Vises have their vices as do I. One of my vices is I have too many vises. But I don't have very many genuine speed vises. Being as impatient as the next guy I get pretty frustrated when I am doing a project and I have to fool with a vise with a handle that drops. Now real speed vises are mechanically difficult to replicate with most manufactured vises so I've devised a simple solution that involves wrapping some wire around the handle in a particular way that keeps the handle from falling down and lets me maintain the handle's balance as I turn it in, or out.
This greatly facilitates the speed which I can adjust a vise, and consequently makes me a happy guy. I like this idea so much I've done with all of my regularly used vises in my workshop.
Step 1: Determine Wire Gauge
I base what gauge wire I am going to use on the size of the vise I wish to modify. Usually larger vises have larger, and heavier handles, so I use thicker gauge wires with them. My regular go to wire for large vises is coat hanger wire. But I have a twisty on my Panavise. So I pretty much run the gamut of wire gauge selection with this trick. I always use solid wire to do this. I do not think stranded wire is suitable for this application at all.
Step 2: Determine Length
My school of thought here is go big as I can always trim to fit. For large vises where I use a coat hanger the length I get out of a cut coat hanger is ideal to start out with. So I just cut the twisted up hook part off.
Step 3: Get Bent
My wire wrapping is symmetrical so it stands to reason that bending the wire in the middle is how to begin.