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Articles By Mike Rooth

Getting Lathed


At one time I was a very lucky man - I got as a gift from Mike Rooth a beautifully maintained Myford ML10 model engineer's lathe with all of its accessories. 10 years later, luck struck again and I found a South Bend 9" Toolroom lathe in very good condition with loads of accessories.

In talking to Mike about it, I remarked that the Myford was going to be mothballed for a time and the South Bend set up in its place. The response below convinced me to keep them both set up and usable, even with the lack of space in my shop.

Along with convincing me, Mike also wrote up a beautiful, succinct description of the English model engineer's lathe and its history - which is below.

Al Richer

- Same here. The Myford is a sweetheart, but it's going to
- get mothballed once I get time to get the South Bend apart,
- cleaned, painted and reassembled.

Think carefully Al. Has the SB got a tee slotted cross slide?
No. Therefore can you use the vertical slide on it? No.
The Myford is an English amateurs lathe,designed to do all sorts of things that the American lathe was not. Like milling. (Yeah,yeah you've got a milling machine).

The American approach was always that a lathe is for turning, and if you wanted to mill,or drill, so go and buy. The English invented Model Engineering (The magazine came out in 1898) and penury (no Bill,it isnt the same at all) demanded that the Model Engineer needed but one machine tool to do all the operations required. At that time,you needed a lathe,and,often forgotten,something to sharpen the tools with.

Often,the lathes were poor tools,and relatively expensive,so in 1905 Drummonds produced the 4" Round Bed machine at the then reasonably affordable price of £5. It wasnt *that* cheap, but it also wasnt that pricey,either. It had no back gear,was treadle driven,(better than an exercise bike) and was solid.

I've got what is left of one of the earlier versions,which had bolt on headstock bearings,a 10 TPI leadscrew,and a cast iron chiptray. Price? £2 from the scrappy,which used to be my second home. It sits at the back of my garage greased up. One day...

This machine was quite a revolution,inasmuch as you could rotate the saddle round the bed,and with an angle plate (which I've got) use it to mill. You bolted the angle plate to the topslide (there was no cross slide,just a slotted saddle) and rotated the saddle until it presented the right plane to the cutter. Iam,of course using the English terminology here 4" is centre height which,in your terms is 8" swing.

Later models abandoned the bolt on headstock bearings,and had a one piece headstock with parallel bored bearings in the cast iron. The 4" Drummond was ever only a nominal 4". It could be 3 15/16" or 4 1/8',due to the quaint idea of shoving a boring bar through the headstock *and* tailstock at roughly the right height. The lathe assembled, of course. The 10 TPI Whit form leadscrew remained, as did the 10 TPI leadscrews on all the slides.

Drummmond went on to produce the best bench lathe ever, the M type. It was a 3 1/2" lathe with conical mandrel bearings and an anvil bed. At the outbreak of WWII, the ministry told Drummond to give the whole bench lathe stuff to Myford. Fine. Cheers all round at Beeston. But.... the Myford ML4 is not brilliant. Mine is better than most, because I rebuilt it by hand,and I know it. Out of the Drummond M type came, (surprise) the Myford M type. And then the ML7.

Out of the Drummond 4" Round bed,much,much later,came the ML10. Think about it. Mandrel bearings cast iron in the headstock. Not a round bed,but a box section with no gap. You could,then,set up for £100. Then you had to buy chucks,motor, blah blah.

My father was on the team that wired up the original Myford factory. Personally,I would like to get hold of a 4" Drummond of later build, or an M type Drummond.

So,Al think carefully meduck. Myfords arent brilliant by any means, but they really are made for a different culture,which I suspect, is closer to your requirements than the South Bend. Keep them both.

Copyright Michael J. Rooth - 2005


Last modified April 30, 2005. 404 Not Found

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