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Restoring a Myford ML1

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Peter Beeby25/05/2019 14:27:59
2 forum posts
4 photos

Hi All, apologies if I should have posted into the beginners section as this is my first post but manual machine tools seemed more appropriate!

I'm looking to learn, eventually aim to build basic steam models. So expect to be turning brass or aluminium to start with. Once I get a bit of experience I can justify upgrading to something bigger!

I recently bought a Myford ML1/ML2? but its obviously in a bad way. It doesn't have enough change wheels to drive the lead screw and i assume the pulleys have been replaced at some point but I can live with that for now!


I want to have some kind of plan on how to deal with its issues before i start stripping it down. My main concern is the cracked head stock. It looks like someone has previously attempted to weld it and it either failed or it subsequently cracked again.





Are these realistically repairable?

The tail stock also looks a little broken but I don't know what the part is called to look at a repair.


Beyond that I'll need a motor which looking at the spec should be something around 1/4 hp how high can I safely push this? Going to look at 3 Phase with a VFD.

Finally its missing the rack, I think this is less of a problem but would like to replace it at some point but can't find any information on the dimensions or pitch?

I really appreciate any advice offered and hopefully this is the start of a wonderful hobby!

Former Member25/05/2019 16:08:34

[This posting has been removed]

JohnF25/05/2019 16:20:32
908 forum posts
114 photos

Peter, welcome to the forum, its a good idea to let folks know your basic location - settings, my profile, make my profile public then choose what you are happy to show.

Wow thats quite a project, is it reparable? well most things are possible but it depends on what facilities you have or can use/have access to. Regarding the headstock, well its quite a mess but many years ago I repaired a similar machine by chopping off the broken part then making a replacement held on with a single Allen bolt and dowels, in your case you would have to do both ends plus of course there are many other things to repair or replace but none are as bad as the headstock

However cost is the big issue is cost and would the cash be better spent on something better - only you can answer that because we all have differing priorities for our cash.

Just my thoughts others will be along soon !

Regards John

Stew is faster !!

Edited By JohnF on 25/05/2019 16:21:27

AdrianR25/05/2019 16:37:56
274 forum posts
20 photos

Hi Peter,

I agree with Stew, that is not a restore for the faint of heart. I have my late fathers ML2. The chuck end cap broke just like that. He cut the whole top section of the bearing housing off and hand made a brass 1/2 cap. Sounds great till you consider there is no way to adjust the spindle to bed alignment. I still have not tested the alignment on Dad's lathe.

The tailstock is meant to have two halves like that. My one has 3 screws in each half. Not sure if it is original. On my Drummond B, the segments have over lapping halving joints and only two screws. So each half holds the other half in place.

I would advise getting another lathe and keeping that as a one day project.

Former Member25/05/2019 16:47:47

[This posting has been removed]

SillyOldDuffer25/05/2019 18:27:01
5006 forum posts
1061 photos

Posted by Peter Beeby on 25/05/2019 14:27:59:


Myford ML1/ML2? ... doesn't have enough change wheels ...pulleys have been replaced ... cracked head stock. ...weld either failed or cracked again. Tail stock little broken... needs a motor ... 1/4 hp how high can I safely push this? ... VFD. missing the rack...

I really appreciate any advice offered and hopefully this is the start of a wonderful hobby!

Hi Peter,

That's an unpleasantly long list of faults already on a small, slow, old-fashioned basic lathe in suspect condition.

Some kind of plan on how to deal with its issues is very sensible but I think you're going to have to strip it down to find out all the bad news. Likely there is more sorrow to come, for example, I associate cracked head-stocks on that design with someone trying to compensate for a completely worn-out bearing by overtightening the headstock. May be necessary to add a new bearing to the repair bill.

As the lathe may have been thrashed and abused, I would check everything. How worn and/or damaged are the bed and cross-slide, screws, half-nut, nut and gibs? Is the tail-stock in decent order or is it's spindle bent or worn out in addition to the other damage. Lots of photos please!

The missing rack suggests an old-timer decided the lathe wasn't worth repairing and cannibalised it for parts. More may be missing or is so bad it wasn't worth stripping.

Quite likely the lathe could be fixed, but it's going to take lots of time, commitment, and - unless you can do all the work yourself and/or get lucky - a money pit, hundreds of pounds and hours. A frame will be needed to hold the motor. Personally I would walk away - I want a lathe so I can make things. But if you like restoring old machines, or enjoy owning one, it could be your new hobby. The disadvantage is it might take several months before you get it working well enough to learn how to use it. (Though you will be expert at restoring lathes!)

As a lathe, is it worth having? Maybe. Pre-War they were one of the better examples of the simple low-end lathes then available. Certainly capable of doing precision work on small jobs. But notably unwanted as soon as Myford introduced the ML7, a much more capable lathe, in 1946.

Massively increasing the power isn't on though a 1/3 or 1/2hp motor would give it more zip. Bear in mind the machine was designed at a time when treadles were more common on small lathes than motors.

Brand new these machines weren't as capable as a Mini-lathe, and the cost of restoring it could be similar.


HOWARDT25/05/2019 19:11:46
484 forum posts
14 photos

Give it up now. If you had access to a reasonable size mill and lathe for free, access to metal for free, and know someone with machine tool experience then I would say have a go. But as a complete beginner, don’t bother unless you have deep pockets and endless time. Minor faults on a running machine can be sorted as and when required but a complete rebuild is another matter. I have worked with machine rebuilders in my past life, the money and time thrown at a working machine is ridiculous about 50 to 75% of a new machine when and if they were available, but the customer ended up with machine of greater accuracy and longer potential life with the upgrades. But here I am talking of production machine probably no more the five to ten years old. A clapped out wreck is useful to put in the corner as a project for the future, that way you can spend your hard earned cash on something that you will no doubt upgrade in three years time, the balance weight will still be there for your retirement project. Plenty of useable machines out there both new and second hand and plenty of people can tell you why there’s is the best to buy. Just by something that you can learn on and look to the present and the future will come.

Peter Beeby25/05/2019 20:25:08
2 forum posts
4 photos

Thank you for all the replies a lot of useful information. It seems the verdict is quite clear, I though that it was impractical for me to repair so I'll hold on to it and keep a look out for something more appropriate.

Former Member25/05/2019 20:53:58

[This posting has been removed]

Howard Lewis26/05/2019 12:03:20
2595 forum posts
2 photos

Hi Peter!

You have taken on quite a project! If the Headstock is cast as one with the bed, it is an early model.

Do study the Lathes UK website pages on the Myford ML1,2, 3 and 4. There vis a LOT of useful information there.

The good news looks to be that the retainers for the Tailstock spindle and Handwheel, can be replaced. You, or someone else may need to remake them, if the current ones cannot be flattened. From memory, the screws are 5/32 or 3/13 BSW. The tailstock mandrel is prevented fom rotating by a 1/4 BSF grubscrew which engages with the keyway. It has two short flats on the end, to engage with the keyway. Do not force it it in too far, (This may be what caused the esxcessive force to be used which bent the retaining plates. ) Getting the adjustment right will involve a certain amount of trial and error. But once correct, the keyway will prevent it rotating out of place.

I like the idea of removing the cracked top half of the mandrel bearing and replacing by a separate cap. Unless you can get the mattal clamped together and possibly brazed. (Am wary of suggesting too much heat, concentrated in one place , because of the risk of distortion, or inviting cracking elsewhere.

If you cannot find gears for the early MLs, 7 Series gears will fit. The difference is that the 7 Series gears drive by a key way, whereas yours drive via 3/32 pins in drillings that go halfway through the gear. To help someone else with a ML3, using an existing early gear as a template, I drilled a 7 Series gear (away from the keyway )

The gears are driven by Driving Collars which are secured to the Mandrel or Leadscrew by 1/4 BSF grubscrews. The drive then passes via a 3/32 pins in the drillings in the collar and gear.

All the fixings will be BSW or BSF.

Whereabouts are you?

If I can give any further help, PM me.


Georgineer26/05/2019 13:46:12
288 forum posts
16 photos

Ouch! That has certainly been brutalised. Though I would agree with others that it could be restored, I seriously doubt whether it should be restored. Given the visible damage, and the known missing bits, and the teeth marks on the spindle flange, and the missing bolt from the hold-down crescent on the top slide (which probably was broken out from the thread in the cross slide) I would be very suspicious of the condition of any part of this lathe.

There's a huge amount of accumulated knowledge and experience on this forum. By doing separate searches for ML1 (ignore the ML10 results), ML2, ML3 and ML4 you will find most of the threads relevant to this family of lathes. I know you've indicated that you are not going ahead with this particular lathe, but you might find a better one and they are good lathes - I'm currently on my second ML4.


Nick Clarke 326/05/2019 18:24:46
455 forum posts
12 photos

It may seem an odd request, but go to the Drummond Round Bed pages on

Look at the pictures.

The later machines had cast headstock bearings like yours has (had??) but the earlier ones had separate bolt on bronze bearings, either single piece or two piece.

Have a look and see if it gives a practical insight into your idea.


PS Tell me when you decide to make some progress and I'll tell you how little further forward my own project lathe, a 4" Drummond has progressed. I suspect it might not take too long! crying

Edited By Nick Clarke 3 on 26/05/2019 18:25:16

Hopper27/05/2019 05:10:47
3893 forum posts
83 photos


Edited By Hopper on 27/05/2019 05:28:23

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