It's sometimes hard to remember how confusing this all is when you first encounter patents. Let's start with some basics.
It's helpful to remember that patents are property. Like land in which the bounds of the property are defined by survey data recorded on a deed, patents define their coverage very precisely in claims that are included in the patent. So, to see a device and note that it's patented, that doesn't tell you much about what the patent covers -- although if you're very familiar with the subject technology, you can often make a pretty good guess. Trying to figure out what a patent covers by looking at one device the owner claims is covered by the patent is not unlike trying to figure out land property boundaries by watching where the owner walks. To know what a patent covers, you have to read the patent.
It's also helpful to remember that patents are different from most other types of property. In particular, coverage can overlap. So, you don't look so much at what's been patented before as much as other stuff, which I will get to quickly.
A patent is an inducement for people to share their clever ideas with the rest of us when they otherwise wouldn't. The inducement is in the form of rights to exclude others from exploiting their clever idea for a limited period of time -- exploiting means making, using, selling, and importing. Note that there is not explicit right for the clever people to exploit their own ideas -- only the right to exclude others.
So, patentability and infringement of patents is not a comparison of patents to patents but rather a comparison of a patent's coverage (claims) to what others make, use, sell, etc. In short, a new patent must not cover anything that came before it, or any obvious variation thereof.
So, let's step back in time and assume you invented the Smith machine. You have two questions and they're not as related as you might think. First, do you infringe someone else's patent. Second, can you get your own patent.
For the first question, you need to get a copy of the patent in question and read its claims and see if one or more of those describes what you're making, using, selling. Does the claim specify rod and bearing? Is it more basic and the basic description covers both rod and bearing as well as wheel and track? You'll have to figure that out (or have someone do that for you).
For the second question, you have to determine whether the claims in your patent application cover anything known earlier or any obvious variation of anything known earlier.
The foregoing is gross over-simplification, but that inquiry will get you probably 80% or more of the way to your destination.
I hope that helps.