I've worked on that lathe a bit myself, and I agree on all points. Do you know if those link-style belts are solid & reliable? I considered getting one a while back. I also have a decent website bookmarked somewhere which shows how to dismantle the headstock for belt replacement. It's a chore, but it's not that bad.
I've heard lots of good things about the Fenner link belts, such as: http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/showthread.php?t=27771
I measured the belt in question, and it appears to be a 3/8" wide ~36" long belt. McMaster's nearest-sized solid V belts are 33.5", 35.5", and 37.5". Subtracting a little from my circumference measurement since I was using a mouse cord, the 35.5" sounds about right.
McMaster-Carr part number 6173K36
"Simply twist to couple or uncouple this belting. Made of a polyurethane elastomer reinforced with multiple plies of polyester fabric, it transmits the same horsepower as standard V-belts with less vibration. Color is red."
I called McMaster and they verified that this is the read deal from Fenner, not a cheap copy. I'll get 3 feet with my next order of goodies.
Unfortunately, the link you posted deals with a slightly older version with plain bronze bearings. I'm not certain what other steps would be involved with our lathe, which uses roller bearings. Since the precision of the main bearings is one of the most important parts of what makes a lathe a lathe, the link belt sounds pretty attractive. I like the projects that guy has on his site!
I have cleaned and lubed that lathe on occasion, including the screws and bearings of the compound rest. Unfortunately, the main axis of the compound rest (proper name escapes me a the moment) has a slightly bent lead screw. Also, the bushings are showing the signs of many decades of wear, and the backlash is pretty bad. I believe the site I mentioned has some leads on replacement bushings, so I'll post a link here once I find it.
A little of the backlash in the main crosswise axis (whatever it's called) can be adjusted out with the nut behind the crank. I tweaked that, and it's reduced to about 0.018" of play as indicated on the dial. The bushing looks like a little brass jobber that is held in place by the same screw that mounts the swarf cover on the back of the slide.
I can't speak for the owner of the lathe, but I doubt there would be any objection to re-grinding some of the cutters. I had been meaning to learn that skill myself. I will also provide some additional HSS blanks if needed.
Sounds like there are a few of us looking to learn about grinding cutters. Pete mentioned it to me and said he has a nice grinder for doing such things. Perhaps we can all end up in the same place at the same time some evening.
Oh, and I most definitely agree about the power switch location. I'm headed to the hack factory for the meeting tonight, and I believe I may have the parts required (light switch, handy-box, cable clamps) to add a more accessible power switch.
Looking at it in person now, there isn't enough room to mount a handy box to the top of the bench beneath the bed without it being completely in the way of the carriage, but a box mounted right below the headstock on the front edge of the bench would fit nicely.
Perhaps have the switch control an outlet mounted behind the motor that the motor plugs into. Then you have a handy idiot-proof way to make sure the machine can't come on unexpectedly by just unplugging the motor. This way the power cord coming out of the switch can be nice and long to reach to an outlet and not need to be unplugged frequently.
I also measured the spindle threading for chuck shopping. It's 1"-10tpi. I'm not certain if this is very common or not, but I do know that 1"-8tpi is seen with some frequency...