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  Stanley Brest Drill by John Manners


I recently acquired for the princely sum of Oz$2.00 a common or garden variety of Stanley (made in England) breast drill. Everyone knows the type, generally about 17" long with exposed crown and pinion two-speed gearing, the crown wheel being about 5" in diameter.

There are numbers and such cast into the inside face of the crown wheel but I would not have a clue whether they are batch numbers or model numbers or whether the foreman moulder just happened to have a thing about numerology.

These things are pretty common around the fleas I frequent which may explain why it would seem that I may have taken six or so of these reasonably identical artifacts into safe custody for posterity. It seems that every man and his dog in Queensland once owned one and a jolly good thing it was, too. It is my modest boast that every one of the six or so in my, ah ...., custody comes fully furnished with its side handle. This contrasts favorably with the usual state in which their smaller brothers, the hand drills, are usually found. I expect, one day, to discover the equivalent of an elephants' graveyard for side handles for hand drills.

The particular purchase in question exhibited the usual signs of long disuse, rather than neglect or abuse. Grease and particles had moderately gunked up the gearing, the paint or varnish or colored shellac had partly flaked off the wooden handles as they shrunk over time and the chuck and its thread were slightly gunked and stiffish. No problems that twenty minutes with brushes and solvent could not put to rights. It was pleasing to note that a common malady with such items, missing chuck springs, did not afflict this fine example of true British workmanship. No need to freeze the chuck for a couple of days, bang it around slightly, disassemble it, wind new springs from my five-lifetimes' supply of piano wire (his executor had known the deceased for many years but was quite unaware that he had played the piano or the banjo until, on taking inventory, he discovered the piano wire in his shed) and reassemble it.

BUT, on reassembling the beast upon completion of its toiletries to have it spin like a well-oiled Dervish in top gear, a rather fat fly presented from the ointment when we dropped a cog to first gear - the dreaded gear-skip and stop. Crown wheel was removed and both its sets of teeth minutely inspected - all O.K. Pinion gear was discovered to have very slight deformations on the leading edges (when drilling) of some teeth. No worries. A suitable file had the teeth looking like new in no time with the removal of miniscule amounts of deformed metal.

Give'em another whirl in first.  Everything is fine whilst the crown wheel is pressed towards the frame during turning but gear-skip occurs as soon as the pressure is released. Crown wheel shaft is re-engaged with top gear hole and it is noticed that the end of the shaft is held by the sprung gizmo which protrudes into the shaft's slot slightly prouder of the frame than when the wheel is clicked into low gear. Stick 'er back into first gear and, sure enough, the crown wheel's shaft protrudes beyond the frame the same distance which it protrudes in top gear when the wheel is pressed towards the frame but the protrusion decreases when the pressure is removed.

Moment of brilliant insight. The gizmo which holds the shaft in place in first gear has been slightly displaced by some means or another.

Moment of despair. How in Hell can the displacement of the first gear gizmo be corrected, given that such gizmo appears to have been, after final assembly, riveted in place? Filing off the riveting may require consequent modifications to this gizmo's whole shooting match to permit a somewhat perilous re-riveting.

Tentative thoughts on the matter. The crown wheel's shaft, whilst in its first gear position, had received a not inconsiderable whack on its protruding end whereby the shaft's slot had distorted the piece which held it in place. Obvious answer. Give the shaft a hearty whack at its other end to restore the previous status quo. Hang on a minute! That "other end" is attached to a cast wheel with its first gear cog resting against the pinion gear. The most likely distortion to occur as the result of whacking the "other end" is the rather permanent one of a cast crown wheel resolving itself into at least two parts.

Now this little duck is in need of some serious advice, the thing being that he is yet to have undertaken the separation of the crown wheel's shaft from the crown wheel. He "thinks" the shaft may be screwed into the crown wheel, or is it splined? Removal of the turning handle does not enlighten him in this matter. Attacking the removal of the shaft on the one assumption will be, clearly, a trifle disastrous if the facts speak otherwise. If the shaft is threaded to the wheel, is it a left hand or a right hand thread? He has brought his formidable forces of logic to bear on this question and has arrived at the very firm conclusion that it could be either way. Or is it simply a force fit and, if so, what are the mechanics of holding it in place?

Once the answers to these questions are garnered it is his intention to use the separated shaft as a sort of a drift to re-distort the holding gizmo to its rightful place in the scheme of things. Of course, he could simply use a drift to bang away at the thing on a trial-and-error basis but feels, perhaps, quite unreasonably, that restoring the holding bit with what distorted it in the first place is likely to reduce the chances of overkill. The great alternative in all of the circumstances is, of course, to leave this drill forever in top gear with some sort of a sign inscribed on it to that effect. However, in a thousand years time the then-current owner of the thing may not be able to read English and will bother his fellow Ferrousoxidites with all of the above.

Regards from Brisbane,
John Manners
February 2007

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