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Myford Serial number help

Serial number

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Peter Thistleton11/12/2021 20:02:16
8 forum posts
4 photos


I am new to this site but have just purchased a Small Myford lathe and having trouble tracking down the model I found the serial number on the front of the lathe but doing a search on that has been unsuccessful. So I found your site and thought if anyone knows it will be you.

The serial Number is L with 874 under it. Any ideas? I need to post some photos and will when I can get a clear shot at it. My lathe is V belt driven and has a forward and reverse switch, also has a back gear. Not sure what else you need to know for an ID. But anything will be helpful


Peter Thistleton11/12/2021 20:29:30
8 forum posts
4 photos


David George 112/12/2021 07:05:43
1808 forum posts
503 photos

Hi Peter I thought it looks like an ML2 but have a look on here.


Peter Thistleton12/12/2021 10:15:04
8 forum posts
4 photos

Thanks David I will check it out. I am still in the throws of cleaning and sorting out a few problems like installing a new forward reverse switch which will eventually get here and a quick change tool post. And I need to make a cover for the gears. Still it is a good looking little lathe and perfect for the small jobs I have always asked someone else to do.

The ML2 is very similar though mine has a v belt drive and a few other things are different. I tried to search using what I was told was the model number but I get no where with that. I need to make room in my garage for it and at the moment it is sort of wedged in and getting a full photo of it is hard to do.

Cleaning was/is a chore getting all the swarf out of if, I have spent ages and even using a magnet to get it all out. I would borrow the wife vacuum cleaner but thought that may not be a good idea. looking at that photo of the ML 2 I need more gears as well. Apart from what is on the lathe I only have four more. Oh will it is a work in progress. I also sent Myford an email asking about the number I found to see what they say..

Brian Wood12/12/2021 11:10:57
2549 forum posts
39 photos

Hello Peter,

Sadly, Myford will be of no help to you in tracing serial numbers. The original company based at Beeston near Nottingham went out of business some years ago and the stock, spares and other hardware were bought up by RDG to trade under the name Myford Limited. The old records though were not taken on and continuity was lost.

Like David I think your lathe might be an ML2 which will date back to the late 1930s. The method of attachment of the headstock to the base varied on these models, the early ones were cast as one, later versions were equipped with a detachable headstock held by a single bolt midway along the space for the pulley cluster and two smaller bolts in a line below the front spindle bearing.

Lathe centre height above the bed varied as well from 3.25 inches to 3.5 inches. Flat belt drive was an early method, vee belt drive became normal later but previous owners may have upgraded anyway so that is not a reliable means of identification.

One of your pictures shows a glimpse of the motor case which looks like a Hoover. Many left the factory with those motors fitted, they used several suppliers.

I noted there was no tumbler reverse for the leadscrew which rules out the ML4 models and the spindle has a collar securing the small, 20 or 25 T gear in place with a side fitting screw. Later a more secure joint was made from a 2 BA grub screw end end fitted down the joint face, gear to shaft without a collar

If you can post some other pictures including the back gear installation it might help pin down the model rather more precisely. Details like the nose thread for example. Is it 9 tpi or 12 tpi and what thread diameter is it?. These things are most helpful, Myford made all kinds of changes as the models developed over the years.

My father bought an ML4 in 1945 and I grew up with it---I am still a Myford man at heart but with, now, rather more up to date gear. I think you will get a lot of satisfaction from it, but do remember it is very much an old timer now; it will have arthritis and wear here and there and certainly not be in the flush of youth.

Regards Brian

Edited By Brian Wood on 12/12/2021 11:11:57

Swarf, Mostly!12/12/2021 14:05:06
643 forum posts
70 photos

Hi there, Peter,

Anything cast-in to a casting is usually going to be the same characters for each example (unless the maufacturers have expensive habits!!). So cast-in numbers are usually to identify the casting at an early stage of the manufacturing process or maybe even a pattern identity number for use by the foundry.

Serial numbers are usually stampred in to a seldom-used zone of a larger machine surface or sometimes into a small machined 'island' in an out-of-the-way area of the casting. For instance, the serial number of my ML7 is stamped in to the tailstock end of the rear shear of the lathe bed.

Part number systems for any manufactured item have to be sufficiently comprehensive to guide or direct each stage of the manufacturing process. Each component has to have an identity, i.e. a part number and usually a drawing, and it is necessary to be able to identify each part through the process, either before or after its own machining (and/or electroplating or painting), and including the addition of smaller components or its being incorporated into some larger assembly. This doesn't just apply to machanical products For instance, a discretely-wired electronic device could have both a wiring schedule AND a wiring layout to define the interconnections and routing of that wiring and an items list listing each size and colour of wire, wiring clips, grommets etc. Sometimes, small nuts and bolts and washers were 'bulk issue items', i.e. too minor to be specified individually. (I guess I'm revealing my age here!!!)

I anticpate that some of our draughtsman or ex-draughtsman members may have lots to add to my very summary depiction of a drawing-number system!

Best regards,

Swarf, Mostly!

Edited By Swarf, Mostly! on 12/12/2021 14:07:09

Peter Thistleton12/12/2021 20:07:15
8 forum posts
4 photos

Thanks Brian and Swarf, Mostly

Thought someone had just chucked a motor from what ever they had laying around but i thought an old sewing machine like the one on my mother's machine.

Swarf, Mostly I wish it had a schematic as it would have made life easier when I took it apart to put a new v belt on it showing where all the spacers went.

I will get some more photos when I make some space so I can get to it easier. '

The Serial number is stamped in on the little raised casting below and rear of the chuck.



From watching many videos I could see so many modifications but I thought they were done by the owners and probably most were done. I am planning some myself. I found that I still have the original tool clamp/holder in a box of bits that came with the lathe.

Well I have to thank you gentlemen very much for your help. As a newby to the world of lathes anything is a great help. I have a mate that loves these lathes since he spent a lot of his school years in the UK and after as a motorcycle mechanic before he moved back to Australia but he seems to think I should know more when I don't till I learn. So thanks again.

Peter Thistleton19/12/2021 23:19:52
8 forum posts
4 photos

Just because I can I rechecked that serial number in better light and it was



Which still doesn't come up on anything I have looked at but I suppose it doesn't matter in the bigger scheme of things.

roy entwistle20/12/2021 09:07:31
1504 forum posts

Peter. You're looking at a casting No. On later Myfords the serial No is stamped on the back of the rear shear at the tailstock end. I don't know about the early models


Peter Thistleton20/12/2021 09:25:14
8 forum posts
4 photos

Hello Roy

That is what was told my a friend of mine and there was nothing there and I even cleaned the paint off the area. I will look again just in case I missed it. Which is quite possible as my wife points out that I can never find anything even when it is right in front of me.

roy entwistle20/12/2021 10:38:55
1504 forum posts

Peter I fit's not there try up at the chuck end, again on the rear shear

Lee Rogers20/12/2021 12:29:08
166 forum posts

As has been said above a good look on the site will identify which ML you have . The write up there is a long and detailed read well up to the usual Tony Griffiths standard.

Your not the first to have found the ML 1-2-3-4 series of lathes to be a bit of a conundrum. Letters and numbers cast into the bed are foundry numbers and not to be relied on for id purposes. Serial numbers although better organised than Drummonds are to be viewed with suspicion. Best of luck with your lathe , many a fine project has been completed on these little lathes , just stay within it's capabilities and you will do fine.

Philip Rowe20/12/2021 12:35:24
228 forum posts
31 photos
Posted by Peter Thistleton on 19/12/2021 23:19:52:

Just because I can I rechecked that serial number in better light and it was



Which still doesn't come up on anything I have looked at but I suppose it doesn't matter in the bigger scheme of things.

Peter, this is indeed the serial number stamped into a raised machined pad. I can't help with it's manufacturing year but I had an ML2 passed to me by my father who bought it new in 1934/5 and its serial number was L277. I sometimes regret selling it some 30 years ago when I got my Super7 but you can only keep so much in a small workshop.


Peter Thistleton20/12/2021 19:11:54
8 forum posts
4 photos

Thanks Phil, I thought it had to be but everyone on here knows a lot more than I ever will. Work has stopped on my lathe for now as i am waiting on a new switch and some extra tooling. The switch is the main thing. Still more cleaning to do. I am looking forward to doing some work with it but no good rushing it till it is ready.

Thanks again to all those that helped with information.



Peter Thistleton19/01/2022 01:34:02
8 forum posts
4 photos

Hi everyone

Would anyone have a Schematic of the Head stock for my lathe ML3 see previous . I took it apart to put a new belt on it and several spacers fell out. Silly mistake So a picture of how it all goes back together would be great.

Howard Lewis19/01/2022 17:53:10
6005 forum posts
14 photos

If your lathe is a ML3 it will have a Centre Height of 3 .500 inches and be 15" centres.

All threads will be Whitworth form whether BSW or BSF (Gib adjusters may be BA )

the ML 1 and 2 were 3.125" Centre Height. Odd Nos were 15" Centre distance while the evens were 24"

Take a look at Lathes UK pages for Myford ML1,2,3 and 4 lathes, to confirm what follows.

The very earliest, probably 1s and 2s had the Headstock cast integral with the bed. On later ones the Headstock was secured to the bed with four 1/4 BSF studs and nuts.

Be careful not to overtighten the clamp type Mandrel bearings, lest you crack the casting!

With the mandrel running in the cast iron, it is not a high speed machine

Mandrel and Tailstock bores will be 1 MT from memory.

Assuming that no one has changed the spindle, the early ones used a 7/8 x 9 (7/8 BSW ) thread for the Chuck.

This was later changed to 7/8 x 12 tpi.

It is rumoured that some of the vary last machines used 1.125 x 12 tpi, like the Series 7 machines, but without the register..

If you want to use chucks, or backplates for the 7 Series, you need to make up an adaptor, with spanner flats, with the external 1.125 x 12 tpi, Whit form thread and 1.250" register, and an internal thread to suit the 7/8 thread on the Mandrel. Machine the register when the adaptor is on the machine, to ensure that is as concentric as possible.

You will already have found that the Saddle Handle is ungeared, so that rotating it clockwise moves the Saddle TOWARDS the Chuck, and that Changewheels are driven by 3/32 pins connecting them to the driving collars, or together for compounding.

Series 7 gears can be used, being the same dimensionally, but needing a 3/32" hole drilled for the pins, instead of using the keyway. This will probably mean drilling right through one gear to ensure that the hole is on the correct pitch circle.

The Leadscerew is 8 tpi, but being right hand needs two Idlers to move the Saddle towards the Headstock, whether power feeding or screwcutting..

Cross and Top Slide Leadscrews are 12 tip, and the dials have 80 graduations, so each division is not exactly a Thou! (0.00104" 

To set a fine power feed, you would be advised to get a couple of extra 20T gears and a 60T., and maybe make up an extra Stud.

In this way a 20 : 60/20 : 65/20 : 60 train will ,give a fine feed of 0.00427" / rev can be obtained. You might need to fettle the inside ends of the Banjo to enable all the gears to mesh correctly.

The 20:65 mesh ensures that the two 20:60 trains do not clash.

Set each Mesh, starting from the Leadscrew with a sheet of paper between the teeth, to give just a little backlash

The Tailstock barrel is prevented from rotating by by a 1/4 BSF grubscrew, with a "Key" on the end which engages with a keyway in the barrel. The grubscrew cannot unscrew and fall out since the keyway in the barrel prevents it rotating



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