Author Topic: Drill sparking/smoking  (Read 7385 times)

less4success

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Drill sparking/smoking
« on: August 28, 2015, 09:23:02 PM »
I picked up a used corded drill from a thrift store (because my cordless drill's battery doesn't last long enough for my current decking project), but when I got it home, I noticed that it couldn't produce as much torque as my cordless one (which really isn't that great to begin with).

Upon closer inspection, I saw noticeable sparking inside the drill (near what I presume is the motor) and, if I ran it for 30 seconds or so, it would start to smoke and smell of ozone (and the drill would get hot).

Some initial Internet research indicates that the carbon brushes are likely bad. Naturally, Craftsman no longer makes replacement brushes for this model (and I can't find suitable replacements anywhere online--this is for a Craftsman 315.101220 3/8" corded reversible drill). So on to my question:

Is it possible/desirable to clean carbon brushes on a drill (i.e. could that help)? Or do they generally need to be replaced (at which point I should just return the thing and buy a drill from somewhere reputable)?

FIRE me

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Re: Drill sparking/smoking
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2015, 11:52:49 PM »
Typically, brushes don't get dirty. They wear down physically. If I were you, I would return the drill.

worms

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Re: Drill sparking/smoking
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2015, 01:07:50 AM »
Open it up, take the brushes out and see what they are like.  Give the motor a clean with some fine sand paper or wire wool (just lightly to remove any carbon or grease build-up on the commutator where the brushes contact the motor).  If the brushes need replacing, you might be able to identify similar brushes (for example a newer model of the same brand of drill) or carve your own from a suitable block of carbon (such as the core of a large dry-cell battery).
« Last Edit: August 29, 2015, 01:17:04 AM by worms »

paddedhat

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Re: Drill sparking/smoking
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2015, 07:32:45 AM »
Open it up, take the brushes out and see what they are like.  Give the motor a clean with some fine sand paper or wire wool (just lightly to remove any carbon or grease build-up on the commutator where the brushes contact the motor).  If the brushes need replacing, you might be able to identify similar brushes (for example a newer model of the same brand of drill) or carve your own from a suitable block of carbon (such as the core of a large dry-cell battery).

All excellent advice, if your are dealing with a valuable tool, or your time is of no value. Take the thing back to the thrift store and trade it in for another one. The other lesson here is to never buy a craftsman power tool. Sears went out of their way to deviate from standard designs, and parts, to make their power tool users sickly dependent on the company for parts and repairs. They made good hand tools and I have many, however, I wouldn't spend $5 for a craftsman drill at a yard sale, much less buy new one at their retail stores. It doesn't matter what you need to keep the tool in service, a chuck, trigger, or brushes, if it's a craftsman product, it can only be repaired with obscure, expensive, or is your case, unavailable, sears sourced parts.

 IMHO, when it comes to commonly available consumer grade power tools, new or used, the top shelf is Bosch, Makita, Milwaulkie, Dewalt, and Hitachi. The next tier would be Ryobi and Ridged, and "only if it's cheap enough to throw out when it breaks" category is anything found in a Sears or Harbor Freight store.

Arktinkerer

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Re: Drill sparking/smoking
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2015, 08:56:59 PM »
You can find diagrams and parts for ALMOST all Craftsman products at Sears.  That said, many parts (bearings and brushes especially) are generic.  Check if there is an electrical supply house or motor rebuilding company near you.  They may be able to supply bushes relatively cheap assuming it is a better quality unit. Heck, even some of the Horrible Fright tools come with replacement brushes these days.

less4success

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Re: Drill sparking/smoking
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2015, 10:27:10 AM »
Thanks for the responses, everyone! I returned the Craftsman drill and found a Dewalt one at a different thrift store (and this time, I did a more thorough inspection before plunking down my $8). This one didn't come with a chuck key, but I was able to find a compatible one for $3 at Lowes. Now I just have to install the remaining 600 or so fasteners on my deck :|

Typically, brushes don't get dirty. They wear down physically. If I were you, I would return the drill.

Thanks, that's what I was afraid of. I took your advice and returned the drill.

Open it up, take the brushes out and see what they are like.  Give the motor a clean with some fine sand paper or wire wool (just lightly to remove any carbon or grease build-up on the commutator where the brushes contact the motor).  If the brushes need replacing, you might be able to identify similar brushes (for example a newer model of the same brand of drill) or carve your own from a suitable block of carbon (such as the core of a large dry-cell battery).

Great info! I will keep this in mind for the future when I need to service a higher quality drill.

IMHO, when it comes to commonly available consumer grade power tools, new or used, the top shelf is Bosch, Makita, Milwaulkie, Dewalt, and Hitachi. The next tier would be Ryobi and Ridged, and "only if it's cheap enough to throw out when it breaks" category is anything found in a Sears or Harbor Freight store.

This is the impression I started to get as I did more research. I have since found a Dewalt drill (and I verified I can eventually find replacement parts on ereplacementparts.com).

You can find diagrams and parts for ALMOST all Craftsman products at Sears.  That said, many parts (bearings and brushes especially) are generic.  Check if there is an electrical supply house or motor rebuilding company near you.  They may be able to supply bushes relatively cheap assuming it is a better quality unit. Heck, even some of the Horrible Fright tools come with replacement brushes these days.

Thanks! Yes, I was able to find a diagram for my drill, but it pointed to replacing the entire brush assembly (which has been conveniently discontinued).

worms

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Re: Drill sparking/smoking
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2015, 12:45:04 PM »
Good job on the DeWalt!  I was assuming that a thrift store would be "buy as seen" and wouldn't refund a bad purchase.