I added another plane to my collection this week.. a Marples No.2690 smoothing plane. These came out in the 1950's, and from what I've read they weren't on the market for very long, production stopped in the early 60's, when the company merged with Record/Ridgway. The body and handle is made from Beech, but unlike the traditional wooden planes which are adjusted with hammer, these are fitted with a metal, Stanley style adjuster. The easier blade adjustment, light weight and no doubt the lower price compared to a metal bodied plane, made them a popular choice for schools and colleges.
The condition was fairly good for it's age, it was mainly the metal parts that needed attention, particularly the blade, which had some surface rust and pitting.
Stripping the plane is about as simple as it gets, there's just two screws which hold the frog assembly to the body.
I start by attaching a bolt through the middle of the brass adjuster wheel, allowing it to be clamped in the drill chuck and cleaned with a piece of Scotchbrite, followed by some metal polish. The blade, chip breaker and frog are cleaned with some maintenance spray and left to soak for a little while, to help loosen any corrosion.
Most of the rust was removed with some Scotchbrite and some elbow grease, just a bit more work was needed at the top of the blade. Going by the other pictures I've seen, I believe that the top half of the blades were painted black when manufactured, to prevent rust. Some of this black paint, along with some small stubborn rust scabs still remained after scrubbing by hand, so I clamped it to a piece of MDF and used a small flap wheel in a drill to finish the job.
The sole was in reasonably good condition, no less flat than your typical second hand, metal bodied Stanley or Record plane. The original finish was still intact, so the sole had obviously never been flattened, in fact judging by the lack of wear, I don't think this plane has seen a lot of use at all.
To flatten the sole, I clamp the plane (with the blade fully retracted) in my vice and use a low angle block to plane it flat. With less than two minutes work, the sole was perfectly flat... I wish flattening metal planes was this easy! I finish by relieving the edges slightly with the block plane and sandpaper. After I've given it a test drive, I'll apply a coat of oil to add some protection/lubrication to the sole.
After the blade had been hollow ground and sharpened, it was time to make some shavings. It passed the test with flying colours.. with minimum adjustments it was slicing off thin, wispy shavings with ease. The handle is quite small but it fits my hand well, and the light weight of the plane makes it extremely comfortable to use... I'll definitely be putting this one to good use.