My neighbor is a bus mechanic and he brought over the strangest thing
A 5/16" square drive socket wrench set.
Most of the pieces are made by Plumb, but one of the sockets is a
Snap-on and another is a SK-tools.
I have never seen this stuff before, and niether has he.
A friend gave them to him, knowing he liked odd tools.
So any idea when these date from?
It probably dates to around 1920 to 1930.
Does it say, "Plumb" or "Plomb?" The reason I ask is that back in the early
part of the 20th century there were two tool companies with similar names, the
Plumb Hammer Co. and Plomb Foundry. The name of both companies were pronounced
like "plum," the little purple fruit. The Plomb Foundry made wrenches and other
mechanic's tools, and the Plumb Hammer Co. made hammers (duh). Sometime in the
mid-to-late 1930s the Plomb Foundry tried to introduce a ball peen hammer to
their tool line, promptly got sued by the Plumb Hammer Co. for trademark
infringement, and subsequently changed their name from "Plomb" to "Proto,"
which is a contraction of the words, "PROfessional TOols."
Plumb Hammer is an English company and is still in business. Plomb, or Proto,
has gone through several acquisitions since around 1940 and is now owned by
Stanley Toolworks. IFAIK, Plumb Hammer never made wrenches, so I'd bet that
your neighbor's wrenches were made by Plomb, probably sometime in the
Plomb was founded in 1907 and began making ratchet handles around 1920, if
memory serves. Snap-on, founded in 1919, and S-K (Sherman-Klove) both began
making sockets around that time, too. Socket drive sizes weren't "standardized"
until around 1935, and when they were, it was more by industry caveat rather
than through some standards agency.
If you can post the patent number off of it here I can do a patent search and
maybe find out a little more, and at least verify who made the tools and when.
And I won't be a bit surprised if everything I've written above turns out to be
off in left field; the patent office has proved me wrong before.
Good luck and I'll look forward to your reply.
*** This post was written using 100% recycled words ***
You're right on both counts; I'm an old tool collector AND I collect old tools.
But as for knowing stuff, well... I don't know much, and what I do know is
about enough to make me dangerous.
My grandfather was a carpenter and a cabinet maker and left his tools to my
father. Dad was a diesel mechanic and when he died I inherited both his and
Grandpa's tools. I've picked up a few other pieces over the years on my own,
Although I wasn't a mechanic by profession, I do enjoy mechanics and
metalworking, and handling these old tools brings back a lot of very fond
memories from my youth (I worked for my Dad during my jr high and high school
years). So a few months ago, I set out on a quest to find out as much as I
could about the 3/4"-drive Blackhawk socket set that Dad used daily for 40
years. I learned a little about several of the early makers of mechanic's tools
along the way, and that's how I knew about Ernie's wrench set.
Take care and be well, my friend.
*** WARNING: Do not operate heavy machinery while reading this reply ***
Yep. The changeover to Proto happened around 1940. When the lawsuit with Plumb
was served, Plomb backed right out and held an in-company contest to "Rename
the Company." A secretary in the front office came up with the new name. I
don't know if they ever resumed making hammers, though.
Still, if your neighbor's ratchet handle has a patent number on it, you can
look it up in the U.S. Patent Office database. Just go to http://www.uspto.gov /
and select the patent search option. They offer several searches; select the
one that says, "Simple Search" or "Beginner's Search" or something like that.
Type in your number at the search engine and it'll bring up everything they've
got about the item, including the original description and drawings. Be sure to
specify that you want the search to include all patents dated from 1790 to
present. In the patent papers will also be the dates the patent was filed,
granted, and other good stuff.
Good Luck in your search, my friend.
*** No animals were harmed during the production of this reply ***
strangely enough I myself have a 5/16 SNAP ON
ratchet,given to me as an apprentice 51 years ago pat/no 1*54513
midget 14-7ol '' G'' made in USA.
It is still in perfect working order.I also managed to at some time,to
obtain a 5/16 x 2" extension bar with markings......wf4a*pi*mb* the
asterics look like some sort of inverted triangles,could possibly be
War Department product.
I have shown the ratchet to a lot of my engineering friends.and they
all have never seen one at 5/16 " before,so I think we both have quite
a rarity here.
All the best for now,
After reading your post to Ernie, my curiosity got the best of me so I
looked-up the patent you mentioned. The complete number is 1854513. The
application was submitted by Snap-on designer Louis A. Hummel on March 29,
1930, and was titled "Reversible Ratchet Handle." The patent was granted on
April 19, 1932.
This means that Snap-on could have begun production of this as early as March,
1930, if it is marked "Patent Pending," and definitely would have been
producing it after April, 1932. And I could be wrong, but I doubt that it
stayed in production all that long because the design of ratchet handles was
evolving very rapidly during the 30s and 40s.
Nothing in the patent papers talks about the drive size, which is pretty
typical. Once the patent was granted, Snap-on would have begun production of it
in each of the different sizes for which they offered sockets. On the other
hand, if it was developed for a special one-off run such as a government
contract, then it might have only been in production long enough to satisfy the
contract plus a few extras for replacement purposes. Who knows?
It's rare, so hang onto it.
*** CAUTION: Reading this reply may make you drowsy ***
I have a small set that belonged to my dad and I think it probably dates
from the 30's or 40's. It has a T-handle, an extension, and about 6 or 8
sockets, one of which is split and has a thin collar around it for a repair.
I dont know if there are any brand names.
Peter may have the answer. My A&P instructor told us that it was made for the
U.S. military during WW 2 or maybe post war. This was a replacement for the 1/4
inch drive and the 3/8 drive one set. It may also have been to prevent theft.
Any of the tool collectors that have Snap-on catalogs from the 50's or early
60's, Snap -on made an adapter from 1/4 inch to the odd size (for lack of a
better reference). I bought one at a surplus store and that is what prompted
the question to my instructor
On 18 Nov 2004 13:43:49 GMT, firstname.lastname@example.org (PMIOTKING) wrote:
Incidentally, the standard 1/4" spindle would fit
the body of the "odd" size handle, making it
easy and relatively cheap to convert the surplus
ratchet to a standard size. I still have such a
converted ratchet handle. Maybe it was to keep
people from liberating the *sockets* rather than
the drives. They showed up at the big surplus
stores like Silversteins in Detroit after WW2.
I had a sandbox made from a self-sealing wing
tank that came from Silversteins. My dad's barn
is still full of things like Norden and Sperry
bombsights, aileron servos, IFF boxes and all
manner of magical mechanical wonders. What
a great collection to grow up with. There
is nothing like a ball-and-disk integrator
to make calculus come alive before your eyes
and in your hands. (A B&D integrator takes
data in the form of rotations of input shafts,
performs an integration, and outputs the result
via rotation of an output shaft. Air speed,
altitude, wind drift as inputs; output to the
angle of a little mirror to put your aim point
out ahead of the plane.)
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