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Yankee screwdriver

3611 Views 10 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  mjadams61
Hello folks. I was wondering has anyone disassembled a Yankee screwdriver? I have 3 I bought at the flea market and they are badly in need of cleaning and lubing. I'm working on a 133H. The others are a 30A and a 131A. I have the 133H mostly disassembled, but the spindle washer has me stumped. How the blazes do you remove it and get it back in? Or was it made so only the manufacture could remove it. Any tricks that anyone has up their sleeve will greatly appreciated.
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Interesting, brought back a lot of recollections of the one I got to use way back when.

Found an article on repair and maintenance of Yankee Screwdrivers here:

Here's some historic info about it from Wikipedia.

The trade name "Yankee" screwdriver was first marketed by North Brothers Manufacturing Company in 1899, with the No. 30 spiral ratchet screwdriver. Yankee soon became and still is a well-known name in automatic spiral ratchet screwdrivers, with several other models, and model improvements patented by North Bros. over a 40-year period[1].

The term "Yankee screwdriver" is often used to describe push/pull type screwdriver other than one manufactured by North Brothers Mfg. Co. or Stanley Tools, who purchased the rights to the well-known Yankee brand or trade name in the 1940s from North Brothers[2]. North Brothers always marked the tools they manufactured with the Yankee name, and in most cases the North Bros. name and location as well[1].

All spiral ratchet screwdriver models made by Stanley did have the Yankee trade name on them, or at least until the 1960s when the Handyman trade name became as well known as the Yankee trade name, so Stanley Tools marked certain models with both the Handyman and Yankee brand name on them, and usually the Stanley name was on them as well. The Handyman trade name was not limited to a line of screwdriver models, as the same name was marked on a complete line of planes, drills and other tools specifically marketed to the home user.


There were 3 different size spring chucks, and therefore 3 different shank size tips or sometimes called points, to fit various models. Generally all tips made by North Brothers or Stanley were stamped with the corresponding number of the model screwdriver they would fit, but the stamped numbers are often difficult to see, so it's a good idea to know the size you need before you set out to find tips for your screwdriver.

The smallest size was the number 35, so any of the model numbers with 35 in the number, like No. 135A is the smallest tip shank diameter, measuring 7/32" diameter shank. (Note that all the handyman models with 33 in their model number also have the No. 35 size chucks, the smallest size tips).
The middle size is the No. 30 size, and all numbers with the 30 in them have a chuck shank size of 9/32" diameter.
The biggest size is the No. 31, and all numbers with 31 in them have a chuck diameter of 5/16" diameter.

By around 2005 Stanley in the USA had discontinued production of all Yankee tools in previous years. Production did continue in the UK until 2007, when tooling for components of screwdrivers were sent to Japan and have now been scrapped. Over the years other manufacturing companies used similar design chucks, that held Yankee brand screwdriver and drill point tips with the flat and notch on the shank.

Accessories and bits

North Brothers offered several different accessories to fit the various type chucks on the Yankee spiral ratchet screwdrivers. Normally, 3 different slot type tips were include with each screwdriver when it was new[3]. Other tips included:

Nut drivers in various sizes, both hex and square head
Drill points for the smallest 133/135 size screwdriver
adapters to adapt push drill size drill point sets to the three sizes of screwdriver chuck size
screwdriver tips holding with screw holding feature
Phillips screwdriver tips in various sizes
slot screwdriver tips with the centring sleeve feature, and
extra-long screwdriver tips for special applications.

Want more, here's the link.


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I've got a couple of Yankee screwdrivers. Not for collecting, they do get used on occasion, and work well. Looking for a Confederate screwdriver now.
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Probably made in southern China. I'll pass on that.

But as long as you are offering, I'll ask for an older girlfriend, 25 to 30 or so, and $5 to take her out for coffee.
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Thats easy, theres a little window on the side of your email list, telling you about all the girls that live near you and are eager for "coffee"
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I have had a Spiralux (made in England, possibly by Stanley) for about 40 years - used it a lot at first, but less so when the quality of screw steel deteriorated around here - the bit used to cam out often. Have not used it since the early battery-operated drills came out, but have always kept it (like so many other tools) as a “back-up”. And could not find Pozi or square-drive bits - mostly use those types, especially for man-made boards.

Just yesterday I was reading a post about the battery impulse-type screwdrivers - the writer felt they were so much better than drills at driving screws, that getting one should be a no-brainer. Anybody care to share experiences?
I have a Stanley 35B. Have to admit its rarely used due to being so liable to cam out and gouge whatever piece of wood its pointing at.
I did buy a very pretty conversion bit with pull back spring loaded jaws that will take all hex bits.

My go to screwdriver for the last 10 years has been my Makita 18 volt battery drill with hammer action. Wild overkill on many of the screws I use but it has an adjustable clutch which saves me from mashing screws too deeply. I have been thinking of a small battery driver for some time now, but so far have been too lazy to make a purchase.
Thank you everyone for the help, especially Tom. That was quite a history lesson. I have booked marked the websites. Hope the memory it brought back was a pleasant one. I will keep putting with my find and keep looking for others. Again thank you all. Take care and be careful. Wayne
As a not so funny side note. This is a story from my Dad ( he worked for PT&T, when there was an AT&T) anyway the linesmen used to use Yankee screwdrivers when working on the poles. Finally AT&T outlawed their use. linesmen would reach their arm around the pole to get leverage. But oops, the were slipping off the screw and jamming the screwdriver into their arm. And before anyone says no such thing happened, my Father had a genuine, AT&T labeled, Yankee Screwdriver located in his toolbox at home.

LOL a yankee screwdriver was one of the first tools I ever used when I was a electricians helper so long ago :) I still have it and it still works great even for a over 30 yr tool :) but I have not used it in over a year and got it pack up somewhere :) Got spoiled to electric drill/drivers :)
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