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Thread: Barrel vise, wood or aluminum bushing?

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy HumptyDumpty's Avatar
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    Barrel vise, wood or aluminum bushing?

    I'm need to remove the barrel on a Winchester 1885, and so I am in the market for a barrel vise. I see the Wheeler tool uses wood bushings, while others use aluminum. Is there any reason to choose one over the other?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Moleman-'s Avatar
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    Wood doesn't hold as well as aluminum. I've had barrels that you couldn't get tight enough with oak and rosin that came off easy enough with aluminum. Down side to split aluminim bushing is they're still basically a tube and they have a limited range. I'm lucky to have lathes and mills, so I can just make new sizes as needed. There is/was a guy selling barrel vises on ebay that also sold custom sized inserts.

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    georgerkahn's Avatar
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    My bud Hughie wished to swap barrels on three 1903 Springfields he had acquired and after pricing requisite tooling took a block of wood, cut it in half with a bandsaw; clamped it back together; bored a hole a bit smaller than outside diameter; did a bit of filing on wood with a rasp; applied some rosin; and used a parallel-jaw large adjustable wrench, with an added piece of pipe over its handle for better leverage. This worked well on two of the rifles; on the third -- still brings me a smile -- he ripped the vise from its mount! However, he remounted it and had success.
    Hughie argued (and, he was kind of "cheap") that this was a once-in-a-lifetime event, so "why" buy tools if one can fabricate ones that work just as well at the cost only being a bit of time and labor?
    ...Sum'thin to think about. If it were me, and this is to be your ONLY barrel replacement, I'd try Hughie's method. If it doesn't work -- then go shopping.
    geo

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Rapier's Avatar
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    Aluminum with thin lead sheeting and pine rosin. A barrel vice must have 100% surface contact and must be gorilla tight. A long handled wrench and hardened bolts for the vice jaws is a must. A barrel should never move in the vice when clamped down.
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  5. #5
    Boolit Buddy HumptyDumpty's Avatar
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    Hmm, I had thought about the cheapskate/MacGyver route, but this seems like a good excuse to acquire a valuable tool, which opens the door for other projects in the future. I see some nice looking vises on Ebay at reasonable prices (this store in particular has caught my eye.)
    Any specific recommendations?

  6. #6
    Boolit Master Moleman-'s Avatar
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    That's the guy I was thinking of. If you have a lathe or milling machine with boring bar you can make your own pretty easy. I had a stick of aluminum already, so I got a couple of steel drop pieces off of ebay and made mine. I put it in a bench vise when in use, so it's not always mounted to the table.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails M48BO-7.jpg  

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    I use a blacksmith vise with a long leg. Wood blocks to suit with cobblers wax or rosin. Wrench is also wood. 2"x4" about 4 foot long with a shorter piece for the clamp bolted in place. Padded with leather. I use this on several black powder era breach loaders, trapdoors and the like. Anything that looks like it wont go gets a trip to a buddies house. He has a modern barrel vise with aluminum jaws.

  8. #8
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Wood dosnt always have the grip needed for barrels that are very tight and if heat is needed can be an issue. But is easier to make new blocks when needed.
    Aluminum is also food but may scratch or marr a finished barrel better grip than wood if it is fitted to the barrel good. It is harder to make new blocks from than wood
    Copper is very good but expensive a very good grip and easy on finished parts
    Lead lined steel jaws really work well and have a great grip.
    Rosin or other such grip aid is a must as is a bushing block that fits the barrel very closely

    A very good vise can be made with some bar stock threaded rod and a drill press and taps.
    My barrel vise is made from 2 X 21/2" 1018 bar stock the base is 12" long a 1" hole on center and 1 1/4" in from each end, these holes bolt it to the bench. There are 2 tapped holes also on center. the top jaw is 8" long with a 3/4" clearance hole 1 1/4" from each end this matches the 3/4" tapped hole in the base. a couple washers and nuts complete it.My jaws are made from aluminum or lead lined steel.

    Mine is bolted to a bench but a free standing stand bolted into the concrete floor would be better.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy kootne's Avatar
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    Humpty, Is your 1885 an old one or a Miruku/Winchester? is your barrel round or oct.? I have pulled many old Win oct. barrels with the barrel in a milling machine vise with a tapered shim = to i/2 the total barrel taper. Use a piece of post card material wrapped around the barrel to prevent messing the finish. You also need to consider a very good fitting plug for the breech block mortise to prevent distortion from your receiver wrench or the force needed to break the barrel loose. I've never messed with one but I am guessing a new 1885 Miruku will have the barrel torqued up considerably tighter than the old timers did.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Been using As Hard of Wood as I could locate...with Rosin...for Many...Many Barrels..One that slipped a bit was a Yugo Mauser take-off...mean as I have Encountered!

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy HumptyDumpty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kootne View Post
    Humpty, Is your 1885 an old one or a Miruku/Winchester? is your barrel round or oct.? I have pulled many old Win oct. barrels with the barrel in a milling machine vise with a tapered shim = to i/2 the total barrel taper. Use a piece of post card material wrapped around the barrel to prevent messing the finish. You also need to consider a very good fitting plug for the breech block mortise to prevent distortion from your receiver wrench or the force needed to break the barrel loose. I've never messed with one but I am guessing a new 1885 Miruku will have the barrel torqued up considerably tighter than the old timers did.
    The action is vintage, but it currently has a barrel in 219 Zipper. The barrel is round, rusty, crusty, and of no value to me. My primary concern is removing it with as little aggravation as possible, while avoiding any damage to my receiver.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    I'm a machinist so I made my barrel vise and action wrench stout enough that I could break loose even the tightest barrels. I machine aluminum split inserts to hold the barrels. One trick that I've learned is to wrap the barrel with a single layer of ordinary typing paper before tightening the barrel vise around it. There have been some extra tough barrels that didn't want to let go without a fight, and if you're hanging off a 4 foot cheater bar attached to the action wrench there is the possibility that the barrel could rotate in the vise even if its super gorilla tight. If that happens with aluminum inserts it's going to leave a band on the barrel bluing that will never come out. Luckily this has only happened twice out of dozens of barrels that I've pulled, and it has been on barrels that were getting tossed out. So, just to be on the safe side I always put a single layer of paper between the inserts and the barrel whenever I install or remove a barrel.

    In my experience wooden barrel vise jaws will work for about 90% of the jobs, but if a barrel is so tight that it spins in the wooden jaws no amount of tightening of the vise is going to prevent that. Further tightening just compresses the wood, but doesn't increase the coefficient of friction. If the Herculean amount of force required to get a really tight barrel to break loose is enough to spin in a set of hardwood blocks, then it is likely to be enough to just use rosin or lead as a lubricant as it rotates. If that happens it's time to cut a relief groove in the barrel just ahead of the receiver to take some of the strain off the barrel.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master elmacgyver0's Avatar
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    I have had good luck with oak blocks with resin, but I haven't removed that many barrels.
    I like the idea of the typing paper.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    If the barrel has to be saved, aluminum may cause you to have to polish and reblue. If you use wood blocks, you can use epoxy to glue the blocks to the barrel, then freeze or use heat to remove the blocks afterward. I have not had to epoxy one yet.

    If the barrel is a definite discard, just weld a chunk to it and use a strong vise to hold it. Instead of putting a longer cheater on the action wrench, use a 3 pound hammer. The shock will usually break it free on the first blow.
    Spell check doesn't work in Chrome, so if something is spelled wrong, it's just a typo that I missed.

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy

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    Make your barrel bushings out of aluminum and line them with masking tape to avoid marking or impinging aluminum into the barrel surface. Have removed many, many barrels over the years. My big barrel vise holds a 20mm barrel and the action wrench is 8' long. The toughest barreled action of all is a British Boyes Antitank rifle. The breaker wrench is 8' long. An 1885 Winchester is a cup cake! A large bench vise with a set of aluminum jaws with an ID .010~ .020" smaller than the OD of your barrel will work. Your action wrench can be a large Crescent adjustable wrench and 1/4" leather in the jaws to protect the finish on the action.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master Hannibal's Avatar
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    For those of you using oak bushings, try powdered sugar instead of rosin. Been using that combination for a long time. I've yet to find a barrel I couldn't get off.

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy
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    Aluminum bushings with a wrap of paper drywall tape...Magic

  18. #18
    Boolit Man
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    Brass first choice, aluminum second choice, steel third choice.



    Note the card stock "shim". Vise blocks are 4140.



    Note the arbor inserted in the receiver to prevent crushing ring



    Action Wrenches



    Oh Yea!! Fabricated steel stand bolted to the 8 inch thick concrete floor with 6 each Hilti Qwik Bolts. 3/4" ratchet with 30 inch handle. Bolts are high strength 1" diameter.



    I made this vise & stand & wrenches way back in the 1970's when I was working with 1917 Enfields, the tight barrel queen. Never had one slip, over 50 1917's passed through this vise.

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