Circa: early 1900's
Manufacturer: S. F. BOWSER & CO FT. WAYNE, IND.
This is a nice clean, antique spiral screwdriver! A seldom seen model marked "S. F. BOWSER & CO. FT. WAYNE IND." on the main shaft. Although it is far from being mint in appearence, it is a good working example of one of the original inventor's enginuity, to design a spiral screwdriver that would not only turn clockwise to driver a screw, but also counter-clockwise to remove a screw, and even lock so as to be used like a regular screwdriver. The lock feature also helps to tighten or un-tighten the unique brace bit style chuck. I should mention that when I got this screwdriver, I had to go through about 30 different size screwdriver tips to finally find the one that would fit correctly into the chuck's tapered style receiver, yet still be large enough to catch the large end of the taper on the bit so the chuck's threaded sleeve would tighten against it. Apparently, Bowser made special bits to fit the chuck that may have had a slightly larger baring service on the large end area of the tapered end of the screwdriver bit. The one that is in the screwdriver will driver or un-drive screws with no problem, and holds tight in the chuck also. We have been selling Yankee screwdrivers and accessories for over 10 years, and this is the first spiral screwdriver we have had to sell with this type of chuck. The bi-directional system is as simple as the Yankee screwdriver, or a bit more simple in that there is no ratchet system. But the knurled sleeve closest to the handle is the controller, and it works just fine. Since I have already started comparing this one to the North Brother Yankee screwdriver, I will go a bit further to say that the spiral shaft on this one fits into the driver unit a bit looser than any Yankee brand I have seen to date, not bad, but a little wiggle on this one for sure, yet no sign of wear or damage externally at least. The middle knurled ring is the guide wheel, it simple allow the user to hold the turning section of the screwdriver, to support that end, so in other words, the center ring turns freely, almost feels like it's ball bearing, but I don't know. The driver itself measures 18.5" long from chuck to end of handle fully extended, down to 12.5" overall fully closed position. The handle is hardwood, looks like cocobolo, hard to tell for sure. The handle fits very solid, with a very well secured handle ferrule. The handle does have a full length grain seperate in it, looks like a crack, but is confined to one side of the handle only, not loose at all. We note a few dings in the main or large diameter outside shaft, none effecting use, and about 60% of the original nickel plating is intact. Overall this old and unique screwdriver is in nice shape. The screwdriver tip is removable, and is in nice shape. A few folks have asked if drill can be used in this style driver. Answer: Yes and no. Very small drill diameters (1/8" or so) are possible, but since you will not acheive the correct drilling RPM, you would be very limited. It's design to drive screws, maybe a countersink here and there, but I would stay away from using it to drill. A hard to find screwdriver!