Here is a progression of “restorations” – in the back, a Goodell-Pratt No.05 (as opposed to a No.5, go figure. Or, more likely, a 379), just a cleanup and lube. Middle, a Millers Falls No.5. I had to repair a cracked spoke so I went ahead and did some filing and sanding on the gear and frame. Then painted. Then refinished the wood (once I get started …). Front, the MF #2 that I went nuts on (see previous posts).
Is it worth it? Only for the bling factor (the picture at right shows the No.2 as I bought it); once cleaned and lubed there isn’t much more you can do to improve how they work. These were mass produced inexpensive drills. Cast iron plain bearings need slop to function, they aren’t going to be as tight and smooth as, for example, a needle or cup/cone bearing (ala bicycle pedals). The gear mesh is functional, not great. The chucks don’t have the grip of modern keyless chucks. The one really nice feature is the ball bearing thrust plate (the two MFs), it is cheap, simple and really works well. I like the smaller drills for things like hinge pilot holes and counter sinking but for anything much bigger, an electric drill is just a better tool. A cordless screw driver with a drill chuck would probably be pretty nice. If you could get one that didn’t use a hex shank for mounting (wobble, wobble).