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 10:48 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


Last edited by Admin on Thu Dec 22, 2016 6:29 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Randy's Colorado Vintage Miner's Pick Refurb -- Dec 2016

Post by russau on Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:36 pm

HUMMM?? I have my dads pick that he got from my grandpa . Ill have to go look at it for any markings. Nice job on the resto-pick head and handle!

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

Post by Admin on Wed Dec 14, 2016 1:39 pm

Russ,

Thanks...

Yes... Go check it out. Folks back in the day had pride...........often stamped their work with a "maker's mark" or trade mark of some sort.

If it's got one, maybe we can ID the maker and era... Wink

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

Post by dickb on Wed Dec 14, 2016 2:09 pm

Cool hard fun making a tool to have more hard fun.

Hope she finds a lot of gold for you.

Nice job by the way.

dickb
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Re: Randy's Colorado Vintage Miner's Pick Refurb -- Dec 2016

Post by Admin on Wed Dec 14, 2016 2:41 pm

Dickb,

Thanks! I finished it today by cross drilling a small hole right below the head, centered on the shaft, and inserted a cross pin and peened both ends to prevent the head from ever trying to slide off.

I doubt that will happen, as the whole head is siliconed onto the handle inside the head. Seems rock solid!

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

Post by russau on Thu Dec 15, 2016 3:12 am

Also that pick would make a nice wall hanger! it has earned its time for rest and admiration ! Arrow

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

Post by Admin on Thu Dec 15, 2016 6:27 am

Russ,

Well...........not a bad idea!  My "Man Cave" walls are stained log, that rusty head and light brow hickory handle WOULD look kinda cool and "Old Timey" and prospecting related for sure here up above my computer desk or over behind the 8 inch wood stove...

However, I at least want to try it out in the hills first, give "Old Reliable" some dirt time and see how she does...  Maybe burnish off a little more rustiness on those 2 pick points, get a few scars on that hickory handle.....before.....I make her a pure decoration.  Wink Wink

We had some church friends over last night for a final 2016 get together.  I smoked chicken legs & thighs & brauts in my smoker.  We sang a few Christmas carols, played a few fun games and before everyone left I showed the guys my pick.  They really liked it, the history of it.  Dave said he actually had several really old pick heads too, that he'd picked up years and years back.  He was motivated to dig them out of his barn, look them over, look for any maker's marks.  MAYBE get a handle or two and get some of his back in the game.  Ha.  We'll see...   Wink

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

Post by russau on Thu Dec 15, 2016 8:54 am

Some years back I wanted a double Buck saw for a wall hanger and my best friends brother had a wall full of them. the biggest was on the bottom and they got smaller the higher up the wall it went. He had about 6 of them. It looked neat and he told me to pick one out for myself. WOW , I was a happy saw owner!! Ive seen collections of hammers displayed that way also. OR a crossed pick and shovel would send a statement also! either way that's a nice pick!

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