Monday, March 21, 2011

The Goodell-Pratt And Millers Falls 188A Push Drills, Disassembled

One of our neighbors is retiring and moving to the coast, so he had a shop garage sale this weekend. I picked up a little of this and a little of that. Included in my haul were two old push drills. One is a Goodell-Pratt and the other a Millers Falls. Both are model 188A as Millers Falls merged with Goodell-Pratt in the early 1930s. There’s a comprehensive set of pages on the Millers Falls company here, with detail on the push drills here.
The two drills.

Ok, bear with me, this is a little boring…follow the text around the handle…

Pulling down on the catch allows the cap to rotate, exposing the drill storage compartments by size…


The other one…

I know, exciting!


End on, with another earlier Greenlee drill I have. The caps on the 188As Seem to be riveted to the handle, where the earlier one uses a screw.


To disassemble I pushed down on the drill slightly to take up some tension.
And unscrewed the barrel.


It’s stopped by the chuck…


The chuck. Notice the pin.


The chuck cap unscrews, although that wire ring acts as a spring detent so you have to wiggle and pull to get it all the way off.


I clamped the knurled ring in the plastic jaws of a vise.


And unscrewed the nut from the handle.


The spring has a wooden guide – which is interesting, if you think about it.


The other 188A has a screw instead of a pin retaining the jaws. I was unable to punch or press the pin on the other one out, so I gave up…


With the screw removed the jaw assembly comes out. Notice how dirty it is.


Two pieces and a spring for tension.


The drill shanks are cruciform in cross section.


They engage the jaws thusly.


The screw and nut are a fast helix.


An 8 start thread.


When the drill is pushed down, 1-1/2” of travel turns it one revolution.

A little cleaning and oiling and the drills are almost nearly as good as new. And every now and then I’m sure I’ll use one.


prlange22 said...

I really enjoyed this blog. I have a Millers Falls 188A which was given to my by my father. I have used it for many projects over the years and just used it today. It was not working smoothly so I disassembled it, cleaned it, oiled it and it works great again. I could have used your diagrams, but did not find them till after I was done. Had a great time with this project. Every time I used it I think of my father. Mine is priceless.

Paul Lange
Kirkland, WA

prlange22 said...

I really enjoyed your blog about this push drill. I have a Millers Falls Model 188A which I received from my father many moons ago. I have used it for many projects over the year and still use it today. It was not working smoothly today so I disassembled it, cleaned, lightly oiled it and it works perfectly. I could have used your photos for that work, but I did not find you blog until after I was done. For some reason I got the urge to Google "188A push drill" and found your blog.

timothy porteous said...

I just picked up one of these old beauties but am missing the spiring and wooden guide will try and look around to find some kind of sping that may work as for the guide I have a wood lathe and should be able to make 1 would realy like to know the dimensions of both the spring and guide.

Anonymous said...

I just found one of these in a tool box I got at an auction. Still worked. I can't stand not knowing how something works, so I decided to dismantle and clean it up-it's the Gooddell Pratt 188A. Got it all apart and the only rust was on the chuck collett. Some gunk in the brass screw mechanism, but cleaned up great.
A great blog here on the tear down--thank you!
AND--you are correct about the wooden push plunger--odd.

Michael said...

Do you know of any supplier of the fluted bits other than eBay? i think Klein tools made something similar. Thanks, Mike

David Naisuler said...

Hi, thanks for the post, I have a MF 188a I received from my grandfather, and is apparently the same vintage as the 1937 house I have recently bought with plaster and lath walls.

I was at a loss to hang pictures and fixtures from the walls due to the P&L when after a year or so I remembered my grandfather's push drill- it still had a few bits in it, one of which was ground to a relatively sharp point- I found it perfect for penetrating the plaster and putting a nice divot in the lath behind it, leaving a perfect clearance hole in the plaster and a similarly perfect start in the lath for a #8 or so screw, which now allows me to hang shelves with abandon and not a worry about breaking plaster out! And the holes left after removing the screws are supremely easy to patch, easier than drywall if that is somehow possible...

In this context, it is no wonder these push drills were so popular- it gives as much holding power in plaster and lath as the Zip-Its I love to use in drywall do, and with the same ease of use! I never thought I would be so anxious to put holes in my walls, but now I wish I could start selling these on QTV, they are so awesome!

Unknown said...

I received my 188A from my grandfather in 1964?. I'm now 80 and fear my grandkids will not appreciate it's history or it's handiness. I was using it today when I decided to "look it up". I'm glad I did. Thanks for posting such interesting "stuff" about such an old tool. Mine is priceless to me but I suspect worthless to others. ;o( oldbuck

Unknown said...

Does anyone know where to order replacement bits from?

Felice Luftschein said...

Garrett Wade & Amazon have the Stanley detent style, not sure where to get the cruciform shank style that the Goodell Pratt uses, Ebay has many sellers of used and NOS, if a bit expensive.

Anonymous said...

Great job on this!