South Bend 9-inch "Junior" Lathe
- a photographic essay -
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South Bend 8-inch Junior Photo Essay
Restored to showroom condition by Dennis Turk in the U.S.A. this 9-inch south Bend Junior is fitted with the rare (and originally expensive) self-contained overhead drive unit. Another restoration by Dennis, of an 8-inch South Bend Junior, can be seen here
Although from the earliest days South Bend had offered a small lathe - it appeared in the 1907 catalogue as the Model 4 - this was a skimpy machine of contemporary design with single V and flat-way bed just 43/16" wide (interestingly. its production was extended by offering it to schools and colleges in kit form for machining and building up into a complete lathe). It was not until much later that a more robust model was introduced with a wider bed, carrying the usual set of two Vs and two flat ways, the "Junior". This was to be offered in both 8 and 9-inch swings, the former a depression-era cost-cutting model with a very basic specification and the latter - often referred to in catalogues as the "9-inch Junior New Model" - a scaled down version of the better-specified and established 10-inch lathe. The lathe had nothing in common with the much more famous and popular 9-inch model introduced in 1934 and called by South Bend the 9-inch "Workshop" model. While parts from the original 10" lathe (the screwcutting gearbox and power-feed apron for example) can, with a little fiddling, be made to fit the Junior models, bits from the later 9" "Workshop" lathes cannot be used. As an example of the design changes between the two an examination of the tumble-reverse mechanism would show that the 9" Junior, like its larger cousins, featured a spring-loaded, solid-bronze lever and brass-covered handle with positive indent location - whilst the later 9" lathe had a much simpler plain, cast lever, clamped in place with a bolt. Even though it was an inexpensive model the 9" Junior followed South Bend's original practice of using phosphor-bronze bushes, lined bored, lapped and adjustable for wear.
By 1930 trading conditions were so bad that South Bend were forced to introduced an even cheaper model, the 8-inch Junior, details of which can be seen here. While this latter, very cheaply constructed model lasted for only a short time and hence today is rare, the 9-inch Junior continued to be built throughout the 1930s.
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