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OT: National Archive and Records Administration (NARA) manuals, blueprints, catalogs


Oct 10, 2022
North of Baltimore

I live in the National Capitol Region (NCR) and I spent this past Friday at the NARA location in College Park, MD and scanned a bunch of manuals, blueprints, and catalogs for lathes manufactured by Sidney, Reed-Prentice, and Lodge and Shipley from the late 1930s to 1942. I uploaded them to the VintageMachinery site and they should show up once the moderators approve them. I did all of this because I recently picked up a Sidney 14" lathe and documentation is scarce. I will have to dismantle it to get it off my trailer since I don't have a forklift and it weighs 4400 lbs.

In any case, if you search the National Archives Catalog (https://catalog.archives.gov/) and find a document you're looking for that's held in one of the NCR NARA locations, send me a PM along with the NAID number and I will try to get that document for you.

For example, if you searched for "Sidney 14" Lathe" on the Archives Catalog site I listed above, the first result would be:

Lathe, 14" - 20" - Instructions; Sidney Machine Tool; 391-0865; CA, 1942

NAID: 2651014Container ID: 284
Creator: Department of Defense. Department of the Navy. Naval Material Command. Naval Sea Systems Command. Administrative Services Group. Library Documentation Division. Technical Library Branch. (7/1/1974 - ca. 8/1979)
Record Group 344: Records of the Naval Ship Systems Command
Series:Technical Manuals and Related Documentation

You would need to send me NAID 2651014, but before you do this, click on the document you think you want, verify it's what you want, scroll down to the bottom of the page and find the location of the archived copy, in this case, it's held at the NARA site in Adelphi, MD. If your document is located in a NARA site outside the NCR, then you need to travel there yourself or find someone willing to copy the document for you. If you're REALLY lucky, NARA may have already digitized your document, but it's unlikely that a machine manual from the 30's or 40's is going to be high enough priority for that to occur.

Have a great week!

@VanillahGarillah , does this offer still stand? I did a search for Sebastian Lathes, and got :

Lathes, Important Features - Instructions; Sebastian Lathe; 391-0213, n.d.​

NAID: 2650869

It does say that it is at the MD office.
Sure. Does the location say NARA at Adelphi, MD? It may take a little while, so please be patient. I have to apply for a research appointment and the go copy it. Are you looking for super high quality on anything specific, like a blueprint, if one exists? Or just take a pic and add it to the document like just another page?
Yes. It is at
National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference
8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD, 20740-6001

It seems to be an instruction manual, so probably not any blueprints. But, if there are. . . Oh, boy, wouldn't that be cool!. . . As long as it is legible, I think everyone would be happy. There is a Fakebook group for Sebastian lathes, and I've been trying to archive all the documentation I can get there.

An update on NARA manuals: I was able to get an appt on 9 APR. I scanned your document, but I don’t know if it’ll be much use. It seemed to cover motor windings in detail. Maybe that was the primary maint issue for lathes during WWII? In any case, I uploaded 5 documents to VintageMachinery’s publication section. They are awaiting moderator approval. Here are the titles:

1. “Important Features Used in Sebastian Lathes” 9 FEB 1942, 19 pages


2. “Milwaukee Milling Machines Care and Operation” 1 JAN 1931, 21 pages
3. “Milwaukee Milling Machines Instruction Book for Operators 3H 4H” date unknown, 31 pages
4. “Buffalo Forge No. 22 Service Manual for Drilling Machines” APR 1942, 15 pages
5. “Buffalo No. 22 Bulletin No. 2989-E” APR 1942, 15 pages

I scanned the additional manuals because they were in the same box as the Sebastian document, and I was there, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt.

I hope you find what you need somewhere in cyberspace.

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Anything used by the army/navy in WW2 will have a TM9 or TM 10 manual ,which will basically be "machines for dummies".....these books are much more detailed than the manufacturers publications which were for experienced millwrights and machinists.
Anything used by the army/navy in WW2 will have a TM9 or TM 10 manual ,which will basically be "machines for dummies".....these books are much more detailed than the manufacturers publications which were for experienced millwrights and machinists.
Yes, but the Army and Navy weren’t particularly disciplined enough to submit the TMs to the archives. If you’re looking for one and can’t find it in the archives, you might try searching the DTIC site. DTIC is a repository of technical documents, reports, and studies. It holds all sorts of historic and current documents. Also, units/commands typically have a historian who manages the command library. Sometimes you can submit a request for a document and the command historian might be able to find it.

Good luck searching!