A Few Preliminaries...

I am going to admit to being a bit opinionated about machine tools. First, if you are a small-scale modeller - railway or military - the first thing I would suggest you buy is not a small lathe, but a pillar drill.

Boxford lathe picture - small
Yes, I know it is a bit of an overkill for turning 1/76 scale locomotive driving wheels, but it was a bargain....

The second piece of advice I would give, is to decide whether you will ever need to lift your machines single-handedly and move them from place to place, or back into storage so that they are out of the way.

If yes, then you really are limited to about 20Kg in weight, and as far as lathes go, then the choice is between the Unimat 3, one of its clones such as the Toyo and Sieg C0, and possibly a
Sieg C1, the East German made Hobbymat, Pultra or Cowells - if you can find either of the latter at a half-decent price.

Once above this notional weight limit, I would again stick my neck out - and probably upset loads of UK machine-tool suppliers - by suggesting that you do not bother with any of the so-called Mini Lathes, or for that matter some of the over-priced and over-hyped Myford ML7 and ML10s that come up from time. Go straight for something of about 8 inch swing or greater, and wait until a machine comes up that is fully tooled with 3 and 4 jaw chucks, faceplate, steadies and a good selection of change gears for threading. However do, consider whether screw-cutting and carriage power feed are really necessary - because if not, this will widen your 'shopping list' to so-called 'second operation' high-precision plain lathes such as the Smart and Brown L series.

A word here should be in order about converting ex-industrial 3-phase machines to domestic single-phase supply. You can buy inverter/converters which will re-use the existing motor, or you can bite the bullet and fit a replacement  single-phase motor. Either way will cost you the thick end of 200 squid - or 270-odd Euro, in new money.

But, before you open your wallet, do please read the book - "The Amateur's Lathe" by L. H. Sparey, published by Model & Allied Publications.

On With The Motley

(With apologies to Pagliacci) Enough! The features on this page are presented more as a 'How I done it', rather than a 'How to', and as regards some of the electrical work detailed, will probably make any IEE-qualified technicians reading this reach for the whisky bottle.

Drummond hand shaper

Drummond hand shaper

I sold my Boxford shaper, but it was only a month before I suffered withdrawal symptoms. So I went and bought myself one of these....and I now know what rocking horse poo looks like!

Converting a Boxford BUD to single phase

link to Boxford lathe page

Also some notes as to how to change the drive belt from intermediate countershaft to headstock on these light engineering lathes.

Sieg C1 'Micro Lathe' Review

Sieg C1 lathe

I have now sold my Sieg C1, but am leaving the page up on the website in case its contents might be of use to other people seeking an unbiassed overview of the machine. 

Mini Lathe C3 lead screw half nut fix

C3 clasp nut fix

Someone has asked about my modification to the C3 Mini Lathe apron to improve the engagement of the lead screw half nuts. So from memory, I have put together some notes which might prove useful to those mini lathe owners facing the same problem.

Boxford Shaper Recommissioning

This machine has now gone - though I'm not sure now whether I did the right thing by selling it on. as a little job has of course now come in - making a dovetailed slide - for which this would have been perfect. However, I'm leaving the feature up in case other people might find it useful.

Boxford shaper image - small

Setting up work in the lathe's 4-jaw chuck

I've added these notes on this piece of elementary lathe work, because even though the trick of using two chuck keys at once seems to be common knowledge amongst the professional machinists out there, for those - like me - who don't have ready access to a friendly time-served turner, it may bear repeating....