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Could use a hand identifying

todda323

Plastic
Joined
Nov 24, 2022
Good to meet everyone. this is my first post. I picked up this post drill a while back and have recently gotten around to messing with it. I was hoping someone could help ID it. Only thing I can find on it is "Champion Forge Co, Lancaster PA" on the right side if facing it and "Warranted" on the left side. No model I can find, at least prior to disassembly. It resembles a a 96 but there are some distinct differences in, what I believe, is a quick return. I have scoured pics and period ads for these and have yet to find one that exactly matches. If this post looks familiar I have asked on another site too.
 

Joe Michaels

Diamond
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Location
Shandaken, NY, USA
Todda133:

Welcome to our forum. There is (or was) a reprint of the Champion catalog of 1909 or thereabouts. I got it thru Centaur Forge some few years back. That reprint has the complete catalog lineup of the post drills Champion offered. Champion seemed to play 'mix n match' with their post (or wall) drills, offering the same basic mainframe casting made up in several versions, some with the quick return, some without, some with tight & loose pulleys for lineshaft drive, and on it went.

The full name of the manufacturer is "Champion Blower & Forge Company". I have a Champion forge in my own blacksmith shop, a 30" x 40" riveted steel hearth pan with their "Whirlwind" firepot and 'Famous 400" 12" blower. I've got a Champion lineshaft driven grinder, and a couple of Champion post drills. I use the forge, but the post drills and grinder are gathering dust. Champion was a prolific builder of blacksmith shop equipment in the form of forges, blowers, firepots, wall drills, tire benders and tire shrinkers/welders and a line of thread cutting tap and die sets. As time went on, Champion got into building what is known as the "Camelback" type drill presses, as well as offering small 'screw cutting lathes' and lineshaft driven grinders. They saw the handwriting on the wall and knew it was time to start offering equipment for automobile repair garages. Champion, at one point, must have easily had about 16 or 18 different models of post or wall type drills. Their lineup of tools and equipment varied as the years passed.

Champion, in the catalog reprint that I have, really played up the 'quick return' feature on some of their post drills. Their byline was something to the effect of: "just think of it: the drill returns as quickly as snapping the hammer of a gun." They made somewhat inflated claims as to how much a shop's productivity would be increased by using one of their post drills with the quick return feature and the handlever feed. Back then, their advertising was given to some pretty wild exaggerations as to how perfectly their forge blowers and drills and other equipment worked. I use my Champion forge quite regularly, and while it certainly does the job for me, I can't say the blower is 'noiseless' or 'perfect' or an 'heirloom' to use some of Champion's prose.

The post drills ranged in design from very simple to complex, and in size and weight from something weighing maybe 90-100 pounds to some models weighing close to 500 lbs. In the days when there was no electricity and no light-duty drill presses (the kind with round tubular steel columns and V belt drive to the spindle), a post drill was a great thing. It definitely beat trying to push a drill thru steel (or wrought iron) using a hand ratchet drill and 'old man' (a kind of post that you bucked the feed screw of the ratchet drill against), or using a breast drill or even a hand brace. As time went on, people who had the old post drills often adapted them to be driven by electric motors. I'd run into this sort of thing in older country garages and equipment repair shops. The old post drills, used with the 'turned shank' twist drills (also known as "Silver and Deming" type drill bits) were used to drill larger diameter holes in occasional jobs. Champion had a socket type of arrangement on the spindles of their post drills which accepted turned shank drill bits with a flat on them. Champion advertised this simple thing as a stroke of engineering genius on their part.

Interestingly, at the time Champion was in their heyday of making post drills along with the forges and other smithing equipment, the Morse self-locking tapers were in fairly common use for drill shanks and lathe centers. I have a Barnes camelback drill in my blacksmith shop dating to around 1885 which has a Number 3 Morse Taper in its spindle as original equipment. The world knew there was something a lot better than a post drill and the turned-shank drills by that point in time, but the post drills hung on for blacksmith and rural shops. I could have mounted one of the post drills in my own blacksmith shop, but had to ask myself if I'd really use it. I work in the smith shop to get work done, not run a historical re-creation. Cranking a post drill to push a succession of larger diameter bits thru steel is not something I need to be doing.

Years ago, a mechanic I knew sold me some smithing tools that had come from his father's blacksmith shop. They closed the shop in 1952 when this fellow's father had died. The shop had never had electricity, and had a Canedy Otto forge with "Western Chief" hand blower, a Peter Wright Anvil, and a Champion post drill. I got all of that equipment. The mechanic told me he hated that post drill when he was a kid. He said his father would take on jobs to build ornamental steel fences and other stuff requiring drilling lots of holes. They used the post drill. As the fellow told it, the shop floor would be deep in chips, some blue from the heat, and he'd be cranking away all day on the post drill. After his father died and the shop was closed, he took the post drill and put a V pulley off a roto tiller on instead of the flywheel and drove it with a washing machine motor. He also had a mandrel made up to fit in the socket chuck on that drill, with a regular Jacobs drill chuck on it to take smaller and plain shanked bits.

I've had that post drill for 35 years sitting in corners of garages in houses we've lived in and never used it. I even got two Champion new-old-stock flywheels for the post drills at a yard sale. Never changed the V pulley on the post drill back to the correct flywheel. My wife bought another Champion post drill for me at a yard sale, thinking it was something I needed. It also has been sitting in another corner for a good 25 years. Plainly, these old post drills are OK if that is all you have to work with. An 1885 Barnes camelback drill is a real quantum leap ahead of the post drill. I gave a heavier Champion post drill away to a local blacksmith school, and I think they never got around to mounting or using it, either.

Get hold of the Champion catalog reprint, or post some pictures here and maybe I can match a model number to your Champion drill. If you want to say you drilled holes thru steel by hand power, this is the drill for you to be using. Or, if you want to be a 'true path' (or whatever they call it) blacksmith and do it all in the old traditional ways, this is the drill for your shop.
 

todda323

Plastic
Joined
Nov 24, 2022
Thanks for the info. I intended to post pics but got an error. I will post some when I can try to re size in paint. There is some heavy wear on the return gears but otherwise seems in good shape. It seems I have looked at every pic Google images has available yielding no results. I'd have to say so far it seems most similar to the 96 but still distinctly different.
If you really wanted to be an annoying purist about Blacksmithing you’d hot punch all your holes at the anvil.

Go here and click on the “Publications” tab and check out some Champions Forge catalogs.
If you really wanted to be an annoying purist about Blacksmithing you’d hot punch all your holes at the anvil.

Go here and click on the “Publications” tab and check out some Champions Forge catalogs. http://vintagemachinery.org/mfgindex/detail.aspx?id=165
Muchas gracias fc. I'll give it a look. I'll try to posy some pics when I'm off.
 

Joe Michaels

Diamond
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Location
Shandaken, NY, USA
Lewis Meyer:

Many thanks for posting the link to the Vintage Machinery site & their posting of the Champion catalog. The obituary for Mr. Long was interesting in its own right. In 1962, my parents took us kids to the Strasburg RR. I had written Strasburg a letter, asking to ride in the engine cab. I did not save any of the correspondence, but Strasburg did respond. My parents took us to Strasburg, and I got my cab ride (the Baldwin 0-6-0, locomotive 31, engineer was 'Bud" Swearer") on 12 October 1962. It was a really important moment in my young life as it helped me on the path to becoming a mechanical engineer. Along in my career, I got into doing engineering work on steam locomotive boilers, and that continues to this day.

The Champion catalog posted on the Vintage Machinery site is not dated, but the faded image in the frontispiece would appear to be 1926. I had never seen the later Champion catalog. It is apparent they were trying to go head-to-head with both Buffalo Forge & Canedy-Otto. They did not make it to the level of product line that Buffalo produced, since Champion never produced 'ironworkers' or steam engines as Buffalo Forge did. On the other hand, they seem to have surpassed Canedy-Otto in their 1926 product line. It is also evident that Champion was well aware that the automobile and truck were fast replacing horses. Their line of automotive garage equipment is something I never knew about.

I also learned from the catalog that I have a Champion 3A grinder. It is sitting on the floor of my shop awaiting cleanup, checking of bearings and making of wheel guards. After that, it goes out into my blacksmith shop. I learned from the catalog that the 3A grinder is listed as being able to take 10" diameter wheels.

Seeing the product line in the catalog, I was amazed at how Champion had adapted its line to the times. The number of electric grinders offered as well as the lathes and the camelback drills has me wondering what firm(s) Champion subcontracted the manufacture of these items to. Similarly, I wonder about their line of taps and dies, whether these were made by some sub-vendor to Champion.

I recall that in the 1960's, Champion was trying to stay afloat and in step with the times. As such, they offered what we would know today as a 'kettle grill', a home barbecue grill with domed cover. What made it unique was that it was offered with a Champion hand blower and blast pipe to accelerate the burning-down of the charcoal briquets. Charcoal lighter fluid and gas fired grills were the popular choices (and still are), so the Champion barbecue grill likely never was made in any big numbers.

I had also wondered about the spiral gearing in the Champion forge blowers, knowing similar gearing was used in hand operated cream separators. Sure enough, Champion applied the spiral gearing to a line of hand operated cream separators. Whether they were ever a serious threat to the likes of DeLaval is unlikely.

I have the two Champion post drills, neither of which is likely to see any use. I have a spare Champion 400 blower with 12" fan on the pipe-stand. My forge is the Champion Blacksmith's Forge with 30" x 40" riveted steel hearth pan and Whirlwind tuyere iron.It is a good forge for what work I do. If there ever was a Champion supplied hood with it, it was long gone by the time I fished the forge out of a muddy junkyard. It took some work to put the forge back into a usable condition. I run a side-draft forge hood made of plate steel, suspended from the rafters of the blacksmith shed. The Whirlwind tuyere iron is wide and deep, and works well for a good range of work and fire sizes. Champion made some overstated claims about the gearing and bearings in the 400 series blowers. Having rebuilt a few of them and using them, I have reason to say Champion was given to overstatement as to the operation and longevity of their blowers. Truth be known, having used and owning Buffalo Forge as well as Canedy Otto hand blowers, Canedy Otto was (at least in my opinion) the best of the hand forge blowers. Champion seems to have gone out of their way to use a more complex system of gearing. Canedy Otto used helical gears, with one gear made of "Micarta" or 'canvas reinforced Bakelite'. Much easier and smoother running blower and much better in terms of a sealed gear case.

Post drills were something of a dying thing by 1926, as is evidenced by Champion offering a line of camelback drills. I wonder if Champion, being in Lancaster, PA, did not simply subcontract their camelback drill production to Royersford Foundry. Royersford was probably the last manufacturer of camelback drills in the USA, maybe into the early 1970s'. Change the lettering on the patterns for casting the mainframes and Champion had their line of camelback drills. Designs are quite similar if not the same. Royersford was geographically close to Champion, aside from the design similarities.
 

todda323

Plastic
Joined
Nov 24, 2022
Thanks to fc I may have an ID of a 94. I am still trying to find photographs of one to verify.
 

JST

Diamond
Joined
Jun 16, 2001
Location
St Louis
I have one of the Champion post drills, it is on a post out in the shed, and I have used it. Same drills fit it that fit the portable crank drilling setup, which I have also used.

The post drill is probably a model 98, per that catalog. It drills OK, the feed is a little faster than would be best for most mild steel, but it is usable. It's a workout to use either it or the portable, especially with drills in the 1" area, but no power source is required.

The "no power source needed" feature is sometimes handy, but frankly, taking that heavy portable to the site is nearly as much work as taking a small generator and an electric drill. There are cases where it is nearly essential, though. It's a way to "black start" in certain conditions, though, which is why I keep them set up in working condition.
 

todda323

Plastic
Joined
Nov 24, 2022
Mine seems to be in relative working condition. I am hoping someone will have photos of a 94 so i can verify its identity. The return gearing is trashed and missing teeth. I have a couple of machinist buddies. I may inquire about having them re made but I think my first step is establish a positive I'd. Then disassemble, clean and inspect in further detail for any un seen defects. If things work out I may play around with a motor, pillow blocks and pulleys. Old line shaft pieces can be found with some effort in my parts due to all of the old factories, mills and farms that populated the area.
 








 
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