Motor turning, but the wood isn’t

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Got up and running on my old walker turner, but have hit a snag or two.

1) The tailstock has a dead center, not a live one. This has lead to burning on its end. I notice the telltale smell of burning wood, and about this time, the wood will stop spinning, but the motor continues to run. I don’t want to just crank down on the tailstock out of respect for the bearings on the headstock.

Any ideas? Will a live center clear most of this up?



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Also check to make sure your dead center is not a Live center that has died.  Had one of those with frozen bearings.    Might be able to loosen it up somehow if you can.    It was on an old old lathe that I had never used before, I just assumed it was a dead center till it broke free and started spinning one day. 

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I tink you might actually have the dead center too tight.  You do want to cut some grooves on the drive side of the spindle to give the star drive something to engage in.  And giving the star drive a tap or two is also a good idea.  After that the tail stock and dead center should not need to be that tight.  The wood will get burnished, but shouldn't get blackened.  

If the star drive is still tearing out it may be the wood is green or very soft?

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I have the live center you linked, or one very similar. It works fine but I only use it for making pens. Anything else I use a center that looks like this.

I prefer this style because the cone gives better grip and is less likely to cause splitting or deep indentations.

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I started out as a kid on a 1940's Craftsman lathe with a dead center. You ran it in tighter with the lathe on its slowest speed and burned a recess for it. Shut off the lathe, backed out the dead center, melted the hard carnuba wax on the dead center, then ran it back in place. Every so often you had to tighten the dead center as the burnt hole wore. Adding wax helped too. I always cut the burnt end off after I was done turning.

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