Coronet No1 v new lathe?

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11 Apr 2021
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My next door neighbour is into his 80s and starting to clear out a few bits from his workshop. He has a no.1 coronet lathe he's offered to me - along with plenty of chucks and chisels etc. The only downside is that it is the 48" bed and I don't think I'd ever want to turn anything that long.

Should I take him up on his offer? No idea on the availability of spare parts / chucks etc. How difficult is it to cut 2 x 1.5" of solid steel bar if I wanted to shorten the bed? (Or I guess I could order some new bars cut to a shorter length)

My other thought was would I be better off just buying a new (or close to new) lathe which has digital speed control (as I'm lazy and won't want to change the belts). For just occasional turning I assume this would be more than adequate

So, what would you go with - S/H Coronet No1 or a budget new option (Axminster, Lumberjack, SIP etc)?
Take the Coronet. An angle grinder and thin disc will cut the bars down easily enough if needed.
Old Coronets, Myfords etc. have limitations that will become obvious but are much better built than most (certainly lower end) new stuff.
If you get it for a good price you'll always be able to sell it on and not lose.
Definitely take it gratefully. It sounds a great offer.
If you can't fit 48" bars into your workshop, you can either cut them down or get shorter replacements and keep the long ones in case you ever sell it on. However if you can get it in, do so, the extra weight won't be wasted.

Electronic speed control is nice to have, but swapping speeds by moving belts is pretty trivial and many of us spent years happily working with just a few fixed speeds.
The bonus of variable speed to me is being able to work between fixed speeds - something might shake like hell at 500rpm and stop shaking altogether at 550rpm, two minutes later it's shaking again needing speed adjustment again. The lack of pulley changing is secondary, and matters less on a smaller capacity machine.
I would say yes to the Coronet. Variable speed is nice, but I spent my first 3 years with a belt change and you get good/quick at speed adjustments. The big value is in the things that come with it, even if you buy a new budget lathe you will need to spend over £300 for even the simplest chuck and set of tools.

As you have no lathe, it makes sense to start at no/low cost, learn a bit, decide on the kind of work you want to do then if you want you can upgrade in a year or two. Nothing to lose.
Of course take it and give him a bottle of something as a thank you.
If the lathe will fit in the available space don't cut it down yet wait and see.
If you cut it down make sure you have assembled it first (loosely on the floor) and consider/measure the length you want to cut it down to taking into account that the headstock and chuck plus of course tailstock and centre will reduce the available length to place wood for turning. I suspect that a 48 inch bed has about 36 inch available for turning. So cutting it down to 36inch might only give 24 inches ------ if you follow
Grab the Coronet while the chance is there.Really well made machines and don't cut it down without a really,really good reason.Changing belts is hardly a major task and if you get some turning tools as part of the package,you will have done very well,be sure to let your neighbour know how pleased you are with the offer.
Definitely take it and enjoy. Leave the length if you can - you never know if you may need it in the future and you won't be able to add it back on once it's off. Belt drive is fine - I've had one belt drive lathe for the last 40 years and never had problems with it, any vibration issues are likely to be down to a lack of sturdiness in however and whatever it's mounted to, especially when you consider that a piece between centres is likely to have a wide range of diameters along its length, so will always need compromise.
Take it for all the reasons said above. Few of us ever get an offer like that. Its a complete turning set up with chucks and tools. You may not think you will ever need the 48'' between centers now but one day who knows. Posts for a bed head had me wanting a longer lathe one time so I just had to settle for square rather than round. Easy to cut the rails down but not so easy to lengthen them. As to shifting belt speeds it is just something you do and in the long run less to go wrong with it than either mechanical or electrical var speed.