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Thread: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

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    Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    I have a DESMOND STEPHAN SIMPLEX 31s vise that belonged to my wife's grandfather. Unfortunately the main nut (spindle) has broken. I'm a woodworker and not sure it can be to fabricated or welded. As seen in the photo the nut was repaired before....looks like it was brazed with brass??

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    Last edited by frede162; 02-18-2021 at 10:27 AM.

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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    Yes it was brazed before. I would do the same thing again .

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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    [QUOTE=frede162;8801943]I have a DESMOND STEPHAN SIMPLEX 31s vise that belonged to my wife's grandfather. Unfortunately the main nut (spindle) has broken. I'm a woodworker and not sure it can be to fabricated or welded. As seen in the photo the nut was repaired before....looks like it was brazed with brass??

    /QUOTE]

    Post your location or at least state and city. There might be someone on here that is local to you that could fix it for you.
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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    What he said.

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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    A Braze job would be fine but it needs to be vee'd/ ground out completely this time instead of just a quickie pass on the top .

    An idiot friend broke the movable jaw on mine 30 years ago doing **** he shouldn't have 3 foot cheater on the handle. I repaired it and still using it to this day.


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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    This isn't a knock against brazing, but for that sort of application it only gives a fraction of the original strength, which is why it broke. Yes, it can be brazed again, but it will be similarly fragile so it would have to be relegated to only the lightest of work....and it still might break.

    Any good machine shop could make one, but the cost would likely be prohibitive.

    The company changed hands multiple times over the years and parts haven't been available for many, many years. Your best bet might be to watch eBay for a replacement nut. There are a couple of guys who buy broken vises and part them out on eBay, and they know what they're doing. Generally speaking, the vise companies used the same nut for all the models they made in any given jaw width, so it can be from a different model if it has the same jaw width.
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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    It does look like cast iron so if it was brazed before, that is the only possible way to repair it. The brass will be intermixed in the cast and near impossible to remove it all. It will need to be beveled for full penetration and thoroughly preheated and slow cooled in dry sand or wrapped in a welding blanket. The actual nut part is what does the holding and it is fine. Best to try and find someone who has experience with high temperature brazing as it's not a DIY project. Properly done brazing is the closest to the properties of cast iron. If it wasn't brazed in the past there are some other options such as spray welding or O/A welding it with cast iron rods.

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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    [QUOTE=psacustomcreations;8801997]
    Quote Originally Posted by frede162 View Post
    I have a DESMOND STEPHAN SIMPLEX 31s vise that belonged to my wife's grandfather. Unfortunately the main nut (spindle) has broken. I'm a woodworker and not sure it can be to fabricated or welded. As seen in the photo the nut was repaired before....looks like it was brazed with brass??

    /QUOTE]

    Post your location or at least state and city. There might be someone on here that is local to you that could fix it for you.
    Thanks. I'm in Hamilton NJ which is about 10 miles outside the city of Trenton.

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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    Quote Originally Posted by G-ManBart View Post
    This isn't a knock against brazing, but for that sort of application it only gives a fraction of the original strength, which is why it broke. Yes, it can be brazed again, but it will be similarly fragile so it would have to be relegated to only the lightest of work....and it still might break. .
    Nope.
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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    Quote Originally Posted by G-ManBart View Post
    This isn't a knock against brazing, but for that sort of application it only gives a fraction of the original strength, which is why it broke. Yes, it can be brazed again, but it will be similarly fragile so it would have to be relegated to only the lightest of work....and it still might break.

    Any good machine shop could make one, but the cost would likely be prohibitive.

    The company changed hands multiple times over the years and parts haven't been available for many, many years. Your best bet might be to watch eBay for a replacement nut. There are a couple of guys who buy broken vises and part them out on eBay, and they know what they're doing. Generally speaking, the vise companies used the same nut for all the models they made in any given jaw width, so it can be from a different model if it has the same jaw width.
    Thanks G. Been on a daily ebay hunt along with a other places. I'm also thinking the same on interchangeability, but without a of cross-ref it's impossible to know. As seen the nut is stamped with the vise model "31" but I wonder if that was just to categorize inventory.

    Seems this model was less common but I'll keep looking for a fix/used part. The man who owned the vise (wife's GF) fought in WWII.... it's just cool to have his vise in my shop.

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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    Quote Originally Posted by G-ManBart View Post
    This isn't a knock against brazing, but for that sort of application it only gives a fraction of the original strength, which is why it broke. Yes, it can be brazed again, but it will be similarly fragile so it would have to be relegated to only the lightest of work....and it still might break.

    Any good machine shop could make one, but the cost would likely be prohibitive.

    The company changed hands multiple times over the years and parts haven't been available for many, many years. Your best bet might be to watch eBay for a replacement nut. There are a couple of guys who buy broken vises and part them out on eBay, and they know what they're doing. Generally speaking, the vise companies used the same nut for all the models they made in any given jaw width, so it can be from a different model if it has the same jaw width.
    This is not true. Cast iron has a tinsel strength that varies considerably between 20,000 psl to 60,000 psl. I would wager most are in the area of 35-40,000 psl. Brass has a tinsel strength of 52,000 psl. Cast iron has next to no elasticity where as brass is somewhere in the area of 20% . A brazed repair on that nut if prepped and brazed correctly will be at least on par with the cast iron. The original part broke once too so all I would do is make sure it is prepped correctly the second time around and add more brass build up to the area.

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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    That fix never had a chance. Was not prepped properly. Perhaps the repair person was afraid to loose reference indicators? So, they did not notch. There are many way to tackle that. After referencing then creating a fixture I might consider a whole web replacement, keeping the threaded and machined portions. Then, It could be welded or brazed or tig brazed.

    For the use the vice was intended, I would think proper brazing would be more than sufficient.

    Ultimately it might come down to expense. A replacement part might be cheaper?

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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    If the vise screw is a standard thread type/pitch, it might not be too hard to fabricate one out of steel using a coupling nut and some ingenuity. It's worth trying to clean the old one up and braze weld with a good bit of reinforcement.
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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    I'd get all the brass off or at least most of it and repair with 312 stainless. No biggie.
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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    Quote Originally Posted by Meltedmetal View Post
    Nope.
    As someone who's been dealing with fixed and repaired bench vises for a long time, I guess we'll have to disagree. I have never seen a brazed nut last.
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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    Quote Originally Posted by thegary View Post
    This is not true. Cast iron has a tinsel strength that varies considerably between 20,000 psl to 60,000 psl. I would wager most are in the area of 35-40,000 psl. Brass has a tinsel strength of 52,000 psl. Cast iron has next to no elasticity where as brass is somewhere in the area of 20% . A brazed repair on that nut if prepped and brazed correctly will be at least on par with the cast iron. The original part broke once too so all I would do is make sure it is prepped correctly the second time around and add more brass build up to the area.
    I've been dealing with broken bench vises for a long time, and see probably every repair you can imagine....I have yet to see a brazed nut hold together. So even if the theory is good, I have yet to see someone make it work in practice and that includes guys from the old days who were artists when it comes to brazing.

    On the other hand, I've seen slides brazed that held up fine for decades, as well as bases, and other parts. For whatever reason, brazed nuts never seem to hold together.

    I think the ASTM standard tensile strength for cast iron is around 25K PSI. That's what most of the cheap cast iron vises have as a spec...25-30K is typical. Most good vises actually aren't made of cast iron, they're ductile iron with a tensile strength around 60K PSI. I believe ductile iron has elasticity properties similar to brass going off memory.

    It would be hard to add any additional material to the area it broke because that's the area the slide passes over and there isn't much extra room....the nut is narrowed there for a reason. There's probably room for a little extra, but not much.

    Desmond-Stephan Simplex vises were known for using steel and semi-steel slides, but the body and nut were ductile iron. They actually made it a point in their advertising to talk about how much stronger their vise was than the competition, so I doubt they would have gone cheap on the nut and made it from grey cast iron. I have one on the shelf now....4.25" as I recall, about 70lbs....quite solid. I've had a few others in the past and they are nicely made.
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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    Quote Originally Posted by frede162 View Post
    Thanks G. Been on a daily ebay hunt along with a other places. I'm also thinking the same on interchangeability, but without a of cross-ref it's impossible to know. As seen the nut is stamped with the vise model "31" but I wonder if that was just to categorize inventory.

    Seems this model was less common but I'll keep looking for a fix/used part. The man who owned the vise (wife's GF) fought in WWII.... it's just cool to have his vise in my shop.
    I hear you....I get a lot of e-mails through my site from folks looking for parts like this, and I've had vises sit on the shelf for a couple of years waiting for just the right part to come along, so I know the feeling!

    The other model would have the same nut would be the 31P....fixed base version of the same vise. There might be other models I'm not aware of, but at least that will give you two to search for.

    It certainly wouldn't hurt to have someone try repairing what you have...even if it limits it to light duty while you keep searching.
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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    Thanks to everyone for the responses and great info which will help me with my search for the part. Someone offered to TIG Braze the nut so I'm going to send it to him. Hoping to get it back for light duty work. I'm a woodworker but from time to time I need a metal vise.

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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    Quote Originally Posted by G-ManBart View Post
    I've been dealing with broken bench vises for a long time, and see probably every repair you can imagine....I have yet to see a brazed nut hold together. So even if the theory is good, I have yet to see someone make it work in practice and that includes guys from the old days who were artists when it comes to brazing.

    On the other hand, I've seen slides brazed that held up fine for decades, as well as bases, and other parts. For whatever reason, brazed nuts never seem to hold together.

    I think the ASTM standard tensile strength for cast iron is around 25K PSI. That's what most of the cheap cast iron vises have as a spec...25-30K is typical. Most good vises actually aren't made of cast iron, they're ductile iron with a tensile strength around 60K PSI. I believe ductile iron has elasticity properties similar to brass going off memory.

    It would be hard to add any additional material to the area it broke because that's the area the slide passes over and there isn't much extra room....the nut is narrowed there for a reason. There's probably room for a little extra, but not much.

    Desmond-Stephan Simplex vises were known for using steel and semi-steel slides, but the body and nut were ductile iron. They actually made it a point in their advertising to talk about how much stronger their vise was than the competition, so I doubt they would have gone cheap on the nut and made it from grey cast iron. I have one on the shelf now....4.25" as I recall, about 70lbs....quite solid. I've had a few others in the past and they are nicely made.
    I stand by my post. Just because you have seen them fail does not really mean anything other than the person who did the repair did not do it right or the vise was abused far beyond its intended design strength. The latter is usually the case and the original piece broke for the same reason. There are thousands of brazed vises being used for decades that have not broken again.

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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    Quote Originally Posted by thegary View Post
    I stand by my post. Just because you have seen them fail does not really mean anything other than the person who did the repair did not do it right or the vise was abused far beyond its intended design strength. The latter is usually the case and the original piece broke for the same reason. There are thousands of brazed vises being used for decades that have not broken again.
    I agreed that there are many brazed vises still in use...no debate there. I stopped counting how many vises I've owned when I got to 300. I've repaired and restored vises for hundreds of other people. I get e-mails daily through my website from people looking for parts or asking how to fix a broken vise. In all of that I have never seen one with a brazed nut that lasted and it comes up all the time. I've seen multiples of every other repair you can think of that was still holding, but never a nut.

    There is almost no chance that the only people who always did it wrong were the ones brazing a nut.

    Heck, I'd buy two broken vises with good nuts, break one and let the best brazer on the forum give it a try and then test the two to see what happens. I'll put money on it....who wants to do the repair? That'd be a great post on my site.
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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    Why go vises break like that?

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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    Quote Originally Posted by G-ManBart View Post
    I agreed that there are many brazed vises still in use...no debate there. I stopped counting how many vises I've owned when I got to 300. I've repaired and restored vises for hundreds of other people. I get e-mails daily through my website from people looking for parts or asking how to fix a broken vise. In all of that I have never seen one with a brazed nut that lasted and it comes up all the time. I've seen multiples of every other repair you can think of that was still holding, but never a nut.

    There is almost no chance that the only people who always did it wrong were the ones brazing a nut.

    Heck, I'd buy two broken vises with good nuts, break one and let the best brazer on the forum give it a try and then test the two to see what happens. I'll put money on it....who wants to do the repair? That'd be a great post on my site.
    Brazing would work. I would rather use a better brazing alloy like Ni-Ag. Nickel Silver brazing on cast iron is crazy strong and it permeates into the cast better than low fuming bronze. 95K tensile strength compared to 65K on Bronze.
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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    Quote Originally Posted by tapwelder View Post
    Why go vises break like that?
    Usually someone is using a cheater pipe on the handle so they can really crank down on something, and it's more than the vise was intended to hold. The other most common way is using a vise to seat a bearing. Bench vises are really just designed to hold something, not compress things, like an actual press. I can't tell you how many times I get notes from folks who have broken their vise and the most common reason was they were pressing a bearing. You can get away with it using a big vise and small bearing, but where the line is would just be a guess.
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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    Quote Originally Posted by Rondo View Post
    Brazing would work. I would rather use a better brazing alloy like Ni-Ag. Nickel Silver brazing on cast iron is crazy strong and it permeates into the cast better than low fuming bronze. 95K tensile strength compared to 65K on Bronze.
    I understand lots of folks think it will work, but I have yet to see anybody pull it off successfully. I don't know if there's a difference because the part is actually ductile iron, not cast iron, or because it's simply a thin part, but I haven't seen an old vise show up with a brazed nut that was still in service, and I've seen countless other types of brazed repairs on vises that were clearly done a long time ago and held. Along those same lines, I've had so many people contact me after trying to braze a nut unsuccessfully that I lost track a long time ago...they break it, try fixing it, it fails again and then they send me a note looking for a source for a replacement part. Maybe it's a coincidence of epic proportions, but I really doubt it.

    I've stick welded vises with nickel rods, brazed them, TIG brazed them and TIG welded with two different Inconel filler wire and the best results have usually been using Inconel. I prep the area to white metal using a carbide bit, then use just the arc to cook the carbon out...heat, stainless brush, repeat until the black soot stops coming out, then lay in a root pass and build off that. I have some aluminum bronze TIG wire I'm going to try next. I'll have to add nickel silver to the list.
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    Re: Need help with broken a Vise Nut

    Quote Originally Posted by G-ManBart View Post
    Usually someone is using a cheater pipe on the handle so they can really crank down on something, and it's more than the vise was intended to hold. The other most common way is using a vise to seat a bearing. Bench vises are really just designed to hold something, not compress things, like an actual press. I can't tell you how many times I get notes from folks who have broken their vise and the most common reason was they were pressing a bearing. You can get away with it using a big vise and small bearing, but where the line is would just be a guess.
    Yup that's how I broke the mine. I was pressing a bearing out of a phenolic pulley used on a cable pulldown fitness machine. No cheater bar, and only moderate force, but that is indeed how I broke the previous braze on mine.

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