The ‘How-To’ of a Shop-Made Rod Lathe Using Only Hand Tools

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By Staff

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2301 61st Street, Lubbock, Texas 79412-3320

Last fall, 1997, I sent pictures of a shop-made rod lathe using
only hand tools, a ? inch drill motor and some welding.

You expressed interest, so I submit this article which might be
of interest to your readers who need to re-babbitt their connecting
rods during their restoration process.

The chassis is a Ford cylinder head, however, any block iron
could be used, as long as it had a milled surface for the top, and
a milled surface on the side and end, with each surface 90 degrees
to each other.

On one end the chassis is supported with angle iron legs. The
other end is supported with a plate ? inch thick with 6 inch
width—to this plate 2 inch x 1 inch channel irons were placed ?
inches apart–these channels are placed after the center line of
the boring bar is established.

The ‘V’ block is made from 3 inch angle iron with a
window through which the wrist pin end of the rod passes. The
‘V’ block is welded to a plate which adjusts vertically,
and clamped from the back. To the back of this plate a ?’ inch
square is fastened with screws to keep everything in alignment.

If the builder has an emery wheel, go ahead and use ?’ round
tool steel.

If the builder does not have an emery wheel, use water quench
drill rod ?’ inch. As this comes from the supplier, it can be
cut and shaped with a hack saw and file–heat red hot with propane
torch, quench in water and touch up the edge with a slip stone.

For boring, use a round point tool–for facing, shape a straight
edge from the ? inch round. For the radius, silver solder a small
flat across the ? inch round and file to shape. You can silver
solder with a propane torch.

Not shown is the set screw (10-32) through the end of the
7/8 inch boring bar.

This photograph shows how a bearing is made from a ? inch pipe
cross fitting. The boring bar is 7/8 inch
cold rolled steel which was accurately held in place with a
temporary jig parallel to the head surface and parallel to the
milled edge of the cylinder head.

The pipe nipple is blocked with aluminum foil–the ends are
stopped with damming compound and babbitt is poured in from the
top. Before assembly a slot is placed through the top. The small
bolt through the top adjusts for wear.

One picture shows the adjustable ‘V’ block which slides
up and down between the channel iron uprights.

On the back side of this plate a ? inch square is fastened which
slips in the ? inch space between the upright channel irons.

The channel irons should be of sufficient length to accommodate
your largest engine.

Another picture shows the feed mechanism. It consists of a ?
inch S.A.E. threaded rod pushing against split collars through a
yoke. One of the bushings in the ? inch ‘T’ is drilled to ?
inch. The other bushing is threaded ? inch S.A.E.

The machine is built and you are ready to bore the poured rod.
Vertically adjust the ‘V’ block so the center line of the
intended bore is in the center line of the boring bar.

Let the rod hang free from the wrist pin and move it so the
vertical center line of the intended bore is in the center line of
the boring bar.

Clamp a point across the lower end of the rod and bring a
movable point to the first point–tighten the clamps in the
‘V’ block and the bar clamp so the points remain

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