Thursday, July 27, 2017

Delta/Rockwell Homecraft Drill Press from the '40s

I needed... OK, "needed" may be a little strong. I desired to have a drill press for the garage because, well, you know, everyone needs (oops, there I go again) a drill press in their garage. This one popped up on the local Craigslist, and was advertised as made by Montgomery Ward. I took a look at the photos and tried to determine what model of Montgomery Ward it was. No joy. I then did a search using one of the casting numbers on the main body of the drill press (HDP125) and got many hits regarding Homecraft/Delta drill presses. Hmm. Is that what this one was?

Yes indeedy, it was a Delta/Rockwell Homecraft brand. Made in the '40s, these were quite heavy duty for their size (but I suppose everything back then was). The website has vast information on Delta/Rockwell power tools, and the weight listed for this model (either an 11-110 or 11-120) in a Homecraft brochure was 82 pounds minus the motor, so adding a motor would probably tip the heft to over 100 pounds for this little tabletop piece of machinery. I can attest to the fact that it was very difficult to get into and out of my Mustang's small trunk, but at 40 cents (or less) per pound, I'm not complaining.

Serial number D 8064 by my reckoning puts the manufacture date of the drill press in the mid- to late-1940s timeframe.

When I was looking at the drill press at the seller's house, I was trying to figure out the chuck, as I'd never seen one quite like it. It said Jacobs on it but there was no similarity to the Jacobs chucks I've used. It is a model 6426 "Hex-Key" chuck.

The patent listed on the chuck is from 1943 or 1944.

Fortunately a tag hung from the drill press, presumably since the time it was new, that gave instructions on how to use the chuck.
- Align two "zero" marks
- Insert drill bit into chuck
- Hand-tighten collar until snug
- Using hex key, turn hex socket until tight

How cool is that to still have this tag on the drill press 70+ years after someone first purchased it! The seller did mention the drill press was his grandfather's, so maybe Grandpa made a point to keep the tag with the machine. I'm so glad he did. I don't imagine many of these tags are still in existence.

Another interesting thing about the drill press is the motor. It is a Montgomery Ward 1/3 hp model (thus the seller's reasoning for thinking the drill press was made by MW). That part isn't so interesting, but the fact that the motor is reversible using the three-position on/off/on switch is pretty cool.

One final thought on this little machine. It just so happens this drill press is nearly identical to the one my dad had in his shop when I was growing up. My brother ended up with Dad's drill press but now I also have one to remind me of my youth. Neat-o mosquito.

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