I know most in this newsgroup wax lyrical about these lathes.
However, for absolute precision engineering (down to, say, .025mm
tolerances) are they really better than any modern lathe?
Not trolling by any means, but I'm currently looking for milling machine
(from what I have discerned to date, there are milling attachments
available for Myford lathes) to work to precision tolerances and am
rather baffled by what's on offer and what is likely to be effective.
Not really sure what you are asking as your terminology is a bit
confusing, "absolute precision engineering" is not a term I would use
for working to 0.025mm. Most decent lathes in reasonable condition,
modern, Myford or otherwise will beat that with ease if the operator
knows what he is doing. If you add a milling attachment the issue is
more to do with stiffness of the machine and how the slides can be
positioned and locked. A lathe with milling attachment, Myford or one
of the modern 3 in 1 types can be made to work accurately with the
right techniques, care and light cuts. A stand alone milling machine
will normally perform much better than a lathe with attachment. Having
said that many fine models have been built on such machines and of
course they take up less room if that is an issue. In general they are
more restricted in their capability and much slower to use than two
Perhaps if you give us a little more information on what you want to
do with the machine and which ones you have looked at we can discuss
their particular merits more fully. I believe that you will find this
forum includes a wide range of opinions and capabilities and while
Myford are no doubt an excellent machine there are plenty here who are
using other types with equal success and enjoyment with many working
to much closer limits than you describe. I don't feel however that
trying to compare a Myford with milling attachment or a three in one,
to a stand alone milling machine would be fair; they are two entirely
different solutions to a machining problem. The available room,
available funds and time available to complete the task would have far
more of an impact on deciding the correct solution to the need rather
than the name on the machine. So don't be coy ask what you really want
In the grand scheme of things, Myfords are not special. They were one
of the first small lathes that was a quality, well built product aimed
at the Model Engineer, and priced affordably. In the past, they were
priced affordably, anyway. Landed price for a new Myford here in Canada
is near $20K, representing over 1/3 of my years earnings. I can do far
better for that kind of money.
There is the added bonus for the new engineers that almost all the
literature showing "how to" invariably shows pictures set up on a
Myford, a great confidence booster for the uncertain.
For the price (or less) of a new Myford you could get a nicely
equipped used Hardinge HLV-H, or if you were doing well, a Schaublin of
similar size to a Myford, but far better built.
I have not had the pleasure of using a new Myford, just several old
ones. I have used an old Scaublin, and I doubt the new Myford can compare.
I get the impression that Myfords are rather less common in the US and
Canada than they are here in England. Not surprising really, as
they're built here. In England you ought to be able to pick up a
Myford in nice condition for the same money that a Chinese 3 in 1
machine will cost you new. My dad bought a very nice Myford Super 7 a
few years ago for =A3500. I would take the Myford over an import any
My only dislike when it comes to the Myford is its size. It's fairly
rigid but it just doesn't have the power of a larger lathe. If I was
shopping for a lathe I would certainly go bigger than a Myford. If you
plan to make anything other than models you might want to consider a
bigger lathe. There are some good deals on bigger machines out there.
I have, on occasion, stalled the 3/4 hp motor on mine. It's a pretty
good machine. Just not on par with the other machines in it's price
range these days.
The first Myford I got near was bought new in the late 70's by a
friend. At that time he paid $1500 or very near for a Tri Leva ML7 with
a pretty decent kit of tooling with. Not quite a months wages at the
time for him.
I would very much like to be earning enough in a month to be buying a
They are not as common as the American machines over this side of the
water, But are available. Sea freight used to be cheap, and a guy could
buy a new Myford without having to deal drugs to make the payments. They
are sought after for the reasons I stated, and because they are easy to
move into a basement.
The OP was interested in how the Myford compared to it's modern
equivalents. In truth it compares OK. Not great, but OK. I like mine,
but ifI was looking for the accuracy, I would shop for a higher grade
machine, in a similar price range.
Dad's Myford Super 7 only has a 1/4 hp motor, and the motor looks
original. What model is yours? I've found that the belt drive slips
before the motor stalls. I wonder if there is some oil on the belt.
When I worked in the States for a short time I used a Sharp lathe.
I've never seen one in England. I can't remember the model number, but
it was larger than a Myford and mounted on a floor-standing cabinet.
Had a 3 hp motor I think. Plenty of power for deeper cuts. And a
gearbox which was nice and simple to use. Nice machine. Wish I had
I haven't seen all the cheap imported machines by a long way, but
those that I have seen in England show rather poor build quality
compared to the Myford.
I have a Super 7. The motor definately is not original.
Myford still very much carries a torch for build quality. The Chinese
and othe Asian makers tend to build very much to a price point,
something that I am certain Myford also looked at in the earlier days,
and they tend not to put much effort into finish as a result.
Strangely, though, they seem to be ground as accuratly as any.
Something to do with companies investing in as good a quality machine as
they can afford and upgrading as volume of sales allows, where Myford
seems very much stuck in a far past world. Except for their wages I am
sure, and their current prices.
I think it is good that they have managed to maintain at least the
part of their reputation that has kept them viable, but in the grand
scheme the lathe is an OK one. I am one that wishes that they took the
opportunity of a retool, to put a decent sized spindle bore on it, as
well as at least 5C collet capability. So close. So far away. :-)
While I wouldn't disagree with many of Trevor's points and certainly
don't want to repeat the "is Myford any good", "too expensive" type
debate, I do think the OPs question was rather too vague and possibly
To compare any items you need at least one criteria to work with, is
it price, capability, quality (whatever that is), accuracy,
reliability, support, flexibility, etc etc. The OP mentions "Absolute
precision engineering" but then specifies it as a not at all
demanding .025mm. The only other criteria to compare with is "modern",
again a relative term does he realy mean "cheap new"? He then goes on
to say he is looking for a milling machine; well the Myford is
basically a lathe so which are better Apples or Pears? I'm sure he is
honest in saying "Not trolling by any means" but I have to say that by
accident or design his post is an excellent "trolling" question.
I would guess that the real question is something like, are Myfords
really "better than any modern lathe" and if one is fitted with a
milling attachment will it work to a tolerance of .025mm. In my
opinion very simple to answer; No they are not better in all aspects
than ANY modern lathe and yes it would be capable of working to a
tolerance (?) of .025mm. Again to be pedantic, is that a total
tolerance of .025mm with limits at +.0125mm and -.0125mm from nominal,
or is it a tolerance of +/- .025mm each side of nominal, quite
different as any who have tried to work to them will know only too
well. A last part to his question could be is this "effective", well
yes it is effective; is it the most effective, definitely NOT.
With these types of discussions then the comparisons given are often
unfair, if we take price then we should compare new with new to be
equitable. Can you get a new lathe for less than a Myford, of course
you can. Will it be more accurate than the Myford, possibly. Will it
fit in my shed, possibly. Will it have larger capacity than a Myford,
possibly. Will it be as well built, possibly. Will it hold its value
as well as the Myford, almost certainly not. Will it be as flexible
and have the range of accessories available, certainly NOT. Will an
almost infinite range of advice and guidance on how to use it be
available in books magazines or on line, almost certainly not. If we
consider a range of these criteria my guess would be that you would
need to look towards Eastern Europe although for some specific
individual criteria some of the Chinese imports would compare
favorably. The Myfords advantage is that when all the criteria are
considered on a like for like basis it is the "equal of all and better
than most" within its class.
I'll not labour the point any more but the question has to be
reasonably framed if any sort of reasonable advice is to be provided.
I guess I'm old fashioned and have never been impressed by the "Lathe
discuss" type exam question.
To look at some of Trevor's suggestions, and based on price alone, I
agree that a Hardinge HLV-H is a superb lathe if you can find one in
good condition with a reasonable range of accessories, but to be
honest they are rare and if more than a few of us look at the same
time the prices will soon go up. The Schaublin is a superb lathe, even
rarer and in my mind comes into the "instrument" category when one
considers its feel in use. However, have a look at the prices of
accessories to make it half as useful as a typical Myford and have you
dealt with the manufacturer? I guess you haven't lately as they won't
speak to you directly if you are in the UK and are not at all
interested if you are buying "only" one basic machine. Yes, you have
guessed correctly this is the result of bitter personal experience in
a former life. Having said that if you have a Shaublin 125C in
absolute mint condition with all available accessories and a full set
of collets and are silly enough to want to get rid of it, I could
offer a Myford, Boxford, Warco lots of tins of beer an old kit car etc
etc, in exchange. Please contact me immediately I'm your man. :-)))
"Horses for courses" is the real answer, or was it 42 point something?
Picking up on various points from other posters.
Are they worth current money costs?
They are a well made and well finished lathe but way over priced for what you
I bought a brand new TOS 6 years ago 14" x 40 with all the extra's except taper
delivered to the shop door for the same price as a Myford 254 was at the time
extra's and no delivery.
Are they better made than other current lathes?
They are a dated design that hasn't moved with the times hence the abomination
spindle mounting they fit today, too little , too late. Trevor makes reference
"Strangely, though, they seem to be ground as accurately as any.
Something to do with companies investing in as good a quality machine as
they can afford and upgrading as volume of sales allows"
Unfortunately this doesn't fit the Myford commitment statement.
The bed grinder used on modern lathes is the same bed grinder used to make my
ML7 in 1968,
it's just 40 years older. many of the Chinese machines are ground on Swiss
we have never even seen in this country.
Are they better finished that current lathes?
This is one area where you do get better, whether you get value is another thing
hard to define.
Will they hold their price over current lathes?
Yes and no.
Yes in that the Myford will usually get a better price based on the name and
the finish it will probably look better 20 years down the road. The number of
available [ whether they can be purchased or not ] will also help.
No in respect that Myford prices are falling, not sure why, perhaps people want
S/H ? but if you read the homeshop ads list a S7 can be bought for £750 to £1K
sometimes for about £500. A few years ago when money was worth more they usually
Something is wrong though when you can buy a new lathe with screwcut gearbox for
a new Myford box, quadrants and covers.
If your sole idea is to get a good price when you sell on then you are in the
Get an ISA or invest in something else. It worked in the old days when a lathe
reasonable for £200 fetched £700 twenty years on but a 8K Myford won't get the
returns today, you may even loose.
The whole idea of buying a machine is to use it, not polish it and reckon up
If we worked on this premise then that car you are running around in is worth 5
you paid for it on part chop ? No, they are bought to be used and any
depreciation is the
price you pay for your hobby.
Visit the new Model Engineering adverts page at:-
e want new over
to =A31K often and
y usually fetched
Just a final point here. There is some personal preference in whether
you choose to buy new or used. If you choose to buy used, you need to
inspect the machine much more carefully before buying, and may need to
shop around to find spares and tooling, and will likely have to spend
a little time working on your machine now and then. But you get a hell
of a lot more machine for your money. Personally, if I had the money
to buy a new Myford and needed a lathe of that size, I wouldn't. I'd
shop around for a good used Myford and save the rest of the money to
buy other machines. I still think that used Myfords are a good deal at
the prices they sell for in England. But Trevor is right; they aren't
such a good deal brand new.
Now that the brothers Hardinge have made their last HLV family lathe and since
the Feeler clones aren't all that common in Europe. Wouldn't it be nice if the
lads at Beeston decided to produce an HLV-EM clone. If they could make them
for less than £15 000 they could sell as many as they could make, even to the
model engineering community.
They had a long bed Conny -sewer with Newton Tesla conversion and the Rodney
head bolted to the back at the Bristol show with a £13,400 price tag on it.
Needless to say St John's ambulance were having a busy day.
I meant to get a photo of the price tag but didn't, even so many people at the
Visit the new Model Engineering adverts page at:-
That was my point :-)
In fact. A Hardinge copy with invertor drive rather that vari-speed or
multiple pulleys, servo or steppers for threading, chopper controlled DC drive
to the apron and ball or taper roller headstock should be buildable for about
the same price as current Connoisseur price and be a far better lathe.
Thanks for all the comments. No troll, be assured - I felt it would be
seen as a potential troll, hence the purposely added statement.
For nearly all of you, .025mm is probably in a day's work, but to me,
I am currently working on a prototype tool to assist with the removal of
data platters from hard drives.
It needs to consist of a circular (10cm dia.), flat head (2cm thick), to
which I need to attach three "fingers" in the form of (probably)
titanium, of about 3-4mm in width, and 1.5mm thick. However, due to the
design of hard drive housings being fairly random, the positioning of
these fingers has to be adaptable to a number of places around the main
head, in order to provide maximum compatibility.
I therefore need to be able to mill this head (which needs to be from
solid brass) to fine (in my mind) tolerances with the idea that the
titanium fingers will slot in from below, to be secured in place by
either a screw or a retention clip.
I also need to attach this assembly to a frame so that it can be held
*very* securely in place whilst the fingers are pressed against the
edges of the platters and secured by friction, and then (as in a
vertical mill) raised about 10cm, then slid across about 20cm to the
All this time, there must be no relational movement between the platters
- even .01mm would be disastrous, leaving a non-recoverable drive.
So I need to be able to mill the head, the arms, frame, and tap various
threads in the parts that be brazed.
I've done some milling. Once in my life, when I was 12. I had a
fishing reel, a component of which broke. Using a drill press and a
brass screw, I managed to fashion a suitable replacement. Obviously I
have a steep learning curve, but I don't particularly wish to share the
actual design with an engineering firm, and would rather dabble in my
Hence all these questions.
Again, thanks for the info. I am tempted to try the Axminster SIEG X1
for the prototype - I saw it mentioned recently on this forum. I'm
aware that it is probably not going to be up to the job for the final
production units, but rather than wade in at the deep end spend £000s on
something eminently suitable, I'd rather test the water with a
If anyone has any comments on the possible suitability of the above
milling machine, I'd appreciate them.
Globally Local Data Recovery
I did consider this, but strength testing is probably top priority. I
have my doubts that even titanium will be strong enough for the task,
given the dimensions of the fingers.
If anyone knows of anything stronger that is not too brittle.... The
fingers will be approx. 5 or 6cm in length, protruding 4-5cm below the
head at an angle such that the tip of the finger will touch the bottom
platter in the drive first, such that when the head is "tightened"
(another awkward thing to work out) the area higher up the finger will
come into contact with the top platter. So a little bend is necessary.
In the same vein, if anyone has some slivers of titanium they'd be
willing to sell - about 1.5mm thick, 4mm wide, any length over 5cm, I'd
Globally Local Data Recovery Experts
If the slightest rotation of one platter relative to the others is so
critical, what about the problem of retaining the original relative
I have dismantled scrap hard drives in the past and whilst I do not have one
to hand at the moment recall that the fit of the platters to the hub usually
has a little clearance so it may be that the data tracks are not truly
concentric with the outer edge of the disk. If that is the case, when you
clamp several at the same time by their outer edge they might centralise to
each other (within the limits of your bendy clamps) but that might not be
where they were originally.
Can't help feeling that it is stiffness you need rather than strength.
Is titanium stiffer than steel?
Is steel out of the question due to magnetic properties?
What about stainless steel?
Questions rather than answers at this time of night but might just stop a
move in the wrong direction.