Lock washers for Kelsey 5x8 - Backup Method

Over my past 3 restorations of Kelsey 5x8 presses, I’ve had the most difficult time replacing the lock washers used to hold the metal parts on the press. The don’t seem to be available anywhere, they are often missing, they break easily, and replacements seem to hurt the authentic look of the restorations. After ordering 20 different lock washers online, and trying everything I could find at Home Depot and Loews, I’ve come up with a pretty good solution, so I figured I’d post it here - anyone more adept at machining parts feel free and post additional solutions and make any recommendations. These instructions are not for beginners, and should be followed at your own risk if at all! ;)

1) From BoltDepot.com (not an endorsement), I’ve found that the following washers work best: [Product #3019, Lock washers internal tooth, Zinc plated steel, 7/16]. I would imagine that this size washer purchased from any supplier would work, although I’ve tried both stainless steel and chrome 7/16’s and they just don’t look right so I think the material is important. 3/8, 1/2, and other sizes also don’t work so be careful while ordering.

2) The internal teeth are somewhat bent, so to flatten them I hold the washer with a needlenose pliers under a flame until red, then use a hammer and brick (I don’t have an anvil!) to flatten the washer. Obviously, eye protection and heat safe gloves are required. The washer is obviously VERY hot and there is a fire risk. I’m still looking for a stronger brick as it sometimes chips. As an added bonus, the heat treatment also makes the washer much more bendable after cooling, although I don’t know enough about metal to know why this is the case.

3) Once the washer has cooled, using the needle nose pliers it is possible to bend the washer into a slightly convex shape, moving from tooth to tooth concentricly around the washer. It takes a good 5-10 minutes to get it right, but if you try putting the washer around the 1/2 inch round steel bars used in the 5x8 press, you’ll find that it ALMOST fits.

4) The final step (and I’d recommend drilling a 1/2 diameter hole in a pine 2x4 for this instead of using the press itself as cast iron is prone to shattering), is to rest the washer on top of the hole, center the steel bar from the press over the washer, and tap it with a hammer until the washer bends to fit onto the bar. It seems to keep a very strong hold on the bar, but is removable with gentle twisting just like the original washers.

I’d love to hear about anyone else’s solutions - but I thought this might help. I’ll post some photos in the next few days. The look does not 100% match the original washers (more teeth per washer), but so far it’s the only thing I’ve come up with and it really doesn’t look that bad once painted.

Log in to reply   1 reply so far

You’ve approached a difficult problem with ingenuity and are to be congratulated for that. The softness of the washer after heating is result of being annealed. To re-harden the washer following manipulations, simply re-heat to cherry-red, then plunge it into a brine of cold water and ordinary table salt. For your purpose that will suit. If not re-hardened, the washer will quickly lose its grip as it’s the tension of the teeth that provides holding strength. The availability of the original washer though, is easily had at a jobber automotive shop or an electric motor shop.