I've used probably that same phase-o-matic and it worked fine, though I was probably only using it for an hour a week, so not too heavy, on my Nichols. It wouldn't surprise me if you do loose a bit of power with it, though.
+3 on the VFD. Being able to have more than a handful of speeds on my Bridgeport is a must.
Having a home garage shop, you gotta work with what you got, I suppose.
Great Beagle-Pit. Take the two cutest puppies and make one even cuter! I adopted an Am-Bulldog last summer and he's a doll. One of the nicest breeds, I think. I hope you find a good home for her.