Category Archives: General

Restored An Almost 100 Year Old Samson 5263 3.5″ Machinists’ Vise For Regular Use

Growing up, my dad has this big rusty vise on his work bench and we’d use it for all kinds of stuff ranging from holding mower blades and axes during sharpening to bending metal for brackets and so forth. I knew it came from my grandfather’s farm in New Hampshire but not much else., When my parents moved near us, my dad brought the vise with him and installed it on a tool bench in their new garage.

Life can be harsh. I have a lot of good memories about my parents but nothing really prepares you for when they pass away. I was close to my dad and to this day, when I use one of his old tools, it makes me feel good – kind of like he’s still here and happy to see me using something of his – hopefully the right way.

At any rate, when we had to sell their house and clean stuff out, I snagged the big old vise and stuck it on the floor in the corner of my shop and really didn’t think much about it for almost five years. One day I started thinking about installing a second vise in my shop near another area where I do a lot of work that requires both work holding and a vise that can withstand 50-100 ft/lbs of torque. I figured I had two options – I have a 6″ Harbor Freight unit somewhere buried in my shop that I could dig out or I could go find my dad’s and take a closer look at it.

So. I dug out the old vise from under a work bench and blew off a ton of dust and dirt. The first thing that I noticed was that it weighed a ton and the second was that it was remarkably beefy and actually in really good shape other than surface rust. The action moved fairly well albeit a little gritty. Everything felt fairly tight meaning nothing seemed to be bent or broken. Last but not least, other than missing the handle on the locking nut, everything seemed to be there.

Where did Samson vises come from?

I did some searching on the web and found mention that Samson vises were sold by Sears from about 1908 to 1939 based on searching for “Samson Machinists” on ancestry.com. This page is from a 1923 Sears catalog and was copied from Vintagemachinery.org:

There it is down in the lower-left – 99N5263. A 3-1/2″ jaw width with a 5″ opening, weight was 37 pounds and cost a whopping $9.30!! Wow! Now, when my grandpa actually bought it, I have no idea. If my dad knew, he never said or I don’t recall – at this point, I’m really not sure.

By the way, in the catalog ad above, look at the weight of the 5266 5″ vise – 93 pounds! That would be a fun one to find. It must be enormous – I’ll have to keep my eye out for one 🙂

By the way, I couldn’t find a definitive answer about who made the Samson vises for Sears. Some people thought it was Reed but I haven’t confirmed that. If you search on Reed Vises, you will see some similar designs but I did not see an exact match. I emailed both Reed and Yost to see if they can share any insights. If I find out, I’ll update this post.

Restoring the old vise for regular use

Other than quite a bit of surface rust, it was really in very shape and I decided to use the old vise. The next thing I had to decide was what to do with the finish – it was rusty my whole life so I thought about just oiling the rust and sealing it. Another part wanted to fix it up. I honestly thought about it for a few days because I couldn’t do anything right away. In the end, I decided to refinish it. From what I could tell the vises were originally black and either partially or fully painted. My vise had zero paint on it anywhere.

Note: I am not doing a 100% overhaul to make it look like when it shipped from Sears. I wanted to clean it up some have it be functional. I just want to be clear in case any purists take issue with my use of the term “restoration”.

So, the first step was to disassemble the vise both to make sure it was indeed salvageable and also to clean everything. The weather wasn’t cooperating so you’ll some photos were taken indoors and some outdoors so bear with me.

Before I took the vise apart, I mocked up where I wanted it on the bench and drilled the holes. I planned to use 3/8″ bolts to secure it and they are in the photo. The bench it is on has a top made of 1-1/2″ of plywood and weighs 5-600 pounds because of the massive steel frame I built for it.
The first thing you do is to remove the sliding jaw. This is usually done by rotating the handle until the screw exits the spindle nut in the body of the vise and the sliding jaw then pulls out. Be aware that the sliding unit can be surprisingly heavy depending on the design of the vise.
The greasy looking thing is the spindle but and it was in great shape. There were remnants of old grease protecting it, the screw and the ways where the sliding jaw slid (the clear tracks on the body. There were no signs of cracks – just dirt and rust in non critical areas.
To the right of the main body of the vise is the lock nut. Normally there is a small handle on it but it’s long gone. This is basically threaded onto a bolt that protrudes us from the clamp in the base. It simply unthreads. The shiny 3/8″ grade 1 bolt to the right of it will become the new handle for it.
This is the bottom of the slide. As you can see, the machined surfaces and screw are in great shape.
Somehow I always manage to miss taking a photo. The top part of the vise is secured to the base by a heavily made axle bolt. It’s the beefy chunk of steel sitting between the base and my ball pein hammer. Surprisingly, it came out very easily with a simple adjustable wrench – I just reached in perpendicular and turned the bolt not expecting it to come loose and it did. That was a very pleasant surprise. So you can also see that the bottom surface of the static jaw assembly and the top of the base are in remarkably good shape compared to the exterior.
Here’s an even closer view of the base and the locking pad bolt. You can also see the axle nut off to the back right by the back ear of the vise even better.. I think they greased it well almost a 100 years ago and that saved the inside parts. I suppose it’s possible my grandfather or dad took it apart and lubed it but I can’t ask them now.
The weather cooperated and I took the parts outside to degrease and wire brush them.
I could have punched out pins and removed the spindle nut but I figured the vise was really solid mechanically so I took a shortcut and didn’t tear the static or sliding jaws down further.
Here’s a zoomed in photo of the static jaw’s pad. I think I can barely see a screw down on the right but it would be a heck of a chore to remove them. Honestly, the jaws were in good enough shape for me.
“72C” is marked on the base. It was the only other marking I found in addition to “Samson 5263” on the side of the static jaw’s body.
After cleaning up the static jaw, the model number was clear as day – 5263.
For the really thick rust, I used my Ingersoll-Rand needle scaler to knock it off. The external surfaces on the base of the vise were the worst.
Here’s everything after degreasing with lots of brake cleaner and the paint will be Satin Black Krylon Fusion.
Here they are from another angle.
I applied four coats of paint following the directions on the can. By the way, when a paint tells you to allow two days for it to cure and you expect it to be rubbing a lot – give it the two days. I have messed up so many finishes over the years that I now follow the directions on timing between coats and how long until a full cure.
This will be my new locking nut handle. I had to grind down the nut so it would clear the body of the vise and then I abrasive blasted the surface so the black pain will stick. It was not blasted or painted yet for this photo.
From left to right – Locking nut, locking pad, and then the axle bolt.
I found it funny to set a modern cheap 4.5″ vise next to the big Samson. Look at the difference in slides! My dad always told me to be careful and not bend the slide on the Samson. Being a kid, I did what he said without knowing much. I look at the Samson’s slide now and it would take a hell of a lot of force to bend that slide!
I greased everything with Super Lube grease. I use it a lot now because it doesn’t dry out fast and has fine particles of PTFE in it to help with lubrication. I kid you not, I coated threads, surfaces, everything!
Boy did it turn smoothly on the base!
It looks and feels like new – with some character marks of course. She is around 100 years old!
The purplish tinge is the Super Lube grease. I literally coated all sliding surfaces to try and get stuff coated. I then wiped it down after this photo. Note that it also shows at the back that the vise is not perfectly concentric. It’s still tight but not perfectly centered on the base – my guess is that it never was. We’re talking being off center by about a 1/16th of an inch or less.
Here’s the locking nut with the finished 3/8″ bolt that serves as the new sliding handle. I applied blue LocTite to the nut to secure it. Note that I can turn the vise and use it from either direction on the bench. Right now it is rotated away from the side of the bench where I primarily plan to use it.
From McMaster I ordered 3.5″ copper Wilton jaw pad covers. My 4″ Wilton has original brass covers that are beefier but these copper units will work.
So you put the pads in your vise and then tap down the surfaces including the small ears on the left and right sides. The Samson is asymmetrical so I labeled the front pad so when I remove them I don’t have to fumble around figuring out which pad goes to the front and which to the back.
I also bought some Mission Automotive plastic pads that are held in place by strong magnets. These come in handy for delicate surfaces.

Conclusion

So the vise is back in use. Every time I use it, I feel good about it and hope my dad approves.


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Vintage Samson 5207 Swivel Bench Vise 3" Jaws

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Samson 5263 Machinists Swivel Vise 3.5" Jaw 5" Capacity

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Samson Lever Jaw Wrench*Vise Grip Pliers

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VINTAGE Samson Lever Jaw Wrench Vise Grip Pliers Mechanics Welding Tools USA

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Vintage Samson 9" Lever Jaw Wrench Vise Clamping Grip Pliers Made in USA

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2 Vintage Samson Lever Jaw 9-1/2" Locking Pliers,Vise-Grip Type,9/16" Jaws,Good!

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Vintage SAMSON 9" Lever Jaw Wrench Vise Grip Pliers Made in USA

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Vintage Samson 9" Lever Jaw Wrench Tool Adjustable Vise like Grip pat appl,USA

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Vintage Samson Lever Jaw Wrench USA Pat. appld for,vise style grip wrench,tool

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How To Wash Your Baseball Caps Easily Without Hurting Them

Folks, as my wife will tell you, I like my baseball-style caps and seem to have accumulated a ton of them over the years. With that said, there seem to be just a handful of them that I wear all the time. The problem was that they got pretty dirty with use so what should one do?

I tried putting one in the clothes washer once and ruined my favorite hat at the time. So, since I didn’t have a way to wash my hats, I wound up having piles of “wearable in public” hats, work hats that look bad but feel good and “oh man this is filthy but I don’t want to throw it away in case I ever figure out how to clean it” hats. In the back of my head, I knew I wanted to find a way to wash them but never seemed to find the time.

How To Clean A Ball Cap

One quick comment – what I am about to tell you works on modern caps with plastic liners in the brim (the part that sticks out). Prior to 1983-ish, the liners were often cardboard and getting them wet would ruin them. If you flick the brim of an old hat and it sounds hollow, it’s probably cardboard and you should not do what I am about to outline. All of my hats are modern and have plastic liners.

One day while reading, I ran across the solution and it was so easy I was skeptical that it could work. Not only did it work, but it worked amazingly well. The near miracle fix is to hand wash your hats so they don’t get beat up. You soak your hats in a soapy solution using HE clothes washing soap. In our case, we use Tide for our clothes and that’s what I used. Note, don’t use a detergent with bleach or your hats will fade.

I took a bucket, poured in about a 1/4-1/3 cup of Tide HE and then just over a gallon of warm water. I took my dirtiest “what do I have to lose” hats and let them soak for a few hours, came in and pushed them around in the water to break things up and then let them sit another few hours – these hats were incredibly dirty folks. I was working outside and forgot about the first test batch and they probably soaked for 6-8 hours at least with no ill effects.

There are two hats in there with this load. The first time out I probably had six really dirty hats in there.

With everything wet, I really was just hoping they were done and rinsed them 2-3 times. I then hung them to drip dry in our shower. I’ve since found that even a small fan pointed at the hats speeds up drying dramatically.

Dripping dry – a small fan pointed in their direction dried these two in just a few hours.

The results were remarkable. Oil and sweat marks largely disappeared. Detergents are pretty remarkable – these days, they include enzymes to help break things down and they probably played a role on cleaning the hats so well. Tide Original, which we have, includes three enzymes – amaylase (starch based stains), mannanase (vegetable based stains) and protease (for protein based stains). Seriously, some of the hats were horribly dirty and now they are clean!!

I’ve now got all my hats back in service and they look great. This means my favorite work and shooting hats are back in business! I’m going to guess I’ve done about four batches of hats – maybe a bit over a dozen or so and 3-4 of them have been washed twice. In other words, I’ve done this a number of times and it really seems to work well.

Now that I know how easy it is, I can routinely clean my hats. I’m really happy with the results and hope this helps you out.

By the way, here are some links to what others did so you have some other perspectives to consider:


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How To Run Oil-Lubricated Air Compressors in Cold Weather & Not Trip Breakers

Folks, my shop is unheated and the space where my 60 gallon oil lubricated Ingersoll Rand (IR) 2340L5-V sits can get well below freezing – sometimes even well under 20F. That presents a challenge because the lubricating oil gets thicker as it gets colder and this puts more and more of a load on the motor to start. What usually results is a tripped breaker -I know my 30amp breaker would trip regularly until I took some corrective actions.

One option you can run with is to run variable weight thinner synthetic oil in the winter. I don’t want to run into issues with my pump so I stick with IR straight weight compressor oil so I’m not really keen on doing that. There are guys who will disagree with me and that’s why I point out the option.

The solution I put in place works great. I simply put two Kat’s 24025 25 watt heating pads that measure 1″x5″ on each side of my pump level next to the oil reservoir. These heaters were designed to warm fluid reservoirs including those with oil. I’ve used a ton of them over the years for warming pressure tanks and what have you and have not had one fail yet. My oldest units are probably 3-5 years old and no problems — I just use them during the Winter.

In terms of heating my compressor’s pump, I just run mine non-stop in the Winter but if you’d really rather only run them when it is at or below freezing, there are thermal power plug adapters that only turn on when it is that cold. Note, at 25 watts they do not heat fast. If your pump is real cold it could take it a while to get up to an acceptable temperature. That’s one reason why I just let them run and I can turn the compressor off independent of the heaters.

Along with the little 1×5 units, I use one larger 4×5 Kat’s 24100 pad at the bottom of my compressor to allow me to drain the condensate that would otherwise freeze. I do not run that non-stop as it is 100 watts. It’s on a thermally switched outlet that turns on at 35F and off at 45F. Yeah, it may run more than I need it to but I haven’t invested in a better controller yet for that part. I will list the digital controller I plan on getting some day so you can decide.

Installing is about as easy as it can get. The Kat’s units have a self-adhesive back and must be installed before you plug them in or you will ruin them. Clean the surface of oil and dust, peel the cover off the adhesive, stock the heater on and wait the prescribed time then plug it in and it warms up. Note, I have only used them on steel surfaces. They get hot and I would not be inclined to install them on plastic for example.

Kat’s products are made by Five Star Manufacturing and they have a ton of different products for different applications. Click here for their website.

This is the Kat’s 24100 4×5 heater that I have at the bottom of my compressor to keep the condensate from freezing.
This is the Farm Innovations TC-3 that governs when the 4×5 heater turns on and off. I’ve been using it two years now without any trouble,

The setup works great. No more tripping breakers due to thick oil caused by cold weather. I hope it helps you out.


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Replacing the Pressure Switch on an Ingersoll Rand 2340L5-V Air Compressor

I live in a rural area and wind up doing a lot of my own repairs. About 2-3 years ago I invested in a 60 gallon Ingersoll Rand (IR) 2340L5-V air compressor which is their entry-level “Value Line” of industrial compressors. In hindsight, had I known more about “value” meaning “we made it cheaper”, I would not have made the purchase. Yes, it’s held up way better than my consumer air compressors but a buddy’s big Quincy compressor rocks and that is another story.

At any rate, I use a ton of compressed air for pressurizing my casting tanks and running all kinds of air tools. One of the reasons I went with the 2340L5-V was that I kept burning out the little 30 gallon consumer compressors. Failure is a big deal for me because when a compressor goes down in my shop, almost all work stops.

At any rate, I knew something was going on with my compressor before it stopped running completely. At the end of the air fill cycle that brings the tank back up to pressure, the switch would shut off but then there wasn’t any bleed down to relieve the pressure on the pump. This meant that the compressor may or may not restart without tripping the 30A breaker and it got worse with time. After this got really annoying, I decided it was time to fix it.

I did some reading and it turned out there were two likely culprits – either the check valve was leaking air back or the pressure switch was failing. I had problems with the check valve on other compressors so I jumped to conclusions and replaced that first. It didn’t fix the problem. Argh.

This is the 23474653-R pressure switch. It is just the switch and does not include the gauge, blow off valve or bleed off line (unloader) that you see.

So that left the pressure switch and this is where things just went sideways and I got frustrated. In searching online and calling the parts department, IR’s own parts department sold me the wrong switch and I was down for almost a week. So you don’t go nuts, you must make sure people know if you have the 2340L5 or the 2340L5-V because their pressure switches are different. You can make the better switch from the 2340L5 work but it will take a bit of re-plumbing the lines to do so. I may actually try that some day.

Next comment, do not go with the model number on the pump housing itself. The model number you need is printed on the big silver decal on the tank – not on the pump. The pump will say “2340” but that is not your specific model.

Right there outlined in yellow is the model number you must go by. 2340L5-V in my case.

For whatever reason, IR parts sold me the wrong part even though I asked the fellow to confirm it was right. So, frustrated and with my compressor down, more discussions were held and web searches done and the correct part for the 2340L5-V’s pressure switch is a 23474653-R. Interestingly enough, Tractor and Supply Company (TSC) is an IR dealer and the local store had one of these switches on the retail shelf. This gives you an idea that they are viewed as a wear item if a retailer is going to tie up the money and shelf space to stock one. It was $79.99 and they only had one so I called and confirmed with the clerk that they had one before I drove over. I’ve had way too many situations where a website said “X” was in inventory and when I went to the store, it was not so I try and confirm now. Thankfully, I drove to the store and picked it up.

I removed the cover already but this is what comes in the box. You will need to move your gauge, blow off valve, bleed down line, rear pipe plug and electrical lines over from the old switch to the new one.

Comments On The Swap

So, when it comes to the repair, it’s a fairly easy swap. I took a few photos from different angles to make sure I didn’t forget anything plus I labeled anything that might get turned around. Gone are the days when I try to keep it all in my head. Between my age and interruptions, I find it way too easy to forget things.

Two real important safety comments. Fully drain the compressor – in other words let all of the air out and open the floor drain. Why open the floor drain? Because it’s your double check that it is empty.

Second, please make sure the power is cut. I use a heavy stove/appliance cord going to a wall outlet. I both cut the breaker and unplug the cord. Why do both? It’s your double-check. If you are in a multiperson environment, follow lock out procedures.

Note the top two poles are the hot legs coming from the wall.
Folks when you go to remove the blead-off / unloader line, it is held on by a compression nut fitting. Let me give you a piece of hard won advice – use a flare nut wrench if you can to support as many sides of the nut as you can or worst case use a proper fitting box end wrench. Don’t ever use an adjustable wrench or you will likely round the corners off the nut as the jaws of the wrench give. Now IT does give you a new nut and that is plain 1/4″ copper tube if you screw up bad but you can re-use that whole piece if you are careful with removal and re-installation.
Okay so the top two terminals are the hot legs from the wall. The middle set of terminals are the hot legs going to motor. Down on the bottom you have the neutral from the extension cord and the green/neutral going to the motor. These are thick wires in a tight space so be careful working things into position.
Here’s an odd little thing I encountered. The pipe plug that goes in one unused position of the switch is actually 10mm. Why? I have no idea. The 10mm fit best so I ran with it. Everything else was SAE. For example, the housing itself that you see just above the wrench uses a 3/4″ wrench.
Use pipe thread tape on all fittings and properly support the pipes and what not so the right things you care about are moving in the right direction. For example, I used a pipe wrench on this nipple to keep it from turning while I both removed the old pressure switch and installed a new one.
Lesson learned, stay organized. That is a small magnetic tray. I cleaned all fittings and installed new pipe thread tape before reinstalling them.

Bottom line is that I installed the new pressure switch and the compressor proper bled off the pressure from the pump after cycling. In talking to IR parts they mentioned to me that this is the most common reason for the bleed down not to happen in my series of compressor – not the check valve. I believe that now. The pressure switch seems cheep and really strikes me as a consumable part now. Lesson learned.

By the way, I found out during the actual swap that IR printed the part number on the inside of the switch cover. Why hidden inside? If they had it on the outside, then this would have all been way simpler.

Also, next time my compressor stops unloading, I am going to order one of these switches vs. waiting for failure and having to scramble. It’s my fault for putting it off but I had a ton of other things going on and eventually it bit me.

I hope this helps you out as well. Bottom line, if you have a 2340L5-V then the correct pressure switch you need to order is the 23474653-R. That way you can avoid the drama I ran into.

One last shot of the right pressure switch box with the part number on the top right 🙂

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Here are switch listings on eBay. Be careful that it is a real IR part or a quality replacement vs. an inferior knock off that will not hold up.

23474653-R PRESSURE SWITCH 4-PORT SIDE WIRE FEED ADJUSTABLE UNLOADER

$49.95
End Date: Friday Jul-3-2020 9:20:50 PDT
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I-R 23474653-A PRESSURE SWITCH 4-PORT SIDE WIRE FEED ADJUSTABLE UNLOADER

$59.95
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23474653-R PRESSURE SWITCH 4-PORT SIDE WIRE FEED ADJUSTABLE UNLOADER

$49.95
End Date: Tuesday Jun-16-2020 9:32:54 PDT
Buy It Now for only: $49.95
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23474653-R PRESSURE SWITCH 4-PORT SIDE WIRE FEED ADJUSTABLE UNLOADER

$46.99
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23474653-R , 38471579 PRESSURE SWITCH 4-PORT SIDE WIRE FEED ADJUSTABLE UNLOADER

$72.95
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The Absolute Best Shoe and Boot Glue That I have Found!

Folks, I’ve found what I think is the best glue for shoe and boot repair. Yeah, I really mean it. It’s called “Shoe-Fix Glue” and is marketed by a small firm called NJoy Distributors and only sold direct or via Amazon. Let me give you a bit of background first.

I’ve tried to fix tons of shoes and boots over the years with varying success using Goop and Shoe Goo amongst others. The two challenges were trying to clamp the shoe or boot while trying without making the profile change once dried and also not using so much glue that it altered the feeling of the shoe. Nothing happened fast either – you had to wait overnight while the stuff set up.

So, I did some digging on Amazon a few weeks back and found this stuff. What really caught my eye were the amazingly high number of positive reviews:

At the time of my writing this blog, there are 845 reviews with a score of 4.5 out of 5. 86% of reviewers give it either 4 or 5 stars. That’s pretty good and I figured I could afford to give it a shot.

I had both the sneakers I wear around home that had the bottom tread coming off and my daughter’s favorite boots had the sole separating from the upper that I could experiment with.

NJoy does have a nice tips page with some videos that I checked out [click here for that] and it largely comes down to making sure the surfaces are clean, dry and then holding them together for 30-45 seconds while the rubberized / flexible cyanoacrylate adhesive cures.

What they are using is the interesting part – they came up with a flexible cyanoacrylate adhesive – a flexible “super glue”. This surprised me more than anything else. Normally I find that the “super glue” class of adhesives as rigid and intolerant of shocks and flexing. This stuff smells as you’d expect when applying it with a medium viscosity meaning it appears to be a little thicker than water and this helps it attempt to balance the need to soak in and establish a bond with the need to not run everywhere.

On their website, they report that their Grandfather Ed started the shoe business after WWII and ran it for 20 years. He then had two sons Dean and John. John is the one who came up with the formula and started bottling the current formula in March 2015 [click here if you want to read more]. By the way, you’ll notice they sell stuff for boots and shoes and this is just marketing so that people searching for boot glue or shoe glue will find the item – it’s the same formula and they are very upfront in telling people this.

If you are wondering about how my tennis shoes and daughter’s boot turned out – the results were amazing. The stuff really is easy to apply and has held up now for two weeks with heavy use. My daughter is a college student and walks a ton every day in those boots in the Michigan winter.

This is her boot with the sole reattached – it was literally more than half the way off the upper. I ran a bead of Shoe-Fix glue around the perimeter of the rubber sole and held the two together with my hands. I let go after about a minute and the repair seemed solid. They’ve held up for her even with a ton of walking as a college student.
On my “work around the house” shoes, the dark tread was separating from the middle foam wedge in a number of places. I’d apply some glue in each spot and hold them for 45-60 seconds – done. All the discolored stuff is remnants of Shoe Goo that I did need to clear away in a few places. Shoe-Fix is clear.

I was so impressed by Shoe-Fix Glue that I figured I really needed to write a post and share the info. It really does what it claims and I am intrigued enough to want to try it on other projects that aren’t footwear related where I need a fast flexible bond. In the mean time, I will always have 1-2 tubes of this stuff available for impromptu shoe and boot repair.

2/17/2020 Update: I wrote the original post on 2/7/20 and probably started using this glue maybe 2-3 weeks prior. I’m very pleased to report that all the shoes and boots fixed thus far are still standing up to everyday use. None of the bonds have let go thus far.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com.