Alloy Artifacts  

Simplex Wrench Company

Table of Contents

Introduction

The Simplex Wrench Company is known primarily for their distinctive open-end wrenches with stepped sizes and a ratcheting action. These wrenches were offered by Snap-On in their Motor Tool Specialty catalogs of the mid 1920s, giving the company a national footprint for sales.


Company History

The Simplex Wrench Company was actually a "doing business as" name for Frank C. Reilly, an inventor whose patents were noted on some of the company's products. Simplex wrenches were probably available by around 1923, shortly after the filing of the first patent for the wrenches.

In 1928 Reilly received trademark #238,946 for the mark "Nickel-Molybdenum", as noted in the following figure.

[1928 Notice for Trademark #238,946]
Fig. 1. 1928 Notice for Trademark #238,946.

Fig. 1 shows a notice for trademark #238,946 for the mark "Nickel-Molybdenum", as published on page 288 of the February 14, 1928 issue of the Official Gazette.

The first use date is noted as October 1, 1924.


Patents

Simplex Wrench: Issued and Licensed Patents
Patent No.InventorFiledIssuedNotes and Examples
1,479,772 W.H. Cook09/19/192201/01/1924 Ratcheting open-end wrench
1,624,508 F.C. Reilly10/02/192504/12/1927 Ratcheting open-end wrench

Trademarks

Simplex Wrench: Registered Trademarks
Text Mark or Logo Reg. No. First Use Date Filed Date Issued Notes
Nickel-Molybdenum 238,946 10/01/1924 07/12/1927 02/14/1928 Frank C. Reilly dba Simplex Wrench Company
Used for wrenches

References and Resources

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


Selected Tools


Simplex No. 11 7/16x15/16 Ratcheting Open-End Wrenches

The next two figures show examples of the Simplex No. 11 wrench, with differences in the markings and alloy steel content.

[Simplex No. 11 Ratcheting Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 2. Simplex No. 11 7/16x15/16 Ratcheting Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1924-1927.

Fig. 2 shows a Simplex No. 11 ratcheting open-end wrench with depressed panels and numerous forged-in markings. The front is marked "Simplex Ratchet" with "Chrome Vanadium", and the reverse shows "Simplex Wrench Co N.Y." plus patent notices and "Fastnut License".

The overall length is 6.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel with a few traces of the original nickel plating.

The first patent notice states "Pat. Jan. 1, 1924" and refers to patent 1,479,772, filed by W.H. Cook in 1922. A second notice states "Other Patents Pending", but the corresponding patents have not yet been found.

[Simplex No. 11 7/16x15/16 Ratcheting Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 3. Simplex No. 11 7/16x15/16 Ratcheting Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1924-1927.

Fig. 3 shows another Simplex No. 11 7/16x15/16 ratcheting open-end wrench, marked with "No. 11 Simplex Ratchet" and "Nickel Molybdenum" forged into the front panel, with the S.A.E. sizes forged into the shank. The reverse side has "Simplex Wrench Co N.Y." plus "Pat. Jan. 1, 1924" and "Other Patents Pending" forged into the panel, with "Fastnut License" and "S.A.E." near the ends.

The overall length is 6.7 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.

The patent date refers to patent 1,479,772, filed by W.H. Cook in 1922. The pending status refers in part to patent 1,624,508, filed by F.C. Reilly in 1925 and issued in 1927.

The opening sizes for the larger (left) end are marked "S.A.E. 7/16 1/2-5/8", corresponding to across-flats sizes 5/8, 3/4, and 15/16 respectively. The smaller (right) end opening sizes are marked "S.A.E. 1/4 5/16-3/8", corresponding to across-flats sizes 7/16, 1/2, and 9/16 respectively.


Simplex No. 12 1/2x15/16 Ratcheting Open-End Wrench

[Simplex No. 12 1/2x15/16 Ratcheting Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 4. Simplex No. 12 1/2x15/16 Ratcheting Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1924-1927.

Fig. 4 shows a Simplex No. 12 1/2x15/16 ratcheting open-end wrench, marked with "No. 12 Simplex Ratchet" and "Chrome Vanadium" forged into the front panel, with "S.A.E." and "0" forged at the ends of the shank. The reverse panel is marked "Pat. Jan. 1, 1924" and "Other Patents Pending" with "Simplex Wrench Co. N.Y." near the bottom, with "Fastnut License" and "S.A.E." forged near the ends.

The overall length is 6.6 inches, and the finish is nickel plating, with some losses due to rust.

The patent date refers to patent 1,479,772, filed by W.H. Cook in 1922. The pending status refers in part to patent 1,624,508, filed by F.C. Reilly in 1925 and issued in 1927.

This wrench is unusual in not having the opening sizes forged into the shank. The opening sizes for the larger (left) end are 3/4 and 15/16, and for the smaller (right) end are 1/2, 9/16, and 5/8.


Simplex No. 13 1/2x3/4 Ratcheting Open-End Wrench

[Simplex No. 13 1/2x3/4 Ratcheting Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 5. Simplex No. 13 1/2x3/4 Ratcheting Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1924-1927.

Fig. 5 shows a Simplex No. 13 1/2x3/4 ratcheting open-end wrench, marked with "No. 13 Simplex Ratchet" and "Hi-Nickel Molybdenum" forged into the front panel, with the (S.A.E.) size ranges forged into each end. The reverse panel is marked "Pat. Jan. 1, 1924" and "Other Patents Pending" with "Simplex Wrench Co. N.Y." near the bottom, with "Fastnut License" and "Reilly License" forged near the ends.

The overall length is 6.6 inches, and the finish is nickel plating, with some losses due to rust.

The patent date refers to patent 1,479,772, filed by W.H. Cook in 1922. The pending status refers in part to patent 1,624,508, filed by F.C. Reilly in 1925 and issued in 1927.

The opening sizes for the larger (left) end are marked "S.A.E. 7/16-1/2", corresponding to across-flats sizes 5/8 and 3/4 respectively. The smaller (right) end opening sizes are marked "S.A.E. 5/16-3/8", corresponding to across-flats sizes 1/2 and 9/16 respectively.


Simplex No. 14 1/2x15/16 Ratcheting Open-End Wrench

[Simplex No. 14 1/2x15/16 Ratcheting Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 6. Simplex No. 14 1/2x15/16 Ratcheting Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1927+.

Fig. 6 shows a Simplex No. 14 1/2x15/16 ratcheting open-end wrench, marked with "No. 14 Simplex Ratchet" and "Nickel Molybdenum" forged into the front panel, with the size ranges forged into each end. The reverse panel is marked "Pat. Jan. 1, 1924 & April 27, 1927" and "Other Patents Pending" with "Simplex Wrench Co. N.Y." near the bottom, with "Fastnut License" and "Reilly License" forged near the ends.

The overall length is 6.6 inches, and the finish is nickel plating, with some losses due to rust.

The first patent date refers to patent 1,479,772, filed by W.H. Cook in 1922.

The second patent date was apparently intended to refer to patent 1,624,508, filed by F.C. Reilly in 1925, but issued on April 12, 1927 rather than the April 27 date marked on the wrench. (It's not uncommon to find an incorrect patent date on a tool.)

The stepped openings allow the wrench to handle the three nut sizes 1/2, 9/16, and 5/8 on the small end, and two sizes 3/4 and 15/16 on the large end.


Simplex No. 15 3/4x15/16 Ratcheting Open-End Wrench

[Simplex No. 15 3/4x15/16 Ratcheting Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 7. Simplex No. 15 3/4x15/16 Ratcheting Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1927+.

Fig. 7 shows a Simplex No. 15 3/4x15/16 ratcheting open-end wrench, marked with "No. 15 Simplex Ratchet" and "Hi-Nickel Molybdenum" forged into the front panel, with the size ranges forged into each end. The reverse panel is marked "Pat. Jan. 1, 1924 & April 27, 1927" and "Other Patents Pending" with "Simplex Wrench Co. N.Y." near the bottom, with "Fastnut License" and "Reilly License" forged near the ends.

The overall length is 8.1 inches, and the finish is nickel plating, with extensive losses due to rust and pitting.

The first patent date refers to patent 1,479,772, filed by W.H. Cook in 1922.

The second patent date was apparently intended to refer to patent 1,624,508, filed by F.C. Reilly in 1925, but issued on April 12, 1927 rather than the April 27 date marked on the wrench. (It's not uncommon to find an incorrect patent date on a tool.)

The stepped openings allow the wrench to handle nut sizes 3/4 and 7/8 on the small (right) end, and two sizes 13/16 and 15/16 on the large (left) end.


Simplex No. 9 5/16x1/2 Ratcheting Open-End Wrench

Later production of the Simplex wrenches was marked with the Frank C. Reilly Ltd. company name and used a patent by Reilly.

[Simplex No. 9 5/16x1/2 Ratcheting Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 8. Simplex No. 9 5/16x1/2 Ratcheting Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, 1935.

Fig. 8 shows an example of the Reilly production, a Simplex No. 9 5/16x1/2 ratcheting open-end wrench. The wrench is marked with "No. 9 Simplex Ratchet" forged into the front panel, with "Reilly License" and "Fastnut License" forged into the shank. The reverse is marked with "Patent No. 1624508 Other Patents Pending" and "Frank C. Reilly Ltd. N.Y." forged into the depressed panel.

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

The patent notice refers to patent 1,624,508, issued to F.C. Reilly in 1927. The patents corresponding to the pending status (if issued) are not known.

The stepped openings allow the wrench to handle the sizes 5/16 and 3/8 on the small end, plus sizes 7/16 and 1/2 on the large end.

The front panel of this wrench is also marked with a forged-in code "L:M" which closely resembles a Bonney date code. (Bonney is known to have done contract production for other companies.) Assuming that this is a Bonney date code, it would likely indicate production in 1935.


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