Wiring home shop for 3-phase power. Would love all the input I could get
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    Default Wiring home shop for 3-phase power. Would love all the input I could get

    So I've been basically putting together a beginner's machine shop in my garage. After many years of dreaming about owning one, I've finally been able to buy a lathe not long ago. I'm very happy with what it set me back (especially considering what was included with it. It's a Hardinge HC (I've also heard it referred to as a "Chucker"). It has the majority of the 5C collets that came with it as well as a 5" Hardinge brand 3-jaw chuck (which is currently on the machine). It also had a little machinist vise, a quite large and VERY heavy rotary positioner table, and finally, totally unrelated to the lathe, a matched pair of smaller (0.70KVA) variacs. But now I need to provide it with 240V 3-phase power - which I obviously don't have. I have a couple other 3-phase motors as well. One is a 10HP Baldor connected to a hydraulic pump. The other is a 5HP Dayton with a pulley that has 2 grooves for v-belts. I would like to use the pump for a hydraulic controller to be able to add hydraulic tools to my shop as well. But I don't have any use in mind for the second motor, so I wouldn't mind using it for a phase converter if that's my best course of action.

    Aside from the motor, I've got an assortment of other components that could be of use in this adventure. I have something like 6 VFDs that were in a lot that I purchased as "pallet shelving, including contents" (which ironically is the lot that I paid the least amount for but has the highest monetary value of all lots that I've purchased. Likely by a large margin) along with some locking 3-phase receptacles capable of 500V and 50A and corresponding plugs. The VFDs vary widely. 3 are 2HP, 1 is 20HP, and 2 are 60HP. But there's a catch - they're 480V. But they seem to be in very good condition and are well regarded make/models that have good value. So even if I can't use them for my lathe and/or other motors, I still want to test them to verify that they work before selling them. To that end, I picked up a large (75KVA) GE Guard 2 3-phase transformer for a song with the hopes of using it to step up 240V to 480V (it's original use was the opposite - stepping down 480V to 240V. Ideally, I hope to be able to power the VFDs this way, using one to power my 3-phase components in my shop, and testing the others in order to sell them. But I don't know if this isn't the method that I should be trying to power my lathe. And I know that the amount of knowledge here amounts to all of the beaches in California in comparison to my grain of sand worth. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    (I will get some pics up of what I'm working with too)

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    Quote Originally Posted by DIYShopTools View Post
    So I've been basically putting together a beginner's machine shop in my garage. After many years of dreaming about owning one, I've finally been able to buy a lathe not long ago.
    I'm very happy with what it set me back (especially considering what was included with it. It's a Hardinge HC (I've also heard it referred to as a "Chucker"). It has the majority of the 5C collets that came with it as well as a 5" Hardinge brand 3-jaw chuck (which is currently on the machine). It also
    Congratulations!
    Chuckers are great machines, especially if you’re doing production. You can think of them almost as hand-cranked predecessors to CNC lathes.
    They aren’t really general purpose engine lathes, but you can do some very precise work on shorter work.


    Quote Originally Posted by DIYShopTools View Post
    had a little machinist vise, a quite large and VERY heavy rotary positioner table, and finally, totally unrelated to the lathe, a matched pair of smaller (0.70KVA) variacs. But now I need to provide it with 240V 3-phase power - which I obviously don't have. I have a couple other 3-phase motors as well. One is a 10HP Baldor connected to a hydraulic pump. The other is a 5HP Dayton with a pulley that has 2 grooves for v-belts. I would like to use the pump for a hydraulic controller to be able to add hydraulic tools to my shop as well. But I don't have any use in mind for the second motor, so I wouldn't mind using it for a phase converter if that's my best course of action.

    Aside from the motor, I've got an assortment of other components that could be of use in this adventure. I have something like 6 VFDs that were in a lot that I purchased as "pallet shelving, including contents" (which ironically is the lot that I paid the least amount for but has the highest monetary value of all lots that I've purchased. Likely by a large margin) along with some locking 3-phase receptacles capable of 500V and 50A and corresponding plugs. The VFDs vary widely. 3 are 2HP, 1 is 20HP, and 2 are 60HP. But there's a catch - they're 480V. But they seem to be in very good condition and are well regarded make/models that have good value. So even if I can't use them for my lathe and/or other motors, I still want to test them to verify that they work before selling them. To that end, I picked up a large (75KVA) GE Guard 2 3-phase transformer for a song with the hopes of using it to step up 240V to 480V (it's original use was the opposite - stepping down 480V to 240V. Ideally, I hope to be able to power the VFDs this way, using one to power my 3-phase components in my shop, and testing the others in order to sell them. But I don't know if this isn't the method that I should be trying to power my lathe. And I know that the amount of knowledge here amounts to all of the beaches in California in comparison to my grain of sand worth. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    (I will get some pics up of what I'm working with too)
    Probably the easiest course for you would be to make a rotary phase converter that outputs 230V 3ph.
    You could use your 3ph transformer to step up to 460V 3ph.
    The electrical cabinets on Hardinge manual lathes are complicated and it’s easiest to just feed them 3ph power.
    However, some people have gutted the electrical cabinets and done VFD retrofits.

    What brand are your VFDs?
    My friend and I ran a 200HP 3ph motor with a 100HP VFD which was fed by 460V single phase (through a regular household extension cord).

    Do NOT run the output from the VFDs through the transformer!
    Instead, run the 440V-480V output from your transformer as the INPUT into your VFD.

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    I went 220 1P -> 10hp home built RPC then branch either to machines or a 220/600V 3P transformer. I've 110, 220 1P and 220 and 600 3P through out the shop. I installed it all in emt.

    That didn't predate VFD's, but it did predate cheap VFDs...and well, they're still not that cheap if you power 5 and 7.5 hp machines. If I was starting from scratch, I'd consider VFD's. Not for speed control (they're the poor cousin of mechanical speed reduction for machines) but to avoid the drone of the rpc, having to traverse the shop to start/stop the rpc and they advantages they offer for a soft start on say a surface grinder. I'd have to step up to 600 singe phase for some machines (needs a 1P transformer) then run to a VFD at each machine. That would probably be how I'd go.....I guess I've already decided to .... i've two 220v machines to hook up and will do so via vfd and not use the rpc

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    How many amps are available? I know Arizona is machine shop friendly, the opposite of your neighbor California. Still, if you are in a residential area play nice with your neighbors. That 10 HP hydraulic pump might draw a nasty start up current if it is a direct drive starting against a load. I had a couple long since scrapped machines that were 15 HP hydraulic drive that started under a full load. I was in a residential area in California, second to last on a short power run from a close sub station. Those damn thing pulled over 300 amps each until the pump was up to speed. I never started them at night as the one time I did it I dimmed the whole neighbor hood.

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    You doo know there is a sub forum dedicated to your question ?

    And 99% of your questions have already been answered there, if'n you'd take the time to READ.

    You want a personalized answer ?

    Or are you just spamming your website ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mcgyver View Post
    I'd have to step up to 600 singe phase for some machines (needs a 1P transformer) then run to a VFD at each machine. That would probably be how I'd go.....I guess I've already decided to .... i've two 220v machines to hook up and will do so via vfd and not use the rpc
    His Hardinge HC almost certainly won’t work by hooking the output from a VFD as the input of the lathe.
    Hardinge electrical cabinets have all sorts of circuits that are not motors.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpseguin View Post
    His Hardinge HC almost certainly won’t work by hooking the output from a VFD as the input of the lathe.
    Hardinge electrical cabinets have all sorts of circuits that are not motors.

    right, never been inside one so am clueless on its particular challenges. However as a general statement, you would not hook up the VFD as the input to the lathe, you wire it as the input to the motor. Presumably the rest of it works on 1 of the 3 phases? I've seen an HLV in a guy's garages irrc running on a VFD (certainly not an RPC), don't know the specifics of the hook up

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger doug View Post
    You doo know there is a sub forum dedicated to your question ?

    And 99% of your questions have already been answered there, if'n you'd take the time to READ.

    You want a personalized answer ?

    Or are you just spamming your website ?
    lol, my website I'm "spamming" is gone. Y'know... if'n you'd take the time to read. I asked because unique circumstances require unique approaches. I DID read those posts. But didn't see the benefit to bumping someone else's thread to ask my questions. And I wasn't sure if I should post it in the shop power subforum or Hardinge subforum. But thank you oh so much for your incredibly helpful input

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    Moving on... I do genuinely appreciate the input from the rest of you. I'm sure someone as ignorant as myself on the subject of anything machine shop related isn't all that typical here, but from my google searches of questions I've had thus far, this forum was by far the best resource I've found. So I do apologize for the dumb questions I'm sure to ask, and do genuinely appreciate the patience and knowledge. Here's some pictures of what I'm working with. Currently, the transformer is covered by my welding blanket as I'm building a reinforced frame into the enclosure in order to put a solid work surface on the top, so it's not just wasting space - it's not particularly small, so I'd rather not simply sacrifice all of the space it takes up I'm also installing some mesh screen into it to prevent metal shavings from getting into it and possibly shorting something out. I figure I'll put some combo of my miter saw/drill press/Dremel Workstation that I use as a dedicated tungsten sharpener on top

    It's the 60hp VFDs, 20hp VFD, 10hp pump motor, 5hp motor, and obviously my lathe
    60hp-vfd.jpg20hp-vfd.jpg10hp-hydaulic-pump.jpg5hp-3phase-motor.jpglathe.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by DIYShopTools View Post
    Moving on...
    .
    .

    It's the 60hp VFDs, 20hp VFD, 10hp pump motor, 5hp motor, and obviously my lathe
    Me late Dad inherited HIS late Dad's garage as was much the same, adjusted for the era and over half a century of distracted anarchy, given he'd rather hunt, shag, swap lies, or distill West Virginia Moon than clean up mechanical debris.

    Got THOSE priorities right, messy garage or otherwise!

    Bulldozing the lot over an embankment, then covering the mess with about a hundred tons of the Monongahela Red soil made a right useful extension to the parking and turn-around area for the NEW garage, shop/apartment above.

    The lathe deserves better. I'm impartial on the rest, having once priced new caps for old VFD's.

    You'd have to know more pragmatists, fewer dreamers?

    Or at least dreamers who had some concept of a plan sounder than collecting breeding stock for a cargo-cult on LSD approach to interesting technoidal cadavers?


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    I'm going to apologize for a partial capture of your thread up front. First, 3 phase power is SOOOOOO much better in all respects over single phase that there really is no comparison. Secondly, all the proposed conversion solutions are all inefficient and waste precious and expensive energy. I feel very sorry for all you North American folks that have no available 3 phase at their home. In consideration of the coming electric car revolution, the entire electric grid will have to be redone to support it. Hopefully that will include end point 3 phase distribution as well as DC transmission lines that can handle the projected loads. Unfortunately, there is no inexpensive solution for this issue.

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    My 2 cents...

    Use the 5 hp Dayton motor as an rpc. Lots of options for starting them. Simplest is wrap a pull cord around the shaft, give it a tug and switch the single phase on. It'll come up to speed, given enough turns around the shaft and the Hardinge can be run off the output. It's more RPC than you need right now, but you have it now and your shop could grow into it.

    Sell the VFDs. 480V is just more than you need. Rewiring the Hardinge for VFDs and for a voltage change is a pain, more or less depending on its age. If modern, it has 3 motors (spindle, speed change, coolant pump) each requiring a dedicated VFD and complete rewiring of the controls for each motor. That's if the motors are dual voltage.

    Just use an RPC, wire the output directly to the lathe and you're done enough to make some chips. You can do it with what you already have, simply.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve-l View Post
    Unfortunately, there is no inexpensive solution for this issue.
    There actually are, and MOST of the USA, FOUR, actually, though not for "the best of reasons".

    Denser population areas, we aren't even that far away from 3-P part of the grid, already. Last mile roll-in incrementally can easily be zoned to suit over long years, 'coz the goods last long, but that ain't the same as "forever".

    1) Over-age-in-grade infrastructure to residence and average commercial premises that is at or near replacement age in any case. The outside plant or "holes and poles" biz uses typically 20-year plans. Happy to get more, but doesn't HAVE to, especially if an efficiency gain pays for earlier retirement and earns more coin overall.

    2) Higher "mobility" in the USA than Europe's average, and by a LOT,

    How Many Times Does the Average Person Move in a Lifetime?

    As brick and mortar residential, office, and shopping centers boom, bust, relocate, re-purpose, and renovate? Upgrades to entire communities can fit right in, shift the property values a notch back up the scale. Win-Win.

    3) High existing compatibility at the end-point. Upgrade by but ONE more conductor to bring me 3-Phase this year, a neighbor next year? New panel, but who even has to care? Nary a single one of our existing drops nor the appliances On them needs replaced to run off one leg of it or two out of the three.

    Voltage above Earth over 140 or so, any leg to Earth or last-leg distribution out of the 300V class? Not on our patch, residentially, no. Lawsters would bankrupt every utility provider in the land within a New York Minute. Bank on THAT much! Heavier conductors are cheaper than lives, highly litigious society as we have.

    But there's no NEED to go that high, so it matters not.

    My "old iron" or NEW Iron motors would LOVE no longer needing RPC or P-P, but that isn't really a factor. Washing machine and newer of two fridges already utilize built-in bespoke VFD cousins on 1-P for economy and variable performance. Same again newer HVAC, blowers and compressors alike.

    4) Personal multi-passenger EV awaits far better - and safer - battery tech than present-day Lithiums, and it is already being explored. Lifestyles as to swarms of commuters, sole occupant of a 3,500-plus Avoir vehicle are going to HAVE to change and already are. Moved here 30+ years ago, nearest motor bus stop was a 15 minute drive away. NOW? local shuttle passes by the house, costs about a dollar and a half, flat-rate, hits every store or "whatever" I could begin to care about.

    THOSE may go EV first, of course, just as they have in China. But they rotate the on-charge and on-road cycle at multiple centralized terminals, not at multiple millions of private homes.

    Parking garages can do the same type of concentrating, already do. Local shopping centre lots in nearby Reston do so already, out-of-doors not an issue, either.

    An EV doesn't always have to have a full discharge then full charge cycle, BTW. They don't get fat off eating junk food, so periodic "snacks" work better for them than they would for their lard-ass owners.

    EV "revolution"? No such of a thing. Virtue-signaling playtoys, still-yet, today, gradual evolution as and when it continues to make SENSE only in the fullness of time, for-real, not subsidized. Even China has quit that game already.

    Cost too damned much to build. Cost too damned much to re-battery, Cost too damned much to "fuel" you don't have a local mini-nuke or a solar array can't yet amortize itself, either, off the back of sitting idle.

    No sweat. Make it a hired shared resource as with Hong Kong's newer Taxis.

    Earbud and "Uber" generation first one in ages, 'Merican twenny-somethings don't have a driving license and don't think anything of it as a handicap.

    It's the economy of it OVERALL.

    Not the politics of only the nut that holds the common stock, the steering wheel, or buys media outlets to shape opinion to the contrary.

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    Quote Originally Posted by neilho View Post
    My 2 cents...

    Use the 5 hp Dayton motor as an rpc. Lots of options for starting them. Simplest is wrap a pull cord around the shaft, give it a tug and switch the single phase on. It'll come up to speed, given enough turns around the shaft and the Hardinge can be run off the output. It's more RPC than you need right now, but you have it now and your shop could grow into it.

    Sell the VFDs. 480V is just more than you need. Rewiring the Hardinge for VFDs and for a voltage change is a pain, more or less depending on its age. If modern, it has 3 motors (spindle, speed change, coolant pump) each requiring a dedicated VFD and complete rewiring of the controls for each motor. That's if the motors are dual voltage.

    Just use an RPC, wire the output directly to the lathe and you're done enough to make some chips. You can do it with what you already have, simply.
    That's what I was leaning towards as well. And while that would make the transformer useless in the long run, just being able to test the VFDs in order to confirm they work when I sell them is enough of a price difference to cover the cost of the transformer many times over. Not to mention I can sell it after I've gotten rid of the VFDs. Scrap value is probably more than I paid for it realistically. I guess it's about time to start really researching how to build a rotary phase converter. And I've got so many single phase motors that I've been able to pickup for next to nothing - or in some cases, literally nothing, that I'll be happy to have found a use for one as the starter motor for the phase converter

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    Quote Originally Posted by thermite View Post
    Me late Dad inherited HIS late Dad's garage as was much the same, adjusted for the era and over half a century of distracted anarchy, given he'd rather hunt, shag, swap lies, or distill West Virginia Moon than clean up mechanical debris.

    Got THOSE priorities right, messy garage or otherwise!

    Bulldozing the lot over an embankment, then covering the mess with about a hundred tons of the Monongahela Red soil made a right useful extension to the parking and turn-around area for the NEW garage, shop/apartment above.

    The lathe deserves better. I'm impartial on the rest, having once priced new caps for old VFD's.

    You'd have to know more pragmatists, fewer dreamers?

    Or at least dreamers who had some concept of a plan sounder than collecting breeding stock for a cargo-cult on LSD approach to interesting technoidal cadavers?

    I'm not sure if the mention of LSD is a hint at the rosetta stone needed to decipher your reply or what. But I think what I'm meant to take away is "what a waste of a lathe. Get your shit together and stop collecting junk". Which is a valid point. But it seemed like a good opportunity to pick up a handful of decent VFDs for what amounted to a nearly $0 investment. So if testing and selling them can net me a few grand as they seem to be worth, I'll gladly accept that profit in order to buy more tooling/better equipment. I know machining is an expensive service, so it would hardly be unthinkable for plenty of you guys to have a good enough reputation and enough work lined up that your time is worth more than the hundreds per hour (possibly thousands) that I should be able to net by selling these VFDs. But mine sure as shit isn't. And while they may turn out to be worthless, everything considered, it's worth finding out IMO

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    Maybe I missed it but how many Hp is the lathe?
    Bil lD

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill D View Post
    Maybe I missed it but how many Hp is the lathe?
    Bil lD
    HCs are usually 1HP or 1.5HP.

    If one were to gut most of the electrical cabinet to VFD retrofit (there are web/PM articles on this), I might consider pulling the old motor and driving with a 3-5HP motor.
    You could leave the Reeves assembly in or remove it.

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    And take that key out of the chuck!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by DIYShopTools View Post
    I'm not sure if the mention of LSD is a hint at the rosetta stone needed to decipher your reply or what. But I think what I'm meant to take away is "what a waste of a lathe. Get your shit together and stop collecting junk". Which is a valid point. But it seemed like a good opportunity to pick up a handful of decent VFDs for what amounted to a nearly $0 investment.
    Asea-Brown-Boveri weren't noted for making junk, true enough. Not NEW anyway.

    But you missed the "well known". Risk in buying used VFD at all, and "fatally so" buying BIG ones seldom in any markets but serious professional ones.

    ANY size, the crucially important capacitors have both calendar-age-finite lives. And power-on/level of stress finite lives. Good units, those figures are right in the manuals, downloadable for free. Check the build dates on the data tags. Life expectancy is around 7 to 12 years for dependability, goes gradually dodgier out to about double any given maker's figure. "PBS" - and it does exist, but still - beyond that.

    Issue ONE, is that makers buy on BPA's that span volume over multiple years and a whole range of component values. Read "more cheaply than you want to know"

    YOU buy replacements one set, or even one component of a bank at a time. The usually affordable suspects, such as Digi-key or Mouser, may not have what was high-volume, but nonetheless possibly proprietary in at least one or more edge details - physical shape to fit can be on that list.

    Special specs that were ZERO extra cost to those high-volume VFD (and not ONLY..) electrical goods giants? Become a barrier to restoral to SALEABLE condition for you. Not necessarily PLANNED that way, but they don't MIND it, either. They have new ones to sell.

    As a user, one may risk USING such goods for whatever life they still have in them - sometimes many years.

    Selling them is harder.

    Even if you claim "refurbished", new ones are cheap enough there's scant motivation for anyone to take the risk even of the minor hassle (time is money..) of re-doing an install to accommodate a different model, older one having gone out of production, controls or such not identical on the new one.

    BIG ones? Folks who NEED those sizes are seldom hobby shops. "Revenue" bizness, rather. Risk of downtime has a price, and it can be in serious coin, risked loss of promptness reputation, or both, seldom pocket change for the type of machinery being driven.

    Few dare risk a big unit when no longer newish and not under FACTORY WARRANTY backed by a support organization. Not just any-old, but one as is proven to be able to get a replacement to yah, get the machine back earning a crust and hitting RDD deadlines, next day.

    YOU able to offer that level of support? Not b***dy likely, is that?

    "Worthless?" Maybe not-quite.

    Useful for YOUR needs? Seems not even close, but let us know what sort of "hydraulic tools" in your shop need a TEN HOSS pump and motor.

    Fair-sized press or brake, perhaps? Team of riveters building your Graf Zeppelin replica? Tooling is already to-hand for that? Customers, even?

    So.. are these "valuable"?

    You can figure that one out. Not as if there was any rush, after all.

    No fear. We all have an "instant gratification itch" about SOMETHING in life.
    Be thankful yours is a CHEAP one to scratch.. and has a low risk of HIV or STD's!

    So far, anyway...


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    Quote Originally Posted by DIYShopTools View Post
    That's what I was leaning towards as well. And while that would make the transformer useless in the long run, just being able to test the VFDs in order to confirm they work when I sell them is enough of a price difference to cover the cost of the transformer many times over. Not to mention I can sell it after I've gotten rid of the VFDs. Scrap value is probably more than I paid for it realistically....
    True, that.

    I guess it's about time to start really researching how to build a rotary phase converter. And I've got so many single phase motors that I've been able to pickup for next to nothing - or in some cases, literally nothing, that I'll be happy to have found a use for one as the starter motor for the phase converter
    Using the rope-around-the-shaft method would get you started making chips. (Remembering to wind the rope around the shaft the same way every time is the most difficult thing about that setup.) Once that's in place, the Hardinge would run and the transformer could power the VFD's.

    More sophisticated RPC work (potential relay, phase monitor, balancing caps, whatever) could come later, with no duplication of effort. Wiring the RPC is the most time consuming part of the job.

    Yer on the right track....


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