Couple of years back, I bought a Reed 203-1/2 vise (swivel base, 3-1/2"
jaws, 38#) for cheap, relatively clean by Coastside standards, very little
rust. I thought it was ready to use as it worked ok after giving it a bit
of lube. Mounted it to an existing cabinet, with an extra layer of 3/4"
plywood under the top for added strength. Didn't use or abuse it much,
tapping a backsaw plate into its back after retoothing and resharpening was
the highlight of interest to this group. Cutting metal shapes, PVC pipe
etc, no real stress on the vise.
But, it seemed like every time I wanted to use it for a large opening job,
the mechanism was sticky, so I'd put a drop or two of oil on it, in a
couple of spots, and it would be fine, until the next job. I had joined
Garage Journal a while back, and took advantage of their accumulated
expertise. Took the vise apart, but had to wait for a Drag Link Socket
(giant 1-1/4" screwdriver) to get the swivel apart, probably the toughest
part of the job. While the outside of the vise looked reasonably clean and
happy, the inside was gross. I think the previous owner lubed it regularly
while it was in use, but never cleaned out the accumulated crud beforehand.
After I took the slide out and exposed the screw, I was using a cold chisel
to scrape goo off that had the consistency of soft asphalt, or old roofing
tar. Similarly with the swivel and the main nut, lots of dried grossness.
Once it was all apart, I soaked it in Simple Green, piece by piece, until
everything was reasonably clean. The black paint had bits of red under it,
and a more uniform coat of grey paint under that, guessing the original
color. Couple of pieces got an initial soak to clean up the gross
underside, and subsequent soaks of the whole piece weren't enough to remove
the ring where the air liquid interface was. Kinda bummed about that, as I
didn't plan on repainting it, but simply giving it a quick coat of BLO.
The back end of the slide had been hammered on at various times in its
previous life, so I took a few passes with a couple of different files to
even out the dings, remove some sharp edges, etc., but I didn't try to take
it back to new smoothness. It has a production date of 157 (older than
me), stamped on both jaws, and an E and L stamped into the fixed and moving
jaws respectively, but no idea what they mean.
The main handle was bent into a shallow S, the swivel into an old style J.
Got them both straight enough, but not quite perfect.
The whole thing, except for mating surfaces (where the jaw slides, or the
swivel pivots), all got BLO, even the innards, to prevent rust in my oh so
dry environment. I used a pair of 500W halogen lamps, and a portable hot
air source to warm things up post SG bath, and pre and post BLO application
to try to speed the drying process.
Things I learned at GJ included removing the retaining collar for the main
screw with a small drift, using Simple Green as a paint remover, types of
grease to use, how to safely straighten handles, and other fun goodies.
Also that my existing little Craftsman 4" vise is a joke, but I suspected
Here is a before pic
And here is an after, not much visible difference. But it works with one
finger through the whole 6" + opening, both opening and closing. The
dynamic jaw wiggles a bit over the throw, but not too bad.
The biggest disappointment (bigger than the bathtub ring) is the finish on
the main screw handle, and the swivel lock system. I suspect they may have
been chromed at some time in their life, but the resulting surface after
cleaning was disappointing. I tried various spinning demon wire wheels,
which resulted in minimal improvement, as did Simichrome. I may try cold
gun bluing later if it still bugs me.
For those who want the details on all the grossness that was cleaned out,
check out the interim pix.
Total time for this project, under 2 months. Total working hours?, let's
not talk about that in polite company please.
Kirk Eppler in Half Moon Bay, CA, who has another saw plate to put back,
once I make new wooden jaws for the vise.