Milling Machine Vise Overhaul – Garvin #13 for United States Machine Tool Horizontal Milling Machine

Sometimes you get a machine and start using it, and it just ain’t right. I have been using the USMT #1 for a while, and have found the mill to be very versatile, I hadn’t been real pleased with either of the two vises I’ve had on it. Theres nothing better than busting your knuckles on a vise thats too big, or having a part fly out of a vise thats too small.  The first vise I had on the mill was a Palmgren which was nice, but I didn’t trust it to hold big pieces when I was taking big cuts. I got a 6 inch Bridgeport vise which held my work much more securely, but stuck out far enough towards the operator, that you had to be careful or you would lose skin off your knuckles when operating the hand lever. This really got bad when I put the handwheel adapter on the machine, so the big vise had to go. TRY to find a 5 inch vise for a milling machine!


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Luckily, the CAMS Yard Sale was just around the corner. This is a place where you can trade your surplus machine tool stuff for new surplus stuff from somebody else. Every year I come back home with the same amount of “stuff” as I left home with, its just new stuff. I brought the Palmgren down with me, sold that and bought this beauty.



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Yeah, it was butt ugly, had a few “non-factory” holes in it, and stiff as a board, but looked like a quality vise, and it looked to be the perfect size for my mill. It is a Garvin #13 5″ with a swivel base, and everything works (stiff, but it works). The only thing I would have to make would be the keys that index the base to the table. I got lazy in the end and ordered a set.


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First step was to get some of the heavy crud off of it with a dip in the magic Bio-Diesel.


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Then it was a couple of doses of Easy-Off oven cleaner. I’m big on this method of cleaning old machine tools. It will get rid of just about any kind of grease, grime, industrial fruitcake and old paint that you find on them. I usually let it it foam for ten minutes, hit it with a pressure washer and repeat 3 or 4 times. Most times I end up with nothing but clean castings.


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I put some paper towels over the raw casting machined surfaces (which were kinda rusty) and soaked them with Evapo-Rust. This stuff is great; you leave it on for an hour or so, and it just dissolves that patina you find on most old machines. Red rust takes longer.


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Fresh, clean metal ready for some de-burring and polishing of the sliding surfaces. Not much work to be done once the rust and grime went away.


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All thats left to do is scrape the runs off the machined surfaces, and assemble it.


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Of course, you knew everything was going to get a good coat of Way Oil.


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The screw get slid into the hole in the base as the moveable jaw is dropped on.


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Then the vise is flipped over, and the gib is installed. this will retain the moveable jaw to the base.  There was a divot or two that I had to doctor up on the lower ways to get the jaw to move perfectly smooth.


saw and switches 026the next step is to install the retaining ring for the screw, and drive in the taper pin. Obviously, care should be taken when doing this to insure you start the pin in the larger side of the tapered hole in both the ring and the screw. Basically, the vise is done, and move onto the swivel base.


saw and switches 030Surprise! more oil. Bolt the vise and base together, install the keys in the base, and you are……………………….


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Finished!  All that is left is to bolt it to the table of the USMT, and give it a whirl.


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The size of the vise is much more appropriate for the mill than the bigger Bridgeport vise, and just looks more balanced. It locks up just as good as the BP, and doesn’t interfere with anything ( no more busted knuckles). The hand lever clears it, and the new hand wheel adapter does too. Set-up time is reduced. The best part is not having to readjust the hand lever to make the last inch or so of the cut. All in all, this was a real improvement to the mill, getting the right size vise on it. A properly sized vise that moves smoothly is a REAL plus! This whole deal cost me $75 to acquire the vise and set it right. So far (after the overhaul), this is the best money I’ve spent on the machine. Aside from my Kurt vise rebuild, I’m hard pressed to think of another improvement that has made as big an impact on functionality as this. Aside from improving the operation of the mill, the time savings will be substantial. Now all I have to do is fix the powerfeed on my Bridgeport…………….

Please have a look at the and let provide your special maintenance and tool needs..



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