Best money I’ve ever spent

Today, my pneumatic hammer drill ceased to be. Dead as the proverbial Norwegian parrot.

It is important at this stage to realise that I bought the thing in 1991. I had moved into an apartment building made out of industrial-quality concrete. My little hammer drill, bought at a flea market, did nothing beyond damaging the wall paper… the concrete wall behind it was utterly unimpressed.

bdSo I went to the local DYI store and asked for help. They advised me to buy a pneumatic drill hammer. Since I wasn’t expected to use it often, they suggested a cheap Black & Decker. It went into the concrete wall like a hot knife into butter.

This machine has seen a lot of abuse. I do not want to count the number of drills it wore out, and it has been dropped several times. It has been borrowed by many people, it was indispensible in building at least two extensions, a number of workshops, and God knows what else. It’s saved the day for a commercial KPN engineer who got his SDS drill stuck in a wall and couldn’t get it back out – the measly Black&Decker made light work of it. Everyone who had used it, sung its praise, and quite a few B&D pneumatic drills were bought because the buyer had borrowed mine first.

But today, when hanging the rails for our new curtains, it choked. At the last hole. For me, it was like seeing an old friend suffer.
With what we thought was its terminal breath, it finished drilling the last hole. And then it was quiet, and we thought… okay, after 24 years, for what is not supposed to be (and wasn’t priced as) a professional tool, that’s to be expected.

Or had I spoken to soon? Was it merely pining for the fjords?

I really felt sorry to have to part with it… I’d much rather have this one than a shiny new one. We were a drilling team, that drill and I.
So in the tradition of nothing ventured, nothing gained, I opened it up, to bd-opendiscover that it had accumulated a lot of crud in the “dry section” (the pistol-like bit at the bottom of the picture, where the engine and the electronics live). I cleaned that out with the help of a compressor and a brush, hooked it up to the mains… and joy! it was alive!

Since I had it open anyway, I inspected the bearings (there is one at the back of the motor, and the other one is in the “greasy” front assembly. Both bearings were smooth and without any free play. I don’t know where the manufacturer sourced these bearings back in the late eighties or early nineties, but I’ve seen worse bearings in more expensive machinery.
I haven’t done anything to the greasy side; I’ll have to ask for advice. I may even mail the manufacturer for that.

One new mains plug later (essentially because, with abundant display of carelessness, I set fire to the old one), and it was as good as new. It still sinks into the concrete of the house we live in now as if it’s a loaf of bread. Surely this is the power tool equivalent of a Toyota Hi-Lux.
I’m not entirely sure what caused it to stop working, but I am very happy that it’s back to life again. I’ve sort of grown attached to it. It’s by far the oldest power tool I have, and the one that’s seen the most use, and quite possibly the best.

I swear, if it would’ve been dead, I would have created a little pedestal to mount this on in the workshop, as a tribute to power tool excellence.