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Thread: Favorite brand of adjustable wrench?

  1. #21
    eKretz is offline Titanium
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    Another vote for Diamond here. I almost teared up when I finally broke my 15" Diamalloy.

  2. #22
    ztarum is offline Hot Rolled
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    I prefer Diamond. To bad you can't get them new anymore.

  3. #23
    Joe Michaels is offline Titanium
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    I agree- Diamond Tool & Horsehoe COmpany made a fine adjustable wrench. I had an old one which even had a 12-point box wrench broached into the hole in the handle. It was a well made, nicely proportioned wrench. SOmeone grabbed it on a job and I never found another to replace it.

    I like the OLD Williams adjustable wrenches, black finish. They were heavy duty and well made. I have a number of them. On my keychain, for the last 35 years, I have had a little J.H.Williams 4" Superjustable. I has come in quite handy many, many times.

    Word or Warning to anyone carrying a 4" adjustable wrench on their keychains- DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BOARD A COMMERCIAL FLIGHT WITH AN ADJUSTABLE WRENCH ON YOUR PERSON- IT WILL BE CONFISCATED !!! I found this out one morning at Albany, NY. Fortunately, I had time to go to a vendor's kiosk and mail my own keys back to my wife. Since then, I travel without the wrench.

    An adjustable wrench I really liked was made by J/H. Williams. It consisted of a heavy duty wrench head for about a 15" wrench with a forged "spud" or pointed drift instead of the usual handle. This wrench literally saved lives on jobsites. It is also an incredibly handy tool if you are lining up bolted connections. It had a bit more capacity for its size than a comparable wrench, and really did me a lot of good on stuff like lining up flanged joints or structural connections. Once again, it got stolen- along with a good box of tools and an old Model 94 Winchester out of my truck down in Brooklyn in 1981.

    As for the life-saving aspect of that design of wrench, it saved structural ironworker's lives. I had been on jobs years ago where the ironworkers used to burn off the handle of a 15" adjustable wrench and then burn off the open end wrench from a spud wrench. They'd weld the two parts together, generally using 309L electrode since the wrench parts were a higher carbon steel. Every so often, some guy would be reefing on a structural bolt or pulling har on the wrench head to "spud in" a connection. That's when the weld would let go. I was on one jobsite where a guy fell to his death (pre fall protection equipment days) when a home-made modified adjustable/spud wrench let go. ANother guy did the same modification and took a die grinder and added a tooth to the moveable jaw- to increase capacity of the wrench. He, too, met his end pulling hard on hishome-made modified wrench when the jaw- maxxed out for opening- spread and slipped.
    J.H. WIlliams came out with that adjustable spud wrench and it was a great tool and would have saved at least two ironworkers' lives. It was black oxide finished and had an extra heavy head. Klean Tools- a maker of lineman's and electricians' tools- makes a similar adjustable spud wrench (since linemen often have to do structural boltup on power transmission towers and similar). Klein's adjustable spud isn't quite so heavy duty as the Williams, but is also a very well made tool. If you are working out in the field and can;t carry a whole lot of tools on you- especially if you are working up high and your toolbox is whatever is hanging from your belt- the adjustable spud is a great tool. Williams, FWIW, knew who these adjustable spuds were going to be used by, so made the heads heavy enough that if an ironworker or boilermaker needed to knock in a drift (aka- bull prick) or bang something into alignment, the wrench was heavy enough and well tempered enough to withstand some use as a hammer. Last time I priced on of those adjustable spuds, they were about 90 bucks a copy, so I never did replace the one that got ripped off as my type of work had changed to where I didn;t really need it.

    Joe Michaels

  4. #24
    Dave A is offline Titanium
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    Oh well, might as well jump in this one. Proto of 60's vintage from 15" down to 4", with the black industrial finish. Also a 12" Williams in black and I think those are my favorites.

  5. #25
    traytopjohnny is offline Stainless
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    As I hve stated earlier on this thread I have carried a 4" Utica for many years. I'm looking at it now. Around sometime last November I found a dozen Utica's for sale on Ebay with a buy it now price of $10.00 each. I bought everyone of them. That took care of Christmass shopping for twelve people. All of my co-workers, all of the people I go junking with now have a wrench on their key ring. I think only one person put it in their tool box and does not carry it. I won't leave home without it. Fortunately last year I flew to Washington DC and had the insigt to leave it and My Swiss army knife at home.

  6. #26
    Appie Chappie is offline Senior Member
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    Greetings All,

    Old veriations make nice collectables otherwise
    set the darn thing to 29mm and weld it together.

    Anyone on my deck with a blo....y shifter will get chased away for a day, unpaid as well.

    those things are nut wreckers and are dangerous.

    The right tool for the right job and a shifter
    is never the rigt tool, I guess you can imagine
    I Hate those things, Oh, and the graduated ones are Really handy!!!

    Andy

  7. #27
    John Garner is offline Stainless
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    traytopjohnny --

    Have you ever done a side-by-side comparison of Billings & Spencer and Utica-made Utica Crescent-type adjustable wrenches? In pictures they look very similar, and I have heard that both B&S and Utica came under Kelsy-Hayes ownership after WWII, making me curious if the Billings Crescent-type wrenches were simply badge-engineered Uticas.

    Utica Forge moved their hand tool production to Orangburg, South Carolina in the early 1960's, and sold the whole hand tool business, including their Utica and Herbrand brand names to Triangle Industries only a couple of years later.

    At about the same time, Bonney Forge sold their wrench business, and production was moved to Ohio briefly before that business was merged into Triangle's Tool Group and moved to Orangeburg.

    For about twenty years the Utica version of Crescent-style adjustable wrench was sold under Triangle's Utica, Bonney, and Herbrand names as well as being private-labelled for a few different chain stores.

    Then, in the early 1980's Triangle Tool Group bought Diamond Tool & Horseshoe. Utica moved Diamond's almost-new production equipment (which the City of Duluth and the State of Minnesota had subsidized, trying to keep Diamond from shutting its doors) to Orangeburg.

    For several years, Triangle offered both Traditional Utica and Diamond variants of adjustable wrenches, but the Diamond model outsold the Utica-heritage by a large margin.

    One interesting point about the late-model Utica wrench is that it featured a D-shaped broach in the main forging for the bulbous portion of the jaw to slide through. The D-shaped opening, which was also used by Williams, was claimed to make the wrench more resistant to jaw-spreading under heavy loading.

    Incidentally, I've taken a different approach to adding jaw-opening capacity than those you mention: I've simply filed an additional rack tooth into the sliding-jaw's rack. Of course, that was a whole lot easier when the makers built adjustable wrenches to be repaired.


    Zoom --

    Back in the early 1970's the manager of Armstrong's San Francisco warehouse told me that Armstrong had never manufactured Crescent-style adjustable wrenches, that Armstrong traded chain pipe tongs to Williams for adjustable wrenches.

    Of course, that situation changed after Williams went belly-up in Buffalo in the early 1980's, stopping production of the Williams tools.

    The reorganized-in-Georgia version of Williams didn't think it could make money on adjustable wrenches and chose to buy its adjustable wrenches from the same supplier -- Western Forge of Colorado Spings -- that Armstrong and several other former-Williams-customer adjustable-wrench marketers turned to when the Buffalo plant shut down.


    Joe Michaels --

    Also back in the early 1970's, Jack Licht of San Francisco's Western Hardware and Tool -- which, despite the name, was not a hardware store but was probably Northern California's largest distributor of industrial tools and lineman equipment -- showed me one of those welded-together adjustable spud wrenches.

    Jack told me that the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge Maintenance Division's supervisor had brought the wrench to Western Hardware's owner, Ozzy I-forgot-his-last-name, to ask his support in getting the idea commercialized . . . that none of the wrench manufacturers that Maintenance Divison had contacted were willing to add such a variant to their lines, only to make them as "specials" at what the Maintenance Division thought to be unwarranted high prices.

    Jack said that Ozzy thought the idea was a good one, and talked to his contacts at Proto and Williams, who assured him that the wrench would never sell enough to be profitable. But Ozzy also showed the welded-together wrench and a pair of side-cutters with a welded-on handle hook to the Klein representative, who wanted to take both tools to Chicago.

    Klein's sales execs liked both ideas, and ordered the hook-handle side-cutters into production as tie-wire pliers and put Klein money into a huge-volume order of the adjustable spud wrenches from Klein's then-supplier of Crescent-type adjustable wrenches, TRW's J H Williams division.

    Williams apparently decided that as long as they were making the adjustable spud wrenches for Klein they might was well put their own name on a few.

    FWIW, after the demise of Williams Buffalo-based manifestation Klein went to a Japanese maker of adjustable wrenches, TOP, and had the Klein name stamped onto Japanese-made wrenches until their new Illinois adjustable-wrench plant was up and running. Klein had TOP design the production process used in Illinois, and furnish all wrench-making equipment.


    ADrummond --

    In the 1960's and 1970's the P G & E branded adjustable wrenches were made by Ingersoll Rand's Hand Tool Division (think Proto), as another badge-engineered variant of their then-current adjustable wrench design. Those wrenches were fairly distinctive, having a pin holding the knurl rather than the typical knurl screw, with the pin hole extending all the way through the wrench body. This allowed the pin to be driven out when it became necessary to put a new sliding jaw on the wrench.

    These particular wrenches were of J P Danielson heritage, and were produced at the ex-Danielson "Proto" plier-and-adjustable-wrench plant in Jamestown, New York until that plant was shuttered. Danielson / Pendleton Tool / IR stamped a variety of brand names on their adjustable wrenches in addition to their own corporate brands, including Wright, Thorsen, Powr-Kraft (Montgomery Ward house brand), over the years, but I've never seen one of them branded with the Craftsman name.

    Sears' primary supplier of Craftsman-brand adjustable wrenches for the past 40 years has been Western Forge division of Emerson Electric. J H Williams did step in and supply Craftsman-badged adjustables for a short time in the early 1970's while Western Forge rebuilt their plant following a fire. Sears also had a Japanese maker supply three-piece sets of Craftsman adjustable wrenches in the early to mid 1980's, but I don't believe that the Japanese wrenches were ever sold individually, only as "weekly-special" sets.


    John

  8. #28
    429FORD is offline Aluminum
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    I have a 15" Blue Point that I bought new in 1978.It's kinda beat up lookin now but it seems to be just as tight as any Craftsman,Matco etc. that I've looked at lately.

    Ford

  9. #29
    Joe Michaels is offline Titanium
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    I am enjoying this thread as it is answering lots of questions I have had as to what happened to all those good old firms. Interestingly, when I worked on a powerplant job out in Ohio in 1975-1976, I rented a house from a man who had been a "hammerman" at Herbrand. He was an older man even then, and was hard of hearing and kind of "punchy" (like a boxer whose taken a few too many head shots). My landlord told me that Herbrand had forged wrenches under their own name as well as for many different firms. He also told me that Herbrand used to forge parts for heavy equipment makers like Galion. I have a number of Herbrand open end wrenches, and often wondered what happened to Herbrand.

    John Garner:

    Thanks for the particulars of how the adjustable spud wrench came into production. If you could have seen some of the abortions the ironworkers used to put together, you would think that Klein and Williams should have been given an award for bringing out a lifesaving tool.

    Years ago, as a kid, I bought a genuine brand-new Westcott "S" pattern adjustable wrench. It was being sold by an old time hardware and supply store in lower Manhattan and was "New Old stock" even then. I still have that Westcott wrench. It is some heavy for its capacity. The name on that old Westcott reads "Westcott Chuck Company, Oneida, New York". I worked a powerplant job where the older pipefitters did not refer to an adjustable wrench as a "Crescent" or as an "adjustable wrench"- it was "Westcott". I never heard anyone refer to an adjustable wrench by that name before or since, other than owning one. I imagine Westcott was making wrenches many years ago and was long gone by the 1950's when I bought mine.

    I am guessing that of the common hand tools, one of the most abused or misused must be the adjustable wrench. As an aside, I heard a story of one guy who wanted to buy a used BMW "Airhead" motorcycle. He knew little about the machines, so asked a mechanic to look over the particular used BMW motorcycle he was interested in buying. The mechanic took a look, started and test rode the machine. He came back from the test ride and said: "Whoever owned this bike took good care of it and was a real mechanic... they never put an adjustable wrench on anything on this bike. Buy it."

    "Crescent Wrench" is now firmly a part of American English. Here's a little joke about it:

    A small man is sitting on a barstool, quietly drinking and minding his own business. In comes a massive guy and takes the next barstool. Suddenly, without warning, the massive guy whirls off the barstool, yelling "Hi-Ya", and with a quick move sends the small guy flying. The small guy lands on the floor. When he comes to his senses, the big guy says: "How'd ya like that? That's Karate. Picked it up when I served a hitch in the Far East." The little guy scrapes himself off the floor and leaves the barroom. The big guy gets back on his stool and keeps drinking. About 15 minutes later, there is a blur of motion and a yell in the barroom followed by a thud and clang. When the dust clears, the big guy is on the floor, bleeding profusely and spitting teeth. The little guy is standing over him and hollers out: "How'd ya like that ? That's a Crescent wrench. Picked it up from my toolbox about ten minutes ago."

    A Crescent wrench can be good for lots more than the purposes it was designed and sold for. The various other uses or misuses of adjustable wrenches would be food for a whole 'nother thread.

  10. #30
    Rollerman is offline Cast Iron
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    Let me also mention two ajustable wrenches made by RIDGID. They make a model 17 ajustable hook jaw wrench and a model E110 offset hook jaw wrench.
    Do not leave home with out them!!!

  11. #31
    TheMetalDoctor is offline Titanium
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    Love my Swedish made Bahco.. here is my 10" .

    TMD


  12. #32
    dman is offline Cast Iron
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    Vice Grip The tool after the adjustable wrench.

  13. #33
    secetal is offline Hot Rolled
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    My vote is for Diamond and Proto I have four
    24" versions. Two are Diamalloy model D724 and two are Proto 724s ,no problems with any and they have seen HARD!! use. Martin

  14. #34
    jim rozen is offline Diamond
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    Westcott - that was by the Keystone Manufacturing
    Company, in Buffalo, NY.

    http://www.metalworking.com/DropBox/wrench1.jpg

    http://www.metalworking.com/DropBox/wrench2.jpg

    With that fancy S-pattern shape.

    Jim

  15. #35
    John Garner is offline Stainless
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    TheMetalDoctor's photo of his Bahco adjustable wrench makes me suspect that the Swedes changed more than the side of the roadway they drive on from left to right at some point in recent history. Push-thumb-toward-jaw rotation of the knurl on the pictured side of the wrench is going to close the jaws, just as with my American, Spanish, Japanese, and Taiwanese adjustables.

    By the way, Snap-On bought Bahco from Sandvik several years ago, and very shortly thereafter moved their J H Williams Division into Bahco's tent.

    John

  16. #36
    Spin Doctor's Avatar
    Spin Doctor is offline Hot Rolled
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    My fave has to be my Craftsman 16". Not available any more :mad: . But any adjustable is a poor substitute for the right tool for the job IMO

  17. #37
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    Spin I would agree with that last statement except for plumbing.

    Usually on unions and other brass craft that attaches to 1/2" and 3/4" copper pipe there is at least one hex or octagon.

    I suppose a supply of OE wrenches could be carried...I have never seen "tube" or "flare nut" wrenches that big.

    Pipe wrenches of course, but they tend to oval some of the fittings with their hellish crushing pressure.

    I guess the next war of the worlds would be 6 point vs. 12 point sockets

    -Matt

  18. #38
    Mic addict is offline Cast Iron
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    John garner
    Thanks for the Utica/Diamond info.
    Do you know When Utica finally stopped adjustable wrench production or if they ever outsourced ?
    I've seen Utica adjustables without the USA stamp and got one with the regular channell for the moveable jaw and three diamonds logo. I'm guessing its from the 70's but not sure.

  19. #39
    fusker is offline Cast Iron
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlieBiler View Post
    If it will not budge, use the big hammer. If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway.
    Never heard that one. Thanks!
    I enjoy those old american saws. There should be a thread for those.
    Regards, fusker

  20. #40
    mjk
    mjk is offline Stainless
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    I'm with a few of the above. Yard sales and flea markets are victum to my buying habit of adjustables that need a new home. Ironically my favorite is a 8" Craftsman from the 60's? that is nickel plated.

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