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Buying a lathe

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James Brighton12/07/2018 08:33:39
4 forum posts
Hi all,

Looking for some helpful advice from all lathe owners.

I am looking to buy a large for myself as I have access to several buy want the convenience of one at home.

I was looking originally attached Warco, namely a WM250 or similar. The primary reason for this was that these are very similar to ones I occasionally use at work and seem quite sturdy for their small size.
Unfortunately Warco never seem to have any in stock as they are apparently having stock issues.

While looking I have seen a lot of Myfords.
I am slight apprehensive about going for something like this as I am not familiar with it but also I know little to nothing about these.

I have looked at various ML7s but noticed prices vary widely for what look very similar machines.
What should I be looking for if buying a Myford and why are prices so varied?

Thanks in advance.

Chris Evans 612/07/2018 09:14:22
1337 forum posts

Welcome along James. The first thing you need to do is decide just what you want to make on the lathe.

I have never owned or used a Myford but know most would not be suitable for the motorcycle work I do. The bore through the headstock is to small for me but for most model makers the lathe is fine. Just be aware there are a lot of very worn Myfords out there.

David George 112/07/2018 09:23:22
614 forum posts
200 photos

I would buy as big as you can use for the type of work you are going to do and the space that you have. Also go and see before you buy and if you have someone else experienced to go with you as two brains ,eyes are better than one.


John Rudd12/07/2018 09:48:27
1331 forum posts
58 photos

There are other companies offering lathes similar in size to the WM250 and Warco isnt the only company on the planet.....

Try Amadeal, Toolco or SPG......I bought my WM290 clone from SPG for a lot less than the Warco one, even tho' the 290 is a 3 ph motor driven machine, the conversion I did still came under Warco's price....

Hopper12/07/2018 09:53:21
3144 forum posts
52 photos

The wide variation in Myford price is due to some sellers just "fishing". If you watch a few on eBay you might get a better idea what they actually sell for. The ML7 is definitely more of a value-for-money proposition than the slightly more deluxe Super 7 model that seems to have developed a cult following, with prices to match.

I use a Myford and a similar Drummond for motorbike work and have done for years. For anything too large to fit through the spindle, I use a fixed steady. So far so good.

But it's like buying a 30 or 40 or 50-year-old used car. If you can find one that has had little use and been well cared for, you will have a good machine. If you get one that has been driven into the ground and then given a lick of paint, you might end up with a major restoration project before you start making swarf. As David said, have a good look at any prospective machine, with someone along who knows what they are looking at. Big thing to look for is bed wear and general wear and tear and signs of abuse such as dents, scars and deep rust.

Edited By Hopper on 12/07/2018 09:55:08

Hopper12/07/2018 09:57:12
3144 forum posts
52 photos

PS: If you look at the For Sale classifieds on the right hand side of this site's homepage, and click on the More For Sale Ads line at the bottom you will find a Myford for sale in there that might be worth a look. (I've no connection to the seller etc)

thaiguzzi12/07/2018 10:42:54
484 forum posts
104 photos

Not much bigger a footprint than a Myford but considerably heavier, more robust and capable;

Harrison metric M250

Harrison L5a and L11


Colchester Bantam

all for similar money to a Super 7.

David Standing 112/07/2018 11:32:53
1164 forum posts
43 photos

If someone is looking for a lathe, the linked one would be a really good buy:


The seller services college and school machines, and when theestablishments inevitably sell them off, he buys them and sells them on.

I bought an identical machine to the one linked from him last year, and it had sat in the corner of the department unused for most of its life, and is virtually unmarked.

I suspect the one he is now selling came out of the same school. It also looks fairly unused.

A Boxford 330 in that spec would probably be at least £12-14k from Boxford today (they still make them, and all the parts and accessories).

It is a really versatile lathe - 13" swing x 40" between centres, with the built in gearbox and supplied change wheels, it will cut all the metric and imperial threads listed on the headstock chart.

For £2,600, I think it is a steal, he is open to offers, and I suspect a polite offer of £2,300 to £2,400 would buy it.

I have no connection with the seller, other than being a satisfied purchaser of its sister lathe last year.

Lathes in this condition are rare, getting rarer, and I am still puzzled as to why the X10 series modern Boxfords don't have a better following, apart from those owners in the know.

Someone on here should grab what I think is somewhat of a bargain!

john fletcher 112/07/2018 14:34:24
468 forum posts

I have a Myford Super 7 and have recently been helping for a friends with a Harrison M250, no comparison. If I had a bigger workshop I would be on the lookout for a Harrison or Colchester Bantam with bigger bore.. My lathe does all I ask of it as I get around the bigger bored problem some how or other. Also,compared to a Harrison or Colchester Bantam Myfords are expensive. John

SillyOldDuffer12/07/2018 14:41:03
3742 forum posts
746 photos

Lot to be said in favour of a Myford ML7 or Super 7 in good condition. Not plane sailing buying one:

  • When a newcomer asks an old-timer 'which lathe', he's likely to be told Myford for 'not wrong' historic reasons. When they first appeared Myford ML7s were better than almost all the hobby alternatives, expensive but considerably cheaper than industrial competition like a small Boxford. Times have changed.
  • Unfortunately the original well-deserved reputation has led to a cult following. Some people are prepared to pay top prices for the Myford name irrespective of condition or the availability of good alternatives. It is almost as if they believe the Myford name magically makes a lathe immune from wear, tear and abuse. It doesn't.
  • The good alternatives available today include ex-educational and industrial machines dumped, not because they're knackered, but because industry made them redundant by moving wholesale into CNC. The need for manual machines and people trained to use them is tiny compared with 30 years ago. Good news for hobbyists - there are some real bargains out there. But be careful, there are also wrecks and there is nothing like an MOT test to weed out the junk.
  • Rather than focussing on 'Myford', or any other brand-name lathe, better to worry about the pitfalls of buying second-hand. When you buy second-hand anything goes, you can't rely on reputation, condition is all. Some ML7s are coming up to 70 years old. They may have been through several owners. With luck, the lathe you buy has been lightly used by someone who cared for it. More likely the lathe will have had two or three busy owners, and there's a risk one of them was a clumsy oaf who thrashed it and botched repairs. In some businesses a good lathe starts on precision work where it is looked after. Then, when it loses accuracy, it gets shunted onto the shop-floor where standards are lower. It's possible to fall very low: badly worn lathes can be taken round the back and used for very rough work indeed - they make a handy anvil. You wouldn't want to buy the lathe from my old school, badly mistreated by unsupervised youths! Unless you know and trust the seller, second-hand is a gamble. With the passage of time, the chances of picking up a cheap Myford in good condition throughout are falling. It does happen though. You can improve the odds by buying from a dealer, or even better refurbished from Myford (and others) but it will cost a bit.
  • At the end of the day a Myford is just a lathe. The WM250 is popular because it's of similar size and capability. Not as well made perhaps but functional, cheaper and with a larger spindle and modern motor and speed control. The advantage of buying new is that you're protected financially if something goes wrong. Been a couple of recent examples of Warco collecting and refunding kit that turned out to be wonky on delivery.  Stressful buying a dud, even worse if you're stuck with it and losing your money.

If the WM250 happens to be unavailable, Neil is running a beginner series in MEW based on the Arc SC4-500. Never seen one in the flesh but it looks like a capable machine, albeit a bit smaller.


Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 12/07/2018 14:48:30

Mick B112/07/2018 15:49:06
873 forum posts
53 photos
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 12/07/2018 14:41:03:


If the WM250 happens to be unavailable, Neil is running a beginner series in MEW based on the Arc SC4-500. Never seen one in the flesh but it looks like a capable machine, albeit a bit smaller.


Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 12/07/2018 14:48:30

Compare the screwcutting ranges before you decide. I replaced a well-used Myford Speed 10 a new WM250V after a lot of comparison in 2015.

So far I've no regrets.

larry phelan 112/07/2018 18:56:56
371 forum posts
11 photos

Name-of-a-name-of-a-name !! Dont mind the name,check the condition. No use having a great name looking at you if the machine is clapped out ! There are many good makes out there at sensible prices,just a question of looking for them.Somebody wants to sell them !

Roderick Jenkins12/07/2018 19:38:29
1658 forum posts
416 photos

It's worth bearing in mind that lathes aimed at the home market ( new or s/h ) are designed to be versatile and have a range of affordable accessories readily available. This may not be the case with an ex-industrial or training lathe.


larry phelan 113/07/2018 13:31:36
371 forum posts
11 photos

Fair point ,Roderick.

David T13/07/2018 15:30:24
71 forum posts
14 photos
Posted by thaiguzzi on 12/07/2018 10:42:54:

Not much bigger a footprint than a Myford but considerably heavier, more robust and capable;

Harrison metric M250

Harrison L5a and L11


Colchester Bantam

all for similar money to a Super 7.

Being heavier is not always an advantage. I brought my ML7 home in the back of a Clio, then manhandled it through the garden into the shed with SWMBO's assistance. I'm not sure how practical that would have been with a Colchester, not to say I wouldn't want one.....

Neil Wyatt13/07/2018 19:32:18
15454 forum posts
651 photos
72 articles

I declare an interest as Dave says.

The WM250 does have many happy owners, but if you can't get one I would seriously suggest looking at the Arc SC4-500. Weighs about the same as an S7, but still very robust as save a lot of weight on the brushless motor and no back-gear assembly. Capacity wise it's bigger than the S7 and smaller than the WM250 (7", 8" and 20" centre heights respectively).


JasonB13/07/2018 19:43:53
14613 forum posts
1452 photos

Don't forget the gap in the S7 bed which gives it a similar swing to a 250 which if you want to do things like model steam engines will limit your choice as a lot of older designs were designed to fit a Myford hence the use of 9" flywheels

Martin King 214/07/2018 09:36:38
553 forum posts
180 photos

James, You have a PM


XD 35114/07/2018 10:03:51
1165 forum posts
80 photos

James , you could do yourself a massive favour by giving Ketan at Arc eurotrade a call and discussing it with him .

If you look at the Mew articles by Neil and jason you will see some of the kit that Arc has supplied to them for evaluation and how to use them

You can buy a new lathe that will do everything and more than the old Myford and you have backup from a supplier who has a reputation for excellent service . Leave the second hand machines for those who like to restore them - a myford will not make you a better machinist only a poorer one !

And before anyone tries to put me down as a myford hater - i just firmly believe a newcomer should spend more time on machining practices not rebuilding a flogged out machine regardless of its make . I would love to have either a smick harrison , boxford or even an ml10 in my shop but there is always that thought in the back of my mind - how much wear is there and where do i get parts if they are available at all ?

Niels Abildgaard14/07/2018 17:56:39
183 forum posts
40 photos

I have clicked the Arc SC4-500 link given and come here:


Text states that there is direct belt drive from motor to spindle and the exploded view downloaded from here

shows belt drive to a shaft bellow spindle and gears from shaft  to spindle

What am I to believe?


Edited By Niels Abildgaard on 14/07/2018 17:59:35

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