Monday, December 4, 2017

South Bend steady rest rollers : or : Getting my bearings

Knowing I had some more barrel work I wanted to do I decided it was time to upgrade my steady rest from static fingers to roller bearing fingers. Not being sure where to start I did some google image and ebay searches to see how others have done their roller bearing set ups for my model of lathe.

First item I needed to decide on was bearing size and type. In order to....get my bearings (  needed to do some research on what type of bearing would be suitable for this application. Metal shielded I knew was a must and cost is also a factor as I've been told I'll be replacing bearings every so often as they do wear out relatively quickly. I settled on a 10 pack of 5/8" OD with 1/4" bore  flat bearing off ebay for about $7.50 shipped from a supplier in MI, Anything larger and the price drastically increased and I believed it was unnecessary. Next I ordered some 1/2" x 7/8" 1018 cold finished bar stock (18" for $7.11 before S&H) from my favorite mail order metal suppliers Speedy Metals  along with other materials I'll be needing for future projects.  A trio of 1/4"x20 Allen head machine screws 3/4" long would serve as the fasteners for the bearings to the new fingers.

Steady rest with static fingers removed in the project tray for surgery.

I made the new fingers the same length as the old static fingers, band sawed 3 pieces off my stock and set about squaring them up in the mill. I found that though the steady rest is designed to take 7/8" stock in its channels the paint added too much thickness to the channel for a bind free fit. I took .005" off the thickness of the bars and this gave ample clearance in the channels.

Bar stock cut and squared, next locate and drill holes for 1/4x20 tap

Simple quick trick to get repeatable angle for finger clearance.

Not wanting to get too fancy with the angled cuts for the work clearance I band sawed a 1/4" thickness of aluminum angle and used that as a quick and dirty jig for getting a consistent bevel for the finger tips.

Keep the depth of cut the same and you will be able to achieve excellent results. I was too lazy to swap out for the articulating vise.
After all the fingers were beveled it was time to mill the 3/8" slot down the middle of each finger for the locking bolt. I changed how long the slot was on these from the factory originals as they did not need to be so long.

Finished roller bearing steady rest ready for barrels of fun.

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