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  • 123 Blocks... why?

    So, not wanting to hijack another thread but reminded of this question...

    I have some cheap Chinese 123 blocks, good enough for what I've used them for, whatever. There's just one really annoying thing about them. They have threaded holes that happen to match my clamping kit, which is great. But, the non-threaded holes are too small to allow said threaded studs to pass through them. I mean, it's like they drilled all the holes the same size then tapped a few of them.

    Is this normal or just an artifact of cheapness?

    I mean, there have been times when it would have been nice to directly bolt one (or more) of these blocks down to a T-slot. But, I can't, not without reverting to a custom T-slot nut (which I've not bothered to make yet) and a smaller sized stud and nut. I just don't get the point of leaving the stupid unthreaded holes too small to pass a threaded stud. Makes no sense to me.

    Just curious if this is normal,

    David...
    http://fixerdave.blogspot.com/

  • #2
    Dave,

    Completely with you on this one. I find 123 blocks very useful, but not the holes. The next set that I'll buy will be the ones with no holes - just solid blocks.

    246 blocks (also sans hole) look handy too.

    Ian
    All of the gear, no idea...

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    • #3
      There is another reason for the holes that you sometimes see in things like 123 blocks, parallels and other set-up stuff. In the trade, machinists (especially union machinists) would travel from shop to shop as individual union locals negotiated contracts in order to get the best wage. This would of course necessitate moving their tools from shop to shop with them. When the first shop would come up with a better wage they would return. This is an understood practice with no hard feelings between employer and employee.

      Now it may not seem practical to someone working in their own basement shop but if you have to move your tools, even in day-to-day work in a large plant with the aid of a roll-around cart, weight becomes an issue. To put the importance of a little bit of extra weight into perspective: the military considers weight down to the ounce of equipment soldiers must carry when awarding defense contracts. Bit by bit your tool box becomes heavier unless you make a conscious effort to keep the weight down wherever you can - thus ... holes.

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      • #4
        It's because those are the cheaply made variant. Proper blocks have those holes as free holes for the bolt that threads into others, so that you can assemble various jigs out of your blocks or clamp then down easily.

        DATo, good point about having a light tool box, but that's one thing I have never understood - if your employer wants to have work done, then the employer should be buying/paying/having those tools and not the workers.
        Amount of experience is in direct proportion to the value of broken equipment.

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        • #5
          I guess this is part of the reason watchmaker's lathes are always boxed and with a handwheel on the mounting screw not a nut.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by fixerdave View Post
            So, not wanting to hijack another thread but reminded of this question...

            I have some cheap Chinese 123 blocks, good enough for what I've used them for, whatever. There's just one really annoying thing about them. They have threaded holes that happen to match my clamping kit, which is great. But, the non-threaded holes are too small to allow said threaded studs to pass through them. I mean, it's like they drilled all the holes the same size then tapped a few of them.

            Is this normal or just an artifact of cheapness?

            I mean, there have been times when it would have been nice to directly bolt one (or more) of these blocks down to a T-slot. But, I can't, not without reverting to a custom T-slot nut (which I've not bothered to make yet) and a smaller sized stud and nut. I just don't get the point of leaving the stupid unthreaded holes too small to pass a threaded stud. Makes no sense to me.

            Just curious if this is normal,

            David...
            I have the same kind, el cheapo deluxo's but tolerance wise they are very good and seriously have never ran into a situation (yet) where iv had to bolt them together,,, and they have come in damn handy for allot of stuff

            Here's a crazy thought --- why don't you try installing a heli-coil in one of the threaded holes and see if you can match up a smaller diameter bolt, not going to be allot of holding strength but might be ok for certain jobs, would probably only be able to use if the blocks were staggered from one another but could help in certain applications.
            Last edited by A.K. Boomer; 12-10-2016, 08:14 AM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Jaakko Fagerlund View Post
              if your employer wants to have work done, then the employer should be buying/paying/having those tools and not the workers.
              Great theory, but, having worked in shops where the this is practiced, I'd rather have my own tools for most things. Way too much time spent chasing tools that weren't stowed, repairing tools that no one knows how were broken, and trying to find tools that were left at a job site because no one felt ownership. Nothing like looking for the shop 150mm mic and finding a 50kilo spool piece sitting on it because the helper didn't notice it on the bench when the guy using it didn't put it back in the case. Mark that one off the inventory.....

              One shop I am still involved with provides a (small) tool/equipment allowance as part of the pay/benefit package for mechanics and machinists. This allows guys to get tools as needed, within limits, but they care for them. Most of the small/standard tools, like basic wrenches, ball pein hammer, lining bar, daily use squares, tape and rules, etc, are out of pocket, though, for the guys that use them every day. Just can't rely on the shop tools for the things you need all of the time.

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              • #8
                I presume you have taps and drills? Problem? Most inexpensive tooling is referred to as a kit.
                Improve what you need to have improved.
                Joe

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Joe Rogers View Post
                  I presume you have taps and drills? Problem? Most inexpensive tooling is referred to as a kit.
                  Improve what you need to have improved.
                  Joe
                  Those blocks are damn hard - damn hard, they have a case hardening to them - they have the potential to trash many a drill and tap to boot.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Back in the "old days", auto dealerships would provide car-specific specialty tools that had to be checked out of a tool room. You were assigned a work bay with a bench, air outlet and electric. All other tools to do your job were provided by you including measuring tools. There were shop tools like engine stands, jacks, portable wheel balancers, cleaning tubs, etc. but you waited if they were in use. That could be hard on your Flat Rate time so many mechanics had their own shop tools too. Flat Rate is where you made your money. And tool loaning/barrowing was treated like taking money out of someone's pocket. To this day, I don't loan tools. That's probably why I don't give a second thought to buying a tool I need or will need.

                    I'd be happy to do the work here or let someone use the tools here but my tools never leave the property. It hurts my flat rate if I need it and it's not there.

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                    • #11
                      I've always wondered why 1-2-3 blocks aren't made with 1/2" holes anyway. 1/2-13 tap, 17/32 clearance. Bazillions of milling machines the world over use that size of stud (or M12). A smaller mill, jig bore or jig grinder, sure, but... even at that, drilling every hole 5/16" and just tapping a few of them is silly. But... it's fast and cheap. No extra tool, no additional tool change...

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by A.K. Boomer View Post
                        Those blocks are damn hard - damn hard, they have a case hardening to them - they have the potential to trash many a drill and tap to boot.
                        Thats what I was thinking when you suggested a heli-coil. Tapping the hole for said heli-coil would be near impossible.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Sparky_NY View Post
                          Thats what I was thinking when you suggested a heli-coil. Tapping the hole for said heli-coil would be near impossible.
                          He intended it to be screwed into what is there, to reduce the diameter. Not sure that would work if the holes are as mentioned, and the tap is likely wromg for the insert.

                          I'm not understanding the problem,though. If the tap got in there to tap the hole, why will the screw not fit?

                          Or is the issue that the face holes were tapped, but the screw won't pass thru the holes in a second block? That makes sense.
                          Last edited by J Tiers; 12-10-2016, 10:08 AM.
                          1601

                          Keep eye on ball.
                          Hashim Khan

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by J Tiers View Post



                            Or is the issue that the face holes were tapped, but the screw won't pass thru the holes in a second block? That makes sense.
                            Yes

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                            • #15
                              A Journeyman was a mechanic or other tradesman who had completed his apprenticeship. He was able to travel from shop to shop. In the course of his apprenticeship, the Journeyman toolmaker would make many of his own precision tooling as part of his training and his skills were judged by the quality of those tools, . The 1-2-3 blocks were a basic part of the training, proving skills of machining, hardening, and grinding. They were often embellished with a pattern of holes in the face as well as on all four edges. The holes may or may not be tapped depending on the whims of the toolmaker or requirements of the apprentice program. Around here, it is quite common to find 1-2-3 blocks, V blocks, parallels, tap and die handles and such that were made by the machinist as part of his apprenticeship.

                              Fast forward to the first Chinese knockoffs. They looked at a set of 1-2-3 blocks that had a pattern of through and tapped holes in the face and were told to duplicate them. No problem, drilled with tap drill, tapped some of the holes, and left others plain. Hardened, ground and shipped. No thought of using a fastener through the hole that matched the tapped hole. In many cases, it is academic, as the tapped hole ended up undersized after hardening and would not accept a standard fastener in any case.
                              Jim H.

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