I'm now running the spindle speed at 4400 rpm and the lathe is cutting very clean turnings. Keeping the cutting tools very sharp helps tremendously and I've become fairly proficient at sharpening in a short amount of time. It generally takes me about 30 minutes to sharpen everything. I've also learned quite a bit on "dialing in" the turning dimensions too. I'm realizing a little bit goes a long way.
Another modification I made to the lathe is for sanding. For a while now, I've incorporated a piece of sand paper fixed to the back knife to blend the taper and shaft cuts. This is working very well and with a few more mods will be even better. Over the weekend I experimented with a technique to sand the bulk of the shaft and I was extremely satisfied with the results. Again, with a few more modifications I should be able to completely sand the entire shaft of the stick before it comes off the lathe.
There were also developments in speeding up the lathe. I found that the carriage return speed was becoming incrementally slower and it seemed like something was "sticking" somewhere. I used a little bit of teflon grease on the carriage way and it started to fly. I am noticing that the carriage bushings are becoming worn and will need replacement soon. I was told I could use nylon to replace the bronze bushings. After using the teflon grease, I believe I will replace the bushings with a teflon material...when that time comes. That will be a major undertaking and the lathe will be down for a week or so when that happens. That will be planned maintenance.
I also started working on a prototype bit for acorn tips. It is coming along nicely and I cut a couple dozen trials yesterday. I had it going pretty good until I ground just a little too much from the bit and lost my nice shape. It is fixable with a little more work on the grinder. The research and development is coming along on the actual tip "chucker/shaper" as well. I will definitely go through a couple prototypes getting to a fully functional design. All for the sake of progress.
I'm going to get going to the shop and "play" some more. In the meantime check out the video below. It shows the new speed of the lathe. If I calculate correctly, it's turning a piece every 15-20 seconds.