Randy's Colorado Vintage Miner's Pick Refurb -- Dec 2016

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Randy's Colorado Vintage Miner's Pick Refurb -- Dec 2016

Post by Admin on Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:47 am

Hey Gold Adventurers...

I wanted to share a little wintertime indoors prospecting project with you.    It's the refurbishment of a probably 100+ year old miner's pick head...

While walking the local Buena Vista shops with my wife recently, I found this old miner's pick head in an antique store.  18 inches tip to tip and has a No. 5 stamped into it.  Weighs a little less than 5 lbs.

The tag said it was found near a mine in St. Elmo, Colorado.  That's a local gold mining ghost town.

Well, despite the rust pitting, this forged steel head is as solid as can be and looks to have never been used, or much, judging from the points on both ends.

So, my plan was to get a nice hickory handle for it, restore it a little and use it for my own mining!  A few pics before starting my project:

It was real hard to find a suitable replacement handle, as the old time Adze size eye is smaller and thinner than all the modern day replacement pick/maul handles.  I finally found one I thought I could eventually work down, with a LOT of effort.

So, I set to work...  I made a little progress on the 5-lb vintage pick/handle challenge the first day.   The "challenge" is that eye in the head isn't "standard" to anything made anymore.  Go figure, for something maybe 100 years old.  So, no available pick handles to just "slip in" and go...

It's 1 inch at the bottom of the eye and 1 1/4 inches at the top of the eye.  Angled.  That tells me the handle needs to slip into the head from the top of the eye and "wedge" in tight.

So, I pulled out my big 12 inch HFT wood planer and ran the handle thru...........over and over and over......and over..........eventually getting most the hickory handle down to 1 inch, tapering wider at the head end.  

Then, I used my hand plane and belt sander with 30-grit belt to slowly (and I mean it was slow going) custom fit the head the rest of the way up the handle.  Before I permanently mount the head I grind, sand and clean it up some.   A few more pics to showing my slow progress:

Finally, I spent a couple hours yesterday and a couple hours today outside in basically 32F weather finishing off my "restoration" of that vintage IRON CITY iron works miner's pick from St. Elmo.

I planed, filed, sanded and belt sanded and fit the head all the way to the end of that 36 inch hickory pick handle I got at Tractor Supply.  Then, I black SVT siliconed it inside the head and compression seated the head on the handle.  Seems like a real snug fit.

Then, I stained the hickory handle a little to bring out the grain/character and make it look a little "old'...

I lightly ground some the exterior rust off the head and wire brushed it to highlight the pitting, the 5 lb mark and the cool IRON CITY maker's mark...............a Star of David (6 pointed star) trade mark on it...

The handle is long and kinda flat at 1 inch thick, to slide down the eye, but it feels real nice in my hands.

Tomorrow I'll drill a hole in the handle at the very bottom of the head and run thru a pin and peen the end to hold the head on from the bottom too.

This baby is cool...  Feels great to swing and hold.  Maybe never dug much hard rock gold up in St. Elmo, but I'll put it to work here come next Spring.  Wish it could talk!!!

FYI..........the old IRON CITY iron works was in Pennsylvania, started in 1862 by Germans, probably Jews and ran thru the 1950s.  They made picks, hammers, chisels, vises, most anything blacksmith and for industrial/hard work back in the day.  http://trowelcollector.blogspot.com/2015/11/history-of-iron-city-tool-works.html

St. Elmo started in 1880 and died out in the early 1920s, so again, it's probably 100 yrs old plus.

FWIW, I found an old IRON CITY 1891 catalog and you could get a dozen 5-lb pick heads for only $11.00.  A dozen!  By 1937 that same dozen cost only $13.50.  By 1953 a dozen was up to $43.52.   Inflation...   Ha.

That forged steel head is still solid, gives of a cool high pitch "ring" when you rap it with a hammer.

Anyways, a fun High Kolorado winter project complete.  Final pics here:

Come on Spring 2017!  Can't wait to get "O'l Reliable" out and dig me some gold...  My younger brother named it "O'l Reliable".  I hope so...

UPDATE: Well...........my son Christian came home from college for Christmas/New Year's break and decided he needed to scroll "Old Reliable" on the solid hickory handle In his best calligraphy, so he did... He penciled it out first than came back and filled it in with a new black Sharpie marker. Came out exceedingly nice! Wink Thanks Christian! Very Happy Now she's got a name and a higher calling....to dig me some gold come Spring. Can't wait!

Randy  C-17A     Smile

Posts : 624
Join date : 2015-11-29
Age : 59
Location : Buena Vista, Colorado

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