Phillips vs Robertson screws - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-06-2010, 07:18 PM   #1
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Phillips vs Robertson screws

After fighting with the 24 rusted screws holding together the rear window of my Uhaul 13CT I kept wondering - why are Phillips screws (the cross) so popular?

Now, I was raised to use Robertson screws (the square) exclusively. The beauty of these screws and screwdrivers is that they fit together so well and they don't slip. In fact you can put the screw on the screwdriver and hold it supported by the screwdriver as shown. Very handy.

And, if the screw and screwdriver are matched properly you can actually hold the screwdriver by the screw - really!

They are arguably the greatest Canadian invention.
(Ok - this poll only put it at #7.) CBC.ca - The Greatest Canadian Invention

In fact last time I was at my Home Depot (in Canada) that is what the majority of screws were that were in stock. Is this just in Canada?
Why do excellent products like a Fantastic Fan come supplied with Phillips screws which strip so easily?

OK rant over,
Bridget
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robertson screw.jpg   robertson hanging by screw.jpg  

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Old 08-06-2010, 07:44 PM   #2
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hey bridget----when i took Home Care and Repair, a terrific course offered at my high school, the teacher told us ALWAYS replace any screws we use with Robertsons, and i have tried to do that for all these years. i agree, they are terrific.
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Old 08-06-2010, 08:08 PM   #3
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I hear you! Robertson drive is very very nice to use. I guess the only thing I can think of that is an advantage to slotted drive (not phillips as you mentioned, I realize) is that you can get paint and crud out of them easier. But I'll take the Robertsons any day.
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Old 08-08-2010, 10:10 AM   #4
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IIRC, Historically Ford chose the Phillips over the Roberston way back when. Something to do with the cost, as in royalty fees.

OK found a link explaining the history:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_screw_drives
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Old 08-08-2010, 02:31 PM   #5
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I am a woodworker and use square drive screws exclusively. I can honestly not remember a stripped out head. This a a great source for square drive hardware.

McFeely's Square Drive Screws - Screws, Fasteners, Festool Power Tools and more
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Old 08-08-2010, 03:12 PM   #6
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Just who is this Phillip guy, and why do I have to borrow HIS screwdriver?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bridget T View Post
After fighting with the 24 rusted screws holding together the rear window of my Uhaul 13CT I kept wondering - why are Phillips screws (the cross) so popular?
As I remember it, until just recently in the United States, there were only 2 choices: Flathead (sometimes called "Minus") and Phillips (sometimes called "Plus"). Now there is such a plethora of designs, it seems that I never have the correct type of screwdriver in my toolbox. Phillips screws, like rivets, are superior for mass factory installation. Removal is not the manufacturer's concern.
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Old 08-08-2010, 03:27 PM   #7
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We switched from Phillips to Robertson a number of years before they became popular in the US - we are close to CA here in upstate NY & "discovered" them when they were supplied with a kit built truck camper one of the staff purchased. We build theatrical scenery with inexperienced college students. The cost savings in stripped drive bits alone made it worth it, although our students did manage to strip them...

Our biggest problem with them was getting our local lumber yard to stock them & the screws, but once they did many area contractors started using them.

Now it seems many suppliers are switching to Torx heads, at least for the larger screws.
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Old 08-08-2010, 06:51 PM   #8
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I know what you are talking about. I had a '76 Yamaha with Phillips screws everywhere! It was a nightmare to work on. I even purchased an impact set and still it didn't work.

When I was a sprout, all we had was the slotted head. Then Phillips started showing up.The advantage of Phillips over slotted is that it centers the drive tool on the fastener, and does give some holding, but, I agree, not like a Robertson. But then Robertsons were not available years ago. Torx were invented to prevent unauthorized access like in public rest rooms, etc. But then the Torx drivers became common, too. Now they have non-reversable slotted heads.

Have you tried heat? Not a torch around fiberglass, but maybe an electric soldering iron? In places where the flame is not a problem, heating a frozen bolt will work well.
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Old 08-08-2010, 06:55 PM   #9
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Hi there, the one down fall is robertsons tend to snap at the head. At work we use them solely & that's the only down fall.
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Old 08-08-2010, 08:10 PM   #10
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Actually saw a program on this very topic a few years back and being a Canadian I took a great interest in it. The Robertson was involved by a Robertson in Milton Ontario (a bedroom community that serves Toronto). He was looking at improving a screw head so it would not cam out. Around the same time, Philips in the US was patenting his style of screw heads. They both bid on the Ford contract and Philips won. But more importantly this led Philips to get the army contract for WWII. It's hard to find a company today that did not succeed after being given an army contract (Colemans, Zippo, even GP = Jeep. So, we Canadians are proud of our little invention and superior product. In fact today, I had to replace the original regulator on my 1988 Cadet, and the 4 screws were very rusted and all I thought about was the pain it would be to get these flat heads out. To my surprise Nical chose to use robertson heads and all 4 came out slowly without any cam outs.
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Old 08-10-2010, 05:50 PM   #11
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I know what you are talking about. I had a '76 Yamaha with Phillips screws everywhere! It was a nightmare to work on. I even purchased an impact set and still it didn't work.
Please forgive my non-fiberglass trailer posting...

In the 70's and early 80's, Yamaha used yet another type of screw called a JIS which stands for Japanese Industrial Standard. They look exactly like Phillips, but the angle of the slots is different. The bikes also had a lot of aluminum, which oxidizes, seemingly locking the screws in place. This oxidation along with using a Phillips head makes for a lot of stripped screws when non mechanical types work on the bikes.
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Old 08-10-2010, 06:24 PM   #12
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I'm glad I am not alone in my love of Robertsons!
And thanks for the information about the reasons why Phillips are so popular.

As I was fighting with another Phillips yesterday I heard my father's voice come out of my mouth and then I laughed out loud. Which was good because I really was in need of a laugh, I think the Uhaul is starting to win this battle.

My father never called it just a Phillips screw, he always (and really, I mean always) called them "God-d***ed Phillips screws!".
He instructed me at a young age about which screws to use, and I have recently taken the opportunity to teach my 10yr old niece the same. (I did leave out the profanity for her.)

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Old 08-11-2010, 03:57 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Roy in TO View Post
IIRC, Historically Ford chose the Phillips over the Roberston way back when. Something to do with the cost, as in royalty fees.

OK found a link explaining the history:
List of screw drives - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Did you know that Ford used Robertson screws in most of his Canadian made cars. I have a friend who restores model A's and he tells me if it is Canadian you had better use Robertson or lose points in the competition.
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Old 08-11-2010, 04:54 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Paul Richter View Post
Hi there, the one down fall is robertsons tend to snap at the head. At work we use them solely & that's the only down fall.

That's true, but I think it's because we can get more direct torque to the robertson head than any other type. A phillips head will just cam-out. Think of drywall screws.

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