Several months ago, actually August 2009, one of the links on my antique Trenton-Fisher vise finally gave way. I took the chain off and inspected the break. It looked like it might be possible to fabricate another link but it might be tedious and time consuming to get it just right so I decided to look for new chain.
At the local farm and ranch supply store I found out that it was called steel detachable chain, also flat steel chain. It is called agricultural chain too in general, but there at least three subtypes. The store didn’t stock the size I needed and suggested I check with John Deere. The most valuable thing I took away was learning the proper name which I was able to use at John Deere.
I drove directly there and they were able to measure the link, look it up in their parts manual and order it for me. The minimum order was 10’ for $38.53 which included shipping and tax. There was the option for buying the chain link by link but time was going to be the biggest expense in the repair and if another link broke and I had to go through all that again it would really be a false economy.
Time flies. The new chain has been in use for almost two years and works fine. I’ve got enough extra chain to fix it again it if I need to do that. So all’s well that ends well.
Here are some references for anyone interested:
Chart showing how to measure a chain link to get the part number:
Some other chain sources:
6/27/12 Today I came across some more information about the vise in the Summer 2009 issue of Anvil's Ring on pages 39 - 41.