Sunday, March 30, 2014



(This series of posts highlights the various HMH vises models since their entry into the marketplace in 1975.  The intent here is to enable those with older HMH vises to be able to name the model and otherwise get an idea as to its relative age.  This is especially useful in the event that you, as a vise owner, needs some repair, refurbishing, or you are interested in upgrades, new jaws, etc.)

In 1981, API (Angling Products Inc.) drew up the plans for a new version of the HMH.  It was a scaled down model of the HMH Standard in every way, meaning that they scaled down each individual part of the Standard to create a vise that was essentially a 2/3 replica of the Standard.  This vise they named the Spartan, or the "Mini Vise". 

Other than the obvious size difference, a key difference between that Spartan model, which was built from ca. 1981/1982 thru about the year 2000, and the early Standard vise models was the one-piece jaw on the Spartan vise.  The Standard vise models have always had the interchangeable jaw system (except for the HMH II, right?).

In addition to the one-piece jaw, the features of this vise that also are diagnostic include a 5/16" diameter standrod, and a down-sized cast iron base.  The Spartan cast iron base, however had a flat surface the length of the base.  The Standard cast iron base had a flat surface supporting the spindle, but the top surface then sloped all the way to the front of the base.

Two jaw styles were available for the Spartan Mini vise, the Universal, and the Restricted Use jaw.  The universal jaw, was bull-nosed and did an excellent job holding even the largest hooks.

The Restricted Use jaw (not pictured) is easy to recognize because it looks a lot like the modern Micro Jaw with a long, needle-nose profile.

So, before you call us up with questions about your "Spartan", first ask yourself:  is the Standrod of my Spartan a 5/16" diameter rod?  Is the jaw a one-piece jaw that I can only remove by removing the cam pin and the cam lever, then pulling the jaw from the collet?  Does the collet (the main 'tube' of the vise) have two bands of knurling at the front end?  If the answer to all these questions is yes, then you have the API Spartan Mini vise model.  We'll need to know that to be able to help you out with your questions about your vise.

Now, what are the key differences between the API Spartan Mini vise the the modern (since 2000) HMH Spartan vise?  Read on.

In 2000, we re-designed the Spartan vise back 'up' to a more standard size.  The primary objectives for doing so were to bring the standrod up to the industry standard of 3/8" diameter so accessories would fit on the spartan;  to enable the Spartan vise to benefit from the interchangeable jaw system;, and to enable the Spartan vise to benefit from the better, re-designed chassis.  What this meant, though, was that virtually none of the parts from the API model Spartan could be used on the new HMH model Spartan.  

C'est la vie.

API Spartan on the left.                    …and…..        HMH Spartan on the right.

API Spartan has smaller diameter standrod;  cast iron base;  double knurl bands on collet; and one piece jaw (see below).  Modern Spartan has 3/8" diameter standrod; heavier and larger-foot-print plate steel base;  no knurling on collet;  interchangeable jaw system.

The image above shows the guts of the cam lever / jaw assembly on the API Spartan vise (top) and the HMH Spartan (bottom).  HMH assembly is longer overall.  And HMH jaw and drawbar are 5/16" diameter whereas the API Spartan jaw shank is 1/4" diameter.

So, that's about it.  But having said all this, I will note here that it is not impossible to build a Spartan Mini Vise (although any of these built today would be C-Clamp versions only).  Many of the original Spartan Mini vises are still in operation today.  I mentioned in an earlier post that Sylvester Nemes, in particular, tied on one of the little Spartan Mini vises.  It is a sweet little tool that ties the little stuff and the big stuff with ease.  

Let's see how well you pay attention -- for those of you who are interested, give me a call and we can talk about whether the Spartan Mini is right for your vest pocket…

Get a Grip.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Two Dollar Bill Flies

I don't mean flies that cost $2.  I mean flies that are worth $2.

As in a two dollar bill.

Whenever i think about it, I ask for dollar coins.  I like to have them.  They feel good (i.e. hefty) in my pocket, but they don't stay there long.  Mostly I keep them in the car and use them for tolls.  I'm still resisting the modern age and haven't bought one of those ez passes like other drivers who whip through the toll booth.  That's fine with me; i'd just as soon have all those people who are in a hurry ahead of me and let me poke along and do my roadside birding thing, or otherwise think about flies i need to tie.  

Last time I was in the bank I asked for dollar coins.  The teller evidently figured that anyone who would want a dollar coin might also be strange enough to want a two dollar bill.  She said she had one and would I want that, too.  


So i've had it around for awhile, and one day it occurred to me that a two dollar bill is a lot like many of the flies we drag around with us.  They're tucked away in old fly boxes we hardly open.  Some of these flies relegated to non-use are maybe not such successful ties ("…hey, nice.  That'll fish!" your tying friends say), but many are perfectly good ties. Together, though, they are a collection of patterns that you simply don't use.  But they're perfectly good, and in fact, they will "fish good", and they'll catch fish.  

So, I am committed to spending my two dollar bill (although i might keep it around long enough to use it for something special -- the first ice cream cone of the season).  And I'm committed to using some of those perfectly good two dollar bill flies in my fly boxes.

By the way, I like Andy Jackson's expression on that bill - sort of a non-plussed "…Hmmm.  What was I thinking when I tied that?" expression.

Get a grip.



(This series of posts highlights the various HMH vises models since their entry into the marketplace in 1975.  The intent here is to enable those with older HMH vises to be able to name the model and otherwise get an idea as to its relative age.  This is especially useful in the event that you, as a vise owner, needs some repair, refurbishing, or you are interested in upgrades, new jaws, etc.)

Bill Hunter named the first HMH vise the 'Model Standard' (see last post).  This name stuck, but the conformation of the vise changed somewhat over time.

HMH vises began being built by a company called "Angling Products, Inc", or API, in 1981.  So, beginning in 1981, the Standard looked like this

 The HMH Standard ca. 1981 thru 1999.
Vise head rotated to show set screw that engages drawbar.
Shown with original, long style magnum jaw.

The API Standard had an adjustable head angle employing what we now call the 'two screw' chassis.  And the cam lever was imprinted with 'API'.  The Standard was typically shipped with a brass base. 

(I may have been in error in posting the image of the Original Model Standard vise in a black cast iron base.  It is very possible that those original vises were shipped with a brass base.)  Regardless, the "Standard" vise as built and shipped by API had the adjustable head angle chassis, a brass base, and two jaws, the original style Magnum (seen here) and the 'Midge'.  The midge jaw (not pictured) was intermediate between the current Omni jaw and Micro jaw.

By the way, a word about this particular brass base.  This brass base belonged to Dick Talleur for many years.  He sent it to me probably ten years ago explaining that he had more bases than he needed and he thought I might like to have this one.  Indeed.  In addition to the obvious importance of having been owned by Dick, this base is one of the very first HMH brass bases made.  In 1981, API re-drew virtually every part for the Standard, including the brass and cast iron base molds.  The dimensions on Dick's base above are a little different than the brass base marketed since 1981.  

By way of comparing and contrasting, look at this image taken from a 1994 catalog.  This is how the 'Standard' looked from about 1981 up until the year 2000.


API introduced a second full size HMH vise model, which they called the "HMH II".  

The HMH II differed from the Standard model in two ways.  First, the vise was shipped with the black cast iron pedestal base.  More importantly, the vise employed a one-piece jaw instead of using the screw-in/screw-out interchangeable jaw/drawbar system that was the hallmark of the HMH vise (remember - 'Hunter's Multiple Head'?).

The HMH II was in production from the mid-1980's until the mid-1990's.  If you own a black-base HMH Standard vise with 'API' on the cam lever, and you want to acquire a new set of jaws, you should determine if your vise has screw-in/screw-out jaws or whether it has these one-piece jaws.  

Next:  The Spartan "Mini" vise…

Get a grip.