View Full Version : Old mill vise ID?

Doc Nickel
10-25-2009, 05:17 AM
Another of the gifts so generously given to me by those that helped with this roundabout haulage, was this old swivelling mill vise:


I have no idea who manufactured it, as it's only identifying marks are "No. 22" cast into the screw thrust bearing boss, and the numbers "23" and "22" stamped into the left and right ways, respectively, at the boss end.

It's about 5" x 5" capacity, with about 1-1/4" tall jaws, and overall weighs about 35-40 pounds. It's very well made- though also very filthy- and appears to have spent a fair portion of it's life on a horizontal mill, from the look of the accidental cuts and slots on the jaws. (Nothing too deep, fortunately.)

Unfortunately, someone back in the mists of time appears to have mangled the threads; the screw is worn (or "mashed") into the shape of a sort of reversed buttress thread- and no, it doesn't look like it was supposed to be that way. :)

The screw threads into a brass/bronze bushing in the movable jaw- I don't know if that's original or a later repair. The threads in the "nut" are almost completely stripped- actually more like crumbled, making me think it'd been worn, then overtightened. Or maybe it was made from the wrong material (say, yellow brass rather than a good naval bronze) and *then* worn and overtightened.

Anyway, it was free, and given with the express knowledge that I could almost certainly fix it. :)

I'll have to bore out, or possibly press out (the brass is pinned in) what's left of the nut, and fab up a replacement. I'll probably also have to rework, or possibly completely replace, the screw. I may pick up some left-hand ACME stock (the college had some, I fixed my Logan tailstock with it a few years ago) and screw/press/weld/pin/whatever it into the original thrust bearing end, or I might just pick up some 1144 or 4130 and turn an entirely new shaft.

Anyone know who might have made it?


10-25-2009, 08:16 AM
there will be alot tell me i am wrong but it looks like a brown&sharp. it would be stamped on the moving jaw right behind the bolt in jaw.

10-25-2009, 08:37 AM
I will go along with the Brown & Sharpe. They do not all have the B&S name on them or it might have been lost to the said mists of time.

The number 22 is a B&S vise designation that matches the size and weights given. The only difference is the B&S catalog gives jaw opening as 2-3/4", jaw width and depth are as described. 22S designated the #22 vise with swivel base, the shipping weight was 62# and 1935 price $45.00.

John Stevenson
10-25-2009, 08:42 AM
No idea but I have an identical one and have had 5 or 6 thru my hands at various points and seen many more.
I often wondered if these were copied from company to company?

In the late 60 and 70's over here Alfred Herbert's bought up literally 100's of small machine tool builders and put them under the Herbert umbrella, I think at one stage they were the biggest machine tool makers in the world ?

Then they produced these same machines with no alterations but badged up as Herbert's.
I wouldn't surprise me if they didn't run a line of these off even though they probably didn't design them.

Not saying these are UK made / designed but we had loads of lease lend gear over in WWII and a vise is so easy to copy.

10-25-2009, 08:51 AM
X3 for it being a Brown & Sharpe.


10-25-2009, 09:46 AM
I go for B&S because I have one almost identical to it marked No 24 but mine is larger and weights 105 lb :eek: . I finally got a smaller old vise that I use most the time now.

The B&S and other identification marks are just behind the movable jaw plate on top of the movable jaw. The marks are almost invisible and if it has been beat on or marked up there you won't see them.

Rich Carlstedt
10-25-2009, 11:58 AM
Hey it looks just like my B&S 22..

Check it out by removing the jaw screw, and try (assuming it has "stock"Jaws) to fit in a new 3/8-16 screw in it's place.
If its too tight, its a B&S all right. ( my screw is a .357 - 16 !)

For some reason ( in my experience) B&S always had weird screw thread standards.
I had an old Grinder of theirs, and it had 1/4-22 ( or 14-22 ?)
I figured it was New England culture , where did did what they wanted to do, irrespective of other standards..

Jim your are right, my max opening is 2.81" (with jaws)
Does anyone know why they had thread standards like these ? ( good spare parts business !)


The moving jaw looks to be stock, but the rigid jaw looks odd from the camera angle.
The jaws had a chamfered top edge

10-25-2009, 12:40 PM
This is a photo of my B&S #21. The B&S name and address is very lightly stamped on the moveable jaw as Carl describes.


B&S offerred the vises in five sizes, numbers 21, 22, 23, 14 and 15 with 21 the smallest at 4-1/8" width and 15 the largest at 8-5/8" width. Only numbers 22, 23 and 14 were offered with a swivel base.

The vises were included with each B&S milling machine as standard equipment. Since the machines were offered for many years from early in the 20th Century or earlier, the threads are likely legacy issues preceding the adoption of today's thread standards.

10-25-2009, 01:32 PM
Good question Doc, I have a No 23 that looks just like it...Now I know what it is :thumbs up:

I go for B&S because I have one almost identical to it marked No 24 but mine is larger and weights 105 lb :eek: . I finally got a smaller old vise that I use most the time now.

The B&S and other identification marks are just behind the movable jaw plate on top of the movable jaw. The marks are almost invisible and if it has been beat on or marked up there you won't see them.

Thanks for the tip, I'll have to check mine to see if anything's visible.


John Stevenson
10-25-2009, 02:52 PM
Hey it looks just like my B&S 22..

Check it out by removing the jaw screw, and try (assuming it has "stock"Jaws) to fit in a new 3/8-16 screw in it's place.
If its too tight, its a B&S all right. ( my screw is a .357 - 16 !)

Bingo, so are mine, Still have to wonder though with so many over this side of the pond whether they are genuine B&S vises or UK clones, probably never know.

10-25-2009, 03:09 PM
The screw is probably a #22-16. Machinery's Handbook #6 shows that to have an OD of 0.3480"- 0.3568".

I have seen a few B&S look-alikes, but I think the number cast into the boss is a tipoff.

Doc Nickel
10-25-2009, 05:15 PM
Thanks guys. Sounds pretty unanimous. :D

As I said, from the wheel-cutter nicks (almost uniformly only on the right-hand side) it clearly spent a fair amount of it's life on a horizontal. Any way to date the thing?

Also, for those that have one, the aforementioned brass/bronze "nut" appears to be a sleeve, pressed in and pinned with what appear to be two taper pins, barely visible from the top of the movable jaw. Does yours have a similar nut, or does the screw thread into the movable jaw directly?

Also, what's the thread profile? I'm assuming ACME, but mine's so mangled it wouldn't surprise me to hear it'd been some kind of oddball.

There's also a round hole on the right side of the movable jaw- it's stuffed with crud at the moment, but I'm wondering if that's a grease or lube port for the screw? JCH's photo above doesn't show anything like it. Anyone else have one?

Maybe added later if/when the nut/threads were replaced? If it is a lube passage, I'll just refit a ball oiler.


10-25-2009, 08:12 PM
It could also be a Brown & Sharpe copy. I know B&S made them but I have also seen copies buy other MFG. I can`t remember the name though. I used to have a copy It may have been Kalamazoo

10-25-2009, 08:38 PM
Mine is 9/16"-8TPI Acme thread. The body appears to be threaded directly rather than a threaded, pinned sleeve. The body of the moveable jaw is solid, there is a ball oiler on the lug for the hub of the screw.

Doc Nickel
10-25-2009, 08:47 PM
What size is yours, JC? This one's a #22, and Greg on PM noted his also has a brass/bronze nut and an oiler in the side of the movable jaw.

So assuming the difference is factory, it could be either related to size, or perhaps age- maybe the bronze/oiler mod was a later addition to help longevity of the screw.

I suspect it's the latter, but I doubt there'll be any way to confirm that, unless somebody has a B&S catalog somewhere that details the change.


Greg Menke
10-25-2009, 11:08 PM
Hi Doc,

My #22 has a 5/8-~8 tpi acme screw. The bronze nut in the movable jaw and its oiler look factory- the vise itself is in pretty good condition, factory paint still there, only a couple drill marks, etc. Mine might be a considerably different vintage one way or the other.

No signs of pins or dutchman keys on the jaw, but I've not had the jaw off it.



added pics;



John Stevenson
10-26-2009, 05:10 AM
I'm sure mine has the pins as well, need to hunt it out as it's no longer my daily vise, got another , roughly same size with a greater opening, don't know what that one is either.


Doc Nickel
10-26-2009, 08:40 AM
Thanks Greg. Very helpful. Any idea of the vintage?

It might be a trick of the photo or a compression artifact, but it looks like there's a hint of the two pins, on the top of the movable jaw, just about half an inch from the back of the jaw, on either side of where the nut is.

Mine are sanded/ground pretty smooth, and were hard to see 'til I used a bit of Scotchbrite.

I see yours still has the stamping on the movable jaw. Even after careful cleaning, all I can see on mine is a very faint "USA" over on the right-hand side.

Any chance you can get me a nice, crisp, in-focus, full-rez, pic of the lettering? I've been thinking that after I clean this thing up, and maybe lightly surface-grind off some of the dings and dents, I'd have the local trophy shop reengrave the legend.


Greg Menke
10-26-2009, 10:24 AM
Hi Doc,

There is something just back from the jaw like you say but I'm not sure what it is. Not obviously the top of a taper pin at least, and there is only one of them. I'll take some better pictures tonight and follow up. I'll take the jaw off too- never had a reason to do it before.

I have a vague suspicion that mine might be a fairly late model since the screw sounds like its quite a bit larger than others, and its condition is good (fixed jaw is planar to +/- .001 or so over its width and few ruts). The Eron next to the B&S in the photo has a slightly larger screw also, which is probably a desirable and perhaps evolved feature of a vise. I have no other clue about the age of the vise, I got it as part of an estate clean-out-the-basement deal.


10-26-2009, 10:55 AM
Mine is a B&S No 24 the jaws are 7" wide x 2" deep and the jaws open about 4 1/2". Mine has a spring loaded ball oiler on the right side just above the joint of the movable jaw and the flat of the vise. It weights about 105 lb. and it's very tight.


Doc Nickel
10-26-2009, 04:12 PM
I'll take the jaw off too- never had a reason to do it before.

-Don't bother, unless you have a serious reason to do so- it's a pretty involved process.

On mine, at least, you can't unscrew the jaw from the screw and lift it off the front, even with the jaw faces removed. The only way I got mine off was to drive out the taper pin holding the collar on the shaft just past the square driving end, removing the collar, then winding the screw all the way into the jaw.

That let you pull the jaw-and-screw out towards the fixed jaw.

Besides that, on mine, there were two smaller pates at the bottom, plus the two jaw retaining bars. It was kind of an involved project, so don't bother unless you were already planning to do some cleaning or repairs or something.


Greg Menke
10-27-2009, 10:05 PM
Hi Doc,

Saw your suggestions after taking it apart- wasn't a big problem, just had to go find the 5lb hammer to get the taper pin moving. Large pics follow. Raw images can be found here;






(more follow)

Greg Menke
10-27-2009, 10:07 PM



If you'd like any other perspectives- measurements, etc please say the word.



Doc Nickel
10-28-2009, 05:37 AM
Nope, that's great Greg, thanks!

I'd actually already gotten mine apart, which confirmed the screw and nut were wrecked. And as I said, all I can see of the stamping is a very faint "USA". The rest is utterly obliterated.

Which makes me think it wasn't stamped too heavily in the first place, because there doesn't appear to be all that much mechanical damage. But as I said, I think I'll have the trophy shop reengrave it, if they can.

This is one of those little "piece at a time" side projects, but I did get the base fairly well cleaned up already.


It'll take a bit of work, but it's a fine old vise, and worth the effort.


10-28-2009, 11:28 PM
If you're interested, this is a clickable link to the Brown & Sharpe exploded view. Sorry about the quality. Greg's exploded view is much nicer.
http://i451.photobucket.com/albums/qq232/fasto_tt/Misc/th_b-s_vice.png (http://s451.photobucket.com/albums/qq232/fasto_tt/Misc/?action=view&current=b-s_vice.png)

10-29-2009, 12:41 AM
This here is a B&S vise with swivel base


Greg Menke
10-29-2009, 09:03 AM
Disassembling and cleaning the vise actually helped it quite a bit. There was a good deal of crud packed into various nooks, cleaning that out and some work w/ mineral spirits made a big difference. So, thanks Doc!