An old vise

Astro14

New member
While not strictly an RV topic, I thought I would share my latest tool purchase.

I reckon that most of us have and use a vise. It’s indispensable for many shop and repair tasks.

I recently acquired and outfitted a shop focused on automotive repair. At the moment, a buddy’s 1975 Mercedes 450SL is up on the lift, with the engine, transmission, and front suspension out. This started as a timing chain job and expanded with the mindset of, “well, while we’re in here, we should also...”. I digress.

The new shop needed a new vise. There are two choices in new vises: outrageously expensive or made in China. Not a fan of either option. So, I started looking on Craigslist and eBay for an older, quality vise. I bought this one at an antique store in Ivor, VA. Someone had mercilessly beat on this poor thing with a hammer for its entire life. Then the shop owner - trying to “clean it up” had hit it with some form of power tool, not realizing how soft cast iron is, and partially ground down the body as well as the cast in letters with the name and place of manufacture.
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But it was sound, complete, and offering cash during our current business climate got me a reasonable price. It’s shown here on my bench, next to the made in China Craftsman that I moved to the shop.

So, first order of business was a complete disassembly, clean and inspect. I’ll spare you the details, but it came apart relatively easily. The jaw screws had to be drilled out. Not surprising given the life it had led.

I cleaned rust, straightened parts, replaced the jaw screws and got it to bare metal. Then, two coats of primer.
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A coat of hammered finish verde green Rustoleum paint matched the original color pretty well.

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I hand lettered the casting to highlight the name and place of manufacture. The picture below is from the middle of that effort. Not quite complete

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The vise was built in early 1960, from the date code inside. Now, 60 years later, it looks great and I have a fine quality piece on the bench, instead of a cheaply made modern “vise”.

I couldn’t be happier about my choice to restore instead of buy new!

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spasm3

Member
Man, that looks great! What a cool restoration!

After restoring that, how do you put into use and start grinding and using it vs keeping it pristine?
 

Astro14

New member
Thread starter
The vise in the shop will lead the harder life, hammering, grinding, etc.

I anticipate that this one will lead an easy life, since it’s at home and the preponderance of my tools, and work, will be in the shop.

I had planned to put this one in the shop, since it’s a heavier, better built tool, but I like it too much and decided to keep it at home.
 

spasm3

Member
The vise in the shop will lead the harder life, hammering, grinding, etc.

I anticipate that this one will lead an easy life, since it’s at home and the preponderance of my tools, and work, will be in the shop.

I had planned to put this one in the shop, since it’s a heavier, better built tool, but I like it too much and decided to keep it at home.

Seeing it finished, I would do the same! Those hammer marks give it character.
 

Wayne

Administrator
Staff member
Very nice! I see it was made in Schiller Park. Do you think you could find where it was made sometime when you're landing at O'Hare? I'll bet you've flown over it a hundred times.

The abuse marks in the vise add character!
 

spasm3

Member
Your post makes me want to do something similar. I know where there is an old craftsman vice, maybe from the 20's or 30's. I may get it and do it as a first project.
Not quite as cool as a Wilton, but could be fun.

Did you know the original color, or did you just go with what you knew you would like?
How hard are parts to find? Jaws similar on most? I'm really curious to try this.
 

Astro14

New member
Thread starter
A bunch of internet searching (GarageJournal was particularly helpful) yielded the color. There’s a whole bunch of vise aficionados out there. Who knew? :)

I’ve got a soft spot for old tools.

I have an inherited set of bits and brace, and the brace states “Made in occupied Japan”, which places it between 1945 and 1951.

I’ve got a Stanley jointer plane that I got for $25. I flattened the sole, tuned the plane and installed a Hock blade. Works wonderfully. Not a valuable antique, but an old soldier that still gets used.

There’s something intrinsically satisfying about putting an old tool back in service.

When you get the Craftsman done, be sure to post some pictures!
 

spasm3

Member
Used to be that anything marked occupied Japan was a collectors item, glassware, porcelain etc. I guess tools would be also.
 

spasm3

Member
Well Astro I found the vise. I remembered it sitting on our dirt barn floor as a kid. It was still there. I will check with my dad, but I think it was my grandfather's.
From what I search it's from the 30's to 40's.
Made by Rock island. I am not sure of the original color, I see some online that look green/gray.
It's rough, pretty rough. I will check eBay for parts.
Keys laid on it on one pic for size reference. Looks like 6.5.
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Astro14

New member
Thread starter
Wow. I love the cast iron and the solid construction, but that will take some work to bring back...

I'm no expert. I've done just the one, but I would imagine that a machine shop would be a good start. Can you get someone to hot tank it, or dip it, to remove all that rust? I suspect it's good underneath. By that I mean that the screw and threads are good, so that it could be restored.

That one locking handle is a bit bent up. Might be worth just replacing that with a used one. EBay would be where I start, perhaps garage journal.

Let me know what you decide. I would love to see it back in action.
 
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