Cast aluminum steady rest

Discussion in 'Pattern making' started by Glenn Castor, Nov 3, 2018.

  1. Glenn Castor

    Glenn Castor Copper

    I am new to foundry world, so I need some advice. I have made this pattern, it is a steady rest for my lathe. I was wondering if cast aluminum would be strong enough for a steady rest. The steady rest will be for machining the cut ends of aluminum cylinders

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    joe yard likes this.
  2. Melterskelter

    Melterskelter Gold Banner Member

    I would be willing to bet that casting it in aluminum will be plenty strong for most lathe work. I have seen quite workable steadies made from PLYWOOD! Generally, a steady is not heavily loaded unless taking quite heavy cuts.

    Your pattern looks like it should cast well as you have included plenty of draft and it is fairly "chunky." So, one would not expect it to be finicky to cast.

    Iron would be a bit better, of course, but from the way you phrase your question, you know that and I assume casting it in aluminum is much more practical for your circumstances.

    Looks like fun. Let us know how you come out.

  3. Glenn Castor

    Glenn Castor Copper

    Thanks, now that you mentioned it, I have seen wooden steady rest. This will be mostly used for cleaning up the cut end of aluminum tanks. Cast iron is beyound me right now lol
  4. Colchester lathes have had aluminium steady rests since the 1960's, much easier to lift than the cast iron versions and the casting just has to be designed to take the materials strength into account. Some aluminium alloys are stronger than cast iron, they just don't dampen vibrations as well.
    Glenn Castor likes this.
  5. Melterskelter

    Melterskelter Gold Banner Member

    One comment not directly related to the question of strength but maybe still worth considering:

    It does not appear that your steady is designed with a hinge to allow opening it up so that a part can be conveniently loaded from above. On my steady this hinge feature I find very useful and would really miss were it not there. You likely already considered this idea. But, changing your pattern to add this function might not be too hard.

  6. Glenn Castor

    Glenn Castor Copper

    I thought about that but because it is going to made out of aluminum I was worried about strength. Plus the steady reast will be close to the jaws for each intial set up and than moved down for the finally dialing it in. Once I learn what I'm doing, I might build a furnace for iron.
  7. joe yard

    joe yard Silver

    That is very nice and will work well. I need a new steady rest as thieves stole mine for the iron.
    They tried to steal the tail stock but was only able to get it off the lath and apparently used a chain to drag it out into the drive.
    It will be a while before I can think about a replacement as the ID is 20 inches.
  8. crazybillybob

    crazybillybob Silver Banner Member

    I've wondered about this very thing for my own lathe. I doubt very much that a steady rest will get a lot of use in my shop. But when you need one you need one. I'm going to keep an eye on your progress and might very well procure your idea at some point in the future :D
    Glenn Castor likes this.
  9. Voltar1

    Voltar1 Copper

    That will be incredibly strong. Build it!
  10. Joe Avins

    Joe Avins Copper

    OK, I probably shouldn't stick my nose in, as I have essentially zero maachining experience; feel free to ignore this. I do know a little bit (a little bit) about accoustics. If vibration turns out to be a problem, you could try using full soft amealed copper for the rollers inside the rest. I think it would help, as long as they hold up alright. If vibration transmitted into the bed turns out to be a problem (which would sirprise me) add soft copper shims, and I know that'll help.

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