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Thread: North Bros. 2101A Lubrication?

  1. #1
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    North Bros. 2101A Lubrication?

    I acquired a North Bros. Yankee 2101A - 10 In brace recently. I found references here in the creek to georgesbasement, and from looking at that site it appears that I have an actual North Bros made in Philly, but after the Stanley acquisition.
    It does say Bell Systems on it.

    It does have three oil holes. It seems to work fine. What kind of oil and how much/often should I be lubricating this? I've not been able to google up any kind of maintenance instructions thus far.

  2. #2
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    Been using just good old 3in1 oil for all the drills I have...usually just a drop will do.

  3. #3
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    How do I know when it needs more? Given that I don't know if it has been oiled in... who knows how long. Should I be liberal in a first application?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erich Weidner View Post
    How do I know when it needs more? Given that I don't know if it has been oiled in... who knows how long. Should I be liberal in a first application?
    George's basement has something about taking them apart to repair them. If my memory is working they mention some green greese inside the ratcheting works that is prone to drying.

    If you feel industrious you might want to read up on that and at least unscrew the cap and have a look inside.

    My tendency when oiling a brace is to give it oil until some evidence of enough appears. Then wipe it down and when it starts to feel a little stiff in the ratchet, give it another dose of oil.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    George's basement has something about taking them apart to repair them. If my memory is working they mention some green greese inside the ratcheting works that is prone to drying.

    If you feel industrious you might want to read up on that and at least unscrew the cap and have a look inside.

    My tendency when oiling a brace is to give it oil until some evidence of enough appears. Then wipe it down and when it starts to feel a little stiff in the ratchet, give it another dose of oil.

    jtk
    The later Stanley models did away with the oil holes, and switched to packing them full of the green grease as a means to lube them permanently. The grease eventually would harden, which creates the problem. If a Yankee Brace has the oil holes, it should not have the green grease.

    I use Mobil 1 synthetic motor oil on mine (3-in-1 or a light machine or gun oil are also great), very infrequently, as they donít get used today nearly as much as when they were standard kit for the Bell linemen.

  6. #6
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    If the mechanism turns both ways, it needs only enough lubrication to prevent rust.

    I find braces a rarely useful tool: most of these spend more time on display than in use.

  7. #7
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    I, too, use 3-in-1 for my North Bros. 2101A. Once in a while, before use I give the ratchet a quick spin in both directionsóif it spins easily, I just get to work. I disassembled it, cleaned it up, and oiled it when I picked it up a couple years ago, and oiled it only once since then when the ratchet didnít spin quite as freely any more.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erich Weidner View Post
    How do I know when it needs more? Given that I don't know if it has been oiled in... who knows how long. Should I be liberal in a first application?
    Like others have posted, there are sites that detail the teardown. For my Millers Falls braces I took everything apart and was surprised at the amount of crap inside the mechanism. I only did that once, oiled everything very generously, and now just oil occasionally.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Matthews View Post
    If the mechanism turns both ways, it needs only enough lubrication to prevent rust.

    I find braces a rarely useful tool: most of these spend more time on display than in use.

    I agree with Jim's first point. If it ain't broke, don't fix it; give it a quick squirt and put it to work. I definitely do not recommend disassembling the tool unless it is not functioning.
    Have to say I disagree with the second point. The 2101A is my prized brace; I use it for almost anything that won't work on the drill press. It's my 'lectric drill motors that gather dust on a shelf, most of the time. Dog holes in a 4" thick top? Check. Chatter-free countersinking of small holes in steel or brass plate? Check. The list goes on…
    "For me, chairs and chairmaking are a means to an end. My real goal is to spend my days in a quiet, dustless shop doing hand work on an object that is beautiful, useful and fun to make." --Peter Galbert

  10. #10
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    Mine seems to spin fine. Ratchet works in both directions. I got it off ebay, but picked one that looked to be in good shape. I added a few drops of 3 in 1 oil to two of the oil holes (I didn't spot the third one until after reading about teardown at george's basement. I think I'm going to not attempt a teardown at this point as it seems to be working fine.

  11. #11
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    I think I'm going to not attempt a teardown at this point as it seems to be working fine.
    A wise old saying, "if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it."

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Voigt View Post
    Have to say I disagree with the second point. The 2101A is my prized brace; I use it for almost anything that won't work on the drill press. It's my 'lectric drill motors that gather dust on a shelf, most of the time. Dog holes in a 4" thick top? Check. Chatter-free countersinking of small holes in steel or brass plate? Check. The list goes on…
    I think the brace is ideal for boring large diameter holes in things too large to manhandled, or for clearing lots of stock in say, a batch of wood body planes.

    I'm like most hobbyist woodworkers - and avoid boring tasks.

  13. #13
    I have a few 2101's - took them all apart, cleaned, lubed, back together - sweet, smooth now.

    I like using a brace to drive screws.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erich Weidner View Post
    I acquired a North Bros. Yankee 2101A - 10 In brace recently. I found references here in the creek to georgesbasement, and from looking at that site it appears that I have an actual North Bros made in Philly, but after the Stanley acquisition.
    It does say Bell Systems on it.

    It does have three oil holes. It seems to work fine. What kind of oil and how much/often should I be lubricating this? I've not been able to google up any kind of maintenance instructions thus far.
    I tend to blast those holes with WD-40 once a year or so. Use the straw. Let it drain and then add a few drops of 3-in-1.

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