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Thread: Vlchek Tool Company
11-22-2007, 12:13 AM #1
I know it's not machining, but not long ago, I got an old ball pein hammer with a busted handle from a pawn shop. It didn't look all that old, and the logo stamped on the side was VLCHEK. I looked around and found this:
Vlchek Tool Company
The Vlchek Tool Company was founded in Cleveland, Ohio on February 18, 1895 by a blacksmith named Frank J. Vlchek. The company continued to produce mechanic's tools at least until 1969. Sometime prior to 1965, the company became a subsidiary of Pendelton Tool Industries, Inc. The Vlchek Tool Company was then purchased on 6/30/69 by Flambeau Products and tool production was discontinued. Open end wrenches, hammers, screwdrivers, spark plug wrenches, 9" adjustable wrenches and pliers were supplied to Chevrolet by Vlchek. Prior to World War II, Vlchek also sold tools to Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac. They supplied tool kits for Chevrolets up until the year 1966. That was the year that Chevrolet discontinued offering tool kits. The tool kit was a standard item provided with each and every Chevrolet from the beginning of production in 1912 through the year 1948. In 1949, the tool kit became an optional accessory. Generally speaking, the tool kits included: one or two screwdrivers, a pair of pliers, a hammer and a spark plug wrench. The tools were usually housed in a tool bag. Cloth bags were used up until about 1955. After that date, a plastic tool bag was used. The only Chevrolet tools which were stamped with the company name "Vlchek" were some spark plug sockets which were made in the 1950's and 1960's. Many open end wrenches can be found at swap meets with "Vlchek" stamped on the tool, however, it is believed that these tools were sold at local hardware stores and were not included in the Chevrolet tool kits.
11-22-2007, 01:13 PM #2
Another tool mfg that faded away. Pendleton also owned the Proto brand at one time, but now it is owned by Stanley. I still see Vlchek tools on occasion at the local flea market, along with Wright, P&C, etc.
11-22-2007, 10:44 PM #3
I still have a few Vlchek box and open end wrenches my Dad had and I grew up using when I was a kid. I think he said he bought them from
Woolworths. Probably after returning from WWII.
Always considered them to be pretty good tools. They were sure put to the test in all the years that we both used them. Always was interested in the history of the brand. Thanks for the interesting posts.
11-27-2007, 10:14 PM #4
My father left me lots of wrenches and socket etc, that he picked up in military they still work and I have fond have memories of when we worked on cars when i was young. here is quote from the internet on history of VLCHECK TOOL Company:
""VLCHEK, FRANK J. (4 Jan. 1871-10 June 1947) industrialist, master tool maker, and author, was born in Budyn, Bohemia, the son of John and Anna Hladek Vlchek. One of 8 children, Frank was an apprentice blacksmith at age 12 and later learned to produce fine surgical instruments in Stryra, Austria. In 1889 he came to Cleveland and worked as a blacksmith, opening his own shop in 1895. Beginning with 6 employees, he organized the VLCHEK TOOL CO., which was incorporated in 1909. It became one of the largest automobile tool manufacturing concerns in the country.
As a successful industrialist and community leader, Vlchek served as a link between the immigrants in Cleveland's Czech Community and their native country through his writings. His first book, Povidko Meho Zivota: Historie Americkeho Cecha, which told of his early life and struggles as an immigrant in America, was popular in Czechoslovakia and went through 3 printings. His volume of poems Cesky Vystehovalec (Czech Emigrant) and Nas Lid v Americe (Our People in America) also dealt with the difficulties of life in a new country. In addition, he wrote Prace a Odmena (Labor and Reward) which discussed his experience as a factory owner and the industrial creed he formulated. In 1937, the Czech government decorated him for his cultural contributions to his people in Cleveland, and in 1947 Pope Pius XI recognized his contributions to the Catholic Church.
Vlchek married Mary Birhanzl 3 July 1893. They had 3 children, sons Henry F. and Valerian Frank, and a daughter Mary (Mrs. Edwin C. Koster). A resident of Shaker Heights, Vlchek died at age 76 and was buried in CALVARY CEMETERY.""
11-28-2007, 12:11 AM #5
VLCHECK tools also were a supplier for ag and industrial mfg, such as john deere and caterpillar.
The caterpillar tooling will all have a caterpillar part number that will be stamped so:
1X234 or so. Always a number, a letter, and the rest of the three or four digit part listing.
Armstrong, Williams, Proto, Snap-on, Bonney, P-C, Sweeney, etc etc all made tools for caterpillar tractor company. Today, caterpillar premium hand tools are snap-on, and regular grade hand tools are proto, and have been since the 60s or so. Many of the regular line tools hold up better that the snapon version, as proto has always been more industrial minded, than automotive minded. Lots of times, a S-o socket or wrench just wont take to a good hard caterpillar bolt, where a mac, proto or similar industrial supply mfg will take to it just fine.
11-28-2007, 12:13 AM #6
not a machinists tool?
who says a ball peen hammer is not a machinist tool? I seem to do a lot of machining with mine.
01-06-2008, 10:55 PM #7
Going thru my tools to put on my new service truck I found this wrench