Chris Schwarz's Blog

The North Bros. 1530 (and I'm Running Out of Superlatives)

Wiktor Kuc and I have an unusual relationship. I’ve never met the man, but I send him articles about tools for his web site, WKFineTools.com. And occasionally, out of the blue, he’ll send me a vintage eggbeater drill he has restored.

I think I have the better half of this arrangement, but I’m not going to complain.

During
the last few years, Kuc has become quite a maestro at restoring
eggbeater drills. He disassembles them, strips them to the bare metal then  rebuilds and repaints them. Holding one of his drills is as close as
stepping into a time machine as we might all get. These things look
like they were made yesterday. And they spin like a top.

The
drill that Kuc sent me right before Woodworking in America hit a real
sweet spot with me. It is the North Bros. 1530A, which is a device that
points to the fact that this Philadelphia tool company had harnessed
alien technology. Or they shrank a gnome and stuck it in the gearbox.

The
gizmo-factor of this tool is off the charts. On the shaft of this
10-1/2″-long tool is a five-position sliding switch. Each position
changes how the chuck moves.

In the position closest to the
chuck, the drill operates as you would expect: Spin the wheel clockwise
and you drill in. Counterclockwise, you drill out.

Position two: Clockwise does nothing. Counterclockwise rotates the chuck to drill out.

Position three: Clockwise rotates the chuck to drill in. Counterclockwise does nothing.

Position
four: This is hard to believe until you see it. No matter which way you
turn the wheel, the chuck always spins to drill into the work. Crazy.

Position five: The gears are locked, like my brain at this point.

The drill’s ratchet mechanism is based on the Patent 894,673
–  from 1908 by George O. Leopold. Check out the patent drawings if you
want to see what the guts look like. The guts make me never want to
open up the gearbox.

If you want to read more about the drill, you can download the 1926 North Bros. catalog for free from Kuc’s site here.

I’ve
been using this little drill quite a bit and it’s great for holes up to
1/4″ in diameter. If you’d like to own one of these, Kuc can hook you up. It might take a little while for him to complete the restoration as it is quite involved, but it’s worth it.

Which reminds me: I have an article I need to upload to his site.

— Christopher Schwarz

Other Boring Resources

• Like braces? Check out Sanford Moss’s excellent site. Moss also sells nice vintage braces and is a very good seller.

• Millers Falls made some of the best drills and braces ever. To drink the Kool-Aid, head directly to oldtoolheaven.com. It’s good Kool-Aid. Red.

5 thoughts on “The North Bros. 1530 (and I'm Running Out of Superlatives)

  1. Wilfred

    The last time I paid attention to you about a North Bros tool, it cost me $250.00 to buy a brace on eBay. I will not read your whole post. Besides, I have an exquisite M-F eggbeater that suits me just fine.

  2. Steve

    I picked up a case of superlatives at a garage sale a few years ago. They were in near-mint condition, in their original boxes. They appear to be pre-WWII vintage (e.g., I have a couple of nice bee’s knees, along with a stunning cat’s pajamas, which would suggest that they’re from the 1920’s), but I haven’t been able to pin down the precise date of manufacture. A few of them show a little bit of surface rust, but it wouldn’t take more than a minute or two with some steel wool to make them look like new. That is, assuming you’re going to be a user rather than a collector, of course.

    So anyway, if you ever do run out of superlatives…

  3. David

    I just ordered a drill from Wiktor a few days ago. 18 – 20 week waiting time is what I was told. If you’re interested, you best get in line with the rest of us :)

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