Help - Indentifying Old SMS Lathe
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  1. #1
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    Question Help - Indentifying Old SMS Lathe

    Hello,
    We recently decided to bring an old CNC lathe machine back to working condition but there is no nameplate showing a model number and cannot find any of its manuals. We have no clue what kind of specs it can run. It is an SMS (Saginaw Machine System) machine that is probably 20 to 30 years old. We tried calling up SMS and provided them with images of the machine, but they were unable to provide us with any information on the machine. They couldn't even figure out its model number.

    I decided to post pictures of it here to see if anyone would recognize it. Any information regarding the machine would be highly appreciated. Thanks!

    img_6341.jpg
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    img_6337.jpg
    img_6338.jpg

  2. #2
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    Saginaw builds and has built "special machines for the auto industry. I see inside the guards it looks like short camshafts. Who knows who it was built for. I believe Saginaw was purchased by a Taiwanese investment company 10 years or so when they were close or were bankrupt. I would assume that is why they are no help. I looked on Machinetools.com a website that sells used machine tools, it lists Saginaw lathes that are obsolete. I would guess you could call used machine dealers in Detroit and ask them if they would know. Measure the swing and center to center. That may help. Look for tags that may say Ford or General motors.

    I used to work with a used machine dealer in Minneapolis and if they bought a Saginaw they scraped it for parts as they may have only built 1 machine that was used to make 1 part. Nothing that could be used in a regular machine shop. It doesn't look like it was used much, meaning it never ran because the controls had issues or the job it was made for was discontinued. I hope you didn't pay much for it. If your thinking of getting it running, good luck and I hope your handy at retrofitting it as I highly doubt your ever going to get information, electrical prints to make it run. The time you waste, you could probably strip the machine of anything good and scrap the rest. Then buy a production made CNC lathe.

    I did find this article on camshaft lathes. a couple have similar designs around the chuck area.
    More Effective Camshaft Machining :


    Modern Machine Shop

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    Have you looked inside the electrical cabinet? Many times there is a box where you store electrical prints on the back side of the door. Also you should take a picture of the electrical box inside and send that to the builder. Many techs can figure it out looking at that. Also you can see there aren't many push buttons on the box. I would interpret thas as a special build one off machine.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard King View Post
    Saginaw builds and has built "special machines for the auto industry. I see inside the guards it looks like short camshafts. Who knows who it was built for. I believe Saginaw was purchased by a Taiwanese investment company 10 years or so when they were close or were bankrupt. I would assume that is why they are no help. I looked on Machinetools.com a website that sells used machine tools, it lists Saginaw lathes that are obsolete. I would guess you could call used machine dealers in Detroit and ask them if they would know. Measure the swing and center to center. That may help. Look for tags that may say Ford or General motors.

    I used to work with a used machine dealer in Minneapolis and if they bought a Saginaw they scraped it for parts as they may have only built 1 machine that was used to make 1 part. Nothing that could be used in a regular machine shop. It doesn't look like it was used much, meaning it never ran because the controls had issues or the job it was made for was discontinued. I hope you didn't pay much for it. If your thinking of getting it running, good luck and I hope your handy at retrofitting it as I highly doubt your ever going to get information, electrical prints to make it run. The time you waste, you could probably strip the machine of anything good and scrap the rest. Then buy a production made CNC lathe.

    I did find this article on camshaft lathes. a couple have similar designs around the chuck area.
    More Effective Camshaft Machining :


    Modern Machine Shop
    That's an interesting article on camshaft machining. Particularly on making adaptation to a general purpose machine for the specialized requirements of the cam shafts. It's probably a reasonable hypothesis that the OP's machine was designed around the requirements of a specific product or range of products rather than general machining. Still, if you know what movements you have on different axes and you know motors and leadscrews to operate them, you ought to be able to get a current controller to make it work. Perhaps not that different from converting a manual machine to CNC.

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