Kerry belt-driven bench and pillar drills were made, beginning in the late 1940s, as four models: the simple Cadet and Junior (shown here), the highly effective and compact Super 8 with its wide speed range and the Drillmaster (shown here), a small machine that had a full five inches of spindle travel - almost certainly the longest of any made, world-wide, in its size range.
Especially well-designed and finished - and probably the smallest and most compact No. 2 Morse taper drill ever fitted with a "backgear" mechanism - the Kerry Super 8 was built in two models, an early Mk. 1 and a later Mk. 2, both made for either bench or floor standing - the latter in two versions one a Pedestal type with its round column reaching right down to the base plate and the other a Box Column, intended for heavier work, with a rectangular cast-iron support in place of the lower half of the column. Like most machines of its era (spanning the early 1950 to 1970s), the first version can be recognised by its rounded styling and the second by a much more angular appearance. Both were of a conventional layout with a 0.5 h.p. 1000 r.p.m. motor fastened to a platform at the rear that, in order to help tension the belt, was carried on a pair of spring-loaded, round bars. Drive was by an A-42 V-belt over 4-step aluminium pulleys, the assembly guarded by a cover that rose parallel to the top on hinged links; for safety reasons the cover was non-detachable and so unlikely that the machine would be used with the belt exposed. A split through-clamp allowed the head to be released and swung around, lifted or lowered; a head safety stop was provided in the form of a separate clamp-on ring immediately below it - this being formed into a handy if rather small tool tray on the floor-standing version.
Fitted with a No. 2 Morse taper, the spindle was manufactured from a high-quality steel and ground all over. Its lower section ran in deep grove journal ball races with angular contact ones at the top to take thrust. Also ground all over, the Mehanite cast-iron quill had a travel of 5 inches, its centre line being 7.5" away from the inside face of the column. On the bench model the maximum distance from spindle nose to base plate was just under 17" and to the table 10"; on the floor models the two figures were, respectively, 49.5" and 39".
Backgears were arranged just like those used on many lathes with the separate gear pair carried on an eccentric engagement shaft and a pull-out pin securing the large spindle-mounted bull wheel to the pulley; depending upon the year of manufacture, the gears ran in either plain or ball bearings.
All versions of the drill could be had with high or low-speed drives: on the Mk. 1 the low range ran from 45 through 94, 169 and 287 r.p.m. in backgear and from 320 to 656, 1180 and 2000 r.p.m. in direct drive; speeds on the other model began at 86 r.p.m. progressing through 154, 260 and 460 r.p.m. in the reduction gearing and 617,1100, 1880 to 3360 r.p.m in open drive. The Mk. 2's speed range was very similar, though a little compressed - the slowest speed available being 54 and the highest 3000 r.p.m. With such a wide range available the Super 8 was capable of drilling holes from 1/64" to 3/4" in diameter - though if pressed, and with care, ones up to 7/8" could be managed. The slow speeds also allowed tapping, though the use of a self-reversing tapping attachment was recommended for safety and efficiency.
Fitted as part of the standard equipment on the Mk. 1 was an 11-inch circular table carried on a solid bar that fitted into a socket on the support casting; able to be rotated through 360° it could also be tilted through 90° in each direction from horizontal and locked in any position. As an extra-cost option for heavier work the makers offered a particularly robust rectangular table; this had a working surface of 13.5" x 15" and carried 4 T-slots surrounded by a coolant trough; unfortunately, this is a rare item, and seldom found on used examples. On the Mk. 2 the round table and its special bracket were consigned to the options' list and replaced by an ordinary 11" x 11" rectangular type with two plain slots.
Unlike the equally well-made Fobco Star drill with its heavy, solid steel column, that on the Kerry was made from a length of 2.75-inch diameter seamless steel tubing; this was hard-chrome plated, using the patented "Fescolized*" process, and ground to fine limits. The result was a finish that allowed the table to be slid up and down easily and locked solidly - while also providing an effective rust-proof coating.
Cosmetically all versions were very pleasing with the main castings finished in either a cream or blue enamel and all handles chrome plated. The bench version was around 37" high, 14.5" wide, 27.75" front to back and weighed 200 lbs (91 kg); figures for the column model were, respectively, 71", 16", 31" and 260 lbs (118 kg).
*A patented system using cadmium, chrome or nickel for direct electro-deposition onto the base metal. The process is also known to provide effective rust-proofing and has been widely used in the aircraft industry.
Other drills - some useful links:
For a high-quality, heavily-built, versatile yet compact drill with a wide speed range and torque-enhancing reduction gearing within the head the choice is simple, one of the following: the superb Meddings Pacera MB and MF models and the equally useful Fobco 7/8 and 10/8, Boxford PD8, Progress 2G and 2GS and late models of the Kerry Drillmaster 3/4". Also in contention would be the rarely-found 10-speed Startrite Mercury with its epicyclic gearbox mounted around its spindle nose. All makes and models were available in both bench and pillar for, some of the latter with more strongly constructed "box column" supports in cast iron.
Standard bench and pillar types
For a lighter, less expensive type - the ones with head-mounted reduction gearing always command a premium price - the same makers listed above also offered a range of direct-drive models, some with "fixed" chucks, others with No. 2 Morse taper spindles - the latter of course being by far the more preferable of the two. Some manufactures also listed - usually starting during the late 1940s and continuing into the 1950s - a range of less expensive models such as the ones named "Junior" by Progress and Kerry and "Bantam" by Startrite
Of all the various models in this "standard" range probably the best is the neat and compact Fobco "STAR" with its solid-steel column, high build quality and smooth-running performance. It's an easy drill to rebuild and restore to as-new condition and a good range of parts is still available from firstname.lastname@example.org