Saturday, November 12, 2016

The seldom seen Goodell-Pratt No 83 Universal ratchet handle

I have been looking for a small corner brace for a while and finally got this early Stanley No 994 during my recent trip to the Tools Of The Trades Show (TOTTS)
That show and sale is twice a year; I went to the recent 2 Oct one.
Next one is in Spring 17

The Stanley No 994 Joist or corner brace

One portion of the top pad is cutaway, 
allowing it to be positioned closer to a wall. 
Notice the usual brace ratchet mechanism?

The chucks on these is a giveaway of their vintage period, since it followed the brace's chuck development.

This more recent one sport a much rectilinear chuck.
Mine, above, has a bulbous Barber chuck.
Pic from EBay

It is essentially a truncated version of their regular brace, same mechanism and chucks.
Main features: The cut away top pad and the ratchet mechanism allowed it to be operated close to a corner, say inside a joist bay

Sure make you think of another uses doesn't it? If you said the common mechanic's ratchet, you would be right!

The biggest difference between the joist brace and the mechanic's ratchet is that to be used as a brace to bore holes, you need provision to apply pressure on top.
The ratchet on the other hand only expect pressure from the side handle, not from the top

In my recent travels, in a Moncton NB indoor Sunday flea market, I came across this little guy: Part Rachet, part joist brace.

Goodell-Pratt calls it their Model No 83 Universal Ratchet Handle. Meaning it is designed to be able to play both part...

The Goodell-Pratt No 83.

My example came with an attached wood boring bit

It is a twisted stamped metal pilot bore/countersink drill bit.
Inexpensive to produce, how does it cut? Have not tried yet...

The bit holder squarish hole is tapered to accept regular tapered brace bits. 
The bit being simply held by a 1/4 in nut screw on the side

The biggest shanked bit it would accept is 3/8

The ratchet shifter knob is on the Right Hand Side.

To change the ratchet direction, you simply pull on a knob
and rotate it 180 degrees.. 

Typical mechanism of other Goodell-Pratt, then later Millers-Falls, products such as handrills.
The Goodell-Pratt No 5-1/2 two speed, hand drill.
Notice the pull button to select speed?

People are often confused by that mechanism to change speeds or directions. Simple, you just don't just pull, you have to rotate it a full 180 degrees before re-meshing it down.

They also produced the similar looking No 84 and 85 which sport different chucks.

The No 84 went thru a similar progression in its chuck such as the Stanley 994 above, the first ones sporting a bulbous Barber chuck, the later, a more rectilinear one. The No 84 has a regular brace 2 jaws chuck and hold taper bits better whereas the No 85 has a 3 jaws chuck able to hold smooth shanks drill bits

The similar Goodell-Pratt No 84

and its sibling, the similar Goodell-Pratt No 85

Goodell-Pratt produced rugged tools which still perform as good today as the day they were made (may require some cleaning and de-gunking). The were reputed to make solid tools, had a proud unionized work force, but did not survived the market crash of 1929 and in 1931 they were merged into Millers-Falls which continued to make many of their tools designs.

For an history of Goodell-Pratt see Randy excellent MF everything site

Bob, slowly going thru is new stash of tools with Rudy's help (??)


  1. Good stuff, Bob. Good to see you behind a keyboard writing about old tools, too

  2. Tanks Matt
    Life is slowly coming back normal...

  3. Bob,

    I will not submit, I will not submit.....but you sure make it hard not to.

    Every time you post my inter tool collector goes into spasms ;-). I'm trying to shed tools I never use, not add to the pile.

    Looks like you are having a lot more fun than I am....Congrats,


  4. He he Ken, sorry to entice you... hum not really :-)
    I know, i have more tools than i will ever used, BUT....
    Its my own way of dealing with stress... when the going get tough, the tough guy goes shopping...for tools :-)

    Bob, the tool pusher

  5. Hi Bob,
    Good to read something from you. Hope you are well.
    Great research work as so often.
    Always exciting what kind of handtools exists.

  6. Hi Stefan
    Thanks, yes things are getting better, day by day. Looking forward to go back into my shop...