We know it was a “work in progress” throughout it’s time in production from 1947 through 1953. So, what changed when. A lot of that is hard to pin down. I know from the Model 10’s I have owned and restored that there were many changes from the first Model 10E’s to the last Model 10ER’s. I do or have owned serial numbers from 1077 to 76928 along with seeing many others. The newest (highest) serial number I have seen is 102459 (from Skip Campbell's list) and is probably very near the end of the Model 10ER’s production. The Shopsmith Sales History document lists that 117,197 Model 10ER’s were sold and that doesn’t include Fiscal years 1947 - 1948 and 1948 -1949. Why the big serial number difference vs. number sold? That answer is in how the serial numbers were handled when the Eastern Plant started production. Tools made in the Eastern Plant began their own serial number series with the prefix E and later ER. The lowest I have seen is E-1921. I don’t believe that E-1921 was made in the Eastern Plant the same day as S/N 1922 from the Western plant or that the Eastern Plant was even in production yet. I have not seen anything to indicate exactly when the Eastern Plant started production but I believe the Western Plant had made more than 922 Model 10E’s before the Eastern Plant started production. The original Western Plant continued their series of serial numbers and at a point added the prefix R to them. The lowest R prefix serial number I have seen is R26114. Keep in mind I live in Oregon so I have seen more Model 10’s with the R prefix than ones with E or ER. Out of the ones I have owned they had either no prefix or the R prefix. By April 1951 the Western Plant was at serial number R53198 and the Eastern Plant was at ER40908. It was the use of each plants series of serial numbers that changes appeared to occur at different times between the East and West but not actually true. In the 69,000’s the prefixes for the serial numbers were dropped and the two Plants used the same series of serial numbers until production ended in 1953. Fewer changes were occurring by this time too. Three of the last changes were the Table rods changing to hollow ones, the Way Tubes becoming thinner walled and the Carriage being trimmed up on the lower side. A 10ER made near the end of production weighed less than one of the first 10E’s. Less weight from the Base, Carriage, Way Tubes and Table Rods all contributed to that. I remember someone once asked how much does a Model 10 weigh.
The Base, Headrest, Headstock, Carriage and many other parts had from 2 to 7 versions. Many of the changes were minor and hardly noticed but others were very noticeable as in the early Base compared to the later version. Some parts never changed during the Model 10’s production such as the Arm that attaches between the Base to the Way Tubes. One of these changes gives us a date to use as a starting point as to when a Model 10ER was made before or after. The Headstock and Carriage Locks changed in April 1951 with Serial Numbers R53198 and ER40908 from the double wedge to the single wedge locks. This information gives us a date and the differences in the serial numbers between the Western and Eastern Plants making Model 10’s. This is the change to Headstock version 6 and Carriage version 2 and related parts. Of course, by this time they had been Model 10ER’s for some time. Several major changes had already occurred like the change from the Wood Extension Table to the Metal Extension Table and the Tailstocks plus related parts. The Metal Extension Table change also brought us the second Fence version with a rear lock. An accessory rear lock for the original fence was made available too. From an ad for a special upgrade to the Metal Extension Table we know this change occurred before October 1949.
Soon after the first Model 10E’s were introduced in 1947 changes began. Some of the first changes were hardly noticeable. On the Headstock the hole for the switch was raised closer to the Logo Plate and away from the curve for the way tubes. This made switch installation easier. The steel pin on the Headstock used to keep the Spring Housing in place was changed to a cast on block. The Spring Housing was changed from aluminum to steel since the aluminum one tended to bend. The ends of the Pinion Shaft had flat cuts added for set screws to make attaching and especially removing the Feed Lever Knobs easier. The Tailstock was changed from a single threaded stud and square stud to 2 threaded studs for attaching the Extension Table Bracket. Although an early change that was a noticeable one. These had all occurred by the time Model 10E serial number 4708 was made. I could go on and on about the changes made to the Model 10’s but as we know it was truly a work in progress. Also, I need more information to fill in the timeline for some of the changes.
One of the problems putting dates to changes is trying to use the early manuals for that. Prior to the 1951 Manuals they do not have any dates on them other than we know the original typed manual went out with the first Model 10E’s in November 1947. We know the date those first 250 machines and can easily estimate the ones that soon followed. Revised Owner’s Manuals came out as a result of changes in the tools. Comparing the tool changes with the manuals can give us groups of tools that belong to each manual version. Manuals from 1951 and on can give us a starting reference date for changes shown in the parts diagrams and lists. From the manual I know that in January of 1951 your Model 10ER would have a Metal Extension Table, Tailstock version 3 to go with it, the second Trunnion version, Double Wedge Locks in the Headstock & Carriage with the keyed Quill lock, the Large Base, 4 Bolt Headrest, the slotted Blade Guard, early Belt Guard and Headstock version 4 with the Quill Depth Indicator. That is provided the parts diagrams were updated to correctly show those changes as they occurred. I have copies of 9 Manuals in print or digital but I know there are at least 5 I do not have and probably more. The oldest is a digital copy of the original typed Manual, thanks to Everett and John. The newest copy I have is from March 1953 but is probably not the last one. Occasionally we get a new reference point as to when a tool was made. One is Model 10ER S/N R34916 which was purchased on October 10, 1950 according to documents with it when purchased recently. In these cases, the question is how long after it was made was it sold. It is again production vs. sales.
We cannot always use the parts on a particular tool to tell us its era of origin since by now it is common to use parts from different tools as replacements. One of the Model 10’s I got to restore was from someone that had a Model 10E and a Model 10ER he was restoring and using the “best” parts of each. He gave me what was left from that. One notable thing about his restored Model 10 was a Metal Extension Table mounted on the bracket and tailstock for a Wood Extension Table. Interchanged parts make it even harder to identify tools. Even the parts themselves can be misleading. I am currently restoring 10ER S/N 69236 which would have been made in 1952. The Base, Arm, Tie Bar, Headrest, Carriage and Motor Mount still have the old part numbers on them but the all part numbers changed in November 1951.The one constant except in rare cases is the Logo/Serial Number Plate attached to the Headstock. It is the Headstock that mainly dates the tool. In almost all cases the Logo/Serial Number Plate has not been changed between headstocks. I could take the headstock off My Model 10E S/N 1077 and put it on My Model 10ER S/N R64000 and it would still work but would it be a 1947 10E or a 1951 10ER at that point. It is the interchanging of parts of different versions that make a particular Shopsmith unique but harder to identify with a group of tools from same time period. As time goes on this is likely to happen more.
Some of the changes the manuals I have do not show me is when the metal Extension Table Bracket changed to the longer 9” version, when the Table Rods changed to hollow tubes, when the Carriage last changed or Way Tubes used thinner walls. The last manual I have is Mar. 53 but I don’t believe all four of those changes occurred after that.
Will we ever be able to have a monthly serial number production list like we have for the Mark 5/V? The answer is very likely no unless some lost document having that information is discovered. But with the bits and pieces of information we can put together from the documents and information Owners have we can put dates to some serial number ranges and make best “guesstimates” from there. So here is a couple of my best guesstimates. Serial number 90000 and above were made in later 1953. Model 10ER’s around serial numbers 65000 to 90000 were made in the 1952 – 1953 fiscal year. These are based on the sales chart and the ending serial number being after, but near 102000. Comparing the changes in the tools with the Owner’s Manuals could pinpoint more production dates. Something to work on but I would like to have copies of manuals I do not have.
Mark V completely upgraded to Mark 7
Mark V 520
All SPT's & 2 Power Stations
Model 10ER S/N R64000 first one I restored on bench w/ metal ends & retractable casters. Has Speed Changer, Model 4E Jointer, Jig Saw with lamp, a complete set of original accessories & much more.
Model 10E S/N 1077 oldest one I have restored. On bench w/ metal ends & retractable casters.