Alloy Artifacts  

K-D Manufacturing Company

Table of Contents

Introduction

The K-D Manufacturing Company (K-D Tools) is a well-known maker of automotive specialty tools.


K-D Manufacturing Company

K-D Manufacturing began in 1918 as a partnership between Harry W. Kulp and Martin C. Dellinger, two inventors who were working on a new type of valve lifter. By 1919 their prototype was functional and the company began production from a home workshop in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

[1924 Notice for K-D Manufacturing]
Fig. 1A. 1924 Notice for K-D Manufacturing.

The brief notice in Fig. 1A reports the beginning of K-D Manufacturing as a partnership in 1918, as published on page 686 of the 1924 Lancaster County Pennsylvania, Volume II.

[1924 Notice for K-D Manufacturing]
Fig. 1B. 1924 Notice for K-D Manufacturing.

Fig. 1B shows a full-page notice outlining the early history of K-D Manufacturing, as published on page 431 of the December 1, 1924 issue of the Automobile Trade Journal.

The text tells the story of the development of their first valve lifter, a design with parallel jaw movement to avoid binding of the spring and washer. As with many auto tools of that time, the valve lifter was intended for servicing the Ford Model T.

After the prototype was completed and tested in early 1919, the two inventors pooled $40.00 to buy a stamping press and began production. According to the article, the two were able to make 10,000 units in their first year, which were sold through a local distributor.

Kulp and Dellinger filed a patent application for their new tool in October of 1919 and received patent 1,359,814 in November of 1920.

Kulp had previously filed a patent application in April of 1919 for what might be called a "proof of concept" parallel-jaw lifter, and received patent 1,330,542 in February of 1920.

[1921 Ad for K-D parallel Jaw Valve Lifter]
Fig. 2. 1921 Ad for K-D Parallel Jaw Valve Lifter.

Fig. 2 shows an early advertisement for the K-D parallel jaw lifter for Ford service, as published on page 105 of the July 21, 1921 issue of the Motor Age.

The original K-D lifter was designed to service the Ford Model T, the highest selling make of automobile at that time. The text notes that the parallel lift prevents binding of the spring and washer on the valve stem.

[1922 Ad for K-D Universal Valve Lifter]
Fig. 3. 1922 Ad for K-D Universal Valve Lifter.

By 1922 the company was offering a "universal" valve spring lifter with a similar parallel jaw design.

Fig. 3 shows an advertisement for the K-D universal valve spring lifter, as published on page 284 of the June 1, 1922 issue of the Automobile Trade Journal.

The universal valve lifter included two extra jaws that allowed it to work other makes of cars, in addition to the Ford Model T.

[1929 Ad for K-D Tools]
Fig. 4. 1929 Ad for K-D Tools.

Kulp and Dellinger went on to collaborate on a number of patents for specialty tools. K-D's products include pliers, valve-spring compressors, wrenches, and other automotive specialty tools.

Fig. 4 shows an advertisement for K-D "flat rate" tools, as published on page 11 of the April, 1929 issue of Motor Record.

The illustrations show a number of K-D tools, including the No. 300 universal valve lifter with six jaws, the No. 307 valve lifter for Ford Model "A", the No. 320 heavy-duty valve lifter, the No. 510 wheel puller, and the No. 9 adjustable hacksaw.

By 1936 the company was offering kits of ignition pliers, and by 1939 was making single-ended ratcheting box wrenches.


Later Operations

K-D Manufacturing remained independent through the 1970s, but by the late 1980s had become part of EASCO, a company that had previously acquired Moore Drop Forging and which held a major Craftsman tool contract.

Then in 1990 K-D became part of Danaher when EASCO was acquired by the Danaher Group, a conglomerate of tool companies which also includes Matco and Armstrong. Most of the Danaher tool brands (except Matco) have since been spun out to the Apex Tool Group.


Patents

Kulp and Dellinger received a number of patents, mostly for valve spring lifters or related tools.

K-D Manufacturing: Issued Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedNotes and Examples
1,330,542 H.W. Kulp04/21/191902/10/1920 Valve lifter
K-D No. 600 Valve Lifter
1,359,814 H.W. Kulp et al10/21/191911/23/1920 Valve Spring Lifter
1,461,275 H.W. Kulp et al03/09/192107/10/1923 Valve Lifter
K-D No. 600 Valve Lifter
1,713,761 H.W. Kulp et al06/18/192405/21/1929 Valve Spring Lifter Lock
1,713,762 H.W. Kulp et al02/26/192505/21/1929 Valve Spring Compressor
1,713,763 H.W. Kulp et al03/05/192505/21/1929 Valve Spring Compressor
1,815,980 H.W. Kulp et al12/12/192807/28/1931 Valve Spring Lifter
1,879,331 H.W. Kulp05/29/193009/27/1932 Gear or Wheel Puller
1,913,084 H.W. Kulp08/03/193106/06/1933 Valve Spring Lifter
1,917,183 H.W. Kulp11/23/192907/04/1933 Positioning Tool
1,998,548 H.W. Kulp et al06/15/193404/23/1935 Valve Tool
2,057,781 H.W. Kulp12/16/193510/20/1936 Merchandising Display
2,064,264 H.W. Kulp03/07/193612/15/1936 Valve Lifter
K-D No. 700 Valve Lifter
2,533,121 H.W. Kulp05/08/194712/05/1950 Valve Spring Compressor
K-D No. 700 Valve Lifter

Trademarks

The company claimed a trademark on "K-D Tools", but we haven't yet found a registration.

K-D Manufacturing: Registered Trademarks
Text Mark or Logo Reg. No. First Use Date Filed Date Issued Notes
Kay-Dee 137,808 04/30/1920 05/10/1920 12/07/1920 For valve-spring lifters.
"Kay-Dee" in oval logo.
Serial 132,253. Published 08/24/1920.

References and Resources

Photographs and observations of particular tools are based on items in the Alloy Artifacts Collection.


Catalog Coverage

Product information can be obtained from a number of K-D catalogs, as summarized in the table below.

K-D Manufacturing: Catalog Resources
PublicationTitleDateFormatNotes
Catalog No. 15 K-D Tools 1935 Full No copyright. Dated january 1, 1935. 20 Pages. Canadian prices.
Available for download from International Tool Catalog Library.
Lists wide variety of valve spring lifters and other valve tools.
Lists No. 307 valve lifter for Models "A" and "B" Ford.
Lists Nos. 520, 530, 540, and 550 wheel pullers.
Lists K-D No. 99 adjustable hacksaw.
No. 24 K-D Tools 1948 Full Copyright 1947 K-D Manufacturing Company. 20 Pages.
Available for download from International Tool Catalog Library.
Lists wide variety of valve spring lifters and other valve tools.
Lists "New" K-D No. 700 valve spring lifter.
Lists "Improved" K-D No. 99 adjustable hacksaw.
Lists K-D No. 20 ratcheting box wrench set, sizes 3/8, 7/16, 1/2, and 9/16.
General Catalog No. 25 K-D Tools 1950 Full No copyright. Dated November, 1950. 26 Pages.
Available for download from International Tool Catalog Library.
Lists wide variety of valve spring lifters and other valve tools.
Automotive Catalog No. 64 K-D Tools 1964 Full No copyright. Dated February, 1964. 31 Pages.
Available for download from International Tool Catalog Library.

Industrial Distributors

K-D tools were available from some distributor catalogs.


Selected Tools


K-D No. 600 Valve Spring Lifter

[K-D No. 600 Valve Spring Lifter]
Fig. 5. K-D No. 600 Valve Spring Lifter, with Insets for Top View and Marking Detail.

Fig. 5 shows a K-D No. 600 valve spring lifter based on two of the company's early patents. The handle is stamped "K-D Mfg. Co." and "Lancaster, PA." with the Kay-Dee logo, and the lifter arm is marked "Made in U.S.A." with a "Pat. 2.10.20 7.10.23" patent notice.

The overall length is 10.2 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The patent notice includes two dates, with the earlier one referring to patent 1,330,542, issued to H.W. Kulp in 1920. The second date refers to patent 1,461,275, issued to H.W. Kulp and M.C. Dellinger in 1923.

An example of a valve lifter from another maker based partially on the 1920 Kulp patent 1,330,542 can be seen as the BHM No. 24 Valve Lifter.


K-D No. 700 Valve Spring Lifter

[K-D No. 700 Valve Spring Lifter]
Fig. 6. K-D No. 700 Valve Spring Lifter, with Inset for Top View, ca. 1950+.

Fig. 6 shows a later K-D No. 700 valve spring lifter, stamped "K-D Mfg. Co." and "Lancaster, PA." on the lower arm. The arm is also stamped "Pat. 2,064,264" and "Pat. 2,533,121" plus "Made in U.S.A." near the adjusting screw.

The overall length is 8.1 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The two patents noted in the markings are the Kulp 1936 patent 2,064,264 and Kulp 1950 patent 2,533,121, both assigned to K-D Manufacturing.


K-D No. 7 Ignition Pliers

[K-D No. 7 Ignition Pliers]
Fig. 7. K-D No. 7 Ignition Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

Fig. 7 shows a pair of K-D No. 7 ignition pliers, stamped "K-D Mfg. Co." with "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 4.5 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.


K-D No. 23 1/2 Reversible Ratcheting Box Wrench

[K-D No. 23 1/2 Reversible Ratchet Wrench]
Fig. 8. K-D No. 23 1/2 Reversible Ratchet Wrench, with Insets for Reverse and Side View.

Fig. 8 shows a K-D No. 23 ratcheting box wrench with a 1/2 hex opening, stamped "K-D Mfg. Co." and "Lancaster, PA." on one side, with "Made in United States of America" and "Pat. Appl'd For" on the reverse.

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


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