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Fortis Vice

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Rockingdodge06/06/2022 16:06:18
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316 forum posts
72 photos

FORTIS No 10

I just acquired this vice which I intend to restore and wondered if anyone knows what the original colour would have been?

Cheers

Roger

Speedy Builder506/06/2022 16:26:03
2653 forum posts
219 photos

Are you restoring it for a museum ?

Rockingdodge06/06/2022 16:28:00
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316 forum posts
72 photos

No, just for my personal use and pride smiley

Dave Wootton06/06/2022 17:26:22
320 forum posts
69 photos

This is going to add confusion, but... In the training dep't of the firm where I worked years ago we had Fortis vices that as the firm was almost obsessive with the care of tools and machinery I'm sure they had never been repainted.

Some were dark green, others were blue/ grey, I'm sure if they had been repainted they would have been in one colour. Interestingly there were a couple that had a split moving jaw that could be set to act like a V block for holding round bar vertically in the jaws ( these were green). I was kept on for a while to help clear the place after it closed and I found the original sales pamphlets and order letters in a file, believe they were made in Coventry, but this was late 70's so might have that wrong!. The place was set up just after WW2 but can't remember the dates on the orders.

Edited By Dave Wootton on 06/06/2022 17:29:58

john halfpenny06/06/2022 17:49:52
253 forum posts
24 photos

I think Coventry is right. Mine is on my flogging/bashing bench, and has proved unbreakable under very considerable force.

Rockingdodge06/06/2022 17:56:22
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316 forum posts
72 photos

Hi Dave, you're right, Coventry it is.

fortis no 10 other side.jpg

If I can't find the correct colour I might go with what I've got - Denham grey or Record blue devil

ega06/06/2022 18:54:48
2567 forum posts
203 photos
Posted by Dave Wootton on 06/06/2022 17:26:22:

...the firm was almost obsessive with the care of tools and machinery...

Reminds me that Ettore Bugatti was said to be of the same mind and would sack workers whose vices showed the marks of careless work.

SillyOldDuffer06/06/2022 19:00:47
Moderator
8898 forum posts
1998 photos

Graces Guide shows a Fortis Tool catalogue dated 1950, so this vice being marked Fortis Engineering suggests it was made by the precursor company before then, my guess is WW2 or earlier. It's not very early, because it's steel, not iron.

Before WW2 machines were mostly painted black, so the vice may be close to original already.

Early manufacturers favoured black because it didn't show the dirt thus saving a few bob in cleaning costs. Cleanliness became ever more important as manufacturing techniques improved and at about the same time bright colours and well lit comfortable factories were found to increase productivity. Colours started black, then grey became popular, later green and yellow, with a scattering of blues and a few isolated reds. I believe Green and Yellow is least tiring under fluorescent lights. Modern power tools come in glorious technicolour, partly because it looks good, and partly because it makes them easier to find.

Dave

Rockingdodge06/06/2022 19:45:54
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316 forum posts
72 photos

Finding it difficult to get the history of the company but found this narrative on the VICES of Garage journal:-

Then there's these Fortis ones, which as far as I can see are the same as some of the Record vice's
Take a look, I don't know which came first or if during the second world war there were designs licensed for use by other companies?
I know that Coventry (the manufacturing base for Alfred Herbert/Ajax/Fortis) was extensively bombed during the second world war which might have caused their designs to be used in Sheffield. Or maybe Record used the designs as an influence for their own, that wouldn't be the first time either.Found thise on Graces Guide.

im081230-fortis.jpg

im1951benn-fortis.jpg

im1964buck-fortis.jpg

Fortis Engineering Co

of Norfolk Street, Coventry, and of 91 Station Street, Birmingham

Manufacturers of engineers vices.

Established 1900.

Seems to have kept going on into the 1960's

Howard Lewis07/06/2022 09:29:44
6311 forum posts
15 photos

Years ago, I had a Fortis Vice. It was donated to the the club.

From memory, it was painted a dark green, (Napier Green? )

Howard

Nigel Graham 207/06/2022 09:50:51
2287 forum posts
33 photos

What you might try is finding an obscure corner in which traces of the original paint hide. Clean it carefully with a plastic scourer and spot of meths or white-spirit and see what happens.

Failing that no-one's going to object to mid-grey or something near "Record Blue".

My old, American-made vice is of similar blue. My Denbigh H4 milling-machine seems originally to have been grey, under a tidying-up shade of light-green I'd given it, and that is what I re-painted it, a bit lighter than Myford Grey. (Just ordinary household gloss.) Drummond lathes were originally maroon, but that was probably unusual. .

I rescued one of those little Record drill-vices from its use in a grit-blaster (sacrilege) - so clean but no paint left. I repaired the broken keep under the moving jaw, and repainted it with primer and something near Record Blue by memory, in spray cans from Halford. It has rewarded me with good and faithful service since!

Working for a Govt. Dept. I noticed the small, clamp-on type Record Vices in our labs were all bright red. By special order perhaps?

Rockingdodge07/06/2022 11:13:09
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316 forum posts
72 photos

More photos of my vice:-

img_20220607_092514.jpg

img_20220607_092505.jpg

img_20220607_092419.jpg

The removable jaws are seized up and have been dosed with penetrating oil in an effort to remove them, watch this space laugh

peak407/06/2022 13:40:00
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1786 forum posts
193 photos

Here you go, from the 1923 Buck and Hickman catalogue, but isn't featured in my next one of 1963

fortis bandh 1924.jpg

No mention of colour though

Bill

ega07/06/2022 14:25:11
2567 forum posts
203 photos

There are three Fortis vices shown in the 1964 B&H catalogue - the two shown by Rockingdodge and one other; I tried to post the third but couldn't get it the right way up!

As you say, no mention of colour in the monochrome catalogue.

Edited By ega on 07/06/2022 14:25:56

peak407/06/2022 15:39:40
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1786 forum posts
193 photos
Posted by ega on 07/06/2022 14:25:11:

There are three Fortis vices shown in the 1964 B&H catalogue - the two shown by Rockingdodge and one other; I tried to post the third but couldn't get it the right way up!

As you say, no mention of colour in the monochrome catalogue.

Edited By ega on 07/06/2022 14:25:56

Well spotted, I really must drink more coffee before posting.

fortis bandh 1964.jpg

Bill

Nigel Graham 207/06/2022 22:44:30
2287 forum posts
33 photos

It looks as if it was originally grey; but provided you treat it to something in the right spirit I doubt anyone will complain. Returning it to respectable appearance and mechanical condition is what really matters.

My present vice is a very old, American-made Parker; under the bench is a spare Paramo needing a new jaw. Both are mid-blue, similar to Record. So you won't go far wrong with mid-blue!

I like that juxtaposition of enormous great vices and delicate horological lathe.

Jon Lawes08/06/2022 17:08:17
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993 forum posts

My previous post I think got lost. I was pointing out that wartime equipment was often unpainted or blackened to save paint for the war effort.

Rockingdodge08/06/2022 17:58:20
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316 forum posts
72 photos
Posted by Jon Lawes on 08/06/2022 17:08:17:

My previous post I think got lost. I was pointing out that wartime equipment was often unpainted or blackened to save paint for the war effort.

I think you could be right as there seems to be no sign of paint but it's not that rusty, what I thought was heavy corrosion could well be an as cast finish!

AJAX08/06/2022 19:38:29
395 forum posts
42 photos
Posted by Rockingdodge on 08/06/2022 17:58:20:
Posted by Jon Lawes on 08/06/2022 17:08:17:

My previous post I think got lost. I was pointing out that wartime equipment was often unpainted or blackened to save paint for the war effort.

I think you could be right as there seems to be no sign of paint but it's not that rusty, what I thought was heavy corrosion could well be an as cast finish!

I'm another owner of a Fortis Steel vice (pictures coming soon...) and although I cleaned it up a while back I don't recall there being any paint to remove. And mine is "Ministry of Supply - Property of HM Government" if that helps indicate the age.

AJAX08/06/2022 19:39:06
395 forum posts
42 photos
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