Who the heck spends 14 hours restoring their father's old, rusty, froze vise? Well I did.
It was bolted to my dad's workbench since my earliest memories. It's a Wilton model 9300 machinist bullet style vise that has a code dating it to Sept. 1941. The first year Wilton Company started manufacturing bench vises in Chicago, IL just about a block from Wrigley Field on Wilton Ave. The plant was a few doors down from my dad's machine shop that made the patented lead-drive screws for a short while but they switched to aircraft parts during WWII.
It has a history of me making Pinewood Derby cars. The jaws still sport a couple hack saw scars that I caught Hell for. I learned how to file and cut wood on that vise. One summer, me and Dad restored his old jalopy of a Studebaker using that vise for numerous tasks so I'd have a car to drive my senior year of high school.
That's why I spent 14 hours restoring it.
The vise has been sitting in storage ignored for the past 18 years since Pop passed away. I found it in a sorry state. The grease had likely never been changed since 1941 and had become hard as apple wood.
It's been 100% disassembled, solvent soaked, machined, sandblasted, wire brushed, primed, POR15 coated and baked, it had it's key way re-set, it's been packed in fresh grease and moves like with 0 play like fine-tuned Swedish lathe.
A LINK TO THE HISTORY OF THE ORIGINAL WILTON VISE:
I have a book coming out in 2013 that chronicles growing up in the 1950's and in one of the 50 short stories this same vise actually played a role! If you want to read that story, send me a PM and I'll forward it to you.
P.S. The Faultless Speedster project is coming along but I've hit a detour trying to motorize my bead roller this past week.
Great project! My sturdy vise is the most important tool when I'm building a T from parts - almost all the parts need to be in the vise at least once for some demounting, filing, rethreading, straightening or re-bushing.
James, thats the kind of thing I like to do. Not only the fact it was your dad's but a new one like that today would cost no telling how much. Great job! KB
Very nice! Special items like that help keep us connected to loved ones that have moved on.
And they are practical too.
Drive carefully, and enjoy, W2
While not apparent when looking at the two vises in the top photo,
the secret to the Wilton vise is the nut is mounted in the cone at the
rear of the vise so the pull of the screw is directly ‘in line’ with no
tilting of the nut against the screw. Most other vises loosely anchor
the side of the nut to the base of the vise, allowing the nut to tip and
bind and may even bow the screw under load. The round design
makes for smooth in or out travel with no herky jerky motion.
Sold both Record and Wilton with Record out selling the Wiltons
perhaps 30 to 1, but the Wilton customer could come in years later
and still mention the “dam good vise you sold me”.
Looks like a GOOD one James!
That vise is a good one for sure.
Well made to last and last and>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>!
The shop I worked while contracted to TVA was built in 1918, some of those old vises were dated as far back as 1914 and still as good as ever. KB
Knowing the abuse this vise went through (my childhood)not to mention it's wartime suty on a steel bench in a busy machine shop, it's evident that, "They just don't make 'em like they used to".
A neat little footnote: The gent that started the Wilton company in 1940 was a German immigrant (last name Vogel). Since it was war time, he chose a less German sounding name, 'The Wilton Company' because the shop was on Wilton Ave. Probably a wise move as he ended up producing tens of thousands of vises on US Govt. contract to serve the war effort.
After the war, the large acorn nuts seen on my swivel base were replaced with more modern quick release lever type nuts.
Why not? I've seen them for $100 or more for sale. And it was your father's vise. A family Heirloom.
I admire you for doing it. Looks Great. Wiltons are worth good money rusty I couldn't even guess what it's worth now. Norman I'll bet is close but I'll bet it's a conservative close.
I'm gonna' look for one at swapmeets. The 5" Crapsman my son bought new for me a few years ago is sprung to where the jaws won't close straight.
I guess this is a little "OT" but it does have to do with vises.
I carry a few tools & equipment in the back of my pick up truck. I have an extra, but very heavy vise that I used for a "wild idea" that struck me one day:
I mounted the vise on a short piece of very heavy duty square tubing about 3 ft long. This heavy tubing is the right size to slip into my hitch receiver on the back of my pick up truck.
I guess my thought was that it might be handy to have a way to utilize a big heavy-duty vise on the back of my truck, maybe in conjunction with Model T activities and other stuff I do away from home & shop, like maintaining my Mom's place and such.
Well, to finish this, I really can't say I've used it as often as I thought I would, but I still think it was a good idea.
For what it's worth,.......harold
It makes sense to me. Much more rewarding than watching television reruns and I suspect it brought back lots of good memories.
Hap l9l5 cut off
I have a Wilton vise in my shop and I love it.
Yes, it was expensive, but worth every dollar.
Like many quality tools, I would guess you can contact Wilton and still buy parts for older models?
Ron the Coilman
Interesting... I saved this one from the dumpster at the power plant in Chicago. Guessing its a 1957 model as the plant was refit then. The two retaining pins in the bullet had sheared, hence the new longer pins that I never cut off. Interesting notes: all main pcs. have the same number cast/ and /or stamped into them. Pulled the key out and no numbers stamped on the keyway or the key. The jaws are 3-1/2" X 8-1/2 travel with a "soft" set of pipe jaws cast in.
Now I have ANOTHER project! Already have 3 vices, er vises bolted down in the shop, so the chinaman vise will hafta gooooo... troop
Given the price of a new Wilton, at 14 hours you still beat minimum wage.
I have a couple Wiltons and would not trade them for anything. Granted they aren't as pretty as the ones pictured here, but they catch all kinds of hell from my projects and do the job well.
I find them pretty cheap around here, usually under $20-30. After a trip through the parts washer & regreasing I've had no problem getting $75-100 for them at car shows.
From what I learned they stopped stamping those dates on the key when the factory was moved to Schiller Park, IL between 1955-57.
What's misleading about those Chicago factory date stamps is that you must subtract five years! They came with a five year warranty and that date people see on the key of the early ones is actually +5 years reflecting when the warranty expired (confusing).
Example: 9-50 really means it was made Sept. 1945
The Wilton company was eventually purchased by the Walter Meier Equipment Corporation who still produces them under the Wilton name.Their website provides no history or help.
I did the same thing with a Wilton vise I bought at an auction for $20 this past summer. It looked good for a couple weeks anyway.
The vice is nice.
The memories are precious!
Wilton Tradesman Vise — 8in., Bench Mount
8in. jaw width heavy-duty vise is ideal for cutting, bending and holding. Two lockdowns on each side ensure secure and stable work position when utilizing swivel. Stationary base. Swivel rotates 360°. Made with cast iron channel for strength and durability. U.S.A.
And I thought it was bad when I saw one without the base mount on CL for $600...
There's a guy in Illinois posting a totally restored example w/new brass jaws for $200.00...........
RE: Kenny Edmondson's vise and the Craigslist vise above
Are both vises missing their bases, i.e. shouldn't they have a swivel base like Jame Starkey's and Ron Patterson's?
What makes them so expensive? Is the whole thing made of tool steel or something?
MADE IN USA!! Great job on the restoration.
I have a 4" "York" vice, about 30 years old, made in Chechosolvakia, it's a pretty good copy of a Wilton, but not of the same quality.
I know Wiltons are very good vices, I used a lot of them in the 7 years I worked for a defence contractor on various sites.
Here is a little 2 ½” York swivel base vise that I am cleaning up.
Paid $5.00 for it at an auction, and it took me 3 days in my
electrolytic rust bucket to free up the main body parts.
The grey paint was over the red paint, so perhaps it was
originally red like yours Ken.
That base looks the same type as mine, only swivels part way and uses metric carriage bolts.
Mine also has the word "MORAVE" stamped into it on the top of the front piece.
I am fortunate enough to have a right and left hand Wilton Vise. The right one has standard jaws and the left one has aluminum jaws. They were being tossed out by a former employer so I volunteered to carry them to the dumpster ... they didn't make there
Yes they should have a swivel base. Like the noble Model T, I think about any year bullet style base fits (or can be made to fit). I spent quite a while getting Dad's base unmounted. He sort of built & modified his workbench around it over the years leaving no access to several of the nuts.
I can see how somebody who didn't care would take the easy route to remove it and leave the base.
You can find some beater parts quality Wilton Bullet vises on eBay 'sometimes' so I guess that could be a good source for a base.
FYI: Ron and Kenny have examples of the original color. I wanted to find a close match too but I had this can of satin POR15 sitting on the shelf and..... you know how it goes.
I guess this thread clearly demonstrates that Model T people are proud of their vises
Well,......mine has the rare pipe clamp option and the anti-pinch washers.
Mr. Starkey had said that the vise pictured in the earlier photo should have a swivel base, and that is incorrect. The vise pictuered in the photo from Ken Edmondson is the model with a stationary base, not a swivel base. Wilton makes both styles and the bases are different, swivel-to-stationary. You can't add a swivel base to a stationary base model Wilton vise.
I have my dad's 8 inch ATHOL vise. I have owned it since he died in 1957. I have tried several times to loosen the swivel to no avail. He paid $5 for it in 1943 from a Todd Ship Yard surplus sale on Terminal Island, CA. Perhaps it was sold because the swivel did not work. It weighs 40 pounds and he brought it home on the 5:00 o'clock bus. I pressed the constant velocity joints on the drive shaft of my 1940 Plymouth with it in 1950 and have used it ever since. One of my English uncles was named Atholstan Jeffery.
Here is a Reed Mfg.Co. vise that I inherited from my father. It's nothing fancy but it will work in a pinch.
Bob I hope we have some virtues too!
I had a virtue once but I took the cure and got over it
I'm looking at a real nice Wilton vise. What should I pay for it?
you can buy that same vise at HF for like $40-50
I see those flip over vises at the scrap yard. They are usually broken where the movable jaw turns into the round cylindrical shaft. Someone wants to squeeze something really tight and the cast iron breaks right there. I've also noticed that those vises have a coating of bondo on them to make them look pretty. The bondo will chip out if you use the vise.
I've been looking for a Wilton like my uncle Charlie has in his shop.
Those flip[ over vises look like a good idea, but the flip over part is tightened by the same screw that holds your work. To keep it from turning you have to clamp your work very very tight, and sometimes you do not want to do that but then the vice will not stay in position as you work.
The HF flip-over vise has mostly poor reviews - an average of two out of five stars:
I have vises at each end of my bench too. It's really handy to hold a long part if, when you mount the vises, you align the rear jaws with each other. That way you can use a vise at each end.
I really appreciate any well made tool and have a real weak spot for a good vise, (vice?). I recently bought a small Wilton but also have a very nice Starrett, Parker and American Red Seal.
Also, align the face of the rear jaw w/the front of, or slightly ahead of, the front of the bench. That way anything long put vertically in the vice will clear the bench.
I'm selling this antique combination anvil & bench vise. It's not marked, but looks the the one patented in 1912 by Carl E. Shields of Rock Island, Ill., only this one is much bigger, not including the turning screw it's 16" long, 7" wide at the base & 5 3/4" tall. It weighs about 29 lbs. The horn is 4" long. The turning bar is 14 1/4" long, has a nice long through. The jaw works good. It has typical light surface rust that would be easy to clean up. The only minor problem is one corner of the bottom of the base where the slot to bolt it to a workbench broke off, but with the 3 remaining it should stay still when in use. The long screw appears to be an older replacement. There is a picture of a similar one on page 403 of Rich Postman's Anvils in America. It is the bottom right Farmer anvil. This was sold by Farwell Ozmum Kirk & Co.
I'm asking $75. I'm in Sunland, off the 210 freeway, near Burbank, available days Email me your phone number & I'll call you.
Well James and the rest of you Guys,
You shamed me into digging out an old Wilton 4 1/2" X 8" vise I got when the BF Goodrich tire plant closed up here where I worked as a millwright. Originally it was mounted on one of the homemade benches that an old Pipefitter used. It's pretty massive and weighs a ton.
After reading how good these vises were I decided to get this one out and give it a little restoration job.
It turned out looking pretty nice But I'm a little disappointed in the quality of it. Of course being this big it's not a precision one but after some tweeking I got the jaws to align. Now the question is where to mount it?
I have a Craftsman 6 1/2" X 6" made in USA that I use every day and really like and also a large Columbian that is a Very good vise. It's a 5" X 10" and the best quality vise I have except that's it too big for most daily work.
Should I remove and restore the other two vises that really look shabby or not? That may lead into a total garage makeover.
I have to say I was not impressed with the old Wilton which may have been manufactured in 1950 or 12/1/1967 in Schiller Park, Illinois.
Ralph, Your CL vise sounds very interesting...