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Good Ol' Goodell-Pratt Breast Drill


Joshua Snead

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I walked into an antique store a couple days ago looking for a pocket watch for my brother. Lo and behold they had a Goodell-Pratt 2 speed breast drill for sale. I've been looking for just such a drill for a while so naturally I couldn't leave without it. I did not, however, leave with a pocket watch, funny how that happens. Here are some pics.

 

BreastDrill1.jpg

 

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The speed on the drill is adjusted by pulling out and turning a little knob which slides an internal component that will engage one of the gears while the other turns idly.

 

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My drill had a problem however, it wouldn't engage the smaller gear. I was really concerned something was broken so I had to take it apart to see. Although it's a simple design, I was a little puzzled about how to get it apart so hear is how I figured out how to do it:

 

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Step 1: Unscrew these 3 screws.

 

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Step 2: The crank handle and gear should slide right out. The main drive shaft (is that the right name?), with the chuck, should also pull out easily, but in my case there was a swell along the corners of the groove on the shaft that made it very difficult to remove. I was afraid to break it by pulling something out that shouldn't come out but there didn't seem to be any other way to take it apart. So I gave it a good tug and viola!

 

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It popped right out. A little 180grit sandpaper cleaned up the swell in a few seconds and it slides nicely now. Below are some pics of the gear mechanism.

 

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The center part slides up or down to engage only the gear you wish to drive the drill, thus changing the speed and power ratio. I love the simplicity of it. When I first took it apart the center piece was oriented in the opposite direction as shown above, which I believe was preventing it from engaging the lower gear. Flipping the piece and cleaning up the shaft fixed the problem and now I have a new (old) working breast drill. (This will go great with my steampunk welding goggles B) )

 

BreastDrillChuck1.jpg

 

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Here are a couple pics of the unusual 2-piece chuck. It will be handy for square and tapered bits, but I also bought a regular 3 prong chuck that will fit inside this one to hold those ever-so-handy small drill bits.

"It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter." Proverbs 25:2 (KJV)

bezalelblades.blogspot.com

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The price wasn't bad at all. I've seen them on ebay anywhere from $30-$200, but I'm always leery of buying tools when I can't look at them. This one cost me about $45. I could easily spend more on a new electric drill that wouldn't work half as well. The antique shop actually had another breast drill, single speed and newer, which was a little more expensive (probably because of the gear issue). The owner does a good job of cleaning up the tools he sells and often has some pretty unique stuff.

"It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter." Proverbs 25:2 (KJV)

bezalelblades.blogspot.com

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Is the name Breast drill refering to leaning into the drill with your chest for power and push?

 

Yes, I do believe that's where the name comes from. Like you said the plate sits against your shoulder or breast and allows for more force to be applied to a drill, similar to the press action of a drill press. Back when they used bow drills they had a metal breastplate with concave punch marks in it which was strapped to the chest. The back end of the drill sat in that punch mark, turning freely but not slipping, and the worker could then lean into whatever he was drilling again for more strength, but also control. Pretty cool I think!

"It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter." Proverbs 25:2 (KJV)

bezalelblades.blogspot.com

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