Although, during the late 1930s, Myford had produced a useful little capstan lathe that used the bed of a slightly modified ML4 lathe, this was not a machine capable of absorbing thousands of hours of hard use at the hands of unskilled operators. With war-time demand for any kind of production lathe running at a high level, and with little on the market as competition in the very smallest sizes, Myford introduced several capstan versions (of confusing specifications) including the short-lived ML6. While this used the same 6-station self-indexing capstan turret head and cut-off slide from the ML4 capstan, the headstock and bed were completely different. The large-bore spindle ran in massive ball or roller bearings and has been found fitted with a variety of pulleys: 1 and 2-step flat and 3-step V-belt, with the drive coming either directly from a 0.5 hp 3-phase motor or through a stronger version of the adjustable-type, swing-head countershaft as used on the ML2 and ML4 lathes. To stabilize small diameter stock as it was fed through the spindle, a properly-engineered adjustable steady was bolted to the left-hand face of the headstock. The spindle was fitted with a well-made, lever-operated collet closer that pivoted from a heavy bracket formed as an extension to the headstock casting behind the left-hand bearing. The closer operated through the usual toggle mechanism - and used collets of the standard and widely-employed "dead-length" type. The bed bore some cosmetic resemblance to that used on the 4-inch " Precision", and so deeper and much more heavily built than that of the amateur-market ML4.
Several version of the ML6 appear to have been produced: one was assembled as a pure capstan lathe with a simple cut-off slide and a lever-operated, 5-station self-indexing turret that bolted to the bed (pictured above), while another was offered as a plain-turning machine (shown below) The latter version was fitted with a tailstock and a carriage (complete with proper compound slide-rest) driven along the bed by a short, hand-turned leadscrew supported in two bushes, one positioned at the tailstock end of the bed the other a few inches in front of the headstock.
Another similar small capstan lathe offered during the early 1940s was the ML5 - this appearing in several versions (both shown below and here) with their serial numbers prefixed by either an "F" or "G". There was an almost bewildering variety of bed and headstock combinations, with some of the latter having ordinary split plain-bush bearings, others using the same (or a very similar) headstock casting but with ball races fitted and yet others with heavier castings that lacked the bosses through which the bearing nip bolts passed - and obviously intended only for the fitting of ball or roller races. One must assume that these lathes were built in batches to order and so incorporated differences most suited to a customer's requirements e.g. a ball-race supported spindle for very high speeds involved in the turning od small-diameter components, or a wide, single flat-belt pulley headstock spindle for a repetitive job that needed a good strong drive.
As so few of these machines have survived - most must have been completely worn out by the end of the war - production numbers are hard to gauge, but surely cannot have exceeded a few dozen of each.
If you have a version of the Myford capstan lathe, or any literature about it, the writer would be pleased to hear from you.