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Daniel W

post vise repair help.

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hi guys, I've been posting on the forum here for a little while - everyone's been really helpful with advice. I've been working at making blacksmithing part of my hobby shop for a few years now. after I finally took some classes in blacksmithing I got a good push into getting some tools for the trade. after using a post vise for the first time, I was pretty set that this should be the next tool I get myself involved with. searched Craig's list, e - bay local flea markets, and everything that I had seen was either more than what I wanted to spend - or just beyond beat up. and truly, I like to make my purchases in person so that I can inspect first hand what I'm getting myself into.

 

as luck would have it, I found a local blacksmith who also has a little habit of collecting tools. he maybe hand about 50 vises in his shop all sizes. we got to talking and he understood that I'm doing this only as a hobby on the side and didn't want to put a ton of money into it. so he showed my 3 vises that he had outside his shop and said if I wasn't worried about doing a little bit of repair work he would make me a deal on one of them.

 

well I picked one up yesterday. he and I looked over the 3 there, and he stressed I take this one off him because the screw was in good shape, it just looked really ugly. the other that was more complete did not have a square threaded screw and he did say that the nut wasn't very good in it.

 

so I got it home, cleaned it up with a wire brush and got it almost back to nice black steel. couldn't see any cracks in the jaws, nor the leg. the rivet where the vise pivots is pretty loose, what remained of the collar was locked in place but a twist with a pipe wrench and it popped loose. I cleaned her up, but you'll see from the pics (sorry I didn't resize them) i'm missing the entire housing for the screw and the only thing that's left is the little collar piece. it does tighten up, really well. I put it together and smacked it was a hammer just to see if it could loosen up and it didn't back off at all.

 

I wonder what you guys might suggest as how I can fix this thing up a little better, I thought over getting a nut to fit the screw and welding up a big bulky washer to it and discarding this cast collar piece.

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That is a heavy duty vice, nice find! Here is an exploded view of a post vice. Perhaps you can use it too figure out what this one used to look like. The part that the screw actually threads into is not original to the vice. At least I don't think it is, if it is part of it still missing! Hope this helps!

 

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Not all of them looked alike but it appears with out something holding the nut ( for lack of better description) you would have to hold the nut itself to accomplish opening and closing the vice. But I could be wrong as it is hard to tell by a picture! The solid screw box as it is labeled in the picture, was designed to give more thread than just a single nut would provide. It also protected the treads that protruded to the rear from trash and getting beat up.

 

The pivot bolt is threaded, soak it liberally to get then nut moving and you should be able to tighten it up! Keep running it off and on and then tighten to the point where it allows for pivoting without a lot of slop.You can make a new spring. I am sure some others will chime in on this, as too tell what is the best steel for that, and the best procedure to temper the steel and such!

 

Once you get it where it runs in and out with a spring then you can build a jaw insert to give you a good alignment on the jaws. Something similar to this.

 

http://www.zoro.com/g/00037035/k-G0463452?utm_source=google_shopping&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Google_Shopping_Feed&gclid=CKn9kM75ocACFehj7AodXgQAcg

 

It appears that your mounting bracket is there it has just slid down to pivot area!

Edited by C Craft

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I'm pretty sure that is a woodworking bench vise screw, but that doesn't mean it won't do the job for you.

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What the others have said, plus once you get the spring on, that will seperate the jaws nicely, if your pivot bold is good and lubed. You can make a spring out of plain ol' mild steel, does not need to be tool steel. Get some 1/4" x 1 1/4 -1 1/2 (depending on how wide your legs are). Its best to forge ears on the bottom to keep it on track. the diagram above should help you get the shape of the spring, just bend a small 90° at the top, then the mounting bracket goes over that to keep it in place.

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Edited by Dennis Mitchell

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I'm pretty sure that is a woodworking bench vise screw, but that doesn't mean it won't do the job for you.

 

OK not sure what weird thing is going on with the forum but when I tried to use the quote button on Rich's post I was getting all the computer lingo underneath the quote, so its copy and paste and it works! :o

 

OK Rich when I first saw you post I thought , UH NO and then I Googled what you had said, "woodworking bench vise screw" and I will danged if you might be partly right. The post vices guts have been replaced with a woodworking bench screw. That explains why it never looked right but I couldn't put a finger on what was wrong. It was one of those whats wrong with this picture things. Here is what I got for my search and it looks a lot like what you have in that post vice!!!

 

http://www.toolbarn.com/jorgensen-6758.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cse&utm_term=jorgensen-6758&gclid=CPri9Y25o8ACFQto7AodvwgAHQ

 

What is supposed to be in that vices guts is what is in Dennis Mitchell's post. It is just like the model you got. I would be willing to bet somewhere along the line someone gutted the original, screw thread shaft and the solid screw box as described in the blow up a post vice. I have seen debris get into the threads and if not cleaned will jamb and break the threads off of the screw thread shaft! Or someone got a cheater bar and tightened the vice till they broke it.

 

Sometimes you will find a vice with broken jaws and you might be able to salvage the guts.

 

That is not to say it can't be used like that but the original guts except for the big washers is missing! You still need to make a spring!

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All of the above. B) As long as it works for you, and it's obviously been that way for a long time based on the pitting on the tail end of the screw, all you need to do is make the spring. Dennis' photo shows exactly how that should look, and 3/16" mild steel (or whatever thickness fills the gap between the bracket and the leg) is fine for the job. The "hook" on top and the ears on the bottom are the only important things to do, and there are ways around that. I've seen U-shaped replacement springs, and even a double-coil valve spring jammed into the bottom of the moveable arm.

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as I was working with the vise yesterday, yes I did come to the conclusion that the screw and this collar piece was part of something else, I obviously noticed the paint - but then at a closer look it was stamped with a 2 letters, something the jaws are without, and the assumption that the collar is certainly cast iron. I did talk with a machine shop briefly about getting another collar piece made, and the gent did said he might have a tap the correct size. I passed on it for right now - I took it over to him fresh and rusty so I wanted to see what I was getting into before putting more money into it. the size as far as the shop could tell its a 1inch standard acme treaded screw. now I can't tell weather the screw is also cast, but I think with some protection it will hold up.

 

the pivot point, it's not a bolt or screw, it's been replaced with a huge rivet, what you see in my pic is someone's attempt to peen it over, they may have snugged it up and was happy with it that way. I could cut it away, and add a bronze washer on the inside of the pivot bracket, there is that much play in there and I don't think I can bent it any closer with any type of bolt for how heavy the pates are (about an inch thick).

 

the leave spring looks simple enough I didn't think just mild steel would work, but hey I'll give it a try. the ears at the bottom they just look like the slightly wrap around the post leg, that shouldn't be a problem for me to shape.

 

jaws in the closed position, don't have any gaps - the faces are smooth without gouges, and also the top of the vise doesn't have much scaring on it. its only mark is a star with "Iron City" on it being close to Pittsburgh I can only think that means it's from my own back yard region, and feels good to give a local tool some fighting strength again. its jaws are 5 inches - and by my estimate, weights 50 -60 lbs.

 

think I'm still going to try my idea for a plate to hold that collar piece for the time being, I would like to get it working - and maybe shortly down the road, get an estimate from the machine shop for an actual big housing like it should have. I got the vise for 35 bucks, I couldn't argue with that. it survived me hitting it with a hammer, so just to get away with a set of jaws for that much I think its a decent deal especially when I see what these are now going for on e bay Craig's list and the few he had in his shop that he restored.

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That is a great price. With a spring it could be used just as is.

 

I mentioned tightening the pivot bolt because you said, QUOTE:"the rivet where the vise pivots is pretty loose" ! If the looseness of the pivot rivet or bolt is not causing alignment issues it won't matter then.

 

If the jaws are not consistently aligning back up when the vise is opened and closed then, cutting out the old bolt/rivot and replacing it with a grade 8 would be my suggestion! But that in itself may not solve all alignment issues. You may have to tweak the pivot bracket or shim the moveable jaw to solve the alignment issues.

 

Getting a shop to build something like the original threaded shaft and nut is plausible but not necessarily cheap! I wish I could lay my hands on one for that price, even with missing a spring and a few other problems to work out you have a great bones to build back from!

 

I saw one recently for $200.00 dollars and as much as I love old tools this one would have made better scrap. It had been used and abused and literately beat till it was not worth much more than scrap even its bones looked bad! :(

Edited by C Craft

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I'm glad you volunteered the price, I was not going to ask. I almost said I would have passed on it without the original screw and box, but I also wouldn't have let a 5" vise frame go for $35!

 

If you're feeling ambitious there was an article several years ago in The Anvil's Ring about how to build up a new screw and box from wrought iron in which you machine the screw (they were true square thread, not Acme) from 1.25" medium carbon steel, then use that as the mold for the inner threading in the box/nut, which is in fact threaded full-length, by using 1/8" keystock to fill the groove in the screw and then carefully brazing the now-helical keystock into the box, then carefully unscrewing the original screw and heat-treating it. More than I feel up to tackling at the moment, but the info is out there...

 

As an alternative, you could just weld the nut onto the washer and weld some tabs onto the washer so it won't rotate but can still swivel a bit as originally designed.

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Agreed with Alan I would go with the alt plan to get that one going to get you by, then keep an eye out for another one. You should be in vise-rich country up there, so you can take your time and find a good one at a decent price. Then you can use this one for back-up or pass it along to the next up-and-coming guy who needs one.

I have a 4 1/2 inch Iron City and the one above which is a 4" Indian Chief. Found both here in rural towns, Oklahoma. Paid$40 for the 4.5" and $35 for the small. Just needed cleaned up and a spring and the c-wedge/wedge made forthe 4.5".

What size was yours (measured across the width of the jaws, not opening)?

 

Btw, I would guess you found the star w/iron city in it on the swing jaw leg? Fun stuff to play wuth and restore.

Dennis

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when I picked up the vise I could tell that they guy knew it might be worth a little more. his attitude was really cool though, I told him about the smiths I had been working with lately and where I was working at and he basically said, "I have the things to get you started." every smith I've met this passing year, has been so enthused about helping you out - or just getting you started in some way.

 

if everything goes ok tomorrow, I'm going to start working on the plate/washer - I'm going to call it a bracing plate to hold the old nut in place so I can tighten it up and loosen it with one hand instead of three. also not going to mess with the rivet or pivot arm until I try to get a leave spring into it. if once its under tension and has a lot of play in it, then its probably easiest to cut out the rivet and replace with a bolt and shim like stated above there.

 

I got some more pictures for you guys, one of the inside of one of the jaws the other is a better angle of the rivet, also my little bracing plate drawing I made up earlier in the week. although I already see some simplifications to make on it.

 

 

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got a little bit of work done today I just made the bracing plate to hold the nut. I had some stock laying around so I punched a whole in it just big enough to put the nut through the plate to hold it. I didn't have a large enough drill bit to do this in all one pass, so I resorted to making a series of holes and punching out the center. then trued up everything a die grinder and half round file. took a little bit of work but the fit is better than I expected it.

 

tried it out, the vise now can tighten up on its own without having to hold the nut (and loosen up). it does pull through the plate, which I was expecting, which is where the next washer will come into play. I plan to build it to the same outside diameter of the original one, but the inside diameter slightly larger than the screw, so it will rest on the wall of the nut preventing it from being drawn threw the plate.

 

also because there is no internal lip or tabs on the original washer, when loose the screw just falls - so with the new one, if I can find some pipe laying around roughly the same size as the inside diameter of where the screw box was, or just weld a few pieces of round bar on it that should hold the screw in when loose and prevent it from just falling away.

 

I also cut away the excess of the plate which isn't in the photos. I'm probably going to build another bracing plate just like this last one just to give that little nub on the nut more surface area to be held against. being its cast something, I want to give it something more substantial to hold against. with the two stacked plates it will hold more like a 1/4 of an inch of the nub.

 

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a little bit more progress this week. today I made the secondary washer to support the bracing plate I made earlier. process was a little slow, again I didn't have a drill bit big enough and my impatiens got the better of me so it took a lot of filing to get it just right. but it worked out just as planned.

 

I made this plate so that it would sit on the wall of nut (which the pictures should help to explain) so it wouldn't pull the nut through the bracing plate.

 

the next step in the process I was going to weld a pipe onto the washer to hold it in place when open, but I immediately noticed this wasn't the best and simplest idea. the more the vise opens the more the screw wants to pivot - and droops in the eyes of the vise. in order to preserve that feature and get as much open space as possible I'm taking Alan Longmire's advice and using tabs to hold this washer plate in place when loose, but still allowing it to slip back and forth so it can open as much as possible. I'm not too sure if my idea of a angled tab would be any better than just a piece of flat stock welded in there. we'll find out - a buddy of mine can weld, I'd give it a shot with my oxy torch but that's something I've never done before or had anyone walk me through.

 

 

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still working on the vise, its going a little slower now - I was needing to weld up some tabs on my washer plate before continuing, and I'm not a welder so I had to track down a friend of mine to do the little job for me. last night I got the welding done, and it works just as I intended it.

 

I only had the tabs welded to the washer plate I made earlier so that the second plate I made bracing the nut would still be able to pivot freely with the screw. it works great, I no longer need 3 hands to open and close the vise.

 

next I think I'm going after making the spring. the same guy that welded up the plate had an old car leave spring he let me take which as I first looked at it (in the dark last night) I thought it could work. although it needs necked down to fit into the mounting bracket and bend a 90 in the top of it. dog earing and wrapping around the post shouldn't be a problem being the spring is so wide anyway.

 

but the spring is thin - thinner than what I thought yesterday when I got a good look at it in the light. so I may go after a piece of mild steel and make the spring from it. so here's another question, do any of you that use mild for you leave spring do anything to it to strengthen it? I've never tried to strengthen mild - from what I know its not going to strengthen very much - one of my instructed told me that it won't even strengthen at all.

 

more pic, excuse my shaky hands.

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All simple steels have basically the same modulus of elasticity, spring steels just have a greater resistance to taking a set. The spring in a post vise is not under much stress to begin with, so if you go with mild just forge it so that it is relaxed when the vise is open about two inches. That's enough to work with, and the mild will not permanently deform with such a small amount of deflection. You can always cold-bend it a little to work harden it if you want.

 

If you use the spring steel, leave it as-forged, do not harden and temper. How thin is it? I have a chunk of 1/8" Model-A Ford leaf spring as my vise spring.

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it's about that an 1/8 of an inch, both ends of it taper in thickness to nothing. I would have to cut about a 1/3 of it to fit. it's very pitted and very weathered. if I do use it, I'll just have to modify the wedging pin on the mounting bracket as well. presently, with the wedge securely seated there's about a 1/4 of an inch gap for the spring.

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still been working on the vise, I've got a Christmas project in the works as well so it's been a little slow working on the vise, got a cold to go along with it so I haven't gotten any work done for a few weeks.

 

I did start to work on the spring, and I did decide to work with the old car leaf spring, I have it and it cost me nothing so why not. I first cut it down to size with a cut off wheel - and good god did it take a while to cut this thing down. I left it a little longer than what I needed for the time being. I then bent the lower end using a map gas torch.

 

after it had taken me so long to cut the spring the first time I attempted to build a little fire brick igloo to heat this steel in and forge it into shape to fit into the bracket. I wanted to give this a try anyway - I was able to get my fire brick to glow using the same map gas, but I only got the temp of the steel up to a forging temp once and it wasn't a good soaking heat so I lost temp almost a soon as it hit it. probably did help that my igloo wasn't air tight, and was in the open air on a windy day. I got more to learn on this type of forge before I try it again.

 

I'll put up some pics soon, but the project is still on going.

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here we are I knew I had pics somewhere.

 

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ok, finally, I feel like I have the vise to a state or repair that I can say it's a little ugly, but complete.


last night I struggled with the spring again. I went for broke. I knew that I got the steel to bend with just a map gas torch so I gave it a try again to work the dog ears into the spring with some success.


because I knew it would be too much to work the step needed for the bracket by heating it I resorted to cutting it. this part of the spring had to have annealed from my last attempt because it cut so much faster than other sections with my cut off wheel. with two heats of the map gas torch I got the 90 bent at the top end of the spring.


the dog eared end - now that took some serious beating, the torch would get the steel up into the red but not the greatest temp to attempt to work spring steel. I have a small cast blue 50lb anvil (a b day present that I was using in place of my brick anvil) which has basically begun to disintegrate under the working of the spring.


as time goes on, and I possibly build up a proper forge with burner, and find a proper anvil, I may return to this spring and work it a little better. but for now it does the intended task and hold around the pivot arm.


once I got everything together, the spring had no where near the amount of deflection needed to even push at the pivot arm, again I had to turn to the map gas to get a good bend in it. I thought I over bent it because it was recommended that the vise would only need a little push of a few inches, when I got it back together the spring worked that it pushed on the pivot arm the entire length of the screw. and an added benefit in my opinion was that the square bottom of the pivot arm catch's on the spring when the screw is out, so that the pivot arm does not fall free and clunk you in the hip if not paying attention.


at this time I did not take out the rivet in the pivot arm. with the spring, there is much less play and the jaws line up without an extra hand manipulating them.


so for the most part its finished, unless you gents see something I should improve upon. and I just made a simple set up last night to get an idea of how I should mount it, after stepping back - I know I should make this a stand of its own instead of how this set up I came up with last night.

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The very best post vise stand is simply a post... Something like an 8"x8", about 6-10 feet long, buried in the ground. Having room around the vise is also a very good idea.

 

The best portable stand, IMHO, is a large container such as a 55 gallon drum. Cut it down to the right height, reinforce the top and bottom edge. Add a semi-circular plate, on top, to bolt to, and a ring for the foot of the vise at the bottom. Don't forget a drain plug! A 55 gallon drum, that has not been cut down, holds about 459 pounds of water, not including the weight of the barrel. That makes for a very sturdy stand and it does double duty as a slack tub.

 

~Bruce~

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Another good vise stand if you can't bury a big post is a steel tube (pipe or square, minimum 4") with a shelf welded on top to bolt the vise to and a large thick steel plate on the bottom with a hole (or a bit of pipe welded on) to fit the end of the leg. Mount the vise on one side of the plate so you're standing on the plate when twisting or bending, you won't be able to move it. A round plate makes it easy to tip up and roll if you need to move it.

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:) I went the easy way when I anchored the post to the floor by using a plumbing flange (which fit tightly to the end of the post) screwed to the floor.

 

Gary

Edited by Gary Mulkey

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