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Sheldon lathe steady rest

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BobSchu

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I have an older Sheldon lathe I picked up for a very good price. However, it is missing a steady rest and I really need one for some gunsmith work I want to do.
My lathe serial number is KRQU 9730. John Knox on the Sheldon group says this is an 11" lathe, and I hesitate to say he is mistaken, but I am thinking it is possible he made a mistake. I have been looking for a steady rest for this machine and the manual I have says I need an XR575/XR576 steady rest. However, when measuring these steady rest units, they measure 5 1/4" from flat to center and 5 1/2" from top of Vee to center. My lathe measures 6 1/4" flat to center and 6 1/2" Vee to center, which leads me to believe I may have a 12" or 13" lathe. I"m assuming it is a 12" as it looks exactly like the 11" units I've seen on the Sheldon web page reference pictures.
I know it is a long shot, but would anyone know which steady rest I need for this machine? Or, if absolutely necessary, which steady rest I could modify relatively easily to use on my lathe?

Thanks,
Bob
 

4GSR

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I don't have real old literature on Sheldon lathes but my 1961 catalog shows a M series 13" lathe and the next one down is a S series 11" lathe. Off hand I don't recall Sheldon making a 12" lathe unless it was made in their early years of Sheldon. My 13" Sheldon Sebastian lathe has a center height flat to center of 6.844". The most it will swing is 13.500" over the ways. Sheldon's follow very closely to that of the South Bend's in specifications, swing & center distance. As for steady rest, they are hard to find but do come up on eBay time to time. I've taken steady rest of different makes and mated them to the lathe I needed one for until a perfect match came around. Most of the time, no mate was found. Done the same for follower rest too. If you have a mill and time on your hand, you can make your own steady rest from scratch. I'm working on a large capacity one for my 15" Sheldon lathe, my other lathe. Ken
 

BobSchu

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Ken,
Here is the page I have been using for reference. The last picture on the bottom of the page shows the 12" lathe. It looks exactly like my lathe except I have the 56" long bed. http://www.lathes.co.uk/sheldon/

I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact I'm going to have to modify an existing steady rest that is close to finish my projects until the right unit comes along. The problem is, I'm not sure what the right unit is?

Bob
 

gi_984

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Bob, I have a 11.25 inch Sheldon. Mid-50s vintage. My steady rest has the part number XK575 in the casting. Hole is about 3.600 diameter. From center of the hole to the machined flat is approximately 5.300. Took me almost 6 months of hunting the various machining forums, calling dealers, and eBay before I found the right one. They are out there if you are patient. You are already on the Yahoo group? Put up a WTB post.
 

BobSchu

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For some reason, a number of them popped up on ebay about the same time. I found one for a reasonable price and bought it. It had the XK575 markings on it, but the base was too narrow and it was too short to the center. As I think I posted above, my lathe is 6 1/4" from the flat on the bed to the center but the unit I bought was 5 1/4" from flat to center. I cut a piece of 1" steel plate I had the width of the base and the length I needed to bridge from the Vee to the flat, lined everything up as best I could and drilled and tapped the base to the metal base. Cut the Vee notch in the new base with a Vee cutter in my mill and it is within about . 030" of where I need to be. A couple shims and it will be just about perfect. Fun little project and I now have one more tool I needed for my shop.

Bob
 

gi_984

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"base was too narrow and it was too short to the center" Perhaps someone machined it down to fit a different lathe? John Knox is a wealth of information being a former employee of Sheldon. I doubt he misidentified the lathe. Any idea the date of manufacture? Perhaps a production change or someone put risers on to increase the swing? Just scratching my head and wondering.
 

BobSchu

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Yeah, I've been scratching my head also but the lathe seems all original but definitely well used. Even though the information I sourced above says they made a 12" lathe that I believe was pretty much identical to the 11" model other than the taller head, I've never seen one come up for sale or mentioned on any machinist forum or any other reference. Hey, you never know, maybe I have the only one every produced! :)

Looking at the steady rest, it has apparently never been machined or modified from what I can tell and the pictures I have of the original units. Markings all seem the same and it is in very good condition.

In any case, this is still a very well built and usable lathe and I've been doing my best to learn the ins and outs of how to operate it when I have time around work and honey-dos.....

Bob
 
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