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Striking Tools

Punches, chisels, and hammers were among the first tools produced by Vlchek Tool, and pliers would have been made as soon as the automobile tool kit business started to develop.


[X872] Standard 1/8 Pin Punch

[Vlchek X872 1/8 Pin Punch]
Fig. 127. Vlchek [X872] 1/8 Pin Punch.

Fig. 127 shows a Vlchek [X872] standard 1/8 pin punch, stamped "Vlchek Standard" and "Made in U.S.A." on the square shank. The model number isn't marked on the tool, but the catalog identifies this as model X872.

The overall length is 5.0 inches.


Standard 1/8 Tapered Punch

[Vlchek Standard 1/8 Tapered Punch]
Fig. 128. Vlchek Standard 1/8 Tapered Punch, with Inset for Marking Detail.

Fig. 128 shows a Vlchek standard 1/8 tapered punch, stamped "Vlchek Standard" and "Made in U.S.A." on the square shank.

The overall length is 7.9 inches, and the finish is gray paint.


Standard 1/4 Tapered Punch

[Vlchek Standard 1/4 Tapered Punch]
Fig. 129. Vlchek Standard 1/4 Tapered Punch, with Inset for Marking Detail.

Fig. 129 shows a Vlchek standard 1/4 tapered punch, stamped "Vlchek Standard" and "Made in U.S.A." on the square shank.

The overall length is 11.8 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.


Ballpeen Hammer

[Vlchek Ballpeen Hammer]
Fig. 130. Vlchek Ballpeen Hammer.

As a former blacksmith operation, you would expect Vlchek Tool to be an expert in hammers, and hammers were in fact one of their earliest products. The hammer shown in Fig. 130 is a ball-peen model marked "Vlchek" and "Made in U.S.A.", and is probably from an automobile tool kit.

The length of the head is 3.8 inches; the handle had been shortened, so the original length is not known.


Pliers

Vlchek had a long history of producing combination pliers, as these tools were an important part of most automotive tool kits.


6 Inch Combination Pliers

[Vlchek 6 Inch Combination Pliers]
Fig. 131A. Vlchek 6 Inch Combination Pliers, with Inset for Side View.

Fig. 131A shows a pair of Vlchek 6 inch combination pliers, marked with "Forged in U.S.A." forged into the handles, and with the V-Shield logo stamped on the handles.

The overall length is 6.4 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The top inset shows a side view of the pliers. Note the fairly rough finish of the pliers, with remnants of the trimming operation visible on the handles.

These pliers were likely made as part of an automotive tool kit.


8 Inch Combination Pliers

[Vlchek 8 Inch Combination Pliers]
Fig. 131B. Vlchek 8 Inch Combination Pliers, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail.

Fig. 131B shows a pair of Vlchek 8 inch combination pliers, stamped with "Vlchek" and "Made in U.S.A." in a banner logo on the handle, with "Forged in U.S.A." forged into the handles. The handles also have forged-in codes "19" and "18" (not shown).

The overall length is 8.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.


PHC208 Hose Clamp Pliers

[Vlchek PHC208 Hose-Clamp Pliers]
Fig. 132. Vlchek PHC208 Hose-Clamp Pliers.

Fig. 132 shows the Vlchek model PHC208 pliers, marked "Hose Clamp" with "Forged in U.S.A." on the handles.

A careful look at the handle shows a forged-in number "18". The finish appears to be cadmium plate over the rough forged steel.


[PFH309] Utility and Pump Pliers

[Vlchek PFH309 Heavy-Duty Waterpump Pliers]
Fig. 133. Vlchek [PFH309] Heavy-Duty Waterpump Pliers, ca. 1942-1945.

Fig. 133 shows a pair of Vlchek [PFH309] waterpump pliers, stamped "Vlchek Made in U.S.A." on one handle with "Alloy Steel" on the other. Although not marked on this example, the PFH309 model number was identified by the 1952 catalog, where this model is listed as the "Heavy Duty Utility and Pump Pliers".

The overall length is 9.5 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

The model PFH309 pliers were listed in the 1952 catalog, which noted the use of chrome molybdenum steel and a chrome plated finish. The alloy steel marking and plain finish of this example suggest production during the 1942-1945 wartime years.


Contract Production

The previous sections have looked at tools marked as Vlchek products, or at least not marked explicitly with another company's brand. In this section we'll look at examples of tools made for sale as other brands.


Craftsman

Vlchek produced tools for the Sears Craftsman brand as well as its secondary brands Fulton, Merit, and Dunlap. The currently known Vlchek production for Sears is identified by the use of a "BT" manufacturer's code, but it's possible that other codes could have been used as well.


Craftsman "BT" 1/2-Drive Reversible Ratchet

The next two figures show examples of the Craftsman "BT" 1/2-drive reversible ratchet.

[Craftsman BT 1/2-Drive Reversible Ratchet]
Fig. 134A. Craftsman "BT" 1/2-Drive Reversible Ratchet, with Insets for Reverse and Side View, ca. 1936-1937.

Fig. 134A shows a Craftsman "BT" 1/2-drive reversible ratchet, marked with "Drop Forged" forged into the handle, and with "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse. The head is stamped with the Craftsman block logo, and the small "BT" manufacturing code is (faintly) visible between the two screws at the bottom of the head.

The overall length is 9.6 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with extensive pitting due to rust.

This ratchet has a rather unusual arrangement for the shift lever, in which the lever arm passes through a hole in the forged body so that it can be actuated from the opposite side. Readers familiar with the Vlchek Tool Company will recognize this immediately as the Vlchek WSSR10 Reversible Ratchet, and a comparison of the photographs shows that the tools are basically identical except for the markings. Vlchek had been offering this ratchet model since about 1934.

Apart from the unusual shift lever, the ratchet is a well made but conventional dual-pawl design with a 28-tooth drive gear.

[Craftsman BT 1/2-Drive Reversible Ratchet]
Fig. 134B. Craftsman "BT" 1/2-Drive Reversible Ratchet, with Insets for Reverse and Side View, ca. 1936-1937.

Fig. 134B shows another example of the Craftsman "BT" 1/2-drive reversible ratchet, marked with "Drop Forged" forged into the handle, and with "Made in U.S.A." forged into the reverse. The head is stamped with the Craftsman block logo and a small "BT" manufacturer's code.

The overall length is 9.6 inches, and the finish is nickel plating, with losses due to wear and rust.

The Craftsman "BT" ratchet was first listed in the 1936 Sears Spring and Summer catalog as item number 6155 with a $1.98 price. This ratchet is significant as the first 1/2-drive reversible ratchet offered under the Craftsman brand. The "BT" ratchet became available around the same time as the transition from the C-series socket tools to the "BE" series, but as neither of these socket lines included a reversible ratchet in 1/2-drive, Sears offered this as an alternative.

Sears later included the "BT" model as the standard ratchet in otherwise all "BE" style socket sets, which must have been somewhat embarrassing for New Britain Machine. Then around 1938 New Britain Machine finally offered its own "BE" reversible ratchet and the socket sets became all "BE" again.


Craftsman "BT" 6 Ounce Ballpeen Hammer

[Craftsman BT 6 Ounce Ballpeen Hammer]
Fig. 134C. Craftsman "BT" 6 Ounce Ballpeen Hammer, with Insets for Side View and Marking Detail.

Fig. 134C shows a Craftsman "BT" 6 ounce ballpeen hammer, stamped with the Craftsman underline logo and "Reg. U.S. Pat. Off.", and with a "BT" manufacturer's code below.

The overall length is 11.6 inches, and the length of the head is 2.7 inches. The finish is plain steel.

The "BT" code has been identified as the manufacturer's code for Vlchek Tool, a well-known maker of hammers and striking tools as well as wrenches.


Fulton, Merit, and Dunlap

Vlchek produced a number of tools for the Sears Fulton, Merit, and later Dunlap brands.


Merit 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Merit 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 134D. Merit 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1937-1938.

Fig. 134D shows a Merit 1/2x9/16 offset box-end wrench with raised panels, stamped with the Merit name and a "BT" manufacturer's code on the front panel, with "Chrome Molybdenum" on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 4.9 inches, and the finish is nickel plating, with extensive losses due to wear and rust.

The "BT" code has been identified as the manufacturer's code for Vlchek Tool. This tool is very similar to the Vlchek WBC1618 Offset Box Wrench, but is slightly shorter then the Vlchek examples.

Currently we don't have a catalog reference for this tool. The production date was estimated based on the assumption that the Merit brand was superseded by the Dunlap brand in 1938.


Merit 6216 9/16x5/8 Half-Moon Box Wrench

During the mid 1930s the Sears catalogs offered various types of automotive specialty wrenches in the section for general mechanic's tools. Typically these were listed under the Fulton or Merit brands, although sometimes the catalog listings didn't specify a brand name. This next figure shows an example of a Merit brand specialty wrench.

[Merit 6216 9/16x5/8 Half-Moon Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 134E. Merit 6216 9/16x5/8 Half-Moon Box-End Wrench, ca. Mid 1930s.

Fig. 134E shows a Merit 6216 9/16x5/8 half-moon box-end wrench, stamped with the Merit name and a "BT" manufacturer's code on the shank.

The overall length is 6.8 inches, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The "BT" code has been identified as the manufacturer's code for Vlchek Tool. An example of this tool marked for Vlchek can be seen as the Vlchek WBM1820 Half-Moon Box Wrench.

This style of half-moon wrench was frequently used for starter and manifold service, or for general work as an obstruction wrench.


Fulton 6216 9/16x5/8 Half-Moon Box Wrench

This next figure shows the same model 6216 half-moon wrench, but marked for the Fulton brand.

[Fulton 6216 9/16x5/8 Half-Moon Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 134F. Fulton 6216 9/16x5/8 Half-Moon Box-End Wrench, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 134F shows a Fulton 6216 9/16x5/8 half-moon box-end wrench, stamped with "Fulton" and a "BT" manufacturer's code on the shank.

The overall length is 6.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel, possibly with traces of cadmium plating.

The "BT" code has been identified as the manufacturer's code for Vlchek Tool. An example of this tool marked for Vlchek can be seen as the Vlchek WBM1820 Half-Moon Box Wrench.

This style of half-moon wrench was frequently used for starter and manifold service, or for general work as an obstruction wrench.


Merit "BT" 10 Inch Waterpump Pliers

[Merit 10 Inch Waterpump Pliers]
Fig. 134G. Merit 10 Inch Waterpump Pliers, ca. 1930s.

Fig. 134G shows a pair of Merit 10 inch waterpump pliers, stamped with the Merit name and a "BT" code.

The overall length is 9.8 inches fully extended, and the finish is cadmium plating.

The "BT" marking has been identified as the manufacturer's code for Vlchek Tool. An example of Vlchek's production can be seen as the Vlchek [PFH309] Waterpump Pliers.


ChromeXQuality

The "ChromeXQuality" (or "Chrome X Quality") brand was a great mystery for quite a while, but has finally been identified as an unregistered brand of Western Auto Supply. The 1937 Western Auto catalog offered ChromeXQuality (or just "Chrome-X") tools as their top-of-the-line brand, and stated that they were "lifetime tools with free replacement guarantee." The Chrome-X catalog items included wrenches in open-end, box-end, and combination styles, sockets and drive tools, several types of pliers, and other tools.

The identification of Western Auto as the owner of the brand fits well with the known examples, as many of the tools collected thus far were apparently made by either Duro/Indestro or Vlchek, the same pattern seen with the Wizard and Westcraft brands. In 1937 the Wizard brand was being used for batteries and other automobile supplies, but not yet for tools; it seems likely that the success of the Chrome-X tool line lead to the Wizard brand being extended to include tools.

Based on Western Auto historical sources, the ChromeXQuality brand was used from 1936 to 1939, after which the company switched to their favored "Wizard" brand. We'll use this range as the estimated manufacturing date for the examples below.

In addition to Vlchek and Duro/Indestro, Herbrand has been recently identified as a third producer of ChromeXQuality tools. Additional information on these tools is available in the sections on Duro and Herbrand contract production.


ChromeXQuality 2731A 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench with "Western Auto" Marking

We'll begin with an unusual example marked for both ChromeXQuality and Western Auto. This wrench would have saved us a lot of trouble in tracking down the ChromeXQuality brand if it had shown up earlier.

[ChromeXQuality 2731A 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 135A. ChromeXQuality 2731A 3/4x7/8 Open-End Wrench with Dual Markings, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 135A shows an unusual dual-marked ChromeXQuality 2731A 3/4x7/8 open-end wrench, stamped with "Chrome X Quality" on the shank and with "Western Auto Stores" on the reverse. The faces are stamped with the fractional sizes, with "Chrome Molybdenum" and the model number on the reverse.

The overall length is 9.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with extensive pitting due to rust.

This wrench can be identified as Vlchek production by the general construction and the use of the "Chrome Molybdenum" marking with larger initial letters. In addition, Vlchek is known to have used the 2xxx model series for its open-end wrenches, whereas other markers typically used this series for obstruction wrenches.


ChromeXQuality W1012 5/16x3/8 Open-End Wrench

[ChromeXQuality W1012 5/16x3/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 135B. ChromeXQuality W1012 5/16x3/8 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 135B shows another ChromeXQuality tool of Vlchek production, a 5/16x3/8 open-end wrench with the Vlchek model number W1012. The head is marked "Chrome Moly" and the shank is stamped with a "KV" code, presumably an indication of the Vlchek source.

The overall length is 4.8 inches.

The forged-in number is "3".


ChromeXQuality W1416 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench

[ChromeXQuality W1416 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 136. ChromeXQuality W1416 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 136 shows a similar ChromeXQuality 7/16x1/2 open-end wrench with the Vlchek model number W1416, stamped "Chrome Moly" on the face with a "KV" code on the shank to indicate the Vlchek source. The shank has a forged-in number "4" at the left.

The overall length is 5.3 inches.


ChromeXQuality W1820 9/16x5/8 Open-End Wrench

[ChromeXQuality W1820 9/16x5/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 137. ChromeXQuality W1820 9/16x5/8 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 137 shows a ChromeXQuality 9/16x5/8 open-end wrench with the Vlchek model number W1820, stamped "Chrome Molybdenum" on one face with a "KV" code stamped on the shank. The shank has a forged-in number "2" at the left.

The overall length is 6.4 inches.


ChromeXQuality 90A 7/16x17/32 Tappet Wrench

The next two figures show examples of ChromeXQuality tappet wrenches.

[ChromeXQuality 90A 7/16x17/32 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 138. ChromeXQuality 90A 7/16x17/32 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 138 shows a ChromeXQuality 90A 7/16x17/32 tappet wrench, stamped "ChromeXQuality" on the shank, with "Chrome Molybdenum" on the reverse shank and "Made in U.S.A." and the model number on the reverse faces. The reverse shank also has a forged-in number "2" visible at the left.

The overall length is 8.0 inches.


ChromeXQuality 92 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench

[ChromeXQuality 92 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench]
Fig. 139. ChromeXQuality 92 1/2x9/16 Tappet Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 139 shows a ChromeXQuality 92 1/2x9/16 tappet wrench, stamped with "Chrome Molybdenum" and a "KV" code on the shank, with "Made in U.S.A." and the model number on the faces. The shank also has a forged-in number "11" visible at the left.

The overall length is 8.1 inches.


ChromeXQuality WBE18 9/16 Combination Wrench

[ChromeXQuality WBE18 9/16 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 140. ChromeXQuality WBE18 9/16 Combination Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 140 shows a ChromeXQuality 9/16 combination wrench, marked with the brand and fractional size on the raised panel, with "Chrome Molybdenum" and "WBE18" on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 7.4 inches.

The example here can be readily identified as Vlchek production by the sharply rounded box end, the forged-in number "1", and the Vlchek WBE18 model number.


ChromeXQuality WBE24 3/4 Combination Wrench

[ChromeXQuality WBE24 3/4 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 141. ChromeXQuality WBE24 3/4 Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 141 shows a ChromeXQuality WBE24 3/4 combination wrench with raised panels, stamped with "Chrome X Quality" and the fractional size on the front panel, with "Chrome Molybdenum" and "WBE24" on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 9.7 inches.

The example here can be readily identified as Vlchek production by the sharply rounded box end, the forged-in number "3", and the Vlchek WBE24 model number.


ChromeXQuality 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[ChromeXQuality 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 142. ChromeXQuality 1/2x9/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 142 shows a ChromeXQuality 1/2x9/16 offset box-end wrench, stamped with "Chrome X Quality" and the fractional sizes on the raised panel, with "Chrome Molybdenum" on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 8.5 inches. The finish is plain steel with pitting due to rust, and with possible traces of a plated finish.

This wrench can be identified as Vlchek production by the general construction, and by the use of the "Chrome Molybdenum" marking with taller leading letters.


ChromeXQuality 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[ChromeXQuality 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 143. ChromeXQuality 5/8x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 143 shows a ChromeXQuality 5/8x11/16 offset box-end wrench, stamped with "Chrome X Quality" and the fractional sizes on the raised panel, with "Chrome Molybdenum" on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 9.8 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with traces of a plated finish.

This wrench can be identified as Vlchek production by the general construction, and by the use of the "Chrome Molybdenum" marking with taller leading letters.

The deep offset construction makes this wrench similar to the Vlchek early WBA series models, an example of which can be seen as the Vlchek WBA 2425 Box Wrench.


ChromeXQuality 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench

[ChromeXQuality 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 144A. ChromeXQuality 3/4x25/32 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 144A shows a ChromeXQuality 3/4x25/32 offset box-end wrench, stamped with "Chrome X Quality" and the fractional sizes on the raised panel, with "Chrome Molybdenum" on the reverse panel.

The overall length is 11.1 inches, and the finish is plain steel, with traces of a plated finish.

This wrench can be identified as Vlchek production by the general construction, and by the use of the "Chrome Molybdenum" marking with taller leading letters.


ChromeXQuality 13/16x7/8 Offset Box-End Wrench

[ChromeXQuality 13/16x7/8 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 144B. ChromeXQuality 13/16x7/8 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 144B shows a ChromeXQuality 13/16x7/8 offset box-end wrench with raised panels, stamped with "Chrome X Quality" and the fractional sizes on the front panel, with "Chrome Molybdenum" on the reverse panel. The shank also has a forged-in "X" mark visible at the left.

The overall length is 12.6 inches, and the finish is plain steel with polished panels and ends.

This wrench can be identified as Vlchek production by the general construction, and by the use of the "Chrome Molybdenum" marking with taller leading letters.


ChromeXQuality 1/2 Inch Flat Chisel

[ChromeXQuality 1/2 Inch Flat Chisel]
Fig. 145. ChromeXQuality 1/2 Inch Flat Chisel, with Inset for Side View, ca. 1936-1939.

Fig. 145 shows a ChromeXQuality flat chisel with a 1/2 inch octagonal shank, stamped with "Chrome X Quality" and a "KV" code on the shank.

The overall length is 6.1 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


That concludes our brief look at the ChromeXQuality tools produced by Vlchek. In the next section we'll look at Vlchek tools marked with the "Wizard" and "Westcraft" brands, the successors to the ChromeXQuality mark.


Wizard and Westcraft

The Western Auto Supply Company sold mechanic's hand tools under the brands Wizard and Westcraft, both of which were registered trademarks. Vlchek was a supplier for the wrenches sold under these brands, as can be seen from the great similarities in design and construction with the Vlchek-marked tools. Note also that the pieces below have a small "V" mark stamped on them.

As a side note, Western Auto sourced its sockets and ratchets for these lines from Duro/Indestro, showing very tasteful purchasing on the part of their buying agents. The Duro-sourced Wizard and Westcraft pieces have a small "D" marked on them. (See our article on Duro's Contract Production for more detail.)


Wizard HR2062 13/16x7/8 Open-End Wrench

[Wizard HR2062 13/16x7/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 146. Wizard HR2062 13/16x7/8 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1953 to Late 1950s.

Fig. 146 shows a Wizard model HR2062 13/16x7/8 open-end wrench, marked "Made in U.S.A." and "Alloy" on the reverse, along with a small "v" source code. The overall length is 9.25 inches.

The wrench handle features a distinctive design with a central polished area and curved arcs at either end. This design was apparently developed for Western Auto, as the only examples known are for Wizard or Westcraft branded items.

The curved-arc design of this example was noted in a Western Auto Supply catalog from late 1953. The illustrations in that catalog shows Wizard open-end, box-end, and combination wrenches all with handles of this style. We're not yet sure how long this decorative style remained in production, but it may have been used through the late 1950s.


Wizard HR2201 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Wizard HR2201 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 147. Wizard HR2201 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. 1953 to Late 1950s.

Fig. 147 shows a Wizard HR2201 3/8x7/16 offset box-end wrench, marked "Alloy" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse, along with a small "v" code.

The overall length is 8.4 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The forged-in number is "11".

The shank of this wrench has a distinctive design with a polished center bracketed by lines, which was first noted in a Western Auto catalog from late 1953.


Wizard H2103 7/16 Combination Wrench

[Wizard H2103 7/16 Combo Wrench]
Fig. 148. Wizard H2103 7/16 Combo Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 148 shows a Wizard H2103 7/16 combination wrench, marked "Wizard Hi-Torque" with "Forged U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 5.0 inches.

This tool is readily identified as Vlchek production by the sharply rounded box end and the forged-in number, as well as the "v" mark on the reverse.


Wizard H2106 5/8 Combination Wrench

[Wizard H2106 5/8 Combo Wrench]
Fig. 149. Wizard H2106 5/8 Combo Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

Fig. 149 shows a Wizard H2106 5/8 combination wrench, stamped with "Wizard Hi-Torque" and the fractional sizes on the shank, with "Forged U.S.A." and a "v" code on the reverse. The shank is also marked with a forged-in number "1" visible at the left.

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

This tool is readily identified as Vlchek production by the sharply rounded box end and the forged-in number, as well as the "v" mark on the reverse.


Westcraft WBC1012 5/16x3/8 Box-End Wrench

The next few examples show tools marked with Westcraft, the sister brand to Wizard. (Western Auto appears to have used them interchangeably.)

[Westcraft WBC1214 5/16x3/8 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 150. Westcraft WBC1012 5/16x3/8 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

In Fig. 150 we see a Westcraft WBC1012 5/16x3/8 offset box-end wrench, marked "Chrome Moly" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse, along with a small "v" code. The overall length is 4.1 inches.

The finish is chrome plate with polished ends, and the forged-in number is "23".


Westcraft WBC1214 3/8x7/16 Box-End Wrench

[Westcraft WBC1214 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 151. Westcraft WBC1214 3/8x7/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 151 shows a Westcraft WBC1214 3/8x7/16 offset box-end wrench, marked "Chrome Moly" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse, along with a small "v" code. The reverse shank also has a forged-in number is "42" visible at the left.

The overall length is 4.7 inches.


Westcraft WBH1922 19/32x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Westcraft WBH1922 19/32x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 152A. Westcraft WBH1922 19/32x11/16 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Reverse and Side View, ca. Late 1940s to 1950s.

Fig. 152A shows a Westcraft WBH1922 19/32x11/16 offset box-end wrench, stamped with "Westcraft" and the model number on the shank, with "Chrome Molybdenum" and "Made in U.S.A." and a small "v" code on the reverse. The reverse shank also has a forged-in code "1" visible at the left.

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

The overall design, Vlchek standard model number, and small "v" manufacturer's code identify this wrench as production by Vlchek. Interestingly though, the "Chrome Molybdenum" marking does not have the taller initial letters usually used by Vlchek.

By 1949 the Vlchek catalog noted the use of alloy steel, but not specifically chrome molybdenum steel, for this model, though of course Western Auto could have requested the specific steel.


Westcraft WBH2628 13/16x7/8 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Westcraft WBH2628 13/16x7/8 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 152. Westcraft WBH2628 13/16x7/8 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 152 shows a Westcraft WBH2628 13/16x7/8 long offset box-end wrench, marked with a Vlchek model WBH2628. The reverse is marked "Chrome Molybdenum" and "Made in U.S.A.", and has a small "v" code.

The overall length is 13.4 inches.


Westcraft WBH3032 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench

[Westcraft WBH3032 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench]
Fig. 153. Westcraft WBH3032 15/16x1 Offset Box-End Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail.

Fig. 153 shows a Westcraft WBH3032 15/16x1 long offset box-end wrench, stamped "Chrome Molybdenum" and "Made in U.S.A." with a small "v" code, and with "Westcraft" and the model number on the reverse. The shank also has a forged-in code "19" visible at the left.

The overall length is 15.0 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

This wrench is basically identical (except for markings) to the standard Vlchek WBH3032 Offset Box Wrench.


Westcraft HR2080 5/16x3/8 Open-End Wrench

[Westcraft HR2080 5/16x3/8 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 154. Westcraft HR2080 5/16x3/8 Open-End Wrench.

Fig. 154 shows a Westcraft HR2080 5/16x3/8 open-end wrench, marked "Alloy" and "Made in U.S.A." on the shank, with a small "v" code in between. The overall length is 4.3 inches.

The finish is chrome plating with polished faces, and the forged-in number is "60".


Westcraft W1416 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench

[Westcraft W1416 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 155. Westcraft W1416 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench.

Fig. 155 shows a Westcraft W1416 7/16x1/2 open-end wrench, marked "Alloy" and "Made in U.S.A." on the shank, with a small "v" code in between. The overall length is 5.4 inches.

The finish is chrome plating with polished faces, and the forged-in number is "55".


Westcraft W2526 25/32x13/16 Open-End Wrench

[Westcraft W2526 25/32x13/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 156. Westcraft W2526 25/32x13/16 Open-End Wrench.

Fig. 156 shows a Westcraft W2526 25/32x13/16 open-end wrench, marked "Alloy" and "Made in U.S.A." on the shank with a small "v" code on the face. The overall length is 9.2 inches.

The finish is chrome plating with polished faces, and the forged-in number is "13".


Westcraft HR2285 3/8 Combination Wrench

[Westcraft HR2285 3/8 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 157. Westcraft HR2285 3/8 Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1953 to Late 1950s.

Fig. 157 shows a Westcraft model HR2285 3/8 combination wrench with a narrow shank, stamped with "Westcraft" and the model number and fractional sizes on the shank, with "Made in U.S.A." and "Alloy" plus a small "v" code on the reverse. The shank also has a forged-in number "7".

The overall length is 5.9 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The wrench handle shows the distinctive design previously see in the Wizard HR2062 example. This design was noted in a Western Auto catalog from late 1953.


Westcraft WBE20 5/8 Combination Wrench

[Westcraft WBE20 5/8 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 158. Westcraft WBE20 5/8 Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse, ca. 1947-1953.

Fig. 158 shows a Westcraft WBE20 5/8 combination wrench with a flat shank, stamped with "Westcraft" and the model number and fractional size on the shank, with "Chrome-Alloy" and "Made in U.S.A." and a small "v" code on the reverse. The shank also has a forged-in number "4" visible at the left.

The overall length is 8.2 inches, and the finish is chrome plating.

The flat shank on this wrench indicates a manufacturing date from around 1947 to 1953.


Westline 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench

Western Auto also sold tools under the "Westline" brand, an unregistered mark found mostly on lower-priced tools.

[Westline 19/32/11/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 159. Westline 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 159 shows an example of the Westline brand, a Westline 19/32x11/16 open-end wrench with a panelled shank. The wrench is marked with "Westline" and the fractional sizes forged into the shank, with "Drop Forged U.S.A." on the reverse. The reverse shank also has a forged-in number "1" visible at the left.

The overall length is 8.2 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

This wrench is basically identical (except for markings) to the Vlchek 19/32x11/16 Panelbar Wrench shown in an earlier section.


Westline 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench

[Westline 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 160. Westline 5/8x3/4 Open-End Wrench, with Inset for Reverse Detail.

Fig. 160 shows a Westline 5/8x3/4 open-end wrench with a panelled shank, marked with "Westline" and the fractional sizes forged into the shank, with "Drop Forged U.S.A." forged into the reverse. The reverse shank also has a forged-in number "1" visible at the left.

The overall length is 7.5 inches, and the finish is plain steel.

This wrench is basically identical (except for markings) to the Vlchek 5/8x3/4 Panelbar Wrench shown in an earlier section.


Tiger Tools

The "Tiger Tools" brand was used for a line of tools sold in Gamble's and Gamble Auto Supply stores, a retail chain operated by the Gamble-Skogmo Corporation. The brand appears to have been used for a relatively brief period in the late 1930s to early 1940s.

Gamble-Skogmo later used the "Artisan" brand for its tools, and examples can be seen in the section on Artisan.


Tiger Tools WBE14 7/16 Combination Wrench

[Tiger Tools 7/16 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 161. Tiger Tools WBE14 7/16 Combination Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. Late 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 161 shows a Tiger Tools WBE14 7/16 combination wrench, stamped with "Tiger Tools" and the fractional sizes on the raised panel, with "Chrome-Alloy" and the model number on the reverse. The shank also has a forged-in number "2" visible at the left.

The overall length is 6.3 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


Tiger Tools WBE16 1/2 Combination Wrench

[Tiger Tools 1/2 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 162. Tiger Tools WBE16 1/2 Combination Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. Late 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 162 shows a Tiger Tools WBE16 1/2 combination wrench, stamped with "Tiger Tools" and the fractional sizes on the raised panel, with "Chrome Alloy" and the model number on the reverse. The shank also has a forged-in number "3" visible at the left.

The overall length is 6.9 inches, and the finish is nickel plating.


Tiger Tools WBE22 11/16 Combination Wrench

[Tiger Tools WBE22 11/16 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 163. Tiger Tools WBE22 11/16 Combination Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. Late 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 163 shows a Tiger Tools WBE22 11/16 combination wrench, stamped with "Tiger Tools" and the fractional sizes on the raised panel, with "Chrome-Alloy" and the model number on the reverse. The shank also has a forged-in number "2" visible at the left.

The overall length is 8.9 inches. The finish is nickel plating, with some losses due to wear.


Tiger Tools WBE24 3/4 Combination Wrench

[Tiger Tools WBE24 3/4 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 164. Tiger Tools WBE24 3/4 Combination Wrench, with Insets for Side View and Reverse Detail, ca. Late 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 164 shows a Tiger Tools WBE24 3/4 combination wrench, stamped with "Tiger Tools" and the fractional sizes on the raised panel, with "Chrome-Alloy" and the model number on the reverse. The shank also has a forged-in number "3" visible at the left.

The overall length is 9.6 inches. The finish is plain steel with traces of the original nickel plating.

This wrench is very similar to the ChromeXQuality WBE24 3/4 Combination Wrench made by Vlchek for Western Auto Supply.


Tiger Tools 3/8x7/16 Short Offset Box-End Wrench

[Tiger Tools 3/x7/16 Short Offset Box Wrench]
Fig. 165. Tiger Tools 3/8x7/16 Short Offset Box Wrench, with Insets for Reverse and Side View, ca. Late 1930s to Early 1940s.

Fig. 165 shows a Tiger Tools 3/8x7/16 short offset box wrench with raised oval panels, stamped with "Tiger Tools" on the front panel, with "Chrome-Alloy" and the fractional sizes on the reverse. This example doesn't ahve a forged-in number, but the reverse shank has a forged-in asterisk at the left.

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

This wrench is similar to the Vlchek WBC1214 Short Offset Box Wrench, but is somewhat shorter.


Montgomery Ward's Master Quality

Montgomery Ward sold tools under a number of brand names, including "Master Quality" and "Riverside". Vlchek produced wrenches for the Master Quality brand, as did other manufacturers such as Bridgeport Hardware.


Master Quality 11/16 Combination Wrench

[Master Quality 11/16 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 166. Master Quality 11/16 Combination Wrench, with Inset for Reverse.

Fig. 166 shows a Master Quality 11/16 combination wrench, stamped with the Montgomery Ward MW logo on the front, with "Alloy Steel" and "Made in U.S.A." on the reverse.

The overall length is 8.9 inches.

Vlchek production is indicated by the sharp radius on the box end, the wide flat shank (compare to this WBE18 wrench), and the forged-in number "4".


Speed-Hed

The next examples are for an unfamiliar brand called "Speed-Hed", showing a type of combination wrench with a cut-away head. The cut-away open-end gives a type of ratcheting action and is commonly called a "speed wrench", hence the brand name "Speed-Hed".

A patent search found these wrenches described by patent #2,652,735, filed in 1949 and issued to G.W. Wilder in 1953. (This was strictly a lucky find while searching for a different wrench patent.) No assignment was noted in the patent document, but the filing and issue dates at least provide a time frame.

An online search turned up a 1948 reference to this brand being manufactured by Thorsen Tools, and a later 1952 issue of Popular Science had an advertisement for Speed-Hed wrenches from what appeared to be a surplus tool dealer. The advertisement noted the ratcheting action, without the need to remove the wrench from the nut.

Since one of our examples is marked for Thorsen Tools, it's likely that Thorsen initially made the wrenches, then later found it more cost effective to source the tools from Vlchek.

Although the wrenches here have "patent applied" notations, the wrench construction points to a 1953 to mid 1950s manufacturing date. Our earliest reference to the narrow-shank combination wrench style is from late 1953, and presumably Thorsen Tools would have made the wrenches in the earlier years. (As a side note, it's not unusual for a tool to be marked "patent applied for" even after the patent has been issued.)


Speed-Hed 774-0 7/16 Combination Wrench

[Speed-Hed 774-0 7/16 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 167. Speed-Hed 774-0 7/16 Combination Wrench, with Inset Showing Reverse, ca. 1953 to Mid 1950s.

Fig. 167 shows a Speed-Hed model 774-0 7/16 combination wrench, stamped "Pat. Appld For" on the shank, with "Thorsen Tools - Oakland - Calif" on the reverse.

The overall length is 6.3 inches.

The wrench shows the contour and design typical of Vlchek, including the sharp grinding radii on the both box and open ends. The forged-in number is "11".

The narrow-shank combination wrench style indicates production in 1953 or later.

The Speed-Hed brand appears to have been developed first by Thorsen Tools and then later manufactured by Vlchek. Of several examples of Speed-Hed wrenches, this particular wrench is the only one marked "Thorsen".


Speed-Hed 776-0 1/2 Combination Wrench

[Speed-Hed 776-0 1/2 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 168. Speed-Hed 776-0 1/2 Combination Wrench, ca. 1953 to Mid 1950s.

Fig. 168 shows a similar Speed-Hed model 7760 1/2 combination wrench, stamped "Pat. Appld For" on the shank, but with no markings on the reverse.

The overall length is 6.9 inches, and the forged-in number is a "13".


Other Contract Production

Several examples are known of wrenches marked "SW" on the face as an apparent brand, with construction and markings that indicate Vlchek. These are presumed to be Vlchek contract production, but the identity or meaning of the "SW" mark is not yet known. One possibility is that "SW" could represent Stevens-Walden, an alternate name sometimes used by Walden-Worcester, a company known to use Vlchek for contract production (see below). However, no definite connection to Stevens-Walden has been made.


SW 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench

[SW 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 169. SW 3/8x7/16 Open-End Wrench.

Fig. 169 shows a 3/8x7/16 open-end wrench with "SW" stamped on each face, with the V-Shield logo and "Forged in U.S.A." in raised letters on the shank. The overall length is 4.2 inches.

The finish is chrome plate, and the forged-in number is "44".


SW 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench

[SW 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 170. SW 7/16x1/2 Open-End Wrench.

Fig. 170 shows another example, a 7/16x1/2 open-end wrench marked "U.S.A." on one face and "SW" on the other, with "Forged in U.S.A." in raised letters on the shank. The overall length is 5.1 inches.

The finish is chrome plate, and the forged-in number is "12".


SW 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench

[SW 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench]
Fig. 171. SW 19/32x11/16 Open-End Wrench.

Fig. 171 shows a third SW example, a 19/32x11/16 open-end wrench marked "SW" on both faces, with "Forged in U.S.A." in raised letters on the shank. The overall length is 6.1 inches.

The finish is chrome plating, and the forged-in number is "17".


Walden 2156A 13/16 Combination Wrench

This next example is a bit unusual: a Vlchek-made wrench marked for Walden, a tool manufacturer generally not known to use contract production. Walden (or Walden-Worcester) was an important tool maker in the early 20th century, and continued to operate as a supplier of industrial tools into the 1990s. This is the only example of Vlchek production for Walden currently known, although perhaps others will be found.

[Walden 2156A 13/16 Combination Wrench]
Fig. 172. Walden 2156A 13/16 Combination Wrench, ca. 1953 to Early 1960s.

Fig. 172 shows a Walden 2156A 13/16 combination wrench, marked "U.S.A." and "Alloy". The overall length is 10.5 inches.

The wrench shows the expected Vlchek production characteristics, with a thin box end and sharp grinding radii on both ends; the comparable Vlchek model would be WBE26. The forged-in number (a bit faint, but definitely present) is a "3".

The narrow shank indicates production from 1953 onward.


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