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Re: 1957 Power Tools [Re: noderaser] #168432 09/04/07 03:42 PM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 26
Beachboy Offline
My Dad had a Craftsman 1/4" power drill from about 1951. Of course, it had the metal housing, no plastic back in those days. Anyway, the power cord on it had a regular two pronged plug, but their was a 4" pigtail that came out of the side of the plug, which was the ground. Attached to the end of the pigtail was a small "socket". Presumabily, to ground the drill, you were supposed to remove the electrical outlet cover plate screw, replace it with a special screw supplied with the drill, that when screwed back into the receptical, still stuck out about 1/4". When you plugged your shiny new electric drill into the outlet, you were supposed to also attach the pigtail fitting onto the metal screw that was holding the cover plate on. Never mind the fact that most wiring was ungrounded Romex at the time, but how many homeowners actually would limit the use of the drill in that dedicated "special" outlet with the ground attachment.

Needless to say, both Dad and I used that drill for decades without it being grounded. By the way, the drill still works and is in my parent's basement, although it hasn't been used for years. I guess what we didn't know couldn't kill us! (j/k)

Tools for Electricians:
Re: 1957 Power Tools [Re: noderaser] #168503 09/06/07 07:13 PM
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 16
Tinkerer Offline
I had a cousin who was electrocuted when the grounding conductor in the plug came lose and contacted the energized conductor which electrified the case. He had been working on a ladder. I was the one who found the problem while investigating the accident.

Re: 1957 Power Tools [Re: noderaser] #168510 09/06/07 10:12 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 155
Dave T Offline
I had the circular saw which took a 7" blade. I tried a 7-1/4" and it just barely fit.
I was a bit heavy but a well built saw with good power.
She bought the farm when I dropped it and broke the aluminum casting. I hated to throw it in the garbage.

Re: 1957 Power Tools [Re: Dave T] #168608 09/10/07 09:33 AM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 2,492
Texas_Ranger Offline
I once saw the German/Austrian version of those old drills at a flea market... it just had the classic class 0 ungrounded plug.
My grandfather owned one of those tiny DIY drills and my father says it was incredibly cheesy, undersized motor and ridiculous accessories (skil saw, sander, shoe repair tool, hedge clippers... all useless).

In the HUngarian Electrotechnical Museum I saw a picture of a 1880s(!) handheld power drill which looked surprisingly modern!

Forgot one thing... my dad owns a 1973 AEG drill though, the very first model with electronic speed control, and it's indestructible! Cost a month's wages back then (or even 2) and is still going strong.

Last edited by Texas_Ranger; 09/10/07 09:35 AM.
Re: 1957 Power Tools [Re: Texas_Ranger] #168655 09/11/07 08:49 PM
Joined: May 2007
Posts: 169
ChicoC10 Offline
My dad had 1 of the 1/2" drills when I was working for him 20-25 years ago. One of my tasks with this drill was to climb up on a stack of plywood and drill 4 holes through it using a 2 or 2 1/2" (can't remember for sure) paddle bit.
It caught and threw me right off of the stack.
Don't remember what the plug looked like then as we were but humble carpenters at the time.
I seem to remember it being dropped and the case being broken.

Re: 1957 Power Tools [Re: Trumpy] #168658 09/11/07 11:05 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 288
yaktx Offline
Actually, I'd never thought of the metal bit hitting a live cable with one of these drills, although metal appliances have always required an earth (ground) wire in them here.

I thought about it, when I was, like, a second-year apprentice. That doesn't mean I never did anything stupid like what Harold mentioned! (Yeah, remember standing at the top of the extension ladder leaned up against a pole, resting on the truck bumper, tied off only with a piece of romex, stripping a wire I wasn't sure was dead, only because I thought my foreman would say something bad about me... Don't ever do that!!)

No, on this job, my foreman gave me a Hole Hawg with a 3.5" hole saw and told me to cut a hole for a smoke detector in a lath-and-plaster ceiling. This house had "knob and tube". I put that in scare quotes because there were no actual knobs or tubes anywhere. The conductors were lead sheathed and stapled, and I'd seen enough of the house to know they would be right between the lath. Yes, both the cord and the drill had grounding continuity. Yes, I tested the GFCI, and it was functional. Still, you ever try to hold a Hole Hawg in such a way as not to touch metal? It may be plugged in to a GFCI, but I'd bet whatever circuit I might drill into isn't. A GFCI doesn't interrupt the EGC, nor does it do anything about other circuits.

Well, I cut the hole, and there wasn't a wire there. There are always risks. It's always good to think them through beforehand.

Re: 1957 Power Tools [Re: aussie240] #168659 09/11/07 11:17 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 288
yaktx Offline
Originally Posted by aussie240
While obviously modern power tools sold in the U.S are plastic cased like the rest of the world, do they have the 'square within a square' symbol on them to indicate this, or is it only in the 220-240V countries?

Yes, the 'square within a square' symbol is used on North American double-insulated tools.

Yes, it's always worth remembering that even a cordless drill can electrocute you if you drill into a live conductor. Always be aware of possible paths to ground, and stay out of them. Good point!

Re: 1957 Power Tools [Re: yaktx] #168660 09/11/07 11:24 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 288
yaktx Offline
My dad likes to tell a story from the '50s. My grandfather was a carpenter, and my dad would help him in the summers. This was on the Texas Gulf Coast, a very humid and rainy place. After a fresh rain, you really didn't want to touch the circular saw, since you knew there was a fairly good chance of getting popped.

My grandfather's boss was one of those rare people who could not feel an electric shock. This is not exactly a good thing. The tool that no one else would touch, he would pick up and use. He would be utterly unaware of the current flowing through his body, at least until he finished the cut. That's when he would realize that he couldn't let go of the saw.

By the way, he didn't actually consider this a problem. After all, to break the circuit, all he had to do was jump up in the air!

Re: 1957 Power Tools [Re: Admin] #168661 09/11/07 11:34 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 288
yaktx Offline
The cheapest 1/2" drill shown in this ad is $38. See the equivalent in 2006 dollars here:

Re: 1957 Power Tools [Re: Admin] #168665 09/12/07 03:23 AM
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 1,803
Alan Belson Offline
...all he had to do was jump up in the air!

Wood work but can't!
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