email: tony@lathes.co.uk
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Special Special and Capstan Lathes
"High-swing", ML7 Capstan, ML5, ML6, & Others

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Myford Super 7B with 60" between centres




A rare survivor - Tri-Leva equipped Myford ML7 "High-swing" lathe from the early 1950s

1951 Myford ML7 "High-swing" lathe of about 6" centre height.  Made to special order during the 1950s, these lathes were used by the brake and clutch lining firm of Ferodo Ltd. (of Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire), to equip their motor and motorcycle-racing service vans. In the days just before the introduction of discs, drum brakes had grown to enormous sizes and a lathe was required which, while needing to be of only relatively light construction, had to be able to turn large diameters. A full-sized lathe would not only have been unnecessary, but also just too unwieldy and heavy to transport.
Although suggestions have been made that the lathe was designed for turning brake drums it is more likely that the large faceplate carried jigs to hold brake shoes and clutch plates and so enable them to be turned true after being relined. Although the headstock was raised by using a simple distance piece, the tailstock base was a special and rather well-designed casting. The cross slide, its end bracket and the zeroing micrometer dial were of the "Super 7" type used on long-bed ML7s and the (Super 7) top slide sat on a neatly-cast hollow block that brought it out to a position where the cutting tool could be made to reach the outer area of the faceplate. The changewheel drive to the leadscrew was provided with a longer banjo arm and fabricated inner and outer covers were made to suit. Although tentative plans to market the lathe were apparently made, nothing further was heard of the idea.
At least one standard centre height Super 7B with a capacity of 60" between centres was also made - and last reported to be in the north of England in the late 1980s

High-swing fitted with its giant faceplate

So beautifully made and finished that it could be mistaken for a Swiss product, the Myford "Mini-Cop" hydraulic copying lathe was frequently bought by colleges to demonstrate production machining methods. They occasionally appear for sale and it is possible, given some effort, to convert them into an effective centre lathe.

The High-swing being used to machine a set of relined brake shoes

Myford C7 Capstan. An early version (identifiable by the screw-feed cut-off slide) fitted with a Tri-Leva spindle-speed selector, standard bed-mounted capstan unit, coolant unit and two-speed electric motor.
Other dedicated Myford capstan lathes were also manufactured, based on the pre-war ML2 and ML4 beds and also a very rare machine, the ML6 (see below) with 4-inch diameter taper-roller bearings in the headstock and specially constructed for repetition work; this model was, unfortunately, never sold equipped as a centre lathe. 

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 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 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" being 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 two versions (both shown below) with their serial numbers prefixed by either an "F" or "G". There seems to have been a 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
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.

A very rare Myford ML6 set up as a plain-

Possibly a one-off (and of unknown designation), the 4-bolt foot section of this Myford production lathe appears to have been cast from a pattern originally intended for the WW2-manufactured "4-inch Precision"

Myford ML5 Capstan lathe from the 1940s. This model carried the factory designation "F" Although the headstock is similar in appearance to that used on the Myford "4-inch Precision" it is significantly smaller. Another example of this lathe can be seen here and another, modified version with a Serial Number prefixed by "G" shown lower down the page.

The "F" prefix before the serial number. As numbers would probably have started at 1001 this may well be the 81st machine produced.

A very rare find - a complete and original Myford ML6 (Type H) on the maker's self-contained (motorised) cast-iron stand of a type adapted from that used for the M-Type

Another version of what may have been an ML5 - this example carrying the prefix "G" on its Serial Number plate. Note the single, wide headstock pulley, the "4-inch Precision" type headstock that used ball races carried in housings spigoted into the unsplit bearing holes.
Tapped into the back of the headstock are two studs - almost certainly intended to support some form of lever-action collet closer.

email: tony@lathes.co.uk
Home   Machine Tool Archive   Machine-tools Sale & Wanted
Machine Tool Manuals   Catalogues   Belts   Books  Accessories

Special Special and Capstan Lathes
"High-swing", ML7 Capstan, ML5, ML6, & Others

Myford Home Page   Myford Capstan Lathes Page 2   Myford ML2 Capstan
Myford Super 7B with 60" between centres