Anyone know how to track down information on old tools?

Hello all,
I know this isn't strictly blacksmithing, but the metalworking group seems pretty dead.
My dad gave me an old, old metal shear this afternoon, and I'm fairly
consumed with curiosity about the sucker.
It's a Stanley Unishear, No. 16-A. It's a wacky looking machine, but it's still running well. All I could find out about it was that the company (Stanley Electric Tool Div.) was founded in 1930- and this thing looks to be old enough (style-wise) to be one of the first things to roll off the assembly line.
As always, when I stumble across something that is this old, I'm interested in learning it's age and whatever other tidbits of information about it I can uncover. I know there is an old woodworking machinery website, but could not find a similar site for metalworking tools.
So, here's a description of the thing, in case anyone on the list has seen one of these before, and can tell me anything about it.
It's a hand-held electric metal shear with a maximum 16ga. capacity (iron) that looks and feels like it is entirely cast from grey iron. It has a universal motor whose casing is molded right along with the gear box, and a handle that resembles an old gent's saw that extends from the back end of the motor to near the front of the shear, and has a diamond pattern moulded into the handle where the grip is. The logo is a cast fish with the word "UNISHEAR" on it. Overall, it just looks like something from the 30's or 40's.
The writing on the plates is still easily legible, and is as follows:
On the motor, the plate contains this information:
Stanley Cap. 16ga. Type 16A volts 115 Amps 3.0 Ser. U321871 RPM no load 2500 RPM load 1800 110-120 Stanley Electric Tools New Britian, Conn. Made in USA
On the Gear box, it has this to say for itself:
No Universal Motor Stanley Unishear Stanley Electric Tool Div The Stanley Works New Britian, Conn Made in USA Pat 1796812 1848655 Pat 1321918 1765313 1765317 1848147 Re 17739 Gt Britain 299044 Canada 293620 No 16A Capacity 16 USA gage 0.062 Iron
As noted above, the thing is still running like a champ, and I'm thinking about polishing it up and putting it to work- But, sometimes old stuff like this needs careful handling when restoring it if a guy wants to preserve it's value. It's got a little surface rust on the shear foot, and it appears that it used to have black paint on some areas that has almost entirely worn away.
So, anyone know anything about this sucker? Is it some ultra-rare find, or just an old junker that happened to survive?
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On Sun, 08 Apr 2007 21:54:44 -0500, Prometheus

I can't date the thing but I have what is probably its twin. Mine I know for sure was bought new post-WWII. They're not that uncommon - I see them at estate sales fairly often. I bet Stanley made a blue-million of 'em for the war aircraft manufacturing effort.
I'd not worry about any collector's value. Unless still NIB, it has none. But it's a workhorse. Rest assured, it'll cut much thicker metal than 16 ga :-) If yours hasn't yet had a 3 wire cord added, do so. Mine has so much crud embedded in the windings that it'll knock the sh*t out of me if I forget the 3 wire extension cord. Runs fine when grounded. About 20ma ground current when I measured it.
If you're going to use it much then you might consider disassembling it, replacing all the grease, the brushes and perhaps having the winding cleaned and VPI'd (vacuum-pressure impregnated), a simple process that most electric motor repair shops can perform.
I have a 1/2" B&K all-metal drill that my dad bought right after the war. It too started leaking ground current and I used it enough that I wanted it fixed. When I took it apart the field windings were literally packed with a crud that contained lots of metal filings. No wonder the thing leaked. I cleaned the stator overnight in a trike vapor degreaser then VPI'd it myself.
This involves putting the stator in a pressure chamber (a canning pressure cooker in my case) submerged in electric motor varnish and first pulling a vacuum and holding it for awhile to pull out all the air, solvent and moisture, and then applying about 20 PSI or so to force the varnish back into all the gaps without any airspaces. Pull the piece out, bake for a couple of hours to cure the varnish (thermoset) and you're done. Clean up all the holes, sand the varnish off the stator pole faces and put 'er back together.
VPI is a rather common electric motor repair procedure so most any shop can do it for you in a few minutes if you can do the baking at home. Or they can sell you a little varnish and you can do your own.
Enjoy that old shear. I certainly have mine. Take a look at what a new Milwaukee shear costs and REALLY enjoy it!
John
--
John De Armond
See my website for my current email address
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Hello, John. I receently bought a 14 ga. Milwaukee shear, NIB at a pawn shop for about $150. I haven't used it yet. Are there any special hints for operation that you'd care to share? (I will have to use it only at night, in the dark, so my blacksmith friends won't find out that I am cheating by using a powered shear instead of chiseling parts out.)---- Gee, I hope 781 isn't listening.
Pete Stanaitis
Neon John wrote:

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BUSTED
I can tell the difference between shear cut and chisel cut. The chisel cut has a beveled edge. I use a Beverly shear and occasionally the plasma torch. 781

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I'm a real slacker- I use a CNC laser cutter. But the shear should come in handy for smaller stuff around the house, especially on the weekends when the shop is closed.
While I'm sure cutting metal with a chisel is sort of fun once in a while, I don't think I'll be pretending to want to do that on a daily basis anytime soon- even if a blacksmith gives me guff about it.
Anyhow, machining and blacksmithing are the same job- it's just that the latter is a really old version of the former.
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I also use a CNC laser cutter - don't have a shear - thought about a do all sheer - but not for sure - not much room. Save the chisel for the 2" plate.
Martin
Martin H. Eastburn @ home at Lions' Lair with our computer lionslair at consolidated dot net TSRA, Life; NRA LOH & Endowment Member, Golden Eagle, Patriot"s Medal. NRA Second Amendment Task Force Charter Founder IHMSA and NRA Metallic Silhouette maker & member. http://lufkinced.com /
Prometheus wrote:

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And also that in the former you change merely the outer shape, and in the latter you actually change the grain structure of the material. :-)
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After some more checking around, I think I've got it more or less nailed down as a 1932 model. Checking the going rates on eBay against the cost of a new shear, I'm going to just put it back to work.

Yep, it's got a grounded plug, and the cord is a long one, so hopefully there won't be any need for an extension cord.

Yep. It'll need a little bit of work- but not too much. Hopefully, I can find original brushes for the sucker, as upon inspection, it appears that the current ones are held in place with electrical tape.

Sounds like I'll be taking a trip to the electric motor shop- that's a bit more than I usually do at home! (My best DIY effort would probably involve scrubbing the windings with a soft copper brush and WD-40)

Sure will- It's a whole lot better than using my wood bandsaw to cut sheet metal. While the bandsaw will do the job, it's messy and slow going.
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