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My latest garage project is coming to me through a series of connections and it involves a restoration project. My cities living history museum has an on-site workshop that is run by volunteers. The workshop is historic type wood working shop that does lots of repairs and building of historic items for the museum/park. One of the larger projects undertaken by the shop has been a full blown building of a 1920 carousel including all hand carved horses.

Doug, the gentleman that heads up all the volunteers and also appears to coordinate practically everything to do with the projects, gave me an inside look at both the shop and some of the major projects that have been completed. The vintage level that the shop works on is truly inspiring and goes to show that machines can’t always substitute for human talent, effort, and ingenuity.

This brings me to my own little shop and the project it has recently seen. The historical park has many vintage pieces of equipment some of which has been donated. They had acquired a Champion Blower and Forge Co. drill press dated from the early 1900’s. The drill had found itself a home in the wood working shop but was only there for decoration as it was not in a useable state. Through a series of connections I was able to contact Doug and meet with him to discuss the future of the drill press.

What the museum wanted was to be able to get the drill to a functioning state so that it could be used as demonstration in the museum’s workshop. After performing my initial inspection I was fairly certain I could get the drill back to working condition again however I had one main concern. The concern revolved around restoring it so that it would be historically correct. I like building things, I like spending time in my shop, I like planning my projects, and I like researching my projects BUT…I do not want to commit to the amount of time it would take to research the historical accuracies nor do I want to be burdened with the time consuming task of trying to collect potentially unobtainable items. Since this is a volunteer venture I also have to consider the budget. It was agreed that the drill would not have to be historically correct. As long as it was in a functioning state and that the overall image was maintained then I was free to modify, and repair, as I see fit.

The good news is that I wasn’t under a time crunch. The museum, being mostly outdoors, shuts down for the winter therefore I had up to 5 months to get the project complete. As long as the drill was ready for opening day in May I was free to take my time.

Onto the details. The Champion Blower and Forge Co. drill press that I am dealing with is Model 101. I found a date stamp on the drill chuck and it read June 1907. I am not going to give a history lesson in this blog posting. I will refer you to Mr. Google should you have any questions. I will, however, tell you a bit about how it operates.

The drill press is hand cranked and only has one gear ratio. The length of the crank arm can be adjusted and therefore I guess you could say that the mechanical advantage can be altered. The unit is equipped with a flywheel in order to add some inertia to the monotonous cranking of the handle. There is a cam lobe cast into the drive gear which activates a cam lever which, in turn, ratchets a lever onto a downfeed gear. This allows the drill bit to feed down between 1-3 teeth, depending on adjustment, with every turn of the crank arm.  I have included a video in this post which will probably do a better job at explaining how the unit operates.

There is much that I can say about both the drill and the restoration process. All the components had been gone through and either repaired or reconditioned. Some small hardware items like screws, ball bearings, and a spring were replaced. I have not included all the details of the repairs in the posting but instead just chose to highlight a few. If you have questions or want specific information just ask!

On last note before I move onto the good stuff. Much of the hardware that I required for the build was hard to find locally. McMaster Carr is a United States hardware supplier that has a massive selection of parts that are of interest to me. Unfortunately McMaster Carr does not sell, nor ship, to Canadians. Fortunately I have some good friends in the right spots that are willing to help out. Jason who happens to follow my blog was able to help me out. For those of you who are not familiar with Jason I would highly recommend checking out his blog as he does some really cool wood related projects. Not to mention he is an equipment junky which I can respect. You can see all his stuff at his blog The Gahooa Perspective. Anyway, Jason offered to put an order in for me and ship it North my way. Very much appreciated Jason, thanks!

I opted to split this project into 2 separate posts. This post includes the nitty gritty parts of the restoration. Part 2 will include the finishing process which will be available at a later date.

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Here is the condition of the drill press before any work was performed. Previous work had been done as was evident by weld repairs that were painted over.

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I am including this shot only to show the right side for reference purposes. As I scoured the internet in my research it was helpful when I was able to view as much detail as possible. Here is my contribution.

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First order of business was to photograph everything before disassembly. Second order of business to to rip and tear and break everything down to individual components to allow for cleaning and inspection. Most of the components came apart with little effort. There where a few parts that needed some persuading however I think the drill and I developed a good working relationship. It had initially expressed some dislike of what I was trying to do but I had assured it, as gracefully as I could, that I was here to help and not to harm. We were able to reach a compromise and at that point I think we each developed a healthly respect for one another. From then one we had a common goal and became good working partners. I would like to be able to call this press a friend.

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Here is some evidence of previous repairs. The support that holds the table assembly has been previously broken into multiple pieces. As much as the brazing repair looks excessive I commend whoever performed to repair for a job fairly well done. If you saw the bore of the broken component you would know just how many pieces it was broken into. It was a jigsaw puzzle to repair.

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This is the cam arm that converts movement from a vertical plane to a horizontal plane which then activates the down feed ratchet gear. It too has been previously broken and repaired with both brazing and welding. There were some cracks that were still evident so I will end up doing further stitching.

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Once I evaluated the condition of all the items I proceeded to get everything to a workable state. I started by running everything through a high pressure hot water parts cleaner to get rid of as much grease, oil, and old paint as possible. Then most components were transferred to my blast cabinet and cleaned up using crushed glass media.

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The drill press table had been previously drilled through. Being cast I was nervous about how I was going to repair this. I had TIG welded cast previously and had good success. My main concern was being able to match the material finish.

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I filled the holes using a 309 filler rod which works great for dissimilar metals. You can see that cracking on the top of the weld is evident. I am hoping that crack is only a flesh wound and has not penetrated deeper.

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I had knocked down the protruding portion of the weld and then set the table up on the mill in order to machine it using my facing mill.

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Here is the end result after machining and some sanding. The table is perfectly flat however the repair is evident, I kinda expected it would be. I am not sure how I am going to deal with this yet, I have some ideas. Time will tell which solution will prevail.

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The drill press had a previous repair done to the wooden handle on the crank arm. I felt as though the press deserved something more then low budget fir. I opted to machine out a couple of oak handles using classic handle styling by giving them a slight taper.

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Roughed out and sanded oak handle.

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You may have noticed that the drill press only had 1 handle originally and that I had machined 2 handles. This is because I opted to retro fit an upper handle onto the top down feed gear. Of the drill press models that I researched I saw numerous models equipped with this upper handle. The purpose of the handle was to aid in rapid vertical feed of the drill chuck when setting up the material for drilling. The 101 model I was dealing will had a hole in the casting of the the upper gear that allowed for a handle to be added. I am unsure if a handle was there as some point or if it did not come on this model. The provisions were there so I opted to add my own handle assembly. I wanted to keep all my “gordsgarage” manufactured components looking as though they were original so I built a simple arbor for the upper handle. This is the start of the arbor before the final machining took place.

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Here is the final machined upper handle arbor. I needed to cut it in such a way that it would clear the down feed ratchet lever.

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One of the more crucial repairs involved the drive gear . This is the gear that is turned directly by the crank handle. The problem was that the gear had worn on the shaft and therefore the teeth would no longer mesh due to misalignment. The gear is cast with no inner bushing. Since the shaft that it rides on inspected to have some wear it was fairly minor. I opted to enlarge the bore of the gear in order to accept a bronze bushing.

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Here is the bronze bushing that I machined down in order to fit the gear and the shaft.

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The bronze bushing then got press fit into the gear. I made the bronze bushing a very tight fit on the shaft knowing that once it was pressed into the gear I would be able to hone the bushing for a precision fit. Happy to say my gear teeth meshing issue was solved and the gear alignments were perfect.

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The next few pictures show some random repairs. On the right is shown the cam wheel that rides on the drive gear and activates the cam arm. There were a couple issues with it. First it had a flat spot on one side most likely caused by it’s inability to turn freely. The second issue was that the securing screw, for the wheel, could not be tightened since it would not allow the wheel to turn. What the manufacturer did was thread the screw in loose and then mushroom the back side of the treads in order to lock it in place. The problem using this method of securing is that it does not allow for disassembly for maintenance or repair. My solution involved machining a new wheel that was equipped with an inner bushing for the wheel to rotate around. This way the allen head securing bolt can be tightened properly and also removed at a later date if needed to. NOTE: I realize the allen bolt I used is not period correct. Fortunately the drive gear blocks it from sight.

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Next challenge was to address a one-time-use crush sleeve. The sleeve on the right was used to keep a couple of securing pins in place. The securing pins connected the drill chuck shaft to the down feed acme shaft. One-time-use is the issue and unfortunately for me I was second in line. I wanted to find a solution that would not only look similar to OEM equipment but also allow for disassembly. I machined a bronze sleeve and installed a 10-24 set screw. I opted to leave the outside of the sleeve untouched therefore keeping its worn looking exterior. Again I realize the set screw does not fit with the time period. It’s my project and I can screw with it if I want to. That’s just my one cents.

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Just like the cam wheel the cam lever also needed to be able to turn/pivot on it’s securing fastener. The cam lever pivot was originally made from a 7/16 bolt shown on the right. If this bolt was tightend it would not allow the lever to pivot. In order to keep the bolt “loose” but prevent it from backing off the threads have been flattened. This is visible by looking at the deformed thread 6 threads from the end of the bolt on the right. I am not huge supporter in this securing technique and therefore a solution would be required. The second issue was that the female threads that were cut into the lever arm securing bracket were cut at a slight angle. This caused issues with proper lever alignment. My solution invloved building what is visible on the left. It is a bushing that is secured using a 3/8″ square headed (keep the vintage look) bolt. Not only did this allow me to tighten the bolt, it also allowed a better quality pivot, and it repaired 90% of my lever alignment issues due to the fact I eliminated using the angle threaded original hole. Got all that? Didn’t think so.

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Another challenge involved the down feed 5/8″ six turn single start acme rod. The drill appeared to have sat for awhile in unfavorable envirmental conditions a therefore the threads suffered some corrosion. I opted not to reuse the orignal shaft but instead build a new one. I began by obtaining a new three foot section of 5/8″ acme rod, cutting it down to size, building up a portion of it with the TIG welder and a 309 rod, and then machining it down to match the spec of the original rod.

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In this picture the corrosion of the original threads are evident on the bottom shaft. I am happy to say that the female threads were still is decent condition and that the new, replacement, shaft threads perfectly into its counterpart.

Below is a 32 second video showing the mocked up drill press in action. Normally I toss in some generic music to help pass the video viewing time but in this case I opted not to. The reason being that the pure mechanical sound that this drill press makes is symphonic. I almost think the mechanical sound of the unit working in harmony is the best part. I’m considering making a 3 minute recording and put it up for sale on iTunes. Coming home after a hard days work , sitting in your Lazy Boy with a set of headphones on, and entering an oasis of non cyber stimulation would be well deserved for those in appreciation of such mechanical bliss.

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The last 2 pictures show the mock up stage. Do not look too hard at the assembly since I purposely did not assembly everything 100%. The securing pins below the bearing assembly are just loosely fitted in order to allow for easy disassembly. At this point though the fabrication and repair have all bee completed and I am happy to say that the drill performd very well. I have never had the opportunity to use on of these drills in it’s original state so I can’t comment if my rendition if better, worse, or the same however I would have no hesitation in guaranteeing all the work I performed.

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At this point the drill will be completely dissembled and the “finishing” process will begin. I’ll save all those details and pictures for a later date.

Comments
  1. Dio says:

    I love it. A mechanical symphony. Well done!

  2. Bruce says:

    Well thought out and well documented repair.

    • gordsgarage says:

      Thanks Bruce, truth is I left a lot of details out. I could have gone on and on but I needed to limit the content. Hopefully it gives a generally detailed (is that possible?) idea of what I did.

      Thanks!
      Gord

  3. Jason Garber says:

    This is a great post and I have been looking forward to seeing what you did with all those McMaster Carr parts🙂

    Awesome! Thanks for the mention.

    • gordsgarage says:

      Thanks Jason, couldn’t have done it with out you. Did you notice that after 5 years I finally gave your site a link on my home page blogroll? That was long overdue, sorry it took so long. You have cool projects going on and it was time to let my corner of the cyber world know.

      Thanks!
      Gord

  4. Ron Kluwe says:

    Gord;

    I have a Champion Blower and Forge 9″ lathe (one of 5 known to exist) and it is cool to see you restoring this post drill. These are not uncommon here in the States and are usually in the condition you started with. They were typically sold for use on farms and most suffered a lot of abuse.

    For your finish of the drill, use Japan Black as the paint. Champion used black japanning as their typical color and my lathe still had quite a bit of the original finish on it when I got it (came from my wife’s father when he passed away and his father was the original purchaser of the lathe). It is a semi-gloss finish and would probably be similar to a coach finish black.

    I really enjoy following your projects and I am always very impressed by both the craftsmanship and artistry you bring to your work.

    Regards;

    Ron Kluwe

    • gordsgarage says:

      Hi Ron, thanks for taking the time to give me an education. I was not familiar with black japanning. I had some time to kill this morning so I spent a couple hours researching it. I’m intrigued to try it out. From what I read it appears to basically be asphaltum powder dissolved in a turpentine mixture. The mixture is then painted onto the component and then allowed to dry thereby evaporating the turpentine out of the mixture. Once dry the component is baked and the asphaltum powder is hardened. It sounds like a cool process. I looked for a asphaltum powder supplier, somewhat hard to come by although it is available.

      I was originally leaning toward painting it using SEM’s “Hot Rod Black” kit. I have used the paint before and it gives a fantastic black finish with just a bit of satin to it. I thought it would be an appropriate modern solution for a vintage problem.

      Now I am unsure, I am still 80% in favor or using the Hot Rad Black however I have to admit that there is a huge part of me that wants to pull off the challenge of black japanning. I’ll sleep on it.

      Any pictures of your lathe lingering on the internet?

      Thanks Ron!
      Gord

  5. Ron Kluwe says:

    Gord;

    Go to this location (http://www.vintagemachinery.org/mfgindex/detail.aspx?id=165). There is a print ad of the drill you are restoring and you can see the handle shapes.

    This location (http://www.vintagemachinery.org/photoindex/detail.aspx?id=16623) is photos of my lathe from when I pulled it out of my father-in-law’s garage. You can see that the original “japan” finish is a satin black.

    This location (http://www.vintagemachinery.org/photoindex/detail.aspx?id=17750) has some pictures of a very original post drill that I believe is that same as the one you are restoring. This drill is painted in OD Green, but that may be because the owner of the drill believes it originally was sold to the U.S. Army. Another option for color.

    “Japaning” is not an easy process, but it leaves a finish that is very tough to mar. Would be similar to today’s powder coating process to my mind.

    Keep on this, I can’t wait to see how it comes out.

    Regards;

    Ron

    • gordsgarage says:

      Thanks for all the links Ron. I had seen some of the drill press photos on the vintagemachinery when I did my initial research. The handles are cool looking. I had considered replicating them however trying to make 2 identical handles like that on a metal lathe is a challenge.

      Your lathe looks fantastic, you are lucky to have been able to obtain it and its history. I absolutely love the mechanical based machines. Take good care of it.

      The more I ponder the finish the more I think I am going to go with the Hot Rod Black. If the drill was restored to original there would be no question about it and it would get japan black. I’ll see yet.

      Thanks for the info!
      Gord

  6. […] rehabbing a historic woodworking tool that they want to add to their live demo woodshop. It’s a hundred-year-old manual drill press that has seen a ton of […]

  7. The Stu says:

    Hot Damn, Gord, that is a very very cool project.

  8. federico says:

    Beautiful work. What an awesome machine.

    • gordsgarage says:

      Thanks Federico, I love the old mechanical machines. They sound awesome and look awesome. It’s too bad that the days of drafting something on paper and then getting your hands dirty to build it are over. I’ll be sad to see the post drill leave.

      Thanks!
      Gord

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