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Spindle rotation direction opposite to carriage lever on new lathe.can this be right?


Jun 23, 2002
Vancouver BC Canada
Good morning All:
This is going to be a very basic question about manual lathes:
First some background.
A customer of mine has asked me to participate in setting up a prototyping and maintenance shop for them.
They bought a brand new Sharp lathe (1440)...3 phase 220 V.
It was wired so the coolant pump runs properly.

When you turn on the machine using the lever at the side of the carriage, you have to pull it up to make the lathe run in forward, and push it down to make the lathe run in reverse.
That's opposite to every lathe I can ever remember running in a career that spans almost fifty years.

When I contacted the maker for instructions on how best to reverse it, they swore on a stack of bibles that it was correct as-is, that I was full of shit, and that I would void the warranty if I monkeyed with it.

I need a sanity check...on your lathe, the on-off lever on the carriage:
Down for "Forward" up for "Reverse" or am I truly full of shit as Sharp contends?

It feels like I'm driving a car where I have to crank the steering wheel to the left in order to turn right.
Am I losing my mind?


Our Sharp lathe is UP on the handle for forward rotation. Sounds correct to me. Most every manual lathe I come across is wired this way. Mori Seiki was that way as well as Italian Graziano.
The plant I spent most my career at, was down for forward.
At school it was the opposite. My current part time job is up and was told by an electrician, that is correct for normal motor rotation.
I don't think it matters, just what you are used to, just you would have to change the pump wiring if it is 3 phase also.

Harrison M300, vintage 1976, is that way. But DPO added a VFD to make 3 phase so that could be backwards. No pumps to worry about rotation direction.
Make sense to me, safer, up for on, down for off. Most lathe work is down carriage moving right. In emergency slam it down as you collapse to the floor while having a heart attack.
Bill D
As @Bill D said, it's arranged that way so you can hit it down quickly to turn it off if something goes wrong. My recollection is that the Clausing-Colchesters I ran were that way, possibly the Mori-Seiki too. Which way do your light switches work? (No Brits need respond)
Yup, Other people are right. You are a sack of.... ;-) Well, not really. But the lever throw is a preference. No laws ....yet.

I have both my machines wired UP/FWD rotation. It's so easy to slap that lever down to stop things in a hurry. less easy to reach down and pull up. For ME ;-)

Well that consensus is not what I expected.
I guess I've lived a cloistered life thus far...only vintage American lathes (plus a Voest and a Cazeneuve when I was young).
All were down for forward, up for reverse.

Oh well...new tricks for this old dog I guess.
Gonna be fun trying to thread on this machine compared to my old Monarch.

Maybe I'll just let the kid crash it and keep my dirty mitts away.
That's it...that's my solution!

I feel better already!


On the Monarch 10EE with ELSR it's lever down for forward and lever up for reverse. When the late Al Sharon did the VFD conversion on my 10EE, he had it set up so that lever up was forward and lever down was reverse; to his way of thinking this was correct. (Al had a 10EE but it didn't have ELSR, a feature Al didn't think much of.) Thing was, set up that way the ELSR didn't work so I switched wires around so that it was "normal" for the 10EE.

Gonna be fun trying to thread on this machine compared to my old Monarch.

Brain damage, good buddy. Monarchs (at least the 60, 61 and 62) didn't go down for forward, up for reverse. Had to turn off the motor and restart it in the other direction. There was only go and stop.

I know Mori was down for reverse (lever turned the motor on, unlike Monarch and American) because our shop owner pulled the safety off (you were supposed to do this weird little move with the handle to get it into reverse) so one day a friend was tightening a part in the chuck and knocked a box of tools over. Hit the lever, flipped him up over the chuck headfirst into the chip pan on the back side. I was laughing so hard it wasn't easy to get him stopped and pulled out ... but could have been bad. He never did live that down. Life in the fast lane, I guess :D
We have a NeBel,LeBlond Regal and a Clausing Cholcester and they all are up forward , down reverse. Does seem logical to have it the other; way move the lever the same way as the spindle rotates.
Hi Marcus
must be a toolmaker thing:D. My lathe which was given to me by a fellow target shooter after he retired at 101 had up for forward I promptly reversed it to match the lathe that I got rid of to make space , I also occasionally do work on a customers lathe that is up for reverse, being a toolmaker I am easily confused so I make sure all the lathes are forward down and up for reverse.
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Has anyone considered that the coolant pump MAY be wired wrong????? Reverse it and then correct the input phases.
A darn shame that machines don't have standard controls.
Good that one checks with the manufacturer because a miss wired machine can travel the wrong way to not safely stop going in the wrong direction, and so break the machine. for odd machines, it is good to add a direction pointer/sign.
The 3 Lodge and Shipley's here rule the Roost ; although mechanical clutch, are Up for forward and down to Stop. If the Leblonds here want to play on this Team, they are wired to match or they can sit out the game on the Bench!! Ha
Guess it's really is a preference issue with electrical models