Tune a Yankee Brace

I decided to spruce up this North Brothers Yankee 2100 brace (14″ sweep) because it looked crummy. The chrome was peeling off the upper and lower part of the steel crank, as well as the brass ratchet head. I should have taken a before picture, but I started working on this on impulse.

Here’s how it looked with the chrome removed from the lower part of the crank and the ratchet head. I like the way the brass looks and it should develop a nice patina over time. I removed the chrome with a dull utility knife blade, a fine mill file, and sandpaper. I’ll do the top of the shaft later since it doesn’t look too bad with a few touch-ups.

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Here’s a close up of the head and chuck. It’s in nice shape overall. (I removed the jaws earlier).

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I removed the jaws first to make sure they were in decent shape before I did a ton of work. They look excellent. I also removed the spring and retainer, just to prove I could do it. It’s harder than it looks. I used dental picks and it took a while.

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Next, I took the chuck shell off, and loosened the top cap and lower ratchet head sleeve. Looking good.

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Here’s a top view. Looks good, too. No sign of that green grease that hardens up and stops Yankee braces from working properly. That green goop was commonly used in the Yankee Bell Systems braces and some of the later model braces.

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Everything looks pretty good. The ratchet shaft has a little bit of side-to-side slop, but I’m not sure it’s worth going any further. I’ll sleep on it because as the old saying goes: “Beyond here lies monsters”.

I dismantled the 2100 ratchet mechanism completely. It was working well, but an inspection was a good idea.

I tapped out the ratchet shaft retainer with the tail of a triangular saw file, just because it was handy. Maybe not the best tool, but the retainer came out easily.

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I marked the top of the retainer with a dab of white-out to remind me which way it came out. The white-out is easy to remove with a drop of oil before putting the retainer back in.

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Once the retainer is out, disassembly is easy. I also marked the top pawl with white-out to prevent a mix up. Everything looked great. I cleaned all of the parts, gave them a light oiling and put everything back together. I seated the ratchet shaft retainer nice and tight. That removed the small amount of side-to-side ratchet shaft slop I mentioned earlier.

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I reassembled the parts and the 2100 spins quietly and as smooth as silk.

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Addendum:

A couple of folks asked me to elaborate on how I removed the spring from the chuck head, so I’m posting photos that I hope will help.

I used a dental pick to slide down the slot in the chuck head and hook onto the retaining washer. I then moved the washer carefully so that it could be slid through the slot.

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2 comments on “Tune a Yankee Brace
  1. Lawrence Underwood says:

    Hi, do you know where I can get the retaining clip that holds the chuck in place? (The part you removed with a triangular file?) Thank-you for your website and help! Larry

    • Birch says:

      The only place I’ve been able to find replacement parts for Yankee braces is eBay so far. If anyone knows of other sources, please post them here. Thanks. ~Birch~

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