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Thread: Need help detrmining bearing sizes to reload grandpa's bit brace

  1. #1
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    Need help detrmining bearing sizes to reload grandpa's bit brace

    Hello fellow knuckle draggers. I need help identifying the right loose bearings size for this bit brace.

    IMG_3027.jpg

    But a little background first, because that's half the fun... This brace was handed down to me by my dad. He inherited it from his father-in-law, my grandpa Harold. Judging by it's suspected age I suspect the original owner could have been my great grandpa, Olaf. Not only is it prized by myself as a family heirloom, but over the years of collecting and using some super cool vintage braces and coming to appreciate some of the finer things about them, I've come to objectively appreciate this brace's upper tier quality.

    Strangely, it's unbranded. However, I'm all but convinced it's of Stanley heritage, and an early iteration of the No. 813. However, it does share similarities with the MF 771 Lion and a couple Pextco's.

    IMG_3030.jpg IMG_3032.jpg
    There are a lot of Stanley peculiarities about it, like upside down stampings, typeface, etc. See "OIL" and "10 IN MADE IN U.S.A." in the two photos above.

    The detail, fit and finish is unmatched. It's been heavily used but still solid and tight. I've not done much with it yet but degrease it.

    IMG_3003.jpg IMG_3008.jpg IMG_3010.jpg
    I've had to rederive how the chuck functioned as it came to me dissasembled without bearings.

    Inside the outer shell is a slot that forms the outer race as seen in middle photo. The jaws collar (for lack of the actual term), pictured at lower right of right photo and loosely assembled in the left photo, has a slot that forms the inner race.

    Bearings are dropped through he hole (see left photo) of the shell into the race. A set screw (missing) is applied at this hole which retains the bearings. The bearings lock the shell and jaws collar assembly together. Quite ellegant. (Later Stanley No. 813's have a retention ring on the outside of shell instead of the set screw.)

    Now, my dilemma. How do I determine bearing diameter?

    IMG_2999.jpg IMG_3001.jpg
    As a starting point and visual aid, I made some measurements with the caliper representing a couple common bearing sizes within the inner race. Left photo I have calipers set at 3/32". Right photo I have them set at 1/8". Hopefully this enough for someone more experienced with bearings to make a recommendation.

    Thanks for any help. I'm excited to get grandpa's bit brace back in action. If you know anything about this brace or have any observations about it, please let me know those thoughts as well.
    Last edited by Kurtis Johnson; 03-29-2019 at 4:59 PM.

  2. #2
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    Can't help directly, but if you find a good counterperson at your local bearing house, I bet s/he can help you. Cool that you've got your grandfather's quality brace.

  3. #3
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  4. #4
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    Thanks Bill. I'll continue to try to find someone with a walk-in help desk. My fear is it's getting harder to get that kind of help, around here anyway. Looks like is everything is geared for big industry. Hope I'm wrong. I was kind of hoping to order online.

  5. #5
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    Kurtis, I have several Lion braces and have overhauled them all. The bearings in the chuck on mine are 3/32. There are bearings on the opposite end as well, and they are larger if my memory is correct.

    I got a bag of replacements from a vendor called “bctrade” on ebay a couple of years ago for a few dollars.
    Last edited by Nicholas Lawrence; 03-29-2019 at 6:02 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Lawrence View Post
    Kurtis, I have several Lion braces and have overhauled them all. The bearings in the chuck on mine are 3/32. There are bearings on the opposite end as well, and they are larger if my memory is correct.

    I got a bag of replacements from a vendor called “bctrade” on ebay a couple of years ago for a few dollars.
    Okay, that's actually good info. My chuck is probably not an MF Lion, but probably Stanley's answer to it. Maybe the same bearing size. My instincts were the race on mine would swallow up 3/32" bearings, but now less sure. I'm leaning towards trying the 3/32".

  7. #7
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    Well, you can get a bag of 100 for about $5. If it does not work you aren’t out very much.

    I have not seen a Stanley brace with that style chuck. The only ones I know of are the Lion and the Samson (by Peck Stowe and Wilcox). I think Pexto made some for a hardware store in Chicago (VBM?) but I could be wrong about that. I am definitely not an expert.

  8. #8
    you may find this of interest:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTwcRDrIzLA

  9. #9
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    Hi Kurtis,
    I'll be very interested if you can make a positive ID of that brace. I went up to the shed for a look at mine and have not got one EXACTLY like yours, and as you said it shares similarities with MF, Stanley and PEXTO. It seems strange that if it is by one of these three that it is not branded with their name.
    I've overhauled and re-bearinged a few and might suggest that you measure the diameter of the screw hole as your maximum size ball to fit through it.
    I visit an agricultural machinery dealer here in Western Aus' for my loose ball purchases.
    Cheers,
    Geoff.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff Emms View Post
    Hi Kurtis,
    I'll be very interested if you can make a positive ID of that brace. I went up to the shed for a look at mine and have not got one EXACTLY like yours, and as you said it shares similarities with MF, Stanley and PEXTO. It seems strange that if it is by one of these three that it is not branded with their name.
    I've overhauled and re-bearinged a few and might suggest that you measure the diameter of the screw hole as your maximum size ball to fit through it.
    I visit an agricultural machinery dealer here in Western Aus' for my loose ball purchases.
    Cheers,
    Geoff.
    Thanks Geoff! I’ve actually been trying to type it for years. I have a page or two of notes! Ha ha ha.

    Thanks for the tip to measure the screw hole. It measures 9/64”, just over 1/8”. Exactly same as mouth of the race. Probably 1/8” bearings. That would be closer to filling both races, with a little needed slop left over. I might try 1/8” first.

    Visiting an at dealer is also a superb idea!

  11. #11
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    Joe, that’s awesome! Thank you my friend. 1/8” it is. It’s fun to see how close I ended up. More luck than skill, but still fun. It’s wonderful to have such confirmation. Now I can spend the bucks with confidence.

  12. #12
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    You might check a bicycle shop for the bearings. Those are about the size that would go into a headset on a bike.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    You might check a bicycle shop for the bearings. Those are about the size that would go into a headset on a bike.

    jtk
    Ah, great idea, Jim. And I have a good bike shop too.

  14. #14
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    I'm sorry to hear your bearing houses there aren't oriented to individual folks. We live in an area with agriculture history and many active agricultural operations; so the local bearing house is used to individuals walking with with an individual problem. They'll put $25 of work into figuring out what $2 item to sell you; and they have a sweet shop dog to boot!

    When installing loose bearings, by the way, never fill the entire race. You need to leave a little space. Customary space is one bearing's worth of gap. Otherwise, the bearings can't roll easily, and they'll seize up.

    Bill, learned a lot from my elders when I was starting out...and, somehow, I became an elder!
    Last edited by Bill Houghton; 03-30-2019 at 5:29 PM. Reason: additional information

  15. #15
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    I did not look close enough to see you were not looking for bearings to fit a specific bore.
    HOWEVER, somewhere around here I have an old brace. I'll try to find it to see if it's relevent.
    Last edited by Bill Jobe; 03-31-2019 at 2:30 AM.

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