Prairie Tool Co. Model 85 Grinder Restoration #1: Revitalizing a hand crank grinder

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Blog entry by Woodknack posted 11-25-2012 01:43 AM 10293 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Prairie Tool Co. Model 85 Grinder Restoration series Part 2: Elbow grease and regular grease, applied. »

This came in today, a hand crank grinder, model 85, from Prairie Tool Co.
Prairie du Chien, WI.; made sometime after 1920.

Auction photo.

My pics. These are all before I took it apart, cleaned, oiled/greased. I’ll get new pics after dinner.

For some reason my youtube video is not showing up. FIXED!

The threads were in rough shape. After buying a 7/16×20 nut and filing the threads a bit I finally realized they were left handed… another trip to the hardware store. A little work with a wrench and channel locks and I got the new nut working smoothly.

Either the arbor is undersized or the grinding wheel hole is oversized but there is about 1/32”+ difference, just enough to cause crazy vibration that can be felt through the floor. I wrapped the arbor with masking tape until the wheel was snug and now it runs smooth but I want a more elegant solution.

Opened the case and cleaned out the petrified grease then regreased the gears. (before pic)

I’m told this is a type of grease zerk. I tried pumping grease through it with a grease gun but it didn’t seem to be happening. How do I make this work?

This is my first tool restoration and I have a couple of questions that maybe someone can answer.

The grinder is covered with some kind of scaly gunk, probably old grease/oil/dirt over the original paint (what’s left). It comes off if I scrape it with the handle end of a file or an old screwdriver then a brass brush gets most of what is left but not all. Hopefully there is a chemical solution that will work a little faster. Maybe Simple Green and hot water?

I bought some gasket material to replace the paper gasket, it is a variety kit with black rubber, red rubber, and cork. Does it matter which I use?

Some of these old grinders were designed to hold some amount of machine oil inside the case for lubricating the gears. I applied grease but the worm gears just push it to the outside. I’m wondering if grease will be good enough or if I should add machine oil once it’s all finished?

-- Rick M,

3 comments so far

View oldnovice's profile


7702 posts in 4429 days

#1 posted 11-25-2012 04:50 AM

Have you ever been to Prairie du Chien Wisconsin? It is about 105 miles from where I used to live and about 68 miles South of LaCrosse Wisconsin. I used to pass through either or both on my way to visit my parents.

This tool company did not survive past 2005 but another Prairie Tool Company, established in 1989, exists in Aberdeen South Dakota (been there too) but they but they appear to be a manufacturing company!

You are doing a good before/after so we can see progress!

I like these grinders because you are in total control!

-- "It's fine in practise but it will never work in theory"

View Woodknack's profile


13552 posts in 3441 days

#2 posted 11-25-2012 05:34 AM

I have never been to Wisconsin, one of the few states I haven’t had the pleasure to visit yet.

-- Rick M,

View oldnovice's profile


7702 posts in 4429 days

#3 posted 11-25-2012 07:55 PM

Wisconsin is a beautiful state! I spent my college years in Menomonie which is in the Northern and more rural part of the state. When I took a job in Illinois, just 26 miles South of the border of Wisconsin, we spent a lot of time in Madison and Milwaukee since they were both with easy driving distance and both had a lot to offer!

-- "It's fine in practise but it will never work in theory"

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