Balls! Bantam lathe topslide rebuild

I've just replaced the topslide feedscrew on my Colchester Bantam topslide and took the opportunity to remove the rather pointless 'metric inch' dial
from the handle and replace it with a proper imperial one (the metric one reads up to 254 microns and I get lost after more than one turn). Under the dial, on the periphery of the handle body, there are 3 radial holes each containing a spring and a 1/4" ball bearing which act on the inside of the dial to provide friction; I've spent and hour and a half firing ball bearings all around my garage this evening and have come to the conclusion that there's a knack to reassembling this thing and I don't have it. Amazingly, I did find all the balls despite some spectacular ricochets from the garage door and the lathe's chip pan. Evidently, the previous owner of the donor topslide had the same problem as it had been assembled with 3 springs but only 2 balls. Can anyone offer any tips as to how to reassemble this? Also, as I'm in need of one 1/4" ball bearing (possibly more after my next attempt), anyone know of a source? Thanks, Martin
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martin<dot here>whybrow<at here>ntlworld<dot here>com



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wrote:

Small balls can usually be found in your local push bike shop T.W.
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the wizard wrote:

probably cos of those leather saddles
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BigEgg
Hack to size. Hammer to fit. Weld to join. Grind to shape. Paint to cover.
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Clearly too late to offer this advice to John S. T.W.
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I don't know the orientation but if you are trying to get a sleeve over radial balls you can use heavy grease to hold them in place and use a hose-clamp (US term I think) to squeeze them down until the sleeve will go on. Kind of like using a piston ring compressor to install pistons in an engine. A band squeezed with pliers should work also.
Don Young (USA)
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Yes, they are radial; unfortunately there's very limited space between the balls and a the large diameter of the handle itself so a standard hose clip won't fit. Martin
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My method of getting the 3 balls into the dial is as follows: 2 pieces of thin shim material (steel better than brass) about 1/2 wide, start the first ball and sort of cock the inner part of the dial over a bit, next install the other 2 balls with the shim material holding the balls down as the outer part is wiggled to get it to slide over the inner. Need plenty of patience, a few choice words to Colchester and a supply of balls. I did not use grease as this defeats the purpose of dial friction. I also rigged up a small curtain to catch sprung balls, but after the first one was completed the other 2 dials were easy.
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Alan in Oz
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Thanks, that sounds like a good plan. I have a supply of balls now, the local bearing supplier to my office was doubtful they'd have them but sounded surprised when he came back to the phone as they had them in stock. Martin
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Don's suggestion is pretty favourite, you can also use sticky tape with the sticky outwards so that it will slide on the hub. Depends on how stiff the springs are.
There's a guy on fleabay who goes by the inspiring name of 4steelballs who sells steel (and other) balls funnily enough. If you don't want to buy 100 I may be able to find one in a tin of recovered balls, keys and odds & sods. It may not be in perfect condition, but should be OK for a friction pad. I'll look next time I'm down the shed.
Richard
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Well the job's done, I used a narrow tie wrap around the body of the handle to hold the balls down then pressed the dial on; it took a couple of attempts and 1 lost ball but I have lots of spares left now. Thanks to Malcolm, who posted a reply via email rather than on the group, for the suggestion. Martin
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