I had the chance to check out a new Coronet Herald lathe by Record Power recently. I’ve had the chance to check over a number of bench-top lathes on today’s market, and the Herald has a few advantages and several good things going for it. It’s a bit larger than most bench tops on the market in Canada, letting you turn a 14″ diameter piece inboard and 20″ long, which is a good size to start with in a small shop. There are different accessories available for the lathe as well, making it easy to customize to fit your needs. Like most bench tops these days, you can get a stand, bed extension and different rests for the lathe. Stockroom Supply is the exclusive Canadian dealer of Record Power machinery.
Right away I noticed that the lathe was packed well. There were a lot of parts, but overall assembly was not too difficult. This lathe does require a bit more assembly than most bench-top lathes, but I was finished in about 45 minutes. The end user does have to mount the motor on the machine, and having someone to help makes this go a little easier. Assembling the stand also goes better with two people. The spindle is driven by a serpentine belt, pretty standard now on lathes, and it’s something I like to see. A serpentine belt can withstand more stress than a V-belt, and they typically run a lot more smoothly and quietly, as well. The internals of the headstock look to be fairly beefy. The pulleys are nicely machined, and the indexing numbers are easy to read.
Overall, the machine seems well cast and machined. The castings have a good thickness to them. The spindle uses a 1-1/4″ 8TPI thread, not typical of small machines, but I don’t mind that the spindle thread is heavier. This provides for a better mount for chuck work, and especially because you can turn the headstock on the Herald for outboard bowl work — a good feature.
Once I had the machine set up, I roughed out a few cylinders and worked the machine with a heavy gouge. I was surprised at the power the lathe seems to have. Usually a bench-top machine can be slowed down significantly with aggressive cutting, but I found that the Herald didn’t seem to drop much speed when taking a heavy cut. One thing I did notice is that the RPM display on the Herald just shows the RPM the machine is set at; it doesn’t show actual RPM. The upside of this is that unlike machines with a real time sensor, you can see what the RPM is set to before turning the machine on. The downside is that you don’t get any feedback about how hard you’re working the machine. You also have to manually change a setting on the controls when you move belt positions so it shows the right speed.
I found the lathe didn’t vibrate excessively even at higher speeds. I think the stand design works well for this size of machine. The legs splay out, making the machine fairly stable, but are on the verge of being intrusive in the workspace, however, because they stick out quite a bit.
The banjo and tool rest are fairly beefy castings, and everything operated smoothly. I think the locking handle for the tool rest could be improved a bit. It is quite small, and I wasn’t really sure how secure I was locking the rest at first. It took some time to get used to. It’s also not a ratchet handle, which means I can’t reposition the handle if it ends up being in my way when I lock it.
Overall, I think that the Coronet Herald lathe is a really good machine. There are a few tiny details I would improve if I were trying to create the perfect bench-top lathe, but overall it has some strong points. It has excellent turning capacities for a smaller machine, and it has good, steady power when turning. You don’t feel the machine bog down at all. These two features are important for a small lathe.