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Die Plate

What threads?

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Howard Lewis16/08/2020 20:33:56
3605 forum posts
2 photos

A friend has asked me what I can find out about a Die Plate, that he has been given.

It has ten pairs of threaded holes diminishing in size, from what might be 1/4 BSW.

At first I thought that it might be 1st and final cut on BA, but does not seem so.

Below a very small stamping of a three stem flower, it is stamped;

Herbernia, W Marples, 8 in minute characters.

Looking on Google, it seems that the "flower" is in fact a shamrock, and that William Marples were based at Hibernia Works. But among all the tools mentioned, there is no mention of Die Plates.

Any info, please?

Howard

Bob Stevenson16/08/2020 21:30:28
436 forum posts
7 photos

judging by the die plates which I have and those in the clock workshop, they were not usually any decided thread so much as what the particular craftsman thought to be ideal or useful etc.......

I have always liked die plates for some reason and have quite a collection!

.....BA threads are relatively recent, ....I think first devised in 1893, or thereabouts (?)..well after most die plates as far as I know. Also, different trades had different ideas about what threads they needed. I have never seen a Whitworth die plate, but who knows?

Brian H16/08/2020 22:11:53
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1797 forum posts
108 photos

I have a small Whitworth die plate that is marked as such.... the odd thing is that it's German!

Brian

Howard Lewis18/08/2020 16:16:54
3605 forum posts
2 photos

Since this plate is marked with a Shamrock, Hibernia,W Marples, and with the number 8, it would seem to be a standard offering in their catalogue, rather than a one off made in someone's shed..

All that we need is a copy of the catalogue. Likely to be old, since the Company started back in the late 1700s.

So far, I have been unable to find any reference to Die Plates on any site referring to Marples tools.

Most of the stuff leads to wood chisels!

The only person likely to be knowledgeable is Canada based, and wants C$ 5.00 for any query, and I do not feel inclined to spend some else's money finding out what they may not be desperate to know.

Howard

Bo'sun18/08/2020 16:39:20
202 forum posts

Hi Howard,

These are new to me (and no doubt many others), so could you possibly post a photo of the Die Plate?

Thanks.

Howard Lewis19/08/2020 16:33:58
3605 forum posts
2 photos

Bosun,

Sadly No photo. I do not have it.

They were sometimes known as Lancashire Screw Plates.

They are OLD hand tools probably dating back into the 1800s, predating Dies, as we know them.

The latest

Imagine something like a pointing trowel but made of thicker metal, with two sets of holes, of gradually increasing size running , side by side from the handle to the tip. Each hole contains a thread.

On each side of, and close to each threaded hole is a small hole.

Effectively it is a number of dies all contained within one piece of metal.

They were used quite frequently, many years ago to produce threads on smaller diameter rods.

If you Google, www.htpaa.org.au Page 26 Hand Tool Preservation Association of Australia, on page 27 there is an illustration of one.

They are listed in the 1938 W Marples catalogue, but only nos, 1,2,2A and 3, not No.8, so probably predates it. Also only one row of holes shown, and apparently suppliedm with taper Taps. with prices ranging from 22/6 to 35/-So quite expensive in their day, something akin to half a weeks wages?

There is a description as part 1 of the Wikionary definition.

Details and illustrations are hard to come by; hence this thread!

Howard

Brian H19/08/2020 17:47:29
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1797 forum posts
108 photos

Here is a picture of one type of threading plate. This has holes in the centre and also partial holes at one edge.

I don't know what the threads are, and never bothered to find out.

img_0361.jpg

Not exactly a plate but a different type of threading tool is the next one, which is adjustable, Whitworth and made in Germany.

It cuts from 1/16 Whit to 1/4 Whit.

Brian

img_0362.jpg

Bo'sun19/08/2020 18:00:44
202 forum posts
Posted by Howard Lewis on 19/08/2020 16:33:58:

Bosun,

Sadly No photo. I do not have it.

They were sometimes known as Lancashire Screw Plates.

They are OLD hand tools probably dating back into the 1800s, predating Dies, as we know them.

The latest

Imagine something like a pointing trowel but made of thicker metal, with two sets of holes, of gradually increasing size running , side by side from the handle to the tip. Each hole contains a thread.

On each side of, and close to each threaded hole is a small hole.

Effectively it is a number of dies all contained within one piece of metal.

They were used quite frequently, many years ago to produce threads on smaller diameter rods.

If you Google, www.htpaa.org.au Page 26 Hand Tool Preservation Association of Australia, on page 27 there is an illustration of one.

They are listed in the 1938 W Marples catalogue, but only nos, 1,2,2A and 3, not No.8, so probably predates it. Also only one row of holes shown, and apparently suppliedm with taper Taps. with prices ranging from 22/6 to 35/-So quite expensive in their day, something akin to half a weeks wages?

There is a description as part 1 of the Wikionary definition.

Details and illustrations are hard to come by; hence this thread!

Howard

Thank you Howard,

Please excuse me for being a bit dim, but I couldn't find how to access pages on the Ausie website.

Thank you Brian H,

It looks like it's basically a die with a built in stock. Next stupid question. How were the internal threads cut in the die plate?

Bob Stevenson19/08/2020 18:03:01
436 forum posts
7 photos

Interesting thread....

I have never seen any die plates like those, all of mine are of the "trowel" type.....found three yeaterday while rearranging the clock club workshop for post virus activity.

I have a 70's reprint of a gunsmithing manual, undated but obviously originally printed in the hera of the percussion lock,...so, about 1830, which mentions taps and dies but also the need for a "plate and ten taps for English and German nipples".....

Bob Stevenson19/08/2020 18:32:29
436 forum posts
7 photos

dsc01250.jpg

Brian H20/08/2020 08:30:05
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1797 forum posts
108 photos

Quote: It looks like it's basically a die with a built in stock. Next stupid question. How were the internal threads cut in the die plate?

Not a stupid question at all but I would imagine that the holes are drilled and tapped as normal, then plugged with short lengths of thread and then the 2 small holes put in to produce the cutting edges followed by hardening and tempering.

I say that the holes would be plugged because otherwise the drill would just run off.

It's a good way to make your own die if you only have a tap.

Brian

JohnF20/08/2020 09:05:08
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1022 forum posts
143 photos

Many years ago I was told by an old chap in Birmingham’s gunmaking quarter these were purchased as an apprentice and used to make your taps and taps to make dies when needed. Over time they become worn hence the screws (pins in gunmaking) became larger but of course anything made still fitted perfectly. Interchangeability was not a consideration ! Now you often find threads on early 20th century guns that are “nearly” BA or small Whitworth threads but oversize etc.

In all probability the same applies to other craftsman industries of yesteryear.

John

KWIL20/08/2020 10:29:45
3308 forum posts
63 photos

Hence the time honoured trade of a "fitter"

IanT20/08/2020 11:38:51
1613 forum posts
151 photos
Posted by JohnF on 20/08/2020 09:05:08:

Many years ago I was told by an old chap in Birmingham’s gunmaking quarter these were purchased as an apprentice and used to make your taps and taps to make dies when needed. Over time they become worn hence the screws (pins in gunmaking) became larger but of course anything made still fitted perfectly. Interchangeability was not a consideration ! Now you often find threads on early 20th century guns that are “nearly” BA or small Whitworth threads but oversize etc.

In all probability the same applies to other craftsman industries of yesteryear.

John

And it probably still applies today in practice John. I have some very small metric dies and taps (<1mm) and the likelihood is that I'll break a tap before I damage a die.

If (when!) I do so, I will most likely try to make replacements using the die rather than trying to purchase a (single) new tap. The small metric set I purchased was not too expensive, so will almost certainly be carbon steel. Any replacements I make will be shorter than the commercial ones, as I'm only tapping a few threads depth (and in non-ferrous materials).

As I can no longer get 16BA screws/nuts (certainly not at a reasonable price), I may well take a similar approach for these too, purchasing just the 16BA die (& probably a 14BA one too). My existing BA screwing tackle only goes down to 12BA and whilst I can still get 14BA screw fittings currently, that might change going forward.

Regards,

IanT

Howard Lewis20/08/2020 19:27:59
3605 forum posts
2 photos

Bob Stevenson's picture is almost the same as the device shown to me, apart from the mine had a "blob" on the end of the handle instead of a ring.

There is a lot of pleasure from repairing, or making something, that a trade "expert" has looked at and said, "You won't get one of them, mate. Get a new one" (IF you can )

Howard

Nigel Graham 220/08/2020 23:56:50
748 forum posts
16 photos

If an old tool is of identified make but not in the normal catalogue, could it have been made for internal use?

High catalogue price might indicate the assumed customers would be companies, not individuals.

' ' '

I certainly agree with Howard Lewis' remark!

I have a trammel with brass holders for the scribers, on a hardwood beam not graduated but giving 20 " maximum radius. No company names, but both holders are neatly stamped 'R J SANDFORD 1920'. From careful examination by magnifying-glass I think they were hand-pierced and filed to their elegant profiles, after their various bosses had been turned, from solid.

A neat touch is the stock scriber-holder's fine-adjustment of over 1/8 " travel, working against the end of the beam.

The pressure-pads under the clamp-screws fit very well indeed. I have just taken one out to examine it, and it shows faint file-marks on the screw contact face.

One oddity is some drilled holes in each face of the holders, neatly set out but of no obvious purpose.

I've not needed to repair it, although I did clean the brass, by cloth and 'Brasso' only.

Perhaps Mr. Sandford made it 100 years ago, as one of his apprentice-pieces, possibly for pattern-making or sheet-metal work. It has clearly been used a fair amount, but shows little wear, so fair use too. If he was the chap I think though, as far as I knew he was a retired cabinet-maker. That was in the 1960s when I were a lad, so the chronology would be about right.

Now looking at this lovely, lightly-patinated old tool with new respect, yes, I have used it a few times. The first, for which it proved ideal, was in setting-out a jig for assembling two hexagonal steel frames, using basic geometry to construct 120º angles on a large steel plate.

If R.J. was watching from the shadows, I hope he approved....

Howard Lewis21/08/2020 18:34:35
3605 forum posts
2 photos

It used to be said that a good fitter, using a hammer and chisel, could work to within 5 thou.

All Apprentices had to produce a fitting test piece of a 1" square steel block which would fit all ways into a 1" square hole in a 2" square piece of steel plate.

As you may guess, I did not do well in that test, nor any other practical one!

Howard

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