At around the time that the precursor to the most successful South Bend lathe of all was being launched, the Model 5, Type 405, the Company were also working on a new small lathe, the Series 20 Toolmaker. When introduced in early 1934, under Catalog No. 520, this new machine was priced at $158, this being twice the cost of an equivalent capacity if basic 405 that was listed at $75. Although the Toolmaker was shown in the 1934 Year Catalogue, by the middle of 1935 it had disappeared, perhaps setting a record for the shortest production run of any South Bend model. Cataloged as a rather special and expensive little lathe, it was, in fact, of absolutely conventional South Bend design and really little more than a copy of the regular 8-inch Model produced from 1931 until 1933 - though increased in size by around 20%. In addition to an identical design, the two lathes also shared the same changewheels, these being of 18 pitch although, oddly, the stud gear on the output of the tumble reverse had a 1/2" bore instead of the 9/16". As the ordinary changewheels could not be used (as on other models), the Company providing a set of three with each lathe of 16t, 32t and 64t. Like the Model 5, the Series 20 had no option of a power cross feed, nor a screwcutting gearbox, carriage travel for both threading and feed being by engaging and wearing out the leadscrew half-nuts.
One interesting aspect of the ordinary 8-inch was the option of a rather magnificent built countershaft carried above the headstock (seen here on a classic Dennis Turk restoration) listed by South Bend as the Silent V-Belt Motor Driven Lathe, and this too was made available for the Series 20, though in a modified form as the vertical casting, being fastened to a larger lathe, required some additional clearance for the rear of the headstock and backgear assembly. As with other South Bend models a variety of drive systems, stands and combinations of these was available even to build-it-yourself plans for wooden benches.
Although the original Model 5, Type 405 used a different bed to the Series 20, in 1936, when the former morphed into the Type 415 (and later 9-inch Workshop Model), the Series 20 bed was adopted for this much improved version. A beautifully restored and perfectly original Series 20 can be seen here.
In order to distinguish the various versions of the Model 5, the lathe was given a Model Type designation that reflected its drive system and between-centres capacity, the latter being available in a range of sizes: 6" and 12" - though one would expect few of those to have been sold - and, more usefully, 18", 24" and 30". Although prices started at $108 for the shortest machine, by the time something useful like the 24-inch model, the price had risen by $30 (28%) to $138 - which does seem rather a lot for an extra 18 inches of gray cast iron with a 50% steel mixture with three V-ways and one flat way accurately planed and hand-scraped….