Replace A Missing Clamp Pad

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I was recently gifted with some old bar clamps from another member who belongs to our local FreeCycle group. is an Internet-based group that promotes free exchange of items and supplies among its members. Anyone can join the site and post ads “I want to give for free” or “Seeking ..” ads. Over the years I have donated many items that I no longer need, and at times, have collected unwanted tools and hardware that the owners wanted to leave with. This free market is a great infrastructure that reduces waste and prevents many large used (or even new) items from ending up in the landfill.

Unfortunately, two of the clamps I was given were padless. This is a common “feature” with older terminals that I am sure many of you will have noticed. By the way, even new clamps can lose their caps over time and their owners are left out with a terrible situation. Fortunately, there is a solution. McMaster-Carr (look for C-clamp swivel bearings) is a fantastic hardware and tools distributor that has replacement bearings for your crippled clamps. To find out which pad to buy you will need to determine what the diameter of the ball is at the end of the screw. Use a caliper and measure the diameter of the ball, then look for a matching pad that can accommodate that ball.

The new pads (the old design I bought earlier is no longer in production) are made from stainless steel and incorporate a retaining ring that allows them to hug the ball and prevent it from falling out of the housing.

Once I got the bearings, I greased the ball and pressed the bearing onto it by turning the screw and advancing the ball against the movable jaw. The new pad is very solid and will last for many years to come.

These cheap pads can rehabilitate your decommissioned pad-less clamp, so instead of collecting the twilight in that abandoned bin of broken tools they can rejoin your fleet of clamps once again.

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