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Today I am looking at restoring and reviewing an Australian-made vintage Dawn 150mm cast engineer's bench vice or vise (one of several on eBay AU).
It's a hefty unit - my best guess is that this is a 12012-5 model (Standard pattern), which seems to be the 1970s equivalent of the current 60156 150mm:
It was originally red, as is usually the case for the Dawn semi-steel units. This one has clearly had some additional paint applied over the years.
It weighs in in at 36.0kg.
Here it is next to a 3" Carter:
Cleaning it up and taking off the multiple layers of paint, the casting was pretty consistent - moreso than the older 5SP and 6SP vices I have restored lately:
The jaws are 150mm wide and open to approx. 175mm. The vice is of the usual Dawn construction from the ~70s onwards with a removable main nut and jaws that are affixed to the vice by means of a bolt from the back. There's also a hump at the back of the static jaw right above where the slide moves to prevent or reduce the amount of swarf/chips/etc. getting onto the slide.
Re-done in black because, well, I always wondered what one would look like in black.
Some fingerprints from the grease:
Next to that same 3" Carter:
From the catalogues I can find, Dawn was still selling imperial-unit-badged vices in 1972 but had switched to metric by the 1978 catalogues. That does give us an approximate maximum age for the vice.
It's a touch heavier than the newer 60156 model - that apparently weighs in at 33.4kg. The 150mm Dawns are certainly easier to source replacement jaws for compared to the previous 5SP or 6SP - and when buying used I have yet to see the jaw fasteners totally ruined or seized on a metric-marked Dawn, whereas it seems to be not uncommon on the older ones.
It's a heavy, solid vice in use with a nice, smooth movement after replacing the spring and lubricating the threads. It can handle heavy duty work and clamps very firmly - it's a pleasure to use. In terms of value on the used market they go from anywhere from $free to $200 or so, but keep in mind that a new one of the same size can be bought from Dawn for a touch over $400 so I wouldn't pay too much unless you're specifically seeking an older vice.
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