Like the better-known Boxford, the 4.5” x 18” Smart & Brown “Sabel” (the name of the original S & B works in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, England) was a copy of the South Bend  9-inch –
In comparison with the original it was of far higher quality, with a more fully enclosed headstock  (somewhat along the lines of the South Bend “Light Ten”) together with a re-designed spindle assembly, larger bearings, a fractionally larger bore and the nose thread increased from 1.5-inch to 1.75-inch diameter. The cross-feed screw was also increased in size to 1/2”, a modification that promised a much longer life and gave a somewhat better feel The lathe was offered on a large sheet-metal cabinet stand with a superbly made – if rather over-deep – aluminium countershaft unit.
In addition to the “Sabel” it was available, like the South Bend original in two other versions: one, the SAB (equivalent to the South Bend Model B) lost the screwcutting gearbox but retained the power-feed apron while the other, the “S” (in line with the South Bend Model C), was fitted with a plain, hand-feed apron. Although a choice of speed ranges was offered, most examples appear to have been supplied with a 2-step pulley on the motor driving to a 4-step countershaft to give 16-speeds that spanned 45 to 1200 rpm. As two examples of wonderful attention to detail (although some spoilt-sports would call it wasteful over-engineering) instead of just bolting the ordinary Dewhurst electrical reversing switch to the face of the stand it was mounted on the headstock – but tucked away at the back and operated by a cross shaft from a chrome-plated lever in bronze mounted on the front face. To guild the lily the end of the cross shaft carried a large gear, also in bronze, that engaged with another, smaller (bronze) gear fastened to the end of the switch spindle. The headstock cover was prevented from falling backwards not by the late 20th century method of a simple strap retained by self-tapping screws, but a wire that passed through threaded retainers screwed into a cylinder, cast integral with the cover and, at the other end, a tapped hole bored vertically into the headstock casting.
Another development of the South Bend 9-inch was also manufactured by Smart & Brown,  the very rare Type 918. With a capacity of 4.5” x 24”, this version was mounted on an improved welded sheet-steel cabinet stand (braced with angle iron) that housed an under-drive system with the motor fitted to a countershaft similar to that used on the Company’s Model A lathe. To aid smooth running, the headstock V-belts of the Sable were replaced by a 3-speed flat-belt drive and the lathe improved in several areas: a roller bearing headstock, large micrometer dials, a tailstock with a cam-lever locking arrangement, feet cast as part of the (deeper) bed and a much more rugged top slide.
Although spares are no longer available for this range of  Smart & Brown lathes, most Boxford and South Bend parts and accessories will fit (including the T-slotted cross slide) so providing a cheap and easily route to restoration. These, and one-off parts can be obtained from  For more details of the original South Bend model click here
If any reader has a Sabel or 918 in fine, original condition, the writer would be interested to hear from you…