Sold through the state-controlled WMW-Export Company Saupe lathes were made by Gerhard Saupe KG of 705 Leipzig, Oststrabe 49, who were described as a "Semi-state Enterprise". Located in what was then the totalitarian, communist-controlled GDR the firm was probably no more independent than the rest of the country - yet despite this handicap a long tradition of fine-quality metal working persisted and a firm like Saupe could easily meet the quality standards expected in the West. In addition,, because of low wages and a poor exchange rate, the machines were able to be offered at bargain-basement prices. A number of Saupe models were made, including the Mini-Turn MD200, a version of the better-known Hobbymat MD65 though without that lathe's multi-speed drive system and lacking a power feed to the carriage.
Both early and late versions of the precision were made with, shown towards the top of this page, the DMT 160, a plain-turning, precision lathe of 80 mm centre height and a capacity between centres of approximately 280 mm. The 600 mm-long and 90 mm wide V-way bed and its feet were cast as one, with a reversing switch held inside the headstock-end foot; the ways were hand-scraped to "gauge" tolerances and the makers claimed complete interchangeability and perfect accuracy of mounting for the very wide range of optional extras..
With a 15 mm-bore, the headstock spindle was hardened and ground and ran in a tapered and adjustable bronze bush at the front and a plain cylindrical bearing at the rear; end thrust was taken not by a ball race, but against hardened steel washers. The end of the spindle was formed with both a No. 2 Morse taper and shorter, steeper taper into which collets could be drawn by either a hand-screw tube or quick-action lever assembly - the latter allowing collets to be opened and closed with the lathe running and so adapted for some production processes. The maximum through capacity of the collets was 9 mm and the largest non-draw-through size that could be held 12 mm. Although the spindle end was not threaded, it was possible to mount ordinary 3 and 4-jaw chucks on a backplate that was held in place by a demountable, internally-threaded "safety collar". Fool-proof and easily-checked drip-feed lubricators were fitted to the headstock and were meant to be filled with a special oil "LP 2070".
Like most precision lathe makers, Saupe offered the compound slide rest in various forms with a choice of two screw feeds, lever feed to the cross or top slide in combination with a screw feed on the other axis, lever feed to both slides, a cross slide with two lever-feed top slides and a plain cut-off slide; a special and rather unusual lever-feed vertical slide, designed for cutting bar stock was also listed. All the slides were equipped with mounting points for dial-test indicators and the 1 mm-pitch screws of the precision screw-feed slide were hardened and ground. A hand T-rest was also offered, mounted on a neat, quickly-adjustable base.
Three designs of tailstock were listed: one with an ordinary screw feed, one lever-(both with their barrel fully supported at any point in its travel in traditional precision-lathe style) and the other a special 4-position "turret "model with a drawbar collet assembly that also accepted collets from 1 to 4 mm in steps of 0.5 mm. The barrel could also be had as a simple hand-pushed type designed to assist in the drilling of very small holes.
Heavily-built, the countershaft was a self-contained unit that bolted to the bench behind the lathe and drove with standard V-belts. 3-step pulleys, fitted to the motor spindle and at both ends of the countershaft gave, in conjunction with the standard 0.4 kW 1400 rpm motor, 9 speeds of: 560, 710, 900, 1120, 1400, 1800, 2240, 2800 and 3550 rpm.
Offered as a complete machine, ready assembled, or as a kit of parts that could be arranged as desired by the customer; the basic unit consisted of the bed, headstock, countershaft unit together with a 3-phase motor for a total of £262 (at 1970's prices); to this could be added a choice of components, of which the following are typical examples (all at early 1970's prices): screw-operated compound slide rest £104; lever-operated compound slide £104,; lever-operated tailstock £65; screw-operated tailstock £65; special Drilling Tailstock £114; lever-operated cut-off slide £54; lever-operated vertical cut-ff slide £42; hand support £9.50; quick-action collet attachment; collet set 1 mm to 12 mm in 0.5 mm steps £60.; chuck backplate, safety collar and a 3-jaw chuck £27. Thus, a basic lathe ready to run with a countershaft and motor, bed, headstock, tailstock, screw-feed compound slide rest and a set of collets together with a holder would have been approximately £570; a figure put into context by the £194 asked for a Myford Super 7 in 1972. Interestingly, the Myford almost tripled in price during that inflation-racked (socialist-governed) decade to become £578 by 1978.
Finished in that typical East German shade of "vita" hammer-texture green, with motor, countershaft, compound slide rest and tailstock approximately the lathe weighed approximately 74 Kg.
The writer would be interested to hear from any reader with experience of using a Saupe lathe..