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The 5-speed 46-455 has a quick-release lever that allows speed changes in a few seconds.
Until now, it has been hard to tell some “mini-lathes” apart from “midi-lathes.” Midis offered longer beds than minis (especially if you added a bed extension), but often had the same size motor (1/2 hp) and the same lack of mass in the castings. Delta found that customers were adding the bed extension to the previous Delta midi-lathe, and then expecting it to have the power and mass to handle big, long workpieces without stalling or vibrating. Like most of the midi-lathes on the market, it didn’t.
Two new Delta midi-lathes are designed to be true mid-sized lathes, with 20 lbs. more cast iron in them, a 3/4- or 1-hp motor, and much better fit and finish. Both offer a 12-1/2-in. swing and 16-1/2 in. between centers (but that expands to a lengthy 42 in. with the addition of a $140 bed extension). On the 5-speed version (product no. 46-455, list price $499, 3/4 hp motor) you change the speeds manually, but a quick-release lever makes that very easy. But Delta’s product manager told me that 80% of people have been opting for the 46-460 version, for $599. The extra $100 gets you a true variable-speed motor, with an AC power inverter that offers the best low-end torque in the category, Delta says. Also, the motor is 1 hp. By the way, the 46-460 is also the only midi-lathe on the market that has a reversible motor (for sanding, for example).
Other nice features on both models are heavy 6- and 10-in. tool rests standard, an easy-to-use indexing head that seemed to have no play, and nice tool holder slots in the sturdy stand (optional).
I thought the new Delta lathes looked heavy-duty and very nicely machined, and they promise smooth, vibration-free turning of large pieces.
Delta says that most buyers are opting for the 46-460 version, with its stronger, variable-speed motor, which is also reversible for tasks such as sanding. Many will also opt for the bed extension and heavy-duty stands shown here.
Fine machining on the bed promises smooth sliding action for the tool rest.
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