Propane Powered Leg Vise (PPLV), A New-Product Review

Last updated: March 28, 2010

Pete at the anvil (62K)

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Imagine my surprise when I saw an ad for the PPLV in a popular Farrier’s newsletter recently!
I contacted the manufactures for information and the marketing department immediately invited me to their Kansas City research facility to see the machine being put through its paces. Here are my observations. They would not let me take any pictures, so I will do my best here to tell you what I saw.

Here is a brand new design for the Leg or Post Vise familiar to all blacksmiths and farriers. The key feature is that this leg vise uses propane to power the clamping action!
It looks a lot like the traditional post vise, having 6” wide jaws and standing about 42” high overall. The jaws open to a full 4”. It is heavier than normal in cross-section in the leg area, as will be explained later. The model I saw weighed in at 92 pounds, but comes with a 2 piece stand whose parts weigh another 172 pounds.

-Farriers can now use the same power source for their vise that they use for their portable gas forge.

-Saves time and energy because clamping requires only light foot pressure on the rocker-type foot control.

-Not only does the propane provide the clamping energy source, but there’s an option to heat work that is clamped in it. You can heat the work by heating through conduction from the jaws or you can engage the adjustable gas jets to provide 2400 degree flames up to one inch above the jaw surface.

Has three methods for Clamping:
-High-Force (HF) Clamping mode: Uses a small, safe, controlled explosion to close and latch the jaws. They said that the explosive clamp system is equal in power to applying a 150 pound weight to the end of the 24" long clamp handle in “normal” mode. In “high pressure” mode, however, it will latch with the power of 450 pounds on the end of that same handle!

-Low Force (LF) Clamping mode: Valves the gas pressure directly into a modified air cylinder to gently lock the jaws. You have complete control over which force and how much of it to use for a specific application. The range of clamping pressure from this clamping method is from 11 pounds on the end of the 24” handle to 74 pounds. A fun feature of this clamping method is the dragon-mouth shaped base mounting flange contains a little gas jet and piezo electric ignitor that breathes a little shot of flame harmlessly out of the way when the cylinder relaxes.

-The vise still has the traditional clamp screw so the vise can be used in the traditional way if you run out of gas or batteries.

-It is portable by taking it off the 2-part stand whose base and riser components weigh about 86 pounds each, or the vise can be bolted to a 36” high bench (or to the tailgate of a pickup truck of that height).

-Can use either a regular 20 or 40 pound propane cylinder (with a “Y” adapter from your forge if needed), but has an option to use a 1 pound propane cylinder such as the ones used in the popular Burnzomatic type torch. This extra-cost option includes fittings to mount the canister right into the back side of the leg.

-Ignition and control power comes from 4 C-cells that are mounted inside the base. These same batteries can also be used to run an optional pyrometer.

-Although only one 6 inch wide jaw-leg-vise model is available currently from the manufacturer, they are contemplating a bench model once they get on their feet financially. This model would use the same butane cylinder that fits in some nail guns.

This revolutionary new blacksmith/farrier tool will soon be available, rumor has it, from the same Last Chance Manufacturing Company that produced the “Hop Rod”gasoline powered pogo stick back in the 1960’s. It has not been priced yet, but they hinted that it will be in the $1100 dollar range for the base model. They are looking for non-flammable shops to test it in the field. I can’t wait to get mine!