporting legs have an additional set of brackets providing the ability to more easily build a shelf underneath the bed
    • Legs: threaded holes on the outside areas of both sets of legs
    • Legs: threaded holes on inboard side allow for 18" bed extension to be mounted low so that large bowls can be turned
    • Legs: threaded holes on outboard side of headstock had an optional toolshelf mounted on those legs
    • Banjo: has lateral slots running across the whole banjo on both sides
    • Banjo: those slots provide a mounting point for an optional sliding dusthood for use during sanding (kinda neat)
    • Brackets: the tailstock and headstock have mounting brackets which extend away from the turner, where they allow a spindle to be mounted for reference during reproduction spindle work
    • Locks: redesigned "locks" at end of each bed to prevent headstock and tailstock from sliding out (can be retrofitted on current model)
    • Banjo: was keyed/slotted in the toolpost holder - so that a keyed toolpost could be inserted, thus locking the toolpost so there is absolutely zero rotational slippage
    • Headstock: has been chamfered in one area - the entire edge right near the spindle...allowing for easier access to the turning very close to the spindle
    • Headstock: the belt/sheave door is now spring loaded instead of being held by a threaded knob
    • Quill: on the tailstock is laser etched allowing for an easier visual gauge of how far the ram is being moved
    • Tailstock: now has a storage door in the existing big cavity facing the turner
    • Stock toolrest: has a steeper bevel along the top of the toolrest, allowing for the turner to drop their toolhandle lower and still have contact with the top of the toolrest
    • Slide Hammer: chrome knockout slide-hammer provided for knocking out a drive center

    Features which were unchanged:
    - spindle lock is the same
    - 2HP motor is the same
    - knobs and levers all exactly the same
    - same colors, and the rest of the lathe was the same

    Comments about the features:
    I think most of these are good innovations. The biggest obvious change is the RPM readout. Good for beginners...but once you have 200 hours of turning experience it is kinda useless.

    The 2HP motor is decent. Amongst the suggestions I made was that they have an option for a 3HP motor (accompanied by a proper controller to handle the increased load).

    As Mike Schwing has noted on another forum...they didn't change the spindle lock!! It is still spring loaded and can't be locked. The product director indicated that WMH tools kept that design so that a turner would not accidently turn on the lathe while the spindle lock was engaged. We spent a lot of time discussing that one item. I agree with Mike that this is a major misdesigned feature on the 3520 product line. To be clear - a person should be able to engage and lock the spindle lock without manually holding the button in.

    The headstock lock, tailstock lock, and banjo locks are unchanged. We discussed that too. I am an agressive turner and I frequently have to crank down to ensure those locks hold the components locked to the lathe. The product director indicated that most people do not have those problems. I counter argued that most people probably don't turn 100+ pounds on a regular basis.

    They passed out a few DVDs on the 3520b, and I obtained one. One of the procedures they show on the DVD is how to adjust the retaining nut on bearings in the headstock. After your lathe gets 1,000 hours of usage you may want to check and potentially adjust yours. I have already done this procedure about 6 months ago.

    The potentiometer on the headstock - which is used to change the lathe speed (i.e. 0-1200 RPMs) will fail at some point. The product director was impressed that mine lasted this long (2,200 hours -2,600 hours usage). He indicated that accumulated dust usually causes them to fail at some point.

    In summary, the symposium is a great place to get exposure to vendors. The WMH tools folks were very courteous and knowledgeable about their product. It was fun talking directly to the folks who are representing their product. There were other new/modified products at the symposium. But I wanted to focus this thread on the 3520b features. If you have any questions I'll try to answer them.

    After typing all this I realize that I am now officially a turning geek. The words "quill" and "sheave" are now just part of my vocabulary and it is doubtful that I can ever escape the woodturning vortex at this point. :cool2:
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Jeff Jilg

    Jeff Jilg

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    last pic for the PM3520b review/discussion thread.
     

    Attached Files:

  3. drjcbarton

    drjcbarton

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    Hi Jeff,

    Great post and great pictures. As a PM3520a owner (for about 2 months) I am a little disappointed because I contacted WMH group (which happen to be 30 minutes down the road from me) to inquire about the "b" model and was given some corporate hogwash about it being in the distant future. On the other hand, I bought my "a" model from Joe Osolnik and got a superb deal and every accessory in the known universe and came very close to beating the street price done in such impressive graphics on the model in your pictures. Seeing what the updates are to the "b" also takes away some of the sting. I use the flat naked top of mine for a magnetic light that is perfect for my needs and the remainder of the changes are either addressed by my accessories or, so trivial that they are unimportant.

    Thanks Again!

    Chris
     
  4. Ron Sardo

    Ron Sardo Guest

    Thanks Jeff

    Is this a prototype, if not, did they say when it will be ready for market?
     
  5. Jeff Jilg

    Jeff Jilg

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    Chris - I somewhat agree. But I've been in the marketing world, and it's best to promise something will come later then deliver it sooner.....than it is to promise it will come soon and be late in the delivery.

    Ron - they said it's pretty much ready for the market. They will sell of existing stock and then start selling the 3520b. We really didn't have a lot of discussion about how they would move the product. The unit on the showroom was ready for prime time and not jury rigged. It's not clear they have the factory setup for all the changes. Maybe it would be good to poll WMH directly.
     
  6. Jake Debski

    Jake Debski

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    thanks for the review

    Jeff,

    Am I wrong, it looks as though they offset the tool post on the banjo? We'll have to wait to see if that becomes a plus or minus. Also by moving the spindle lock more to to the rear of the head stock it seems to add to problem of manually holding the spindle locking button. I was sure that would have been one of the design changes. All in all the other changes will probably be welcomed by future buyers.
     
  7. Jeff Jilg

    Jeff Jilg

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    Jake - holy smokes, I hadn't even realized they offset the toolpost. You're right, it is offset. That might be useful in some situations.

    I don't think any experienced turner will be happy with the spindle lock situation until they engineer it to allow for a no-hands locked position.

    Item M:
    Another item I should have discussed in the review was the reason for the redesigned locks in item #M. Those locks allow both the headstock and tailstock to slide partially off the bed before the "lock" engages with the bottom locking block on the bottom of the headstock or tailstock. As a result this can potentially increase the useful length of the lathe.

    This was demonstrated on the floor model. We slid the tailstock partly off the lathe and it was stopped by the redesigned lock-pin thingy. That would be most useful for spindle turners. Also useful for folks roughing the outside of a very large vase from a log - which I have done. Sometimes a few extra inches helps. The new design can easily be replicated on existing 3520a lathes. However, I would be careful while drilling since you can only drill the hole once.
     
  8. Gil Jones

    Gil Jones

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    Is the PM 3520B worth another $450+

    Jeff, thanks for taking the time to check out the 3520B, and writing up this well done report (and pictures too!). I have been putting off upgrading to a bigger lathe until I could compare the 3520 A & B. I too received a "story" from WMH about a 2006 target date for the 3520B.
    Anyway, I do like the RPM indicator, though not $450 worth.
    I tend to agree with your assessment of the spring loaded spindle-lock button. Though from the look of the winged guard protecting it, all I would do is drill a hole through both wings at a level that a #10 bolt could just be passed over the depressed spindle-lock button, holding it in the engaged position. I figure that if someone starts the lathe with the spindle locked, they will notice it is not turning soon enough. :) The remainder of the modifications are not worth the extra money (to me). So my dilemma remains, a choice between the PM 3520A, or the PM 4224.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2005
  9. MichaelMouse

    MichaelMouse

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    Though I know there's no connection :p , it has to be a bit grating to have your supplier use a Delta controller on your demo lathe. You'd think they'd have found an alternative.
     
  10. Jake Debski

    Jake Debski

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  11. Jeff Jilg

    Jeff Jilg

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    The 3520b is still a pretty good lathe from a price/feature standpoint. WMH Tools is being a bit conservative with their expansion of the lathe product line however.

    As an example, there are no addons (or lathes) which would allow one to turn a 30" platter/bowl. We have discussed this item in the forum before. The new 3520b is partways there since they have now put a set of mounting holes lower on the legs. But it lacks purchasable risers for the tailstock and banjo. If WMH manufactured those, then people might be more inclined to buy the options.
     
  12. Gerry Meekins

    Gerry Meekins

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    Thanks Jeff!

    Jeff,

    Thanks for all of the photos.

    Looks like the motor shaft is longer since they moved the belts to the other end of the headstock. Wonder if the built in indexer uses holes in the belt pulley now? The only thing I would use the Tach for is to remind me to unplug the lathe at the end of the day since I’m usually down on the other end when turning. I think if I was on the fence about buying the 3520a or waiting for the “b†I’d look for a deal on the “a†model and buy $300 worth of tools or burls.

    Gerry
     
  13. Mort

    Mort

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    Adding my thanks Jeff

    An excellent review and photos. I received my 'Model A' in late June 2005. The tail stock quill was laser etched in inches - praise the designers - I thought they were all that way. Appears some of the new stuff is creeping into the current supply line.

    Was there any discussion or mention of the add-ons being available in the future? In particular that tail stock spindle holding bracket dodad? Looked like the spindle holding dodad incorporated a couple of friction fit? hold in points. Reason I am so curious is I have 45 - 30" porch spindles to turn.

    Thanks again
     
  14. DBartos

    DBartos

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    Thanks for the review Jeff,

    A couple more questions.

    1. Is the spindle holding attachement removable from the tailstock? The tailstock is already pretty heavy and if it is part of the cast it seems like it would make it pretty uncomfortable to take it off and on. I see the bolts, but it almost looks like there is a painted seam there.

    2. Were any modifications made for a vacuum chuck? I thought that I had read that they were going to add some type of vacuum chuck adapter.

    Thanks,

    Doug
     
  15. Jeff Jilg

    Jeff Jilg

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    Thanks for the kudos on the review folks, I'm glad it is helpful.

    Gerry - I think the indexer is not a full feature indexer. Unfortunately I did not ask detailed questions about that feature. There are several holes in the protrusion which sticks out on the spindle side. I believe the indexed holes are directly in the spindle or some lock collar around the shaft in that area.

    Mort - I wasn't sure how useful the laser etched lines on the quill would be. For some folks it might be a real nice feature. About the add-ons : I think everything attached to the lathe is part of the whole package with 2 exceptions. The dust hood was stated as optional. And second - the toolholder on the outboard side is possible an option.

    The 2 brackets hanging on the headstock and tailstock to mount spindles - those are part of the base 3520b package. At least that's what I recall from the discussion. They were specifically designed for spindles as you mentioned. We didn't discuss the brackets much because I almost never turn spindles - so that feature didn't apply to me personally. If I did turn spindles, I think that feature would be very handy to have.
     
  16. Gil Jones

    Gil Jones

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    Spindle Lock Mod

    Good safety idea, Jake. Am I close to correct in thinking that most folks intentionally leave just enough slack in the drive belt tension to avoid damage if the machine were started with a locked spindle or a serious catch does not lift you off the floor? My lathe is only a 10", and I leave a bit slack in the belt.
     
  17. TurnedAround

    TurnedAround

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    Nice job on the review, Jeff.

    With a bit of drilling and tapping, a good number of those features can be added to the 3520a. But all in all, I'm not going to put my 3520a on Ebay and rush down to Redmond Machinery to get on the waiting list for a 3520b ;) .
     
  18. Jake Debski

    Jake Debski

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    Can't speak for anyone else but.....

    ....I let the loosened motor settle, then put slight down pressure on the lift lever with my hand. This seems to give the belt enough grip for the turning I do, but it will slip if the operator, me, :D does something dumb. Judging from reading past posts someone like Jeff would need more tension because of the size pieces he usually does. I guess what I'm saying is you have to fit things to your particular needs.
     
  19. Jeff Jilg

    Jeff Jilg

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    For belt tension - Jake is correct. Since I turn a lot of large pieces the belt tension is probably tighter than a lathe used by a spindle turner. The tension is loose enough to freewheel slightly if a catch occurs. When a catch occurs it is very evident to the lathe because it squeals loudly.
     
  20. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    As you said, there is no connection between B&D/Delta and the controller maker Delta (there must be a hundred companies named Delta) and I am sure that Delta (the woodworking tool maker) would not run into any similar "problem" using a controller with a Powermatic brand on it. There are probably a couple dozen companies making motor controllers and Delta is well known and makes fairly decent V/F controllers at a very attractive price -- attractive enough to ignore the Delta name, apparently.

    By the way, I was looking at one of the original Powermatic 3520 lathes (before rev. A) and saw that they used Baldor controllers and Baldor motors.

    Concerning the spindle lock issue, I have started my Delta lathe with the spindle lock engaged (ruined the pulley). I have been rebuilding my lathe to improve some of their design problems in the Reeves drive (not related to the spindle locking incident) and while I am at it, I plan to install a microswitch on the spindle lock as a power lockout device. The microswitch will actuate a power relay in series with the power switch. There is no reason that Powermatic couldn't do something similar. I have considered removing the spindle lock mechanism altogether since I have not used it so far, but maybe I will one of these days.

    Bill
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2005

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