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Travelling Steady for Portass lathe

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Rowan Sylvester-Bradley06/05/2020 19:18:59
30 forum posts

I have a small Portass lathe (not sure exactly which model). I have a job for which I need a travelling steady. Does anyone have any advice on what sort of steady would work best, and how to fit it to the lathe? There doesn't seem to be any obvious provision for fitting a steady to the saddle on this lathe.

Thanks - Rowan

Michael Gilligan06/05/2020 22:23:54
16210 forum posts
707 photos
Posted by Rowan Sylvester-Bradley on 06/05/2020 19:18:59:

I have a small Portass lathe (not sure exactly which model). […]


I think we may need a bigger clue than that, Rowan

There are quite a few Portass models to choose from **LINK**

... a photo of the carriage would help.


Rowan Sylvester-Bradley10/05/2020 18:41:41
30 forum posts

Here are a couple of pictures of my Portass lathe:

My Portass lathe

The lathe carriage

Thanks - Rowan

Mick Dobson11/05/2020 15:01:55
21 forum posts
10 photos

The pictures look similar to a PD5 model with the five slot cross slide and the shape of bed casting. I have a Portass Dreadnought which is slightly different.

I doubt you would find a specific travelling steady for this lathe, however something like a Myford ML7 type may be adaptable, given that the ML7 is 3.1/2" centre height and the PD5 is 3.5/8". You would possibly need to do some machining on the donor casting and maybe fit an adaptor plate or bracket. The Portass saddle is not particularly wide so attaching a steady needs careful consideration. It too could require some alterations.

RDG and other suppliers will supply the ML7 type of steady. There are also the Sieg range from ArcEurotrade etc. (No connections to either supplier)

Regards, Mick

Rowan Sylvester-Bradley11/05/2020 17:56:26
30 forum posts

Yes, it does look very similar to the PD5 picture on the website. Although it does not have the letters D5 cast into the casting as the picture shows, and there are some other minor differences. I will take the carriage apart and see if I can improvise a way to attach one of the available small travelling steadies.

Thanks for your help - Rowan

duncan webster11/05/2020 18:50:56
2736 forum posts
40 photos

You don't tell us what the exact task is, but you could look at a 'running down tool'. The version with rollers bearings would be known as a roller box, usually mounted on a capstan, but I see no reason why it couldn't be held in a toolpost with a bit of fiddling about to set it up. see page 202 in **LINK**

Other daft idea, mount a travelling steady on the cross slide via the slots,lock the cross slide and swing the topslide round 90 degrees and use that to put on the cut.

I think I've only ever use a travelling steady a handful of times in nearly 50 years messing about with model engineering, so taking a bit of time bodging for a one off is not wasted

Rowan Sylvester-Bradley16/05/2020 18:35:48
30 forum posts

I can fit a piece of steel 6mm think and 37mm wide to the underside of the cross slide without fouling the bed. Will this be stiff/strong enough to support a travelling steady of this sort of design:

Mini Lathe Travelling Steady

The project that I think I need this steady for is to cut a 3/4 inch Acme thread on a 17" long 3/4 inch mild steel bar. This is to replace the screw that operates the vice on the Qualter and Smith power hacksaw that I am renovating. The existing screw and nut are completely knackered. I can't find anyone in Europe that can supply me with 3/4 inch 6tpi Acme threaded rod. I can get it from the USA, but the shipping costs are outrageous. I know that I could buy a metric screw and nut in Europe, but this will require more work on other parts of the machine. Am I right to think that there will be too much flexing in such a rod to be able to cut an accurate thread without a steady?

Thanks - Rowan

John Baron16/05/2020 19:39:48
309 forum posts
123 photos

Hi Rowan,

Have you tried

Accu or

They are at Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. I've bought Acme threaded bar from them and I believe they will supply nuts as well.

Rowan Sylvester-Bradley16/05/2020 19:58:56
30 forum posts

Thanks for your suggestion. I have already tried them. They replied "Unfortunately, we would only be able to offer trapezoidal lead screws in metric sizes.".

This (and many similar replies from UK European suppliers) led me to try US suppliers, and then (when the shipping costs turned out to be prohibitive) to consider making my own.

Thanks - Rowan

Bob Stevenson16/05/2020 20:33:08
427 forum posts
7 photos

If you take a look in 'Sparey'' The Amateurs Lathe' by L H Sparey, you will find descriptions of how to make up your own steadies quite simply.

old mart16/05/2020 20:49:32
1921 forum posts
151 photos

I would find a piece of steel or aluminium to attach to the saddle as an adaptor first. The exposed part of the saddle would have to be drilled and tapped for about 4 X 5mm screws, or 6mm if there is room. Then one of the steadies which come on the market fairly cheap would have to have its base cut off and be attached to the adaptor. For lining up purposes, just bring the fingers of the steady together, and make the point where they touch line up with the spindle axis. 

Make sure the steady is attached to the saddle, not the cross slide.

Edited By old mart on 16/05/2020 20:51:02

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