Water pump pliers

Back 45± years ago lock joint or sliding joint pliers were called "water pump pliers". Does anybody know why? Spent my college years working in gas stations, bosses always asked for "water pump pliers" but they were never working on water pumps at that time. I guess that was the time to ask the question. Ah, youth!!

Thanks, Ivan Vegvary

Reply to
Ivan Vegvary
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I always assumed that it was because you could open them wide and use them to tighten the packing nut on a pump shaft. A job that doesn't take a lot of torque and would be well suited to a slip- jaw pliers.

Reply to
Jim Stewart

Think water pump on the farm, or in the back yard, or maybe in the kitchen if you were in a ritzy part of town.

Before running water was accepted as a given.

I had heard at one point that hese type pliers were actually included with a new pump as a matter of course, but I have no cites on that. Pretty certain tha the water pump was not one on an automobile, though.

Cheers Trevor Jones

Reply to
Trevor Jones

Hold one up next to an old water pump and you can answer your own question.

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They came with the early Fords (model T I think) and it was required to constantly keep tightening the packing of the water pump seal (must have been graphited cotton).

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They were used to tighten the packing on the old well pumps.

Reply to
clare at snyder.on.ca

I second this explanation, not from personal experience but I worked for an old used car dealer and that is the explanation he gave me.

Reply to
Roger Shoaf

I knew a guy that was really into model T's, the seal was leather.

We modified a pump for a SS shaft and ruber lip seal.

Thank You, Randy

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The old hand well pumps didn't have packing in them. The old jet pumps did. The hand well pumps had what were called leathers. They are actually made from leather. They were flat or cupped. There was one at the bottom of the cylinder acting like a check valve. Then the one in the cylinder that did the actual pumping. This one was usually cupped and was connected to the pump handle by a long rod. Look at the link below for Lehmans, an amish hardware store. Btw if you ever get a chance to visit their store in person you'll be amazed at everything they carry. Jesse

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I have rebuilt a lot of old automotive pumps. Many had damaged hexes on the packing glands, I can't imagine a manufacturer, even Ford, giving you the wrong tool for the job.

Reply to
Stupendous Man

Model Ts didn't have a water pump.

However from a 20s tool catalog, an explicit description:

"No. 1520 Williams' Chrome-Alloy Superpliers For Water-Pump Packing-Gland Nuts

Serviceable in adjusting packing-gland nuts on practically all cars, trucks, tractors and smaller industrial engines. Jaws close entirely, they grip any thickness up to 2 inches. Knurled handles provide a firm hand grip. Drop-forged from special chrome-alloy steel and heat treated. Length,

9-1/2 inches. Fully guaranteed. Gray satin finish; faces and sides are polished.

No. 1520. . . . ... . . .. . . .. . . .each $2.20"

The pliers illustrated are slip jaw type.


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My grandad's favorite tool! Must have had 3 dozen pairs in the basement when we cleaned it out, all too slippy to grasp anything. Got good scrap price for them, though. About all they're good for today is grinding grooves in them to remove those OEM spring wire hose clamps on cars and these wouldn't have worked for that.


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replying to stans4, Fishloaf wrote: Stan is a tool

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