The Tison Tool Barn collection has a few other adjustable wrenches, including three combination wrenches, a couple of pocket or bicycle wrenches, and a couple of other types.
A combination wrench is a combination of a monkey wrench and a pipe wrench. The pipe wrench side of a combination wrench works like a screw pipe wrench; it is not "semi-ratcheting" like a Stillson-pattern pipe wrench. The three combination wrenches in the Tison Tool Barn collection are made by the Bemis & Call Hardware & Tool Company. They all have cylindrical wood handles. Models with long and short adjustment nuts were both available.
The first combination wrench in the Tison Tool Barn collection is marked "BEMIS & CALL CO. SPRINGFIELD, MASS." on one side of the upper jaw. The number "2" is stamped on the bar below it. "PAT. DEC. 2, 1873" is stamped on the other side of the upper bar. United States Patent #145,085 was issued to W. Chaplin Bemis on Dec. 2, 1873 for an improved wrench, marketed as the Bemis & Call Patent Combination Wrench. This wrench is 15-1/2 inches long.
Marks on the 15-1/2 inch Bemis & Call combination wrench. Photos by Donald Albury.
The next combination wrench is marked "BEMIS & CALL H. & T. Co SPRINGFIELD, MASS. U.S.A." It also has "6", "8" and "9" stamped, apparently at random, on the bar. The absence of a patent claim or date indicates that it was made after the patent had expired in 1900. It is 11-1/2 inches long and has a long adjustment nut..
The third combination wrench is marked "BEMIS & CALL CO. SPRINGFIELD, MASS. U.S.A." on one side and has a B & C Trade Mark logo in a circle on the other side. There is a "D" stamped on the bar, likely an owner's mark. The absence of patent information on this wrench indicates that it was likely made in the 20th century. It is 12-1/2 inches long and has a short adjustment nut.
Markings on the 12-1/2 inch combination wrench. Photos by Donald Albury.
The Tison Tool Barn collection includes a couple of small wrenches that were known as bicycle or pocket wrenches. First is this 5 inch wrench marked "BARNES TOOL CO NEW HAVEN CONN." on the bar, and "PAT'D 1886 IMP'D 1892" on the moving jaw. The letter "S", which is likely an owner's mark, is stamped on the opposite side of the moving jaw. The Barnes Tool Company was founded in the 1880s and was still in business in 1909. The original patent for the wrench was U.S. patent #339,813, while the improvement(s) to the wrench were covered by patent #476,079.
The second bicycle wrench in the Tison Tool Barn is this four inch long wrench from England. It is marked "•GIRDER MINOR• JOSEPH LUCAS LTD. BIRMINGHAM" on one side. The Joseph Lucas and Son logo, consisting of a torch imposed on a wheel, is on the other side. The Lucas Girder wrench was patented in Great Britain in 1897, and continued in production well into the 20th century. Lucas and Son produced wrenches with a wide variety of markings, branded as "Girder", "Girder Minor" and "Girder Major". Most of the Girder wrenches that I have seen pictured on the Internet have a model number, and "England" instead of "Birmingham." This wrench looks like a Girder No. 93, although there is no model designation on the wrench.
The Girder wrench also has the letter "S' stamped on it. This is probably an owner's mark. The Tison Tool Barn has several wrenches with the same style and size "S' stamped on them. It is possible that these wrenches had an owner in common, and that the set had not been broken up when John Tison acquired them.
Detail photos of markings on the Girder Minor wrench. Photo by Donald Albury.
The next wrench is a Ripley's Patent Wrench, also called a pincer-wrench or pliers-wrench. Ezra Ripley received U.S. patent #16,997 for his "Improved Adjustable Pincer-Wrench" on April 7, 1857. This wrench consisted of two parts that could be separated. The bar of one piece fits through an opening in the other piece, and can be slid back and forth until the jaws fit a nut. When the handles are squeezed, serrations on the two pieces lock together, allowing torque to be applied to the nut. The example of this wrench in the Tison Tool Barn differs from the patent drawing in having a screwdriver bit on the end of one handle.
The last wrench I am presenting in this post is a crescent wrench. Crescent wrenches were originally wrenches made by the Crescent Tool Company. While the Crescent Tool Company has been a major source of such wrenches for more than a century, "crescent wrench" has become a generic name for a style of wrench produced by many companies. Crescent wrenches have an adjustable set of jaws in which the working faces of the jaws are (more or less) parallel to the line of the wrench's handle, rather than perpendicular to the line of the handle, as in monkey wrenches. Wrenches with such jaws began appearing in the middle of the 19th century. By 1910 the Crescent Tool Company had introduced an adjustable nut wrench, apparently based on one manufactured by the BAHCO company of Sweden, that became known as the crescent wrench. Besides the manufacturer's marks, this wrench has the initials "S. E. S." stamped on it.
This brings my tour of the adjustable nut wrenches in the Tison Tool Barn to an end. In my next post I will look at some hand-made farm tools the Tison Tool Barn collection.
Pipe wrenches are tools used for turning plumbing pipes and other round objects made from soft iron. In the past, water, steam and gas distribution lines were assembled from iron pipes (steam and residential gas lines still use iron pipes). Sections of iron pipe are threaded on both ends and screwed into connectors and other fixtures that have internal threads. Each joint must be leak-proof, which requires that considerable torque be applied in turning the pipes and connectors. Nut wrenches, such as the monkey wrenches I have discussed in the previous posts, cannot get a grip on round objects. Wrenches specifically designed to grip pipes and other round objects began to appear In the middle of the 19th century (a U.S. patent for a "Screw Wrench for Grasping Cylindrical Forms" was issued in 1849).
Early pipe wrenches were generally one of two types, screw wrenches, which were fastened to a pipe by tightening an adjustment screw, and tongs, which usually required two hands to pull the handles towards each other while turning the pipe. Screw wrenches could be turned with one hand, but if there was not clearance for the handle to swing in a full circle, the wrench had to be repeatedly loosened and reset to finish turning a pipe. On the other hand, tongs could be easily loosened and reset, but were very awkward to swing through a full circle without loosing their grip on the pipe.
In 1869 Daniel Chapman Stillson invented a new type of pipe wrench. One jaw on a Stillson wrench swivels, so that pushing the wrench handle in one direction grips the pipe, while pushing in the other direction releases the pipe. A screw knob adjusts the jaw opening to fit a particular size pipe, but once set, does not need to be changed as long as the wrench is used on that size pipe. The Stillson wrench is "semi-ratcheting." A pipe is turned in one direction as the handle of the wrench is moved back and forth. A Stillson wrench may also be swung in a full circle without losing its grip, as long as pressure is applied continuously to the handle.
Daniel Stillson worked for the Walworth Company. When he showed the prototype of his wrench to company executives, they challenged him to test the wrench to see whether it or a pipe would break first. The pipe broke, and Walworth put the Stillson wrench into production. Walworth maintained a monopoly of the production of Stillson wrenches until early in the 20th century, even after the Stillson patent had expired. Walworth was unable to establish "Stillson" as a trademark, and starting around 1905 other companies began producing wrenches that they called "Stillson" or "Stillson pattern".
The Tison Tool Barn has six Stillson-pattern pipe wrenches in its collection. First is this Stillson wrench from the Walworth Company. It is 10 inches long, and has a handle made from approximately 20 discs of leather stacked on on a steel rod. The company mark on the wrench consists of four lines, parts of which are badly worn. The first line is "STILLSON'S WRENCH." The third and and fourth lines are "WALWORTH MFG. CO." and "BOSTON, U.S.A.".The second line, however, is particularly hard to read. It starts with "PAT." followed by what appears to be "AUG." Stillson wrenches made by the Walworth Co. after 1882 were marked with a patent date of Aug, 1882. A large letter "S", likely an owner's mark, is stamped several places on the wrench. The wrench is marked as a size 10 (nominal 10 inches).
Detail of maker's mark on the Walworth Stillson wrench. A large "S", likely an owner's mark, is also shown. Photo by Donald Albury.
Next is a Stillson-pattern wrench made by Peck, Stow, & Wilcox. This wrench has a cylindrical wood handle, which indicates an older model, but it is stamped with the PEXTO logo inside an oval, which indicates manufacture after 1914. "P. S. & W. CO. U.S.A." is stamped in small letters under the logo. It is marked as a size 10.
Detail of logo on PEXTO Stillson-pattern wrench. Photo by Donald Albury.
Another pipe wrench in the Tison Tool Barn is this 36 inch long wrench made by the Ridge Tool Company of Elyria, Ohio. Its size leaves plenty of room for trade marks and other information. One mark is the patent number, 1,727623, which was issued in 1929, establishing the earliest date this wrench was manufactured.
The next pipe wrench has several marks on it, but I have only been able to associate one of them with a manufacturer. There is a mark consisting of an "E" inside a circle, which was used by the Eberhard Manufacturing Company. Some wrenches manufactured by Eberhard were sold under other brand names. The wrench has a mark that looks like a logo, "Lakeside" in script. There was a Lakeside Forge Co. that made wrenches, but this mark does not resemble the logos I have found that were used by that company. There is also a mark, "C. E. SWANBUM", that is probably an owner's mark. As noted in an earlier post, the Tison Tool Barn also has a monkey wrench with the mark "S. SWANBUM," but I do not know if or how the two Swanbums were related, although the two marks look like they were made using the same set of letter punches.
Another of the pipe wrenches in the Tison Tool Barn collection has no indication of its origin. The only marks are the number "246" stamped in two places. This wrench has a handle made of more than 35 leather disks and is 16 inches long.
Since my last post, the Matheson History Museum has received a donation of a tool box full of tools. I haven't delved very far into the tool box, but a 10-inch Trimo pipe wrench is lying at the top. Trimo was the brand of the Trimont Tool Company of Roxbury, Mass. It apparently was in business from 1902 until 1954. I plan to explore the contents of this tool box in future posts.
Addendum: Just hours after I put this post up, I found another pipe wrench in the new tool box. It is a 10-inch pipe wrench from Ridge Tool Co.
In my next post I will be be looking at a few other adjustable wrenches from the Tison Tool Barn collection.
I close out this series of posts about monkey wrenches in the Tison Tool Barn with some wrenches of indeterminate origin. First is this 12 inch wrench with a metal handle. The metal handle suggests that the wrench was manufactured after the beginning of the 20th century. The word "INTERMEDIATE" is stamped on the bar. The letter "S" is stamped in two different places. Finally, the name "C. SWANBUM" is stamped on the bar. I have found a similar monkey wrench marked with "INTERMEDIATE" offered on eBay. The listing did not mention any other markings. I have concluded that the letters "S" and the name "C. SWANBUM" are owner's marks. Curiously, the Tison Tool Barn also holds a pipe wrench with an owner's mark of "S. E. SWANBUM." I do not know what connection there might be between the two names.
The next monkey wrench has some owner's marks, but nothing to indicate the manufacturer. It is 18 inches long, and has a knife-style handle. There are two sets of marks on the fixed jaw, "R.M.F." and "452", formed of dots punched into the metal. A star consisting of 4 scratched lines is on the bar.
The marks on the above wrench, "R.M.F." to the left, "452" in the center, and the star on the right. Photos by Donald Albury.
Next from the Tison Tool Barn is this twisted handle, or ACME, monkey wrench. It is 5 inches long, and has no discernible markings. The ACME monkey wrench is distinguished by a rod which is doubled over so that the moving jaw slides over parallel segments of the rod,with one threaded to take the adjustment nut. The lower section of the parallel rods may be twisted. The U.S. patent for this wrench, 273,171, was issued to Fred Seymour in 1883. At least four different companies manufactured versions of this wrench ranging from 4 to 21 inches long, but production stopped by 1915. This wrench has been badly abused.
The final monkey wrench from the Tison Tool Barn is this 21 inch long wrench, the largest monkey wrench in the collection. It has a badly fitted wooden handle. I have not found any readable marks on it. This is no where near the largest monkey wrench made. Coes sold at least two six-foot long monkey wrenches to bridge builders.
This completes my coverage of monkey wrenches held in the Tison Tool Barn. Next up: pipe wrenches.
This is another in a series of posts on monkey wrenches in the Tison Tool Barn with a look at a couple of wrenches from less-well known manufacturers, and a wrench with several marks, despite which I cannot identify the manufacturer.
The first wrench below was made by The Lamson and Sessions (L. & S.) Co. of Cleveland, Ohio. Lamson and Sessions was founded in Southington, Ct. (that hotbed of tool and hardware manufacture) in 1866, and moved to Cleveland (another center of tool and hardware manufacture) in 1869. The company is still around, but no longer produces metal products. From its appearance, this wrench was produced in the late 19th century or very early 20th century. It is 6-1/2 inches long.
The next wrench below was made by the Girard Wrench Mfg. Co. The company was established as a partnership in 1875 in Girard, Pa., but did not incorporate under the name Girard Wrench Mfg. Co. until 1902. The company continued in business until the 1920s. This wrench is 10 inches long and has a cylindrical wood handle. I have seen a photo of a Girard wrench that is identical to this one, except for having a metal handle. The wrench below was made sometime between 1902 and the early 1920s, likely in the 1910s.
The final monkey wrench from the Tison Tool Barn in this post poses a problem. It is marked "P & C" (in two places) and "SOUTHINGTON, CT.". There are some other possible marks, but they are very obscure. I believe that I can make out a mark "H. W. P.", which is likely an owner's mark. I cannot make sense of other possible marks even under a magnifying glass after rubbing the area with chalk. For a while I thought that the wrench was made by the Peck, Stow, and Wilcox Company, which had a plant located in Southington (other tool and hardware companies were also located in Southington, but I have not found a listing of all of them). The wrench looked like another wrench in the Tison Tool Barn that was made by Peck, Stow, and Wilcox. However, I noticed that this wrench does not have the seam on the back of the slider that is present on the three Peck, Stow, and Wilcox wrenches in the Tison Tool Barn, and which seems to be a product of how Peck, Stow, and Wilcox manufactured monkey wrenches, at least after 1896. A couple of suggestions from people I asked for help in identifying this wrench seem to be ruled out by timing. The wrench appears to be from the late 19th or very early 20th century. It was suggested that the wrench belonged to the Philadelphia and Columbia (P & C) RR, but the P & C RR was taken over by the Pennsylvania RR in 1857, well before the period of this wrench. Another suggestion was that this wrench was produced by the P & C Hand Forged Tool Company, but that company was founded in 1920, and I can find no evidence that it ever produced monkey wrenches. For now, I cannot identify who made this wrench. The wrench is 10 inches long.
In my next post I will finally finish describing the monkey wrenches held in the Tison Tool Barn.
I have been a volunteer at the Matheson History Museum. Feeling an affinity with old hand tools (some of which I remember from my youth), I have tried to learn more about the history of the tools in the Tison Tool Barn, and how they were used.
All text and photographs by Donald Albury in this blog are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. All illustrations taken from Wikimedia Commons are either in the public domain, or have been released under a Creative Commons license.
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