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Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

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  • Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

    I just got a Stanley #5 type 9 that's in really great, lightly used condition but find that the lever cap rides back with the cap iron whenever I make a blade adjustment. My other planes have the kidney bean shaped holes, and google tells me that this was done to fix the problem I'm experiencing. On the other hand, I can't believe that this is normal. I've tried polishing the underside of the cap, to see if it's a problem of friction but no improvement.

    The one problem I think I can see is that the narrow part of the "keyhole" seems to have been manufactured a tad too wide, and there's very little purchase under the head of the cap screw. I tried a washer but that doesn't help. Replacements are available on eBay but the seller seems to be padding his prices with high shipping costs.

    So, (finally) I'm wondering if it would make sense to weld a bead along the inside edges of the keyhole. I was also thinking that a couple of tiny nubs on top would definitely keep the screw head up in the narrow part where it belongs. Does this sound crazy?
    Last edited by bonobothegreat; 05-25-2012, 10:16 AM. Reason: Grammer

  • #2

    Re: Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

    Re: Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

    You say that the cap iron is moving with the lever cap? Try putting the lcap iron in a vice and tapping it to increase the bend thereby exerting more pressure on the blade and tighten the large screw joining them.Then examine the lever cap screw it may have been replaced.Temporily you could use a thin washer under it.My suspicion is some bumblefist overtightend the iron and lever cap screws and flattened the cap iron.The last thing I would do is weld.Firstly it renders the plane worthless though they are very common and cheap .Lastly you can diagnose the problem without touching a mig and the lever cap is cast anyway.

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    • #3

      Re: Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

      Re: Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

      Thanks Jay.

      Just to clarify, when I back the blade off any amount, the chip breaker (cap iron) carries the lever cap with it, backing it off the lever cap screw. It also tends to back off as I plane unless I screw it down hard after it's set up.

      I'm not sure changing cap iron bend would help (since it seems to have the same bend as in all my other planes). The lever cap spring is in good shape too. The screw looks to be the same design as my newer planes, except it's just a slightly smaller diameter and thread, so I can't swap them around to experiment.

      The washer trick didn't work but maybe I can find something more ring shaped, like a lock washer, then file it so that it's bevelled and jams into the keyhole a bit.

      The plane only cost $20 because the handle had been repaired at some point, so I'm only interested in it's value as a solid user plane.

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      • #4

        Re: Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

        Re: Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

        Originally posted by bonobothegreat View Post
        Thanks Jay.

        Just to clarify, when I back the blade off any amount, the chip breaker (cap iron) carries the lever cap with it, backing it off the lever cap screw. It also tends to back off as I plane unless I screw it down hard after it's set up.

        I'm not sure changing cap iron bend would help (since it seems to have the same bend as in all my other planes). The lever cap spring is in good shape too. The screw looks to be the same design as my newer planes, except it's just a slightly smaller diameter and thread, so I can't swap them around to experiment.

        The washer trick didn't work but maybe I can find something more ring shaped, like a lock washer, then file it so that it's bevelled and jams into the keyhole a bit.

        The plane only cost $20 because the handle had been repaired at some point, so I'm only interested in it's value as a solid user plane.
        One more thing, is the blade vibrating, chattering, because the frog is loose or too far back?If so the blade will not be supported fully and will chatter.At this point forget about how fine you want the mouth and lets try to get it to work.I assume that you can shave your arm with the cutter .The cap is 1/16" behind the edge and the frog will be virtually a continuation of the plane of the back edge of the mouth with the frog screws tight but not brutally so.The adjuster for the frog could aso be screwed in to take up any backlash (if type 9 has one). Make sure that the iron is set barely above the sole to start with

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        • #5

          Re: Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

          Re: Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

          All great points Jay.

          I've been tweaking it since I got it and feel very happy with it apart from the way the lever cap screw can't seem to hold the lever cap in place. I was hoping that I could somehow narrow the keyhole slot with a little welding but googling around seems to warn that welding a small cast iron object like a lever cap is likely to introduce stresses that could cause it to crack.

          Maybe I'll try to fab a replacement lever cap screw with a bigger head? I have a tap and die set that I picked up on sale at Canadian Tire a few years back, so this could be it's chance to shine.

          Thanks for taking the time to respond.

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          • #6

            Re: Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

            Re: Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

            I have a Type 11 Stanley with the same lever cap style and it isn't too bad for slipping out unless I'm taking a very thick cut and hit a knot or something harder (a dumb thing for me to do anyway). Mine doesn't seem to have an overly large upper slot on the lever cap. Your idea of making a screw with a bigger head seems good, but Stanley used an odd #12-20 thread, which I can assure you is not in your tap and die set. There are some sellers (Nick Obermire for one) who have the dies up for sale occasionally. A local machinist could make you one (likely to be pricey though). What about trying one of those countersunk finishing washers first? That could be a "cheapo" solution.

            If you want, you could get in touch with Pete Niederberger in Larkspur, California. He is one of the better sources for Stanley parts that I'm aware of. Try sending him an email (PNiederber@aol.com) if you want to check out a lever cap with a narrower upper slot, or a replacement lever cap screw. I'm certain that he will have both.

            Good luck with this.
            Bob

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            • #7

              Re: Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

              Re: Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

              Thanks for the great leads Bob and your info about the screw thread count has saved me considerable frustration and googling time.

              It sounds your talking about one of those grommet type washers that they use when putting kitchen cabinets together. If so, I've got some of those somewhere. If that proves too flimsy, I'll be heading out to the garage to root through the bins of odd and ends that I inherited from my dad. Hopefully there's some kind of useful washer lurking in there.
              Last edited by bonobothegreat; 05-27-2012, 12:05 PM.

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              • #8

                Re: Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

                Re: Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

                Maybe we're talking the same thing, but I suspect that "grommet" means something different to me. I found a photo of finishing washers at this site: http://www.lowes.com/pd_591-37672-49...ductId=3036235 I think this style might work because it will fit under the screw head better than a standard washer (which might lift the screw up too far to reach its threaded hole).

                Keep us posted
                Bob

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                • #9

                  Re: Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

                  Re: Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

                  Yes, I was thinking of the same type of washer. I finally had a minute this morning to hunt around the pile of junk in my garage and came up empty handed.

                  However,.... I decided to take a closer look at the cap iron as Jay suggested and noticed that it was very slightly more "humped" than my others. I put it in a metal vice and straightened it out a bit.....

                  PROBLEM SOLVED! The hump was subtle but just enough to be pushing the lever cap whenever the blade was adjusted back.

                  Thanks to both of you for saving this plane before I went at it with the arc welder.

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                  • #10

                    Re: Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

                    Re: Best way to keep an old Stanley lever cap from backing off?

                    Hey, I'm just glad it worked out with such a simple fix. Enjoy your plane, as you head further down that slippery slope

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