Against the advice of everyone, I stumbled onto a HF unit on craigs list for 100 dollars. it was listed at 150, but we ended up at 100, and he even threw in a set of tools. I showed them to John last Saturday, and they are ok for beginners.
Sharing this info here because after I bought it, the belt broke, so I went to replace it, HF doesn't stock that, so I assumed it was the same as an excelsior - and in all this, was told this should be a JET 1014 belt. Its not. the 1014 is too short, and it ended up being a Rikon belt - same size as the HF unit, and appears to be better quality. the HF belt looked cheap - this one looks like the material for an engine belt.
Anyway, I've been turning some blanks, cutting chunks up from my wood pile, and turning that. Getting better at this each time I chuck up a piece of wood. We broke a wine glass stem today, and I thought - I can turn a base, drill a hole for the rest of the stem, and put a finish on it, and back on the shelf.
I really enjoy this crowd, and appreciate all the leadership everyone has shown to me. I'll get a nice lathe after I wear this one out, and in the mean time, I'll practice on these tools, and then start replacing them too.