Travelling Steady for the ML7

You can get the drawing I built this from in PDF format. You'll need Acrobat 4 or later to print it. It is sized for A4 paper and should print just about real size on any Laser printer. It's not all that critical as you adjust the fingers to suite the work anyway.

There is also the original TurboCAD V5 for Windows version. I tried exporting to DXF but TurboCAd doesn't do that usefully.

Don't just click, RIGHT click and select 'save as' to save the file to your harddrive.

I have a few projects planned that require long thin rods to be turned and threaded. Not having got a travelling steady with the lathe, I had to design one. (Yes I know Myford still sell one, they're in England, I'm in South Africa, and the UKP costs me far too much with our Monopoly money value (15.8 Rand to the UKP 24 April 2002) After looking around the web I came up with a basic shape and after looking in my scrap box I came up with materials (well actually my father came up with the ali plate). The frame is half inch aluminum plate and the fingers are 9x50mm brass bar of which I have a short piece (seems to be extruded).

The preliminary fotos below show the plate having been cut on the bandsaw shown and then filed to a nice-ish finish.

23 Apr 2002
It is now complete and the fotos 5 to 8 show the final stages. I did not have the camera handy for the slotting operations, sorry, but the setup is much like that shown on the 'toolpost' page


The steady and the waste cutoff with the bandsaw. The pattern was made using TurboCAD and printed on an inkjet, then cut and glued using 3M fotomount spray. I found that the usual wood or paper glue makes the paper stretch too much and comes loose too soon. The fotomount is pretty good but the paraffin (kerosene) I used on the file has made the edges come loose a bit.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:55:58.

Showing how I have filed the bottom surface with a slight relieve in the center as I was having trouble getting a flat or concave surface with my old files. The surface it attaches to is machined and has a single mounting hole.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:55:59.

Showing the filed curve of the steady and the bandsaw cut on one of the scrap pieces.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:56:00.

Showing the bandsaw used. This is an eastern copy (but an old one) of a Rockwell Delta design. I have seen the original Rockwell Delta and that's how I know. I put on a new blade prior to cutting the ali as the old one was kinked when a bit of wood grabbed. No speed control, no special blade, but I did 'lube' the blade with beeswax rubbed on each side. It cuts the ali smoothly and easily. The only issue was the inner curve of the steady as it makes a narrower kerf than in wood.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:56:00.

Chuck side view of the completed travelling steady. The hold down bolt was made from a 8mm bolt with 13mm hex head. Turned it down to 1/4" and threaded 26tpi. I have yet to figure out a neat way to capture the finger Bolts (or nuts) so that I only need one spanner to adjust them.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:56:01.

Tailstock end view. The fingers were made from a piece of extruded brass bar given to me. I simply glued paper patterns to it, hacksawed each piece off with a bit of extra meat, then swung them in the 4 jaw to face each side. My lathe faces convex so I stopped when the ends would fit the slots then hand filed the centers to match. The fingers are individual as the slots are different by about 20 thou, a result of the router table operation and simply not worrying about it over much.

The slots were first drilled each end as per the paper markings (just to make it easier to see where to stop), then slotted in the lathe by putting the finger on the topslide and holding it down with the Myford tool holder. The slotting cutter was made from drill rod as a single flute slightly less than 8mm diameter. Then I discovered that centering the thing was an issue invovling much fiddling with shims which I hate so I got it close then slotted, then turned the finger over and slotted again, thus making the slots exactly symmetric about the center (-:

Last edited February 20 2013 09:56:01.

Closeup of the top finger. Not nicely focussed, but you can see the 'Tnut' I made to guide the bolt and act as a washer with low fiddle factor. I plan to modify this so that either the bolt or the nut is captive (prevented from rotating) and the fingers can then be adjusted with one spanner.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:56:02.

A closeup of the retaining bolt, 1/4BSF or 1/4-26tpi if you like. You can see some of the remaining thread from the 8mm bolt it was made from. I used the bolt so that I already had the hex head as I don't have any hex stock and filing 6 flats seemd like too much effort at the time. Factory made bolts are in no way 'centered' and so the vestiges remain on one side. Also visible is the 'tooth' I filed in the first thread so that it self cleans the mounting hole. That hole is exactly where it will get the most crud in it from normal turning operations! I might make a short 'bolt' with a thin flat head to keep it covered.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:56:03.

Showing a finger slot 'milled' using a Ryobi woodworking router. Bit was a 6mm tungsten carbide running at 26000rpm.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:56:03.

This shows how I used the router to 'mill' the aluminum plate for the finger slots. Years ago I made a routing table which clamps to the edge of the workbench and has legs to the floor. The router bolts to the underside.

You can see here how I superglued a 10 degree wedge to the steady to mill the offset upper slot. The table was rubbed with beewax to keep thigns moving smoothly, and between each cut the table was swept clean of chips. A little paraffin (kerosene) was dabbed onto the face to be cut before each pass. Depth of cut was about 4mm and then the plank on the right was moved in a millimeter by undoing one clamp for each pass.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:56:04.

This shows the routing table edge on with the router (blue) underneath it.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:56:04.

The Final Form. I turned a bit of 3/4" aluminum so the end would fit the drillpress chuck, then glued a piece of plastic sponge (weatherstripping type stuff, 1/2" thick) to the end, and then a piece of 400 grit wet or dry paper to that. Ran it fairly fast, dry (but maybe wet with kero would be better). To do the surface I found I had to first run over the whole surface with a light pressure just to clean the surface up, and only after that could I put the decorative spots on. In doing that I notice that the center tended to make ridges rather than smooth swirls and then foudn that if I moved the material around, sort of a wobble of 1/32 to 1/16" it would then make a clean whirl right to the center. Of course, wobbling it like that was not so easy to get right each time so there is some variation in the whirls. Also, next time I will shape the sponge so it exerts more pressure in the center where the speed is lower. I think that will help.

Last edited February 20 2013 09:56:05.

These images were taken with a Sony Mavica FD73 and are not as good as I would wish. I'm still learning the cameras requirements and of course it's not a patch on the FD95 I've used previously. First off I'll need some sort of flood light as the workshop lights are just not enough it seems.
(and I need to make a support for the flood light too! at the rate I'm finding new things to make I'll have to retire at 40 to get them all done before I'm 120)

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Last modified: February 20 2013 07:52:57.