By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
Forum sponsored by:
Forum sponsored by Allendale Jan 24th

Lathe query.

All Topics | Latest Posts

Search for:  in Thread Title in  
Paul Hassell21/10/2021 14:07:46
11 forum posts
10 photos

Good morning,

I am new to this site, but I am very impressed with the whole ethos and helpfulness i am seeing so far.

I have recently inherited a Town Woodhouse lathe by virtue of buying a house with it still left in situ in the workshop, and because I have always wanted a Lathe it was a no brainer to try it.

Now with the 3 phase switched on and the start button pressed it just seemed to be jammed with sparks coming out of the contactor. I have managed to get a wiring diagram for this lathe and it seems the whole machine was wired up badly and differently to the diagram, so I rewired it all to the original diagram and guess what ? It still wont start but there are no sparks now !

So I am fairly sure it must be the contactor which was why somebody had attempted to rewire it, is it worth me just buying a cheap 25 quid contactor from ebay just to confirm this, and presuming this cures my problem what make contactor would people recommend as a long term fix.

Sorry for the long post. Paul.

John Hinkley21/10/2021 15:31:43
1199 forum posts
393 photos

Welcome, Paul,

If the first couple of lathes shown on are anything to go by, you've got a nice bit of kit there. How fortunate, too, to have three-phase available in your workshop. I can't help with your firework display, but, with more information and a photo or two, there are a lot of forum members au fait with all things electrickery who will be able to sort you out, I'm sure.


larry phelan 121/10/2021 16:51:59
1119 forum posts
14 photos

I moved house a few years ago, but sad to say did not get either 3 ph or lathe as part of the deal !

Lucky you ! Fear not, someone here will sort out your problems.

Starter may simply be burned out. I would just buy a new unit ant take it from there.

Ian Parkin21/10/2021 16:54:11
987 forum posts
232 photos


welcome to the forum

if you have a meter check for 415v across pairs of phases on the supply side of the you need 3 sets of 415v

then when energised check for the same on the motor side of the contacts


Emgee21/10/2021 17:06:14
2201 forum posts
272 photos


More info re make and type of starter and motor would help to give some advice, pictures speak a thousand words.


Rod Renshaw21/10/2021 17:37:48
347 forum posts
2 photos

Welcome Paul

All good advice above, but if you should be unfamiliar with working with it, please be aware that 415v will kill the unwary.

240v sometimes gives you a second chance but 415v is not forgiving

Apologies if you know all this.


Tim Stevens21/10/2021 17:48:03
1502 forum posts

If your garage is covered by your house insurance, it might be necessary (or at least helpful) to get the electrics checked by a qualified electrician, and a form signed saying what he checked and found OK. Unless of course you are such a bloke, in which case you ought not to need to ask questions like this.

Just a thought - its your garage and your life, after all.

Cheers, Tim

Brian Morehen21/10/2021 20:18:10
177 forum posts
11 photos

Try diconectining the motot at the motor end then operate the contactor if this operates then the fault may be your motor , There are a number of things you can try which depends on how famiilar you are with electricity and if you have a meter. ( Make Sure that all of the motor leads at the motor end are all clear and have some insulating tape round them be fore you test the contactor if you are not happy withe this idea leave alone. 3 PHASE CAN KILL

Regards BeeM

Paul Hassell22/10/2021 08:06:25
11 forum posts
10 photos

Thanks for the warm welcome and helpful replies, I would gladly post up a photo or two if I knew how to lol.

I have had the 3 phase to the lathe checked and the supply is fine, and I have checked the resistances across the windings in the motor, and they too are reading correct.

Is there an easy way to trst the contactor, either in situ or on the bench ??

Michael Gilligan22/10/2021 08:39:08
19323 forum posts
964 photos
Posted by Paul Hassell on 22/10/2021 08:06:25:


I would gladly post up a photo or two if I knew how to lol.


It’s top on the list of FAQs, Paul : **LINK**

… and should probably be ‘required reading’ for any mew member


Ian Parkin22/10/2021 10:17:53
987 forum posts
232 photos

Paul if you have a meter as you have checked the resistances of the windings then with the power off check for resistance on the contacts of the contacter when you press the contacts together.

then check resistance of the coil on the contactor

Juddy22/10/2021 10:40:53
91 forum posts

If you are confident with your rewiring I would obtain a Siemens contractor and overload unit rated for your motor. You will have to be careful with the selection as the contactor coil voltage maybe different to the line voltage, do you have a transformer in circuit that will reduce the control voltage? The control voltage could be anything from 24v D.C. to 240v (phase & neutral) or full 415v.

Before you buy a contractor check if there is an overload unit attached to the original unit if there is and it has tripped it will prevent the contactor closing, there will be a reset button on one side of the overload to reset it. Reset it with the power off. If it trips again the setting could be wrong, it maybe an old oil dash pot type and needs the dash pots refilled with oil or you have a fault with the motor, or the motor/head is seized and it is an overloaded motor.

Edited By Juddy on 22/10/2021 10:41:50

Paul Hassell22/10/2021 11:12:52
11 forum posts
10 photos

Mmmm I think I may have to concede here, I have a bit of electrical knowledge but not enough to guarantee I wont electicute myself, I dont suppose there is anybody more competent than me in the West Wales area on this forum who fancies the job ??

I will read up on how to post the pictures later and put some up.

Emgee22/10/2021 11:44:04
2201 forum posts
272 photos


Pleased to see you have seen the light, good decision if you have any doubts, some pictures will certainly assist in providing reasons for the failure.


Robert Atkinson 222/10/2021 11:55:23
1106 forum posts
20 photos

Before you jump into electrics, can you turn the lathe by hand?

Either at the chuck or belt /motor. It the spindle is locked you will get an electrical overload. Mis-cordinated controls could lock the spindle.

Robert G8RPI.

Howard Lewis22/10/2021 12:16:02
5562 forum posts
13 photos

As Robert says, start checking for mechanical problems. BUT start at one end and work your way through.

Is the motor free to turn?

Then check through the drive train to the Chuck to see if anything is locked / seized.

It might only be an overlength bolt, an overtightened clamp, or a seized bearing.

It could even be that back gear is engaged without freeing the driven pulley from the mandrel.preventing rotation, or defect in the gear selection mechanism all owing two speeds to be engaged at the same time..

Once a mechanical problem has been eliminated then start the same logical sequence on the electrics, starting at the power feed switch, and following through to the motor feed cables..

Power OFF, use a multi meter, of course


John Haine22/10/2021 13:01:51
4279 forum posts
252 photos
Posted by Rod Renshaw on 21/10/2021 17:37:48:

Welcome Paul

All good advice above, but if you should be unfamiliar with working with it, please be aware that 415v will kill the unwary.

240v sometimes gives you a second chance but 415v is not forgiving

Apologies if you know all this.


Quite true. But the most likely scenario is that one touches a live conductor while another part of you is earthed. Nominally mains neutral is at earth potential and relative to neutral "live" is 230V. But relative to neutral each line of a "415V" 3-phase supply is ALSO at 230V. The 3 phase is 415V phase-phase voltage. So touching one of the phase wires from a safety point of view is no more dangerous (which isn't to say that it's safe!). If you connect yourself phase to phase of course it would be a different matter.

Whatever, whether 1-phase or 3-phase, mains electricity is dangerous and should be treated with respect!

Brian Morehen22/10/2021 13:41:16
177 forum posts
11 photos

Many things you can try if you have the required knowledge , if the answer is know leave alone ,Retired Electrical Engineer & Contractor . I am always very wary about offering advice on anything electrical because of the Danger part . wish you were round the corner and lived in Cambridgeshire.

Good Luck


not done it yet22/10/2021 14:24:36
6444 forum posts
20 photos
Posted by John Haine on 22/10/2021 13:01:51:

Whatever, whether 1-phase or 3-phase, mains electricity is dangerous and should be treated with respect!

Power OFF, use a multi meter, of course - as per Howard.

I say ‘Pull the fuse as well’. I put the fuse in my pocket, if apppropriate. Most circuits are protected/controlled by MCBs these days - you don’t want anyone to inadvertently switch one back on!

And if you happen to be checking mains connections while energised, please use a multimeter which is safe for those operations - many are not and some that are ‘reasonably’ safe may not be, when in inexperienced hands.

One lad, I remember, finished up on the wrong side of the room, but luckily without the crucible he was rushing to remove from a laboratory kiln at 1200C! Another was an electrician who was thrown off a gantry some 15m high but luckily landed on the side of a heap of not-too-hot clinker which cushioned his fall.

Back of hand towards possible contact points is always a good idea, along with the other hand in your pocket - less chance of grabbing hold of a DC supply or getting a shock across your ticker.

Chris Mate22/10/2021 20:23:22
28 forum posts
3 photos

The contactor should have an operating coil and a hold coil.

I would disconnect motor belt from lathe gearbox.

Does the contactor operate from 24V from a 24V transformer-?, but of course it must swirtch 380 V to the motor.

If motor checks out ok, and contactor has no visible burning or damage, so if it operates it puts the phases in cross contact, so if contactor looks ok, I would use an insulated stick and manually push it in, if motor starts and you hold it in it runs, if this is ok, then the contacts are ok, but the operating coil which maybe 24V is faulty, or if it operates but falls out the holding coil is faulty, or the pathes involved, like a safety cct wiring.

A safety CCT broken(Switch/Wire) could then also prevent it from operating.

All Topics | Latest Posts

Please login to post a reply.

Magazine Locator

Want the latest issue of Model Engineer or Model Engineers' Workshop? Use our magazine locator links to find your nearest stockist!

Find Model Engineer & Model Engineers' Workshop

Latest Forum Posts
Support Our Partners
rapid Direct
JD Metals
walker midge
Eccentric July 5 2018
Eccentric Engineering
Subscription Offer

Latest "For Sale" Ads
Latest "Wanted" Ads
Get In Touch!

Do you want to contact the Model Engineer and Model Engineers' Workshop team?

You can contact us by phone, mail or email about the magazines including becoming a contributor, submitting reader's letters or making queries about articles. You can also get in touch about this website, advertising or other general issues.

Click THIS LINK for full contact details.

For subscription issues please see THIS LINK.

Digital Back Issues

Social Media online

'Like' us on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter
 Twitter Logo

Pin us on Pinterest