Well the reorganization upheaval was bad enough but then of course one of our number opted to "throw the toys out of the pram" and cause yet more problems....

The culprit in this case was Vicky, who without much warning decided to do an imitation of my old VW Beetle when the clutch went...lots of revs and not much forward motion or power. In this case the lathe has been around a long time and I know most if not all of the previous owners...so we don't want it to become "beyond repair" on our watch....no pressure then!

So take the front off and have a look inside time, luckily this VL300 is mechanical variable speed so I can deal with the issues without having to resort to whatever voodoo or black magic would be needed for an electronic variable speed unit!

Inside there are two belts and two shafts with "cones" ...bit like a DAF variomatic really! So the idea would be to replace both of the belts, which of course means the headstock spindle needs to come out - rubber hammer and lump of wood, no problems!

Once it's apart you simply fit the new belts and reverse the process...and that ladies and gentlemen is where the fun starts.... the workshop manual for machines of this vintage is available on request from Vicmarc. However the version I have is somewhat "vague" about the exact nature of the belts and it turns out that the one listed is in fact for the VL200 and not the VL300.

"How do you know that?" I hear you ask.

The answer is that you find that out by ordering a set of belts and then when they arrive you discover that they aren't going to go anywhere near the upper pulley length.

This is followed by a brief lengthy interlude of colourful language and a sizeable contribution to the swear jar on the workshop bench. Following the workshop reorganisation and the belts on the Vicmarc the funds in here may be approaching a level where they could be used to cancel third world debt!!

The original upper belt (the long one) had been examined and did not have the same serial number on it as the replacement suggested by the manual but given the age of the lathe we had opted to go with the one recommended in the manual...

The next step was to get hold of a replacement upper belt using the same serial number, after extensive searching and contact with several large suppliers it turns out that these are unavailable off the shelf in the UK.....the nearest source would be in the USA ...or from Vicmarc in Australia. More ranting, more swearing and yet more donations to the jar....

The belt was duly ordered from the USA supplier, in fact two were ordered simply because the postage on one was two and half times the cost of the belt...."this just keeps on getting better and better" we thought.

Anyway the belt arrived and was fitted, the Vicmarc VL300 known as Vicky is now back up and running.

Just to complete this sad tale I then happened to relate my tale of woe to a couple of local friends and was given two relevant pieces of information:

  • The belts actually used to be made 30 miles up the road and I would have been able to buy one off the shelf up until recently when the factory closed down.
  • There is a local farm machinery place (17 miles up the road) where belts of this type can be made to any size you want.

Thats what friends are for I guess....and we're back to the swear jar again!