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Machine ID’d: South Bend 13″ x 6′ Metal Lathe Catalog No.1866-C similar to 166-C

We had one of our readers that wanted to learn more about his great 13″ x 6′ South Bend metal lathe. These South Bend lathes are beautiful machines They were built like tanks. As long as you install them properly, keep them clean, keep them trim, and oil the lathe properly they should last forever.

The serial number of his lathe was No. 50328 and the catalog number was stamped 1866-C as you can see in the picture below. This information dates his lathe around 1931. The reader wanted some clarification as to if the 1866-C was misstamped, because most of the information and advertisements with a similar machine show the catalog number as 166-C.


The 1866-C is a real and correct catalog number for your lathe. The difference between the 1866-C and the 166-C is the 1866-C was considered a “Tool Room Precision Lathe”, which came with various attachments like the collet attachment, taper attachment, threading dial, etc…

This particular South Bend lathe is part of the “N” series, which is distinguished mainly by the design of the apron. The “N” series wasn’t in production for very long. South Bend started producing them around 1930. It was replaced by the “R” series after 1934, and that is what South Bend used to the end. They sold the “N” until about 1937. There is always a lot of overlap with South Bend on some of their parts.

Here are some pictures of the South Bend Lathe after it has been cleaned some.


Manuals for South Bend 13″ x 6′ Metal Lathe Catalog No.1866-C

We have a few manuals that cover this South Bend 13″ x 6′ Metal Lathe Catalog No.1866-C. We have new revised parts manual that shows the main parts of the lathe here:


These are very helpful when trying to take the the lathes apart or put them back together. Also, locating parts can become easier, because most parts have the part number casted into them.
We also have a manual that shows explosive view parts break down diagrams of the accessories for these larger lathes like the, taper attachment, milling attachment, threading dial, turrets, collets, steady rest, etc… here:
A lot of people didn’t realize the the threading dial was an accessory. It seems like a common part today, but it is actually possible to do threading well without the dial and the version of How to Run A Lathe explains this procedure.
South Bend basically made one book for operations that covered all their lathes, but it is important to find the one that covers the correct vintage, because they made lots of changes to these lathes over the years. They keep the book with the same title “How to Run a Lathe” all through out the years, with different editions. The edition we have here covers this style of lathe, and we’ve enlarged it so it is easier to read:


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What are the Differences Between Step-Pulley Vs. Variable Speed Drill Presses

Drill Press Articles (Part 3 of 5)

 Step-Pulley vs Variable Speed Drill Presses

There are two different types of speed control systems for drill presses — step pulley and variable speed systems. The vast majority of drill presses bought and manufactured are step pulley drive systems. They usually have two pulleys with 4 to 5 different positions or steps to configure the different speeds. These are simpler, easier to produce, and cost less; however, they can be more difficult and more time consuming to change speeds. This usually isn’t a problem for most people, because speed changes aren’t needed often, especially if you are working with the same type of material and bits. This is the type of machines that were commonly purchased by factories for assembly line work where they were set up to do the same task over and over.

The variable speed drive systems are a lot more complex and vary greatly in their mechanisms for changing the speeds. The variable speed drive drill presses usually have a dial on the front that controls a mechanism that changes the working diameter of the spindle pulley, which changes the speed of the spindle. This change is done while the drill press is operating. Some people have retrofitted drill presses with variable speed frequency drive (VFD), and some manufactures are building them this way now. VFD’s control the speed of the motor electronically, and don’t require any mechanical changes. Variable speed drill presses are usually more preferred by machinist that work with a variety of bits and different types of metals where you are constantly changing speeds.

Next Article

The next article will be on the different attachments and accessories made for drill presses over the years.
Please feel free to post comments and questions on this post or any ideas or topics you would like to discuss on future post. And remember if you need a manual for your drill press, we have all of them listed here: Drill Press Manuals.
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Bench Top Vs Floor Standing Drill Presses

Drill Press Articles (Part 2 of 5)

Bench Top Vs Floor Standing Drill Presses

Let’s discuss the different styles of drill presses. There are bench and floor versions of nearly every large drill press model. Mechanically they are the same, and most manuals include both versions. Usually the only real difference between the two versions is the length of the column and the size of the base. Sometimes the floor model will have a bigger column, but I’ve found this to be very rare.

The advantage to a floor standing model is obvious. If you have to drill or mortise the end of a really long piece of material you can, but unless you get into cabinet or furniture making, this usually isn’t necessary. I have both in my shop, and I use the benchtop version 90% of the time. Plus, I set it on a cabinet with all my bits and tools easily accessible underneath. Both bench and floor are usually contained in one manual like these two Rockwell drill presses are covered in the same manual here, and as you can see their heads are identical. Each one has their own place and advantages.


Next Article

The next article will be on the differences between step-pulley and variable speed drill presses, and the advantages and disadvantages of both.

Please feel free to post comments and questions on this post or any ideas or topics you would like to discuss on future post. And remember if you need a manual for your drill press, we have all of them listed here: Drill Press Manuals.