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New gimmick? Sliding bed lathe

Roger Wiegand

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Got this ad this morning for a new brand of lathe I hadn't seen before ITech Lathe

Seems like a pretty hefty lathe (550 lbs) at an expensive but not breathtaking price. The new gimmick is a motorized sliding bed-- the closed footprint is fairly compact, but then you can double the distance between centers from 20 to 40" and increase the swing from 23 to 31" at the push of a button.

Gimmick or the next hot thing?
 
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For me, a gap bed lathe is a PITA. Our normal work flow on spindle or end grain pieces is often from tailstock to head stock. If you run your bed out for a long spindle, when you get to the later stages of the project, you're back at the headstock end and can't get your tool rest where you want it because of the gap. This iteration is clever, but doesn't solve that inherent issue. So I vote, Gimmick.
 
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For me, a gap bed lathe is a PITA. Our normal work flow on spindle or end grain pieces is often from tailstock to head stock. If you run your bed out for a long spindle, when you get to the later stages of the project, you're back at the headstock end and can't get your tool rest where you want it because of the gap. This iteration is clever, but doesn't solve that inherent issue. So I vote, Gimmick.
I don't see the issue, personally. There is no need to disengage the work. You just loosen the tailstock from the ways, slide the bed toward the headstock, re-tighten.
 
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Why assume a "rip off"? Why not just alternate branding for the UK market? Rikon US seems to be a distributor for a Chinese maker of a different name. I wasn't aware of this in the Rikon line before. Does seem like an interesting idea for the space constrained shop.
Just seems to be a lot of it lately. There is a warning at the top about watching out for fake copies of the Oneway and Woodcut coring systems.
 
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Alright, alright, I’ll go to the stocks later to receive my public lashings for suggesting a ripoff. I can only blame my wrongful assumption on constantly being exposed to knockoffs in just about every market. My apologies everyone—lesson learned. Whew!
It never hurts to be extra cautious, so I would think the same way Michael!
 
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For me, a gap bed lathe is a PITA. Our normal work flow on spindle or end grain pieces is often from tailstock to head stock. If you run your bed out for a long spindle, when you get to the later stages of the project, you're back at the headstock end and can't get your tool rest where you want it because of the gap. This iteration is clever, but doesn't solve that inherent issue. So I vote, Gimmick.
Rikon has an accessory gap insert that can be purchased for the 3040--drops into the gap opened by extending the bed. Looks to be about $200. Gotta agree with Reed (@robo hippy)--for bowls a sliding headstock would be preferrable to me.
 
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People tend to be biased towards what they've purchased and I'm no different. With that said I've been turning for two and a half years on the Rikon 70-3040. The sliding bed has been very helpful to me as well as the gap insert (purchased separately). Sometimes I extend the bed so I can slide the tailstock out of my way. When roughing a large blank I extend the bed just enough so the width of the blank can clear the front of the upper bed while the large diameter clears the lower bed. In this situation I keep the banjo on the upper bed though it can be moved to the lower bed as well (tool rest extension comes with the lathe). If I want a long bed lathe I extend the upper bed and use the gap insert. If I want a short bed lathe I simply leave both beds stacked on top of one another. Lastly, a 31.25" swing over the lower bed is likely more than I'll ever need.
 
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Actually the sliding bed/ways have been around since WWI or before on many brands of large pattern makers lathes. Oliver (No. 66), Wadkin (RU), Fay and Scott and S.C. Wright all come to mind.

Cheers.
Barry W. Larson
Calgary, Alberta, Canada eh!
To clarify, here's a catalog cut of the Oliver 66. In this case, the bed is moved with a hand crank. I'd guess that if someone were aggressively inclined, a DC motor could be fitted to the handle mechanism.


oliver.jpg
 
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