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South Bend 9a Lathe Serial Numbers

How to Identify a South Bend 9A Lathe

A South Bend 9A lathe is a metalworking machine that was produced by the South Bend Lathe Works company in the USA. It is one of the most popular and versatile lathes ever made, and has been used by hobbyists, professionals, and schools for over a century. But how can you tell if you have a genuine South Bend 9A lathe, and what are its features and specifications? Here are some tips to help you identify a South Bend 9A lathe.

south bend 9a lathe serial numbers


Check the Serial Number

The easiest way to identify a South Bend 9A lathe is to check its serial number, which is stamped on the tailstock end of the bed between the flat and v-ways. The serial number can tell you the size, type, and features of the lathe, as well as the year of manufacture. You can use the serial number registry on the Vintage Machinery website or the South Bend Lathe Co. website to look up your serial number and find out more information about your lathe.

A South Bend 9A lathe has a three-letter code in its serial number that indicates its characteristics. The first letter is N, which means it has a 9 inch swing (the maximum diameter of workpiece that can be turned). The second letter is K, which means it has a quick change gear (QCG), a friction feed apron, and an underneath motor drive (UMD). The third letter is R, which means it has a regular spindle hole (1 3/8 inch) and a standard swing. The last number in the serial number is the model number, which changes when modifications are made to the machine that do not change its overall characteristics. For example, a serial number NKR7 means it is a 9 inch lathe with QCG, friction feed apron, UMD, regular spindle hole, standard swing, and model 7.

Look at the Features

Apart from the serial number, you can also identify a South Bend 9A lathe by looking at its features and components. Here are some of the distinctive features of a South Bend 9A lathe:

  • It has a horizontal bed with flat and v-ways that support the carriage and tailstock.

  • It has a headstock with a cone pulley that drives the spindle through a belt. The spindle has a threaded nose that accepts chucks and faceplates.

  • It has a quick change gear box that allows changing the feed and thread pitch without changing gears manually. It also has a friction feed apron that controls the longitudinal and cross feed of the carriage.

  • It has an underneath motor drive that mounts the motor below the bed and drives the headstock through a belt. It also has an electrical switch that controls the direction and speed of the motor.

  • It has a compound rest that swivels on the cross slide and holds the tool post. It also has a micrometer dial that measures the depth of cut.

  • It has a tailstock that slides on the bed and locks with a lever. It also has a handwheel that advances and retracts the tailstock spindle.

Compare with Other Models

A South Bend 9A lathe is one of the several models of 9 inch lathes that were produced by South Bend Lathe Works. Some of the other models are:


9BNBRSimilar to 9A but with standard change gear (SCG) instead of QCG.

9CNCRSimilar to 9B but with screw feed apron instead of friction feed apron.

415NARSimilar to 9A but with overhead countershaft drive (CS) instead of UMD.

415YNAYSimilar to 415 but with SCG and screw feed apron.

9DNDRSimilar to 9A but with large spindle hole (1 7/8 inch) and raised swing (10 inch).

9ENERSimilar to 9D but with regular spindle hole and standard swing.

You can compare your lathe with these models and see if they match the features and specifications of your lathe. You can also check the catalog number of your lathe, which is usually found on a metal plate attached to the leg or the bed. The catalog number can tell you the length of bed, type of drive, type of legs, and type of headstock cone pulley of your lathe. For example, a catalog number 644Y means it is a 9 inch lathe with QCG, friction feed apron, UMD, regular spindle hole, standard swing, model 7, 4 1/2 foot bed, V-belt cone pulley, and cabinet legs.


A South Bend 9A lathe is a classic and versatile machine that can perform a variety of metalworking operations. By checking the serial number, looking at the features, and comparing with other models, you can identify a South Bend 9A lathe and learn more about its history and specifications. If you have a South Bend 9A lathe or are interested in acquiring one, you can find more resources and information on the Vintage Machinery website or the South Bend Lathe Co. website. Happy turning!


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