Trying to use a Columbian quick release bench vise

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Forum topic by Tod posted 04-23-2018 02:38 PM 2462 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Tod's profile


11 posts in 4043 days

04-23-2018 02:38 PM

Topic tags/keywords: help needed columbian bench vise question

I have an old Columbian quick release bench vise 7” wide at the top, 8” wide total (photo 1). It refused to clamp tightly, instead, it would tighten a bit, pop, and become loose. When I took it apart, there seemed to be no missing or broken parts. Putting it back together, there are only (I think) two parts of the quick release mechanism that it is not obvious where they go. When I put it together differently, it works great mostly, until it fails to engage the thread in either direction. At that point, I must slip my hand under the vise and jiggle parts until it works again briefly (by re-engaging the Acme thread). As I recall, the two parts I mentioned are a larger curved plate and a smaller curved plate both of which wrap partially around the Acme screw thread. In photo 2, which is a photo looking up from below, the larger plate is shown (therefore bottom-most) and the smaller plate is above the Acme thread but out of view.

Surely I’m just being dense, but it’s hard to try different arrangements of these plates, since the assembly is critical and the parts require proper orientation for gravity to have its effect. I suppose the rotation of these two parts could be opposite one another in any of several rotational positions about the Acme screw and both parts c

ould have either end of their part facing the vice front, quadrupling the possibilities.

Any clues? maybe a photo of your functioning Columbian?

Any tips?

-- Tod, Powell Ohio

6 replies so far

View Lazyman's profile


5428 posts in 2162 days

#1 posted 04-24-2018 03:23 PM

Looks like a slightly different design but this instructable might help. Make sure you click on the “more images” links to see close ups of the quick release mechanism.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View cabmaker's profile


1745 posts in 3583 days

#2 posted 04-24-2018 11:40 PM

Does it slip when empty or when cranked down regardless of workpiece thickness ?

If it slips no matter where the jaw stops you have a problem in the eccentric

If it slips at the same position each time,,,,, the problem is probably the screw

Either way it is reparable if you know a little about welding and grinding

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4422 days

#3 posted 04-24-2018 11:51 PM

I have to wax the screw and posts of my Record
vise for it to work well. Operation goes through
the wax quick. If I really let it go too long it does
funky things like the problem you’re having.

Just something to consider. Also, it works best
if the back plate at the end of the screw can
contact something, so I have a piece of wood
I thicknessed just right screwed beneath the
bench to keep the post and screw travel horizontal.
It took me a number of years to figure this out
and I don’t think the installation instructions said
anything about it.

View BlasterStumps's profile


1685 posts in 1214 days

#4 posted 04-25-2018 12:19 AM

It worked okay before I took it off an old bench.

-- "I build for function first, looks second. Most times I never get around to looks." - Mike, western Colorado

View Lazyman's profile


5428 posts in 2162 days

#5 posted 04-25-2018 01:19 PM

It looks to me like you have the nut backwards (front to back). Also it is hard to see from the angle of your 2nd picture but where is the second pin on the nut? Seems like it should be visible, even with the nut on there backwards. Is it possible that it is broken off?

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Tod's profile


11 posts in 4043 days

#6 posted 04-29-2018 06:18 PM

Dear friends,

Thank you for your suggestions. I have read and pursued each of your ideas. Here is my update in case it jars another idea.

Lazyman is correct, the quick release mechanism (two cast parts hinged together that wrap around the acme screw) was indeed backwards in the photo. When installed this way it clamps tightly. When installed as designed (and that is confirmed by an arrow labelled “FRONT—>” on the casting) the thread engages reliably, but pops loose with pressure (and does so regardless of the size being clamped, Cabmaker).

There are indeed two tabs as shown in Blasterstump’s photo, though one seems intentionally smaller. They show some shininess on the outer corners due to wear, though not much. One tab causes the quick release to close onto and engage the acme thread and the other causes it to release the acme thread.

Assembling it as I am pretty sure it should be, the clamp failure is not a slipping of the tabs past their stop but seems to be failure of the quick release mechanism. I think it might be flaws and wear in the threads of the release mechanism. If so, I’d guess brazing filler material to build up and reshape it would be a next step.


...Or cutting my losses.

(I’d upload a photo hoping you could better help solve this, but most of my photos exceed the 5MB limit imposed by the site)

Thanks again!

-- Tod, Powell Ohio

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