Unusual old open end wrench set
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  1. #1
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    Default Unusual old open end wrench set

    I picked this set up at a recent estate sale. It is a set of open end wrenches from 1/8" to 1/2" in 64ths of an inch.



    They are approximately 4 inches long and in a pocketed tool roll.Unfortunately, the 31/64 and 1/2 wrenches disappeared some time in the past, probably because of the slightly less than ideal tool roll.

    The size range, wrench size, and tool roll suggest bicycle tools to me. Any confirmation or other information?

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    Tappet set?

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    Interesting !!! Reggie-obie is right, of course, thin wrenches are usually for tappets or lock ("jam") nuts. Another thin wrench application is adjustable-play bearings.

    The lack of evidence of abuse implies ownership by someone who cared; these would not last long in the hands of a clod !

    Do you know anything of the estate owner? His/her trade ? Age ?

    Are there any maker's marks on this set? (Also look at the snap-fastener on the tool roll. Might give a place of mfr.)

    Do they appear to be forgings or stampings ? (Hard to tell in the photo, but they appear to be thin.)

    I'm going to make a wild guess and say that they are British and that they are quite old. Gut feeling, not based on any concious knowledge, is that they are for motorcycle or more likely bicycle repair. Early bicycles had peculiar fasteners, including bearing adjustments that required thin wrenches. But, on the other hand, the range of sizes is very wide !

    I believe a study of Machinery's Handbook is in order here. (Your public library has it if you don't. My copy is at home at the moment.) Look at standard sizes of nuts in various systems. Find a system that is in 64ths......

    John Ruth

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    An old set of ignition wrenches.

    Ray

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    John,

    I am afraid I know nothing of the last owner except that he tended to collect stuff. That suggests this wrench set has nothing to do with his career.

    The wrenches are stamped from .090 steel. The only markings on them are the size markings. Likewise, no marks on snaps or on the roll.

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    I'm with Ray, ignition wrenches.

    Craig Donges

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    Perhaps they are ignition wrenches, but usually those have the same size opening on the other end with a complementing angle, for situations where you can't get much movement of the nut.

    I would like to suggest hydraulic wrenches, as they are often thin and are stamped instead of forged, but these are obviously old, probably from the WWII era, or slightly before.

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    I think because of the wide range of sizes it is just a set of general purpose thin offset end wrenches that can be used for bicycle wheels, ignitions, tappets, and myriad other needs. Looks like there's one there I could use on my Radial Arm Saw arbor.

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    Clock repair?

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    Nope! They're still ignition wrenches. Maybe Standard Ignition of Cleveland or Echlin. Many old distributor fasteners were in 1/64 measurement. Tappet wrenches had to be much stronger, longer and usually started out at 3/8". I've been there and have done that 'cause I'm old.

    Ray

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    Ray is right on this........ I have seen them in old catalogs. I guess the various car makers used some really special sized screws so not just anybody would mess with their stuff (kind of like you have to take it to the dealer for repair) but then the tool companies would make and sell the special tools to just about anybody....... think of how many weird things Snap-On, K & D and all those similar companies made?...... you would think makers would just give up and use standard off the shelf hardware? it would save them money I would think.....

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    Agree with Ray; ignition wrenches.
    Tappet wrenches would have to be much more stout.

    I can still picture this old "mechanic" by the name of Swede Carlson in our small town back in the 50 & 60s, that had all his tools in the trunk of a 39 Chevy. He had such wrenches as those shown and in a rolled up canvas pouch too.

    He was poor as a church mouse, but could work on just about anything.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stu Miller View Post
    ...snip...
    The size range, wrench size, and tool roll suggest bicycle tools to me. Any confirmation or other information?
    Looks like "cone wrenches" - used to adjust the cones on lose ball bearings - thing to fit in on the cone while a regular wrench is ised to tighten the jam nut

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    With Rivett's 3 votes, ignition wrenches lead by 7 to 1 to 1 to 1.

    John Ruth, I checked the 7th edition of machinery's handbook as well as a couple of later editions and found no standard systems of nuts in less than 1/32 intervals and none below 5/32, but it was interesting exercise.

    kg2v, I am not able to picture exactly the application you are suggesting. Would there be use for a wrench as small as 1/8 in these adjustments?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stu Miller View Post
    With Rivett's 3 votes, ignition wrenches lead by 7 to 1 to 1 to 1.

    John Ruth, I checked the 7th edition of machinery's handbook as well as a couple of later editions and found no standard systems of nuts in less than 1/32 intervals and none below 5/32, but it was interesting exercise.

    kg2v, I am not able to picture exactly the application you are suggesting. Would there be use for a wrench as small as 1/8 in these adjustments?
    A bicycle wheel has bearing cones. A small wrench is used to restrain the axle and a nut and jam nut are used to set pretension on the cones.

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    FWIW, I've worked on gasoline engines for fifty years and never seen any nut in an ignition distributor much larger than 3/8" and all the ignition wrenches I've ever seen were double-ended.

    thnx, jack vines.

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    No makers' name? Not the best of materials? I would not be suprised to learn that someone in Japan, or even China, decided it would be a good idea to make a set of wrenches that would cover every size.

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    Since few folks have ever seen a Tappet wrench heres what a 5/8-11/16 looks like next to a standard.





    I vote for a cheap set like sold in the cart near the checkout in a hardware store. My FIL had a bunch of junk tools like that.

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    John Ruth, I checked the 7th edition of machinery's handbook as well as a couple of later editions and found no standard systems of nuts in less than 1/32 intervals and none below 5/32, but it was interesting exercise.
    Stu,

    FWIW, though I doubt these are Whitworth wrenches, the smaller obsolete Whitworth sizes did have some wrenches with multiples of 64ths across the flats, e.g.a 3/32W wrench is 19/64 across the flats, a 5/32W is 25/64 across the flats and a 7/32W is 31/64 across the flats.

    My first guess would have been that these were ignition wrenches, but (a) the small ones look a bit bulky in the head to get into the confined spaces often found in magnetos and distributors, and (b) as Packard V8 mentioned, the sizes go larger than those commonly used.

    Packard V8: Terry in England used to make reasonable quality single ended ignition wrenches, often in sets riveted together on the plain end. Also, a number of English cars used to include a single ended ignition wrench with attached feeler gauge in the car's tool kit.

    franco

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    Quote Originally Posted by PackardV8 View Post
    FWIW, I've worked on gasoline engines for fifty years and never seen any nut in an ignition distributor much larger than 3/8" and all the ignition wrenches I've ever seen were double-ended.

    thnx, jack vines.
    Jack,

    Yup, you're right, except for the J C Whitney cheepos and the Standard Ign. I've got a partial set of them that look indentical to these pictured. They even measure .090. thick with Standard Ignition kinda stamped on each. All the quality ones like my Bonney set are dbl. ended.

    Ray


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