Refurbishment of a Stanley No.104 Liberty Bell (part 1)

A while back I bought a Stanley No.104, a metallic smoothing plane of “Liberty Bell” fame. Truth be told, it was only the body and handle being sold “for parts” – for $11. From looking at Robert Ziegler’s Stanley “Liberty Bell” Planes Type Study, it appears to be Type 1 or Type 2, manufactured anytime from 1876 to 1904. The trick is that the type study realize in part on the lever cap, and as it is missing a more conclusive determination cannot be made.


The “original” No.104

Recently I bought a”donor” No.104, in less than good condition for $70 – but it should provide the parts needed to refurbish the original No. 104. I had sourced the parts on another site, but the lever cap alone was selling for $90. This plane will provide the missing front knob, lever cap, and blade assembly. The base is in much worse condition than the one I already have, so I may clean it up and post it for sale (at a reasonable price). The rear handle is broken in one place, and the horn is missing, so it’s more likely than not a throw-away. Referring to the type study, the lever cap has a shallow elongated hex shape between ribs, making it a Type 3 (1905-1909).



The “donor” No.104

The “Liberty Bell” planes were introduced in 1876 as five wooden models (122, 127, 129, 132, and 135), and two metal models (104, 105) – and produced until 1918. The “Liberty Bell” planes have a “76” and bell cast into the lever cap – made to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ringing of the Liberty Bell in 1776. Both the Liberty Bell No.104, (Fig.1b) and No.105, were designed by Henry Richards and Justus Traut (Patent #: 176,152/RE7,565) and have a pressed metal sole (Fig.1d) – advertised in the early Stanley catalogs as “wrought steel stock”. The plane body is made of 1/16″ steel, bent up to form the side walls.


The “76” on the Liberty Bell lever cap

Removing the parts from the donor plane, and fitting them on the original gives a hybrid plane – a Type 2/3. So what needs to be done? The Japanning on the plane is in reasonable shape, and there is only trace rust on the sole of the plane. In fact the sole is in extremely good condition. Both the lever cap and blade assembly have a light coating of rust. The rear handle needs to be repaired at the base, where there is a small crack. Both handle and front knob need to be refinished.


The “hybrid” No.104

Refurbishment task-list:

  1. Disassemble the plane.
  2. Clean the plane body, and lap the sole.
  3. De-rust the lever-cap and blade assembly.
  4. Sharpen and polish the blade and cap-iron.
  5. Re-finish the front knob.
  6. Repair and refinish the handle.



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