The good news - both of these centres (the live and the drive) are manufactured to a high standard and hold the work securely.
I watched Callum Way use these during his live turning sessions and was left with the impression that the drive centre would stop if you had a bad catch or applied too much pressure, hence the claim that they are safer than conventional steb drive centres (i.e. a slipping clutch type arrangement).
So I bought both centres and set them up with a piece of scrap wood to have a play - setting the spring tensions etc. I soon realised that the drive centre is no different in operation to a conventional steb centre i.e. if you apply too much pressure with your gouge or have a catch the work stops and the points of the drive ‘grind’ away the wood as your work is stationary. I incorrectly assumed that the drive centre would stop rotating and the point at which it would stop would be determined by the spring pressure - clearly this is not the case. I had wanted to use these centres to practice using my skew without having to worry about catches, with the spring pressure set low. However, the point at which the drive slips is purely determined by how much the tailstock is tightened, just like every other drive centre.
Axminster make the following claims for the pro drivelink to pro drive:
There are numerous advantages when using this drive:
1. Repositioning your work is accurate; the work always goes back in the same place.
This is accurate and with both centres being the same size, it is easy to reverse work if required.
2. They are safe; reduce the pressure from the tailstock and in the event of a dig-in the work will simply stop revolving.
I cannot agree with this. They are no safer than a conventional drive - I cannot see how adjusting the tailstock pressure differentiates them from a conventional centre. Also when the workpiece stops the drive centre becomes a drill!!
3. Reducing the tailstock pressure further allows you to stop the work and inspect it without switching off the lathe.
This is true, but when you re-apply the pressure there is a “buzz” as the drive prongs start to engage and a bit of sawdust is generated. This starts the process of drilling into workpiece.
4. In production, the centre allows unloading and reloading by unwinding the tailstock without stopping the lathe.
I found this a bit uncomfortable - with spindle turning speeds in excess of 1000 rpm - it didn’t feel very safe taking a workpiece on and off - I would always stop the lathe for the sake of a couple of seconds.
So, should you buy this pair of centres? Well, I would say yes, they are well made and look as though they will last for many years, but be aware of their limitations.