Craftsman Tools -- RIP - Page 4
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  1. #61
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    I've never really understood the Craftsman draw. Even in their "golden age" they were middle of the road, albeit adequate, but generally mediocre tools. Their warranty was great, but most hand tools worth a shit have the same warranty. I think some guys wanted to be able to just abuse tools and have them replaced again and again and again. To quote a classic :

    Tommy:Let's think about this for a sec, Ted, why would somebody put a guarantee on a box? Hmmm, very interesting.

    Ted Nelson: Go on, I'm listening.

    Tommy: Here's the way I see it, Ted. Guy puts a fancy guarantee on a box 'cause he wants you to fell all warm and toasty inside.

    Ted Nelson: Yeah, makes a man feel good.

    Tommy: 'Course it does. Why shouldn't it? Ya figure you put that little box under your pillow at night, the Guarantee Fairy might come by and leave a quarter, am I right, Ted?

    Ted Nelson: What's your point?

    Tommy: The point is, how do you know the fairy isn't a crazy glue sniffer? "Building model airplanes" says the little fairy, well, we're not buying it. He sneaks into your house once, that's all it takes. The next thing you know, there's money missing off the dresser and your daughter's knocked up, I seen it a hundred times.

    Ted Nelson: But why do they put a guarantee on the box?

    Tommy: Because they know all they sold ya was a guaranteed piece of shit. That's all it is, isn't it? Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time. But for now, for your customer's sake, for your daughter's sake, ya might wanna think about buying a quality product from me.

    Ted Nelson: Okay, I'll buy from you.



    Craftsman also never really MADE anything. They had their tools made under contract by companies like Easco, SK Wayne, Armstrong, and others over the years. Once they started importing stuff and told the US makers to shove it is when the quality went downhill FAST. I guess I would rather just buy SK instead of SK badged as a Craftsman.

    And their ratchets were GARBAGE after the RHFT variant went away.

    For USA tools, there are still LOTS of options. SK, Proto, Wright, Snap-on, MAC, and Cornwell all still manufacture the bulk of their line in USA. There are still a few part numbers that are imported, but as far as drive tools, screwdrivers, wrenches and "hard line" tools, they are almost all USA.

    The men in my family are/were tradesman from both sides going back generations. None really had much Craftsman. I have my great-granddad's toolchest, and the bulk of his hand tools were Snap-on, dating out of the 1940's. That box also was stuffed with Diamond, Starrett, Crescent, Proto, Allen, Armstrong, and lots of other industrial brands. There were a few Craftsman items in there, but not many. He was a welder and millwright, and did some machining as well.

    Sadly, venture capitalism under various groups such as the much despised APEX tool group ruined a lot of brands that were old USA names. Most recently Armstrong and Allen were discontinued. Gutted and whored out brands like Crescent, Wiss, Lufkin, Jacobs chuck, HK Porter, Milwaukee, and other classic American companies exist in name only, just a shadow of their former glory.

    There are lots of other good toolmakers still making tools in the USA, you just may have to pay a little closer attention. The informed consumer has the power.

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    FTF Engineering --

    Those are indeed the Craftsman fine tooth round head ratchets that I consider the queens of the Craftsman clan. Sears also sold flex-head versions of those ratchets, in 3/8 inch and 1/2 inch drive sizes for sure . . . I don't recall if there was a 1/4 inch drive version.

    And, as I said earlier, the Moore/Easco/Danaher-made round shank and grip variants are, in my opinion, even better.

    A couple of "incidentallies" that are worth mentioning:

    First, even though they came from the factory with grease lubricant, my STRONGEST recommendation for all ratchets is to keep the mechanism clean and lube it with a light-medium oil. (I've used ATF meeting GM's Dexron II or Dexron III spec since 1972 or thereabouts, on the recommendation of the manager of Armstrong Brothers factory warehouse in San Francisco. Close visual examination of the ratchet mechanisms I've been using still show no significant wear, be they Thorsen, Proto, SK, Armstrong, Wright, or Moore.

    Second, although round head ratchet mechanisms are generally regarded as a single unit, they are in reality assemblies of several parts. The mechanism assemblies are not difficult to disassemble or reassemble, and it is very possible to combine good parts of two or more broken or worn mechanisms into a good working mechanism.

    Third, ratchets that slip may have broken parts, but they also may simply be jammed with hardened grease and grime. Sometimes simply soaking in solvent for a bit is enough to free the mechanism, but sometimes the crud is hardened enough that the mechanism needs to be completely disassembled so that the individual parts can be mechanically de-gunked.

    John

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    I think the draw with Craftsman is that they were very readily available at a reasonable price and the same guarantee as the "big name" pro tools. I don't know anyone who abused the warranty on purpose. Any guy that wanted a decent set could get Craftsman and do OK.

    I've also had SK, Proto, Snap-On, JH Williams, Allen, and Thorsen. They are (or were) all good back in the day, just like Craftsman.

    But like Arc-On says, Big Money came along ruined it, wanting even more...

    "Sadly, venture capitalism under various groups such as the much despised APEX tool group ruined a lot of brands that were old USA names. Most recently Armstrong and Allen were discontinued. Gutted and whored out brands like Crescent, Wiss, Lufkin, Jacobs chuck, HK Porter, Milwaukee, and other classic American companies exist in name only, just a shadow of their former glory.

    There are lots of other good toolmakers still making tools in the USA, you just may have to pay a little closer attention. The informed consumer has the power."

    That is why I buy almost everything used nowdays. Except files and taps. I buy new, Vallorbe swiss files, and NOS GTD Widia taps on eBay. But everything else is used, also in eBay. I can't afford to pay the guys that sent everyone's jobs overseas.
    Last edited by pavt; 05-10-2020 at 08:48 PM.

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    I found this site some time ago:

    Craftsman Tools: Maker "V" And The Modern Era

    Pretty useful in terms of identifying whether an old Craftsman garage sale find is worth buying.

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    A couple more thoughts:

    In the early to mid 1980s, Sears had National Hand Tool -- which had bought tool designs and the Husky and Blackhawk brand names from Triangle Tool when they went down for the third time-- make a 3-piece set of not-quick-release round head ratchets having round shanks, a Snap-On-ish grip, and a top-of-head speeder knob, to be sold as Sunday-ad specials. These ratchets were pretty good, very inexpensive, and, at first, laughed at by the tool snobs. I didn't care for them simply because the grips were too small in diameter and slippery.

    Perhaps ironically, they are now sought after by the shabby-chic tool snobs.

    A couple of years later, Stanley bought National Hand Tool and sold Sears a Craftsman-branded fully polished version of the New Britain/Blackwawk 45-tooth ratchet, AND an easy to clean variant that required only a long deep push of the shifter to release the mechanism from the ratchet body. The drawback of the easy-release mechanism was that the ratched head needed to be even deeper than the already-deep head of the standard ring-retained-mechanism New Britain design.

    And, for what it's worth, Stanley marketed the 3-piece-set ratchet under their own Challenger, Husky, Stanley, and ?? (I've forgotten) brand as well as private labeling them for hardware and auto supply chains.

    John

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    Thanks again John for the info. I've had mine for quite a number of years, and like eKretz, they are the only Craftsman ratchets I've used that I've not had a problem with.

    I busted up the 3/8 some number of years ago (probably abusing it) and took it to Sears for a "new" one and they tried to swap it out for one of the new coarse tooth teardrop head versions. I told them I would not do that, so they gave me a couple of the rebuild kits to allow me to fix it myself. I think I now have two of each size rebuild kits stuffed in the back of a toolbox drawer. Hoping those outlast me and I never need to buy another new ratchet.

    RIP Craftsman

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    In my whole life I've seen exactly one Craftsman ratchet fail. It was my dads 1963, 1/4 drive with the flying vee shifter. It finally went sometime in the 1990's. I swapped it for a new one at the local Sears, no questions asked.

    The big 3/4 drive ratchet in my previous photo has been severely abused by former co-workers and is still holding up fine. The guy had a stubborn bolt on a cat 920 front loader bucket, so he hooked the crane up to my ratchet. The only thing that happened was the crane burned up.

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    I've had a pile of 1/4" and at least a good handful of 3/8" Craftsman ratchets fail. All newer, post-1990s. Plenty of this style:

    spin_prod_206328201.jpg
    And every single one of these style that I've owned:

    f3ecea78a004ef7da5f9183fb6e0f528.jpg

    And no, I never used a pipe or hammer on them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by eKretz View Post
    I've had a pile of 1/4" and at least a good handful of 3/8" Craftsman ratchets fail. All newer, post-1990s.
    Yep, thats probably when they started really going to crap. I actually got rid of everything I owned that was made after that time, and reverted to 1950's and 60's tooling. Frankly its a much better value, IMHO. If I'm gonna spend the money I'm not gonna spend it on poorly made junk. Buy once, cry once.

    Actually, some of my dies are much older than that: the old two-piece greenfield/ Wells Bros dies and die stocks with the collets. Probably made somewhere between 1890 and 1940. Still doing good work, too.

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    If Ingersoll Rand made more than just air tools, that’s all I’d have in my tool box. When I was a mechanic, you could buy the harbor freight impact gun for $50 and it would last a month if that, the snap on one for $1000 and it’s guaranteed “for life” or Ingersoll for $150 and it’ll never break if you take care of it. And hey, they’re not exactly USA anymore so I hear. It was what I could afford, and it worked well for me, and still does. That’s all I or anyone wants from their tools; get what you pay for.

    Craftsman had it. They had the market in the bag; all they had to do was come up with innovative ways to continue to make good products for decent prices. They sold out, and got what they deserved; a place on the “they don’t make things like they used to” hall of fame. I hope some bright-minded sod sees the potential in the mid-grade tool market as the “my brand is the new craftsman.”

    I say this a lot, “@&&&@&&$&@ers wanna take my money and give me nothing for it.”

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    Quote Originally Posted by thunderskunk View Post
    If Ingersoll Rand made more than just air tools, that’s all I’d have in my tool box.
    Dunno if Ingersoll is that good anymore, but I used to use them a lot back in the 1990's. They had a big plant here in Buffalo, finally closed it down and sent it all to Brazil last year. It was the compressor factory. That was the last of the local Machinists as far as I know -- there are no more plants left. Must be hundreds of union machinists out of work around here, and then the virus hit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Garner View Post
    A couple more thoughts:
    And, for what it's worth, Stanley marketed the 3-piece-set ratchet under their own Challenger, Husky, Stanley, and ?? (I've forgotten) brand as well as private labeling them for hardware and auto supply chains.

    John
    I thought Challenger was a Proto sub-brand? From the time when I-R owned Proto. Both my Proto socket sets and my Challenger Combo wrench set came from the same Proto dealer who had to order them for me.

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    I thought Blackhawk was the name put on Snap-On tools that were wear items, things they didn't want to replace for free?
    I remember when Home Depot first had Husky hand tools. They were different looking than the old Husky, but still made in the USA with a lifetime replacement. Now Husky is just cheap crap from china, how did that happen?

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    eKretz --

    The "every single one" ratchet you show is the one I referred to as "the crappiest of crappy ratchets". Danaher made them here in the US, along with a trivially-less-bad Allen brand variant having a still-too-skinny knurled cylindrical grip. Neither version is worth the effort of throwing one over a fence.

    (I do keep one of them around in case a tool-borrowing relative comments disparagingly about the very well made Taiwanese tools I lend out.)

    John

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    Yea, that's the ratchet I was referring to. They break all the time....worse even, they don't break, but they get very notchy, skip teeth, etc. so you keep using them. If they'd just outright break, you could move on with your life.

    I have 4 or 5 in each size, some are in brand new shape. That's because I don't use them, why bother....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nerdlinger View Post
    Most of what we sell is under our brand, Precision Instruments. We also private brand for Snap-On and MAC tools. (Not ALL of theirs, though....so some of SO’s and MAC’s stuff is designed and mfg by us). In fact, we designed and manufactured exclusively for Snap-On from 1938 though 2002. At that time they got a new president who said, "copy everything we are getting from out vendors" so they made inferior knock-offs of our products and produced them via a torque wrench company they bought in the late 90's. Then a few years later they got another president who said, "we're not a manufacturer really....we are a brand....let's utilize our supply chain" so we still make some for them, but the vast majority is now sold under our own brand.
    Good evening.

    That's very interesting. I had a go at being respectable in the late eighties, & worked for Snap On in the UK doing sales to industry. It was then I found out that a lot of Snap-On stuff is made by others, in fact the Blue-Point brand is all made by others.

    I purchased one of the first Snap-On 3/8 drive digital torque wrenches, (was it one of yours I wonder) It gave me brilliant service for some ten 10 years, & aside from eating batteries it was faultless.

    They had a deal on the new at the time digital wrench which also did angle torque, so I traded my old one in. The new wrench was absolute garbage. It would cut out mid 'pull' & in total it went back to the repair centre at least 3 times. Needless to say, I sold it cheap, & bought one of their latest digital torque wrenches, which so far (4 years), has worked faultlessly.

    I still have a dial type of yours which is some 25 years old. It reads up to 20nm. It's been re-calibrated every 5 years, & is still my first choice for camshaft cap bolts on Japanese motorbikes.


    Cheers.


    Stew.

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  26. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bdog507 View Post
    Good evening.

    That's very interesting. I had a go at being respectable in the late eighties, & worked for Snap On in the UK doing sales to industry. It was then I found out that a lot of Snap-On stuff is made by others, in fact the Blue-Point brand is all made by others.

    I purchased one of the first Snap-On 3/8 drive digital torque wrenches, (was it one of yours I wonder) It gave me brilliant service for some ten 10 years, & aside from eating batteries it was faultless.

    They had a deal on the new at the time digital wrench which also did angle torque, so I traded my old one in. The new wrench was absolute garbage. It would cut out mid 'pull' & in total it went back to the repair centre at least 3 times. Needless to say, I sold it cheap, & bought one of their latest digital torque wrenches, which so far (4 years), has worked faultlessly.

    I still have a dial type of yours which is some 25 years old. It reads up to 20nm. It's been re-calibrated every 5 years, & is still my first choice for camshaft cap bolts on Japanese motorbikes.


    Cheers.


    Stew.
    Hi Stew! We did not make the digital wrenches you referenced. The 25 year old one was probably what they used to call "digitorque" that I cannot remember who made but the new(er) "tech wrenches" are made by a brand they bought in the 90's. The dial type you have is definitely made by us, and is probably a model TESI20 like the pic below. Those are the type of torque wrenches that started our company when my grandfather invented it in 1938. If fact, unless I want his ghost to haunt me I should correct my wording to "torque instrument haha. When he and my dad would put on their tweed suits and go to Snap-On shows to sell and educate people on our products they believed if you call them torque "wrenches" people will treat them like....wrenches, whereas if you called them "instruments" people would be a little more careful with them funny old tales of the way things used to be.

    Stay safe!

    Matt

    tesi75.jpg

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    reggie_obe --

    My earlier reply to your question about Challenger seems to have disappeared into the ether, and at this point I don't have the time to recreate it. So here's the short version:

    Challenger was originally a Penens Corporation (Chicago) short line of low-priced tools, and when Pendleton Tool Industries (PTI) -- which owned Proto -- bought Penens Corporation, Challenger went along. PTI was on a buying spree, and soon found themselves owners of a small handfull of short lines, including Challenger, Fleet, and Vlchek. PTI rationalized their business to the extent of making their short-line tools as badge-engineered versions of the same products, but kept the old factories going on a you-make-this-and-you-make-that basis.

    When PTI's owner, Morris Pendleton, sold PTI to Ingersoll Rand, IR soon realized that owning a multitude of pseudo-competitive tool brands that were being manufactured in a multitude of small factories filled with old manufacturing equipment was very expensive. So, IR eliminated the Fleet and Vlchek brands, closed old factories, and consolidated most of the short-line manufacturing in Proto-heritage facilities. At the same time, IR re-branded Challenger, IIRC as Proto-Challenger at first, and later as Challenger by Proto.

    Sometime later, shortly after Stanley purchased Mac Tools and built a Stanley-brand short line based on Mac capabilities, IR sold their Hand Tool Division to Stanley. Shortly after that, Stanley bought National Hand Tool (NHT), which had bought significant designs, manufacturing equipment, and the Husky and Blackhawk brand names when Triangle Tool closed.

    Almost immediately, Stanley rationalized their lines, making Stanley and Challenger badge-engineered variants of the NHT-heritage Blackhawk and Husky tools. This put Stanley in what had been IR's boat, having four pseudo-competing brands that differed only in their markings.

    Stanley ended up discontinuing the Challenger line, moved Blackhawk into position as Proto's understudy, and sold
    the Husky name to Home Depot, including a contract provision requiring Home Depot to buy Husky-branded tools from Stanley.

    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by reggie_obe View Post
    I remember when Home Depot first had Husky hand tools. They were different looking than the old Husky, but still made in the USA with a lifetime replacement. Now Husky is just cheap crap from china, how did that happen?
    If I remember correctly Stanley originally manufactured the Husky brand for Home Depot in the states but then APEX group started making them and I think that is largely overseas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Garner View Post
    eKretz --

    The "every single one" ratchet you show is the one I referred to as "the crappiest of crappy ratchets". Danaher made them here in the US, along with a trivially-less-bad Allen brand variant having a still-too-skinny knurled cylindrical grip. Neither version is worth the effort of throwing one over a fence.

    (I do keep one of them around in case a tool-borrowing relative comments disparagingly about the very well made Taiwanese tools I lend out.)

    John
    Yeah John, I kinda' figured. Those things are terrible. I think several of them didn't even last a couple of uses. Pretty sure I still have a pile of them laying in the bottom of a drawer somewhere.

    I've never thrown one of those over a fence, but in my younger days when my fuse was a good bit shorter I did wing a 15" Diamond Tool and Horseshoe adjustable wrench about 80' across the shop where I was working and bounced it off a sheet metal wall and then down onto the concrete. I don't believe it was any fault of the wrench though, haha. The wrench worked just fine ever after until someone I loaned it to put a 3' pipe on the handle and used it 'backwards' so it was pulling against the movable jaw. Snapped it right off. THAT sucked. The perpetrator couldn't replace it since they were out of business, so I got a Craftsman instead. Raw deal.


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