Fun little project - Custom shifting lever - Ford Bronco Forum
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post #1 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-16-2016, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
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Fun little project - Custom shifting lever

I recently inherited an old South Bend 9" metal lathe. I have long been wanting to buy a spare automatic steering column shifting lever to cut down several inches, because when I'm off road and down in 1st gear, the thing is right in the way of my knee!

Since finding those levers without buying a column is nearly impossible or ridiculously expensive, I figured this was the perfect opportunity to make my own!

Enjoy :)

South Bend 9" metal lathe (~1945?)



Started with 1" barstock


Cross drilling roll-pin hole


Finished product!









No more bruised knees!


One thing I would've done differently-I might have made it out of stainless. We'll see how quickly this one tarnishes and maybe I'll make another one.

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post #2 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-16-2016, 05:37 PM
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Definitely a pre-1950's lathe. In school, I learned on some mid to late 50's models. South bend lathes are great.

That is some nice looking turning you did. Came out looking real nice
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94 Bronco XLT. Beefy 351, 6" , 37's, 4.88: burnt
85 Bronco custom, 4" 37's, locked 4.56, 300 i6 4 bbl, np435/208
96 f350 XL, rclb, 351, c6, BW4407 xfer
78 f150 Ranger, 351m, t18, np205, rusty
90 f150, 95 f250, 96 f350 psd: stolen, sold, and burnt, respectively.
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post #3 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-16-2016, 05:49 PM
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Very nice! Looks like you've got a great shop.
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post #4 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-16-2016, 06:37 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks all! I did spend a good amount of time with a file, emory cloth, & dremel polishing wheel to get my turning marks down a bit. I wasn't going for mirror finish by any means, just for 'raw'

Also, the shop is a work in progress but got a good foundation with some key equipment.

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-Duff LAs, WH progressive coils, Bilstein 7100s Lincoln HB, York OBA, Taurus Radiator Fan
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post #5 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-17-2016, 10:02 AM
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Yeah that stock lever does get in the way don't it. I like the stubby shifter you made.


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post #6 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-17-2016, 11:01 AM
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Do you have a lathe file? The teeth are at a sharper angle and work much faster than a traditional bastard mill file.

When going for a good finish, I'd turn the rpms up a bit, and feed the tool at a slower sfpm. Then the file, Emery cloth, and 400 wet or dry sandpaper with some cutting oil as lubricant.

Just a PSA: always have a solid handle on your file and always hold it with the left hand on the handle and right hand on the other end. This keeps it from contacting the Chuck and becoming a missile. The handle makes it less of a spear if this happens. Safety is the utmost importance when machining. I've seen a 2-3 lb block of steel shoot off a surface grinder and it is terrifying.
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94 Bronco XLT. Beefy 351, 6" , 37's, 4.88: burnt
85 Bronco custom, 4" 37's, locked 4.56, 300 i6 4 bbl, np435/208
96 f350 XL, rclb, 351, c6, BW4407 xfer
78 f150 Ranger, 351m, t18, np205, rusty
90 f150, 95 f250, 96 f350 psd: stolen, sold, and burnt, respectively.
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post #7 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-17-2016, 12:58 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBlue 94 View Post
Do you have a lathe file? The teeth are at a sharper angle and work much faster than a traditional bastard mill file.

When going for a good finish, I'd turn the rpms up a bit, and feed the tool at a slower sfpm. Then the file, Emery cloth, and 400 wet or dry sandpaper with some cutting oil as lubricant.

Just a PSA: always have a solid handle on your file and always hold it with the left hand on the handle and right hand on the other end. This keeps it from contacting the Chuck and becoming a missile. The handle makes it less of a spear if this happens. Safety is the utmost importance when machining. I've seen a 2-3 lb block of steel shoot off a surface grinder and it is terrifying.
Thanks for the info!

I actually do not have a dedicated lathe file; just used what I had which was the standard bastard mill file. I little bit of pressure and many passes and it worked ok, but not to my liking.

If I were to make another one, I'd definitely do my final passes at the higher speeds & slower feeds. That's a good point. Is there anything to watch out for if I were to be working stainless?

Regarding the emory cloth vs. sandpaper. The highest grit emory cloth I had was 240, and it's almost impossible to find anything higher than that around me. At what point does it matter if its emory cloth or sandpaper? Looks like it doesn't matter once you get to a fine enough grit that you're polishing?

Good pointers on holding the file; this is definitely a learning experience.

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-Edelbrock Carb & Manifold, Hedman Headers, Flowmaster Dual Mufflers, Comp Cams Extreme Energy Cam & Valvetrain Kit
-Duff LAs, WH progressive coils, Bilstein 7100s Lincoln HB, York OBA, Taurus Radiator Fan
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post #8 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-17-2016, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by vrewald View Post
Regarding the emory cloth vs. sandpaper. The highest grit emory cloth I had was 240, and it's almost impossible to find anything higher than that around me. At what point does it matter if its emory cloth or sandpaper? Looks like it doesn't matter once you get to a fine enough grit that you're polishing?
If you want a good smooth finish, 240 isn't going to get you there. Rolls of sandpaper aren't all that expensive. I'd work up to, AT LEAST 1000... if not up to 2000. Depending on desired finish. Then switch over to the polisher, if you have one.
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post #9 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-17-2016, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
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Cool. This is literally my first time polishing anything so wasn't sure to what level of fine to use and whether or not sandpaper or emory cloth is the best way to go.

Good to know.

1979 Bronco 400m 0.060 over 'Black Betty'
-Edelbrock Carb & Manifold, Hedman Headers, Flowmaster Dual Mufflers, Comp Cams Extreme Energy Cam & Valvetrain Kit
-Duff LAs, WH progressive coils, Bilstein 7100s Lincoln HB, York OBA, Taurus Radiator Fan
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post #10 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-17-2016, 02:10 PM
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In class, we only had 150 or 180 grit Emery. The rest i just cut strips of paper and folded it over once to get a smooth edge. The oil or wd40 etc helps keep the sandpaper or Emery from clogging.

Stainless goes through a process called work-hardening. The more you work it and build heat, the harder the surface becomes. A good sharp tool is a must, carbide is better, but more expensive. Do you know how to sharpen a normal hss tool bit onba bench grinder?

Does that lathe have any backlash on the cross slide? Meaning you can push or pull it a bit without turning the dial? If so I can explain how to deal with it.

If you have any questions, PM me or start a lathe tech thread in the ' anything else' forum and ill be glad to help. Should probably not get too off track in this thread.

94 Bronco XLT. Beefy 351, 6" , 37's, 4.88: burnt
85 Bronco custom, 4" 37's, locked 4.56, 300 i6 4 bbl, np435/208
96 f350 XL, rclb, 351, c6, BW4407 xfer
78 f150 Ranger, 351m, t18, np205, rusty
90 f150, 95 f250, 96 f350 psd: stolen, sold, and burnt, respectively.
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post #11 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-17-2016, 07:07 PM
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This is the "Fabrication, Tools, Equipment" area.


Very cool little shift lever you made there. Is it comfortable to use regularly too or do you have to sit forward to get your arm around the wheel when putting it in park?
If it's comfortable for all use, you could probably whip up a few of those and sell 'em for some easy cash. Little guys like me won't need it but I'll bet some of these long, tall fellas could use one.
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post #12 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-17-2016, 10:22 PM Thread Starter
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This is the "Fabrication, Tools, Equipment" area.


Very cool little shift lever you made there. Is it comfortable to use regularly too or do you have to sit forward to get your arm around the wheel when putting it in park?
If it's comfortable for all use, you could probably whip up a few of those and sell 'em for some easy cash. Little guys like me won't need it but I'll bet some of these long, tall fellas could use one.
Good suggestion! I'd have to develop my process a little better to make the flat end that sticks in the column. That took some pretty 'artistic' bandsaw cutting and bench grinder work to make the contours and shapes required. But it could be done.

I'd say that it is very comfortable to use, you really don't have to reach further or anything, at least for larger guys like me. I will say that I wish I had made the bell on the end just a tad larger in diameter, but no biggie. I think that would make it just a little easier for big hand guys to snag.

BigBlue, I'll take you up on your advice when I come to playing around with the lathe a bit more. But I did successfully learn to sharpen my HSS blanks with my bench grinder. Takes a little patience and practice but I got the hang of it. Actually, I found my cheap grinding wheels to be inadequate because the arbor holes kinda chipped and crushed from taking them on and off in place of my brush wheel, causing the wheel to wobble and vibrate quite a bit. I'll have to replace them with some better quality ones.

I will say I gave in and bought a couple single insert carbides just because I wanted to spend more time turning than making tools But as I need custom tools in the future or the carbides get dull I'll practice a bit more with the HSS.
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post #13 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-18-2016, 08:59 AM
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Carbide and HSS both have their place in the shop. Different tools for different applications. For what you are working on with those shifters and stuff like that though, I'd definitely go carbide. You can cut all day without much worry. Now if you were every doing something like turning square stock into round stuff, go with the HSS. The impact shock on a carbide tip will cause it to break, whereas the HSS can take it like a champ.
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post #14 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-18-2016, 09:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BikerPepe` View Post
This is the "Fabrication, Tools, Equipment" area.
Doh! I was thinking it was in the 78-79 tech section. My mistake. This would be the perfect section for lathe help.
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94 Bronco XLT. Beefy 351, 6" , 37's, 4.88: burnt
85 Bronco custom, 4" 37's, locked 4.56, 300 i6 4 bbl, np435/208
96 f350 XL, rclb, 351, c6, BW4407 xfer
78 f150 Ranger, 351m, t18, np205, rusty
90 f150, 95 f250, 96 f350 psd: stolen, sold, and burnt, respectively.
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post #15 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-18-2016, 05:44 PM
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I knocked out my first of three shift knobs on the lathe at work today. Just a little project messing around. These will be going on my doubler. Made of brass.

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post #16 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-18-2016, 06:24 PM
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you guys have got me wondering how much effort or if it would even be possible to get my shop-smith wood lathe to work on metal.

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post #17 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-18-2016, 09:01 PM
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That old belt drive south bend is pretty cool. That is steam era stuff when jack shafts and a stationary engine ran whole factories.
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post #18 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-19-2016, 07:51 AM
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you guys have got me wondering how much effort or if it would even be possible to get my shop-smith wood lathe to work on metal.
Many people have done it but the slowest speed on a Shopsmith is still too fast to do anything but soft metals (aluminum, brass, copper). You'll have to swap out the chuck and pick up metal cutting tools but it's a cheap way to get started playing with metals.
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post #19 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-19-2016, 09:44 AM
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Now is the rime to buy used machine shop equipment with the advent of CNC machines and small shops closing by the day the stuff is going for scrap price.
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post #20 of 34 (permalink) Old 11-19-2016, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by BikerPepe` View Post
you guys have got me wondering how much effort or if it would even be possible to get my shop-smith wood lathe to work on metal.
As schwim pointed out, it is possible, but less than ideal. Metal lathes must be much more rigid than a wood lathe. Max rpm for small diameter soft metal is around a thousand and most wood lathes won't spin slow enough. Having used everything from a cheap harbor freight lathe to a 50k+ mazak CNC high speed lathe, I'd never even try to convert a wood lathe. They are not rigid enough to hold any tolerance. Not to mention the lack of safety features geared towards metal. I doubt most wood lathes would have the torque required to turn metal and produce propper chips. Tools would break faster from chatter and you would be fighting to make anything semi-precise.

There is a reason metal lathes are 4 times the weight of a wood lathe: stability and rigidity. Same reason a drill press is not capable as a milling machine.

You could use it for filing and polishing while still being safe, but I wouldn't take any cuts on it
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94 Bronco XLT. Beefy 351, 6" , 37's, 4.88: burnt
85 Bronco custom, 4" 37's, locked 4.56, 300 i6 4 bbl, np435/208
96 f350 XL, rclb, 351, c6, BW4407 xfer
78 f150 Ranger, 351m, t18, np205, rusty
90 f150, 95 f250, 96 f350 psd: stolen, sold, and burnt, respectively.
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