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Sockets and Drive Tools

Armstrong was a relatively late entry as a maker of sockets and drive tools, as these tools were not offered until sometime after 1928. This was around the same time that J.H. Williams was first producing socket tools as well, and interestingly enough, the socket tools from Armstrong and Williams bear a striking resemblance. Not only are the styles, designs, and tool selection nearly the same, but all of the model numbers (even for socket sets) match as well. (Currently it's not known which company was actually first to market.)

Our earliest catalog coverage for Armstrong socket tools is the 1935 catalog B-35, and at this time the company had a full line of tools available, with drive sizes from 1/4 to 3/4 in square drive plus 1 inch hex drive. (The 1 inch hex drive size appears to have originated with Walden-Worcester, and was also offered by J.H. Williams in the early 1930s.)

One interesting note is that Armstrong initially offered 1/4-drive as its smallest drive size, but then by 1939 had switched to 9/32-drive. The 9/32-drive tools were given the same "M-" model prefix but (thankfully) different model numbers. By sometime in the 1940s, the 9/32-drive size was considered obsolete and Armstrong switched back to 1/4-drive, this time giving the tools an "NM-" model prefix.


1/2-Drive Tools

We'll begin the presentation with the 1/2-drive sockets and tools, as this was the most popular drive size and examples are generally more readily available.


Early S-1224 1/2-Drive Tapered-Wall Socket

[Armstrong Early S-1224 1/2-Drive 3/4 Socket]
Fig. 55. Armstrong Early S-1224 1/2-Drive 3/4 Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail, ca. 1930-1934.

Fig. 55 shows an early 1/2-drive Armstrong S-1224 3/4 socket with tapered walls, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and with "Chromium-Vanadium" on the opposite side.

The socket is designed with tapered upper walls and a cylindrical base, and the center has a raised band with cross-hatched knurling, providing a better grip for hand turning. The finish is chrome plating with polished upper walls.

The upper right inset shows the interior of the socket, and some details of the construction are worth noting here. The broached area ends abruptly at the base with the drive opening, suggesting that the socket was hot forged from a solid piece, rather than broached after machining.

Also note that the drive end has a small oval recess on each wall to help secure the socket. (Only one is visible in the photograph.) Armstrong offered this feature only on its earliest sockets, but later switched to using a single drilled hole in the drive end. The change to the drilled hole is believed to have occurred around 1935, when Armstrong introduced its "Drivelock" socket locking mechanism.


Early ST-1224 1/2-Drive Straight-Wall Socket

Armstrong introduced a style of straight-wall sockets somewhat after the initial tapered-wall design. The date of the introduction is not yet known, due to lack of catalog coverage for the early 1930s, but by 1935 both the tapered-wall (S-12xx series) and straight-wall (ST-12xx series) sockets were being offered.

In 1935 the two socket styles carried the same price, but by 1939 the straight-wall series were somewhat less expensive. By 1946 the tapered-wall style had been discontinued except for a few of the larger sizes.

[Armstrong Early ST-1224 1/2-Drive 3/4 Socket]
Fig. 56. Armstrong Early ST-1224 1/2-Drive 3/4 Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail, ca. mid 1930s.

Fig. 56 shows an early 1/2-drive Armstrong ST-1224 3/4 socket in the straight-wall style, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and with "Chromium-Vanadium" on the opposite side.

The straight-wall socket design includes a band of cross-hatched knurling similar to the tapered-wall series. The original finish on this example has been lost due to rust, but was probably chrome plating.

The upper right inset shows the interior of the socket, and the hot forged construction is similar to the previous example, except that the bottom has been drilled or bored after forging.

As with the previous example, the drive end has a small oval recess on each wall to help secure the socket.


ST-1240 1/2-Drive Straight-Wall Socket

[Armstrong ST-1240 1/2-Drive 1-1/4 Socket]
Fig. 57. Armstrong ST-1240 1/2-Drive 1-1/4 Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail, ca. 1940-1945.

Fig. 57 shows a somewhat later 1/2-drive Armstrong ST-1240 1-1/4 socket in the straight-wall style, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and with the "Alloy Steel" on the opposite side.

In this example the cross-hatched band of earlier sockets has been replaced by a simple knurled band, but the knurling is substantial enough to assist with gripping the socket. The finish is chrome plating with polished upper walls.

Note the drilled hole in the drive end, intended to help secure the socket to the drive stud.


Armaloy ST-1224 1/2-Drive Socket

Beginning in late 1946 Armstrong began using the Armaloy trademark for its alloy-steel tools, including sockets.

[Armstrong Armaloy ST-1222 1/2-Drive 11/16 Socket]
Fig. 58. Armstrong Armaloy ST-1222 1/2-Drive 11/16 Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail, ca. 1946.

Fig. 58 shows a later 1/2-drive Armstrong ST-1222 11/16 socket in the straight-wall style, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and with the "Armaloy" trademark on the opposite side.

This later example of the straight-wall series includes a simple knurled band around the center, probably more as a decoration than as a functional gripping aid. The finish is polished chrome.

This socket includes a drilled hole in the drive end, to help secure the socket to the drive stud.


S-15 1/2-Drive Speeder

[Armstrong S-15 1/2-Drive Speeder]
Fig. 59. Armstrong S-15 1/2-Drive Speeder, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 59 shows a 1/2-drive Armstrong S-15 speeeder, marked "Hi-Tensile" with "Made in U.S.A." and the Strong-Arm logo.

The overall length is 17.7 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.


S-50 1/2-Drive Ratchets

[Armstrong S-50 1/2-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 60. Armstrong S-50 1/2-Drive Ratchet, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

In Fig. 60 we see an Armstrong S-50 female-drive ratchet, marked "Armstrong Chicago" in forged raised letters with the Strong-Arm logo. The reverse is marked "Made in U.S.A." and "Drop Forged Steel", as shown in the inset. The overall length is 10.3 inches, and the finish is a heavy cadmium plating.

Armstrong drive tools were usually finished with chrome plating, so the cadmium finish indicates a likely manufacturing date of 1942-1945.

The ratchet mechanism has a 24-tooth gear and is held in place by a threaded cover plate.

[Armstrong S-50 1/2-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 61. Armstrong S-50 1/2-Drive Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1946-1947.

Fig. 61 shows another example of the Armstrong S-50 ratchet of somewhat later production, marked as above with forged raised letters "Armstrong Chicago" and the Strong-Arm logo, with "Made in U.S.A." and "Drop Forged Steel" on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.1 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.

The drive plug in the ratchet is a model S-150, marked "Armaloy" and "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo.

This ratchet was acquired with a set of sockets that included both "Armaloy" and "Alloy Steel" markings, suggesting a manufacturing date around 1946-1947. The S-50 ratchet model remained in production at least until 1948, but was eventually superseded by the model SA-50, based on the flat shank design used for the SA-51.


S-51 1/2-Drive Ratchets

[Armstrong S-51 1/2-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 62. Armstrong S-51 1/2-Drive Ratchet, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 62 shows a 1/2-drive Armstrong S-51 ratchet, marked with "Forged in U.S.A." forged into the shank, with "Armstrong Chicago" and the Strong-Arm logo forged into the reverse.

[Armstrong S-51 1/2-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 63. Armstrong S-51 1/2-Drive Ratchet, with Insets for Reverse and Side View, ca. 1945-1947.

Fig. 63 shows a 1/2-drive Armstrong S-51 ratchet, marked with "Drop Forged Steel" forged into the shank, with "Armstrong Chicago" and the Strong-Arm logo forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 10.2 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.


S-41 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle

[Armstrong S-41 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 64. Armstrong S-41 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle, with Insets for Construction and Marking Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 64 shows a 1/2-drive Armstrong S-41 flex-head handle, marked "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and with a "Hi-Tensile" marking.

The overall length is 17.0 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The right inset shows the construction of the handle, which provides both a cross-bar hole and a 1/2-drive end broach. Note the inclusion of a detent ball for the cross-bar, increasing its utility when used as a Tee handle. The end broach allows the tool to function as an extension.

The "Hi-Tensile" marking indicates the use of Armstrong's high tensile strength carbon steel, a substitute for the chrome-vanadium alloy normally used for sockets and drive tools. The change in the steel (and the cadmium finish) indicate production in 1942-1945, during the period of wartime material shortages.

A later version of this model can be seen as the S-41 Armaloy Flex-Head Handle.


S-110 1/2-Drive 5 Inch Rotating-Grip Extension

[Armstrong S-110 1/2-Drive 5 Inch Rotating-Grip Extension]
Fig. 65. Armstrong S-110 1/2-Drive 5 Inch Rotating-Grip Extension, with Inset for Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 65 shows a 1/2-drive Armstrong S-110 5 inch rotating-grip extension, marked "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and with a "Hi-Tensile" marking.

The overall length is 5.7 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The "Hi-Tensile" marking indicates the use of Armstrong's high tensile strength carbon steel, rather than the chrome-vanadium alloy normally used for sockets and drive tools. The change in the steel and the cadmium finish indicate production in 1942-1945, during the period of wartime material shortages.


S-115 1/2-Drive 10 Inch Rotating-Grip Extension

[Armstrong S-115 1/2-Drive 1o Inch Rotating-Grip Extension]
Fig. 66. Armstrong S-115 1/2-Drive 10 Inch Rotating-Grip Extension, with Inset for Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 66 shows a very similar Armstrong S-115 10 inch rotating-grip extension, marked "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo and "Hi-Tensile".

The overall length is 10.8 inches and the finish is cadmium plating.


S-140 1/2-Drive Universal

[Armstrong S-140 1/2-Drive Universal]
Fig. 67. Armstrong S-140 1/2-Drive Universal, with Inset for Detail, ca. 1940-1946.

In Fig. 67 we see a 1/2-drive Armstrong S-140 universal with an inset for the side view. The base is marked "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and a "Chrome Vanadium" marking is visible to the side.

The overall length is 2.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plate.

This tool was likely made in the early 1940s or around 1946, based on several clues. The "Chrome Vanadium" marking suggests production in or before 1946, when the "Armaloy" trademark was registered. The chrome plated finish further suggests production outside of 1942-1945, as chrome was often replaced by cadmium during the war. The knurled base is shown by catalogs on universal sockets in the 1940s, although it's not clear what style was used for universals.


No. 21 1/2-Drive Socket Set

[Armstrong No. 21 1/2-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 68. Armstrong No. 21 1/2-Drive Socket Set, ca. 1945-1946.

Fig. 68 shows a 1/2-drive Armstrong No. 21 socket set in its metal case, consisting of an S-41 flex-head handle and ten sockets.

The socket models and sizes are, from the left, ST-1214 (7/16), ST-1216 (1/2), ST-1218 (9/16), ST-1219 (19/32), ST-1220 (5/8), ST-1222 (11/16), ST-1224 (3/4), ST-1225 (25/32), ST-1228 (7/8), and ST-1232 (1 Inch). All of the sockets are stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and all except one are marked "Alloy Steel". with the ST-1222 socket marked "Hi-Tensile". The sockets are finished with chrome plating and polished upper walls.

The "Alloy Steel" markings and chrome finishes suggest a manufacturing date in the post-war period, but prior to the general adoption of the "Armaloy" marking in 1947. The "Hi-Tensile" marking on one socket probably indicates remaining inventory from wartime production, suggesting a late 1945 or early 1946 date for the set.


[Decal for Armstrong No. 21 Socket Set]
Fig. 69. Decal for Armstrong No. 21 Socket Set, ca. 1945-1946.

Fig. 69 at the left shows the decal on the inside of the cover for the No. 21 socket set, with the Strong-Arm logo appearing prominently at the top. The decal reads "1/2 Sq. Drive Alloy Steel" and "Socket Set No. 21", with "Armstrong Co." and "The Tool Holder People" at the bottom.


SA-51 1/2-Drive Ratchet

In the mid to late 1940s Armstrong completely redesigned its ratchets, replacing the older pivoting pawl with a dual-pawl mechanism. The new design had a forged flat handle and relatively thin flat head, and the cover plate was secured by screws, providing easy access for cleaning or repairs. The shift mechanism used a lobed cam, typical for this type of design, but Armstrong added an external detent ball to guard against accidental shifting.

[Armstrong SA-51 1/2-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 70. Armstrong SA-51 1/2-Drive Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

An example of the updated ratchet style is shown in Fig. 70, a 1/2-drive Armstrong SA-51 ratchet marked with a forged Strong-Arm logo, and with "Forged in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The upper inset shows the flat profile of this ratchet style.


S-20A Armaloy 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle

[Armstrong S-20A Armaloy 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle]
Fig. 71. Armstrong S-20A Armaloy 1/2-Drive Sliding Tee Handle, with Insets for Marking Detail.

Fig. 71 shows a 1/2-drive Armstrong S-20A sliding Tee handle, marked "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and with the "Armaloy" trademark.

The overall length is 11.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.


S-40 Armaloy 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle

[Armstrong S-40 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 72. Armstrong S-40 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle, with Insets for Construction and Marking Detail.

Fig. 72 shows a 1/2-drive Armstrong S-40 flex-head handle, marked "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and the "Armaloy" trademark.

The overall length is 12.0 inches, and the finish is polished chrome.

The right inset shows the construction of the handle, which provides both a cross-bar hole and a 1/2-drive end broach. Note the inclusion of a detent ball for the cross-bar, increasing its utility when used as a T-handle. The end broach allows the tool to function as an extension.


S-41 Armaloy 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle

[Armstrong S-41 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle]
Fig. 73. Armstrong S-41 1/2-Drive Flex-Head Handle, with Insets for Construction and Marking Detail.

Fig. 73 shows a later 1/2-drive Armstrong S-41 flex-head breaker bar, marked "U.S.A." with the "Armaloy" trademark.

The overall length is 17.2 inches, and the finish is polished chrome.


S-91 1/2-Drive Ratchets

Armstrong later redesigned their ratchets again, moving to a teardrop-shaped head with a round shank. The handle was round and completely knurled on the earlier versions, and later had two flat sides with a knurled gripping area. The new design retained the dual-pawl ratchet mechanism used with the prior flat-handled models, thereby maintaining the excellent low-backdrag characteristic.

Based on a catalog review, the new ratchet design was introduced sometime between 1958 and 1961. The 1961 catalog 700 listed two 1/2-drive models of the new style, the S-91 and S-92, the latter version with a longer handle. The flat-sided handle was introduced sometime between 1967 and 1973.

[Armstrong S-91 1/2-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 74. Armstrong S-91 1/2-Drive Ratchet, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1960s.

Fig. 74 shows an earlier 1/2-drive Armstrong S-91 ratchet with a teardrop-style head, marked with "U.S.A." and the Armstrong name on the shank.

The overall length is 10.8 inches, and the finish is polished chrome.

The ratchet mechanism uses a 44-tooth main gear, a relatively fine pitch for this style of ratchet. The dual pawls are controlled by a lobed shifter, and each pawl has a stepped end to engage two teeth of the drive gear. As with the previous models employing this mechanism, the ratchet has a soft action with very low back-drag.

[Armstrong S-91 1/2-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 75. Armstrong S-91 1/2-Drive Ratchet, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1970s.

Fig. 75 shows a later 1/2-drive Armstrong S-91 ratchet with a teardrop-style head, marked with "U.S.A." and the Armstrong name on the flat of the handle.

The overall length is 10.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with a polished head and shank.

The ratchet mechanism uses a 30-tooth main gear with dual pawls and a lobed shifter. As with the previous models employing this mechanism, the ratchet has a soft action with very low back-drag.

This example has a flat-sided knurled handle, indicating a later production date.


S-110P Armaloy 1/2-Drive 5 Inch Extension

[Armstrong S-110P 1/2-Drive 5 Inch Extension]
Fig. 76. Armstrong S-110P 1/2-Drive 5 Inch Extension.

Fig. 76 shows a 1/2-drive Armstrong S-110P 5 inch extension, stamped "USA" and "Armaloy" on the shank.

The overall length is 5.5 inches, and the finish is polished chrome.


ST-1234 1/2-Drive 1-1/16 Socket

[Armstrong S-1234 1/2-Drive 1-1/16 Socket]
Fig. 77. Armstrong S-1234 1/2-Drive 1-1/16 Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail.

Fig. 77 shows a 1/2-drive Armstrong S-1234 1-1/16 socket in the wide-groove design, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo and "Armaloy" trademark.

The finish is polished chrome.


S-818 1/2-Drive 9/16 Double-Square Socket

[Armstrong S-818 1/2-Drive 9/16 Double-Square Socket]
Fig. 78. Armstrong S-818 1/2-Drive 9/16 Double-Square Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail.

Fig. 78 shows a 1/2-drive Armstrong S-818 9/16 double-square socket in the wide-groove design, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo and "Armaloy" trademark.

The finish is polished chrome.


S-20 1/2-Drive Socket Set with C-17 Case

Armstrong introduced the S-20 socket set in the late 1940s as a general service set of 1/2-drive tools. The set remained in production (with minor changes) for many years, and by the mid 1960s the S-20 set had moved into a new C-17 metal case. This distinctive case featured an elevated socket rack to free up space on the floor, plus an additional socket corral at the end for deep sockets.

The S-20 set consisted of 13 sockets standard sockets with sizes from 7/16 to 1 inch, plus seven drive tools including a ratchet, breaker bars, extensions, and a universal. We're currently preparing this set for display, and will add a photograph in the near future.

Fig. 79. Armstrong S-20 1/2-Drive Socket Set To Be Added.

S-33 1/2-Drive Socket Set with C-17 Case

The C-17 case shown in the previous figure also served for several larger sockets sets, derived from the base S-20 set by adding various components. Specifically, the S-25 set added deep sockets to the S-20 set, the S-28 set added 8-point (double-square) sockets, and the S-33 set added both deep and double-square sockets.

Since the C-17 case was available from the S-20 example, we have configured an S-33 set for the figure below.

Fig. 80. Armstrong S-33 1/2-Drive Socket Set To Be Added.

3/8-Drive Tools

Armstrong offered 3/8-drive tools in a comparable selection to its 1/2-drive line, and their development basically mirrored that of the larger drive. A female-drive non-reversible F-50 ratchet was available by 1935, and the reversible model followed somewhat later.


F-51 3/8-Drive Ratchet

[Armstrong F-51 3/8-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 81. Armstrong F-51 3/8-Drive Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Reverse, ca. 1938-1941.

Fig. 81 shows a 3/8-drive Armstrong F-51 ratchet, with "Armstrong Chicago" and the Strong-Arm logo forged into the handle. The reverse is marked "Drop Forged Steel" and "Made in U.S.A." in forged raised letters.

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

The construction of the ratchet is very similar to that of the 1/2-drive S-51 Ratchet shown previously, with a forged handle and a threaded cover plate. The ratchet mechanism uses a 14-tooth gear with a pivoting pawl, with the shift knob rigidly attached to the pawl. The pawl spring action is presumably supplied by a ball and spring recessed into the handle, and the chosen spring tension gives the ratchet a very stiff action.

The pawl design is very similar to that used by Snap-On for its 1930s No. 71 series ratchets; however, unlike the Snap-On models, the Armstrong pawl is more-or-less permanently attached to the shifter with a pin. This would have made it very difficult to replace the pawl without special tools. (Snap-On used a press fit for the shifter, allowing for easy replacement of the ratchet parts when needed.)

The F-51 model was not listed in the 1935 catalog, but was offered by 1939. Based on the catalog availability and the chrome finish, the manufacturing date for this example is probably in the range 1938-1941.


FA-51 3/8-Drive Ratchet

[Armstrong FA-51 3/8-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 82. Armstrong FA-51 3/8-Drive Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

The overall length is 7.0 inches.


FA-50 3/8-Drive Ratchet

Armstrong continued to offer female-drive ratchets even as the reversible models became much more popular. The dual-pawl design could be very simply converted to a non-reversible female drive model, as the next figure will show.

[Armstrong FA-50 3/8-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 83. Armstrong FA-50 3/8-Drive Ratchet, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 83 shows a 3/8-drive Armstrong FA-50 female-drive ratchet, marked with a forged Strong-Arm logo, and with "Forged in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.

The model FA-50 is basically the same as the FA-51 reversible ratchet shown previously, but with only a single pawl installed and a female broach in the drive gear. Armstrong needed only a single forging pattern for the handle; if you examine the photograph carefully, you can see that the forged-in number has been milled off and the model "50" stamped instead.


F-91 3/8-Drive Ratchet

[Armstrong F-91 3/8-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 84. Armstrong F-91 3/8-Drive Ratchet, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1960s.

Another example of the teardrop-style ratchet is shown in Fig. 84, a 3/8-drive Armstrong F-91 ratchet with a round knurled handle, marked on the shank with "USA" and the Armstrong name.

The overall length is 7.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with a polished head and shank.

The ratchet mechanism uses a 28-tooth main gear with dual pawls, providing a soft action with minimal back-drag.


9/32-Drive and 1/4-Drive Tools


M-51 9/32-Drive Ratchet

[Armstrong M-51 9/32-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 85. Armstrong M-51 9/32-Drive Ratchet, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1939-1945.

Fig. 85 shows a 9/32-drive Armstrong M-51 ratchet, marked "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and with "Chrome Vanadium".

The overall length is 4.6 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with polished faces.


NMA-51 1/4-Drive Ratchet

[Armstrong Armaloy NMA-51 1/4-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 86. Armstrong Armaloy NMA-51 1/4-Drive Ratchet, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1946+.

Fig. 86 shows a 1/4-drive Armstrong NMA-51 ratchet, marked with "Made in U.S.A" with the Strong-Arm logo, plus the "Armaloy" trademark. (The markings are very small and wrap around the handle, making them difficult to photograph.)

The overall length is 4.8 inches.

The finish is polished but unplated steel, rather than the expected chrome plating. The Armaloy marking would suggest a manufacturing date in 1946 or later, making the unplated finish a bit puzzling.

This 1/4-drive ratchet has the same flat head style as the 3/8- and 1/2-drive models, but with a round knurled handle instead of the forged flat handle. The ratchet mechanism uses a 24-tooth main gear, with a dual-pawl shifter of the same design as the larger ratchets.


NM-110 1/4-Drive Handle and Rotating-Grip Extension

[Armstrong Armaloy NM-110 1/4-Drive Handle and Extension]
Fig. 87. Armstrong Armaloy NM-110 1/4-Drive Handle and Extension, with Insets for Construction and Marking Detail, ca. 1946+.

Fig. 87 shows a 1/4-drive Armstrong NM-110 drive handle and rotating-grip extension, stamped "U.S.A" and "Armaloy" on the shank.

The overall length is 5.4 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

This tool is similar in function to the Williams NM-110 Convertible Handle, but uses a different mechanism to lock the hand grip to the shank. When the hand grip is in the forward position with the notches aligned with the pin, a detent ball helps hold it in place to make a drive handle. The grip can be pulled back to disengage the notches from the pin and then rotates freely on the shaft.


3/4-Drive Tools


Early H-1230 "Chromium-Vanadium" 3/4-Drive 15/16 Socket

[Armstrong Early H-1230 3/4-Drive 15/16 Socket]
Fig. 88. Armstrong Early H-1230 3/4-Drive 15/16 Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail, ca. 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 88 shows a 3/4-drive Armstrong H-1230 15/16 socket, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and with "Chromium-Vanadium" on the base.

The "Chromium-Vanadium" marking (with the full element names) is unusual, as Armstrong generally used "Chrome-Vanadium". One well-documented case is that Western Auto Supply used "Chromium-Vanadium" as a brand for its alloy tools in the early 1930s, and their suppliers (e.g Duro/Indestro, Herbrand) used this marking for contract production. Western Auto is not known to have sold 3/4-drive socket tools, but it's possible that Armstrong might have supplied tools to Western Auto.


Early "Chromium-Vanadium" H-1231 3/4-Drive 31/32 Socket

[Armstrong Early H-1231 3/4-Drive 31/32 Socket]
Fig. 89. Armstrong Early H-1231 3/4-Drive 31/32 Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail, ca. 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 89 shows a 3/4-drive Armstrong H-1231 31/32 socket, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and with "Chromium-Vanadium" on the base.


H-1254 3/4-Drive 1-11/16 Socket

[Armstrong Early H-1254 3/4-Drive 1-11/16 Socket]
Fig. 90. Armstrong H-1254 3/4-Drive 1-11/16 Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail.

Fig. 90 shows a 3/4-drive Armstrong H-1254 1-11/16 socket, stamped on the base with "Made in U.S.A." and the Strong-Arm logo, and with "Chrome-Vanadium" at the right of the size (see lower inset).

The upper right inset shows the interior of the socket with its hot-broached construction. Also visible is one of the oval recesses in the drive end, a feature found on early Armstrong sockets but then absent for many decades.


H-50 3/4-Drive Ratchet

[Armstrong H-50 3/4-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 91. Armstrong H-50 3/4-Drive Ratchet, with Insets for Reverse and Side View.

Fig. 91 shows a 3/4-drive Armstrong H-50 ratchet, marked with "Armstrong Chicago" and the Strong-Arm logo forged into the shank, with "Made in U.S.A." and "Drop Forged Steel" forged into the reverse.

The overall length is 18.8 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.


HA-51 3/4-Drive Ratchet

[Armstrong HA-51 3/4-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 92. Armstrong HA-51 3/4-Drive Ratchet, with Inset for Side View.

Fig. 92 shows a 3/4-drive Armstrong HA-51 ratchet, marked "Armstrong Chicago" in forged raised letters with the Strong-Arm logo, and with "Forged in U.S.A." on the reverse (not shown).

The overall length is 18.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The ratchet mechanism uses a 24-tooth drive gear with dual pawls controlled by a lobed cam shifter.

This ratchet was acquired as part of the Armstrong H-15 Socket Set shown in a later figure.


H-20A 3/4-Drive Sliding Tee Handle

[Armstrong H-20A 3/4-Drive Sliding Tee Handle]
Fig. 93. Armstrong H-20A 3/4-Drive Sliding Tee Handle, with Insets for Marking Detail, ca. 1946+.

Fig. 93 shows a 3/4-drive Armstrong H-20A sliding Tee handle, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo and "Armaloy" trademark, with the model number stamped on the reverse. (The markings are a bit difficult to read due to the highly polished surface.)

The overall length is 17.7 inches, and the finish is polished chrome.

This sliding Tee was acquired as part of an Armstrong H-15 socket set shown in a later figure.


H-140 3/4-Drive Universals

The next figures show two generations of the H-140 universal.

[Armstrong H-140 3/4-Drive Universal]
Fig. 94. Armstrong H-140 3/4-Drive Universal, with Insets for Marking Detail, ca. 1944-1945.

Fig. 94 shows an earlier 3/4-drive Armstrong H-140 universal, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, followed by "Alloy Steel" to the right (see inset).

The overall length is 4.3 inches, and the finish is plain steel with traces of cadmium plating.

The composite inset shows the marking around the base of the universal. The plain finish and "Alloy Steel" marking indicate production during the later war years 1944-1945.

[Armstrong H-140 3/4-Drive Universal]
Fig. 95. Armstrong H-140 3/4-Drive Universal, ca. 1946+.

Fig. 95 shows a later 3/4-drive Armstrong H-140 universal, marked "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo and "Armaloy" trademark.

The overall length is 4.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

This universal was acquired as part of the Armstrong H-15 Socket Set shown in a later figure.


H-110 3/4-Drive 8 Inch Extension

[Armstrong H-110 3/4-Drive 8 Inch Extension]
Fig. 96. Armstrong H-110 3/4-Drive 8 Inch Extension, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1946+.

Fig. 96 shows a 3/4-drive Armstrong H-115 8 inch extension, marked "U.S.A." with the "Armaloy" trademark.

The overall length is 8.3 inches, and the finish is polished chrome.

This extension was acquired as part of the Armstrong H-15 Socket Set shown in a later figure.


H-115P 3/4-Drive 16 Inch Extension

[Armstrong H-115P 3/4-Drive 16 Inch Extension]
Fig. 97. Armstrong H-115P 3/4-Drive 16 Inch Extension, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1944-1945.

Fig. 97 shows a 3/4-drive Armstrong H-115P 16 inch extension, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, followed by "Alloy Steel" to the right (see inset).

The overall length is 16.1 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The plain finish and "Alloy Steel" marking indicate production during the later war years 1944-1945.


H-115 3/4-Drive 16 Inch Extension

[Armstrong H-115 3/4-Drive 16 Inch Extension]
Fig. 98. Armstrong H-115 3/4-Drive 16 Inch Extension, with Inset for Marking Detail.

Fig. 98 shows a later 3/4-drive Armstrong H-115 16 inch extension, marked "U.S.A." with the "Armaloy" trademark.

The overall length is 15.7 inches, and the finish is polished chrome.

This extension was acquired as part of an Armstrong H-15 socket set shown in a later figure.


H-12xx 3/4-Drive Sockets

[Armstrong H-12xx 3/4-Drive Sockets]
Fig. 99. Armstrong H-12xx 3/4-Drive Sockets, with Inset for Broaching.

Fig. 99 shows a group of three 3/4-drive Armstrong H-12xx 12-point sockets, each stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo and "Armaloy" trademark. The models and sizes are, from the left, H-1234 (1-1/16), H-1236 (1-1/8), and H-1240 (1-1/4).

These sockets are designed with straight walls and a wide groove at the base for the stamped markings, and the walls are polished for the chrome finish. For lack of a better term, we'll call this Armstrong's "Wide-Groove" style.

The construction is hot-broached, and the displaced metal can be seen at the bottom of the broaching. In these smaller sockets, the broaching for the 3/4 drive opening has penetrated the ring left by the service broaching. Note also that a hole has been drilled in one side of the drive end, to provide a better grip or for use with a locking pin.

These sockets were acquired as part of an Armstrong H-15 socket set shown in a later figure.


H-1258 3/4-Drive Socket

[Armstrong H-1258 3/4-Drive 1-13/16 Socket]
Fig. 100. Armstrong H-1258 3/4-Drive 1-13/16 Socket.

Fig. 100 shows a larger example of the H-12xx series in the Wide-Groove style, an Armstrong H-1258 1-13/16 socket. The socket is stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo and "Armaloy" trademark.

As with the previous examples, the socket features straight walls with a wide groove at the base, and the finish is polished chrome.

The construction is hot-broached, with a wide annular ring of displaced metal visible at the bottom of the broaching.

This socket was acquired as part of an Armstrong H-15 socket set shown below.


HD-1240 3/4-Drive 1-1/4 Deep Socket

[Armstrong HD-1240 3/4-Drive 1-1/4 Deep Socket]
Fig. 101. Armstrong HD-1240 3/4-Drive 1-1/4 Deep Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail.

Fig. 101 shows an Armstrong HD-1240 1-1/4 deep socket in the Wide-Groove style, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and with the "Armaloy" trademark (not shown).

The overall height is 3.3 inches, and the finish is polished chrome.

The socket features straight walls with a wide groove at the base, and the base is drilled for use with a 3/4 diameter cross-bar. The construction is hot-broached, with a wide annular ring of displaced metal visible at the bottom of the broaching.


H-15 Armaloy 3/4-Drive Socket Set

The previous several figures have shown examples of tools and sockets from an H-15 set, and we'll now show the complete set itself.

[Armstrong Armaloy H-15 3/4-Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 102. Armstrong Armaloy H-15 3/4-Drive Socket Set.

Fig. 102 shows a 3/4-drive Armstrong Armaloy H-15 socket set in a metal case. The set consists of an HA-51 ratchet, H-20A sliding Tee breaker bar, H-110 and H-115 extensions, H-140 universal, and ten 12-point sockets.

The socket models and sizes are, from the left, H-1234 (1-1/16), H-1236 (1-1/8), H-1240 (1-1/4), H-1242 (1-5/16), H-1244 (1-3/8), H-1246 (1-7/16), H-1248 (1-1/2), H-1252 (1-5/8), H-1254 (1-11/16), and H-1258 (1-13/16). All of the sockets are marked "Armaloy" and "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo.

The set as acquired had a slightly different selection of sockets than the catalog description, with the H-1238 1-3/16 socket omitted, and the 1-11/16 and 1-13/16 sizes replacing the H-1256 1-3/4 socket listed in the catalog.


[Decal for Armstrong H-15 Socket Set]
Fig. 103. Decal for Armstrong H-15 Socket Set.

Fig. 103 shows the decal on the (inside) cover of the H-15 socket set, identifying this as the "Armaloy Socket Set No. H-15". The decal includes a nicely detailed Strong-Arm logo projecting from the top.

The H-15 socket set was first introduced in the 1948 Armstrong catalog S-48 and carried a $57.30 list price. A slightly smaller H-13 set was also offered, with the ratchet and universal omitted to reduce the cost.

By 1957 a larger H-18 set had been added to the product line, which included an H-41 flex-head breaker bar, an H-4 extension, and sockets up to the 2 inch size.

The H-15 set remained in production after the 1978 model number changes, and under the new model number system became the 16-405 set.


1 Inch Drive Tools

Armstrong was offering 1 inch drive tools by 1935 or earlier, and their development closely paralleled that at J.H. Williams. In particular, the earliest tools used a 1 inch hex drive stud instead of the square drive used for other sizes. These early 1 inch hex tools were given model numbers with an "X-" prefix, presumably indicating "Extra Heavy Duty".

The early 1 inch drive sockets were designed in a tall format with a reduced base, and incorporated a cross-bar hole for a 7/8 inch bar. The available drive tools were fairly basic, consisting of a female-drive (non-reversible) ratchet, a sliding T-handle (also female drive), and two extensions. The finish was chrome plating over nickel, somewhat unusual for heavy-duty tools at that time.

By 1939 (or earlier) Armstrong had changed to square drive for the 1 inch drive tools, and the model numbers were updated to an "XX-" prefix to avoid confusion with the earlier tools. (J.H. Williams had made the comparable change in its line and used new model numbers in an "NX-" series.)

By the publication of catalog 39a around 1942, the transitional "XX-" model numbers had reverted back to the "X-" series, and the sockets were no longer illustrated with cross-bar holes. The selection of drive tools had been expanded to include the X-51 reversible ratchet.

By catalog S-48 of 1948 Armstrong had further expanded the drive tools to include the X-41 flex-head bar (hinge handle). Somewhat surprisingly, the S-48 catalog lists the standard finish for the 1 inch drive line as cadmium plating, instead of the chrome plating offered earlier. (Catalog 39a doesn't mention the finish.)

In the 1950s Armstrong changed the design of its 1 inch drive sockets to a simple cylindrical form instead of the reduced base. The new design also included a cross-bar hole, but this time for a 1 inch bar, and the finish again became chrome plating. One important new feature was the addition of a release button for use with locking drive studs, a safety feature pioneered by Blackhawk and also offered by Snap-On and Williams.

One last design change occurred in the late 1970s with the removal of the cross-bar hole feature. This change was noted in the 1978 catalog 880, and probably coincided with the introduction of the new model number system.


Early X-1258 1 Inch Hex Drive 1-13/16 Socket

[Armstrong X-1258 1 Inch Hex Drive 1-13/16 Socket]
Fig. 104. Armstrong X-1258 1 Inch Hex Drive 1-13/16 Socket, with Insets for End View and Broaching, ca. Early 1930s.

Fig. 104 shows an early 1 inch hex drive Armstrong X-1258 1-13/16 socket, stamped on the base with "Made in U.S.A." and the Strong-Arm logo, and with "Chromium Vanadium" at the left (see lower composite inset).

The overall height is 3.0 inches, and the finish is plain steel, or possibly cadmium plating.

The left inset shows the 1 inch hex drive opening of the socket. Although difficult to see in the photograph, each hex face has a recessed groove to secure the detent ball. The socket base is also drilled with a cross-bar hole for a 7/8 diameter bar.

The right inset shows the broached interior of the socket. Note the undercut groove at the base of the broached area, generally used for chip removal with cold-broached construction.

The cold-broached construction suggests that this is probably one of the earlier sockets of this series.


Early X-1252 1 Inch Hex Drive 1-5/8 Socket

[Armstrong X-1252 1 Inch Hex Drive 1-5/8 Socket]
Fig. 105. Armstrong X-1252 1 Inch Hex Drive 1-5/8 Socket, with Insets for End View, Broaching, and Marking Detail, ca. 1930-1938.

Fig. 105 shows an early 1 inch hex drive Armstrong X-1252 1-5/8 socket, stamped on the base with "Made in U.S.A." and the Strong-Arm logo, and with "Chromium Vanadium" at the left (see lower composite inset).

The overall height is 3.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel, or possibly cadmium plating.

The left inset shows the 1 inch hex drive opening of the socket. Although difficult to see in the photograph, each hex face has a recessed groove to secure the detent ball. The socket base is also drilled with a cross-bar hole for a 7/8 diameter bar.

The right inset shows the interior of the socket, and the shelf of displaced metal indicates hot-forged construction.


XX-50 1 Inch Drive Ratchet

[Armstrong XX-50 1 Inch Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 106. Armstrong XX-50 1 Inch Drive Ratchet, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 106 shows a 1 inch drive Armstrong XX-50 female-drive ratchet, marked with "Armstrong Chicago" and the Strong-Arm logo forged into the shank. The reverse shank is marked "Made in U.S.A." and "Drop Forged Steel" (not shown).

The overall length is 20.6 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

This ratchet was intended to work with a drive plug or male-drive extensions.


XX-110 1 Inch Drive 8 Inch Extension

[Armstrong XX-110 1 Inch Drive 8 Inch Extension]
Fig. 107. Armstrong XX-110 1 Inch Drive 8 Inch Extension, with Inset for Marking Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 107 shows a 1 inch drive Armstrong XX-110 8 inch extension, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and with "Hi-Tensile" to indicate the use of an alternate steel.

The overall length is 8.8 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

This extension was designed to work with the XX-50 female-drive ratchet shown in the previous figure.


XX-1258 1 Inch Drive Socket

[Armstrong XX-1268 1 Inch Drive 1-13/16 Socket]
Fig. 108. Armstrong XX-1258 1 Inch Drive 1-13/16 Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 108 at the left shows a 1 inch drive Armstrong XX-1258 1-13/16 socket, stamped "Chrome Vanadium" and "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo.

The socket has a diameter of 2.6 inches at the widest point and a height of 3.4 inches. The finish is cadmium plating, with losses due to wear and rust.

The socket is equipped with a cross-bar hole for a 7/8 inch bar, allowing a closer pull when needed. The cross-bar hole was a standard feature for the early 1 inch drive Armstrong sockets, but had been discontinued by about 1946.


XX-1264 1 Inch Drive Socket

[Armstrong XX-1264 1 Inch Drive 2 Inch Socket]
Fig. 109. Armstrong XX-1264 1 Inch Drive 2 Inch Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 109 at the left shows a 1 inch drive Armstrong XX-1264 2 inch socket, stamped "Chrome Vanadium" and "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo.

The socket has a diameter of 2.9 inches at the widest point and a height of 3.4 inches. The finish is cadmium plating, with losses due to wear and rust.

The socket is equipped with a cross-bar hole, a standard feature for the early 1 inch drive Armstrong sockets.


XX-1284 1 Inch Drive Socket

[Armstrong XX-1284 1 Inch Drive 2-5/8 Socket]
Fig. 110. Armstrong XX-1284 1 Inch Drive 2-5/8 Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 110 shows a 1 inch drive Armstrong XX-1284 2-5/8 socket, stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo, and with "Hi-Tensile" to the right of the size.

The socket has a diameter of 3.5 inches at the widest point and a height of 3.5 inches. The finish is cadmium plating, with losses due to wear and rust.


X-1268 1 Inch Drive Socket

The next figure shows an example of the later design with a cross-bar hole and release button.

[Armstrong X-1268 1 Inch Drive 2-1/8 Socket]
Fig. 111. Armstrong X-1268 1 Inch Drive Socket, with Insets for Broaching and Marking Detail, ca. 1955-1977.

Fig. 111 shows a 1 inch drive Armstrong X-1268 2-1/8 socket, marked "Made in U.S.A." with the Strong-Arm logo and "Armaloy" trademark. The finish is polished chrome.

This socket is equipped with a cross-bar hole for a 1 inch bar, and includes a release button for use with locking drive studs.


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