Screw Trivia

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2015: Screw Trivia
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Nicholas Lingg - Tarboro, NC on Thursday, January 08, 2015 - 06:15 pm:

In 1908, P. L. Robertson began to manufacture a square recess impression in the head of a screw in Milton, Ontario, Canada. At that time, it was a revolutionary change in the fastener industry. The first patent was issued in 1909 and the last patent expired 55 years later in 1964. For his invention, P.L. Robertson screws and screwdrivers carry his name to this day.
Another source says that 700 of these screws were used in the manufacturing of the Model T.
Were???


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Allan Bennett - Australia on Thursday, January 08, 2015 - 06:38 pm:

The Robertson screws are common on the bodywork of Canadian produced cars, Robertson being Canadian.
Today you can still buy Robertson type screws. The main advantage is the positive location of the driver, no slot to sip out of. The idea is much better than Phillips drive because it is more positive and less prone to stripping out.

Allan from down under.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By charley shaver- liberal,mo. on Thursday, January 08, 2015 - 07:00 pm:

i have some Canadian body panels with those screws in them,but 700 per car! i don't think so. lol. charley


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Tomaso - Milton,WA on Thursday, January 08, 2015 - 07:08 pm:

One of my son-in-laws is an electrician here in the States and that's what they use in certain applications.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ken Kopsky, Lytle TX on Thursday, January 08, 2015 - 07:20 pm:

They're hard to find in the US. Now, that's all I buy for building and woodwork. Deck-screws and pan-head are still about all you can find at home centers. The local hardware store doesn't carry any.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ken Kopsky, Lytle TX on Thursday, January 08, 2015 - 07:27 pm:

Excuse me while I wash the egg off my face. I just pulled an orphan out of my pocket. It's not a Robertson. It's a Torx.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dick Lodge - St Louis MO on Thursday, January 08, 2015 - 07:54 pm:

My apologies, but when I saw the thread title, I assumed that someone had had a very bad experience at a trivia contest and had sworn off ever attending one again.... :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Wells on Thursday, January 08, 2015 - 08:16 pm:

Robertson Screw are apparently still operating in their original factory in Milton just a 30 minute drive from me. They supposedly started supplying screws for Canadian Model Ts in 1913. The did try to enter the U.S. market back then. Here is a bit of that history and a pic of Mr. Peter Robertson. 


His third major attempt involved the Ford Motor Company. From early years of the Milton plant Ford Windsor accounted for a substantial part of Robertson’s production. By using
socket head screws Ford made a considerable savings of
$2.60 per car.





















This savings captured the attention of the Detroit bosses and soon after P.L was in Detroit talking about expanding socket head screw production to supply all U.S. made Ford cars. Henry Ford refused to commit to a new product line without having a say in how and where the screws would be made. P.L was not happy with this idea and headed home. This meant P.L was letting go of vast potential in the U.S. market, this also included Ford Windsor which accounted for one third of his output of screws.

 



Robertson Screw are apparently still operating in their original factory in Milton just a 30 minute drive from me. They supposedly started supplying screws for Canadian Model Ts in 1913. The did try to enter the U.S. market back then. Here is a bit of that history and a pic of Mr. Peter Robertson. 




Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Wells on Thursday, January 08, 2015 - 08:17 pm:

Sorry about the messed up post. Having technical difficulties here.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mark Gregush Portland Oregon on Thursday, January 08, 2015 - 09:04 pm:

The screws I have for doing pocket wood assembly are Roberson and so are some other deck/sheet rock type screws.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Tony Bowker on Thursday, January 08, 2015 - 09:09 pm:

We use to have a pickup camper and it used the squared hole screws throughout. Now I know they are Robinson screws, learn something every day.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bud Holzschuh - Panama City, FL on Thursday, January 08, 2015 - 09:31 pm:

The wife's family has a cottage in northern Ontario and I get to do most of the maintenance. Square drive screws are not only available, they are common, in fact more common than either phillips or slotted.

It's a great system, the driver never slips and its very rare to strip out the square slot. I removed about 40 of them from an old cedar strip planked boat and only one rounded the square slot. They had been in there for 60 years and were sunk deep with multiple coats of varnish covering them. I wish they were the standard here.

There is a story about Robertson visiting Henry Ford at his office trying to sell him on his fasteners. As I heard it Henry threw him out. If true, Ford missed out on a good product. Maybe the historians out there can elaborate.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mike Walker, NW AR on Thursday, January 08, 2015 - 09:36 pm:

Those square-drive screws have been used for many years for the flathead screws used to put down decking boards. The square-drive bits are now standard issue at Lowe's, HD, and all lumber yards. They have become pervasive for that use, since they work much better than other types.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Fred Winterburn on Thursday, January 08, 2015 - 09:39 pm:

Robertson headed screws are by far the most common screws in Canada. Most are not made by Robertson and unlike Phillips that licensed the name, Robertson has total control over the 'Robertson' name, so legally screws with that head made by other manufacturers can't be called Robertson (or so I have read). We all call them Robertson anyway because that is what they really are. The screw head sizes are identified by the colour of the screwdriver handle that drives them. The most common size head is the 'red Roberstson' The largest common size is driven with a black handled screwdriver (black Robertson), next smaller is red, then green, and then yellow. The beauty of a Roberston is that the screw can be inserted onto the screwdriver and held at any angle without falling off. They will not cam out. Also, despite some BS on the internet that states they can't be driven with screw guns or automated machinery, that is completely false. They work as well or better than Phillips with power drivers. The Roberston style screw is as common as dirt in Canada for a reason. Fred Winterburn, Ripley Ontario Canada


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Fred Winterburn on Thursday, January 08, 2015 - 09:58 pm:

Here is an older video on the Robertson screw: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Td7GjAMAY7Y


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mike Walker, NW AR on Thursday, January 08, 2015 - 10:11 pm:

"Also, despite some BS on the internet that states they can't be driven with screw guns or automated machinery, that is completely false."

I agree completely. Whoever said that was full of it. I have driven hundreds, if not thousands, of them while building decks, and they work quite well. Better than any of the alternatives, for sure.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By A. J. "Art" Bell on Thursday, January 08, 2015 - 10:23 pm:

From my post to the group Friday, April 23, 2010


Hi All

I would very much like to leave P.L. Robertson’s accomplishments untarnished,
but there is some evidence that he was not the first to patent the “Square”
drive screw design. A couple of years ago, I had added an edit to this effect
to a Wikipedia page on “P.L.”, only to find it was deleted a few days later.
Later I noticed that it was again mentioned on the page accessed by the link posted
earlier by someone named Greg. And was covered in the “External links” near the bottom of that article.
Not sure what their stand is on the subject these days.

Here are the patents that predate Robertson’s application by some 30+ years.
One is the Original, and two are Reissued versions (both on the same day??).

Inventor: ALLAN CUMMINGS
Assignee: THE NEW YORK SCREW COMPANY
Patent number: 161390
Filing date: Feb 15, 1875
Issue date: Mar 30, 1875
http://tinyurl.com/294b3el


Inventor: ALLAN CUMMINGS
Assignee: THE NEW YORK SCREW COMPANY
Patent number: RE(issue)6729 (Division A)
Filing date: Aug 4, 1875
Issue date: Nov 9, 1875
http://tinyurl.com/2cekml5


Inventor: ALLAN CUMMINGS
Assignee: THE NEW YORK SCREW COMPANY
Patent number: RE(issue)6730 (Division B)
Filing date: Aug 4, 1875
Issue date: Nov 9, 1875
http://tinyurl.com/2dhjhhb



And the P. L. Robertson 1908 patent . . .


Inventor: Peter Lymburner Robertson
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Patent number: 975285
Filing date: Oct 24, 1907
Issue date: Nov 8, 1910
http://tinyurl.com/27p6ccw



Now I have also been challenged over the fact that the Robertson patent
drawings show a slight taper in the recess and the Cummings drawings
do not, however a close read of the Cummings patent reveals the following paragraph.

(Referring to the cavity)
”It may be made the same size its entire depth, or, if
preferred, made slightly tapering from top to bottom.”

Assuming that the Cummings patent had expired, and as well there is no
evidence that the New York Screw Company ever produced any such thing.
And as P.L. Robertson did not have easy access to the USPTO (no internet)
and as the idea was one of those in the realm of “why didn’t I think of that”,
Robertson likely went to his grave truly believing he was the first.
So in my mind he was/is the first inventor/PRODUCER of a design that left
Canadians with fewer burred up screw heads to snag garments or skin,
and fewer gouges in our work or our hands, but perhaps not the original.


Regards
Art


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By George_Cherry Hill NJ on Thursday, January 08, 2015 - 11:02 pm:

So I guess my Depot Hack is a Canadian by default?

Woo Hoo, who woulda thunk that John Sieger was thinking Canadian as he builds up his bodies...:-):-):-) Now I guess the bitsey that is under it will have to find Canadian goodies to change out to...:-):-):-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Page on Thursday, January 08, 2015 - 11:58 pm:

Our Fordor sedan was originally shipped from Canada to Australia. You will find that a lot of the New Zealand closed cars also have the Robertson Screws as they were shipped there from Canada also.
It has a mixture of Robertson Screws and Slot Head screws.

Regards, John Page, Australia



Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Page on Friday, January 09, 2015 - 12:01 am:




Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Warwick Landy on Friday, January 09, 2015 - 06:13 am:

John Page recently contributed a very informative article in the MTFCI Model T Times on Robertson Screws. Perhaps John , you could share a little more history here? What edition of T Times was your article? Very good read!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Page on Friday, January 09, 2015 - 01:52 pm:

Thanks Warwick.
Model T Times , May - June 2014 No. 391.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Fred Dimock, Newfields NH, USA on Friday, January 09, 2015 - 03:59 pm:

OK I got it - Robertson was a square!
I have set of drivers that covers almost all of these shapes.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dave Wells on Friday, January 09, 2015 - 08:49 pm:

I turns out that Robertson Screw actually started in Hamilton where I live. I'm going to find out where exactly. Here is a pic of a historical plaque. Apparently there is a P.L. Robertson school in Milton as well.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Paul Bourgeois on Sunday, January 11, 2015 - 12:48 am:

Just looked at my early 26. Very few slotted, mostly Robertson. Just got the car a few months ago and haven't had time to look at it very much. I do a lot of wood working and all I have ever used are the Robertson ones. It's being over 55 years. I love them.
Paul


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ken Todd, ............Red Deer, Alberta on Sunday, January 11, 2015 - 12:20 pm:

Robertson screw boxes


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Eric Sole - Castelldefels (Spain) on Sunday, January 11, 2015 - 03:20 pm:

I've never seen this type of screw before.

Now I know what the square bits are for in my multiple driver kit (made in the USA).


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Paul Bourgeois on Sunday, January 11, 2015 - 03:36 pm:

Here's a site I found that sells all kinds of Robertson's screws and bits.
www.mcfeelys.com

regards Paul


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By eugene story on Sunday, January 11, 2015 - 06:19 pm:

My RV came with torx screws, when push came to shove a robertson screw driver works.


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