My father has decided that his days of DIY are over, and asked me if I would like to take over custodianship of his Warco pillar drill, plus various other tools that he has accumulated. Not an entire clearout, but passing on things that he thinks may be of use to me.
The star attraction was a pillar drill by Warco, and a rotary bench grinder also by Warco. These are both things that I really want, and in fact the restoration of my cabinet would have been so much easier had I had access to them.
I visited my parents last week, armed with several removals blankets and dust sheets, to get them.
We had a nice time, and partway through the day we went out to the workshop to pick the things that I would be taking.
First the drill, which I unbolted from the home-made Dexion and wood table it was on (which I declined to take as I have my own workbench), and tried to lift it. I couldn’t even budge it.
We decided to start unbolting anything that looked heavy, which included the electric motor (12.5kg), the table (8.6kg), and the base (10kg). The remaining drill was then just about light enough for me to lift and carry to the car.
It turns out that it weighed 37kg so I’m surprised I could lift it as I am by no means strong.
Annoyingly, I managed to scrape the bumper of my car whilst getting the drill over the sill.
Also on offer was an ancient belt sander and a selection of old electric motors to try to drive it via a pulley & belt, but to be honest it looked like an utter death trap and I declined it. But I did take the Warco rotary bench grinder.
I also got some of my grandfather’s old tools, more for their aesthetics as for their function. I also got a few useful knick-knacks like a hacksaw (pictured), a drum sander attachment for a drill (also pictured), and various other things.
The rest of the day was filled with other stuff, which I may blog about another time not least because it involved fountain pens at one point.
I was quite tired when I got home, so left everything in the car overnight.
The next day I unloaded, and the first thing to do was to clear a space on my big workbench – the one that was thoroughly over-engineered and would easily take the 68kg of the drill.
The base was trivial to bring in and to bolt to the workbench. I used brand new M10 hex head bolts, as the M10 carriage bolts that had been used before were the wrong length. I used some nice chunky M10 x 50mm square plate washers to spread the load on the wood on the underside.
The drill was going to be a real issue though. Somehow I managed to carry it in and to lift it onto the bench and balance it into position, and then bolt it to the base. I’m still not entirely sure how I managed it on my own.
The table was easy to fit, as it had a locating collar to take the weight and only needed to be supported whilst bolting it on. But the next issue would be the motor, which needed to be accurately aligned on the bracket whilst being supported.
I hit on a novel solution. I noticed that the table rotates through 180° so I built a platform of offcuts of wood on it, and used it as a jack to raise the motor into position.
The washers that had been on the motor previously were thin aluminium ones that had deformed, so I replaced them with chunky stainless steel ones.
Before I had dismounted the motor back at my dad’s, I’d had the presence of mind to mark its exact position with a permanent black marker, so it was trivial to adjust it so it was in the exact same position as before.
With everything assembled, I then had to wire the motor back up again. The access was quite limited as the junction box faced the wall, so the easiest solution was to unbolt the base and rotate the entire drill. With the motor on, it was balanced and stable without the bolts, so this wasn’t high risk.
Then it was simply a case of reattaching the belt to the pulley on the motor and we were ready to go.
I was intrigued to know how old the drill actually was. Neither my mum nor my dad could remember when it was bought, nor if it had been bought new or second hand.
Amazingly, Warco are still trading so I sent them an email. I haven’t as yet had a reply from them, and will add an update if they do, but in the meantime I thought I would do a little research myself.
The plate on the front of the drill has a pre-STD telephone number on it. According to Wikipedia, STD was introduced in 1958 and was completed in 1979, although most of the country was covered well before then. So that would date it to that period. I can’t find any information on what year the Shere telephone exchange was converted to STD.
The motor has its own plate, and this has a date of 1980 on it. So unless the motor was replaced at some time in the drill’s life, this could be the year of manufacture. However, that doesn’t tie in with the pre-STD telephone number on the drill’s panel.
So right now it’s a mystery exactly how old it is. It’s certainly no younger than 37 years though and could be older if the motor has been replaced.
I mounted the bench grinder to the bench as well, drilling an extra hole so that the electrical flex could be run under the table rather than along it. Due to clearance issues, I had to mount this nuts up rather than nuts down (ooer) but it doesn’t look too bad.
Again, the age of this item is unknown. Although, given that it has the same pre-STD telephone number on it, it could be of a similar age to the drill.
There were a few random drill bits and other drill accessories like milling bits, wood drills, and masonry drills.
The aforementioned old tools of my grandfather’s, including a wooden box with his name on it (not pictured).
There was also an interesting little file.
My dad also gave me his Stanley blade planes.
Finally, there was an assortment of sockets. The sockets themselves won’t be that useful as they are AF rather than metric, but the socket wrenches and extension bars will be useful.
There were a few other things like a tubular surform with a broken end, some random hex keys, a pin punch, a large spike, some Spur shelving uprights, and the like, but they’re not really worth photographing.
So, all in all a nice little collection.
I’m looking forward to making use of them for years to come.
Warco got back to me by email, and say that machines with the “Shere 3434” telephone number date from the late 1970s through to mid 1980s, so that would suggest that the date of 1980 on the motor may well be the date of manufacture of my drill.
They also tell me that the red Warco logo was discontinued sometime in the very early 1980s, and that the company was officially founded in 1976, so this makes my drill a particularly early one. However, they went on to say that do come across a relatively a high number of these very early drilling machines still in use and going strong after all these decades, but that it’s always nice to hear about another.
Sadly they don’t have any manuals or further information on these models now though.
It was really nice of them to get back to me, and be so positive and helpful.
4 thoughts on “Warco pillar drill, and other tools”
Nice tools. Even looking at them is a pleasure. Now most things in my neck of the wood are made in China.
Wow, that drill is gorgeous, really… (Sorry but i’m having a hard time writing ’cause I’m still giggling about the King Dick wrench). I’m one yer older than that… (gigggles stopped).