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What lathes have you had?

What did you start with and what is your current lathe

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SillyOldDuffer22/07/2019 16:52:54
4858 forum posts
1021 photos
Posted by larry phelan 1 on 22/07/2019 12:50:57:

I am afraid I score very badly on this one, since I have had and still have only one lathe, a Chester Craftsman long bed. Since I am still learning and time is not on my side, I doubt if I will ever get another lathe, as this one does all I need and is very understanding re my lack of skills.sadsad

With tongue firmly in cheek, I note that people who buy classic lathes go through several whereas fans of oriental only buy one!

An explanation might be that those old classic lathes aren't well designed and/or are knackered. Obviously unsatisfactory compared with new Chinese lathes of modern design.

More likely is chaps who are serious about lathes like trying out different models. Getting and playing with yet another lathe is all part of the fun because they all have interesting quirks and positive features. Some people feel the same about sexual partners...




Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 22/07/2019 16:53:27

John Alexander Stewart22/07/2019 17:19:15
755 forum posts
51 photos

The worst lathe I had: An old pre-1890s "Sebastian Lathe Co." 9" diam swing lathe that used to be treadle powered. Chatter-city, tough to change speeds, no dials.

Best lathe I have: An Emco Compact-8. In fact, for a while I had two of these, one to CNC. Sold one, the one left has the CNC VFD on it, which is great. (did not complete CNC config)

Lathe I wished I had not sold: An Emco Unimat-SL. Sold it and got the Sebastian. What can I say. Sigh.

Lathe I don't know why I still have it: Kerry 1124. Not even plugged in for a couple of years; thought of building bigger projects, but hindsight is 20/20. The Emco is like a sports car, the Kerry like one of those articulated lorries. Give me the sports car any day. My projects appear to be downsizing, thus:

Newest lathe: Sherline, metric, with steppers and LinuxCNC control from my aborted Emco conversion above. Was thinking about their CNC Chucker lathe, but will see. The Sherline works very well; need spindle encoder for cutting threads. Also got handwheels, so can remove the step motors, and put the handwheels on. Wish, though, that the fasteners were also metric. At least they are not BA or Whitworth!

One area of manufacture that I have not purchased a lathe from: Asia. No issues, just never had the opportunity.

Daniel22/07/2019 17:33:12
254 forum posts
39 photos

Another oriental fan, here.cheeky

I have a Warco GH1322, and after 5 years,

it's still way better than I am.



JA22/07/2019 17:56:22
800 forum posts
44 photos

My first lathe was a pre-war Myford bought from the father of a friend at work for almost nothing. Rebuilt it, used it (it was quite a nice lathe), and sold it to a work colleague when I got my second in 2000.

The second lathe was a factory reconditioned Myford Super 7 bought with the cashing in of shares from the company share save scheme. Later it was fitted with a gearbox. In 2010 it was traded in for the third lathe.

The third lathe is a Myford Connoisseur that I bought using an inheritance. I chose to have all the trimmings like DRO and do not regret buying it. The only complain I have is with the quality of the Wanner oil gun. The old Myford company ceased trading about 6 months later.

The only lathe I can see myself buying in the future is a Cowell 90ME.

I know nothing about Chinese lathes.

ega22/07/2019 18:05:02
1339 forum posts
109 photos
Posted by JA on 22/07/2019 17:56:22:

The only complain I have is with the quality of the Wanner oil gun.

Be grateful that you are not having to use the dreadful plastic thing that Myfords used to sell!

Barrie Lever22/07/2019 18:23:11
323 forum posts
2 photos
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 22/07/2019 16:52:54:
Posted by larry phelan 1 on 22/07/2019 12:50:57:

I am afraid I score very badly on this one, since I have had and still have only one lathe, a Chester Craftsman long bed. Since I am still learning and time is not on my side, I doubt if I will ever get another lathe, as this one does all I need and is very understanding re my lack of skills.sadsad

With tongue firmly in cheek, I note that people who buy classic lathes go through several whereas fans of oriental only buy one!

An explanation might be that those old classic lathes aren't well designed and/or are knackered. Obviously unsatisfactory compared with new Chinese lathes of modern design.

More likely is chaps who are serious about lathes like trying out different models. Getting and playing with yet another lathe is all part of the fun because they all have interesting quirks and positive features. Some people feel the same about sexual partners...



Edited By SillyOldDuffer on 22/07/2019 16:53:27


The reason that people who own what you describe as classic lathes change them is that they are chasing a holy grail which they know they can get to with some effort and research.

I currently have a perfect condition EMCO Compact 5, I am the only owner from new, it did not cost me anything because with all of the other Compact 5's that I owned I always made money on them, the lathe is an absolute pleasure to own as well.



Peter G. Shaw22/07/2019 20:02:09
989 forum posts
39 photos

Ok, time for a laugh!

Initially, I wanted to make some replacement wheels for a Mainline 00 gauge Class 45 diesel outline locomotive. So I set about making my own lathe. You can guess the rest!

Realizing that I didn't know what I was doing, and still obsessed with making those wheels, I bought a Unimat 1. Made a start, but then realized the lathe was only a toy.

Went out and bought a second hand Hobbymat MD65. Discovered it was facing convex, removed the speed chart plate to discover a large casting flaw. Machine changed by the importers. Frightened myself silly trying to screwcut at minimum speed - 250rpm so bought the Essel Engineering speed reducer kit and also made a mandrel handle. Then I got sick of catching my hand on the tailstock so decided to buy a new lathe on the grounds that I now knew enough to know that I didn't know enough. Yes, I know that sounds odd, but break it down into clauses and it might start to make sense.

Looked around and ended up with a choice of three - 910 type lathe, Warco 220 & Myford series 7. Decided that the 910 offered too much for the money hence it was cut down in a number of respects. Quickly came to the conclusion that the Myford was way outside my budget. That left the Warco 220.

That was in 1994, since which time the 220 has served me well in that I have learned a lot, including the fact that the 220 isn't the best lathe in the world. Nevertheless I have achieved various things with it. Unfortunately, I have also found a few problems which I have lived with, but recently I seem to have developed some problems with bearings. Not sure what, but if I can't improve it, then it might be lathe change time and so far I'm fancying one of the WM250 series. Which will be something of a pity given the accessories I've got and made for the 220.

Oh, and by the way, I never did make those wheels. In fact, the locomotive, and indeed all the 00 gauge stuff I had went to my elder son many years ago, so those wheels never will be made.

Peter G. Shaw

Neil Wyatt22/07/2019 20:19:55
16752 forum posts
689 photos
76 articles

A lot of folks will know I started with a Clarke CL300M mini-lathe in '99, which suddenly seems an awfully long time ago...

I then picked up an Super Adept for 'entertainment value'.

Nearly two years ago, Ketan made me an offer I couldn't refuse on an SC4.

I'm firmly of the belief that MOST problems people have with mini-lathes are down to a combination of inexperience and not knowing how to set them up properly - as evidenced that I had to get the expertience and learn the set up to get the best out of mine. I suspect that all lathes of this basic design lumped together could possibly outnumber any other lathe produced - ever!

Having had encounters with quite a range of lathes since, I'm pretty much convinced that the SC4 would have the potential to take the same position for hobbyists as the ML7/S7 did in their day - if there wasn't so much competition. Any machine can be improved (bear in mind whole series and books were written on improving Myfords) and I have some ideas for the Super - SC4, one of which is a really fun modification.


Howard Lewis22/07/2019 20:31:31
2456 forum posts
2 photos

As an Apprentice worked briefly on Edgwicks, Ward 2A Capstan, Dean Smith and Grace 20" swing, and a Herbert No7 Preoptive Turret The DSG and nerbert wer both new machines, so were my favourites.

After 30 years or so, increasingly hankering after a lathe bought a used Myford ML7. Fitted a Long Cross Slide, Micrometer Dials, and new Countershaft and bushes. Acquired a Rodney milling attachment, as an alternative to the single bolt swivelling Vertical Slide. Did not like what milling did to the lathe, so bought a Warco Economy Mill/Drill (Largest that I could fit in, at the time ).

Fed up with the 2MT headstock, and lack of rigidity, so sold the ML7 and accessories.

Have briefly used a friend's Raglan 5" Little John, very impressed by it. Have briefly used a Loughborough at The WaterWorks Museum, a good little lathe but completely basic, only graduated dials, but it is a training lathe.

Even more briefly, have used their Colchester, so not really able to comment.

Have been involved in sorting out a couple of Myford ML 4s

On retiring, bought an Engineers ToolRoom BL12-24 (Warco BH600 or Chester Craftsman look alike, with dual dials ). Came fully equipped, plus VFD. Have had it since September 2003 and am quite happy with it, have yet to try to exceed it's capabilities. It gets used for everything, including jobs that could be done on the Conquest Super, which must say something!

Bought a Super Adept; tidied it up but never really cut metal with it, (Regarded it rather as a toy! ) so sold to a pal who was taken with it, and likely to actually use it.

As a pure extravagance, bought a very slightly used Chester Conquest Super. Chester wanted £100+ plus for bits to convert to ordinary dials, so it awaits new batteries for the DROs. have made various bits for it, 100T gears, Saddle / Cross Slide Lock, Graduated Leadscrew Handwheel, Mandrel handle and improved Tailstock lock. Have yet to use it in anger, but it seems a reasonable machine.

Despite how I view the Myford 7 Series, marvellous work is produced on them. Obviously, by folk who are more skilled, less heavy handed than me, and do work more suited to them.


Simon Williams 322/07/2019 20:41:39
428 forum posts
70 photos

An ML1, bought for £37.50 in about 1970. Gave that away long since. Then an ancient (1953) but serviceable S7 I paid £400 for in about 1975, out of Stroud Tech College on the most horrible angle iron stand you're glad you never saw. Scrapped the stand and made a workbench on which the S7 still sits, getting on for 45 years later. My Dad had it in his workshop almost till he died, Can't quite bring myself to part with it, It's an old friend!

Then I bought a Colchester Triumph circa 1940 off a farmer's son in Tewkesbury. This was the old wrought iron stand version and was a slow old rumbling machine but I loved it. All geared head, swing of about 7 inches, ran it off a three phase converter I borrowed. With a big 4 jaw chuck I did all sorts of work with this but sold it when we moved house shortly after getting married in 1985. Actually sold it to my then next door neighbour, who was into model engineering (steam/rail) semi-professionally, and wanted it to make flywheels etc. We trundled it across the road on a pallet truck into his garage; for all I know it's still there.

Somewhere in this sequence I was given a Holzapffel clock maker's lathe, treadle operated, been stored in a damp greenhouse so it was suffering a bit. Gave it away about 20 years later to another (different ) neighbour who fancied a restoration job. He's died since, no idea what happened to the lathe which I regret getting rid of. Pretty thing, all dovetails and curved handles. No idea how to use it though.

In 1997 or thereabouts I decided that my ancient but trusty S7 was due for replacement, I bought a Colchester Bantam 2000 Mk2, fully geared etc, runs off a three phase VSD. Super tool, hardly touched the S7 since though I can't quite bring myself to sell it on, even though I could do with the room. Been squirrelling accessories for the Bantam for 15 years or so, can't get enough add ons.

Still haven't sold the S7, it's now got a gearbox fitted and gets used for taper turning and metric threading.

Rgds to all


not done it yet22/07/2019 22:08:56
3576 forum posts
15 photos
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 22/07/2019 16:52:54:

With tongue firmly in cheek, I note that people who buy classic lathes go through several whereas fans of oriental only buy one!

An explanation might be that those old classic lathes aren't well designed and/or are knackered. Obviously unsatisfactory compared with new Chinese lathes of modern design.



Perhaps I am the exception to your rule?

I bought a new chinese lathe and changed it for a far superior piece of old british iron. Admittedly, my skill level had improved during the time I used the chinese one, but the LJ was a far, far better lathe. I really only changed to a 5” because of the extra grunt and the superb apron operation - and it came up at the right price.

I most certainly was brassed off with winding back the lead screw, changing belts for speed changes and lots of change wheels. The ancient Raglan, with QCGB, separate feed shaft, powered cross feed and 3 phase motor on top of the variable speed belt drive was a dream to use after the chinese one. I think the same basic chinese  design is still on the market- just updated slightly.

The 5” has several improvements over the LJ. Faster cross feed (and no need to change tumbler direction, like on the LJ) plus the auto trip on the long travel. Even the 5”, with lots of extra bells and whistles, was less money than the chinese one 25 years ago. I’ve never yet needed the back gear as I can slow it sufficiently with its VFD for thread cutting.

The LJ cost me a hundred quid, or less, I think. Then I added a VFD which doubled the price!

I have never ever considered a myford and never will. The Raglan is so far ahead of all the pre-1970 myfords that it would be a real backward step. Raglans were not twice the cost of a myford, back then, for no good reason!

Edited By not done it yet on 22/07/2019 22:10:43

Nigel Graham 222/07/2019 22:58:38
443 forum posts

My first lathe was an EW Stringer 2.1/2" centre-height, BGSC machine that was an 18th birthday present from my parents. Dad had bought it from someone at work. A few years ago I discovered from Tony Griffiths' site that it had come complete with all extras except one - the change-wheel guard.

I still have it, but its very simple plain-bearing, 2-part headstock and the spindle are worn and won't be easy to repair, though I'd like to do so.


My model engineering society rented for a long time a large shed we equipped with various machine-tools including a Drummond hand-shaper and an IXL-badged Ehrlich lathe, 6" centre-height X I think 3ft. It certainly had no trouble holding a 24" long shaft between centres. I don't know its origin but it was in good condition for its line-shaft-drive era (1930s?), fully-appointed, with power feeds, T-slotted saddle, full set of change-wheels, chucks, etc.

When business rates hit the landlord hard (he rented the land occupied by the shed, from a quarry company that also bumped up the rent for a small pony paddock nearby) the resulting rent increase, plus rising electricity costs, meant it was no longer viable. We sold off the equipment to members for Society funds, and ended up with the shaper and IXL lathe which duly lived under a sort of lean-to in the yard of my first home.

House moves later and the lathe had become a problem so I donated it to Lynton & Barnstaple Railway via a friend who said they were looking for machine-tools to equip their repair and restoration workshops.


My present set are:-

- that dear little EW (sentimental value!),

- a Myford ML7 I'd bought in very bare condition several years ago and since then have treated to a proper stand, change-wheel set, and the rest. Plus Newton-Tesla 3ph conversion that has proved its worth, first by totally eliminating a very loud resonance in the cabinet from the original 1ph motor. Recently I bought a second-hand gear-box for it, but that will wait in a queue of other tasks. I think fitting it entails the rather daunting task of shortening the lead-screw, and indeed the seller suggested I try to obtain a spare lead-screw and alter that.

Or make a new lead-screw to suit? On the....

.... Harrison L5 for which I have just modified the fixed steady of unknown make that came with it, actually to fit it. That too enjoys an N-T 3ph conversion with the motor on a wall-frame rather than the space-wasting box once welded to the back of the cabinet. It's just completed its first task in its new home, making the bolt for that steady, screw-cut and all!

- via Axminster Tools, a " People's Glorious Mini-lathe ", about 50mm centre-height I think, still awaiting properly setting up. So far it's a corner of the kitchen and will probably stay there for using in comfort when the dark wet Winter nights deter me even from the 20 yard expedition down the garden to the workshop!


Oh - and I still have that Drummond manual shaper, and indeed used it a few days ago in making the Harrison's steady clamp-plate!

Bazyle23/07/2019 00:21:43
4796 forum posts
187 photos

The reason for people going through a selection of lathes is cost and supply. In the '70s before ebay second hand lathes were hard to find, cheapish makes like Perfecto (still equivalent to £1500) were fading away, The ME show like the magazine adverts then only had Myford and Cowels on display and the ML10 when introduced without motor or chuck was the equivalent today of £2500. Some could still just manage to buy at that price but the equivalent people today we see in this list are buying a Chester craftsman new or M300 used. Way bigger so unlikely to need upgrade unlike those who started the hobby 40 years ago.

At work I was briefly allowed to use an ancient S&B model A. Never having had metalwork at school sum total of training being "this little lever on the saddle turns it on". Following the Stuart 10V instructions to mount the standard on the faceplate it disappeared down the hole. Instructions were for a tiny Myford.

I was delighted to find the Hobbymat MD65 in about '82 for only £1000 equivalent including motor and chuck. Lots of limitations but self contained enough to haul upstairs to my flat. Still have it.
After moving to a house I was able to allocate a whole room as workshop with the little MD65 lathe in a corner and picked up a broken 1953 Boxford A from the works carpentry shop in about 1990. Took a year to make it usable and learn to live with the massive backlash and worn bed. Still main lathe. Makes Myfords I see at shows look delicate.
As soon as I saw the adverts for the Boxford ME10 must be 30 years ago I wanted one. Finally got a model B in kit form last year but have yet to find room to assemble it. I think this is the ideal size for modellers but do sometimes envy the M300 pseudo metric gearbox so might build an ELS.
Along the way I was given a Drummond round bed and picked up a Drummond B type as I felt sorry nobody else bid for it.

I intercepted a lathe on the way to the dump in kit form. Thought it was a SouthBend and left the boxes in the garage for years finally promising it to a friend. Only when I unearthed it did I realise it was a CA Mann from 1910. When I retire I will see if he has actually assembled it and if not ask for it back.

Blue Heeler23/07/2019 01:38:40
189 forum posts

I've had a Sieg 9x20 and now a Sieg C6 10x22

This is just one factory and a couple of models, the factories producing all the makes and models in China can hardly keep up with production.

if it wasn't for these machines a lot of people wouldn't be enjoying using a lathe.

Bill Pudney23/07/2019 04:51:50
426 forum posts
16 photos

My first lathe was a Russian "Uni 3" bought at half price at the closing down sale of local lathe manufacturer Hercus. Tonys "lathe UK" site has a good bit on it, but basically it's a 3" centre height by about 200mm between centres machine....i.e. pretty small. I used it for a few years and made a lot of small model aeroplane stuff on it. It's a really robust small lathe, and I plan to use it more.

After a few years with the Uni 3 I thought it was time for a bigger machine. My first thought was a Myford. So I contacted the Australian agents, asking for a quote and estimated delivery. They came back with AU$15,000 and six months delivery. So I bought a Sieg C3, 7" x 14" mini lathe, from the same shop, similar but slightly smaller work envelope as a Myford and 10% of the cost, and immediate delivery, after a couple of years I heard that Myford had closed down. Blow me down, what a surprise. I've used the C3 for all sorts of things associated with model aircraft, basically 7 or eight model aeroplane engines. I've done a few mods, tapered gibs for the carriage, tapered roller bearings for the spindle, OXA QCTP. All in all it's a really good robust small lathe. Generally reliable, and when I've had a problem bits and pieces are readily available and cheap.

Then a few years ago I had the opportunity to buy a Schaublin 70 TR, it's a turret lathe. Lovely small machine an absolute delight to use. As it had a 3 phase motor it got treated to a VFD which is excellent. Fortunately I haven't had to buy any spares as the are generally eye wateringly expensive.

Knowing what I have learned, if I was starting again I would buy a Sieg SC4 without a doubt.



Old School23/07/2019 07:22:48
263 forum posts
8 photos

We had a variety of 7 series Myfords my only real memories of the last new Myford was the regular appearance of the Myford service engineers to scrape the bed. My father was a clockmaker who made clocks for a living.

i started off with a Raglan Loughborough lathe the only modification I did was to speed it up, I made the flat belt pulley st work on an old Myford.

Next was a Raglan Little John an ex school machine in pink apparently to attract girls into engineering. I t had a full strip down clean and paint parts replaced as required as that was part of the deal with the supplier so I ended up with a good lathe.

i had this lathe for a long time and it was getting tired and it was part of retirement plan to replace it.

I looked st the Chinese offerings in a similar size to the Little John but they didn't feel right to me then a friend suggested I look at a Myford but not a 7 series. My current lathe is a Myford 254S which I am very pleased with and it won't be changed unless I can find a nice Schaublin.

David Colwill23/07/2019 07:28:33
582 forum posts
32 photos

blush The list is way too long! Even if I limited it to the ones I still own.



martin perman23/07/2019 09:03:05
1689 forum posts
70 photos

I had my Grandfathers Brittania treddle lathe for several years, its now stored in my brothers loft. I have a Machine Mart CL500M lathe, it does everything I ask of it and sometimes more, I doubt I will ever change it.

Martin P

Richard -23/07/2019 20:59:48
48 forum posts
7 photos

During the machining part of my apprenticeship we used many machines,

Now I've got space we have amongst other things!!

Lathes - SWMBO said I'm always buying rubbish!!

A Schaublin with no tail stock or lead screw, sold for a

Mk 2 Raglan Little John, sold for a

Emco Maximat standard 3000 with milling head, sold for

Boxford CUD, sold for

Harrison M250 still got it

Milling machines

Bridgeport belt head, no space sold for

Amolco cnc modified running mach 3, too small sold for

George Alexander tool master, still got it... Fantastic

What we have now is the most capable machines we can get in the space we have.

Alan Jackson23/07/2019 21:54:57
171 forum posts
72 photos

For years I persisted with a 1942 Keighly Lifts 4.5" lathe. Rebuilt and modified it but it was noisy and slow and would terrify me if I tried to part anything off. Next I got hold of an old Colchester Chipmaster and fixed it up to suit. It is still a fantastic machine, accurate and now quiet with a polyvee belt replacing the original toothed belt. I built a Dore Westbury a long time ago on which I did more than it was designed for but was never very rigid etc. Now the head resides on a Tom Senior M1 Mill which is also quite super. I also have my Stepperhead lathe which is also good for many unusual tasks.

Edited By Alan Jackson on 23/07/2019 22:11:21

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