Tool Talk

Classic Auto and Motorcycle Tools => Classic Auto and Motorcycle Tools => Topic started by: Jim C. on September 20, 2020, 07:55:47 PM

Title: Craftsman Type 3 Teardrop Ratchet Update
Post by: Jim C. on September 20, 2020, 07:55:47 PM
A couple weeks ago, cruising eBay like I do everyday, I came across yet another Craftsman teardrop ratchet that I hadn’t seen before.  It is sort of ironic because not too long before I stumbled on to this new-to-me ratchet, another tool enthusiast asked me if the Craftsman Teardrop Type Study was finally completed.  In response, I said it would never be complete because every time I think it’s finished and I have them all identified, I come across another one I was unaware of.  Well, it happened again, this time with the Type 3. 

If you take a look at the Cman Teardrop Type Study, and review the Type 3 narrative you’ll see that it was available in all three drive sizes from about 1965/’66 to at least 1969, which is when it last appeared in the Sears/Craftsman tool catalog.  Until now, it was my belief that all Type 3 ratchet handles and earlier Types were stamped with a pointed letter “A” in the word CR”A”FTSM”A”N.  Well, the ratchet depicted below clearly has a flat top letter “A.”  Everything we know, or think we know about the pointed letter A and the flat top letter A says that the transition from the pointed A to the flat top A occurred at some time right around 1968 – 1969.   Now you’re thinking, “Why does this matter?”  Well, it clearly means that Sears’s ratchet manufacturer/supplier was still making these non-quick release models as late 1968/’69.

I mention this for a couple reasons.  The first reason is simple.  I need to add the flat top letter A version to the Cman Teardrop Type Study, Type 3 narrative.  Like I said, this Type Study will never end.  So, I’ll update the Type Study.... again.  The second reason deals more with adding another piece to the puzzle.  Prior to finding this Type 3 flat top A ratchet, l’ve heard a hypothesis floating around that says once Sears bought the quick release patent rights from their creator, Pete Roberts, in 1965, Sears immediately ramped up production of the quick release ratchets AND immediately dumped the current non-quick release model (the Type 3).  Without knowing for sure, it’s a reasonable theory to consider, but the existence of this ratchet now proves that it’s not correct.  While Sears did jump on the quick release ratchets as fast as possible, and rush them into production, the opposite is not true of non-quick release ratchets.  Production did not immediately stop as some may have previously thought. The ratchet shown below also puts to rest any idea that Sears was simply liquidating its previously manufactured non-quick release model (Type 3) once the new quick release models were in stores, by advertising them (the non QR model) in the 1967 through 1969 catalogs.  Like I said, if we are to believe well documented Craftsman tool history/fact, then the ratchet shown below was stamped with a flat top letter A no earlier than 1968/’69.   

Basically, the Type 3 was ACTIVELY being manufactured for Sears for several years and clearly as late as 1968.  Based on this recent information, the non quick release ratchet was most likely advertised in the 1967 through 1969 catalogs because Sears thought there was still a market for the cheaper non-quick release model.  In hindsight that may have been faulty marketing strategy on Sears’s part.  By 1969, Sears must have realized that the non-quick release ratchet had reached the end of it’s logical life span, and it was dead and gone by 1970. At that point, Sears probably started to liquidate whatever was left of its non-quick release ratchet inventory.  Although I have not seen a Type 3, 3/8” drive or a 1/4” drive with a flat top A stamp, I can only assume that they do exist.  I’ll keep an eye out both.  I guess from a collector’s perspective any Type 3 ratchet would be considered relatively scarce.  Based only on my experience and nothing else, I would say that the later version Type 3, with the flat top A stamp, is probably one of the most rare examples featured in the Type Study.  So, if you come across another Type 3, take a closer look at the CRAFTSMAN stamp on the handle.

The photos below show both the early Type 3 (top) and the later Type 3 (bottom).  While the later Type 3, with the flat top A, seems to have lived a rough life, it still mostly functioned as designed and did significantly better once I got it apart, cleaned it and re-lubricated it  I don’t think the ratchet was ever cleaned or re-lubricated once it left the factory.  I should also mention that all parts between both the early Type 3 and the later Type 3 were identical and fully interchangeable.

Jim C.