An old lathe in safe hands?

I don’t know anything about lathes but I bought one anyway.

The father in law of a friend is now too old to use his lathe, so I agreed to buy it. I had no need for one, neither had I even thought about one, but when this became available I was intrigued.

When I was given details, I googled it and found out that a Myford ML7 is a ubiquitous British lathe, made in great numbers and well respected by amateur and professional engineers, especially model engineers. Also, it was selling for an almost token price, came with plenty of accessories and was in excellent condition.

This acquisition was at the beginning of August 2013. I placed it in my workshop, then didn’t touch it for several months.

The first task was to learn about lathes. It came with two books:

“Myford ML7 Lathe Manual, New Revised Edition”, 1977, by Ian Bradley.
“Myford Series 7 Manual, ML7, ML7-R, Super 7, Second Edition”, 1982, by Ian Bradley.

Inside both books is my lathe’s serial number, K3935. This agrees with the number on the lathe. Inside the first book is the inscription “ML7B”. The Myford website list of serial numbers shows this lathe was made in late 1948, so it is 65 years old. Older than me!

I bought “The Amateur’s Lathe”, by LH Sparey, 1948 and “Basic Lathework”, by Stan Bray, 2010, from Amazon.

I bought “Myford, ML7 Lathe, Notes on Operation, Installation and Maintenance, also Pictorial Parts List” by Myford, 1999, from ebay.

My day job is a domestic airline pilot in the UK. Over the past 20 years I’ve changed aircraft types a couple of times. If you look in an aircraft cockpit, there is a plethora of screens, computers, controls, switches and equipment. When faced with having to learn all of this, where does one start?

I pick one switch – usually top left of the overhead panel – and learn about what it controls and what that system does and where it’s located, etc. After not too long, a decent mental picture of the machine can be formed. After a couple of months, one is operating the machine on the line, with fare paying passengers.

Obviously, a lathe is much simpler than an airliner, but I plunged in with the same methodology.

I read the books, looked at the machine, read the books, looked at the machine, read the books…etc. A colleague at work – who has built a steam car – suggested that, before I switch it on, I should take it apart to check out the internals. Especially the motor.

I have plenty of experience of refurbishing tools, mainly old woodworking tools such as planes, saws, chisels, drills. I have the skills to disassemble and refurbish. So that is what I decided to do. That’s what this blog is about.