Two years ago I wrote about the ordeal of finding spare parts for the popular (but now discontinued) US-made Jorgensen rapid action vises. Unfortunately, after many years of smooth operation, the vise’s steel acme screw will eventually erode the threaded bronze insert and lose its grip on it. Until a few years ago, when Jorgensen was still making vises in the US, we could have just ordered a new bronze insert. But after the company switched ownership and moved vise production abroad it became just impossible to get these parts.
One of our readers, Lee Tuftee, had exactly the same problem with his father’s old vise. The solution that he came up with is quick, easy, and inexpensive. He wrote to me and shared his solution – which in essence is shimming the insert to push the worn-out threads closer to the screw. Here is Lee’s explanations and pictures:
“After trying numerous ideas, I re-worked the problem and came to a fairly easy, permanent, and rather simple solution.
I realized that only part of the threading was worn and if I could move the threads inward to engage the threaded rod more, the vise should work.
So, I cut a piece of sheet metal, roughly 14 gauge +/-, to fit into the insert beneath the bronze piece. Then I filed the bronze insert to allow it to seat at the same level as before. I also ground out the threads to allow the acme threads from the screw to engage more. This was done with a Dremel grinding wheel that fitted into the threads nearly perfectly (it was a gray-colored grinding wheel, a fairly common Dremel bit from my experience). There was plenty of material left after removing a small amount of the insert.”
“When reassembled, the vise worked perfectly and was able to take a man-strength tightening without issue. I also advised my dad to do AT LEAST 1/2 of a turn, if not more, to operate the quick-release mechanism. I figured by the way the mechanism looks to operate, a 1/2 turn would fully disengage the threads and save wear. He used to only go 1/4 turn and you could sometimes hear the threads grinding.
This saved a nice vise from the junkyard and has been working well for over 5 years now. I don’t know if the inserts have become available again, but it may not need it for a long time.
Just wanted to pass this on to you in the hopes of helping out another woodworker to keep good tools working.”
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