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guineafowl21

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In the process of doing up woodworking machines, and doing other general stuff eg car repairs, I’ve often thought ‘a lathe could do that’. Things like making up bushings and spacers, replacing threaded parts, making handles, custom BSW bolts to replace that one that’s missing...

I’ve thought up some requirements:

- Threadcutting, imperial and metric.
- Centre height doesn’t need to be huge, but it would nice to be able to skim brake drums/discs (not essential).
- Three or single phase.
- I prefer the older heavy stuff to modern.
- Ability to do the odd horizontal milling job, like altering a gib to fit a T slot.
- A nice selection of accessories and tools, to save me trying to find them myself, not knowing whether it will fit.
- A coolant pump, having seen the difference it makes to drilling steel.
- budget could stretch to perhaps £1200, although I have a couple of spindle moulders for sale, so maybe more.

I guess the Myford/Boxford etc offerings would do most of that, but any recommendations/tips/caveats would be welcome.
 

Gordon Tarling

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I don't think either a Myford or a Boxford is going to be large enough to allow you to skim brake drums/disks, for that, you're going to need the ability to swing at least 12", maybe more. I'm not terribly au fait with the larger lathes, but some of the offerings by Harrison, Colchester, Hardinge etc. are more likely to meet your needs - do some trawling of EvilBay to see what might work for you. I hasten to add that lathes of this size are very large and heavy lumps of metal, so I hope your workshop has a strong floor!

G.
 
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porker

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I have a Myford Super 7 and its a great lathe but not big enough to do some of the things you mention (like skimming discs and drums). It is really a model makers lathe and although I love mine they command a lot of money for what they are. I think the primary reason for this is that they are small enough to be moved around with two people lifting. (In fact I have moved mine on my own before). You may be wanting something larger.

Threadcutting is easiest with a threadcutting gearbox but as you probably know can also be acheived using threadcutting gears. Conversion between metric and imperial can be acheived using a conversion gear (often 127 tooth). You of course need a lathe with threadcutting capability which most but the oldest have.

I have milled on my Myford but it was a little frustrating except for small jobs (I eventually bought a Bridgeport mill to do the milling)

Tooling can easily run to as much if not more cost that the original machine so the more you can get with the lathe the better. I have built up my collection of tooling over the years but wouldn't want to add up the cost and theres plenty I would still like!

Coolant depends what you are doing. I wouldn't bother with coolant on my Myford preferring to dab with a brush if I have to.

Lathe prices have gone mad in the last few years and your budget would have esily bought you a good example but will be more difficult now. Not saying they aren't out there but you may be looking for some time.

Watch out for tarted up worn out examples. Know what to look for when looking at a lathe. A dirty old machine with no paint doesn't mean it is worse than one with a paint job. Depends on the wear.

Good luck. Its another slippery slope!!
 
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guineafowl21

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Ok, thanks all. It looks like brake drums/discs will put me in a much larger category of machine, so I could ditch that requirement. Having said that, I might get more machine for the money, once it’s out of the hobby/model market.

There’s a Denford Viceroy on sale on *bay, auction almost finished. Looks ideal but not much tooling.
 

RichardG

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If you have the space and means to move, larger lathes are often significantly cheaper than the smaller “model making“ size lathes. There’s a Colchester Bantam on Gumtree for £900 but it’s down in Bedford….
 

clogs

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to go the big route with all the thread cutting would be something along the lines of a Colchester student.....
Myford, Boxfordare great little lathes but u can soon reach the limits of them....they are well made toys by comparrison to their bigger brothers.....
I have both of the above....anything decent will be over £2,000 now Student wise and a Myford with a thread cutting g/box wont be to far away on cost.....BUT remember u can always get ur money back......
(there are other makes, keep away from Chinese machines if poss, u'll always loose money, u'll see Warco machines adverised but they are just up market Chinese cheese, I was lucky and escaped buying one)
tooling can be an horrendus cost.....it suprising how u just have to have this n that to get a job done.....
U really need to keep em busy to justify the cost...or just not worry about the money spent.....
BUT the money spent is better than it being in the bank.....
before I bought all my machines I had a working but retired engineer able to carry out what work I wanted for a fair price and in a reasonable time.....when he died I had to tool up.....isther one near u....?
Along with buying the machines u have to budget for increase in elec wants both power n lighting....
plus in the winter n damp days the machines will want protection from rust / condensation.....it does really add up....

The best way forward is not to be in a rush, perhaps join a model eng club, modellenineering forum and look regular at
homeworkshop.org.uk.....it's a specialised machine n tool selling site....mostly hobbyist to hobbyist but there are a few robbers that are dealers praying on the unwary......it'll take a little time to recognise them but less than 10mins a day is all u need....
Other than that a complete workshop that gets sold off when somebody passes on woud be a good place to buy..
that way u will get the tooling as well....
transport, well u can hire a Transit twin wheeler with a tail lift for not a lot of money.....make a day of it for you and a friend.....
the biggest prob is getting into the shed around the back.....even moving a little one really requires a good solid path....

What ever anyone says dont go skimming disc's drums on a normal lathe...I can tell u from first hand exp it doesnt work properly.....
I rebuild antique cars, usually pre 1920, motorcycles n tractors of the same ilk....their brakes are always in desperate need of a tickle....
so with the disapointment of using a lathe I went and bought one of these....very expensive but not so cost effective but I had to have one to do the job properly...generally not for sale in the UK, mine came from the States.......
Unknown-16.jpeg
I also bought the brake shoe skimmer as well, not shown...(it machines the newly fitted linings to the diameter of the machined brake drums......cant say how much as the wife reads my posts....hahaha...

A little better prices are for 3phase machines but everyone knows the electronic voltage conv kits available...if u get lucky u may just find one with the electrickery already installed....
so the best advice is to wait n look around and have the cash in ur pocket just in case one turns up....facebook is another good place to look....
wish u luck.....
 

Fergie 307

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Harrison 140 will do what you want. Great machine and you will pay anything between £1,000 for one in good working order but cosmetically challenged, to maybe £3000 for a minter with all the accessories. Only issue will be that it weighs 3/4 of a ton and needs about 6 x 3 foot of floor space. Just dont expect to do anything heavy on a small lathe like a Myford 7, you will just find it frustrating.
 

DiyAddict

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On lathes dot co dot uk, there's a useful section on buying a used lathe that saved me from buying a real dog. I hunted for a used Bantam or 140 for over a year, but every one I tried was worn out. Lockdown had just started and prices went stratospheric. There's no doubt that the larger Colchester/Harrisons represent better value for money if you have the space, but industrial machines that have been used every day for 50 years with minimal care taken in maintenance can have so much wear that they're demoralizing, if not impossible to use.

in the end I doubled my budget and went for a used Myford 254s that I love, and have never looked back. I've done many milling jobs on it - no problem if you have a bit of patience - but it doesn't have a gap bed so you'd have to make an attachment if you want to skim brake disks.

One last thing - if a listing says it's an ex-college or ex-school machine, take it with a very large pinch of salt!
 

Trextr7monkey

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Have a look at the Chester 3 in one compact and capable, light milling only. You get a lot of machine for your money. Much maligned by connoisseurs of antique machinery but we have turned out a lot of precise work over the years, no pun intended 🤣
 

Spectric

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but it would nice to be able to skim brake drums/discs (not essential).
Depends what age of vehicles you want to work on, with modern stuff the disc and drums are just service items so replaced and not enough meat to skim but if into classic and such there is some potential but not worth taking it into consideration buying a lathe. You will be better of getting a decent smaller lathe with the tooling and gears for screw cutting rather than going for size.
 

guineafowl21

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Looks like the consensus is to ditch the brake skimming idea. Fine by me - I don’t have the time, budget or patience to work on classic cars. You need all three.

There’s a tri-lever Boxford on the bay, crappy stand but loads of tooling...
 

Fergie 307

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On lathes dot co dot uk, there's a useful section on buying a used lathe that saved me from buying a real dog. I hunted for a used Bantam or 140 for over a year, but every one I tried was worn out. Lockdown had just started and prices went stratospheric. There's no doubt that the larger Colchester/Harrisons represent better value for money if you have the space, but industrial machines that have been used every day for 50 years with minimal care taken in maintenance can have so much wear that they're demoralizing, if not impossible to use.

in the end I doubled my budget and went for a used Myford 254s that I love, and have never looked back. I've done many milling jobs on it - no problem if you have a bit of patience - but it doesn't have a gap bed so you'd have to make an attachment if you want to skim brake disks.

One last thing - if a listing says it's an ex-college or ex-school machine, take it with a very large pinch of salt!
Not sure I would describe a 140 as a large industrial lathe, they were largely sold as training machines. Slow speed and 1.5hp motor is a good clue you are looking at one aimed originally at the training market. I well recall my dad, as a lifelong machine shop man, looking over my Harrison L5A (broadly speaking the imperial version of the 140). His verdict, " nice toy", which to his eyes it was having spent his working life with machines many times the size.
 

DiyAddict

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Not sure I would describe a 140 as a large industrial lathe,
Agreed - sorry if I gave that impression. Maybe I was unlucky, but every 140 or Bantam I tried needed a bed/cross slide regrind, so a lot of those machines must have had a lot of use. My dad was also a machine shop man, working as toolmaker at Cincinnati and Smart & Brown on some huge machines. His personal lathe was a Raglan LittleJohn - a capable machine, but not even in the 140/Bantam league. He had it scraped in and running as smooth as silk though. I'd love to know what machine he'd have chosen if my mum had let him!

I think that for restoring woodworking machines and some classic car work, you're on the border line of large hobbyist/small industrial machines as a minimum size. Favouring 'old iron' over the Chinese offerings, I found myself in the same position. But you don't want to end up restoring a lathe on top of the other stuff. If you go down the small industrial route, then you definitely need someone knowledgeable to help you view.

There's a Myford 254+ on Ebay at the moment complete with all the accessories. I'd guess 1980's or 90's , which makes it quite 'modern', and being a high end hobbyist machine, is likely to have had minimal use. It's also compatible with accessories for other Myford lathes so accessories are relatively cheap compared to Boxford/Denford, and it's designed to carry out small milling operations, with its flat bed and tee-slotted cross slide. Well above your initial budget, but worth a cheeky offer.

Ps Fergie - we used to live 3 miles from you, in Potton. Our dads would have had much to talk about!
 
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DiyAddict

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- A coolant pump, having seen the difference it makes to drilling steel.
Not so important on a lathe, which is a single-point cutting machine. In any case it's cheap and easy to retrofit one. I wouldn't let this criterion constrain your choice.
 
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Fergie 307

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Not so important on a lathe, which is a single-point cutting machine. In any case it's cheap and easy to retrofit one. I wouldn't let this criterion constrain your choice.
I agree, i have the full pump set up but rarely use it. For most jobs you only need to occasinal squirt. I use the plastic squeezy bottles with a spout that the boss gets in her hair dye kits, could have been made for the job.
 

Fergie 307

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Agreed - sorry if I gave that impression. Maybe I was unlucky, but every 140 or Bantam I tried needed a bed/cross slide regrind, so a lot of those machines must have had a lot of use. My dad was also a machine shop man, working as toolmaker at Cincinnati and Smart & Brown on some huge machines. His personal lathe was a Raglan LittleJohn - a capable machine, but not even in the 140/Bantam league. He had it scraped in and running as smooth as silk though. I'd love to know what machine he'd have chosen if my mum had let him!

I think that for restoring woodworking machines and some classic car work, you're on the border line of large hobbyist/small industrial machines as a minimum size. Favouring 'old iron' over the Chinese offerings, I found myself in the same position. But you don't want to end up restoring a lathe on top of the other stuff. If you go down the small industrial route, then you definitely need someone knowledgeable to help you view.

There's a Myford 254+ on Ebay at the moment complete with all the accessories. I'd guess 1980's or 90's , which makes it quite 'modern', and being a high end hobbyist machine, is likely to have had minimal use. It's also compatible with accessories for other Myford lathes so accessories are relatively cheap compared to Boxford/Denford, and it's designed to carry out small milling operations, with its flat bed and tee-slotted cross slide. Well above your initial budget, but worth a cheeky offer.

Ps Fergie - we used to live 3 miles from you, in Potton. Our dads would have had much to talk about!
Indeed they would. Dad worked a lot with Cincinatti tape controlled machines, i think it was when he worked at the Borg Warner gearbox plant in Letchworth. He also worked at a facory in Stevenage, which had been the Vincent motorcycle factory and still held the drawings for the bikes. Think it was Victaulic then. He was involved in making limited runs of spares for the owners club. The machines he used there were mostly big old American machines brought over during the war, Monarch I think. He's 98 now bless him but we went to a show recently where they had a Vincent stand, and believe it or not an old chap there, who must have been in his eighties himself, remembered dealing with Dad back in the day. Small world.
 

Fergie 307

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Looks like the consensus is to ditch the brake skimming idea. Fine by me - I don’t have the time, budget or patience to work on classic cars. You need all three.

There’s a tri-lever Boxford on the bay, crappy stand but loads of tooling...
Best advice I can give you is buy the biggest machine you can comfortably accomodate. Most important thing with any lathe is rigidity, and that really does have to do with size. If you get something like a Myford 7 you will find it is a nice machine, excellent for small stuff in brass, alloy and plastics. If you want to make things of any real size in steel or stainless, then it will do it but you will have to take light cuts and it will be very tedious. Boxford made some very nice machines not a lot bigger, if you can find a good one. They use a much wider bed and are much stiffer than a Myford. The Myford machines have a big following and so tend to be massively overpriced for what they are. You will find that most later English industrial machines from Boxford, Harrison etc have induction hardenned beds which hold up pretty well. Personally I would avoid the Chinese machines. Nothing really wrong with them but when you have used a good old American or English machine they just arent in the same league in terms of smoothness or quality.
 

dickm

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Ps Fergie - we used to live 3 miles from you, in Potton. Our dads would have had much to talk about!
I wonder - did either of your Dads own a Super 7, 'cos the one sitting in my workshop came from Potton many years ago!
 

Inspector

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I understand the love of old machines and if a good one were available to me I wold have bought one. In my case because the area I lived in had limited industrial manufacturing there were none to be had so I turned (pun intended) to an Asian import, a Grizzly G4003G. It has features you won't have in an old machine like the D1-5 spindle so you can work in either direction without fear of the chuck coming loose and the bore of the spindle is close to 1 5/8"/42mm/ #5 Morse taper. The other upside is they will come with the steady and following rests, faceplate, 3 jaw chuck and 4 jaw independent chuck, quick change tool post and importantly a quick change gearbox and a full set of change gears for imperial and metric threads plus the tools for general use. By removing the gap for the bed you could fit some brake drums and discs if you wanted to. Unless I abuse the beast it will do everything I need it to for as long as I can and beyond. Rule them out if you want to but I think you should consider them.

Pete
 
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