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What to look for in vintage/antique tools and motors

In the basement of the wife's grandfather's home is literally a three foot deep pile of electric motors. Nearby a pile of electric tools, some hand made(a table saw), some modified.
Nothing is wanted, so I want to make sure they do not scrap anything that may be of value.
Are there brands to look for that should be kept no matter what, or any characteristics I should seek? I plan to check every motor for function, but I know safety may be a consideration so no blades or bits, will just start with voltage testers and go from there.
All of the tools have strong metal housings, it looks like everything was made in the US. Also in the basement are a few tube radios, taken apart and what appears to be the entire electrical and mechanical salvaged from a house.

Re: What to look for in vintage/antique tools and motors

Might I suggest you consider an auction, that way it will go to those that want the items.


Re: What to look for in vintage/antique tools and motors

Some old tube radios can be very valuable even in somewhat bad shape. Don't try to plug them in as dry capacitors can go boom and ruin things! Pretty easy to check the make and model numbers to see what they're selling for on the web. If you need help identifying any PM me here and I'll send you my email addy for pics- I have good reference sources for these.

If the motors aren't rusty and aren't capacitor-start types, running them to check them out is probably safe. Protect against start-up torque by clamping the case securely. Capacitor-start types may have dry caps like the radios and many were made with PCB's which you don't want splattered everywhere if they blow so leave those as-is. Any that have known tool brands on them may be valuable- sometimes old tools were made with a specific motor which is no longer available and no others will readily fit. Again check the web for values.

I have a couple very old skilsaws which I acquired on the cheap. Pretty and functional they are- and without much sale-able value. A boxed B+D saw like mine with original blades and accessories didn't sell on Ebuy for it's minimum bid of $20, what a let-down to find that but I had maybe $2 in mine so no loss. Maybe someday these old portable power tools will have value as they are rather scarce but it hasn't happened yet. They do look nice on a garage or shop wall or top shelf if you have the space to spare once you polish the cases (use "Simichrome" as it leaves a protective coating).

The HVAC stuff is probably worthless except for scrap metal, but old obsolete circuit breakers can be valuable- there are several companies which specialize in testing, refurbing, and selling these for historical renovations and they buy old ones. "Obsolete Breakers" in L.A. used to do this, some retailed for over $100 from them!

It's always fun to scrounge through old stuff like this and here's to wishing you some good finds ;)


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