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Loc-Rite 23336 Flare-Box Combination Wrench

Flare-nut wrenches, for working on air or hydraulic tubing systems, are very familiar in single- and double-flare models. Flare and open-end combination wrenches are available as well, but the flare-box combination is probably unfamiliar to many people. And if we combine an unusual configuration with an uncommon brand name, made by a company not usually associated with tools, and add an interesting patent, we've got a Tool of the Week with some surprises for everyone.

Let's begin with the tool itself, a Loc-Rite model 23336 flare-box combination wrench in size 1-1/8x1-1/8. The wrench is marked with the Loc-Rite logo and "Patented", with "Kelsey-Hayes Tool Div." and "USA" on the reverse. The overall length is 14.4 inches.

[LocRite 23336 Flare-Box Combination Wrench]
Loc-Rite 23336 1-1/8 Flare-Box Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1964-1967.

We've called this a combination wrench since it combines two different openings of the same size, the general meaning of the term. The wrench is well made with a full-polish finish.

The Loc-Rite brand turns out to be a trademarked name registered to Kelsey-Hayes, so that establishes the connection with the name marked on the reverse. But who is Kelsey-Hayes?

Kelsey-Hayes is a major industrial manufacturer whose products include braking systems and air brakes for large trucks. In 1956 they embarked on a roll-up of tool companies, beginning with Utica Tools, adding Herbrand in 1961, and then acquiring Bonney in 1964. This established three of the major old-line tool makers under one roof as the Kelsey-Hayes Tool Division, and their tools are more commonly marked with one of the names Utica, Herbrand, or Bonney. (In 1967 Kelsey-Hayes sold the tool division to the Triangle Corporation.)

To research the patent, we turn to a Utica catalog that cites the Loc-Rite patent #3,125,910 in a discussion of the advantages of Loc-Rite wrenches. The inventor was A. Kavalar, a name some readers will remember from our article on the interesting Swagelok Cam-Loc roller-cam wrench. The claims of the Loc-Rite patent turn out to be similar to those of the earlier roller-cam patent, in that the wrench delivers its turning force to the flats of a nut rather than the vertices. This helps to prevent distortion of the fastener, which can lead to leaks in a tubing system, obviously a critical concern for companies making air-brake systems.

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