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Alloy Steel: The Armstrong-Vanadium Era

Armstrong was one of the earlier tool makers to make use of alloy steels for their hand tools. Their catalog B-20 of 1920 lists a line of "Aero" tappet wrenches made with a chrome-nickel alloy steel, and their 1927 catalog claims that alloy steel tools were first offered in 1919. The 1919 date, if true, would place them close to the earliest known usage. (Herbrand is thought to have used alloy steels in 1919, when their "Van-Chrome" trademark was registered.) However, Armstrong appears not to have expanded the selection of alloy tools beyond the Aero tappets until around 1925.

By 1927 Armstrong was offering a substantial selection of double-open and tappet wrenches made with chrome-vanadium steel. These early alloy tools were marked with "Armstrong-Vanadium" forged into the shank, typically with "Drop-Forged Chrome Vanadium Steel" on the reverse. The line of alloy tools was soon expanded to include obstruction wrenches and a line of thin single-open wrenches with 30-degree offset heads.

The Armstrong-Vanadium wrenches were also offered in collaboration with Blackhawk Manufacturing as the Blackhawk-Armstrong line. (See our article on Blackhawk-Armstrong Tools for more information.)

Armstrong box-end wrenches were probably first offered in the late 1920s, but we don't have a catalog reference until 1935. However, the Armstrong line of single-offset box wrenches closely resembles those offered by Blackhawk in the late 1920s, and even have the same model numbers. Given the known connection with the Blackhawk-Armstrong wrenches, it seems very likely that Armstrong was the manufacturer of these single-offset wrenches as well.

In this section we'll look at the early alloy tools of the Armstrong-Vanadium era, spanning the period from the early 1920s to the early 1930s.


Open-End Wrenches

By 1927 Armstrong was offering a wide selection of open-end "Engineer's" wrenches, marked with a bold "Armstrong-Vanadium" brand forged into the shank. Some early versions of these tools are marked with the older U.S.S. or S.A.E. sizes, suggesting that these tools may have been available somewhat before 1927. Other manufacturers -- notably Bonney and Williams -- are believed to have switched to fractional sizes beginning sometime in 1927.


Armstrong-Vanadium 1023 13/32x1/2 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong-Vanadium 1023 13/32x1/2 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 14. Armstrong-Vanadium 1023 13/32x1/2 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. late 1920s.

Fig. 14 shows an Armstrong 1023 13/32x1/2 open-end wrench, marked "Armstrong-Vanadium" in forged raised letters on the shank, with "Drop Forged Chrome-Vanadium Steel" forged into the reverse. The faces are stamped with the fractional sizes, and reverse faces are stamped with the model number and "Armstrong Chicago, U.S.A.", although the latter marking has been partly obscured by grinding.

The overall length is 6.0 inches.

The use of fractional sizes for the openings indicates somewhat later production than the previous figures.


Armstrong-Vanadium 1725-A 7/16x9/16 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong-Vanadium 1725-A 7/16x9/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 15A. Armstrong-Vanadium 1725-A 7/16x9/16 Open-End Wrench, with Insets for Reverse and Marking Detail, ca. Late 1920s.

Fig. 15A shows an Armstrong 1725-A 7/16x9/16 open-end wrench, marked with "Drop Forged Chrome-Vanadium Steel" forged into the shank, with "Armstrong-Vanadium" forged into the reverse. The model number is stamped on the left face, with "Armstrong" and "Chicago, U.S.A." on the right face, and with the fractional sizes on the reverse faces.

The overall length is 6.5 inches, and the finish is nickel plating, with losses due to rust.

The middle inset shows a close-up of the small "Armstrong Chicago, U.S.A." stamped on the right face, without the Strong-Arm logo. This is believed to indicate earlier production than the more common stamped marking "Armstrong Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo.


Armstrong-Vanadium 1727 9/16x5/8 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong-Vanadium 1727 9/16x5/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 15B. Armstrong-Vanadium 1727 9/16x5/8 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1925-1927.

Fig. 15B shows an early Armstrong 1727 9/16x5/8 open-end wrench, marked with "Drop Forged Chrome-Vanadium Steel" forged into the shank, with "Armstrong-Vanadium" forged into the reverse. The left face is stamped with the model number, but the right face has been ground down and the markings have been lost. The reverse faces are stamped "3/8 CAP 3/8 S.A.E." and "7/16 CAP 7/16 S.A.E.", references to the older Hex Capscrew and S.A.E. Size Conventions.

The overall length is 6.9 inches, and the finish is nickel plating, with losses due to wear.

The use of the Hex Capscrew and S.A.E. size conventions indicates an early production date for this wrench.


Armstrong-Vanadium 1027-C 9/16x11/16 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong-Vanadium 1027-C 9/16x11/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 16. Armstrong-Vanadium 1027-C 9/16x11/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. Late 1920s to Early 1930s.

Fig. 16 shows an Armstrong 1027-C 9/16x11/16 open-end wrench, marked with "Drop Forged Chrome-Vanadium Steel" forged into the shank, with "Armstrong-Vanadium" forged into the reverse. The faces are stamped with the model number and "Made in U.S.A." plus the Strong-Arm logo, and the reverse faces are stamped with the fractional sizes.

The overall length is 6.8 inches. The finish appears to be chrome plating, but with some losses due to wear.

The use of the Strong-Arm logo in the face indicates somewhat later production than the previous figures.


Early Armstrong-Vanadium 1027 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong-Vanadium 1027 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 17. Armstrong-Vanadium 1027 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench, with Insets for Reverse and Logo, ca. 1925-1927.

Fig. 17 shows an early Armstrong 1027 19/32x11/16 open-end wrench, marked "Armstrong-Vanadium" in forged raised letters on the shank, with "Drop Forged Chrome-Vanadium Steel" forged into the reverse. The faces are stamped "5/16 NUT" and "3/8 NUT", references to the older USS size convention.

The overall length is 7.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with pitting due to rust.

The use of the U.S.S. size convention indicates an early production date for this wrench.


Armstrong-Vanadium 1028-S 5/8x25/32 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong-Vanadium 1028-S 5/8x25/32 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 18A. Armstrong-Vanadium 1028-S 5/8x25/32 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. late 1920s.

Fig. 18A shows an Armstrong 1028-S 5/8x25/32 open-end wrench, marked with "Drop Forged Chrome-Vanadium Steel" forged into the shank, with "Armstrong-Vanadium" forged into the reverse. The faces are stamped with the model number and "Armstrong Chicago, U.S.A.", and the reverse faces are stamped with the fractional sizes.

The overall length is 7.9 inches. The finish is nickel plating, with some losses due to rust and corrosion.

The use of fractional sizes for the openings indicates somewhat later production than the previous figures.


Armstrong-Vanadium 1731-A 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong-Vanadium 1731-A 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 18B. Armstrong-Vanadium 1731-A 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench, with Insets for Reverse and Detail, ca. late 1920s.

Fig. 18B shows an Armstrong 1731-A 3/4x7/8 open-end wrench, marked with "Drop Forged Chrome Vanadium Steel" forged into the shank, with "Armstrong-Vanadium" forged into the reverse. The faces are stamped with the model number and "Armstrong Chicago, U.S.A." (see center inset), and the reverse faces are stamped with the fractional sizes.

The overall length is 9.5 inches. The finish is plain steel, as any former plated finish has been lost due to rust.

The use of fractional sizes for the openings indicates somewhat later production than the previous figures.


Early Armstrong-Vanadium 1033-A 7/8x15/16 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong-Vanadium 1033-A 7/8x15/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 19. Armstrong-Vanadium 1033-A 7/8x15/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1925-1927.

Fig. 19 shows an early Armstrong 1033-A 7/8x15/16 open-end wrench, marked with "Armstrong-Vanadium" forged into the shank, with "Drop Forged Chrome-Vanadium Steel" forged into the reverse. The front faces are stamped "1/2 NUT 5/8 CAP" and "5/8 S.A.E.", references to the older USS, Hex Capscrew, and SAE size conventions. The reverse faces are stamped with the model number on the left and "Armstrong Chicago, U.S.A." on the right.

The overall length is 9.5 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

The use of the USS and S.A.E. size conventions indicates an early production date for this wrench.


Armstrong-Vanadium 1033-C 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong-Vanadium 1033-C 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 20A. Armstrong-Vanadium 1033-C 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. Late 1920s to Early 1930s.

Fig. 20A shows an Armstrong 1033-C 15/16x1 open-end wrench, marked with "Drop Forged Chrome-Vanadium Steel" forged into the shank, with the model number stamped on the left face and "Made in U.S.A." plus the Strong-Arm logo on the right. The reverse is marked with "Armstrong-Vanadium" forged into the shank, with the fractional sizes stamped on the faces.

The overall length is 10.4 inches. The original finish appears to have been chrome plating, but most has been lost due to wear and rust.

The use of the Strong-Arm logo in the face indicates somewhat later production than the previous figures.


Armstrong-Vanadium 1077-B 1/2x9/16 S-Shaped Open-End Wrench

Armstrong also offered S-shaped open-end wrenches in alloy steel, as the next figure illustrates.

[Armstrong-Vanadium 1077-B 1/2x9/16 S-Shaped Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 20B. Armstrong-Vanadium 1077-B 1/2x9/16 S-Shaped Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. Late 1920s to Early 1930s.

Fig. 20B shows an Armstrong 1077-B 1/2x9/16 S-shaped wrench, stamped on the face with "Made in U.S.A." and the Strong-Arm logo. The shank is marked with "Armstrong-Vanadium" forged into the front, with "Drop Forged Chrome-Vanadium Steel" forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 7.2 inches.


Tappet Wrenches

Armstrong's Vanadium series of tappet wrenches featured equal opening sizes with one opening straight and the other offset by 22.5 degrees. Bonney had used this same design for their early CV tappet wrenches, introduced in 1922, and this style remained popular during the 1920s.

The Armstrong-Vanadium tappet wrenches were given model numbers in a 40x series.


Armstrong-Vanadium 403 9/16x9/16 Tappet Wrenches

The next figures show two generations of the Armstrong 403 tappet wrench.

[Armstrong-Vanadium 403 9/16x9/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 21. Armstrong-Vanadium 403 9/16x9/16 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. Late 1920s.

Fig. 21 shows an earlier Armstrong 403 9/16x9/16 tappet wrench, marked with "Armstrong-Vanadium Tappet Wrench" forged into the shank, with "Drop Forged Chrome-Vanadium Steel" forged into the reverse. The faces are stamped with the model number on the left, with "Armstrong" and "Chicago, U.S.A." on the right, and with the fractional size on the reverse faces.

The overall length is 8.5 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

[Armstrong-Vanadium 403 9/16x9/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 22. Armstrong-Vanadium 403 9/16x9/16 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. Late 1920s to Early 1930s.

Fig. 22 shows a somewhat later Armstrong 403 9/16x9/16 tappet wrench, marked with "Armstrong-Vanadium Tappet Wrench" forged into the shank, with "Drop Forged Chrome-Vanadium Steel" forged into the reverse. The faces are stamped with the model number on the left, with "Armstrong" and "Made in U.S.A." with an embedded Strong-Arm logo on the right.

The overall length is 8.5 inches. The finish is plain steel, with some pitting due to rust.


Armstrong-Vanadium 404 5/8x5/8 Tappet Wrench

[Armstrong-Vanadium 404 5/8x5/8 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 23A. Armstrong-Vanadium 404 5/8x5/8 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. Late 1920s.

Fig. 23A shows an early Armstrong 404 5/8x5/8 tappet wrench, stamped "Armstrong" and "Chicago, U.S.A." on the face. The shank is marked with "Armstrong-Vanadium Tappet Wrench" forged into the front, with "Drop Forged Chrome-Vanadium Steel" forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 8.5 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


Armstrong-Vanadium 405 11/16x11/16 Tappet Wrench

[Armstrong-Vanadium 405 11/16x11/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 23B. Armstrong-Vanadium 405 11/16x11/16 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. Late 1920s.

Fig. 23B shows an early Armstrong 405 11/16x11/16 tappet wrench, stamped "Armstrong" and "Chicago, U.S.A." on the face. The shank is marked with "Armstrong-Vanadium Tappet Wrench" forged into the front, with "Drop Forged Chrome-Vanadium Steel" forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 8.5 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


Obstruction Wrenches

Obstruction wrenches were a specialized subset of open-end wrenches designed for work in tight spaces. These wrenches first became popular in the late 1920s, and several different obstruction wrench designs were in common use. Armstrong's design featured two different opening sizes placed at nearly right angles to the wrench axis, a design very similar to that used by J.H. Williams.

Armstrong obstruction wrenches were assigned model numbers by adding 2000 to the industry-standard number for the equivalent open-end wrench. (See our table Industry-Standard Wrench Models for more information.) For example, a wrench with sizes 19/32x25/32 would be an industry-standard model 28, and therefore became a model 2028 obstruction wrench.

Armstrong was a manufacturing partner for Blackhawk and the corresponding Blackhawk-Armstrong obstruction wrenches are basically identical to Armstrong's production, except for the markings. Examples include the Blackhawk-Armstrong 2029 Obstruction Wrench and Blackhawk-Armstrong 2731 Obstruction Wrench.

Examples of obstruction wrenches similar to the Armstrong models can be seen in the Billings M-2030 Obstruction Wrench and Williams 2021 Obstruction Wrench.

Alternate obstruction wrench designs were used by companies such as Bonney and Herbrand, and examples of their production can be seen in the Bonney 2031 Obstruction Wrench and Herbrand 1827 Obstruction Wrench.


2028 19/32x25/32 Obstruction Wrench

[Armstrong 2028 19/32x25/32 Obstruction Wrench]
Fig. 25. Armstrong 2028 19/32x25/32 Obstruction Wrench.

Fig. 25 shows an Armstrong 2028 19/32x25/32 obstruction wrench, marked "Armstrong Chicago, U.S.A." on the face, with "Drop Forged Chrome-Vanadium Steel" forged into the shank.

The overall length is 7.7 inches, and the finish is nickel plating with polished faces.

The reverse side of the shank has been ground smooth and has no markings.


2029 11/16x25/32 Obstruction Wrench

[Armstrong 2029 11/16x25/32 Obstruction Wrench]
Fig. 26. Armstrong 2029 11/16x25/32 Obstruction Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 26 shows an Armstrong 2029 11/16x25/32 obstruction wrench, stamped with the Strong-Arm logo plus "Armstrong Bros. Tool Co." and "Chicago, U.S.A." on the shank, with "Chromium-Vanadium" on the reverse. The faces are stamped with the fractional sizes on one side, with the model number and "Armstrong Chicago U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.7 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.

The smooth shank with stamped markings suggests a later production date for this example.


Box-End Wrenches

Armstrong probably introduced box-end wrenches with double-hex broachings in the late 1920s or early 1930s, a time when other tool companies such as Bonney, Herbrand, Snap-On, and Williams were also introducing box wrenches. However, due to limited catalog resources, our first reference to these tools is in the Armstrong 1935 catalog.

Armstrong's earliest numbering system for box wrenches was a series of 2xxx model numbers not based on industry-standard wrench numbers. The 1935 catalog offered wrenches in a 24xx series for the angled box style, a 26xx series for the standard double-offset style, a 27xx series for the short double-offset style, and a 29xx series for the single-offset style.

Blackhawk Manufacturing began offering box-end wrenches in the late 1920s, and although these were not jointly marked as were the Blackhawk-Armstrong open-end wrenches, it's likely that Armstrong was the manufacturer of the Blackhawk box wrenches. The later Blackhawk wrenches use the same 2xxx numbering system that Armstrong was using by 1935, and the wrenches closely resemble Armstrong's later production. Examples of Blackhawk's products can be seen in the section on Early Blackhawk Box-End Wrenches.

As for why the wrenches were not jointly marked, it may be that Armstrong had not yet decided to sell box wrenches when Blackhawk began offering them. Box-end wrenches were very new in the 1920s and were not developed by the big tool companies. The first offset box wrench was developed by APCo (later part of Mossberg), and Snap-on's Blue Point division appears to have been the first to offer a line of box wrenches.


8727 9/16x5/8 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Armstrong-Vanadium 8727 9/16x5/8 Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 27. Armstrong-Vanadium 8727 9/16x5/8 Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. Early to Mid 1930s.

Fig. 27 shows an Armstrong 8727 9/16x5/8 offset box wrench, stamped "Chromium Vanadium" and "Made in U.S.A." on the shank, with "Armstrong-Vanadium" and the Strong-Arm logo on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.7 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

Note the relatively thick oval shank on this early box wrench. Later production in the 8000 series used a thinner, flatter shank.

The use of the full element names in the "Chromium Vanadium" marking was often found on contract production for Western Auto in the early to mid 1930s. Although Armstrong didn't start using 8000 series model numbers until later in the 1930s, this wrench was probably made as contract production and so was marked with the industry-standard 8727 model number.


The Chrome-Vanadium Era

By the early 1930s Armstrong had changed the marking style of its open-end wrenches, dropping the forged-in markings in favor of simple stamped markings. This was probably intended to reduce the cost of preparing the forging dies and to simplify markings for contract production customers.

After the Armstrong-Vanadium era, alloy tools were initially marked with "Chrome-Vanadium", but later with generic "Alloy Steel" or "Hi-Tensile" markings. During the 1942-1945 wartime years it is likely that all explicit alloy markings had been replaced by generic markings, or no marking at all.

It's worth mentioning that Armstrong's catalogs continued to show illustrations with "Armstrong-Vanadium" into the early 1940s, and a few examples have been found of tools with (stamped) "Armstrong-Vanadium" markings but later model numbers. Thus the line between these two generations is somewhat blurred.

In August of 1946 Armstrong began to use "Armaloy" as the standard marking for alloy steel tools, which they registered as a trademark. (The Armaloy tools will be covered in a later section.)


C-V Open-End Wrenches


A-C-3 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong A-C-3 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 28A. Armstrong A-C-3 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. Early 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 28A shows an Armstrong 7/16x1/2 open-end wrench with a non-standard A-C-3 model number, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the face. The reverse side is stamped with "Chrome-Vanadium" on the shank, with the fractional sizes on the faces.

The overall length is 5.3 inches, and the finish is polished steel.

The non-standard model number suggests that this wrench was made as contract production for a specific application, but currently we don't have any further information.


A-1025 1/2x19/32 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong A-1025 1/2x19/32 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 28B. Armstrong A-1025 1/2x19/32 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. Later 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 28B shows an Armstrong A-1025 1/2x19/32 open-end wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the face. The reverse side is stamped with "Chrome-Vanadium" on the shank, with the fractional sizes on the faces.

The overall length is 5.8 inches. The original finish (if any) has been lost due to rust and pitting.


1727 9/16x5/8 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong 1727 9/16x5/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 29A. Armstrong 1727 9/16x5/8 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1945-1946.

Fig. 29A shows an Armstrong 1727 9/16x5/8 open-end wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the face, and with "Alloy Steel" stamped on the reverse shank.

The overall length is 6.8 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.

The "Alloy-Steel" marking and chrome finish suggest production during early postwar period, prior to the adoption of the Armaloy trademark.


1728 9/16x3/4 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong 1728 9/16x3/4 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 29B. Armstrong 1728 9/16x5/8 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1941-1942.

Fig. 29B shows an Armstrong 1728 9/16x3/4 open-end wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the face. The shank is stamped "Chrome-Vanadium" on the front, with "Armstrong" and another Strong-Arm logo on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.9 inches, and the finish is plain steel with polished faces.

The plain finish and "Chrome-Vanadium" marking suggest production during the earlier war years.


A1028S 5/8x25/32 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong A1028S 5/8x25/32 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 30. Armstrong A1028S 5/8x25/32 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. Early 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 30 shows an Armstrong A1028S 5/8x25/32 open-end wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the face. The reverse side is stamped with "Chrome Vanadium" on the shank, with the fractional sizes on the faces.

The overall length is 7.9 inches. The original finish (if any) has been lost due to rust and pitting.


1730 (TKKX20) 5/8x13/16 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong 1730 (TKKX20) 5/8x13/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 31. Armstrong 1730 (TKKX20) 5/8x13/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 31 shows an example of one of the less common wrench sizes, an Armstrong 1730 5/8x13/16 open-end wrench with a dual marking as a model TKKX20. The face is stamped "Armstrong" and "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and the shank is stamped "Hi-Tensile" on the reverse side.

The overall length is 7.9 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The "Hi-Tensile" marking suggests production during the 1942-1945 wartime period.

The "TKKX20" marking is believed to indicate a tool intended for a Dodge military truck, although the documentation on this is not yet clear.


1029 11/16x25/32 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong 1029 11/16x25/32 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 32. Armstrong 1029 11/16x25/32 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1943-1946.

Fig. 32 shows an Armstrong 1029 11/16x25/32 open-end wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the face, and with "Alloy-Steel" on the shank.

The overall length is 8.6 inches.

The "Alloy-Steel" marking suggests production during the later war years or early postwar period, prior to the adoption of the Armaloy trademark.


1731 3/4x13/16 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong 1731 3/4x13/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 33. Armstrong 1731 3/4x13/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1943-1946.

Fig. 33 shows an Armstrong 1731 3/4x13/16 open-end wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the face, and with "Alloy-Steel" on the shank.

The overall length is 9.4 inches.

The "Alloy-Steel" marking suggests production during the later war years or early postwar period, prior to the adoption of the Armaloy trademark.


1731-A 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong A-1731-A 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 34. Armstrong A-1731-A 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. Early 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 34 shows an Armstrong A-1731-A 3/4x7/8 open-end wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the face, and with "Chrome Vanadium" on the reverse shank.

The overall length is 9.5 inches.

A later version of this model can be seen as the Armaloy 1731-A Wrench.


1734 (TKKX4B) 7/8x1-1/8 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong 1734 (TKKX4B) 7/8x1-1/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 35. Armstrong 1734 (TKKX4B) 7/8x1-1/8 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 35 shows an Armstrong 1734 7/8x1-1/8 open-end wrench with a dual marking as a model TKKX4B. The face is stamped "Armstrong" and "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and the shank is stamped "Hi-Tensile" on the reverse side.

The overall length is 10.4 inches. The finish is plain steel with a thick coating of cosmoline.

The "Hi-Tensile" marking suggests production during the 1942-1945 wartime period.

The "TKKX4B" marking is believed to indicate a tool intended for a Dodge military truck, although the documentation on this is not yet clear.


1033-C 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench

[Armstrong 1033-C 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 36. Armstrong 1033-C 15/16x1 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1945-1946.

Fig. 36 shows an Armstrong 1033-C 15/16x1 open-end wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the face, and with "Alloy Steel" stamped on the reverse shank.

The overall length is 10.4 inches. The original finish was chrome plating, but due to extensive rust and pitting, only a few traces of plated finish remain.

The "Alloy Steel" marking suggests production during the later war years or early postwar period, prior to the adoption of the Armaloy trademark. The traces of chrome plating on this example make 1945-1946 the likely production range.


1705 13/16 Single-Open Wrench

Armstrong also produced alloy-steel single-open wrenches, as the next figure illustrates.

[Armstrong 1705 13/16 Single-Open Wrench]
Fig. 39. Armstrong 1705 13/16 Single-Open Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. Early 1940s.

Fig. 39 shows an Armstrong 1705 13/16 single-open wrench, stamped "Chrome-Vanadium" on the shank, with "Made in U.S.A." and the Strong-Arm logo on the reverse face.

The overall length is 8.2 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating, with losses due to wear.


C-V Tappet Wrenches

By the early 1930s Armstrong was offering tappet wrenches with 15 degree offset angles and unequal openings, the typical design used for modern tappet wrenches. These new tappet wrenches were numbered in a 42x model series.

Armstrong continued to list the older 40x series tappet wrenches in their catalogs into the early 1940s.


422 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench

[Armstrong 422 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 37. Armstrong 422 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. Early 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 37 shows an Armstrong 422 1/2x9/16 tappet wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the face. The shank is stamped with "Chromium Vanadium" and "Made in U.S.A." on the front, with "Armstrong-Vanadium" and another Strong-Arm logo on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.9 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


424 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench

[Armstrong 424 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 38. Armstrong 424 5/8x11/16 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1945-1946.

Fig. 38 shows an Armstrong 424 5/8x11/16 tappet wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the face, and with "Alloy Steel" on the reverse shank.

The overall length is 8.4 inches, and the finish is chrome plating, with losses due to wear.

The "Alloy Steel" marking suggests production during the later war years or early postwar period, prior to the adoption of the Armaloy trademark. The traces of chrome plating on this example make 1945-1946 the likely production range.


C-V Box-End Wrenches

Armstrong probably introduced box-end wrenches with double-hex broachings in the late 1920s or early 1930s, a time when other tool companies such as Bonney, Herbrand, Snap-On, and Williams were also introducing box wrenches. However, due to limited catalog resources, our first reference to these tools is in the Armstrong 1935 catalog.

Armstrong's earliest numbering system for box wrenches was a series of 2xxx model numbers not based on industry-standard wrench numbers. The 1935 catalog offered wrenches in a 24xx series for the angled box style, a 26xx series for the standard double-offset style, a 27xx series for the short double-offset style, and a 29xx series for the single-offset style.

By 1939 Armstrong had switched all of its box wrenches (except for the 24xx series) to industry-standard based numbers, using the same prefixes as J.H. Williams. The numbering system used the 6000 prefix for short angled box wrenches, the 8000 prefix for offset box wrenches, and the 9000 prefix for short offset box wrenches. Eventually the 24xx numbers were converted to a 7000-series with industry-standard numbers.

In 1935 Armstrong listed the standard finish for box wrenches as chrome plating over nickel, but by 1939 the finish was listed as cadmium plating for all styles. This is somewhat surprising, as most other tools companies were using chrome plating at the time, except for cadmium plating during wartime restrictions. (And Armstrong continued to offer chrome finishes on other tools.) The change in the standard finish for Armstrong wrenches means that we can't use a plain or cadmium finish as a date marker for wartime production.


2415 7/16x1/2 Box-End Wrench

[Armstrong 2415 7/16x1/2 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 40. Armstrong 2415 7/16x1/2 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. Late 1930s.

Fig. 40 shows an Armstrong 2415 716x1/2 box-end wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and with "Chrome Vanadium" on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.4 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


2426 3/4x7/8 Box-End Wrench

[Armstrong 2426 3/4x7/8 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 41. Armstrong 2426 3/4x7/8 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. Late 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 41 shows an Armstrong 2426 3/4x7/8 box-end wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the shank, with the model number and "Chrome Vanadium" on the reverse.

The overall length is 11.4 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


2426 "Special" 13/16x7/8 Box-End Wrenches

The next two figures show examples of the Armstrong 2426 "Special" box wrench. The "Special" mark on these wrenches indicates a non-standard or special-order size. In this case the Standard 2426 Box Wrench had sizes 3/4x7/8, so these wrenches were made as a special size based on the standard model.

[Armstrong 2426 Special 13/16x7/8 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 42A. Armstrong 2426 "Special" 13/16x7/8 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. Late 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 42A shows an Armstrong 2426 "Special" 13/16x7/8 box-end wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo and fractional sizes on the shank, with the model number and "Chrome Vanadium" on the reverse.

The overall length is 11.4 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

[Armstrong 2426 Special 13/16x7/8 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 42B. Armstrong 2426 "Special" 13/16x7/8 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. Late 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 42B shows another Armstrong 2426 "Special" 13/16x7/8 box-end wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the shank, with the model number and "Chrome Vanadium" on the reverse. The reverse shank also has a forged-in "S" visible at the right.

The overall length is 11.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


2429 15/16x1 Box-End Wrench

[Armstrong 2429 15/16x1 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 43. Armstrong 2429 15/16x1 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Reverse and Side View, ca. Late 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 43 shows an Armstrong 2429 15/16x1 box-end wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo and fractional sizes on the shank, with the model number and "Chrome Vanadium" on the reverse.

The overall length is 13.9 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


7731-A 3/4x13/16 Box-End Wrench

Probably by the early to mid 1940s Armstrong's old 24xx models had transitioned to the 7000-series models, using industry-standard numbers for size combinations.

[Armstrong 7731-A 3/4x7/8 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 44. Armstrong 7731-A 3/4x7/8 Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1945-1947.

Fig. 44 shows an Armstrong 7731-A 3/4x13/16 box wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and with "Alloy Steel" on the reverse.

The overall length is 11.6 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished ends.


7725 7/16x1/2 Box-End Wrench

[Armstrong 7725 7/16x1/2 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 45. Armstrong 7725 7/16x1/2 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 45 shows an Armstrong 7725 7/16x1/2 box wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the shank, and with "Hi-Tensile" on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The "Hi-Tensile" marking indicates production during the 1942-1945 wartime years.


7729-A 3/4x25/32 Box-End Wrench

[Armstrong 7729-A 3/4x25/32 Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 46A. Armstrong 7729-A 3/4x25/32 Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 46A shows an Armstrong 7729-A 3/4x25/32 box wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and with "Hi-Tensile" on the reverse.

The overall length is 11.6 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The "Hi-Tensile" marking indicates production during the 1942-1945 wartime years.


6725 7/16x1/2 Short Box-End Wrench

This next figure shows an example of the 6000 series of short angled box wrenches.

[Early Armstrong 6725 7/16x1/2 Short Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 46B. Armstrong 6725 7/16x1/2 Short Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1939-1942.

Fig. 46B shows an Armstrong 6725 7/16x1/2 box-end wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and with "Chrome Vanadium" on the reverse.

The overall length is 5.5 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


8025 1/2x19/32 Offset Box-End Wrench

Armstrong began using the 8000 model series for deep offset box wrenches some time after 1935.

[Armstrong 8025 1/2x19/32 Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 47. Armstrong 8025 1/2x19/32 Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. Late 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 47 shows an Armstrong 8025 1/2x9/16 offset box wrench, stamped "Armstrong" and "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo and fractional sizes on the shank, with "Chrome-Vanadium" and the model number on the reverse.

The overall length is 9.6 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with traces of a painted finish.


8028-A 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Armstrong 8028-A 5/8x11/16 Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 48A. Armstrong 8028-A 5/8x11/16 Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 48A shows an Armstrong 8028-A 5/8x11/16 offset box wrench, stamped "Armstrong and "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo and fractional sizes on the shank, with "Hi-Tensile" on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.6 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The "Hi-Tensile" marking indicates production during the 1942-1945 wartime years.


8729 5/8x3/4 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Armstrong 8729 5/8x3/4 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 48B. Armstrong 8729 5/8x3/4 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 48B shows an Armstrong 8729 5/8x3/4 offset box-end wrench, stamped "Armstrong and "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo and fractional sizes on the shank, with the model number and "Hi-Tensile" on the reverse.

The overall length is 12.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel with some remaining black paint.

The "Hi-Tensile" marking indicates production during the 1942-1945 wartime years.


8033 13/16x31/32 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Armstrong 8033 13/16x31/32 Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 49. Armstrong 8033 13/16x31/32 Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 49 shows an Armstrong 8033 13/16x31/32 offset box wrench, stamped "Armstrong and "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo and fractional sizes on the shank, with "Hi-Tensile" on the reverse.

The overall length is 14.5 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The "Hi-Tensile" marking indicates production during the 1942-1945 wartime years.


9729-A 11/16x3/4 Short Offset Box-End Wrenches

The next two figures show examples of the 9729-A short offset box wrench.

[Armstrong Armaloy 9729-A 11/16x3/4 Short Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 50. Armstrong 9729-A 11/16x3/4 Short Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1939-1942.

Fig. 50 shows an earlier Armstrong 9729-A 11/16x3/4 short offset box wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the shank, with the model number and "Chrome-Vanadium" on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel with traces of cadmium plating.

[Armstrong Armaloy 9729-A 11/16x3/4 Short Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 51. Armstrong 9729-A 11/16x3/4 Short Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 51 shows a somewhat later Armstrong 9729-A short offset box wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the shank, with the model number and "Alloy Steel" on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.4 inches, and the finish is plain steel.


5037 1-1/16x1-1/4 Heavy-Duty Offset Box-End Wrench

In the mid to late 1930s Armstrong began offering a series of heavy-duty offset box wrenches, recommending them "for the heaviest industrial and oil field work." These were massively built wrenches with round shanks, and were assigned model numbers in a 5xxx series with an industry-standard suffix. (A separate 8xxx series provided regular-duty offset box wrenches.) The 1939 catalog listed nine models ranging from the 5035-A of sizes 1-1/16x1-1/8, up to the 5053 with sizes 2-9/16x2-3/4.

[Armstrong 5037 1-1/16x1-1/4 Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 52. Armstrong 5037 1-1/16x1-1/4 Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. Late 1930s.

Fig. 52 shows an Armstrong 5037 1-1/16x1-1/4 offset box-end wrench, marked "Armstrong-Vanadium" with the Strong-Arm logo, and with "Made in U.S.A." and "Chromium-Vanadium" on the reverse.

The overall length is 16.9 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

This wrench shows another example of a late "Armstrong-Vanadium" marking, at a time when just the company name and Strong-Arm logo were more typical. More surprising is the "Chromium-Vanadium" marking using the full element names. This marking was typically used for contract production for Western Auto, which is not known to have sold wrenches this large.


C-V Combination Wrenches


1164 5/8 Combination Wrench

[Armstrong 1164 5/8 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 53. Armstrong 1164 5/8 Combination Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1944-1946.

Fig. 53 shows an Armstrong 1164 5/8 combination wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the face. The shank is stamped with "Alloy Steel" on the front, with the model number on the reverse.

The overall length is 6.1 inches, and the finish is chrome plating, with losses due to wear.

The use of the "Alloy Steel" marking and chrome-plated finish suggest production in the immediate post-war era, prior to the introduction of the "Armaloy" trademark.


1166 3/4 Combination Wrench

[Armstrong 1166 3/4 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 54. Armstrong 1166 3/4 Combination Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1944-1946.

Fig. 54 shows an Armstrong 1166 3/4 combination wrench, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo on the face, although difficult to read due to pitting. The shank is stamped with "Alloy Steel" on the front, with the model number on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.9 inches. The original finish was chrome plating, but most has been lost due to rust and pitting.

A later version of the 1166 model can be seen as the Armstrong Armaloy 1166 Wrench.


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