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Thread: Lathe steady rest roller fingers?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master wonderwolf's Avatar
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    Lathe steady rest roller fingers?

    I've gone long enough without roller fingers on my steady rest for my South Bend 9". Getting materials together to build my own, I do plan to use these with both tapered barrels as well as straight bull barrels so I'm not sure how wide of a bearing I should go with or if I should build 2 sets, one with thinner bearings for tapered barrels and one with sturdier Cam followers for the bull barrels?

    Any insight on what direction to go would be good, Right now I only know I should go with 1/4" bore and about 5/8's OD or so.
    My firearms project blog

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    You are probably better using rollers with a curved,or "barrel" face.With Flat rollers on a tapered barrel,there may be a tendency for the rollers to "climb"the taper,getting tighter and tighter and ringing the barrel.It seems you plan to use tappet rollers from an engine,which is a cheap way to go,some followers even have small needle rollers in them.Its probably something to try out on an old barrel first.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

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    The bearings on mine are a little over 1/4" wide and about 3/4" diameter. I have replaced them several times over the years so it's a good idea to have a few spares. They get used for all barrels, strait and tapered.
    John Taylor, Taylor Machine, gunsmith

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
    Chill Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wonderwolf View Post
    I've gone long enough without roller fingers on my steady rest for my South Bend 9". Getting materials together to build my own,
    This post got my interest. I am thinking about this too. I also have a South Bend 9A and 54" bed. Not the best gunsmith lathe but it is the one I own and there are no new lathes in my future. I need to learn and adapt.

    Mr. Wonderwolf, are you planing on using a South Bend steady as the bases for adding rollers? For me, this would make the whole project faster. I have also seen aftermarket roller kits on the internet. Might these be good enough? Or, can better be made easily?
    Chill Wills

  5. #5
    Boolit Master wonderwolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john.k View Post
    You are probably better using rollers with a curved,or "barrel" face.With Flat rollers on a tapered barrel,there may be a tendency for the rollers to "climb"the taper,getting tighter and tighter and ringing the barrel.It seems you plan to use tappet rollers from an engine,which is a cheap way to go,some followers even have small needle rollers in them.Its probably something to try out on an old barrel first.
    I'm pretty bearing ignorant at the moment. I know there are different bearing types for various applications but I'm not sure which one is best for this.....I'm just trying to get my bearings . But seriously what kind of industry supplier should I look into for the bearings you are talking about? I know these guys are going to be small so that narrows it down a bit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chill Wills View Post
    This post got my interest. I am thinking about this too. I also have a South Bend 9A and 54" bed. Not the best gunsmith lathe but it is the one I own and there are no new lathes in my future. I need to learn and adapt.

    Mr. Wonderwolf, are you planing on using a South Bend steady as the bases for adding rollers? For me, this would make the whole project faster. I have also seen aftermarket roller kits on the internet. Might these be good enough? Or, can better be made easily?
    I have a mill so I plan on making a new set of fingers as it looks really straight forward. For me the roller kits on ebay etc are out of my budget as I think I can do it for 1/3 of the price (depending on initial investment in bearings.
    My firearms project blog

  6. #6
    Boolit Master wonderwolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Taylor View Post
    The bearings on mine are a little over 1/4" wide and about 3/4" diameter. I have replaced them several times over the years so it's a good idea to have a few spares. They get used for all barrels, strait and tapered.
    Where do you source them from and what kind are they?
    My firearms project blog

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    You can make a sleeve for the bearings outer race that's convex on the outside so it only bears on the one point. It normally dosnt take a lot of radious to accomplish this. ( Think of the crown on a flat belt pulley). Machine the sleeves and press onto the bearings. I would make a hardened steel sleeve and polish it bright. Brass could be used also but will wear faster. Aluminum is more abrasive and may damage finishes though. Flat rollers that arnt square may also pull the work out of the chuck at times.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
    Chill Wills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wonderwolf View Post
    Any insight on what direction to go would be good, Right now I only know I should go with 1/4" bore and about 5/8's OD or so.
    As you learn more, please post and I will follow along too.

    I stopped indoor work (machine shop) last spring to take care of outdoor projects but now snow season is back, I need to finish my barrel and action wrench-tools and then I will be ready to start long awaited barrel fitting and chambering projects.
    Chill Wills

  9. #9
    Boolit Master wonderwolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chill Wills View Post
    As you learn more, please post and I will follow along too.

    I stopped indoor work (machine shop) last spring to take care of outdoor projects but now snow season is back, I need to finish my barrel and action wrench-tools and then I will be ready to start long awaited barrel fitting and chambering projects.
    will do.

    I'm curious as to the concept of a convex bearing and it having less surface area touching the work and how much pressure would be needed to cause any distortion of the work (think shotgun tubes)...I usually regulate the pressure to the work pretty closely but this will be a trial and error thing perhaps.

    Soooooo now to source the bearings.
    My firearms project blog

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  11. #11
    Boolit Master

    TCLouis's Avatar
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    Thank you.
    One good winter project I actually have a use for!
    Nothing is impossible for the person that does not have to do it.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Some kindly outlaw biker might give you a set of harley tappets.they are ideal for this type of thing.Shovelhead or earlier,or sporty.IIRC you can buy a rebuild kit with new rollers ,pins and brgs for not much .The other type I have used is the roller lifters from a 71 series GM diesel engine.Possibly a bit big for a 9,but usually free,cause the motors are just scrap.(53 series too)

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    If only steady rests had 4 fingers.......

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Tight as you can twist the knobs by hand will ruin a /Thompson sub-gun barrel.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master PaulG67's Avatar
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    The bearings from skate board wheels should be good for your purpose.
    Paul G


    I am Retired, I was tired yesterday and I am tired today!!!

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    The "crowned" rollers also work better on tapered surfaces and also do well with straight surfaces.
    As to force You don't need tight just enough to support the barrel. a nice touch on all 3 rollers does fine. To tight and the rollers become irons pressing a groove into the material. the 3 fingers touching the part will do fine the rest is speeds and feeds to control chatter and finish. I have at times put a little grease ( or white lead the old lube for steady rests and dead centers) on the part under the rollers. While not necessary it does help protect the finish.
    3 fingers gives the axial support needed and leaves room for bigger pads and or rollers. With smaller stock this becomes a issue. Most follower rests only have 2 fingers for this reason also. The 3 rollers with crowned faces will do great job. If your running coolant or any grinding ( even polishing) with the steady rest sealed bearing may be desired to keep these out of the bearings.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    I made other fingers for my s-b 9 steady rest. I used the bearings for a Delco alternator.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    You have got to be alert with rollers if they get a chip they will stop turning,worse if they seize.I personally gave up rollers,and now clamp a split v eed block of brass onto a blued barrel,true it ,and use that as a steady running surface.if it scores or cuts ,its not an issue,whereas any mark on blue is. Lasts a fair while even with repeated truing.....Incidentally ,rollers are never used for high precision work,cause they never run true.

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy 55fairlane's Avatar
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    As a tool & die maker, I do not like roller type steady rests (unless in turning wig work in our 48 inch LeBlond)
    Here are a couple tricks for, take a cardboard tube (like from toilet paper or paper towels) grade the inside of it slide this into your steady reast,slide you work into it.....works best with the heavy shipping tubes, but does save the finish on chrome rods.......

    Or make your steady rest fingers from Delrin, a bearing plastic, ......

    Aaron

  20. #20
    Boolit Master wonderwolf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B R Shooter View Post
    If only steady rests had 4 fingers.......
    Can't hold smaller work, or you would have to go REALLY tiny with the bearings or fingers in general.
    My firearms project blog

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