I was poking around in my favorite tool dealer’s booth when I came across a couple of smaller eggbeater drills. One was a Millers Falls and one was a Goodell Pratt. I gave the MF drill a good long look. The crank rotated very smoothly with the merest sound of hummingbird wisps as gears interlaced at high speed. Unfortunately, the chuck jaws failed to work properly so I put it back on its shelf with a heavy heart and a frown.
The Goodell Pratt drill also had a smooth rotating action, though it was noisier than its iconic brethren. I attributed that to the previous owner who clearly had lubed the piece up for a good ole fashioned pig chase. The chuck functioned properly…all the parts were there…and there were brass appointments as well. At $9.95, I couldn’t go wrong.
Here’s what I brought home.
Tuning up my GP
I resolved to do a minimal restoration. In fact, I wanted to do a part rehab, part restoration—a rehabistoration. I would remove rust and polish metal surfaces where possible (restoration) and leave existing paint and wood finishes (rehab) because they added some nice character. That was the plan. The plan didn’t unfold the way I thought it would.
I decided to do a basic break down. Basically, I only removed the main crank and unscrewed the chuck. Since the chuck works ok, I decided not to take it apart and risk tinsy springs boinging all over hell’s half acre never to be found again. Or worse—risk breaking one of those springs and having to fashion a new one. Boy, reading the thread about one guy’s spring-making chuck-restoration experience was enough to make me break into a cold sweat.
As for the pins holding spindles and such—screw that. They stayed right where they were. No pin pinging for me on this project.
That left the body with rust spots and the crank. I chucked up a new brass wire brush from my Arizona tool hunt into my Dremel and removed what rust I could. Then I wiped down the spindles with a toothbrush and mineral spirits. This I followed by a good polishing of gear teeth, metal shaft and brass pieces on my bench grinder’s cloth buffing pad (no rouge).
Next, I turned my attention to the crank.
I gave the disassembled crank the mineral spirits/toothbrush treatment before putting it into an Evaporust bath to remove the rust spots here and there. The next morning, I discovered that the Evaporust had also removed all the original paint! Damn it! I didn’t know Evaporust would do that. Shaking my head, I upgraded the crank’s rehab to a restore.
I used the brass Dremel brush to polish up the crank gear teeth as best I could and called it good.
Have you ever built a model airplane? Or perhaps painted a miniature tank model to play war games? For those of you who haven’t, you can find books and instructions crammed with excruciating detail about which specific, German-Western-Front-Tank-Track-Grey paint to use where.
When it comes to Goodell Pratt painting manuals, well there aren’t any. I scoured Sawmillcreek.com and Lumberjocks but there’s scant little information about what paint colors to use. I did glean that some guys had used Rustoleum Sunrise Red to good effect on their Millers Falls eggbeater restoration projects. It was worth a try.
Now the most time-consuming part about painting a wheel crank isn’t the painting. It’s the taping of the parts you don’t want painted. That includes each of the crank gear teeth and a few other zones. Which zones? Fortunately, I took many photos before the crank went into the paint-killing Evaporust. From those I was able to piece together where to mask and where to paint.
I used blue painter’s tape to mask most of the pieces. But the gear teeth proved tricky.
The blue tape did not have sufficient adhesive to stay in the tiny gear valleys. So I used masking tape. And I used the back of an Exacto knife blade to press the tape to the metal surfaces. I also cut a small arc in 1/2″ strips of tape at a time to mirror the rounded crank shape.
I started by pressing masking tape to the top of a gear tooth then pressing masking tape to the inside wall of the tooth, the bottom of the valley then to the opposite side wall. I made sure the tape was securely attached to the side wall and fully seated in the valley before tapping down the tape on the opposite tooth top. Otherwise, the tape would be pulled from the valley to leave a fill-me-with-paint gap above the tooth. This laborious process took about a half hour.
With the piece masked it was time to paint.
I’ve heard of people who create a hard painted surface by baking the finished pieces in their ovens. My research turned up spotty instructions on what temp and how to do this…at best. Witkor Lutkov “bakes” his crank and chassis paints but he doesn’t share the finer details about how to actually do that nor what colors he uses. So I opted to let nature take its course and dry each light coat overnight before adding the next one.
To prevent runs, I painted one side, let the coat dry overnight, then flipped it over and painted the other side. Three total coats took six days.
With the respective parts completed, reassembly took two minutes. The “hardest” part of this step was determining how tightly to screw on the nut that holds the main crank. Initially I tightened it too much and the crank was hard to turn. I progressively loosened the nut until it was too loose (the crank would wobble) then tightened it down until it stopped wobbling.
Here’s the before/after collage:
…and some before/after crank shots
…and some before/after crank detail shots
…and finally some before/after body detail shots.
Testing and adding to my tool kit
I chucked up a small bit (13/64″) to test the drill in a scrap piece of 2″ x 4″.
It started easily and drilled through easily. The action was smooth. A bit quieter than before I cleaned and polished it but still audible as the gears rotate. More like raven’s wings flapping.
No matter. She performs well, and I’ve added her to my tool kit.