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I Forge Iron


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About Steamboat

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    Senior Member

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    : Brunswick, Maine
  • Interests
    Historical archaeology, automotive restoration, historic home restoration, metal fabrication and woodworking, 18th and 19th century steam technology, Industrial Revolution technology, photography, graphic design, boating, etc.

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  1. Thanks, W! Looks good, Timber Ridge! When you mount the vise on a base (or floor, perhaps?), just be careful when you tighten the bottom flange to whatever base you decide to use under it. If the flange is over-tightened against a surface that doesn't match the bottom flange surface perfectly, the cast iron could crack. Cheers, Al (Steamboat).
  2. I didn't remove the two bolts holding the fixed jaw insert. I figured that IF and when I ever need to change the jaw insert I might give it a try. There is always the chance that the bolts might break, in which case you'd probably have to drill them out. You might be able to lightly dress the jaw insert in place if you want a nice straight edge, but for most purposes, I think it's probably OK as is, unless it's loose. If you want to try to remove the bolts, I'd suggest beginning with a very long soak in some rust-buster type penetrating oil/fluid, and you might consider trying an impact wrench on a very low torque setting (well below the amount of torque that could twist and break the bolts). Heating the jaw insert might help, but be careful not to overheat the insert. I don't know what particular steel/alloy the insert is made of, so I can't offer guidelines as to a safe temperature range that would not have a negative effect on the insert. Al (Steamboat)
  3. Yeah, it looks like the same model, and it appears to be in good condition. Glad the diagrams were useful to you. I've been busy with tons of other projects lately, so I haven't posted to the forum for a while, but I'm hoping to get back to some blacksmithing projects soon and start posting again. Cheers, Al (Steamboat)
  4. I have a selection of spiral-point and spiral-flute carbide and HSS taps that I use with my Bridgeport mill, and occasionally with my lathe. I, too, like the chip control they offer, and the spiral-flute taps are nice for ejecting chips when tapping blind holes. Al (Steamboat)
  5. Jennifer, that is a lot of good advice. I totally agree that there are manufacturers who will apply titanium nitride and similar coatings on just about any kind of steel, whether it's taps, dies, drills, cutting tools, etc., since the coating creates the "impression" for marketing purposes that the tools are high quality, whether they really are or not. That said, if you're going to be working with "sticky" or "gummy" metals, such as stainless steel, etc., the coating can be very helpful, but one should always make sure that the substrate is a quality alloy (HSS or better for taps and dies). I've bought a lot of very nice used taps and dies over the years in virtually new condition, but I rarely buy used drill bits unless I know the seller and I'm sure of what I'm buying. As I mentioned earlier, I inspect used taps and dies carefully with a high-power loupe to check for wear and damage, as well as to have a closer look at the finish/machining quality, and I buy them cheaply enough that if I get a lemon once in a while, I just toss it, and I'm typically only out a buck or two. Like you, I have a lot of odd sizes of taps and dies, since several of my past restoration projects have involved antiquated fastener types and sizes that are no longer in vogue. On a somewhat related topic, regarding drill bits (for drilling metals, rather than masonry, etc.), I seldom buy anything other than brand-new cobalt-steel bits (usually with a titanium nitride or titanium aluminum nitride coating), with some exceptions, such as solid tungsten carbide end mills, bits, and other cutting tools for my mill or lathe, although solid carbide tools can be very fussy about how they are used, since it's easy to break or chip them if the work is not secured properly or if the feed and other factors are not set up correctly. I hardly ever bother with standard HSS steel drill bits any more. Cobalt drill bits are still subject to wear, of course, and occasionally need to be re-sharpened, but I don't have to re-sharpen cobalt bits as often as ordinary HSS bits, since they maintain their edge quality longer when drilling harder metals. Al (Steamboat)
  6. Regarding space station construction, you might want to have a look at this: https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20120002584.pdf Al (Steamboat)
  7. I totally agree that good tap wrenches and die stocks (die holders) are important. If space around the rod to be threaded is adequate, I prefer straight-handle tap wrenches over T-handles. And remember that you can get die stocks that have adjustable guides, which can really help a lot to start and maintain your threads in proper alignment with the rod being threaded. Al (Steamboat)
  8. My collection of taps and dies is such a mish-mash as far as manufacturers go that I really don't have any favorite maker that stands tall above the others. That reflects the way that I usually buy those tools, which I would call "semi-haphazard." I visit used tool stores, flea markets, pawn shops, garage sales, surplus outfits, etc., quite often, and if I run across tools that interest me, and if the price is right, I buy them. Obviously, high-speed steel will outperform the cheaper carbon steel threading tools over time, and titanium nitride and other coatings will further enhance their performance (as will proper thread-cutting oil). And there are a number of exotic "cantaffordium" alloys out there as well. Good quality taps and dies are not cheap when new, but you might be surprised how easy it is to pick up good used ones for half a song and a dance. Here's my simple approach: I keep a small 14X loupe (magnifier) in my truck's glove box, which I use to check the edges and surfaces of any kind of used or old-stock cutting tool that I'm considering. I avoid anything with dinged, chipped, or rounded/worn cutting edges. The magnifier also lets me have a better look at the tool's finish quality, because a high-quality finish "tends" to suggest better quality tools (not always, but often). Buying good used threading dies is usually easier than buying good used taps, not because there are more dies around, but because the critical edges and surfaces of dies are more protected against dings from being stored improperly or from being dropped on hard surfaces. Taps tend to get banged up more because of their exposed critical areas. They might look OK at a glance, but often a magnified view will show small, but significant defects. I've gotten a bunch of very nice taps and dies for a few bucks each, and sometimes cheaper. One minor problem is that when I run across some interesting tools I can't always remember what size(s) I may have been looking for, so I often end up with duplicates. A notebook would be a good idea. If you need a particular size right away and can't wait, at least splurge for a high-speed steel tool and threading oil, and then build up the rest of your collection over time. It won't take long before you have a massive set of these things. Just remember to store them with some protection around them. Glad to be of some service. As to experience, I had a few years of professional fabrication and machine shop experience back in my college days, but no matter what various paths my career may have followed over the decades, I've always enjoyed designing, building, restoring, or modifying things for all of my adult life and most of my misspent youth. I'm also a lifelong tool junkie. Al (Steamboat)
  9. I noted the smiley face, so I won't take that comment verbatim , but seriously, even in a "fab shop," I would consider any work to be unacceptable that was cut or fitted so poorly that it would require extra weld fill to make up for the sloppiness...but that's just me. And there are other operations that take place in a fab shop that require higher levels of accuracy in measurements than most welding operations. Otherwise, I agree with you. I find that a line made by a sharpened flat soapstone stick can be "relatively" thin (say about 1/32" to 1/16" thick) which is certainly adequate to serve as a guideline for hand-held welding and plasma (or oxy) cutting operations. I have a pretty steady hand, but even when following a straightedge with my plasma cutter, I probably waver more than 1/16" at times. Other fabbing operations, however, like shearing, for example, usually require more accuracy, in which case I use more accurate marking methods. As I already alluded to, I would not attempt to use a soapstone stick for precise layout work. One needs something that will produce a very thin line and produce that line consistently. For more precision, I often use layout fluid and a diamond-tipped or carbide-tipped scribe. Having different colors of layout fluid is also recommended, since you can choose a color that contrasts best with the metal surface color. You can get an 8-ounce bottle of layout fluid for about 10 or 12 USD, which will make a lot of markups. And of course, when going beyond what most people would consider the fab-up stage of a project and getting into subsequent high-precision operations, my machinist measuring tools come into play (micrometers, dial gauges, gauge blocks, digital readouts on my vertical mill and lathe, etc.). I don't have CNC on those machines, but since most of my projects are one-off personal projects, I don't consider it to be much of a handicap. This is marginally off the taps-and-dies topic, but I guess it ties in insofar as marking accurately for drilling, tapping, etc. Cheers, Al (Steamboat)
  10. There is a lot of high-quality tooling coming out of Poland, and I've found that the pricing is generally pretty decent. Vaughn, I think that as you collect more taps and dies, you'll probably be using them more often. There is a tendency to use other means of fastening things when one doesn't have the capability to cut the thread sizes needed for specific jobs, but having a full set of taps and dies gives you more options. As to soapstone markers, they aren't much good for precision work, but I often use a flat soapstone stick (in a holder) for markups for welding. Soapstone has a high melting point, and the whitish lines show up pretty well through a darkened welding lens. I frequently draw a soapstone line parallel to the planned weld so that I can see a bit farther ahead when laying a bead, with the line acting like a guide. It's also good for indicating start and stop points, stitch welds, plasma cutting guidelines, etc. One drawback in some situations is that the soapstone line rubs off easily, but that usually isn't a problem for me. On stainless, I often use a black marker instead. Al (Steamboat)
  11. That was a very good introductory video, Vaughn. Good imagery, classic narration, and very clearly spoken, unlike a lot of newer videos. Pretty much all of the information is still applicable today, although there are some newer materials and surface treatments that have come along since then. Hmm. Al (Steamboat)
  12. Bldsmth and Farmall seem to be right on track. You have what looks like one end of a flexible coupling on the shaft. The other two pieces of the coupling are missing. Those would have included a similar metal piece to go on the end of a driving shaft (such as a motor shaft or a jackshaft) and a rubber/elastomeric intermediate cross-shaped piece called a "spider." Flexible couplings can often tolerate slight shaft misalignment and reduce vibration and shock transmission. It's a pretty large blower, but potentially useful. Al (Steamboat)
  13. Thanks for the comments, Jim. I've seen photos of the accessory jaws with the half-round grooves, but I don't have any of those...just the flat jaws. Fortunately, my vise already closes tightly without having to add a shim or jaw liners, and I've set up the foot pedal so it rises on its own to a comfortable height. The jaws close completely when the pedal is pushed down within about one inch of the base, so I have a little extra travel available that will allow for future wear. I gained some extra travel when I replaced the worn pivot bolts. I think that I may already have a milling cutter that closely matches the profile of the teeth cast into the body of the vise, so it's just a matter of finding time for yet another project to make an upsetting block/stop. Cheers, Al (Steamboat)
  14. Yep, I agree that a properly-fitted/machined counterbore would definitely be a good way to avoid shear and bending forces at the the relief cut, which is the principal stress riser location in a shoulder bolt. When torqued to produce the correct stretch in the bolt (or to specs for the bolt material, size, threads, etc.) and engineered for the intended use and load, it's an excellent approach. Al (Steamboat)
  15. Glad you liked the vise setup. As you said, it could be redesigned slightly (larger bore through the arm and through one hinge cheek) to accommodate a shoulder bolt where the shoulder would tighten against one hinge cheek and leave a bit of space under the head of the bolt to avoid squeezing the hinge and breaking it. The teeth are there to engage an adjustable block (which is missing) that could be used for upsetting the end of a piece of stock at some set depth below the top of the vise, or it could be simply used as a general-purpose adjustable depth stop. It's my observation that the block is usually missing on these old foot vises. I've seen a couple with the block intact, and I might eventually see if I can machine one to match the teeth. It would be a handy time saver when doing repeat operations, such as adding a bend or twist at the same location when making up a series of bars. Al (Steamboat)
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