the Record 52 1/2 vice

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The Record trademark has long been associated with the woodworker’s quick release vice of choice and for a while in the earlier part of the the 20th century they created a model that has arguably never been bettered in either design nor quality1)incidentally, the Record woodworker’s vices were available 3 jaw widths: 7”, 9” and 10 1/2″.    For reasons best known to themselves, C J Hampton named these with model numbers 52, 52 1/2 and 53 respectively.   The 52 1/2 (9”) model is convenient size for lots of wood working jobs and was the most popular option.

The Original Model

C & J Hampton registered the ‘record’ trademark in 19092)c.f David Lynch http://www.recordhandplanes.com/history.html and trade listings from this time show that they own a foundry and are manufacturing vices and other tools.   By this time Parkinson’s patent would have expired so there was nothing  to prevent C&J Hampton from simply making a copy, and this is what they did.

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Record ‘Model 23’ – an almost exact copy of the Parkinson design of the time

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The Tools and Trades History Society have made an early C&J Hampton catalogue (June 1910) available to members, and the model 23 vice gets a full page spread:

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C&J Hampton catalogue (1910) – available from TATHS  (members only)

In this catalogue the ‘Record’ trademark is only used for their vices and was presumably registered, at least initially, for this purpose.  Although the catalogue also advertises wrenches, spanners, cramps and tube cutters, holdfasts and a few drills; the vices were clearly an important part of their range and they named their telegraphic address accordingly: VICES, SHEFFIELD 3)telegraphic addresses were memorable short-codes used to identify the recipients of a telegram.   Some telegram addresses became so well known that organisations adopted them as their proper name e.g Interpol.

We know from the Steel Nut & Joseph Hampton ltd (aka Woden) catalogue reproduced below that they also sold a copy of the original Parkinson pattern quick release vice:

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Woden catalogue 1918

Tony Hampton, a distant relative of the founders of these two companies who had worked for the Woden business, told Scott Landis4)c.f The Workbench Book p144 that when Charles and Joseph junior left Woden to set up C & J Hampton in Sheffield (1898) they took the Woden tool line with them and began making vices patterned after Woden’s.

It is unlikely that Woden had started producing a Parkinson’s pattern vice by 1898 as Parkinson’s patent was still in force until 1904. More likely is that Woden and C & J Hampton independently chose to make copies after the patent expired5)of course it is conceivable that there was an earlier Woden-specific pattern that pre-dated the Parkinson pattern – and that C & J Hampton copied this version – but if so the details of it are lost in the mists of time.

Version II

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transitional face design – the RD number is removed but the surrounding box is retained (~1933)

The first idea is actually rather good, but the second, described below, is a bit of a duffer (it does at least help with constructing a timeline for the vices).

A weakness of Parkinson’s quick-release design – perhaps the only serious issue – is that the screw is exposed when the vice is opened and sawdust and shavings falling on the screw can be carried onto the half-nut. If enough debris builds up in the half-nut it can start to ride up the screw thread causing the mechanism to slip, potentially damaging the threads in the process.

In August 1927 Record took out a patent (GB292381) for a “Screw and Nut Cover” – this is a metal cover that extends the length of the screw, preventing sawdust and shavings dropping on the thread. An excellent idea – they gave vices that included the cover an ‘A’ post-fix, which is stamped on the face. The As were about 10% more expensive than the standard model.

These vices were sold along side the original version and designated e.g ’52 1/2 A’ where ‘A’ indicates the screw and nut cover version.

patent:
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https://worldwide.espacenet.com/publica … 2381A&KC=A

Version V

in November 1932 Record applied for a new patent, this time for a “sawduster excluder plate” that covers the housing for the half-nut.    This change was introduced at the same time as  a modification to the housing for the half-nut and they put a blue and yellow sticker on the plates to explain the changes:

The RECORD VICE has TWO IMPORTANT FEATURES

  1. SAWDUST EXCLUDER PLATE TO PREVENT CLOGGING OF MOVING PARTS
  2. NUT EASILY REMOVED FOR CLEANING

KEEP WORKING PARTS LUBRICATED

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some of the plates were engraved with the patent number (just about visible in the example above).

You may well wonder how a part of the vice that is fixed to the underside of your bench could be the cause of sawdust falling in and clogging the working parts – the answer is in the patent:

The nut housing is usually provided with external flanges, lugs or the like by means of which the vice is secured to the under surface of a bench, the bench itself closing the housing. There is, however, often a passage from the bench surface to the housing between the back of the plate like portion of the fixed jaw and the bench mortise in which it is let and this passage, especially in the case of faulty or careless work in erecting the vice on the bench

 

GB19340510

I leave it to the reader to decide how much of a problem was caused by all this careless vice fitting that was going on in the 1920s and 30s, but suffice to say Record go on to acknowledge (in the same patent) that the problem was already solved by their ‘screw and nut cover’ (see previous section) which they invented 10 years earlier.

The second improvement is more useful: in the old housing there is a captive spring between the casting and the underside of the half nut – this keeps the half-nut pushed against the screw until the lever is turned and the spring compressed:

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A consequence of the old design is that the half nut is inaccessible once the vice is fixed to the bench.

The new design (below) has a separate metal housing that is attached to the rear jaw carriage with two bolts which means the the half nut can be removed for cleaning even after the vice has been fixed to the bench.

new – removable housing for the half nut

In the improved design one end of the flat bar is inserted into a castellated nut on the inside of the front jaw that is held under tension by a large watch spring.   The spring causes the  bar to push the half nut against the screw until the QR lever is activated(it is odd that Record did not include this feature in their patent application, since it is a genuine improvement.  A possible explanation is that Woden had already described a detachable screw housing in their 1906 patent GB190625134A), although they do not make any particular claims for it)):

At this stage you will note that the ‘excluder plate’ is rendered even more redundant, since it is no longer necessary to get at the nut from the top.

Although there was nothing to prevent Record from producing the modified vices after the patent was filed at the end of 1932 the first mention I can find for these changes are in the 1935 catalogue6)c.f 1935 pocket Record No 14 catalogue p95.

There is a clear picture of the new housing in a catalogue from 1950, although bizarrely they have left of the “sawdust excluder plate” from the drawing despite having an arrow pointing to where it should be:

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Record pocket catalogue no 16 (1950)

My thought about the ‘sawdust excluder plate’ patent was that it was a rather lame attempt by Record to extend IP protection for their vice given that their Registered Design was due to expire a few months later in 1933.

As mentioned above the Registered Design taken out by Record for their new QR release vice design in 1918 ought to have expired no later than 1933, but the RD number continued to be shown on the vices literature after that point.  Of course this would be explained if Record simply never got round to updating their catalogue etchings, but many surviving vices have both the RD number and the saw dust excluder plate  which can be dated to 1932.  Since it is unlikely all the vices with both the RD number and the ‘sawdust extractor plate’ were made between November 1932 and some point in 1933, this suggests that Record continued to use the face casting with the RD number beyond 1933.

Thus the best we can say is that the ‘saw dust extractor’ model was introduced after 1932 and that early versions were available with both a Registered Design number stamped on the face and the transitional face design (shown above) where the space for the RD number is blank.

Version VI

The final, and arguably most refined version before a complete revamp in the 60s had a newly designed face and a very high quality finish:

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this my one!

unfortunately it is not possible to date it very precisely.  Given the transitional model is comparatively rare my guess is that at some point in the late 1930s Record launched this more attractive face design.  The earliest catalogue I can find showing this casting is the Record no 16 pocket catalogue (1950).

By the 1940s Record had perfected their vice design and, having ran out of ideas to improve it, filled no more patent applications for us to refer to. Unreliable as they may be, I think the only clues we can get at this distance of time will be from old adverts and catalogues but these are sadly few and far between for Record tools.

See also:

the Record 52 1/2 vice – a timeline

References   [ + ]

1. incidentally, the Record woodworker’s vices were available 3 jaw widths: 7”, 9” and 10 1/2″.    For reasons best known to themselves, C J Hampton named these with model numbers 52, 52 1/2 and 53 respectively.   The 52 1/2 (9”) model is convenient size for lots of wood working jobs and was the most popular option
2. c.f David Lynch http://www.recordhandplanes.com/history.html
3. telegraphic addresses were memorable short-codes used to identify the recipients of a telegram.   Some telegram addresses became so well known that organisations adopted them as their proper name e.g Interpol
4. c.f The Workbench Book p144
5. of course it is conceivable that there was an earlier Woden-specific pattern that pre-dated the Parkinson pattern – and that C & J Hampton copied this version – but if so the details of it are lost in the mists of time
6. c.f 1935 pocket Record No 14 catalogue p95
7. Note this illustrates the slightly modified version of Parkinson’s original mechanism (introduced by Record in 1932 see Version V above) – the spring in the original design was directly under the half nut

5 thoughts on “the Record 52 1/2 vice

  1. Great post. I came across this while searching for details about this model after finding one in an old junk shop. I had to replace the broken watch spring on mine, and was really surprised at how easy it was to find a replacement. Now restored, it is a great addition to my shop. I love how these old tools never seem to die.

  2. Thank you very much for these excellent well researched articles regarding the development of the RECORD Quick Release Woodworkers’ Vices.

    I’d been wondering when the slide bars were introduced, making the RECORD Vices the most popular choice, until it was eventually copied by the other manufacturers in the 1930s.

    Over the years I’ve probably collected every type of RECORD No. 53, starting with what I now know as the earliest one produced in the early 1920s, thanks to your research. it has significant differences to the later variants.

    I have a copy of a RECORD WOODWORKERS VICE No. 52A educational chart issued in 1951 that might be of interest, and will send you the PDF File later.

  3. Thanks for the article, I seem to have a Record 52 version v or vi.

    Do you know what the thread size is for the cheek attachments. there are 2 threaded holes in the sliding jaw and the 2 threaded holes in the body.

    I am assuming they should be some sort of countersunk bsw csk bolt but not sure which.

    Thanks in advance

    Jamie

    • Hi Jamie,

      I *think* the threaded holes in the rear jaws of old record vices are 1/4” BSW, although the modern ones seem to be 5/16th – you’ll have to check. Unless you are using very think linings for the jaws you’ll be fine just using coach screws though – I used 70mm M10 coach screws for the undercarriage and M6s for the jaws.

      Nick

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