2017 May 21    ToolsMetal & Shop

Introduction


The Yost 480 bench vise is the biggest one in the Apprentice line.  I really wanted to know if it was any good, and there wasn't much I could find about this one.

So I decided to do an in-depth review.

There were a couple things I did not expect.  So let's see what we've got here.






A Quick Note

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In This Article

Some Specs

The Unboxing

An 8" Vise That's Light Duty?

The Anvil

The Reverse Stop Pin

An Idea

A Better Idea

The Handle

Yost 480:  Bad Points

Yost 480:  Good Points

Conclusion




Some Specs



Clamping Force:  probably about 6,000 to 6,500 lbs, routine use.
Clamping Force to Bend Handle:  7,400 lbs.
Enclosed Lead Screw?  YES
Handle Torque, Max. By Hand: 
Handle Torque to Bend: 
Jaw Width:  8 inches
Jaws Open To:  7.5 inches
Made In:  China
Made Of:  Gray Cast Iron
Mounting Hole Size:  1/2"
Pipe Jaws?  Yes (cast)
Price:  Retail $355;  you should be able to get it at a substantial discount here.
Swivel Base?  Yes, 360 degrees
Throat Depth:  4.5 inches
Weight:  about 80 pounds


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The Unboxing


The outer box was in good shape;  the inner box was also intact.  Looked as though I was getting a brand-new vise, because that's what I was supposed to get.

However, there was a problem.



Bent handle!

But wait a minute, the outer and inner boxes were intact.  This was not someone else's return.  It looked as if the vise had been shipped this way from the factory.

Receiving a bent handle could be an isolated thing, but there was something else that wasn't.  We'll get to that soon.



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An 8" Vise That's Light Duty??


At about eighty pounds, the Yost 480 is the heaviest vise in the Apprentice series.  It's also got 8-inch jaws.  So, why do they call this "light duty"?

Mainly it's because grey cast iron does not have the strength of ductile iron or forged steel. 

Also, perhaps the tolerances aren't as close as you'd find on the USA-made vises.  I noticed a small amount of side-to-side wobble when opening and closing the slide.  And for its size, it's still not as massive as it should be;  a good US-built 5-inch vise weighs at least as much as the Yost 480.

The lead screw opens the dynamic jaw by way of a little clip in the front of the dynamic jaw.  This, in turn, is held in place with a small Allen-head screw.  You won't generally see this on more expensive vises.



It seems to work OK;  I have no idea how long it would last with everyday use. 

There is one more thing that makes this vise "light duty", and we'll get to that soon.  But first, the anvil.


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The Anvil


Gray cast iron vises with anvils always make me wonder.  Will it crack?  Will it erode away to useless? 

This vise is massive enough, and the anvil thick enough, that it's probably OK for basic straightening work.  Now, I wouldn't use it to straighten the handle from another 8-inch vise on here, but I'm sure it's OK for thin stock.

I have a 6" Taiwan-made vise from the 70's, which I basically got for scrap.  (Whole 'nother article.)  The cast iron anvil on it is still intact, despite the fact that someone obviously hammered on it for years.  So, I think this one here is going to be useful.


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The Reverse-Stop Pin


On most vises, the main nut fits into a channel that's cast into the vise body.  This is the forward stop. 

A vise needs a reverse stop, too.  This keeps the front jaw from just sitting still when you try to open the vise.

Many imported vises have the reverse stop attached to the main nut.  The stop is either a bolt or a plain steel pin, and it could be cast into the base.  This design puts stresses on the reverse-stop pin when you close the vise, not just when you open it.  It's probably a combination of shear and tensile forces.

The Yost 480 uses a piece of very thin round stock, only 3/16" diameter.  On the vise I received, it was already sheared clean off.  Look near the center of the picture...



There was no other wear on the vise;  everything looked brand-new.  The paint was perfect;  the jaws were perfect.  It still had the factory oil and factory metal chips in the main screw.  From what I can see, someone jumped directly to "monster cheater bar for no reason", then put the vise in a shipping box.  I don't think a customer would do this.  I can't think of anyone who would buy a big, heavy vise, go to the length of bolting it to a bench, then skip directly to an "EOL test". 

Whatever the reason, I received a "weekend project" instead of a ready-to-use vise. 

I wasn't going to box up and return an 80-pound chunk of cast iron.  Besides, I had a review to write.  So I decided to repair it... the way it should have been done from the start.


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An Idea


This was my solution before I realized there's a much easier way.  But someone might find it helpful, so I'll leave it up here.

In the underside of main nut, I located the center of the 3/16" pin that sheared off.  I drilled this out and tapped it for a 3/8" NC bolt.  The pilot hole for a 3/8" NC tap is 5/16" (Bundled set of both, here.)  At first I actually drilled and tapped it for 1/4"-20, then decided to re-do it with 3/8".

Where the 3/16" pin was fixed in the vise base, I drilled that out to a full 3/8" diameter.  That would allow the bolt to "float" there, which would reduce some of the stresses.



Tapping threads for a bolt is SLOW, even in gray cast iron which has its own supply of graphite.  Basically, you rotate clockwise only a couple degrees, then back it out a full turn or so.  Each time, you rotate clockwise a couple more degrees than you did before.  Then, back it out and repeat.  This is Backyard Machining 101.

Don't forget to clean up all the metal chips and turnings.  Times like these, you will really benefit from a parts washer.



Before assembling everything, I put anti-seize on the bolt threads.  The bolt head, with one washer, left about 1/8" of clearance for the swivel-locking mechanism (bowtie-shaped cast iron thing, see photo:)



The advantage to this method:  When you reverse direction of the main screw, the jaw changes direction instantly.  The main nut doesn't have to slide against another stop before the change takes effect.  This gives the vise more of a "precision-machined" overall quality to it.  (On some vises, you have to turn the handle a full turn or more before it reverses.)


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A Better Idea


After all that, I realized there was an easier solution.  There was already a hole in about the center of the vise base.  (Duh.)  It just so happens to be in almost the perfect location for a rear stop bolt!

Say.... was this vise supposed to include a bolt here?  I don't know.  I also don't know if your vise will be exactly the same.  But if so, here's the easy fix:

Get a 5/16" bolt that's two inches long.  Put some anti-seize on the threads, and put the bolt upwards through that hole in the base of the vise.  Using long needle-nose pliers, put a lock washer down over the threaded part, then a nut.  Use a 1/2" open-end wrench to hold it in place so you can tighten the bolt from the underside.



Now the vise has a reverse-stop bolt that won't fatigue. 


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The Handle


That handle still had to be straightened.  A shop press is the most sensible tool here.  (Disclaimer.)  The main screw / spindle assembly sort of gets in the way of the press rails, but I got the handle straight enough that I'm OK with it.

Problem is, I've still got a vise that was heavily stressed at some point.  That said, it looks like they engineered the handle to bend before anything else breaks.  This puts the Yost 480 well ahead of the cheap box-store vises, some of which can't even withstand their own clamping forces. 

Anyway, I fixed the reverse stop-bolt issue, and now the handle is no longer boomerang-shaped.  Since I fixed up this vise, I'm a lot happier with it now.  This was going to stay out in the rain, but now it's kind of too nice for that. 


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Yost 480:  Bad Points


- It's made of gray cast iron.
- As with most Asian-made vises, you might have to clean out metal chips before you can use it.
- The pipe jaws are cast in, not replaceable.
- The spindle retaining clip is not a common part... don't lose it.
- The tolerances are looser than on the USA-made vises.
- The reverse-stop design is inadequate.  Was mine just missing a bolt or something??
- The jaws "T" out a little bit much, typical for imported vises.
- You may have to drill, file, or even machine something before everything works to your liking. 



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Yost 480:  Good Points


- Slide is made of steel, not cast iron.
- It's not terribly underweight for its jaw size, unlike most of its competitors.
- It could be the most massive vise in its price range.
- Love the color.
- The castings, as far as I can see, are of very good quality.
- It's big and heavy enough to offset some of the brittleness of gray cast iron.
- Clamping force is 7,000 pounds or more.
- The machined jaws close almost perfectly.



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Conclusion


The Yost 480 has many good points, to be fair.  The casting quality and strength seem better than the cheap vises you'll find at a home center.  The bent handle actually proves that this vise can exert some serious clamping force.  Many lesser vises would simply have broken.

The Yost 480's main drawback is the reverse-stop pin.  Clearly it's possible to break the pin just by clamping the vise;  this shouldn't be.  I don't know if they're all like this, but I'm going to assume they are.  If the pin breaks, the vise is still usable.  However, you'll have to pull open the dynamic jaw yourself.  That gets old quickly. 

If yours is like this, there are at least two different ways you can fix it.  One of them requires only a 5/16" bolt, nut, and lock washer;  no drilling and tapping needed.

Overall the Yost 480 is very good, except for that one thing.  However, I can confidently say that Yost's US-made vises are worth the extra money. 

Some of them don't even cost much more than a Yost 480.  If you need a swivel base, consider the 865-DI, 880-DI, 45C Tradesman, or a 55C Tradesman.  And if you want the best of all, get yourself a 33C or a 34C

I hope you enjoyed this review.  If it helped you in any way, please help me out by using any of these links to purchase your gear.  It's the only way I can keep this website online and bringing you helpful articles like this one.   Thanks!!



    




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