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How to Read the Serial Number on a South Bend Lathe

Holden Reilly

Precise and symmetrical products require a precise machine to create them and a lathe is just that. A lathe is a tool that rotates an object as it is created or molded to establish symmetry and cohesion in the final product. Brothers John and Miles O'Brien founded The South Bend Lathe Co. in 1905, according to the company's website, and it has grown into a well-established manufacturer of lathes. The company began assigning serial numbers to its products in 1910 to identify the model type, size and special modifications made to the product. In 1947, the company began using its current form of serial numbers.

Locating the Serial Number

A lathe helps create symmetry in a final product.

Step 1

Identify the serial number on the lathe. It will be stamped at the end of the flat section on the tailstock, just before the v-way begins. The serial number is a number sequence followed by three letters and then one final number. For example, a serial number could appear as 1234 FBL 8.

Step 2

Write down the serial number. You will need this number in its entirety when interpreting it on the South Bend Lathe Co. website.

Step 3

Access the South Bend Lathe Co. website for information regarding the serial number. You can find a full explanation of the serial number and its format on the company's site.

Interpreting the Serial Number

Step 1

Identify the first numbers in your South Bend Late Co. serial number. This number tells you where in the production line your lathe was made. If the number reads 1234, your lathe was the 1,234th of its model type produced.

Step 2

Locate the first letter in the three letter sequence of the serial number. This letter indicates the type and size of swing in your lathe. It will read as "N", "R", "T", "F" or "H." The size of the swing will vary from 9 inches to 16 and 16/24 inches.

Step 3

Locate the second letter in the three letter sequence of the serial number. This letter identifies the gear and aprons found in your lathe and where the drive is located. This part of the serial number will read as "K", "P", "A", "B", "C" or "Y."

Step 4

Locate the third and final letter in the lathe serial number. This letter will tell you the type of swing in your lathe, the size of the spindle hole and if any special modifications were made to the product. This final letter in the serial number will read as "R", "L", "E", "D", "T", "X", "C" or "K."

Step 5

Identify the final number in your serial number. This is the model number of your lathe and is used to reference any modifications made to your lathe that do not change the overall product.