About two weeks ago, I was browsing craigslist and saw an estate sale listed for that Friday. It promised buckets of tools, machinist equipment, and industrial stuff. It didn’t start till 11, and I knew that wasn’t gonna fly since I needed to be to work at 8:30. And it was in the opposite direction.
But Saturday morning rolled around, and I found I was dreaming about it all night. So I said, why not, i’ll try for sloppy seconds. My wife, having recently realized just how much crap I’ve accumulated, gave me a stern look, and an even sterner talking too.
“But Honey”, I implored. “I’m really just hoping for one thing. A model 77 Skil saw from the 40’s or 50’s vintage for cutting timber.” She rolled her eyes, relented, and I was off. 15 minutes later, at the appointed start time of the sale, I rolled up, and ran to the right side of the two bay garage. Nothing. crap. Some dull files, 70’s vintage screw drivers, and a couple of well used masonry tools. I watched as a beautiful oak machinist’s chest marched out the other door. Tentatively, I peaked around the corner. And there it was, sitting on a solid machinist’s tool bench. The one thing I’d been searching for. A 1950’s era bench-top drill press. It was beautiful and greasy and glorious. A 1956 Rockwell/Delta Drill press with a 1/2 horsepower motor strapped on the back. It had been well cared for and maintained. I have been looking for the perfect size drill press to complete the wood-shop for a couple of years. I’ve passed on Harbor freight and Home Depot approximations. This thing was so solid I got a new hernia just looking at it! 100 bucks. But since it was day 2, they knocked it down to 75 and threw in the sweet Wilton vise and a 20 pound steel square that appeared to be a bench anvil. I had them test it for me. Pretty quiet, and no run out on the bit I could see with the naked eye. Good enough for me!
In the end, the wife was understanding. She was curious what i’d want with something so dirty and I greasy. I reminded her that she married me, and I didn’t get yelled at.
Tonight, after having the drill press stain my back seat for two weeks, I finally had a chance to unload it. I gave her a good wiping down with mineral spirits and set it up. I didn’t have a nickel, but it seemed to pass the penny test.
Cheers to vintage machinery!