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Tools of yore #1: Millers Falls quick speed Drills

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Blog entry by Slyy posted 04-08-2014 02:55 AM 1435 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Well, this is my first official blog entry on LJ’s. I’ve meant to do some blogging of my restorations here, in part so I can post more pictures (without overly cluttering some of the restoration/”of your dreams” threads) and so I can go more in depth when I feel the need or desire. I recently posted a restoration I did of a Millers Falls No 85 breast drill over in the Show the restoration thread.

According to OldToolHeaven the No 85 was made for 11 years from 1912 to 1922. Following the information there I assume mine to be made from 1915-22.
Here is a quick before and after of it:

One of the really neat things about this two-speed drill is the manner in which the speeds are changed. It uses a very simple and interesting speed adjustment lever. I had a few LJ’s ask about it so I figured I could post some pictures of how it works, it’s various parts and how they go together. Hopefully with this I can sate the curious and also preserve for posterity the drills inner workings for those who may be restoring/fixing one of their own.

The gears are actually two within one. Here you can see how both the slow and fast speed drive gears engage the drill shaft simultaneously:

The speed change is made using the speed change lever (here, currently “in” for the smaller fast speed gear):

It has a spring to keep its rest state as pushing down into the gears. To make it the high speed, you push the lever down and in. Once pushed fully in, let go and give the handle a slow turn. The spring will cause the lever to push down and eventually engage the teeth of the fast speed gear. Slow/high-torque is the opposite: push down and pull out as far as it will go. Let go, give the handle a slow spin and the speed lever will eventually engage the larger drive plates’s teeth.

The handle assembly sits within/around the two gears. A cut out in the handle assembly is where the single tooth of the speed lever is given clearance to engage the drive gear teeth of either drive plate, depending on position of the lever

The drive wheels are actually two drive gears, the fast speed gear sitting within the higher-torque low speed gear

A shot of the speed lever’s individual parts, mine was missing a pin that allows the bottom two pieces to pivot on so I fashioned a new one using hardened “music wire” of an appropriate diameter.

The spring in my 85 was broken beyond repair as well, so I substituted a spring from a ballpoint pen. The wire is slightly smaller in gauge so time will tell if it holds up well or will need replacing.

A few more parting pictures of the gear drive disassembled

So there ya go: the Millers Falls No 85 2 speed quick change breast drill. This also has a cousin, the No 95, the only difference being the 85 has spring type alligator jaws while the 95 has a three tooth chuck.

I hope to bring more to this series, general old tool musings, restorations and perhaps some more in depth explanations as well as some disassembly information for those looking at restoring their own old tools.
Thank you for tuning in,

-- Jake -- "Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us." - Neil Degrasse Tyson



10 comments so far

View theoldfart's profile

theoldfart

4782 posts in 1206 days


#1 posted 04-08-2014 11:34 AM

Jake, thanks for the details. I haven’t come across one of these in the wild yet. I do have four others with two speeds and will be searching for this style this rust season.

Great post.

-- "Aged flatus, I heard that some one has already blown out your mortise." THE Surgeon ……………………………………. Kevin

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

2145 posts in 1006 days


#2 posted 04-08-2014 03:41 PM

Jake —Good blog. I’m glad you took that time to document your experience/s with this rehab—thanks for that. Like TOF, I have not seen that type of mechanism, but I’ll look for one now. I picked up a Millers Falls No. 12 breast drill while I was in your back yard last week—I gave $14 for it. Old Tool Heaven site says that this breast drill was made between 1910 and 1919. I haven’t started the rehab yet, so I don’t know which year within those dates mine was made, but it seems to be complete so I should be able to nail down the year of manufacture to a 2- or 3-year window in that range given.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View Slyy's profile

Slyy

1225 posts in 410 days


#3 posted 04-08-2014 05:36 PM

Thx fellas, hope to make this a bit of a series.

Don, I’m certainly no MF drill expert but your drill looks like a No 85/86. The frame certainly appears that way, as opposed to the frame depicted for a no 12 at old tool heaven. Also my No 12’s drive gear was painted green before the evaporust found all the rust under the paint. I’d be interested to see the mechanism. Now of course Old carol heaven is a great source but doesn’t mean the info there is definitive.

-- Jake -- "Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us." - Neil Degrasse Tyson

View ToddJB's profile

ToddJB

3053 posts in 885 days


#4 posted 04-08-2014 06:59 PM

Looks great! I like that you left the patina. With tools I’m always so tempted to go all out, which I sometimes regret.

-- I came - I sawed - I over-built

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

2145 posts in 1006 days


#5 posted 04-09-2014 03:04 AM

@Slyy—I think your observations are on point. The detail in the handle is very similar to the one shown in the 85/86 catalog depictions. My only evidence is that the extendable crank is stamped with Millers Falls No. 12—it may be a mismatched part on an 85/86.

I don’t mean to hijack your blog comments. I do have some additional views of my breast drill that I’d be glad to post either here or in the forum. Your call.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View Slyy's profile

Slyy

1225 posts in 410 days


#6 posted 04-09-2014 03:23 AM

Nope Don, don’t mind. I sorta see this blog as a place to discuss this very sort of thing. Happy to share info back and forth. With 350+ views, hopefully a few people will find something helpful here.

Hijack away!!!!

-- Jake -- "Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us." - Neil Degrasse Tyson

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

2145 posts in 1006 days


#7 posted 04-09-2014 03:39 AM

With Jake’s blessing, here are a few additional pics of my Millers Falls breast drill:

It does have a bubble level, and the jaws are Leland universal jaws

So, is this a Frankendrill? If it’s not, what is it?

BTW, a thank you to Jake for the hijacking permission.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View Slyy's profile

Slyy

1225 posts in 410 days


#8 posted 04-09-2014 04:50 AM

Well Don, I appreciate the conversation here. I actually didn’t realize that MF had two versions of drill both called No 12 (according to old tool heaven). I will make a blog entry related to this particular drill when its restoration is complete, but here is (some preview shots of) what I think is my “earlier” version No 12

Mine requires more restoration than I would have liked but that happens from time to time. Mine also appears to have cocobolo handles so I date it 1910-1913. Also has no stamp anywhere referring to its model number or maker.

If you look at this second entry on OTH.com you can see this section:

Your version also seems to have the “quick realease buttons” seen here

Lends me to think yours is a post ‘25 No 12.
The curious thing is the style of frame for yours. On OTH they have no single shaft gear drill with your style frame (only the no 85/86’s but these have to shaft gears). With the myriad of models Millers Falls obviously put out, it seems no surprise that some (or variations) would/could be missed. Pretty cool find Don. Will be glad to see how it cleans up! And thx for the excuse to go all super old tool nerd!!

EDIT TO ADD: might also be worth pointing out these differences (relative to what info old tool heaven has) in the restoration thread when you finish this one Don. Always good to throw in some previously unknown versions/details of what we know to be out there!

-- Jake -- "Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us." - Neil Degrasse Tyson

View summerfi's profile

summerfi

1514 posts in 442 days


#9 posted 04-09-2014 05:32 AM

Nice blog and nice drill Jake. There must be a lot of breast drills in OK…you seem to always be coming up with new ones. Good job.

-- Bob, Missoula, MT -- "Of all the tools I own, my favorite is a good sharp pocket knife." - My Dad

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

2145 posts in 1006 days


#10 posted 04-09-2014 01:18 PM

Thanks for the feedback, Jake. I’ll look more into the OTH material you posted, and I will document the restoration/rehab/rebirth and add to the knowledge base.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

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