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Myford ML7, or Colchester Bantam/Boxford model A easiest to use?

Are the Colchester/Boxford much easier to use with gearboxes?

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Men Ifr04/12/2018 12:37:59
118 forum posts
10 photos

I'm aware a Boxford model A or Colchester Bantam are heavier/sturdier machines but appear to take up about the same amount of floorspace as a ML7.

But are they easier to use? They both have a gearboxes but does that mean a) speed changes b) feedrate changes and c) metric thread pitches can all be selected much faster/easier than a Myford?

Part of the reason I ask is as a beginner I expect I probably need a lot of experimenting with feeds/speeds and a myford would require belt or gear changes each time in which case I would probably experiment less and not learn as well...

A Boxford/Colchester would also have a much bugger through spindle bore which may mean they could handle jobs a Myford could not but I don't know how likely that is to come up in practice.

I'm comparing these 3 just on availability really, a ML7 would be maybe 2/3 the price of a boxford/colchester but I could stretch to one, particularly if they are easier to use.

Men Ifr04/12/2018 12:48:12
118 forum posts
10 photos

FYI These are the items I'm looking at:


No tools or accessories, plus needs shipping but is not too far away


I can collect for free - is very close to me - I need to check for metric screwcutting though and would put a DRO on for metric movements but I would like DRO on any lathe I get (I'm lazy!)


This is 3 hours from me - too far I think shipping would be £££ but is maybe an example what a Boxford would go for

Men Ifr04/12/2018 12:52:15
118 forum posts
10 photos

Oh and I think (but not 100% sure) the boxford/colchester have a power cross feed which I guess will help get a nicer finish of is it not that useful in practice?

Men Ifr04/12/2018 13:03:42
118 forum posts
10 photos

But sounds like the motor may need replacing on Colchester to run it off 240v single phase... nothing is every simple!

Brian H04/12/2018 13:05:50
2298 forum posts
112 photos

My lathe is a Boxford and I think you could by a good one for less than that quoted but they are an excellent lathe.

Do you need/have 3 phase? 3 ph is much better (although mine is single ph) but if you do not have 3 ph then the cost of providing it needs to be factored in.

They are not difficult to take apart and fit into an estate car or trailer (as mine was) but if you sare not in a hurry then wait for a good one close to you, preferably privately owned to avoid the VAT and arrange for it to be delivered. There is someone called (I think) Landylift who has a good reputation.

Hope that helps


Chris Trice04/12/2018 13:14:16
1371 forum posts
10 photos

In respect of gearboxes, if you're only intending to work exclusively in metric or exclusively in imperial, then they're undeniably handy. If you are going to work in both, having a change wheel set can actually be more versatile and less faffing. If you're only going to thread cut occasionally, I'd recommend not discounting non gearbox models if the right lathe comes along.

Zan04/12/2018 13:23:38
301 forum posts
20 photos

For a small space the boxford is what I would go for. Have used Myford for years, but it’s capacity is limited. good experience with boxfords and my current Colchester student. Not used a bantam but a friend who produced award winning models had one. The boxford with the inverter drive is now a fully variable speed, the real problem with a boxford underdrive is the faff of changing speed , something which you will only need to do when high torque is needed for big stuff and low seep durning of say cast iron. The Myford looks as if it’s been repainted to sell it, does not look good, it’s an old machine.

Go for the boxford

Edit, just reloaded at the bantam. It looks rough

Edited By Zan on 04/12/2018 13:26:13

Bazyle04/12/2018 13:25:26
6181 forum posts
222 photos

A lathe that has been repainted "restored" is not necessarily any better than a tatty old one unless the 'restoration' included a bed regrind.

Most lathes by the time you have got up to a model with a quick change gearbox have already got the power cross feed.

The Boxford shown as 'variable speed' is not the VSL model which would have justified the high price so either they are pulling a fast one as any lathe can have its speed changed by its belts or they are referring to a 3 phase speed controller. Since it is pictured in an industrial setting that is going to be a 3p to 3p converter and the motor won't necessarily (probably won't) work with a 1p to 3p inverter.

The Colchester also has a gear head. It will be 3 phase and I'm no expert on the type of motor and how easy they are to change to single phase. Some have dual speed motors for which there is no single phase alternative. The critical thing on a Colchester is the spindle bearings.

Speed changes are only the tiniest part of learning to use a lathe so that isn't really the reason for selecting a gearbox equipped one.

not done it yet04/12/2018 13:53:23
6519 forum posts
20 photos

I originally had a chinese lathe. I then sorted a Raglan Little John which I thought would see me through - 5 1/8“ centre height, over 1” spindle bore, back gear, infinitely variable speed within its limits, separate threading lead screw and power feed shaft (long and cross travel), QCGB.

The only extra part I needed to buy was an inverter as it had a 3 phase motor, but that allowed even more speed variation.

But then along came a Raglan 5”, in very good order, so I upgraded to that - double the motor power (already with a VFD and pendant control), far better apron with auto long travel trip, better 3 and 4 jaw chucks, fixed steady, faceplate and some tooling - for much less than any of those machines linked above. There are bargains out there.

Men Ifr04/12/2018 15:03:48
118 forum posts
10 photos
I was wondering should I get the ML7 as a stop gap and I cannot afford to wait months for a suitable and local boxford or Colchester to turn up, it looks to me via completed listings on eBay that 600 to 700 would be a reasonable price? At least that would get me up and running.

Where else should I be looking for bargains? I check eBay Facebook market place and gumtree
Brian Oldford04/12/2018 15:28:56
686 forum posts
18 photos

If you do drop on a 3 phase machine. Don't be phased (pun intended)laugh by it. Solve the problem and get the benefits of continuously variable speed with a VFD.

Brian Wood04/12/2018 16:03:07
2498 forum posts
39 photos

Men Ifr,

While you are looking at these choices, might I recommend you look at the private sales listed through Tony Griffith's website

I think those are much more likely to be genuinely described and fairly priced and they will avoid the hazards of buying mostly blind from ebay.



Philip Burley04/12/2018 16:20:43
198 forum posts
1 photos

I have a Bantam and a Myford , The Bantam will do anything the Myford will do and take bigger pieces and I find the direct reading on the cross slide much easier to cope with than the Myford , Hardly ever use it these days , unless the Bantam is set up for a job , I did change the motor for a single phase one and made up a clutch by slackening the drive belt ,, it has worked well for 10 years

regards Phil

Simon Williams 304/12/2018 17:04:46
627 forum posts
81 photos

Buy any of them, they're all beautiful, especially if you don't have a lathe at all.

But there are pros and cons. For myself I can only sensibly offer an opinion for the Myford and the Bantam, as these are the machines with which I am familiar. Even that isn't entirely accurate as the Myford is a ML7 not a Super Seven.

I have two friends with Boxfords, they love them. I bought a Mark 2 Bantam to replace my aged Myford S7 because that was what I found on the market at the time. Needless to say I still haven't quite got round to selling the Myford - it still serves a turn and although I'm always struggling for space I'm still attached to the S7 and can't quite bring myself to dispose of it.

The Bantam in the links above is an early Mk2 so it has 5.5 inch centre height, not the 6.5 inch centre height of the later ones and of the Student. It looks a bit green in the pictures, but that's the lighting. The advert says its a good specimen - only one way of testing if they are telling the truth, go and see it. If it's not been bashed about it will be a nice machine, easier to use and more robust than a Myford, but accessories are like hen's teeth. Trying to find fixed and travelling steadies - certainly at any sensible prices - well you'd be better off starting a unicorn breeding centre. If you want to do milling in the lathe this isn't the place to start. Beware of buying changewheels for it, they seem to come 16 and 14 DP and I've never found out why - obviously you can't mix and match.

But the real reason for posting this is to introduce my experience with using the Bantam on a single phase supply. Initially I simply swapped the original motor for an approximately equivalent single phase capacitor start motor, but I was very disappointed by the crash start this imposed on the gear train, and converted it back to three phase with a VFD. This gives the advantages of speed control but also soft start which just works quietly and is docile and a pleasure to use.

In the process, I have forfeited the higher range of speeds. The basic Bantam is a 800 RPM top speed machine (the later one goes to 1000) with the motor running at nominally 1400 rpm, and the higher speeds are driven by running the motor at 2800 rpm. The original motor on mine was a two speed motor, with two separate sets of windings and the control gear included a multipole switch by which the motor speed was controlled. All very well, but this motor did not have a star point brought out the terminal array, so I ditched it because I couldn't connect it in delta to be compatible with 230 volts three phase derived from a single to three phase converter (VFD). Knowing a bit more about it I now know you can often "find" the star point and re-configure the motor for delta, but it's too late as the motor got lost in the last factory move.

So I get the higher range of speeds by over-speeding the motor - I.e. running it at 100 Hz, at which it struggles. But for almost all of what I want to do the four pole 1450 rpm motor run at 50 Hz is the bees knees, and it's not worth the cost and aggro of experimenting further with it.

Conclusion - running a three phase motor on a single to three converter is easily said, but think it through first.

Hope this helps, I do go on bit so I'll stop for now, if you want to know more post a reply and I'll develop this further.

John Paton 105/12/2018 08:52:08
317 forum posts
17 photos

As is always said, get one bigger than you currently have work planned for.

Having owned both Myford and Boxford, the main issue for me is the graduated handwheeel on the Myford leadscrew which makes small increments of feedposssible without using the top slide. For me this made milling with the Myford much easier as well as making it so much easier to turn slowly up to a shoulder or end of a bore.

I have often considered fitting such a hand wheel to theBoxford but never got round to it.

Another minus for the Boxford VSL is the crazy cost of L00 fitting backplates, so bear that in mind if your lathe does not come equipped with all the chucks,faceplate etc that you need.

After that all of the bonus points go to Boxford if you get a good one. VFD as single to three pause converter is in my view a must as it enables gentle approach when machining delicate components or working up to shoulders. It transforms the machine and achieves the same end as slipping the drive belt on a Myford in similar situations. Once you have VFD you will only rarely change belts as so much can be done with speed control combined with back gear. I tend only to reduce drive speed mechanically when needing extra torque for deep cuts in tough material or particularly large diameter work.

If you plan to work on larger items or production runs then the Bantam would be a real option but you would be very lucky indeed to find a genuine 'low mileage / well loved' one and spares are more costly.

The big advantage of the Boxford VSL is the size of bore through the mandrel which has been a godsend to me on several occasions ( doing work on bits for my kit car like reworking the steering column) which simply would not have fitted through a standard AUD or Myford.

The only other plus I can see for the Myford is the relative ease of grinding and scraping the ways if needing to correct a really badly worn machine. Flat surfaces are so much easier to work on manually and check for 'truth' compared to raised vee ways.

Chris Evans 605/12/2018 09:13:22
2008 forum posts

Just to reiterate Simons post above with his term "Crash Start" I run my 3HP lathe from a static inverter so no soft start. The machine does not have a clutch so every start is vicious. One day if nothing has broken before I get round to it I will haul the lathe away from the wall and remove the motor. I will then send it away for the star point to be sorted or buy another motor and go the VFD route.

Depending on type of work you intend to do give spindle bore some thought, I had a South Bend lathe for 45 years and it could be frustrating at times.

Mike Poole05/12/2018 09:31:14
3168 forum posts
72 photos

One would hope that lathes are engineered to take direct on line starting but soft starting must be beneficial to the drive train and certainly feels much nicer to anyone with mechanical sympathy.


Phil H105/12/2018 10:41:38
426 forum posts
46 photos

Men Ifr,

You haven't mentioned (unless I have missed it) what you are thinking of building with the lathe once you have it. As an apprentice, I used all three types of lathe and it really does matter what you are doing with them.

If they are all adjusted correctly, all of them can achieve a superb finish with a properly ground and set cutting tool and all of them can cut threads.

Again as an apprentice, I cut some rather complex threads as an exercise e.g., twin start, left handed square threads, pipe threads, very chunky acme threads etc. At home I use taps and dies. I can't remember the last time I cut a screw thread on a lathe.

The larger the lathe e.g., the Colchester, the less comfortable it is to machine very small parts. The smaller the lathe i.e., the ML7, the less comfortable it is removing huge chunks of metal off larger components.

I think what you are using it for is the key starting question.

Phil H

steamdave05/12/2018 10:58:08
495 forum posts
39 photos

I started off with a Myford S7 and later bought a Harrison M300. S7 is imperial, M300 is metric.

For sure, the M300 is a far more capable turning machine, but I don't like it!

My main dislike on the M300 is the low position of the controls - I seem to be stooping to use the cross slide handwheel. Also being an imperial dinosaur, I struggle with the metric dimensions when moving between the two machines. I don't like the direct reading of the M300 cross slide dial and that doesn't help me.

I have recently sold the M300 and am much more confident in my turning now using the trusty S7.

The Emerald Isle

Men Ifr05/12/2018 12:43:39
118 forum posts
10 photos

I'm not sure how well this link will work but I've bough the Colchester Student advertised at £835, price seemed good, he bought it from a college so no industrial use, he's very local and works at my company so I can trust him.

I've said I will buy it (with out looking at it) and will goto look at it tonight to work out how to move it. I'm sure if it's in awful condition I could back-out but as he's a professional engineer I'm confident it will be in good nick.

It also comes with a home made rotary inverter which needs a bit of repair but if I can get an electronic inverter for not too much cash I think I'll use that but I need to find out if I will loose power/speed that way. Also I don't know if the original motor is 1.5 or 3hp..

Now I need to work out how to move it, he had offered the use of a heavy duty trailer.. but I'm reading some horror stories of people moving lathes now...

No accessories other than 3 jaw but will have to work that out later.

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