Monday, March 16, 2009

How Close to Now Does OLD Extend?

The first issue of the Missouri Valley Wrench Club Newsletter in June, 1982 noted the recent closing of Leverage Tools of Glenvil, Nebraska -- the company had been bought out by Stanley.

LEVERAGE TOOLS self-adjusting locking pliers, clamps, etc. are now collectibles.

BRILES_PAWLOCK One of the newer pieces in the Richard Carter auction inventory was a set of ratchet-action open end wrenches patented in 1957.
The set appeared to have been produced in the 1960s.

The upcoming Don Ervin sale includes a Vise-Grip TOOLKIT combination tool that's probably 10 - 15 years old.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


The history of the interesting and collectible tools is filled with false starts, ambition over-reaching ability to deliver, and many other factors resulting in scarcity.

The sale inventory of the Richard Carter collection auction the weekend of Feb. 27th- March 1st had several examples. The Oct. 5, 1880 Genry A. Chapman patent combination wrench and pipe cutter looked hand-made. two-rarities

The "smalls" included a 4-inch combination "crescent" type adjustable wrench with an alligator wrench on the handle end.

Every collection of any significance has a few such oddities.

This blog has taken a back burner to other activities the past few months -- work responsibilities, DATAMP, and the demands of producing the MARCH 2009 MVWC Newsletter. That issue was delivered to the post office this morning & members should be receiving copies some time next week.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Other Facets

A couple of key components of the MVWC web site are reconstructed.
One new piece is evolving. A "wrench only" subset of Recent DATAMP Activity is getting off the ground.
It is meant to have the dual effect of bringing continuous new content to, and help promote effective use of the patent research at DATAMP. A tech savvy member of the DATAMP team figured out how to construct an RSS gadget to pull content for the DATAMP Patent Feed page at

"Bus" Haury has some Upcoming Wrench Events posted on his Wrenching News web site, including the following:

Missouri Valley Wrench Club Spring Meet and Auction April 2009

The wrenches for the auction to be held in conjunction with The Spring Missouri Valley Wrench Meet to be held in York, Nebraska April 16, 17, & 18 2009 have arrived in Kansas and work on the catalog has began. The auction will consist of wrenches from the collections of Don Ervin of Surrey, Maine and Robert Matz of Cozad, Nebraska. I made two trips to Cozad to pickup Robert's wrenches and Don dropped his off last month. Featured in this auction will be by far the best collection of cutout type wrenches ever offered at an auction sale. Cutout include the "Holy Gail" of cutouts the John Deere TR590 plus a John Bull, Gail G8, W Plow Co, Planet Jr. 312, C&J, double hammer Deere A196, Bradley's Wonder D99 (with two square openings), Casaday, Osborne, IHC 770E, and over thirty others!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

$)(!+ Happens

No, the first word in the title is not emoticons, or a quote from the guy in the wrench suit, but a bemused reflection on the unexpected demise of the old web site shown above.

The old web site is dead, but a new is springing up. Maybe, like the later iterations of Bartholomew Cubbins' hats, the new version will be more glorious than its predecessor.
In the mean time, if you want to join the fun, consider setting up a delicious account, and
help tag web resources useful and interesting to old wrench enthusiasts. We're using wrenchpix and wrenchinfo as meaningful, distinctive tags in this effort.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


I spent a quarter hour paging through a binder full of FORD/FERGUSON operator and parts manuals a few weeks ago. I was looking for one detail which I did not find. If I had found it, I would have been able to turn speculation into fact.

stan's bookshelf

The bookshelf above contains documentation with a leavening of hearsay and speculation. There are a few bound auction sale lists. The wrench books include "Antique and Unusual Wrenches," by Schulz's , "Wrench Patents 1790-1911," by Steven Eckers, "Wrenches and Patents," by Don Shockley, a bound set of the Missouri Valley Wrench Club Newsletters from 1982 through 2006, "The History of Old Time Farm Implement Companies and the Wrenches They Issued," by P.T. Rathbone (2 vols. and supplements), and "Indiana Toolmakers and Their Tools" and "Ohio Toolmakers and Their Tools," by Jack Devitt.

The bound newsletter sets are one-of-a-kind as I constructed those bindings myself. The validity of these volumes' content can be tested by going back to the most authoritative sources. Implement manufacturer parts manuals sometimes list hand tools and their purpose. Tool manufacturers' ads or the advertising materials they supplied for hardware wholesalers' catalogs are authoritative. Patents can be misleading because manufactured tools sometimes differ substantially from their corresponding patents.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Defined by Absence

The so-called "cut-out-letter" malleable iron wrenches are an interesting subset of the old wrench enthusiasm.

The JOHN DEERE TR590 is probably on most collectors' "gee it would be nice to have one" list, and serious collectors know the location of every "known example." Would-be owners start ticking off who might be amenable to selling theirs, and set aside cash assets to move quickly if a deal seems possible. A few months ago, a "previously unknown" one came to light and people went to considerable lengths to determine its authenticity.
Frank Schneidermeyer at 2008 MVWC Spring Meeting

Some of the more common "cut-out-letter" wrenches most likely came with garden seeders and cultivators. A couple have unknown origins.

The CUT-OUT-LETTER set on the mvwcnews FLICKR site will eventually show all known cut-out-letter wrenches. In the mean time, here are a couple of examples from PLANET JR.


PLANET JR // K48 (both sides)

(top) PLANET JR // 2 , (below) unmarked

Friday, November 14, 2008

Plugging Away

When I started adding wrench and pliers patents to DATAMP, I first set out to add "known" patents identified by old wrench enthusiasts over the years, and later used the U.S. Patent system "CCLs" (e.g. 81/ .. TOOLS) to examine patents by classification.

I eventually decided the most thorough way to cover the territory is to look at "every" patent. That can be done since the old U.S. patents are online, and one of the DATAMP project leaders has devised a searching tool to speed the process.

I currently have gotten up to January, 1889. Every once in a while, I come across a patent like 395,658 which escaped the notice of previous wrench patent compilers like Don Shockley and Steven Eckers.
In the process, I also come across things like Franklin's Never Slip Wrench which I have never seen. (Anyone have one they'd be willing to photograph & share a picture?) Franklin's Never-Slip

I'm also working on the December issue of the Missouri Valley Wrench Club Newsletter. In addition to information gleaned at the fall meeting, the newsletter has data from several farm implement repair parts manuals, and a "once in a lifetime" find from a former farm implement manufacturer's factory.