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Mustang Economy Tools

In the early 1950s New Britain began using the "Mustang" brand for a line of economy tools.


Mustang MS41 1/2-Drive Ratchet

[Mustang 1/2-Drive MS41 Ratchet]
Fig. 93. Mustang 1/2-Drive MS41 Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1950s.

Fig. 93 shows a 1/2-drive Mustang MS41 ratchet with a forged handle, stamped "Made in U.S.A." and "98" on the reverse shank.

The overall length is 9.9 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

As with the previous example, this ratchet is covered by patent #2,542,241, filed by J.A. Fors in 1946 and issued in 1951.


The Kilness Patent Ratchet

In the early 1950s New Britain licensed a patent for a new ratchet design that promised great strength in a very small head. The ratchet design and a later improvement were developed by Luther Kilness, and the patents were issued as #2,554,990 in 1951 and #2,981,389 in 1961. These are basically second-generation improvements on the original round-head fine-tooth patent #1,981,526 developed by S-K's Theodore Rueb in 1934.

The Kilness-design ratchets were highly successful products for New Britain, and probably should be considered as one of the company's most important contributions to tool development. The Husky product line included a number of models based on these patents, as the following figures will show.


Husky CS42 1/2-Drive Ratchet

[Husky 1/2-Drive CS42 Ratchet]
Fig. 94. Husky 1/2-Drive CS42 Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1957-1961.

Fig. 94 shows a 1/2-drive Husky CS42 ratchet with a forged handle, stamped "Made in U.S.A." and "18" on the shank, with a "Pat. 2554990 & Pat. Pend." patent notice on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with a polished head.

The patent notice refers to both the 1951 Kilness patent #2,554,990 and the pending patent #2,981,389, filed by Luther Kilness in 1957 and issued in 1961.

The meaning of the stamped "18" code is not known at this time.


Husky CS-45 1/2-Drive Ratchet

[Husky 1/2-Drive CS-45 Ratchet]
Fig. 95. Husky 1/2-Drive CS-45 Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1961+.

Fig. 95 shows a later 1/2-drive Husky CS-45 ratchet with a knurled handle, stamped "U.S.A." on the shank with "Pat. 2981389" on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with a polished head and shank.

The patent notice refers to patent #2,981,389, filed by Luther Kilness in 1957 and issued in 1961.


NBM 45 1/2-Drive Ratchet

In later years New Britain sold tools under the "NBM" brand, with no further markings to indicate the company. This next figure shows an example.

[NBM 45 1/2-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 96. NBM 45 1/2-Drive Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1960s.

Fig. 96 shows a 1/2-drive NBM 45 ratchet of the Kilness design, stamped "USA" with "Pat. 2981389" on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.


Husky CB-43 3/8-Drive Ratchet

[Husky 3/8-Drive CB-43 Ratchet]
Fig. 97. Husky 3/8-Drive CB-43 Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1961+.

Fig. 97 shows a 3/8-drive Husky CB-43 ratchet with a knurled handle, stamped "U.S.A." and "45" on the shank, with "Pat. 2554990 & 2981389" on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.5 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with a polished head and shank.

The patent notice refers to Kilness patents #2,554,990 and #2,981,389, issued in 1951 and 1961, respectively.


Husky CB-45 3/8-Drive Ratchet

[Husky 3/8-Drive CB-45 Ratchet]
Fig. 98. Husky 3/8-Drive CB-45 Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1961+.

Fig. 98 shows a very similar 3/8-drive Husky CB-45 ratchet with a knurled handle, stamped "U.S.A." and "11" on the shank, with "Pat. 2554990 & 2981389" on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.4 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with a polished head and shank.

The patent notice refers to Kilness patents #2,554,990 and #2,981,389, issued in 1951 and 1961, respectively.


New Britain NB45 3/8-Drive Ratchet

[New Britain 3/8-Drive NB45 Ratchet]
Fig. 99. New Britain 3/8-Drive NB45 Ratchet, with Inset for Side View.

Fig. 99 shows a later example of the Kilness ratchet design in a 3/8-drive New Britain NB45 ratchet, stamped with the New Britain name in script and "USA" on the shank.

The overall length is 7.4 inches, and the finish is polished chrome plating.

The knurled handle with decorative grooves shows an example of design elements borrowed from the Blackhawk product line, acquired by New Britain in 1955.


Husky CB-54 3/8-Drive Flex-Head Ratchet

[Husky 3/8-Drive CB-54 Ratchet]
Fig. 100. Husky 3/8-Drive CB-54 Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1961+.

Fig. 100 shows a 3/8-drive Husky CB-54 flex-head ratchet with a knurled handle, stamped "USA" on the shank with "Pat. 2981389" on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating with a polished head and shank.

The patent notice refers to the later Kilness 1961 patent #2,981,389.


NH44 3/4-Drive Ratchet

The Kilness design scales nicely to larger drive sizes as well, as the next figure illustrates.

[New Britain NH44 3/4-Drive Ratchet]
Fig. 101. New Britain NH44 3/4-Drive Ratchet, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail, ca. 1960s.

Fig. 101 shows a 3/4-drive New Britain NH44 ratchet of the Kilness design, stamped "U.S.A." and "29" with "Pat. 2554990 & 2981389" on the reverse. (The patent notice is very worn and difficult to read.)

The overall length is 19.4 inches. The finish is chrome plating, but with extensive losses due to wear and rust.

The patent notice refers to Kilness patents #2,554,990 and #2,981,389, issued in 1951 and 1961, respectively.

The ratchet mechanism uses a 60-tooth drive gear with a compact head diameter of only 2.4 inches, very respectable for a 3/4-drive design.


The Husky Brand

In the early 1930s New Britain made a major acquisition with the purchase of the Husky Corporation of Kenosha, Wisconsin, a maker of automotive and specialty tools. (See our article on the Husky Wrench Company for more information.) Although we haven't been able to track down the details of this business transaction, it appears that New Britain acquired both the trademarks and production equipment of Husky.

After the acquisition, Husky operated as a division of New Britain, and its "Husky" logo trademark became one of the best known names in automotive tools.

In this section we'll look at examples of Husky brand tools produced while it operated as part of New Britain. Not surprisingly, many of the Husky tools from this period were identical (except for markings) with the corresponding models from other New Britain brands. But other tools, notably wrenches, sometimes exhibited brand-specific designs.


Carbon-Steel Socket Tools


Husky 1/4-Hex Drive Socket Set

[Husky 1/4-Hex Drive Socket Set]
Fig. 102. Husky 1/4-Hex Drive Socket Set, with Insets for Top View and Marking Detail, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 102 shows a Husky 1/4-hex drive socket set, consisting of a metal case with seven sockets and a 1/4-hex Ell handle.

The case has a decal at the end with a partially legible "Husky Tools" and "Made in U.S.A." marking. The bottom of the case is stamped "Patented Dec. 12, 1922" (not shown), and the Ell handle is stamped "Made in U.S.A." (see top inset).

The sockets are, from right to left, 1/4, 5/16, Special Knurl, 11/32, 3/8, 7/16, and 1/2, and all have hex broachings except for the special knurled broach (third from the right). (This type of socket was needed to remove the knurled nuts used on some radios of the time.) The sockets are stamped "Made in U.S.A." with the fractional size, and have band of cross-hatched knurling around the center. The finish is cadmium plating.

As with the previous figure, the patent date on the bottom of the case refers to patent #1,438,900, filed by H.H. Chase in 1921 and apparently licensed by New Britain Machine.


Husky Wrenches and Other Tools


Husky H4527 21/32 Connecting Rod Socket Wrench

[Husky H4527 21/32 Connecting Rod Socket Wrench]
Fig. 103. Husky H4527 21/32 Connecting Rod Socket Wrench, with Inset for Broaching, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 103 shows a Husky H4527 21/32 fixed socket wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." with the Husky underline logo.

The overall length is 9.1 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The upper inset shows the 12-point broaching of the socket. The 21/32 socket size was required for Ford Model A connecting rod service.

Currently we have no catalog references for this tool, but would estimate a mid 1930s manufacturing date.

The None Better brand offered a similar wrench as the None Better 9/16 Connecting Rod Wrench.

Similar wrenches for connecting-rod service were made by a number of other manufacturers. Examples include the Duro 615 Socket Wrench and Blackhawk 4021 Socket Wrench.


Husky H1090-D Tappet Wrench

[Husky H1090-D 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 104. Husky H1090-D 1/2x9/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 104 shows a Husky H1090-D 1/2x9/16 tappet wrench, stamped with the Husky logo on the front with "Made in U.S.A" on the reverse.

The overall length is 10.0 inches. The finish is plain steel with polished faces.


Husky Later Panelled Style

Later production for the Husky brand used a raised panel design. This style was apparently introduced in the early to mid 1970s, and is shown in illustrations in a 1974 catalog.


Husky CE-1922 Open-End Wrench

[Husky CE-1922 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 105. Husky CE-1922 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 105 shows a Husky 19/32x11/16 open-end wrench with raised panels, marked "Alloy Steel Forged in U.S.A" on the reverse.

The overall length is 7.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel with finely polished faces and panels.


Husky P65-10 10 Inch Combination Pliers

[Husky P65-10 10 Inch Combination Pliers]
Fig. 106. Husky P65-10 10 Inch Combination Pliers, with Inset for Side View.

Fig. 106 shows a pair of Husky P65-10 10 inch combination pliers, stamped "Husky" and "Made in U.S.A." with the model number near the pivot. The handles are also marked with a forged-in code "H21078", partially visible on the lower handle in the photograph.

The overall length is 9.9 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating, with minor losses due to rust.

The top inset shows a side view of the pliers, illustrating the "Checkerdot" gripping pattern on the handles. This pattern has been used by Crescent since around 1915 and identifies Crescent as the manufacturer of these pliers.

The Crescent version of these pliers is the CeeTeeCo model H210, a model in production since the 1920s or before. From this model number, we can see that the first part of the forged-in code on the handles identifies the model. It would be interesting if it turned out that the last two digits ("78" for this example) were a date code.


The Blackhawk Brand

In 1955 New Britain made another major acquisition with its purchase of the tool operations of Blackhawk Manufacturing, an important early maker of socket tools and other automotive tools. (See our article on Blackhawk Manufacturing for more information.) The Blackhawk brand continued in production under New Britain for a number of years, and a number of design features from the Blackhawk line showed up in the New Britain branded tools as well.

In this section we'll look at some later examples of the Blackhawk brand under New Britain management.


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