Author Topic: Mystery Craftsman Teardrop Ratchet  (Read 524 times)

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Online Jim C.

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Mystery Craftsman Teardrop Ratchet
« on: August 17, 2020, 06:49:02 PM »
A few weeks ago, while cruising eBay, I came across an early teardrop style Craftsman ¼” drive ratchet that I had never seen before.  There was a “buy it now” price and I went for it.  What initially caught my eye was its unusual directional selector.  While it sort of resembled the well known “V/butterfly/flying V” selector we all know so well, it was different.  Instead of having two lobes, it only had one.  After I bought the ratchet, I studied the auction photos in detail.

If you’ve been keeping up, maybe you’ve seen the Craftsman Teardrop Type Study.  If not check it out in this forum.  Anyway, based on the external features of the mystery ratchet, from my perspective it was a mix between the Type 1 and Type 2 ratchets I described in the Cman Teardrop Type Study.

What I noticed was that the raised panels on the ratchet’s handle had rounded ends.  That was characteristic of all Type 1 ratchets, both early and late, and early Type 2 ratchets.  Further inspection showed a main gear that was finished in black oxide, a later Type 2 feature.  All Type 1 and early Type 2 had chrome finished gears.  It also looked like the hub on the mystery ratchet’s directional selector was very similar in shape to the hub found on the typical Type 2 selector.  What also jumped out at me were the cropped corners of the socket post/stud.  That was unusual because to the best of my knowledge, the tops of all Type 1, Type 2 and even Type 3 socket posts are more flat and have smooth, subtle drops at their corners.  The more pronounced angular corners didn’t start showing up until Type 4 ratchets made their debut.  That becomes important a little later.

The question then became, “What do I have here?”  Was it a new Type of Craftsman Teardrop ratchet that I hadn’t seen before?  It was certainly an early example and clearly a rarity. Still the mix of Type 1 and Type 2 features and the unusual directional selector had me wondering.  With that, once I got the mystery ratchet in hand, I sent a few photos to Dadstools.  He’s good at analytics and I figured he’d have some thoughts on it.  Once again I was not disappointed.  We traded several emails and I sent more photos to him.  Since the mystery ratchet retained Type 1 and Type 2 features, Dadstools suggested trying the mystery ratchet parts in both Type 1 and Type 2 ratchet bodies.  It seemed like a logical idea, so I got out three ¼” drive Cman teardrop ratchets, those being an early Type 1, a late Type 1, and a Type 2.  I disassembled all four ratchets, and tried the mystery ratchet parts in the two Type 1 examples and the Type 2 example.  The mystery ratchet’s parts fit perfectly and worked flawlessly in both Type 1 ratchets as well as the Type 2 ratchet.  Now you might be thinking, “How can that be?  The Type 1 directional selector levers point down and the Type 2 selector lever points up.  Well, to accommodate both selectors, the pawl was changed as was the back of the selector itself.  Essentially, a universal selector was created allowing it to work with both Type 1 and Type 2 ratchets.  Check out the photos below.  That horizontal slot in the pawl and the mating raised line on the back of the unique directional selector made it easy to install the selector lever either up or down.

So, why do this?  Was there some consumer demand for a ratchet with a universal directional selector?  Well, like I said earlier, I had been trading emails with Dadstools for a week, and when we had kicked around all the facts, he surmised (correctly I believe) that the mystery ratchet is not some hybrid between Type 1 and Type 2, and not some experimental model, or something used to test the market.  His analysis points to the ratchet body as being outfitted with a repair kit designed to service both Type 1 and Type 2 ratchets.  When you really take a close look at the parts, particularly at the unique pawl and mating directional selector, it solves the selector pointing down (Type 1) or the selector pointing up (Type 2) problem.  Let’s face it, ratchets broke back then, just like now, and Sears needed a repair kit or kits to deal with that problem.  This kit seemed to be the answer.  Rather than making two kits with different directional selectors, or one kit with two different selectors, the one kit one selector idea seemed to get the job done. 

So how do we know when the kit was available?  Well, Type 1 and Type 2 ratchets must have existed because the repair kit will service both Types.  But here’s the real clue.  Remember those cropped socket post corners I mentioned earlier?  Well, Dadstools points to the first Cman Teardrop ratchet to feature those cropped corners…. the Type 4, which very likely first appeared during 1965.  So, the mystery ratchet is most likely a Type 1 or early Type 2 that’s outfitted with a repair kit.  I have no idea if there was a similar 3/8” drive or ½” drive repair kit as well.  Unless more examples are discovered, we may never really know.

If this is just a repair kit, I don’t think it was in existence for very long.  I’ve never seen another.  What I did notice is that the mystery ratchet’s main gear worked just fine with the Type 1 ratchets as well as the Type 2 ratchet.  As a matter of fact, all of the repair kit parts were individually interchangeable with any of the Type 1 and Type 2 parts...... except for the pawl and selector.  If one were to strip the original pawl in his/her Type 1 or Type 2 ratchet and use the repair kit pawl, then he/she would be forced to also use the repair kit selector.  Perhaps main gears were replaced while original pawls and original selectors were reused.  It’s hard to say for sure.  I guess I’ll keep an eye out for other examples and for Type 1 and Type 2 ratchets with black oxide gears and cropped corners on their socket posts.

Jim C.     
« Last Edit: August 18, 2020, 02:24:45 PM by Jim C. »
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Offline 3baygarage

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Re: Mystery Craftsman Teardrop Ratchet
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2020, 10:43:27 PM »
Hi Jim. Is it possible the selector is from a Napa, Master Mechanic, or Easco ratchet? Looks like the style they had.

Online Jim C.

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Re: Mystery Craftsman Teardrop Ratchet
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2020, 05:43:00 AM »
Hi Jim. Is it possible the selector is from a Napa, Master Mechanic, or Easco ratchet? Looks like the style they had.

Hi 3bay,

Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that question.  It’s a good question, however.  Do you have a picture, or better yet, an example of any of those ratchets?  I’d like to conclusively nail this down.  The “repair kit” theory I discussed above has a lot of merit, but who knows for sure.  I’m not familiar with the ratchets you mentioned, but I’d be interested in seeing them for comparison purposes. 


Jim C.
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Offline DadsTools

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Re: Mystery Craftsman Teardrop Ratchet
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2020, 09:31:00 AM »
Hi Jim. Is it possible the selector is from a Napa, Master Mechanic, or Easco ratchet? Looks like the style they had.

Hi 3bay,

Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that question.  It’s a good question, however.  Do you have a picture, or better yet, an example of any of those ratchets?  I’d like to conclusively nail this down.  The “repair kit” theory I discussed above has a lot of merit, but who knows for sure.  I’m not familiar with the ratchets you mentioned, but I’d be interested in seeing them for comparison purposes. 


Jim C.


That's a good catch, 3bay! I was not familiar with the Easco line outside the RHFT, of which I know a bit more. In the RHFT, Easco made them for Napa and a host of other brands, so the same would likely hold true with the teardrop. I tend to think of Craftsman as being its own universe, and for the most part it's true. But Easco bled over into other customers with those ratchets after a time.

I just took a look at eBay for sale and solds for Easco and Napa rats. Indeed, the earlier teardrop have a very similar lever, even down to the little 'nub' that's apparently supposed to be like a directional indicator. So there is little doubt that the replacement kit on Jim's ratchet came from the same group of MDF/Easco minds.

However, here are a few uncertainties:

*The examples I found on eBay all had the lever ridge terminating at the center of the hub. The ridge on Jim's lever terminates much closer to the nub, so there is a minor design difference. Based on previous conversations between Jim and myself, there may be a practical reason for this. On the Easco et. al. ratchets with this switch, it appears they used the same one on the QR and the non-QR versions. For the QR, the idea is that the thumb should be able to slide across the top of the lever and engage the QR button without the risk of accidental shifting. The Easco levers that have the ridge terminating at the center of the hub provide this smooth area, but Jim's lever does not because the ridge extends past the hub center, making an accidental switch more likely when sliding the thumb across the top. Jim's lever would work more like the T2 V or butterfly selector where sliding the thumb up the side allows it to easily shift over when mounted upward like the V selector was. Seeing an actual Easco 1/4 with this extended prominent ridge would help settle this.
*The examples were only of 3/8 and 1/2 drives. We would have to find a 1/4 example to see if the geometry is the same as Jim's lever.
*The ability to mount Jim's kit with the lever pointing up or down seems to have no practical reason for the Easco rats. All the Easco flex heads have what is called the 'hourglass' selector so there's no lever extending into flex hinge. Yet there is a reason for such a reversible means on the Craftsman were it a universal kit designed to replace both a Type 1 (pointed down) and a Type 2 (V-selector pointed up). There's no application for this feature on the Easco. So a 1/4" Easco example would have to be examined and disassembled to correlate the two.
*Compatibility. Would the gear in Jim's kit actually work in a later Easco? Most Easco I saw online have quick release (Jim's gear does not), and a couple of non-QR I saw seemed to have thinner heads than the Sears Craftsman. Was the tooth count even the same?
*The time frame. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Sears held on dearly to its ratchet head designs, including the quick release. For Easco to begin selling them to everybody would not have made Sears happy. I believe the offering of Sears ratchet designs to other brands only began to occur in the 1980s, perhaps 1985 when Easco changed hands and new understandings were reached. Part of this may have been due to who owned the 1981 re-designed quick release patent--was the inventor Sardo an employee of Sears who was the assignee of the Roberts QR patent, or of Easco, who was the assignee of MDP/Easco's RHFT mechanism? Certainly this matter was part of that new understanding reached between the parties.

So here we have an artifact comprising a ratchet body from the 1950s-early 60s with a kit that was made 20-30 years later (before the changeover to the recessed lever that seems to have occurred both with Sears and Easco ratchets at the same time) for a different brand ratchet? Or is it that MDP designed this lever back in the 1960s when it was contemporary to this handle, and Easco only resurrected it back out of its repertoire 20 years later to use on its own branded ratchets? And why would the ratchet owner seek out an Easco repair kit instead of the Craftsman-branded repair kit for that ratchet?

There are still several unanswered questions that need further research to conclude that the kit is in fact an Easco-branded kit from the 1980s-90s. 3bay's observation certainly provides a new avenue to explore.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2020, 10:49:49 AM by DadsTools »

Offline 3baygarage

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Re: Mystery Craftsman Teardrop Ratchet
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2020, 02:09:59 AM »
Ok, let’s see if this shows up. Have to reduce image size.

(Photo from Worthpoint)

Offline 3baygarage

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Re: Mystery Craftsman Teardrop Ratchet
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2020, 02:28:28 AM »
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Offline DadsTools

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Re: Mystery Craftsman Teardrop Ratchet
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2020, 08:47:02 PM »
Ok, let’s see if this shows up. Have to reduce image size.

(Photo from Worthpoint)

Nice finds 3bay. This confirms what I saw on eBay--the lever is definitely made by Easco. I'm assuming these photos are of 1/4" drives, of which eBay had no examples when I had looked.

This still leaves us with more work to do. We still cannot be certain that Easco didn't resurrect this lever design 20 years after they perhaps first created it in the mid-1960s to use on this line of ratchets. They've been known to do that before (like when they resurrected the 1956 Type 1 teardrop lever for use on the entire teardrop line starting in 1965). We still don't know whether these later 1980s+ Easco levers and internals are interchangeable with the early pre-1965 Craftsman teardrop ratchets. Then we have to find out if the later Easco lever/pawl combination can be mounted with the lever pointed either up or down as with Jim's kit. So we still would need an actual example to physically examine before a reasonably certain determination can be made. The question as to why the previous owner o Jim's ratchet chose an Easco/Napa kit instead of the Craftsman kit for a 1956 to early 1960s ratchet may be just incidental.

Online Jim C.

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Re: Mystery Craftsman Teardrop Ratchet
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2020, 05:36:39 AM »
Dadstools,

The answer as to why a previous owner used an Easco repair kit versus a Craftsman branded (more correct kit) may be as simple as that was what was available.  I still have never actually seen a Cman repair kit for a 1/4” Type 1 ratchet.  Now we did see a kit for a 3/8” Type 1 and Type 2 on eBay very recently.  So, we know they exist.  If a previous owner couldn’t get a Cman repair kit but recognized the similarity between the Easco ratchets and the Cman ratchets, he/she may have tried the Easco parts in the Cman ratchet.  The parts worked and problem solved.  Is it possible that Sears was actively using Easco repair kits back in the 1960s and early 1970s?  I’m not so sure. I find a lot of merit in your argument that the parts in the mystery ratchet were specifically made to service Cman Type 1 and Type 2, 1/4” drive ratchets.  I don’t think the parts went into that ratchet because a previous owner “took a shot” and found that Easco parts worked in his/her Cman ratchet.  I also believe that Sears would stand behind their tools with the lifetime guarantee and supply their own Cman branded repair kits.  That Easco resurrected that lever style at some point seems clear. 

Back in 1981, starting with Type 11 and extending through Type 14, it looks like Cman ratchets were outfitted with the same directional lever configuration that is basically found on my mystery ratchet (which I’ll start referring to as “X”).  When I say the same configuration, I mean that the pawl was made with a horizontal slot and a mating raised line on the back of the directional lever, just like ratchet X.  Prior to 1981, the set up was different.  After taking a few apart, I found that the pawls in Types 11 - 13 fit and worked perfectly in ratchet X.  The Type 14 pawl has two teeth and the tooth count was raised from 24 to 30 teeth.  While it fit into ratchet X, the ratchet did not operate smoothly, as expected.  The other issue was the lever itself.  While Type 11 - 14 levers fit into the ratchet X body, they only fit when pointed down.  Since the lever on those ratchets is much thicker, none of them could be installed with the lever pointing up.  Those Type 11 - 14 levers were only designed to be used on quick release ratchets.  Also their respective retention springs are such that if one tried to install one on ratchet X, the spring might be over bent and become permanently damaged.  Basically, the Cman lever and retention spring from the early 1980s onward were not made for ratchet X.  The thinner lever on ratchet X and its retention spring were clearly made to be used on ratchet X, and still allow the lever to point up or down.

I don’t think the parts on ratchet X came from the 1980s.  Unfortunately I don’t have any Easco/Napa ratchets to compare with ratchet X and the ratchets depicted in 3bay’s post are only quick release examples.  It’s unlikely that Easco and similar ratchets from the 1980s were produced with a universal lever.  They were probably made to point down so as not to interfere with the quick release button.  I guess that takes me back to the conclusions that you (Dadstools) and I came to earlier.  I believe the parts in ratchet X are vintage correct and not repair kit parts from the 1980s.  I think they’re from the 1960s and were made and marketed for Cman ratchets.  Who knows for sure?  Having access to accouple of Easco/Napa, non quick release, 1/4” drive ratchets might clear things up. 

Jim C. 
« Last Edit: August 28, 2020, 03:23:05 PM by Jim C. »
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Online Jim C.

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Re: Mystery Craftsman Teardrop Ratchet
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2020, 05:40:47 AM »
Here’s a few more photos.  Notice in the second picture how the Type 11 - 14 lever does not properly seat itself in the ratchet X body because the lever is too thick.  The third picture shows the Type 11 - 14 lever pointing down.  It fits and it works in ratchet X provided one uses the smaller opening retention spring.  The ratchet X lever was a design choice with a specific purpose.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2020, 06:50:17 AM by Jim C. »
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Re: Mystery Craftsman Teardrop Ratchet
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2020, 08:32:29 PM »
In an effort to get a little more information regarding “ratchet X” I’ve been looking out for Easco and Napa nonQR ratchets with a directional selector like the one found on ratchet X.  Well, I recently came across a 3/8” drive Easco model 721104.  I don’t know much about the ratchet but it seems like its parts are original.  What drew me to the ratchet was it’s very similar looking directional selector and its lack of a QR mechanism.

Upon removing the selector on the Easco ratchet, I found that the pawl did not have a horizontal depression like ratchet X, but rather a vertical depression on the pawl and a mating protrusion on the back of the selector.  The interesting fact is that the protruding line on the back of the Easco selector is not centered, so it does not fit into the pawl depression when the selector lever is pointing up.  Just centering the protrusion would have allowed the selector to be mounted with the lever pointing up or down even though the pawl depression and selector protrusion are vertically configured.  The Easco pawl and selector were clearly made to be used only one way.  I’m still thinking that the pawl and directional selector in ratchet X were intentionally made to be used with the selector lever pointing up or down in Cman Type 1 and Type 2 ratchets.  I don’t know if I solved anything with this post.  I don’t know for sure when the Easco ratchet depicted in this post was made.  Would it have been during the same time period as the Cman nonQR ratchets, or possibly later so as not to infringe on a patent held by Sears?  What I do know is that the directional selector on the Easco ratchet is very similar looking to the selector found on ratchet X, but it cannot be mounted with the lever pointing up.  Maybe more examples need to be observed.

Jim C.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2020, 05:12:21 AM by Jim C. »
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Offline DadsTools

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Re: Mystery Craftsman Teardrop Ratchet
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2020, 10:37:57 AM »
In an effort to get a little more information regarding “ratchet X” I’ve been looking out for Easco and Napa nonQR ratchets with a directional selector like the one found on ratchet X.  Well, I recently came across a 3/8” drive Easco model 721104.  I don’t know much about the ratchet but it seems like its parts are original.  What drew me to the ratchet was it’s very similar looking directional selector and its lack of a QR mechanism.

Upon removing the selector on the Easco ratchet, I found that the pawl did not have a horizontal depression like ratchet X, but rather a vertical depression on the pawl and a mating protrusion on the back of the selector.  The interesting fact is that the protruding line on the back of the Easco selector is not centered, so it does not fit into the pawl depression when the selector lever is pointing up.  Just centering the protrusion would have allowed the selector to be mounted with the lever pointing up or down even though the pawl depression and selector protrusion are vertically configured.  The Easco pawl and selector were clearly made to be used only one way.  I’m still thinking that the pawl and directional selector in ratchet X were intentionally made to be used with the selector lever pointing up or down in Cman Type 1 and Type 2 ratchets.  I don’t know if I solved anything with this post.  I don’t know for sure when the Easco ratchet depicted in this post was made.  Would it have been during the same time period as the Cman nonQR ratchets, or possibly later so as not to infringe on a patent held by Sears?  What I do know is that the directional selector on the Easco ratchet is very similar looking to the selector found on ratchet X, but it cannot be mounted with the lever pointing up.  Maybe more examples need to be observed.

Jim C.

Based on what little I've seen, it appears that the earlier Easco teardrops--those having the same head shape as the traditional Craftsman teardrop--are a little earlier than the one in your post with a somewhat slimmer head. So it still would be nice to locate an Easco 1/4" with the traditional TD head. But this ratchet seems to suggest that those later Easco were not made like the kit in ratchet X. Unless something compelling comes up, I'm still voting with you that X was in fact a universal rebuild kit for T1 and T2 made circa mid-1960s, and that Easco merely resurrected the lever design for its much later Easco branded ratchets.