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Tool Stories

  What'sIt and a Flea report ... by Charlie Driggs


Aficionados of twisty, drilly things in particular ... (tm, George Langford)

SWMBO and I had planned a little trek this weekend to the Shupps Grove Fall Extravaganza for several months, and we managed to make it part of today's tour of various places in the SE Pennsylvania countryside.  Didn't turn out quite as hoped for me, but she found everything she was hoping for save the one item she has been searching the country for nearly two decades.  No reason to expect that to change, I guess. 

But anyway, arriving late morning on the last day of a three-day flea market usually leaves me picking through the leftovers but sometimes provides modest bargains from anxious sellers.  By the time we left nearly three hours later, most everyone was packing up.  Just before leaving I had one gentleman offer me a complete and very nice Sargent equivalent to a Stanley No. 55 in its box, and I did think about it.  Another regular had several 55's and 45's complete in box at prices that were generally 3-4x what this guy was willing to take (and maybe 2x market), but I didn't bite, to the offerer's chagrin.  Quite a few folks were indicating it hadn't been a good Extravaganza this year.

Cloudy, cool, humid weather and gasoline prices are high are my guesses as to why.

One of the first tool tables I did come to, however, had a rusty metal tool box with about eight items in it, a wife anxious to pack up and leave, and a hubby off doing something else somewhere else, to her annoyance.  Things fell into place nicely. 

I picked up a push drill or two and quickly realized they were devoid of lubricant, then a Millers Fall No. 5 drill, played with that a few moments, and the wife says - he'll take $45 for the toolbox and everything in it.  Um, I don't need a rusty toolbox, but I could use one of these in good condition, too bad the side knob is missing a piece off of it.  Ohhh, well OK, I guess I can sell them separately. 

OK, well these pushdrills here, I have one of those that needs bits, and they are real hard to find, and these things are not worth much at all without bits.  These two pushdrills seem to be in rough shape, but they have some drill bits in the handles ... see, you can hear them (rattle).  OK, well, I think he'd take $2 each for them.  Well, I only want them for the bits if the mechanisms are stuck - see, this is supposed to go in and out and this ring here is supposed to loosen the bit, but they don't move. Oh.

OK .. how about all three for $3? Hmm, mebbe, says I.  What do you want for this drill here (the No. 5)?  Oh, he wanted $5 for that.  Uh-huh, seems a bit worn, and doesn't turn well at all, but the chuck looks good and it has one bit in the storage space in the handle - how about $3?  OK, I'll do that.  I really don't need two of these hand drills, so you can keep that smaller one.  But that's most of the good stuff in the box, so I guess you're close to being able to trash that piece of rust, eh? (Laughter).  Yeah, finally! - In fact, how about you take this other drill too - free - since I know the rest of this stuff isn't worth anything at all?  OK, so $6?  Yep, let me put that stuff in a bag.  Why sure.

So, three pushdrills

  • a Stanley 41Y (Bell System) with a plastic magazine divider (so that one is relatively new), complete with 3 good and 1 broken straight flute bits

  • a Goodell-Pratt with good nickel, a 1915 patent date and 4 good straight flute bits in 8 slots complete with sizing holes, and

  • a North Brothers No. 40 sans all bits.

Shot all three with WD-40 and then lubed them with light machine oil, and suddenly all three work just fine, and are nice additions to the MF #81 I already have and use.

I was more interested in the eggbeater drills.  I knew what this No. 5 was, and this one is a decent user example.  5% of the black, 90% of the red japanning left.  Cleaned and lubed, it works smoothly.  In the magazine was a single straight flute bit - the 1/16th size. The one that is always missing because it is so easily broken.  The other eggbeater remains a bit of a puzzle and is the one I was actually a bit more interested in out of tool slope curiosity.  It is smaller than the No. 5, and has Goodell-Pratt Company, Greenfield Mass" and "pat'd Aug 13, 1895" on the small three-jaw chuck.  No other markings.  Had a pair of modern twist drills in the magazine (5/64ths & No. 49, both useful).  Single pinion.  Operates sweetly now. 

Moderately ornate cast frame and gear wheel, suggesting pre-WWII for sure, maybe pre-WWI.  Most interesting part is the combination of the frame and the handle / bit storage magazine.  Very different from the usual eggbeater.  The upper end of the cast iron frame is male thread, and mates to what appears to be an expansion-formed brass magazine / handle that is internally machined to thread onto the frame.  Frame has traces of black japanning, maybe 2% of original left.  No evidence the gear wheel was or was not japanned.  No mention of this model on Randy Roeder's, George Langford's, or Chuck Zitur's sites.

DATAMP suggests the date refers to an H. Landfair chuck patent assigned to Goodell, no. 544,411. This eggbeater is center right in this picture:

Research so far suggested that having Greenfield Mass identified as place of manufacture may date this one to the 1930's, but that's the only clue to narrow down the dating.  Ideas or identification, ladies & gentlemen?

Reply from Chuck Zitur:

Charlie has a good day at the flea market and asks about a Goodell Pratt hand drill.....

According to my 1922'ish GP catalog that is a #49 which did not show up in the 1905 catalog. GP drills have always been my favorite although I can certainly appreciate the seniority of Millers Falls (that is, that Goodell Pratt was Johnny come lately in comparison.)

Charlie Driggs
September, 2005

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